8 signs that you’re buying too many digital brushes

October 25, 2021

8 signs that you’re buying too many digital brushes

A designer can never have too many fonts, a calligrapher can’t have too many pens, and a digital lettering artist can’t have too many digital brushes… right? 

Usually our brush collection is out of sight and out of mind, tucked away in the Procreate Library, so it can be easy to keep on accumulating extra stuff without taking stock of what’s really useful.

Here are eight signs that you might just need a pause from new brushes. Hands up if you relate to more than three!


1. Procrastination by brush shopping

Researching the perfect tools is part of the project, isn’t it? When we’re not feeling creatively inspired, there can be that little voice that says ‘This would be so much easier if you had a brush that…’ Before you know it, you’ve spent two hours on Pinterest or Designspiration and then it’s time for a coffee break.


2. It’s in your Procreate library… but you can’t remember how it got there

You’re randomly scrolling through when you come across a mysterious brush set that you have zero memory of – literally never seen it before. Except you’re the only person who could have imported it on to your iPad.


3. You bought the same brush pack twice

Another version of the mysterious forgotten brush set: only this time, you don’t notice it until you’re importing your shiny new purchase into Procreate and… it’s already there. 


4. You have a graveyard folder of unzipped brushes

At least you’re aware of these ones. However, there’s a lingering guilt every time you open your downloads folder and see all those unzipped files. (A lot of freebie brushes end up sitting here too.) Ever batch-bought a load of brushes, downloaded them, and decided you’ll come back to them later? Double points if they’ve been there for more than two years. 


5. The most exciting thing about that new project is… new brushes

Sometimes, we designers can be restrained and stick to what we already have: there’s really no reason to splash out on that exciting set of brushes. Until the next project comes up… and now it seems ridiculous NOT to invest in that pack of halftones, smudges, or neon lights. Finally!


6. You’re convinced that the perfect brush will level up your lettering

When comparison or imposter syndrome strikes, and we’re feeling a little insecure (happens to us all) we can be drawn to new equipment to close that gap between where we are now and where we want to be. Remember that it always takes consistent practice to develop great lettering skills, and stocking up on new brushes won’t magically transform your work (sorry!) 

If you are looking to improve your lettering, these are my top 5 books for developing your technique or check out my "Level Up your Script Lettering" course on Skillshare.


7. You feel like you’re not using any of your brushes well

It can take a while to figure out how to handle a new brush effectively, and you’ll probably get better results when you’re familiar with its individual behaviour and interaction with the Apple Pencil. Taking a little time to practice with the sets you already have can help you understand what really works with your style, and what you’re looking for.


8. Overwhelm is slowing down your process

A bit like getting dressed in the morning, having too many options to choose from can be stressful rather than creatively fulfilling. A small capsule wardrobe of clothes that all work together means you can mix and match easily, and this can be true for lettering too – a capsule set of brushes that complement each other (like this) can give you plenty of variation without overwhelming choice.


What next?

We’re definitely not telling you to stop buying brushes forever (I do make some brilliantly useful ones for the right projects!) And sometimes it’s really beneficial to invest in new tools (check out these tips for finding the best Procreate brush for you.) 

But being clear about what you already have, and what you really need, can help streamline your process and free up creative space for awesome work. So:

  • Have a tidy up in your Procreate library, and remove imported brushes you don’t like or never use
  • Double check what you’ve already got before you make an impulse buy - even if it’s a great deal!
  • Plan your wishlist (Pinterest can be helpful) so you can prioritise for your next project 


Did you recognise yourself in any of these?

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