GIMP Brush Editor Greyed Out and Locked [3 Fixes]

GIMP has a library of great tools comparable to Photoshop and Illustrator that you can use for image manipulation or retouching. Like with any design application, your most used tool will be your brushes. They are the basis for your design realization, so it’s crucial that you have access to all the brushes you have available in your tool panel.

One of the key elements of GIMP is the ability to edit your brushes to your personal preference. On occasion, there are times when the brush editor is greyed out and locked. There could be several reasons for this, but the most important information isn’t why but how to fix this problem. Keep reading for ways to fix the brush editor in GIMP.

3 Fixes for GIMP Brush Editor Greyed out and Locked

The brush editor in GIMP not only lets you see the parameters of the 56 existing brushes in GIMP, but it allows you to create custom brushes with your own parameters or manipulate brushes using several functions.

GIMP doesn’t allow you to use the brush editor on pre-installed/default brushes, but you should be able to use it on brushes you’ve installed or created. Attempting to edit the pre-installed brushes is one of the reasons you’ll see the brush editor greyed out and locked. There is a workaround for editing these brushes if you have your heart set on one of the default brushes.

1. Re-save Pre-installed Brushes

Despite the fact that the brush editor doesn’t work on the pre-installed/default brushes, there is a loophole for this problem. Since you can use the editor on brushes you’ve created and installed, simply copy the default brush, edit, and save it under a different name (.gbr). The application won’t recognize it as a pre-installed/default brush, and you’ll be able to edit it to your heart’s content.

2. Edit As Image

There are several types of brushes in GIMP. The most common of those brushes are bitmap and parametric. Bitmap brushes are ones created as images and exported as GBR. They can have any shape/color but cannot be scaled indefinitely. Parametric brushes are described a bit like vectors/paths. They only come in a few simple shapes but can be scaled at will, unlike bitmap.

GIMP’s brush editor only works for parametric brushes, so if you are trying to edit a bitmap brush, you will encounter the editor being greyed out and locked. If that is the case, you can just edit this brush like a regular bitmap image and export it in the appropriate format.

3. Revert to Older Version

Users of GIMP who had experienced brush editor controls being locked when trying to edit or resize standard brushes have found that the easiest solution was to revert to an older version of the application. In particular, version 2.8.22 seems to allow the editing of standard brushes without issue. Depending on how long you’ve had GIMP, you may have had this version at one point and would be able to revert to it.

There are still ways to access older versions online if you got GIMP after this version or newly downloaded the application. Uptodown has all previous versions of GIMP available to download virus-free and free.

How to Resize a Brush in GIMP

When creating a new brush, the brush editor will allow you to edit the size of your new brush and select the other parameters for your custom brush. Due to this, there is a common misconception that you can resize a brush through the brush editor, but this is not the case.

If you want to change the brush size of an existing brush in GIMP, the fastest way is through a keyboard shortcut. Hold down the Shift key while pressing either square bracket, and the size will multiply by ten at a time. The other way to resize a brush is through the tool panel– it will be the first option under “Brush.”

There is a way to change your keyboard shortcuts if you’re not satisfied with them currently. Go to Edit> Keyboard Shortcuts, then search for “Size.” Once you hit the middle “Shortcut” column, you can change the command and save.


Not being able to use your brush editor in your image editor can be frustrating, but one of these fixes should address the issue.