Sunday, May 20, 2012

Coffee With Heather: Making Low Resolution Brushes High Resolution Using Free InkScape!

You probably noticed I haven't been posting much and that is because we have all been sick for the last weeks. It is a nasty little bug and we are coughing our heads off and not sleeping very well.  Luckily I was able to convince my healthy sister Heather to help me out this week by writing a tutorial for me to post. This tutorial is invaluable if you have ever downloaded or made a brush/frame/design element and found out its resolution was too low and you couldn't use it in your design because it would look pixellated. There is an easy fix and Heather is going to show you how to do it.  :-)

So let me introduce you to my little sister Heather. And thanks so much Heather, I owe you big time!


Hi! I am Rita's "lil" sister Heather and the logo designer for our little part-time venture, CoffeeShop Designs. I have two little ones that I stay at home with and home school.   We use a mixture of Classical and Charlotte Mason curriculum.  I believe in the utmost importance of kids being in nature and enjoying God's world-sun, rain and all! In Texas we don't have excuses not to go outside.  We typically walk every morning to a field of wild flowers near a clear creek where they run freely alongside Charlie, our chocolate lab, and watch the butterflies alight on the flowers..

My sister Rita is the one who got me interested in logo design. Since she knew how much I loved playing around in Photoshop, she suggested I start creating logos and join her in her design business. I created my first logo and was hooked! So now as a creative outlet, I design custom logos and pre-made logos in the evenings after a long day with my kiddos who rest snuggly in bed.  I also design blog/website headers and custom buttons and business cards.  Just email me for a quote. 

May Special!  At this time I am having a "summer sale" for the rest of this month for CoffeeShop readers!  Just use the coupon code "summer sale" for $50 off a custom logo and $10 off a pre-made logo.

I know Rita has a lot going on right now, so I offered to write a tutorial to help her out.  :-)

Since I typically use a ton of commercial-free photo shop brushes in my designs, I come across many brushes that are very low resolution and too small to work with. If you increase the brush size in Photoshop, you will end up decreasing the resolution, thereby ending up with a low resolution image. If I trace this image in a vector program, such as Inkscape (a free downloadable vector program similar to Adobe Illustrator), I can then increase the size of the brush and use it in on a billboard if I want.

1.  Begin by saving your brush or image as a tranlucent png.  Do this by opening up Photoshop or Photoshop Elements and creating a new document (File, New).  Your width and height can be about 2000 pixels high and wide with a 300 resolution and transparent document.

Now you are ready to use your brush and save as a png.  Make the brush the maximum size and click on the middle of your new document.  Save as a png file.

2.  Open up Inkscape and open up your png.  Click on Edit-Select All.

3.  Click on Path-Trace Bitmap

4.  A box will pop up- see below.  Make sure Grays is selected, Smooth is NOT selected, and Remove background is selected.  Then press OK. 

5.  Now close that box and drag your top layer off to the side.  Now, delete the layer that I have the arrow pointing to (the bottom layer).  I do this so I can be assured that I am deleting the correct layer.

6.  Now, move your layer back into the box.

Now you have two options.  You can save the file as a eps or svg vector file.  This type of image file is wonderful because you can make the image as large as you want with no loss of resolution.  If you save the file as an eps or svg vector file and want to use it in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, just open the image you wish to use the vector file or create a new file and File, Place the vector.  Then you can adjust the size to taste.  It can be sized to fit on a billboard if you want!

If you would rather work with pngs, you can resize the brush/image file in Inkscape.  Hold down the Control Key and drag the corner of your brush and you can resize how large you want your brush to be. 
After you have enlarged your element you can now save it as a png.  Press Shift+Control+E
 and a box pops up (or click on File-Export Bitmap).  

 This file needs to be at least 300 dpi (see above), create a filename, and then press Export.  Now you are ready to use your element in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements! 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. 
Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies (please, notice the new url for my blog), under the Page 3 post on May. 21, 2012. Thanks again.

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies (please, notice the new url for my blog), under the Page 2 post on May. 21, 2012. Thanks again.

  3. I'm not understanding how to make this back into a brush?