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Monday, July 9, 2007

Creating a brush with variable size

When I first started to use GIMP, one of the Photoshop® features I most missed was the ability to resize a brush on-the-fly rather than having to reselect a different size brush or create a new one of the needed size. I searched unsuccessfully for a way to do this.

Recently, as I was looking in the GIMP manual online, I noticed an item 'Creating a brush with variable size'. I hadn't ever noticed this item before, so it's either been recently added or I'm #@%&. At any rate, I'm presenting it here enhanced with screenshots for those of you who would like to make use of this handy feature.

  1. Start with opening the Brush dialog by double-clicking on the Brush area in Toolbox, or by FileDialogsBrushes. Click on the New Brush button to open the Brush Editor dialog.

  2. Name your brush at once, 'Variable Round' for instance.
  3. Your brush will appear in the Brush options with a blue corner.
  4. Now, go FilePreferencesInput Controllers
  • Click the Main Mouse Wheel tab.
  • Check Enable this controller.
  • Scroll through the Events list and select Scroll up (Shift).
  • Click on the Edit button to open a window that allows you to assign an action to the selected event.

  1. Click on the small triangle next to Context to drop the list down. Scroll through this list and select the context-brush-radius-increase item.
  2. Do the same to assign the 'context-brush-radius-decrease' action to the 'Scroll down (Shift)' event to decrease the brush size.
  3. Click on the Save button in the Brush Editor to save your brush.

I am using a third-party mouse on my iMac and didn't have success with the scroll wheel actions. However, using the Main Keyboard tab I was able to assign increase and decease brush radius to the up- and down-arrow keys. I also used the left- and right-arrow keys to decrease and increase the hardness of the brush.

If you work with a tool that has a 'Brush' option and have selected your Variable Round brush, press the Shift key and you will be able to vary the brush size by using the mouse wheel or the up- and down-arrow keys. This change will be visible in real time in the brush area of the Toolbox and in the Brush Dialog.

Hope you found this useful. --tab


SĂ©bastien said...

Very nice tip and extremely useful. I do use brushes all the time and since I'm a former Photoshop user, I was wondering how to get this nice feature in GIMP. 5 stars !

Baby Boomer said...

my gimp don't look like yours...and I cannot get it to show the button to start resizing the brushes either, what should I do??

Stephanie said...

Hi, I was wondering if you could help with importing Gimp brushes? I downloaded an arsenal, went to Preference, clicked on brushes and added them to the list & restarted. None loaded after numerous tries. I even tried to upload individual ones & restart but no success. Am I doing something wrong? Would really appreciate your help.

By the way, great site. I have been poring over it!

OUAHABIX said...

It's really great, I'm a new revert from PhotoShop too and I missed the feature, but is there a workaround for the non editable brushes, is there anyway we can get an editable copy of them that allows us to apply the trick?

bb67 said...


Though the menus in the GIMP I'm using, 2.6.10 are substantially different, and it took a bit of working out how to do it.

I'm just getting used to GIMP after changing to Win 7 64 which didn't work with my previous editor, and finding the change slow going as I get used different menus, names and techniques. Your tip takes me one more step toward fluency. Thanks for posting.

Pat Jackman said...

Thank you very much, Thomas, very much appreciated!