How to Draw Arrows in GIMP

Drawing Arrows in GIMP 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 draw arrows, never fear – there are other ways to achieve this goal.

Grabbing the Plugin via Mirrors

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.txt file from our Dropbox folder and change the .txt extension to .scm.

If you’ve never installed a GIMP script, it can be a little confusing as to what to do with the .scm file. It’s very easy to install.

For Windows:

First, open your GIMP and go to “Edit -> Preferences”. In the window that opens, on the left pane, go to “Folders -> Scripts”. On the right pane, take note of the file path where the script files are placed.

gimp-scripts-location

Next, open your Windows Explorer and go to the GIMP’s script location. In my case, it is located at “Program Files -> GIMP 2 -> share -> gimp -> 2.0 -> scripts”. Copy and paste the arrow.scm file that you downloaded here.

gimp-window-explorer-scripts-location

Close and reopen GIMP. You should find the “arrow” option under “Script-Fu” menu.

gimp-script-fu-arrow

macOS

Place the arrow.scm file in the directory “~/Library/Application Support/GIMP/2.10/scripts”

Close and reopen GIMP. You should find the “arrow” option under “Tools” menu.

Linux

Place the arrow.scm file in the directory “~/.config/GIMP/2.10/scripts”

Close and reopen GIMP. You should find the “arrow” option under “Tools” menu.

Drawing arrows in GIMP

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 option.

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

Using Arrow Brushes

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.

Make Your Own Brush

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.

Keep on the Straight and Arrow

With the GIMP registry going away, a lot of tutorials on how to 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!

4 comments

  1. Thanks! Helpful post!

  2. The Dropbox file does not contain the script itself but a HTML file redirecting(?) you to the (contents of the) scm file

  3. I have Ubuntu and the way: ” Place the arrow.scm file in the directory “~/.config/GIMP/2.10/scripts”” – is wrong.
    Тhe right path: “/usr/share/gimp/2.0/scripts/…”.

  4. As Pascal noted above:-
    The dropbox file is not the .scm file, but a redirection to the download of the file.

    Here is what to do:-
    Download it.
    Extract it.
    Rename arrow.scm as arrow.html
    Open arrow.html with your preferred browser, I used firefox.
    Download the new arrow.scm……it was auto named as arrow(1).scm
    Copy this into your gimp/scripts file.
    Rename it as arrow.scm.
    Open gimp and it is now at the bottom of the tools menu.
    Hope this helps someone

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