In this article, I’ll be providing you links to what I think are the best free brushes to download for GIMP. All of the brushes are linked to Deviant Art pages, which is a trusted resource for downloading assets for GIMP (especially with Deviant Art recently updating its website). You’ll have to create a free Deviant Art account to download the brushes.
I have tested out each of the brush packs to make sure they are still downloadable from the Deviant Art website (many popular brush packs no longer have working downloads on Deviant Art) and have also installed the brushes in GIMP to ensure they work.
Additionally, you can watch the video below to learn how to install these brushes.
1.”Brushes” by Aaron Griffin Art
Aaron Griffin is an amazing digital painter who creates his own brushes for his artwork. The brushes he’s created for this pack are .ABR brushes (intended for Photoshop), but work great in GIMP as well (yes, Photoshop brushes work in GIMP – most of the time).
Keep in mind that this brush pack contains 113 different brushes, so if you aren’t looking for a ton of new brushes to add to your GIMP you may want to pass on this one. However, if you don’t mind adding over 100 new brushes to your GIMP, then you’ll love this dynamic brush pack!
2. 41 Grunge Brushes by Keep Waiting
The next brush set contains 41 grunge brushes – which are great for adding texture or wear to projects like t-shirt designs. There are a variety of other applications for this type of brush, including mimicking traditional paintbrushes for digital paintings or adding textured transparency to any layer (using a layer mask or using the brush as an eraser). The sky’s the limit with this grunge brush pack!
3. Jon Neimeister Digital Oils by Andantonius
Next up is a really incredible oil brushes pack that contains 23 brushes mimicking traditional oil painting. This brush pack was original created for Photoshop, but once again works perfectly fine in GIMP. I recommend adjusting the Tool Options for each brush you select from this group – decreasing the brush size and decreasing the spacing to get a better result (the spacing will be 25 by default, which makes the brush appear less smooth while you paint. Going with a lower value between 1-5 will fix this).
Keep in mind that not all the brush settings shown in the Deviant Art image, which contains instructions on how to use the brush with Photoshop, will be available in GIMP.
Digital artists creating oil paintings will love this brush set!
4. Watercolor Brushes by Mcbadshoes
The next brush set, which contains 38 different brushes, emulates effects created by painting with watercolors. Again, these brushes were originally created for Photoshop, but work really well with GIMP. I also recommend adjusting the default brush settings in the Tool Options when you select a watercolor brush to get the results you want. You can either drag the brushes from this set or simply click once with the brush to create more of a watercolor “stamp” effect.
This brush pack also includes a folder full of JPEG images in case you want to create your own brushes or use the watercolor images instead. To install these brushes, drag and drop the ABR file into your GIMP brushes folder.
I’ve seen these brushes used for complete watercolor paintings, as well as to create watercolor effects in things like logo design.
5. GIMP Texture Brush Set by Jagged 88
The final brush set on this list is a step up from the default textured brushes that come with GIMP by default (excluding the textured brushes found in the MyPaint Brush Dialogue). This is a great brush pack for adding texture to your digital paintings, digital drawings, or designs. There are 5 texture brushes in total, with each one designed specifically for GIMP (they are .GBR files – which stands for GIMP Brush, as opposed to .ABR files which are created for Photoshop but still work in GIMP).
These brushes will download as a ZIP file, which you can then unzip on your computer (right click and choose “Extract All”). Then, drag all the “GBR” files into your GIMP Brushes folder (there are also some other file types in the unzipped folder that don’t need to be dragged into the GIMP folder – including a PNG file and a text document).