GIMP paintbrush not working; won’t let you draw


GIMP is regarded as a free PhotoShop alternative. It’s robust enough to edit your photos professionally and allow you to create new graphics from scratch. One of the most used tools in GIMP is the paintbrush, which you use to draw and fill areas of the graphics or image you’re working on.

Users have complained about GIMP’s paintbrush not working or letting them draw with it. When they select a paintbrush and color, it simply doesn’t work. There are several reasons for this issue, but they’re all easy to fix.

GIMP paintbrush not working

If the GIMP Brush tool doesn’t work properly or at all, here are the main things you can do to fix it:

  1. Confirm that you selected the correct layer.
  2. Ensure that you’re using the right Brush tool.
  3. Use the right Brush tool settings.
  4. Unlock the layers.
  5. Use the RGB mode.

For in-depth guides on how to go about the above fixes, continue reading this article to the end.

1] Confirm that you selected the correct layer

Launch the GIMP application and go to the Layers panel. Confirm that you have selected the right layer you’re working on. The selected layer will be highlighted.

select correct gimp layer

A way to double-check this is to first select no layer by going to the Select menu and choosing None from the dropdown. You could also do this by pressing the SHIFT + CTRL + A key combination. Then, click on the layer on which you want to draw to select it.

2] Ensure that you’re using the right Brush tool

GIMP paintbrush not working

GIMP has so many Brush tools that you may get confused on which to use. The good thing is that all the brushes in GIMP will draw with no issues, except the Clipboard Image brush.

If you selected a brush that’s not working, go to the Brush tool and ensure that you didn’t pick the Clipboard Image brush. You can select the Brush from the panel on your right, but the name of the brush shows up on the left-hand panel under Paintbrush.

3] Use the right Brush tool settings

right paintbrush settings gimp

Another reason why GIMP won’t let you draw is that the Brush tool settings don’t let it do that. Here are some settings that you should double-check in order to fix the issue.

Go to the Brush tool and confirm that you set the Mode to Normal.

Set the Opacity to 100.

Modify the Size and Hardness to moderate values that aren’t too low.

4] Unlock the layers

unlock gimp layer

A simple factor that some users might miss is that the layer on which they’re trying to draw is locked. With the layer locked, you can’t modify it. To fix this, head over to the Layers panel and see if any of the three icons beside Lock: are highlighted.

If an icon is highlighted, it means that the layer is locked. You can unlock it by clicking on the icon. Click on all three icons and ensure that none of them is locked.

5] Use the RGB mode

If the issue isn’t that the paintbrush isn’t working entirely, but it paints with a different color from what you’ve chosen, then GIMP might be in Grayscale or Indexed mode. For this scenario, you can get your paintbrush working correctly by using the RGB mode. Here’s how to do it:

Launch the GIMP software and click on the Image menu at the top area of the window. Click on the Image option from the dropdown menu and select RGB.

If you found this post helpful, you’ll love our article on resizing images in GIMP without losing the image quality.

right paintbrush settings gimp

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MORRIS is an impassioned technology writer. He always inspires technologists with his innovative thinking and practical approach. A go-to personality for every Technical problem, no doubt, the chief problem-solver!

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