How to install GIMP brushes

How To Install GIMP Brushes On Windows, Mac and Ubuntu

How To Install GIMP Brushes On Windows, Mac and Ubuntu 1024 602 Nick Saporito

In today’s tutorial I’ll be outlining how to install GIMP brushes on the Windows, Mac and Ubuntu operating systems. The process is relatively similar across all three platforms, but there are subtle differences that I’ll be pointing out.

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Download Your Brushes

The first step, assuming you haven’t done so already, is to locate some third-party brushes that you’d like to use in GIMP.

The wonderful thing about GIMP is that you’re not limited to GIMP brushes — you can also install Photoshop brushes in GIMP as well!

Accepted Brush Formats

According to GIMP’s documentation, the accepted brush formats are as follows…

  • GBR – This is GIMP’s own format for standard brushes that allow for ordinary brushes usages, like sketching and coloring.
  • GIH – Short for “Gimp Image Hose,” this is GIMP’s own format for animated brushes.
  • VBR – This is the format used for brushes created using GIMP’s Brush Editor.
  • MYB – These are MyPaint brushes — a third-party extension within GIMP that allows for more advanced brush usage.
  • ABR – This is a Photoshop brush file. Although not stated in the GIMP documentation, Photoshop brushes will indeed work in GIMP the same way any of the aforementioned formats will.

Where To Find GIMP Brushes

If you’re looking for some quality brushes to use in GIMP, here’s a few sites I like to use personally…

  • Brusheezy – A site dedicated specifically to free Photoshop brushes. Simply search for the type of brush you’re looking for or browse through some popular picks.
  • DeviantArt – An online network for the art community in general. What I like to do is search for downloadable brushes using the search function on the site. DeviantArt encompasses art and design as a whole, so you’ll have to search for brushes specifically.
  • Creative Market – An online marketplace for premium user-generated design products. Since these are premium products, brushes found on Creative Market will cost you.

You can also check out my 20 favorite free GIMP brushes here.

Once you have your brush file(s) ready to go, we can now install them on GIMP.

Install GIMP Brushes On Windows

Windows logo

Installing GIMP brushes in Windows is quite simple. Here’s a video tutorial I put together a couple of years ago…

This tutorial was created using an older version of GIMP, but the methodology still works for installing GIMP brushes on newer versions.

In summary…

Step 1: Open the Brushes Folder

To install GIMP brushes on Windows, first locate the folder where GIMP brushes are stored by following this pathway:

Local Disk (C:) > Program Files > GIMP 2 > Share > GIMP > 2.0 > Brushes

GIMP brushes folder location in Windows

You are now in the designated location for installing GIMP brushes.

Step 2: Place The Brush File Into The Brushes Folder

Grab your brush file (make sure it’s one of the formats that I outlined previously and not the ZIP folder it came in) and either click and drag it into the Brushes folder or copy and paste it.

Folder location

You can see the third-party GIMP brushes I’ve installed in the screenshot above.

Step 3: Refresh Your Brushes

Simply open up GIMP and refresh your brushes by clicking on the button that reads Refresh Brushes. It should be located on the right side of your screen, just beneath the Brush window.

The refresh brushes button in GIMP

If you don’t see a brushes window on your screen, go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Brushes.

The great part about this is that you don’t need to restart GIMP in order to activate your brushes! They should appear and be usable upon hitting the refresh button. You can keep GIMP running the entire time.

Install GIMP Brushes On Mac

Apple logo

Installing GIMP brushes on Mac works similarly as it does to Windows — the main difference is the pathway you follow to get there. Here’s a video outlining the steps…

In summary…

Step 1: Locate The Brushes Folder

Copy the brush file(s) you’d like to install by selecting them and press Command + C, then navigate to the following location:

User > Library > GIMP > 2.10 (or whatever version number you have installed) > Brushes

Installing GIMP brushes on a Mac

Credit: Photoshop Design and Photo editing Tutorials from HowTech on YouTube

It should look something like the screenshot taken above.

Step 2: Place Your Brushes Into The Folder

Once you’re in the brushes folder, go ahead and paste your brush file(s) by pressing Command + V on your keyboard.

Step 3: Refresh The Brushes Window

Simply open GIMP and refresh your brushes window by pressing the Refresh Brushes icon on the right-hand side of your screen.

The refresh brushes button in GIMP

If you don’t see a brushes window on your screen, go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Brushes.

Once you’ve done that, your GIMP brushes will be installed on your Mac and will be ready for use.

Install GIMP Brushes On Ubuntu

Ubuntu logo

Installing GIMP brushes on Ubuntu operating systems is slightly different because some of the pathway is hidden. Here’s a video outlining the process…

Locate the brushes you’d like to install and copy them by pressing Control + C on your keyboard.

Step 1: Locate The Brushes Folder

Open the Home folder, then press Control + H to show the hidden folders. The hidden folders will now be visible, and .gimp-2.10 should be one of them. Go ahead and open the .gimp-2.10 folder.

Step 2: Paste The Brushes Into The Folder

Open the .gimp-2.10 folder. Once it’s open, you should see the Brushes folder. Open the brushes folder and paste your brush file(s)

Brushes folder location on Ubuntu

Credit: Photoshop Design and Photo editing Tutorials from HowTech on YouTube

Step 3: Refresh Your Brushes in GIMP

Simply open GIMP and refresh your brushes window by pressing the Refresh Brushes icon on the right-hand side of your screen.

The refresh brushes button in GIMP

If you don’t see a brushes window on your screen, go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Brushes.

Your GIMP brushes are now ready for use in Ubuntu!

Get Started with GIMP!

Want to learn more about how GIMP works? Check out The GIMP Series – a comprehensive collection of over 60 videos where I go over all of the major tools, features and function in GIMP and explain what they do, how they work, and why they’re useful.

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Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design. A full portfolio and information regarding services offered can be found at LogosByNick.com.

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