How to Use Custom Brushes in Paint.NET

A free downloadable plugin for custom brushes in Paint.NET

Paint.NET is a free raster image editor for Windows that is more powerful than the default Microsoft Paint software, but it lacks some of the features found in Photoshop such as custom brushes. Fortunately, a plug-in makes it possible to create and use custom brushes in Paint.NET.

Instructions in this article apply to version 4.2 of the Paint.NET image editing software, not to be confused with the website of the same name.

How to Install the Paint.NET Custom Brushes Plugin

Paint.NET doesn't include built-in support for adding plugins, so you must install the plugin package manually:

  1. This pack contains multiple plugins that add new tools to Paint.NET including editable text.

    Download the free plugin pack for Paint.NET.
  2. Close Paint.NET and open the ZIP file you downloaded.

    Close Paint.Net if you have it open, then open the ZIP file containing the plugins.
  3. Copy the Effects and FileTypes folders inside the ZIP file.

    A screenshot of the Paint.NET plug-in pack with the Effects and File Types files highlighted
  4. Paste the folders you copied inside the Paint.NET folder in your Program Files.

    Locate the Paint.NET folder in your Program Files and paste the folders you copied inside.
  5. The next time you launch Paint.NET, a new section called Tools will appear in the Effects menu where you'll find the new features the plugin added.

    A screenshot of Paint.NET with the Tools menu under the Effects heading highlighted

How to Create a Custom Brush in Paint.NET

The first step is to create a file or select an image file that you want to use as a brush. You can use most common image file types to create your own brushes including JPEGs, PNGs, GIFs, and Paint.NET PDN files.

If you plan to create your own brushes from scratch, set the image file at the maximum size that you will use the brush. Reducing the size of the brush is usually not a problem, but increasing the size of the brush later can reduce the quality. Also, consider the colors of your custom brush as they aren't editable at the time of use unless you want the brush to apply just a single color.

How to Use a Custom Brush in Paint.NET

After installing the plugin and choosing your custom brush, you're ready to put it to use.

  1. Go to Layers > Add a New Layer to set up a separate layer for the brushwork.

    A screenshot of Paint.NET with the Add New Layer command highlighted
  2. Go to Effects > Tools > CreateBrushesMini.

    A screenshot of Paint.NET with the CustomBrushesMini command highlighted
  3. Select Add Brush at the top.

    A screenshot of the CustomBrushMini screen in Paint.NET with the Add Brush button highlighted
  4. Select the image file that you wish to use as the basis of the brush.

    All custom brushes you add will be displayed in the right-hand column of the custom brushes dialog box.

    Select the image file that you wish to use as the basis of the brush.
  5. Set the Brush Size.

    A screenshot of Paint.NET with the Brush Size option highlighted
  6. Select the Brush Mode

    • Color applies the original image to the canvas.
    • Mask treats the brush like a stamp. You can set a color by clicking the box to the right, and the brush then applies a solid shape that matches the brush shape filled with the selected color.

    If the brush doesn't have a transparent background, the shape of the brush will be a rectangle or square, rather than the shape of the graphic. PNG, GIF, and PDN files offer support for transparent backgrounds.

    A screenshot of Paint.NET with the Brush Mode options highlighted
  7. Set the Speed. A lower speed will make the brush's impressions more widely spaced. A higher setting, such as 100, can produce a dense effect that looks like the original shape has been extruded.

    A screenshot of Paint.NET with the Speed option highighted
  8. Click inside the box to apply your custom brush. You can build up dense areas of pattern or just apply individual "strokes."

    Click inside the box to apply your custom brush.

     

  9. Select OK to apply the new brushwork to the image.

    A screenshot of Paint.NET's custom brush screen with the OK button highlighted
  10. Your custom art will appear in it's own layer, so you can move it around and adjust it without affecting other parts of the image.

    Your custom art will appear in it's own layer, so you can move it around and adjust it without affecting other parts of the image.

Why Use Custom Brushes in Paint.NET?

You can use the Paint.NET custom brushes plugin to quickly apply individual images to a page or to create dense areas of a pattern. This tool is very useful for storing and applying graphic elements that you regularly reuse in your work.