Adding Brushes in GIMP
I've been using GIMP on and off for a few months now, and have got to know it pretty well for my purposes. Since GIMP is quite functional for skinning and profile painting, and is an easy choice for those who either prefer freeware, are linux users, or are wanting to test the waters without laying out the cash for PaintShop or Photoshop, I'm putting together a few tutorials that I hope will help out.
In this article we'll be looking at brush and color management, with the brush tools being a particularly difficult spot for some just starting out with GIMP. What we'll aim to do here is cover the ways to add and manage brush libraries, as well as talk some about brush edits.
Note that the screenshots in this article were taken on linux, and may look slightly different than a Windows machine.
Firstly, we'll add some new brushes. To start with, I've created a small library of round brushes with different sizes and hardnesses. These brushes are very similar to those I've frequently used in Photoshop. You can download this set of brushes from the Simmers Paint Shop download library here:
After downloading and unzipping the folder containing the brushes, now we'll add them to GIMP. The first point to consider is how GIMP manages brushes. From the main GIMP window (the one containing the tool buttons) choose FILE>PREFERENCES to open the main GIMP preferences window. Now click to expand the 'Folders' menu item, and you'll see the 'Brushes' item inside. Here's a screenshot of what you'll see:
Lets describe what these options control. Firstly you'll see that there are a few entries listed already in the brush folders section. These are the default brush locations. Any with check mark boxes beside them can be written to if you make a brush edit. Uncheck the box beside any directory you wish to protect from changes.
It's important to note that you can have multiple folders containing brushes which GIMP will load on startup. This gives nice flexibility when choosing which brushes will appear in our brush palette window. Now lets use this knowledge to install our new brushes. Navigate to a location where you'd like to have these new brushes permanently stored. I've chosen to place them in the same folder which holds the default GIMP brush set, but it can be where ever you wish. In this screenshot you can see the original brush folder inside the GIMP 2.2 directory, and just outside on my desktop I've got my own new brushes saved in the 'adlabs6 brushes' folder. I'll just drag my new folder into the GIMP 2.2 directory and I'm done.
Now back in GIMP, you can head back to the brush folder control panel and add the new directory by clicking the 'new' icon above the folder list. From here I pointed to the correct directory and clicked OK. Be sure to realize that all the directories listed on the brush folders page will appear in your brush library in GIMP, so any folders containing brushes you DON'T want included, be sure to delete them from this list (you can add them again later if you wish).
And so now I've got everything set. Restart GIMP if needed, and take a look at your brush palette and see if it's what you've got. Here's mine:
Now I'll talk some about how the brushes are arranged in the palette. As far as I can tell, any of the brushes in the GIMP brush palette are arranged alphabetically, without regard to which brush folder they are drawn from. This will cause havok if like me, you enjoy having your brushes all arranged in very organized groups by type! After some tinkering with the naming idea, I found that I could actually control the way the brushes appeared by renaming the brushes according to how I wanted them grouped in the palette. you can see the results of that in how nice my palette looks in the screenshot.
If you add some other brushes later on, you can keep this in mind when building your library. It takes some extra time but is worth it when the workflow is so much smoother while working.