organizing photoshop brushes

Hi everyone! So happy to see such a response from the Get It Scrapped blog hop–hope y’all got to enjoy the great deals from past issues. I’m still freaked out and in disbelief that I’m part of the Creative Team. Still, I’m tickled that I can learn so much more about scrapbooking, because I’d been struggling with feelings of redundancy and inadequacy for about a year. I realized early this year that what helps me A LOT is to continually keep learning, and wanting to learn and then sharing what I learned.

Which brings me to this (sort of) tutorial. Lexfact #338: I like organizing, once I’m past the hump of OMGidon’twannasomuchtodooooooo. Then my problem becomes I keep going and going and oh dear I need to stop. I have fun organizing, especially when I discover a system that works for me. So, some people may find organizing their Photoshop brushes to be as dull as hell. Me? So tickled and happy :)

Why Should I Even Do That??
Well, if you’ve become as addicted to Photoshop brushes (.ABR files) as I have, you can go a little nutty trying to find the brush you want to use for your layouts, as they tend to just be a mess in the brush palette of PS. Also, I have always been a little backwards in that I much prefer my brushes to be PNG files instead of ABR files. Whenever I use an ABR file and have to “stamp” it unto a layer, I always forget to make a new layer. Always. So I end up stamping unto another element and then have to double-back or erase or GAH.

So I prefer using PNG files, which I drag unto my canvas and they become their own layer. I can always play with their opacities and colors after. Or delete the freaking layer if I want.

However, there are designers and resource websites that don’t offer PNG file versions of brushes. This is especially true of brushes made by a site like Creative Market, or the community at That place is just a treasure trove of amazing stuff. (Disclaimer: please always double-check the TOU of brushes. They are always different. If you aren’t sure of how you can use something, ASK.)

Since I prefer to work with PNGs, I converted all my ABR brush files into PNGs. While it seems a little excessive to do that, I’d like to offer a few other reasons:
Having too many brushes loaded into PS will slow it down (as is having too many fonts)
Having PNG versions of your brushes means you can use them in other programs (aside from Adobe ones)
Viewing PNG files makes it far easier to see what kinds of brushes you have, and find the one/s you want
It made it way easier to keep track of which brushes I have!
Best of all, I could tag these brush packs that otherwise would’ve just been buried in my MISC folder. Tagging them in Lightroom meant I could view and use them in a more organized way.

Converting ABRs to PNGs
There are specific programs that can do this:

For Macs: BrushPilot ($25)
For PCs: ABRMate (free)

Yes, it sucks that Mac users have to shell out a chunk of cash for this! So a possible workaround could be installing ABRmate on a PC (if you own one or a family member does) and converting your ABR files. Both programs can view brushes in thumbnail or preview formats, convert to PNGs, or even install brushes directly into PS. I’ve also been looking for an online converter, but no luck so far. Any developers wanna make such a thing? I really did have enough brush files to (in my opinion) justify the cost. I mean, I wanted to use my brushes, but that wouldn’t happen if they were in ABR files.

Here’s how I use BrushPilot to organize my brush files:
When you launch BrushPilot, it automatically looks for all the ABR files you have in your laptop! Since I’ve converted a ton of files and moved a lot of them into my EHD, I don’t have as many residing in my harddrive. Even cooler, the program even identifies which ABR files you have installed in PS (and I still have some).

I’m going to convert a brush set I got from of awesome trees with birds. I think they’d look amazing on some art journaling layouts. So I can click on the actual ABR file and instantly preview the brushes. (You can also change the size of the preview thumbnails)

Exporting to PNG is easy-peasy. Click the “Export” button and you’ll get a pop-up window asking you where to save your PNG files. I usually choose the folder the ABR file is, because even after converting them, I don’t delete my ABR files. Click “Save” and you’re done!

Now in your original folder with the brush is a new one, with the PNGs.

This is an extra step I do because I tag my supplies in Lightroom, which doesn’t allow for tags in PNGs. So I create my own “preview” for the brush set by enlarging the PNG thumbnails (in Finder) and then taking a screenshot (Cmd + Shift + 4) which becomes a JPG. Then when I do my tagging, I just tag the preview.

Alternative Organizing Without Conversion
So, say you’re like “Lex, looks nice but OMG I don’t wanna convert my ABRs. I like ‘em!” That’s cool, and no worries. What if you just want to view your ABR files without going into PS? Or create your own previews for brush packs that don’t have them?

I found this cool plugin that works with a Mac’s Quick Look function in Finder and allows you to view ABR files right in Finder! And here’s another one, too. So what I do sometimes is use my Mac’s Quick Look to view ABRs, then screenshot THAT window. Instant preview image made, that I can tag in Lightroom!

So I hope this wasn’t too convoluted or technical or confusing. Let me know if you have any questions, or if you have other methods of organizing your brush files. I’d love to hear them! :)

get it scrapped ct blog hop!

Hi everyone! More than likely you’re here as part of the Get It Scrapped Blog Hop to introduce their new Creative Team. Yep, I am over the moon at being part of this amazing, talented bunch of ladies! I still have the bruises from pinching myself. :p

I’ve always referenced the Get It Scrapped blog if I needed ideas on how to scrap with particular elements, themes, or even colors. I’ve also used it as a resource for a few SSD challenges! Anyhoo, one of my (MANY!) favorite articles from Get It Scrapped has to do with Studying Scrapbook Pages by Others to Get Ideas for Your Own Pages You may be familiar with the concept of scraplifting other scrapbookers, so consider this a sort of level-up technique.

I went to the gallery of one of my favorite scrappers, Vivre. Her style is very artsy yet clean. I picked three layouts of hers I really loved:

I Discovered:
- She often has solid background papers or even a blank white canvas as her background
– She likes to use a vertical orientation for her overall page composition
– Her photos are often blended right into the transfers or overlays she uses, barely retaining their original colors
– She uses minimal 3D elements
– Her pages have an overall delicate feeling, thanks to her photos, the little doodles/brushes she uses, and her deft use of overlays

I Decided to Use:
– A blank white canvas
– Several blended overlays in a vertical orientation
– A doodly element to add to the stark, minimalist feel of Vivre’s style

Here’s my layout!


I had a lot of fun playing around and studying Vivre’s style of scrapping. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, but it was exhilarating to play outside of the box, so to speak. And speaking of style–

Save 60% on Masterful Scrapbook Design Issue: Style
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Style is what makes your creations YOURS. Explore and understand your preferences, masteries, frustrations to create in your own style. If you’re interested in developing a distinctive style, we’ve got 7 activities to get you there. Includes 200+page e-book with 60+ annotated layouts and 5 video/audio interviews with guest teachers.

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Wanna get more ideas–and more importantly–awesome deals on Masterful Scrapbook Design? Check out this list and keep hopping! Thanks for stopping by!

Get It Scrapped
Amy Kingsford
Sue Althouse
Michelle Houghton and Deborah Wagner
Marie-Pierre Capistran
Christy Strickler
Heather Awsumb
Michelle Hernandez
Lise Mariann Alsli
You’re here! >> Alexis Aragona << You’re here!
Kristy T
Stefanie Semple
Audrey Tan
Sian Fair
Brenda Becknell
Carrie Arick
Kiki Kougioumtzi
Tara McKernin
Susanne Brauer
Marcia Fortunato
Katie Scott
Rosann Santos-Elliott
Doris Sander
Celeste Smith

a day in the life: april

For the longest time, I’ve been feeling a little like I’ve run out of stories to tell. It’s resulted in me not having much inspiration to pick up the camera (or in this case, my phone). I needed to get excited documenting our lives again, especially as at the time, we were also planning our trip to Bangkok.

I found this free class by Ali Edwards where she details some journaling techniques she employs for her storytelling, and her first video suggested doing a “day in the life” type of documenting. I had participated in her Week in the Life back in 2011 (and took photos in 2012, but did not do anything with them). I figured it was worth a shot. So I took some photos, screenshots, etc on April 22. It was a relatively light day for me, though I had been gearing up for a program and beating an article deadline.

Woke up to what’s been the general temperatures of Manila these days. It’s definitely summer. Managed to make a dent in my email. Gearing up for work involves playing my Morning Playlist and drooling over Pinterest. Simple breakfast of pan de sal and my sole cup of coffee for the day. Good an awesome surprise in finding out I had won Get It Scrapped’s massive giveaway of a subscription to Masterful Scrapbooking + $50 worth of digi products! I was extra thrilled to see that Debbie had recognized my name and username from Twitter and The Digishow :) While working, also consuming my first liter of water in the morning. It’s been a habit I’ve formed since January to drink at least 2 liters/day. The hubs leaves for work, around 11AM. Still full from breakfast, so I have a cobbled-together lunch of leftover pasta, steamed broccoli (with butter!) and some Gouda slices. Most of my afternoon is split with preparing for program on Thursday (coordinating with Jennie, fixing my final checklists) and transcribing an interview for an article I have due. The hubs sends me an email asking me to choose from which tours we want for our upcoming trip to Bangkok. Waffling between the Grand Palace or River Cruise. As a treat, the hubs and I did a quick milk tea run just outside our condo’s compound. To wind down the day, I watched (and giggled over) the latest episode of We Got Married: Global Edition.

ON THE PROCESS | I imported all my iPhone photos and screenshots into Adobe Lightroom. I love this program! From there I did some super quick edits and figured out how to make a collage, yay! I didn’t want to spend time wrangling my photos into square templates. Also, these photos are really meant to stand together as part of one day. I’m not really sure I’ll be scrapping them. We’ll see.

OVERALL THOUGHTS | It was nice to get back into a daily documenting format. I didn’t feel pressured, my process was easy and straightforward, and it’s kinda cool seeing my photos in a collage like that. I may end up doing the same for our Bangkok trip. And even better, it’s made me more mindful of the little details that make up my life. It’s pretty easy to fall into the belief that because I’m home most of the time, my life is snoresville. It’s not as bombastic as other people’s, for sure, but I think I’m more conscious of gratitude for my little things. Also, if I *do* want more excitement, I gotta generate it on my own.

i’m not sure what i’m doing here.


I found this graphic on Pinterest, but the source blog seems to have been deleted. But these words summarize how I currently feel about blogging. I started 2012 with grand plans of regularly doing this, and ended up abandoning my blog for a year. A lot has happened to me in 2012 that has been recorded in various social media and my Oh Life account, so it’s not like I lost my history. But weirdly enough, I kind of missed this space. I re-read some old posts and made myself laugh. And I was utterly fascinated at how differently I think now compared to even just two years ago.

But what does this mean? I do miss blogging–and I hesitate to say I miss writing, because I’ve been doing a buttload of it for work and in many ways, I’m tired of it. But I miss the sharing aspect of blogging, even if all I did was share to myself. Also, right now I feel myself still in the midst of struggle and change and a whole gamut of yuck. But I also want to push past it and I keep thinking that blogging or sharing will help me do that. Last year, by not blogging, I feel like I isolated myself and so I feel very cut off, despite social media (or maybe because of it?!). It’s way too easy to only show the glossy and pretty on Facebook or Instagram. And I will confess that at times I quailed against posting more raw, honest things for fear of the immediate judgement I would likely get from my contacts. I don’t mean those who love me no matter what–I know who those people are. It’s more the rest that I am afraid of.

Anyway, in trying to go for the bottom line, I will say this: I’ve been reading the amazing book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, after listening to the most amazing episode of The Digishow. I’m not through yet, but here’s the thing: this book speaks to me. It really speaks to me. I think I’ve highlighted 80% of what I’ve read so far. I’m trying to think of any other book where I’ve felt the author just pried open my brain and is now reading straight from it. And I’ve decided to take certain steps to bring me inside “the arena,” so to speak. Blogging is one thing. It’s a big thing. I’ve never gotten negative comments. Nor has anyone attacked me. But I fear it, so I am very careful with my words. I try to please everyone. I disclaim almost everything I say. I’m tired of it.

Soooo…for the moment, this blog will be an exercise in daring greatly. It will be me baring some thoughts and sharing them for the sake of experiencing myself as being vulnerable and open. Other than that, I’m not entirely sure where to go. I know there are a few people subscribed to this blog, so I’ll just say–thank you! :) But I may end up writing a whole lot of stuff you may not be able to relate with, just to give you fair warning. ;) But if this is the last post of mine you read, please–go read the book. You will gain a whole lot and lose nothing from reading it (and no,  I’m not affiliated with the author or her publishers).

sweet shoppe tutorials

Some time last year, I became part of the Tutorial blog team over at the Sweet Shoppe. It’s been a learning experience for myself as much as the community–figuring out how to teach something is a different skill set in itself. Still, I’m happy my little knowledge gets to help people. I figure I’d link to all my tutorials in this post, also as a way to organize.

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 6.24.54 PM

Getting Started: Common Mistakes of New Scrappers
Where I outline some of the more common pitfalls that happen to newbie scrappers

Smearing Paint Over Layers
Want the look of a paint stroke or splatter across layers on your page? Check this out!

Blending Background Papers
Some of my favorite ways to blend scrapping papers!

Art Journal: Shapes on Paint
A simple way to “stamp” shapes unto several paint layers

Art Journal: Playing With Text
Easy-peasy ways to liven up the journaling on an art journal page

Scrap Like A SugarBabe: Alexis Aragona
A few tips on how I scrap non-theme layouts with the themiest of kits :)

it’s WITL time again! :)

SO excited! I had so much fun documenting our week last year and can’t wait to do it again. I know it’ll look different because for about three days during that week I’ll be out on some work. I have a lot of ideas on how to do it–one option is to just use Lynnette’s templates, but I may go even more simple than that–like photos on one page and text on another. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my WITL album last year, but man it was a lot of work!
Are you joining this year? It really is a lot of fun when a bunch of people do it together! For more info, visit Ali Edwards’ blog where she details everything about this project.

spring cleaning update!

Apparently what I need to keep updating this blog is to do more spring cleaning, haha! But seriously, giving myself some organizing goals is working for me so far. I’ve started the merciless purging and am about 80% done. I can’t wait to see how much space I’ve carved out for myself. After this will be the (gulp) getting-layouts-printing-ready phase.

Also, at the end of the month I’m thinking of investing in another EHD solely for my scrapping goodies, and then keep one EHD solely for my photos, and then use Nap for backup. I’m pretty sure I can get a really good deal on one given how prices are dropping as bigger-capacity devices pop up.

Anyway, as part of my cleaning up is fixing up (FINALLY!) two of my 2011 projects and giving them an update. Aaand I’m giddy because I figured out how to create a gallery within a post! (Oh the geeky things that delight me!) So, here are my updated 2011 Faves and Thanx Project posts. Thanks for taking a peek!

yup. still here :)

I’ve had a wicked busy February and March so far, but sooo rewarding, thank goodness! I really feel like I’m MOVING work-wise :) I’ve done a ton of local travel, but for the rest of this month I’ll be largely home-based, so I decided to jump into this for the week:

Ooooh yeah! It’s time for my yearly purging of scrap supplies I have no intentions of using anymore, and homaighad I’m thinking of FINALLY getting some layouts ready to print. Like maybe 100. I need to figure out how to batch-process. And then hope, once I’ve started it, that my poor laptop doesn’t keel over.

Today I got the ball rolling by backing up some files and deleting about 50GB from the lappie harddrive, woot! Tomorrow I’ll organize some new scrap supplies, then get to purging. I know as of September last year I have about 180GB worth of product. Aaaand I only return to play with about…30% of it? That may even be a way bloated percentage, lol.

So here we go! Is your computer metaphorically bursting at the seams? Wanna see if you can clear some precious harddrive space in your EHD? Wanna laugh at my pathetic attempts at digitally cleaning up and cheer me on anyway? You can join us over at the Nettio Designs blog, where Lynnette’s hosting this awesome Clean-a-thon :)

the update

So, yeah, wow. January was a month just filled to the brim with stuff on the offline front. In a nutshell I had to deal with events like a friend’s death and another friend’s serious illness. I had another wake-up call on the health front. I wasn’t sleeping or eating well. But the bulk of my time these days has been split with a huge writing assignment and some new work I’m challenging myself with. It’s work that surprisingly, I like doing–it engages my mind and body so  I’m not hunched over the laptop the whole day, it pays well, and I love the people I work with. It also means in the next few weeks I’ll be doing some local travel, which will cut into my online time quite a bit. Some things had to fall by the wayside for the moment, and I chose to make this blog one of them. 
However, some cheering-up things as well:
- Due to a good friend’s awesome offer, I am now a happy iPhone 4 owner :) It amuses me to note that the bulk of the apps I’ve managed to add to it largely have to do with memory-keeping (Instagram, Pixlrmatic, Moment Diary, Photobooth, etc). So far, so good. I’m still not a fan of the phone’s keypad and find myself holding my breath every time I use it, so that usually after every text message sent I let out a gasp. It’s weird.
- Also, since my online time will be limited that I can’t post to this blog as often as I want, I decided to revive my Tumblr where I can post bits and pieces of life happening for me. So far it’s filled with the random stuff I photograph in Instagram, but what the hey, I like it, lol. 
- I’m also really happy to say that so far I’ve managed to write an Oh Life post every day since January 1. It’s become my primary means of journal documentation and I like that I’ve been keeping up so far. 
- I’m still scrapping! Granted, it’s more challenging now to find the time, but scrapping is one of those guaranteed-to-make-me-feel-good activities so I’m not giving it up :) 
- Since I don’t really have a yearly project to be on top of, I plan on doing monthly roundups like Katie’s been doing for the longest time on her blog. It’s simple, straightforward, and allows me to consolidate how I document everything (photos, Oh Life, Evernote, etc)
That’s pretty much it. This blog will still be a dear project of mine to tackle this year, but for the moment, I’m choosing to focus and MOVE where I’m going now. Come follow my Tumblr if you want more of the daily, random updating, lol. :)
PS/ Looking for a photo to use for this post, I stumbled on this and it made me giggle. Happy Monday!