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Create a Heart Brush in GIMP Using Paths Tool

I'm a stock photographer with a passion for writing. I have extensive experience using GIMP to edit photos and create new designs.

Heart brushes created with GIMP

Heart brushes created with GIMP

A heart brush can be used for many purposes such as creating a romantic background or Valentine's Day card. With this tutorial you will learn how to create a heart shape brush using the paths tool in GIMP.

Open GIMP and make a new image; I made mine 3000 x 3000px. If you don’t plan to use your brush for high resolution (large) images, you can go for a smaller image, something like 800 x 800px. It’s important to create a square image, so the height and width of the image must be the same.

Now, to make our life later easier, we need to create two guides: one horizontal and one vertical. For this, we need to repeat the steps of creating a new guide twice.

Go to image / guides / new guide. Guides should go exactly through the middle of our image therefore we choose:

  • First guide: Position - Horizontal 1500
  • Second guide: Position - Vertical 1500

Now we have two lines showing us the middle of the image.

Make a new transparent layer and call it heart. To get a perfect heart we will create one side of the heart then copy it and flip it over.

Choose the paths tool and put four points as shown in Fig 1. The first and last (fourth) point must be located on the vertical guide.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Now, pointing to the middle between the first two points, pull the line up (see Fig 2). Two levels will appear at both points (one level at each point).

Move those levels towards each other to create a curve. Do it roughly at first just so the shape of the heart begins to show; we will do adjustments after.

Move onto the next two points and do the same thing with levels creating a little curve.

Finally, create a small curve between the last two points.



Now we need to fine-tune our first half of the heart. Note that levels of the path can be made shorter and longer, as well as pulled any way you want/need. So it all allows us to create the exact shape we have in mind.

To avoid sharp corners and uneven transition between different parts of the path, you need to make sure you make two levels look as one straight line. It’s good to zoom in on the image; it will help you to see whether the line is really straight.

Also, to avoid our heart look too round at the bottom, level of the last point should almost lay on the path as shown in Fig 3.



Activate the paint brush tool and select 100% hardness brush and set the brush size to 30.

With layer heart selected, go to paths, right-click and choose stroke path or select this option at the bottom of the path window (second icon from the right).

Now select stroke with a paint tool, then choose paint tool—paintbrush and leave emulate brush dynamics unchecked. You will have now the right side of the heart as shown in Fig 4.



If your heart path is visible, click on the eye next to it and go to layers. Duplicate the heart layer and flip it horizontally by going to layer --> transform --˘ flip horizontally as seen in Fig 5.

We don’t need guides anymore: to deactivate them go to view --> show guides and uncheck this option.

Zoom your image to 100% to see if the points of both sides of the heart connect smoothly if everything looks right, flatten your image by going to image --> flatten.



Select the crop tool and select your heart—leave a tiny bit of space at every side and press enter.

The below step is simple but very important, so don’t miss it.

Go to image --> Grayscale. A conversion to Grayscale makes all white areas of the image (our brush) disappear when it is saved to brushes.

All that is left is to save the brush.

However, if you want your heart to be filled with colour, follow the next steps.

Take the fuzzy select tool and click on the white space in the middle of the heart. Next, go to select --> grow and enter 10px.

Fill the selection with black using the bucket tool (fill whole selection should be selected). Now remove the selection by going to select --> none. Your image should look like the image shown in Fig 6.



The final step is to save our brush.

Go to file --> export --> username (this is the name you use to log into your computer: with this name, there should be a folder.

Note that I’m using Windows XP / GIMP 2.8 (you might have 2.6).

Double click / brushes double click. Give your brush a name, I call mine heart and at the bottom, go to select file type (by extension) , choose GIMPbrush—it should end with gbr; click export.

A new small window will appear. Leave spacing as it is, but in the description field enter the same name as you called your brush and press Export.

To activate your new brush you must press the refresh button in the brushes.

Good luck!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Beryll on January 01, 2017:

This was wonderful - thanks very much for putting this together.

Dina Blaszczak (author) from Poland on March 20, 2013:

@Vector design Thanks for reading and leaving a comment :)

Saim from California on March 17, 2013:

Interesting Hub. discus some good points in this post. thanks for sharing.