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How to use Photoshop brushes with Image Modes tutorial

image modes and color modes and Photoshop brushes
  1. Image menu and mode followed by CMYK

  2. Go to the brush tools in the toolbar

  3. Apply stroke in CMYK color mode etc

  4. To go back to RGB, just go back to the same image menu and select the RGB option

Tutorial on how to use Photoshop brushes with image modes (such as RGB and CMYK and LAB etc) to create stunning color designs . Photoshop brushes can be used in any image mode / color mode. You can use the Photoshop brushes in image mode RGB as well as image mode CMYK and LAB. You can apply brush strokes in CMYK and then convert back to RGB image mode. You can apply Photoshop brushes to individual channels in the image modes of CMYK and LAB to create interesting designs. You can also use the Photoshop brushes to great effect with image mode RGB and 32bit per channel. The resulting conversion back to image mode 8bit RGB via HDR toning creates some interesting Photoshop brush effects. This tutorial shows you a number of steps of converting files to other image modes and using the Photoshop brushes in those image modes. The tutorial also shows the result of HDR toning from image mode 32bit to 8bits per channel. You can use the Photoshop brushes in CMYK / LAB and other color / image modes / models as well as RGB.

CMYK Mode and Photoshop brushes

 color CMYK image mode photoshop brushes

You can also apply the brush stroke to CMYK's color channels


  1. Image menu

  2. Mode

  3. CMYK

  4. channel panel

  5. select individual cyan, magenta channels via the channels panel.

  6. Add brush strokes


You can use the dabs in CMYK to create some truly extreme color effects, especially combined with the black channel.

LAB color and Photoshop brushes

 color lab image mode photoshop brushes
  1. Image menu

  2. mode

  3. LAB

  4. Apply the brush stroke to LAB image

You can also apply the strokes in different colors to LAB channels L and AB channels via the channels panel


The generated dabs seem to be a lot more subtle in LAB mode, more diffuse.

32 bits / channel and Photoshop brushes color RGB

photoshop brushes image modes color 32bit

The RGB option is available for 32 bits channel mode via the image mode menu. In 16 bits / channel RGB LAB CMYK are available for the strokes. Some of the filters are not available in the 32bits etc.


I have been using the default standard soft round brush stroke. With 32bit and 16bit channel, you also have the added feature of the HDR toning when you convert back to RGB 8bit so the results can be displayed on web pages etc and the HDR toning has a large number of presets as well as settings to either create very close to the same result Visually) in 8bit and 32bits per channel but you can also use the settings to invert / grayscale / added saturation etc.


The result can be very different from the actual generated brush strokes.

Other resources

1. overlay and texture brushes

2. number brushes 1234567890

3. link brushes

Sources and references

1. Image modes

Other tutorials

1. Photoshop brushes and ABR format and specification

2. how to use the Photoshop brushes with blending modes

3. how to use custom shapes to create brushes in Photoshop

Video tutorial

A video showing the use of the strokes in Adobe ® Photoshop ® in CMYK LAB etc [Youtube]