When your new animated brush is created, it is displayed within the image
window and you would like save it into a gih format. You select
menu, name your work with the gih extension in the new window relevant
field and as soon as you pressed the Save button, the following window is
The dialog to describe the animated brush.
This dialog box has several options not easy to understand. They allow you
to determine the way your brush is animated.
"Spacing" is the distance between consecutive brush marks when you
trace out a brushstroke with the pointer. You must consider drawing
with a brush, whatever the paint tool, like stamping. If Spacing is
low, stamps will be very close and stroke look continuous. If
spacing is high, stamps will be separated: that's interesting with a
color brush (like "green pepper" for instance). Value varies from 1
to 200 and this percentage refers to brush "diameter": 100% is one
It's the brush name that will appear at the top of Brush Dialog
(grid mode) when the brush is selected.
That's size of cells you will cut up in layers... Default is one
cell per layer and size is that of the layer. Then there is only
one brush aspect per layer.
We could have only one big layer and cut up in it the cells that
will be used for the different aspects of the animated brush.
For instance, we want a 100x100 pixels brush with 8 different
aspects. We can take these 8 aspects from a 400x200 pixels layer,
or from a 300x300 pixels layer but with one cell unused.
Number of cells
That's the number of cells (one cell per aspect) that will be cut
in every layer. Default is the number of layers as there is only
one layer per aspect.
This tells how cells have been arranged in layers. If, for example,
you have placed height cells at the rate of two cells per layer on
four layers, GIMP will display: "1 rows of 2 columns on each layer".
Dimension, Ranks, Selection
There things are getting complicated! Explanations are necessary to
understand how to arrange cell and layers.
GIMP starts retrieving cells from each layer and stacks them into a
FIFO stack (First In First Out: the first in is at the top of the
stack and so can be first out). In our example 4 layers with 2 cells
in each, we'll have, from top to bottom: first cell of first layer,
second cell of first layer, first cell of second layer, second cell
of second layer..., second cell of fourth layer. With one cell per
layer or with several cells per layer, result is the same. You can
see this stack in the Layer Dialog of the resulting .gih image file.
Then GIMP creates a computer array from this stack with the
you have set. You can use four dimensions.
In computer science an array has a "myarray(x,y,z)" form for a 3
dimensions array (3D). It's easy to imagine a 2D array: on a paper
it's an array with rows and columns
With a 3d array we don't talk rows and columns but
The first dimension is along x axis, the second dimension along y
axis, the third along z axis. Each dimension has ranks of cells.
To fill up this array, GIMP starts retrieving cells from the top of
stack. The way it fills the array reminds that of an odometer: right
rank digits turn first and, when they reach their maximum, left rank
digits start running. If you have some memories of Basic programming
you will have, with an array(4,2,2), the following succession:
(4,2,2). We will see this later in an example.
Besides the rank number that you can give to each dimension, you can
also give them a Selection mode. You have
several modes that will be applied when drawing:
: GIMP selects a rank from the concerned dimension according
to the order ranks have in that dimension
: GIMP selects a rank at random from the concerned dimension.
: GIMP selects a rank in the concerned dimension according to
the moving angle of the brush.
The first rank is for the direction 0°, upwards. The other
ranks are affected, counter clockwise, to an angle whose value
is 360/number of ranks. So, with 4 ranks in the concerned
dimension, the angle will move 90° counterclockwise for each
direction change: second rank will be affected to 270° (-90°)
(leftwards), third rank to 180° (downwards) and fourth rank to
x tilt and y tilt
are options for sophisticated drawing tablets.
A one dimension image pipe
Well! What is all this useful for? We'll see that gradually with
examples. You can actually place in each dimension cases that will
give your brush a particular action.
Let us start with a 1D brush which will allow us to study selection
modes action. We can imagine it like this:
Follow these steps:
Open a new 30x30 pixels image, RGB with Transparent fill type.
Using the Text tool create 4 layers "1", "2", "3", "4". Delete
the "background" layer.
Save this image first with .xcf extension to keep its properties
then save it as .gih.
The Save As Dialog is opened: select a destination for your
image. OK. The GIH dialog is opened: Choose Spacing 100, give a
name in Description box, 30x30 for Cell Size, 1 dimension,
4 ranks and choose "Incremental" in Selection box. OK.
You may have difficulties to save directly in the GIMP Brush
directory. In that case, save the
file manually into the
directory. Then come back into the Toolbox, click in the brush
icon to open the Brush Dialog then click on "Refresh". Your new
brush appears in the Brush window. Select it. Select pencil tool
for instance and click and hold with it on a new image
You see 1, 2, 3, 4 digits following one another in order.
Take your .xcf image file back and save it as .gih setting
Selection to "Random": digits will be displayed at random
Now select "Angular" Selection:
A 3 dimensions image hose
We are now going to create a 3D animated brush: its orientation will
vary according to brush direction, it will alternate Left/Right
hands regularly and its color will vary at random between black and
The first question we have to answer to is the number of images that
is necessary. We reserve the first dimension (x) to the brush
direction (4 directions). The second dimension (y) is for Left/Right
alternation and the third dimension (z) for color variation. Such a
brush is represented in a 3D array "myarray(4,2,2)":
There are 4 ranks in first dimension (x), 2 ranks in second
dimension (y) and 2 ranks in third dimension (z). We see that there
are 4x2x2 = 16 cells. We need 16 images.
Creating images of dimension 1 (x):
Open a new 30x30 pixels image, RGB with Transparent Fill Type.
Using the zoom draw a left hand with fingers upwards. Save it as
handL0k.xcf (hand Left O° Black).
Open the Layer Dialog. Double click on the layer to open the
Layer Attributes Dialog and rename it to handL0k.
Duplicate the layer. Let visible only the duplicated layer,
select it and apply a 90° rotation (Layer/Transform/ 90°
rotation counter-clockwise). Rename it to handL-90k.
Repeat the same operations to create handL180k and handL90k.
Creating images of dimension 2 (y):
This dimension in our example has two ranks, one for left hand
and the other for right hand. The left hand rank exists yet. We
shall build right hand images by flipping it horizontally.
Duplicate the handL0k layer. Let it visible only and select it.
Rename it to handR0K. Apply Layer/Transform/Flip Horizontally.
Repeat the same operation on the other left hand layers to
create their right hand equivalent.
Re-order layers to have a counter-clockwise rotation from top to
bottom, alternating Left and Right: handL0k, handR0k, handL-90k,
handR-90k, ..., handR90k.
Creating images of dimension 3 (z):
The third dimension has two ranks, one for black color and the
other for blue color. The first rank, black, exists yet. We well
see that images of dimension 3 will be a copy, in blue, of the
images of dimension 2. So we will have our 16 images. But a row
of 16 layers is not easy to manage: we will use layers with two
Select the handL0k layer and let it visible only. Using
Image/Canvas Size change canvas size to 60x30 pixels.
Duplicate hand0k layer. On the copy, fill the hand with blue
using Bucket Fill tool.
Now, select the Move tool. Double click on it to accede to its
properties: check "Move the Current Layer" option. Move the blue
hand into the right part of the layer precisely with the help of
Make sure only handL0k and its blue copy are visible. Right
click on the Layer Dialog: Apply the "Merge Visible Layers"
command with the option "Expand as Necessary". You get a 60x30
pixels layer with the black hand on the left and the blue hand
on the right. Rename it to "handL0".
Repeat the same operations on the other layers.
Set layers in order: Layers must be set in
order so that GIMP can find the required image at some point
of using the brush. Our layers are yet in order but we must
understand more generally how to have them in order.There are
two ways to imagine this setting in order. The first method is
mathematical: GIMP divides the 16 layers first by 4; that gives
4 groups of 4 layers for the first dimension. Each group
represents a direction of the brush. Then, it divides each group
by 2; that gives 8 groups of 2 layers for the second dimension:
each group represents a L/R alternation. Then another division
by 2 for the third dimension to represent a color at random
between black and blue.
The other method is visual, by using the array representation.
Correlation between two methods is represented in next image:
How will GIMP read this array?: GIMP
starts with the first dimension which is programmed for
“angular”, for instance -90°. In this -90°
rank, in yellow, in the second dimension, it selects a L/R
alternation, in an “incremental” way. Then,
in the third dimension, in a random way, it chooses a color.
Finely, our layers must be in the following order:
Voilà. Your brush is ready. Save it as .xcf first then as .gih
with the following parameters: Spacing:100 Description:Hands
Cell Size: 30x30 Number of cells:16 Dimensions: 3
Dimension 1: 4 ranks Selection: Angular
Dimension 2: 2 ranks Selection: Incremental
Dimension 3: 2 ranks Selection: Random
Place your .gih file into GIMP brush directory and refresh the
brush box. You can now use your brush.
Here is the result by stroking an elliptical selection
with the brush: