Photoshop Brush Showdown: Stamp vs. Dynamic

While perusing my reader and looking at Photoshop Brush sites I thought about the types of brushes out there.  Generally speaking the types of brushes available are probably 90% photo-stamp brushes.

Think about that.  Photo-stamp - an image or drawing that has been placed into the brush library and is now black and white (pretty much what you would get by copying the image on a copier).  There is no flexibility - the person who created the brush just selected that image and never added variety.  You can edit the brush and create a dynamic brush out of the image - but that would take more time on your end and without knowing how large the image is, whether or not the image is copyrighted etc.

Also there's no reason to even open the brushes palette other than to rename the brush.  I honestly do not think a majority of these type of brushes are useful.  Granted there are some that really do help with design or can be considered valuable.  But at the same time I find that I can do the same exact thing with an image (open image in Photoshop, select all, edit, create new brush).

As for the line drawings - if it ain't vector it ain't helping me.  Don't be smitten by the The scroll-work, pretty frames, shapes and other "vector" like brushes that are out there.  These really are not helpful if you want to use it for Print (300 dpi), Motion Graphics (1080p) or enlarge it later.  The actual brush size limits the size of the object and you can only have it as large as the brush was made which just makes for more work in the end.  I don't know about you but I hate having to rip apart a design because the asset I used was lower resolution than what I needed.

So here's a few tips (for those of you who download brushes with abandon):

  • Only download dynamic, hard to find or unusual brushes.  (There's no reason to have thousands of grunge brushes - if you really only use 3 of them). 
  • Really take a look at the brush content - you need to analyze whether or not the brush is actually a rip-off of a dingbat, or vector drawing. 
  • How useful will the brush be in your design(s)?  If you design websites that are clean and have sleek lines - then why in the world would you download a brush that is hand drawn flowers?  I've made this mistake and had to go through my library - test each brush-set out one by one and ask these questions.  If I can't say that I'd use it for work or for personal projects then I should just delete it out of my library. 

Sometimes using a stamp brush and converting it into a dynamic brush helps create a whole new workflow, so do keep that in mind.  But don't forget to experiment and above all don't forget what your objective is - an improved workflow or a very unique design/piece of work.

Dynamic Brushes are a different story.  These are meant for uniqueness and no two strokes are ever the same (look up the word dynamic - it means ever changing and not the same twice).  They create texture based on the color, brush mode, layer mode and artist movement.  It isn't a stamp - it isn't meant to be.  These brushes will help retain the artists vision without borrowing or outright stealing another artists work.  Don't get me wrong - that type of design work is done all of the time and it is acceptable, but if you want to the work to be entirely yours then actually creating the image from the ground up will make you feel tons better.

Taking those brushes and making something unique and having to work-over the drawing - well then we're talking artistry.  It's even more impressive if you actually create the entire scene and scape using your imagination.

If you are just "Designing" then Photo-stamp brushes are probably the way to go, however the brush has to be unique and something that is useful in your designs.  If you are painting and creating then dynamic brushes are what you need - either make them, purchase them or find them via artists.

Here's a list of some of my favorite spots to get brushes:

Photostamp Brushes:

Obsidian Dawn

Dynamic Brushes:


Skin Brushes:  
Skin Texture Photoshop Brushes and Tutorials from Best Design Options

Deviant Art


Chris Wahl

Mark S. Johnson Photograhy: watercolor brushes

Brush Tutorials:

3D Total


Ah Design



Paul Lasaine

3d Total


Zbrush alphas make awesome Photoshop brushes - of course with some manipulation:
(you will need to register to download)

I think that those links should keep you busy for quite some time - if not, remember the internet is a vast cornucopia of tutorials, how-tos and downloads.

All you need to do is ask the all knowing Genie:  Google

Don't forget to try out some of the samples and freebies I have on my site for all sorts of Photoshop brush goodness:


Arctic Gale:

Freebie Sample: 


Freebie Sample:  

Artists Tools:

Freebie Sample:     

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