You can duplicate an object in tools like Inkscape to conserve memory and do edits on a single object to change multiple parts of an image. I'm working on an image which mostly uses the same 64x64 objects from a set of about 100. Each layer takes up about 150MB when filled with objects. I'm wondering if there's a way to duplicate an object in GIMP with the same goal of saving memory? Or did I choose the wrong tool to do my raster graphics in and move back to a GIMP→Inkscape workflow? I did a quick search of the documentation but didn't find anything related.

1 Answer 1


No, there is no such thing in Gimp. What you can possibly do in Gimp 2.10 is to use "Symmetry painting" (Windows>Dockable dialog>Symmetry painting) in Tiling mode:

  • create one layer per type of tile object
  • use symmetry painting to fill each layer with identical tiles
  • use a layer mask to select the tiles that should display

This way you can update a single tile and it will replicate in real time on all matching tiles. In Gimp 2.8 you can do something equivalent but a bit less direct by editing single tiles on the side, and using them as patterns to bucket fill the layers (using for instance the Clipboard pattern)

  • Ah, using GIMP 2.8.16, didn't remember to put that... Thanks for the answer and suggested layer-filling workarounds! 100 layers is probably a bit much to work with though and the layer masks would likely increase memory usage. Although they would allow instancing.
    – Black
    May 3, 2019 at 3:10
  • Seems this is indeed the best we've got for now. Accepted! (such a quick answer I was holding out hope)
    – Black
    May 6, 2019 at 10:43

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