Page MenuHome

Update brush icons
Closed, InvalidPublicDESIGN


The current icons for brushes are quite poor.

Here's an example of one of the current icons:

  • Low resolution, less than the full icon size
  • Unclear design with blue wave line and black circle
  • The blue 'wave' at the bottom looks too prominent, looks like it's as important as the brush stroke itself
  • Icons are 96px which is too small for retina displays

Here are some updated icons:

These icons are 4 x 96px = 384px

Download the icons here:

Event Timeline

I like where this is going, but to be honest the updated ones are also quite poor, though I agree they are a bit more informative.

There have been a few threads with new icons being posted over on the BA forums.

They are worth checking out:

I think PLyczkowski really nailed the styling with these:

For whatever it's worth the presets themselves aren't very ideal either. It is more common when painting to want to switch between a soft or hard edge brush than multiply or add blend modes for example. In other words, the current presets don't really save you any time when actually painting; if you select the multiply preset, you still need to go adjust the brush curve and things.

These are my custom presets with icons I use with Psy-Fi's GSoC Paint branch:

They're designed with the idea of having a good baseline default brush set that covers most bases in order to reduce the need to fiddle with the settings at all when painting. It's also worth noting Psy-Fi's Paint branch has several more blend modes than trunk does.

@xrg (xrg) re presets: Agreed.

Yes, that's one of things about the brushes that's extremely confusing. They're not actually tools at all, but tool presets. As such, it's really strange to have presets or 'tools' for blending modes. It's just as fast to simply change the blending mode underneath the tool preset than having individual presets for the blend modes.

One of things that the brush icons in sculpt mode do, which is somewhat interesting, is that they don't show an icon representing a tool, but they display the result of using the tool. This is an odd paradigm, but the advantage is that some sculpt tools don't have an obvious icon, or it is hard to come up with a good one. Modo also uses this paradigm throughout, for each tool (also mesh tools etc) the icon shows the user how it may change the mesh somehow.

Paint tools could use symbol icons, but they'd be inconsistent with sculpt etc then.

What I think would be best is to separate out blending modes from tools. Icons for blending modes could be used, but isn't necessary I don't think.

And then for given tools, only display tool settings that actually make sense. For example, we currently display a color selector when using the soften tool, even though it has no effect at makes no sense. Likewise for texture selectors, they also show even when not using the texture tool.

@William Reynish (billrey) No disagreements there--PLyczkowski's up there are probably the best icon set in my opinion. The only concern I have with his is not enough tool variations. They're pretty much prettier icons of what we have, which as I said aren't really usable in a real painting situation. Having one draw brush you'll still need to tweak it in order to get a soft brush/hard brush, things of that nature. Basically PLyczkowski's icons with the versatility of something like David Revoy's Krita Brushkit would be my ideal setup.

It potentially might be easier to figure out a good baseline default set of presets for every mode from a workflow point of view, and after getting that nailed down then making an icon set that is consistent across sculpt, texture paint, vertex paint, and weight paint all in one go.

Hi William, I agree on blend mode separation, what with the multitude of blend modes in the soc-2013-paint branch. I also tend to agree that Plyczkowski's brushes are really good. Maybe with some chromatic differentiation they will be more easy to discern in a glimpse. Making something similar to Krita's brush preview icons would require some rendering mechanism (which is not impossible, really, just needs some work). May be worth investigating the material preview here.

Thomas Dinges (dingto) lowered the priority of this task from 90 to Normal.Dec 28 2013, 2:57 PM

Ping Ping,

Time to tackle this.

@Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) what is your take here?

Ping again. We are really close to review.

If this takes too long we are in danger of me proclaiming myself UI master and making the decision. :p

Oops sorry @Antonis Ryakiotakis (psy-fi), I didn't see your last ping.

I also agree that @Paweł Łyczkowski (plyczkowski)'s icons are the best so far and I quite like them. In addition, the point on separating blending modes from the brushes is good.

These two changes alone will be a big improvement on the brushes.

@Antonis Ryakiotakis (psy-fi) We can work using Skype (plyczkowski1) or irc to finish up the set, because I guess there are things to change - like the fill icon being too vague. Or should we use this task?

I like the clear style of PLyczkowski's icons, but why are they spheres? Any rationale?

The add a lot to the look & feel, and may not work well with other than the default theme like they currently are.

@codemanx A sphere represent an "object". Just like in the viewport shading menu, and in a couple other places.

Here is a visualization how they would look in the interface. I'm using a darker theme, because there seems to be a consensus forming about taking the GUI in this direction.

Looks nice to me :)

Also we'll be needing a Mask and a Fill icon.

Here is the Fill icon:

With the Mask tool you paint a temporary mask that prevent you from painting over the masked area with any other tool?

Yes, think like mask in sculpt mode.

Will we be able to set a short cut to Mix Mode maybe? Not a feature request, just asking if that is possible from these changes.

Update. Added Mask and two versions of the Fill icon.

Really nice! I prefer the new fill, it's quite more graphical than the last one.
For masking maybe have the mask black stroke over some painted stroke to indicate that the masked part is ommited? Check the sculpt mode mask brush icon for instance.

Can you share those in 96x96px png format?

I will be on skype for the next 1-2 hours

Come to think of it this mask icon is not bad either...I'll leave it up to you :).

Reasoning for the Mask icon (from Skype):

It's simple, easy to remember, and quite ilustrative - the icons go with text anyway, so I think it's good. Trying to illustrate the full effect of the mask would result in a convoluted confusing icon I think.

I'd be happy with them; I think they look great.

I like most of the new icons. But I have several questions and suggestions.


  1. Draw icon looks fine.
  2. Why not using the blue arrows from the sculpting icons to indicate a direction for the clone icon? I think that the arrow is unnecessary. Perhaps clone something else than the draw stroke?
  3. The smear icon has too sharp edges and looks a litte bit like a Yin and Yang symbol.
  4. Soften icon looks fine.
  5. Mask icon not sure.
  6. Fill is awesome. It looks like fill + gravity on.
  7. Fill v2 is not clear to me what it means. Don't like the arrow. And why rotating it 90°?

General questions:

  1. The icons have a 3D look, which looks good and modern, but paint in Blender is not only 3D (projection) but also 2D.
  2. How are the icons done? In which software Photoshop, Gimp, Blender, ... ?
  3. Are the files released under the creative commons? So other can add new or change them in the future?
  4. Consistency? This icons look very different from the sculpting icons? Will the sculpting icons change in the future to look more like this icons? What about the icons in vertex paint and weight paint (future design direction)?

Well, that is weird.

I tried applying the files @Paweł Łyczkowski (plyczkowski) handed me, which were pngs.

The thing is, the preview code expects files in premultiplied format, while pngs are (correctly!) in straight alpha. This creates some issues, of course. The other thing is that we do not use blending when rendering icon files, even though we do set the blend modes for OpenGL ... let's ping someone on this...



  1. Good point. I will check how it look with the arrow from the sculpt mode icons. As I recall, the icon was less readable without an arrow.
  2. It does look a bit like that, still readable though.
  3. Thanks.
  4. Fill v1 was chosen.


  1. I see no problem with that. 2d effects can be represented on a 3d object.
  2. A sphere was rendered in Cycles, later modified in PS.
  3. The icons and the blend fill will be released with a CC license.
  4. That actually is a problem. I would prefer if I could rerender the sculpt ones to fit waith these ones, but if it comes to that, I can make these more similar to the sculpt ones.

i think the icons look nice and good, but shouldn't we have the icons to comply with a flat simple design direction as the UI going to? or reform the icons once the new UI design committed?

Here is a version using color. The advantage of this is that it signifies better that these tools are paint tools. And it can convey more information - for instance the mask icon now is more readable due to the context of other icons.

@Yousef Harfoush (bat3a) This icon set will also go well with the flat GUI style.

@Paweł Łyczkowski (plyczkowski) Will the color be static or some sort of Alpha so that color "shines through" the icon? Basically, I'm curious if they will be theme-able. Pulling color in from behind the icon.

@Paweł Łyczkowski (plyczkowski) those colors are very, very nice, but will be an issue with theming. So unless we have a way of implementing @Sean Olson (liquidape)'s suggestion we better stay with greyscale.

I was thinking about that actually. We would need an extra image channel to show that this area of the brush should be blended with some color (paint, blend mode dependent or otherwise.) To make this work we could hack the alpha channel but this would forgo transparency. @Paweł Łyczkowski (plyczkowski), the icons you gave me had some trash background values behind the transparent alpha pixels which makes them slightly difficult to work with (For instance, on the attached picture there's a white stripe at the bottom of the image). I can change this in gimp but there's another issue here too, which is that brush icons other than the draw brush have a slightly annoying fridges at the top, bottom, left and right of the sphere if used within blender. It's a minor issue, but it's weird to look at.

More ideas flooding in!

We can use a monochrome image for the icon itself (which means only BW info) and we are left with three other channels for extra information. One for color or even texture blending and one for transparency.

Yup, we can always use the gray ones.

Here is another try anyway, because it would be great to keep the advantages of using color, while making the icons match various themes, so here is a version that uses the same blue that the GUI icons use, and which should fit with any theme:

@Sean Olson (liquidape) Have you seen a program that does that?

@Antonis Ryakiotakis (psy-fi) But even the grey ones are not monochrome. They would look much worse if they were : )

Sorry about the broken png's, I think I know what's wrong, sending the fix right away. Be on Skype.

Hmm, seeing at the code it will take some more effort to enable the kind of effects I'm talking about. So if monochrome also looks bad, then I guess this is a no go anyway :)

@Paweł Łyczkowski (plyczkowski) - nope, never seen another program do that, but I've also never seen another program with the theme flexibility that Blender has, so that's not a good argument not to do it.

Well, a couple arguments against it: it's hard to do, provides little benefit, isn't straightforward, so it needs documentation for anyone making new icons, and wouldn't produce aesthetic results (if you sample colors from the colored icons above, it's not just one color varying in luminance - hue and saturation also changes).


Happiness :)

I think some cleanup of brushes would work as well but this is a separate matter.

I would prefer if I could rerender the sculpt ones to fit waith these ones, but if it comes to that, I can make these more similar to the sculpt ones.

I'd prefer changing sculpt to fit your new ones also -- I think the full sphere is a lot more versatile for showing things than the half-spheres. Even if sculpt doesn't get changed, vertex and weight paint icons definitely need refreshed.

Campbell Barton (campbellbarton) changed the task status from Unknown Status to Unknown Status.Mar 10 2016, 6:27 AM

No resolution or activity in over 3 months, archiving, listed in the wiki.
Can re-open when we have time to handle this one.

Why isnt this update now? Its now even worse, the icons show all the same when checking draw brushes

Going through old UI ToDo tasks. The icons here were redesigned + there was a general redesign of the tool workflow. So marking the ToDo item as done.