DIYday Lesson 9: GIMP 102: Brushes

Hi and welcome! You’re here, which means you haven’t been scared away by my last post. Awesomeness. This one will be solely dedicated to GIMP brushes.

GIMPGIMP comes preloaded with a handful of brushes–essentially the basics to paint with. Yeah, they’re cool and cute and fun, but if you really want to get into it, you will probably need to find some more brushes. If you have read this post on Stocks and Resources, you know how to go about it. If not, read it first before you go communing with the mighty gods of Google.

First thing’s first. How to install a brush (or brush set). It’s actually pretty easy. They’re not mini programs, but files and you just have to save them in the right folder. In Windows 7, this will be in the following directory: (C:)–>Users–>YourUserName–>gimpX.X–>brushes (substitute X.X with the latest version you have installed). Note that you are NOT going into Program Files at all and you never  will with GIMP. You can install brushes or patterns at any time, whether GIMP is running or not. If GIMP is running, however, the new brushes won’t appear until you refresh the brushes window. The same goes for fonts as well.

Brush tool is right under the "A" text tool and right next to the pink eraser tool
Brush tool is right under the “A” text tool and right next to the pink eraser tool

Once you have the brushes installed, you’re ready to go. There are different styles of brushes. Most work more like stamps. To use  a brush, first select the brush tool, and then select the type of brush you want to use. With the stampy brushes, all you have to do is click where you want it and it will appear on your layer. If you click the same place again, the stamp will be thicker. The more you click, the thicker it will be and depending on the brush you may not want to go too crazy with it. There is also a History window where you can undo something if you go overboard.

You can size the brushes but be careful of resolution. Not all brushes are meant to be stretched out to 2000 pixels. Always zoom in to 100% on your image to make sure the resolution is still good. A good thing to do is to put brushes on transparencies over your image. That way you don’t mess up the image if you make a mistake and you can try several different ones to see which is better without having to start all over again if you change your mind. Remember, layers are your friends. Don’t be afraid of them.

Also, if you have different layers, you can manipulate them with special effects. It’s always fun to experiment. =)

If you have Photoshop, note that you cannot use a Photoshop brush in GIMP. The file types are incompatible. I am sure there is a way to convert them, because it is possible to create brushes in GIMP, but I have not done it so I cannot tell you how to go about it. There are, however, tutorials out there and many brush sets come customized from Photoshop to GIMP or vice versa.

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