How to Draw Arrows in GIMP | Tips & Tricks

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Drawing in used to be very easy. You were able to head to the plugin site and download a script that could handle all your arrow-based needs without an issue.

Recently, however, the GIMP registry has gone down, and trying to access the link now only results in a blank page. Unfortunately, a lot of tutorials are now linking directly to a dead website as a solution! If you have the need to arrows, never fear – there are other ways to achieve this goal.

Thankfully, the original plugin is still available at other sources. It’s a very useful plugin, so it’s worth hunting down to solve your arrow-based problems. There’s a forum post that has the file — you need to click the download link at the bottom of the post instead of the top one to get it. Alternatively, you can download a copy of the arrow.scm file from our Dropbox folder.

If you’ve never installed a GIMP plugin, it can be a little confusing as to what to do with the .scm file. It’s very easy to install. First, head to your GIMP folder. On , this is typically in Program Files; for Mac, it can be found in Applications; Linux users may need to do some hunting, but it can typically be found in your home catalogue folder. Once you find it, go to the “lib” folder, then “gimp,” then the folder with the current GIMP version number as the name, and then plug-ins. Drop the .scm file in here to install the plugin.

gimp-arrows-directory

If you’re having issues finding the folder, you can see where GIMP keeps its plugins in the software itself. Open GIMP, then click Edit, then Preferences. Scroll down to the category Folders, expand it if it’s not already expanded, and click Plug-ins to see where GIMP keeps them.

gimp-arrows-paths

To use the tool, first make a path. This is done by clicking the Path icon in the toolbox, then clicking on two spots on the canvas.

gimp-arrows-path

A path will be formed between them. Click on Tools, then the arrow plugin name.

gimp-arrows-tool

A lot of options will pop up. You can tweak the length of the arrow wings and the brush thickness here. “Use first path point as arrow head?” will place the head where you first clicked. If you want the arrow to be pointing toward the second point you clicked, untick this box. You can even make a double-headed arrow here if you like! Once you’re done, click OK.

gimp-arrows-settings

The arrow will be drawn as per your parameters.

gimp-arrows-result

If you’re not a fan of fiddling with paths and settings, you can use brushes instead. These use the paintbrush tool and are “painted on” as a static image. Arrow brushes usually come in one of two styles: a single arrow head with multiple directions or a variety of arrows that all point one way and need to be manually rotated. You can find brushes anywhere, but GimpHelp and Softpedia have some pretty good ones.

In your GIMP folder go to Share, gimp, the version number, then brushes. Take the folder the brushes came in (or make a new one if it didn’t come in one), and place it here among the other folders.

In GIMP select the paintbrush tool. On the right pane in the brushes panel, select the arrow you want to use.

gimp-arrows-brushes

Click once on the canvas, as if you were using a stamp. This will paint an arrow onto the canvas. You can tweak its color by changing the brush color and clicking on the canvas again.

If you can draw a good arrow but don’t want to keep redrawing it every time you want a new one, why not make it a brush? Once it’s made into a brush, you can then stamp it wherever you’d like by following the above instructions.

First, start by drawing your perfect arrow. Crop the image so it’s as close to the arrow as possible. You can do this by drawing a selection box around it, then clicking “Image -> Crop to Selection.” Once cropped, click File, Export As, then export it as a .gbr file. You may need to manually add “.gbr” if you can’t find the option in the export images dropdown box.

gimp-arrows-save

Once you’ve exported your .gbr file, you can install and use your new arrow just like a regular brush as covered above.

With the GIMP registry going away, a lot of tutorials on draw arrows in GIMP are now pointing to dead links. Thankfully, there are other ways to get the tool back, as well as alternate means of drawing arrows.

Which one works for you? Let us know below!

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