Symmetry painting mode lands to unstable GIMP

Symmetry painting mode lands to unstable GIMP

Earlier this week, Jehan Pagès delivered on his promise to create symmetry painting mode for painting tools in GIMP. The code is now available in a dedicated development branch to be later merged for v2.10.

The new mode is supported by all brush-based tools (Paintbrush, Pencil, Eraser, Smudge, Clone etc.), as well as by the Ink tool. Jehan also posted a video demonstration of the current implementation:

Symmetry mode for painting tools is the second community-sponsored development project for GIMP endorsed by the GIMP team (the first being improved interpolation methods). The project wasn't 100% funded until several months ago, so Jehan spent most of the time doing what he had been doing for GIMP before: fixing bugs.

As you can see, the current implementation goes beyond the original proposal: there are multiple kinds of symmetry, and they are all configurable. Moreover, Jehan is considering an implementation of pluggable symmetries, although don't take it for a promise just yet.

Despite hard evidence a lot of people still treat GIMP as a generic image editor rather than something suitable for digital painting. So the new feature could be another reminder that there is more to GIMP than cropping, retouching, and color grading.

There are no known builds of this development branch yet. If you are curious to try the symmetry mode for painting tools, you need to build babl and GEGL from Git master, then clone Git repository of GIMP and checkout the 'multi-stroke' branch, then build it. Or you could wait till the new feature ends up in the main development branch of GIMP (apparently, soon) and thus becomes available in nightly builds for Windows and Ubuntu, as well as in builds at

Additionally, if you've been wondering what the GIMP team has been busy with lately, here's an extensive 2014 report.

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  1. > There are no known builds of this development branch yet.

    Too soon.

    Not released yet.

  2. this is very cool for concepting and drafting. what I really really want is LAB sliders for colour selection independant of colour mode. unfortunately I think the devs are more interested in a LAB colour mode for photography and doing sliders later. I’m aware of the LAB plugin, the workflow was rather unintuitive.

  3. Alexandre Prokoudine 28 March 2015 at 4:15 pm

    @nine, I don’t know what existing LAB plugin you have in mind. But color selectors are pluggable, and there’s e.g. an LCh color selector. So one indeed could write a LAB color selector.

  4. This is certainly very interesting—I find the symmetry in MyPaint a bit limited.

    In regards to painting in GIMP, I would comment that it is not .. fluid. Even in 2.8, which is notably faster than 2.9,  there is a stiffness of operation which is simply absent from MyPaint. This seems to be true for any image that is not miniscule (<400x400px), at least.  I feel like I’m pulling levers rather than painting. Until this situation, whatever it is caused by, changes, I’ll be staying away from GIMP and Krita whenever reasonably possible, as I find this behaviour quite frustrating.

    GIMP is fairly good for pixel-art though. Especially with the changes to the image model in 2.9 that enable the use of all tools, blending modes, <100% opacity, and non-binary layer alpha channel in indexed mode.

  5. Very strange UI.

    For starters it is not limited to the Paintbrush tool, it makes no sense to hide the feature under the options for Paintbrush.

    He calls one feature “Mandalla” but goes on to call it rotational symmetry. Mandalla is quite a culturally specific reference, an even worse choice of description than “butterfly view” that Mypaint uses. Kaleidoscope might make sense for English speakers but it would probably be a pain for translators.

    I hope this is gets some user testing with artists. Shame the GIMP UI team is dead.

  6. @Anon:

    That’s nothing remarkable IMO, when you’re developing a feature it’s pretty common to just put the options whereever you can, and use whatever labels you can think up at the time. In particular, there is basically zero chance of that code being merged before that issue with the paintbrush options is addressed.

    IMO the correct solution, from what I remember of the GIMP code, is to put the symmetry options into the base class that all painting tool options share.

    ‘Polar’ symmetry is probably the most correct + translatable term for what is currently called ‘Kaleidoscope’. We should be able to partly reuse the translation defined for the Map to Polar plugin, IIRC.

  7. Alexandre Prokoudine 30 March 2015 at 12:15 pm

    @Anon, this is a temporary choice of names. Don’t focus on it just yet. Although, I imagine, Jehan would be interested in suggestions.

  8. This is so AWESOME!
    THANK YOU for this feature!

  9. They sure could use a lot of pointers from the gimp-painter fork… compared to the last time I knew of its state, there are way more users now than I can remember (usually being the guy who did the fork himself).

  10. Alexandre Prokoudine 01 April 2015 at 12:46 pm

    @Ohnoo, where do you think the idea of canvas rotation or last colors palette comes from? :)

  11. @Alexandre: Well, I guess I should correct my sentence to “They sure took a lot of cues from…” then?

    Then again in a few more releases figures the time where users are spoilt for choice will come soon.

  12. Still prefer Photoshop over Gimp, but im impressed.

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