3.2.  Brushes Dialog

Revision History
Revision $Revision: 1980 $ 2006-02-24 j.h

Figure 13.25.  The Brushes dialog

The Brushes dialog

The Brushes dialog is used to select a brush, for use with painting tools: see the Brushes section for basic information on brushes and how they are used in GIMP. The dialog also gives you access to several functions for manipulating brushes. You can select a brush by clicking on it in the list: it will then be shown in the Brush/Pattern/Gradient area of the Toolbox. A few dozen basic brushes come pre-installed with GIMP, along with a few assorted bizarre ones that mainly serve to show you the range of possibilities. You can also create custom brushes using the Brush Editor, or by saving images in a special brush file format.

3.2.1.  Activate Dialog

The Brushes dialog is a dockable dialog; see the section on Dialogs and Docking for help on manipulating it. It can be activated in several ways:

  • From the Toolbox menu: FileDialogsBrushes.

  • From the Toolbox menu: FileDialogsCreate New DockBrushes, Patterns, and Gradients. This gives you a new window with several dialog docks, one of them opens the Brushes dialog.

  • From the Toolbox, by clicking on the brush symbol in the Brush/Pattern/Gradient area.

  • From an image menu: DialogsBrushes.

  • From the Tab menu in any dockable dialog: Add TabBrushes.

  • From the Tool Options dialog for any of the paint tools, by clicking on the Brush icon button, you get a popup with similar functionality that permits you to quickly choose a brush from the list; if you clic on the button present on the right bottom of the popup, you open the real brush dialog. Note that, depending on your Preferences, a brush selected with the popup may only apply to the currently active tool, not to other paint tools. See the Tool Option Preferences section for more information.

3.2.2.  Using the brush dialog  Grid/List modes

In the Tab menu, you can choose between View as Grid and View as List. In Grid mode, the brush shapes are laid out in a rectangular array, making it easy to see many at once and find the one you are looking for. In List mode, the shapes are lined up in a list, with the names beside them.

[Note] Note

In the Tab menu, the option Preview Size allows you to adapt the size of brush previews to your liking.

Figure 13.26.  The Brushes dialog

The Brushes dialog

The Brushes dialog (Grid mode)

The Brushes dialog

The Brushes dialog (List view)

Grid mode

At the top of the dialog appears the name of the currently selected brush, and its size in pixels.

In the center a grid view of all available brushes appears, with the currently selected one outlined. If you see a little "+" to the right of a brush, it means the brush is actually larger than it appears. If you see a little red triangle, it means the brush is an animated brush, also known as an "image hose". Clicking on a brush causes it to be selected as GIMP's current brush. Double-clicking activates the Brush Editor.

List mode

For the most part, the dialog works the same way in List mode as in Grid mode, with one exception:

If you double-click on the name of a brush, you will be able to edit it. Note, however, that you are only allowed to change the names of brushes that you have created or installed yourself, not the ones that come pre-installed with GIMP. If you try to rename a pre-installed brush, you will be able to edit the name, but as soon as you hit return or click somewhere else, the name will revert to its original value. It is a general rule that you cannot alter the resources that GIMP pre-installs for you: brushes, patterns, gradients, etc; only ones that you create yourself.  Buttons at the bottom

At the bottom of the dialog you find a couple of buttons:


Below the grid appears a scale entry for “Spacing”, which is the distance between consecutive brush marks when you trace out a brushstroke with the pointer.

Edit Brush

This activates the Brush Editor. Pressing the button will open the Editor for any brush. It only works, however, for parametric brushes: for any other type, the Editor will show you the brush but not allow you to do anything with it.

New Brush

This creates a new parametric brush, initializes it with a small fuzzy round shape, and opens the Brush Editor so that you can modify it. The new brush is automatically saved in your personal brushes folder.

Duplicate Brush

This button is only enabled if the currently selected brush is a parametric brush. If so, the brush is duplicated, and the Brush Editor is opened so that you can modify the copy. The result is automatically saved in your personal brushes folder.

Delete Brush

This removes all traces of the brush, both from the dialog and the folder where its file is stored, if you have permission to do so. It asks for confirmation before doing anything.

Refresh Brushes

If you add brushes to your personal brushes folder or any other folder in your brush search path, by some means other than the Brush Editor, this button causes the list to be reloaded, so that the new entries will be available in the dialog.

The functions performed by these buttons can also be accessed from the dialog pop-up menu, activated by right-clicking anywhere in the brush grid/list, or by choosing the top item, Brushes menu, from the dialog Tab menu.

3.2.3.  Brush Editor

Figure 13.27.  The Brushes Editor dialog

The Brushes Editor dialog

The Brush Editor allows you either to view the brush parameters of a brush supplied by GIMP, and you can't change them, or to create a custom brush from a geometrical shape, a circle, a square, a diamond. This editor has several elements:

The dialog bar: As with all dialog windows, a click on the small triangle prompts a menu allowing you to set the aspect of the Brush Editor.

The title bar: To give a name to your brush.

The preview area: Brush changes appear in real time in this preview.



A circle, a square and a diamond are available. You will modify them by using the following options:


Distance between brush center and edge, in the width direction. A square with a 10 pixels radius will have a 20 pixels side. A diamond with a 5 pixels radius will have a 10 pixels width.


This parameter is useful only for square and diamond. With a square, increasing spikes results in a polygon. With a diamond, you get a star.


This parameter controls the feathering of the brush border. Value = 1.00 gives a brush with a sharp border (0.00-1.00).

Aspect ratio

This parameter controls the brush Width/Height ratio. A diamond with a 5 pixels radius and an Aspect Ratio = 2, will be flattened with a 10 pixels width and a 5 pixels height (1.0-20.0).


This angle is the angle between the brush width direction, which is normally horizontal, and the horizontal direction, counter-clock-wise. When this value increases, the brush width turns counter-clock-wise (0° to 180°).


When the brush draws a line, it actually stamps the brush icon repeatedly. If brush stamps are very close, you get the impression of a solid line: you get that with Spacing = 1. (1.00 to 200.0).