Using custom brushes in Paint.NET

Contents
  1. The free downloadable plugin makes it easy to use custom brushes.
  2. Add custom brushes to Paint.NET
  3. Install the Paint.NET Custom Brush Plugin
  4. Make your own brush
  5. Use your own brush in Paint.NET

The free downloadable plugin makes it easy to use custom brushes.

Paint.NET is a Windows PC application for editing graphics and photos. If you’re not familiar with Paint.NET, it’s a popular and fairly powerful image editor for Windows computers that arguably offers a better interface than GIMP, another well-known free image editor.

You can read an overview of the Paint.NET application and find a link to a download page where you can get your free copy.

Here’s how easy it is to create and use your own brushes in Paint.NET.

Add custom brushes to Paint.NET

Although Paint.NET comes with a set of preset brush templates for you to use in your work, there is no default option to create and use your own custom brushes.

However, thanks to Simon Brown’s generosity and hard work, you can download and install his free Custom Brushes plugin for Paint.NET. Soon you will enjoy this powerful new functionality.

The plugin is now part of the plugin package, which contains several plugins that add brand new features to this popular raster image editor.

One is the Editable Text feature, which makes Paint.NET much more flexible when working with text.

Install the Paint.NET Custom Brush Plugin

If you haven’t downloaded a copy of Simon Brown’s Plugin Pack yet, you can get a free copy for yourself from Simon’s site.

Paint.NET does not include any user interface tools for installing and managing plugins, but you will find full instructions with screenshots on the page where you downloaded your copy of the plugin package.

After the plugin package is installed, you can launch Paint.NET and proceed to the next step.

Make your own brush

The next step is to create a file to use as a brush, or select an image file to use as a brush. You can use most common image file types to create your own brushes, including JPEG, PNG, GIF, and Paint.NET PDN files.

If you’re going to be making your own brushes from scratch, you should ideally create an image file with the maximum size you’ll be using with the brush, as increasing the brush size later can degrade the quality; shrinking the brush is usually not a problem.

Also pay attention to the colors of your custom brush as it cannot be changed during use unless you want the brush to apply only one color.

Use your own brush in Paint.NET

Using a custom brush in Paint.NET is relatively easy, but it’s done in a dialog box, not directly on the page.

  1. Go to layers Add new layer † This sets the brush to its own layer.

  2. Go to Effects instruments MakeBrushesMini to open the dialog box. The first time you use the plugin, you need to add a new brush. Then all the brushes you have added will be listed in the right column.

  3. Press the button Add brush and navigate to the image file you want to use as the base of the brush.

  4. After you load your brush, control how it works using the controls in the top dialog bar.

Picklist Brush Size goes without saying, and ideally you should never choose a size larger than the original brush file.

Brush Mode has two settings:

  • Color applies the original image to the canvas
  • Mask treats the brush like a stamp. This means that you can set a color by clicking the box on the right and the brush will then apply a solid shape that matches the brush shape filled with the selected color. Note that if the brush does not have a transparent background, the brush shape will be a rectangle or square, not a graphic shape. PNG, GIF, and PDN files support transparent backgrounds.

Input field Speed allows you to specify how often the brush applies the original image. Here, the lower rotational speed generally results in a wider spread of the brush strokes. A higher value, such as 100, can produce a very compact result that can look like an elongated shape.

To allow other controls: Cancel last action to repeat the action was just undone and yield image in original condition.

Knob Okay applies a new brush to the image. Knob Cancel cancels all work done in the dialog box.

As you can see in the attached image, you can use this plugin to create dense areas of a drawing or simply apply individual images to a page. This tool is very useful for saving and applying graphical elements that you regularly use in your work.

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