I have googled this and found a number of answers and videos which all say that this can be done by setting the brush size slider in the brushes panel or brush editor panel.

I'm either clicking on the wrong thing or doing something strange as I don't seem to have the same options available to me. At least setting all the sliders to their minimum value still leaves me with a 3 pixel wide square brush:

Brushes Panel

Brush editor

I'm using Gimp 2.8.4. I'm obviously making a basic error, can anyone help?


5 Answers 5


As of GIMP 2.8, the way to paint with a 1 pixel brush using the pencil tool is setting the brush size to "1" in the Pencil tool options, when painting, regardless of Brush's shape or native size.

In previous GIMP versions, the "pixel" Brush which was an image one pixel in size was available in the UI. It is currently hidden, and available only for scripts which happen to make use of it. The new way brush size works from the tool options make it obsolete.

  • 1
    Where is the pencil tool options?
    – Nathan G
    Mar 9, 2023 at 6:35
  • "Normally, tool options are displayed in a window attached under the Toolbox as soon as you activate a tool. If they are not, you can access them from the image menu bar through Windows → Dockable Windows → Tool Options which opens the option window of the selected tool." according to docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-tool-pencil.html Jan 17 at 23:22

Ok turns out that the 'Hardness' setting of 1 was the problem...

I thought that hardness would affect antialiasing of the edge of the brush, and that a one pixel brush would need to have a hard edge or it would be invisible.

It seems that the edge is not within the brush width, but around it, so that a one pixel brush with an edge is three pixels wide instead...

So solution is to put hardness at 0.


  • Although this works for me as well, jsbueno's answer seems to be the official way.
    – mallardz
    Apr 22, 2014 at 15:46
  • Setting the hardness to 0 won't necessarily give you a 1 pixel line. What tool were you using? Aug 30, 2015 at 22:38
  1. In the "Brushes" window: Create a new brush:

New brush

  1. Set the brush settings as shown in the screenshot:

Brush settings

  • I click the Brushes window, and nothing happens.
    – Nathan G
    Mar 9, 2023 at 6:37

Set spacing to 1.0, and size very small, hardness high, and I was eventually able to color individual pixels


I do a lot of pixel art in GIMP, and in addition to what everyone else said, I always make sure to check "Smooth Stroke" so be sure that it's always applying a solid color when I click, even if the layer I'm drawing on has an alpha mask.

The specific settings for the sliders pertaining to "Smooth Stroke" don't seem to matter in this scenario.

I really wish there was a way to charge the default settings for the pencil tool, though. Every time I launch GIMP it's automatically set to a size 20 pencil brush with a hardness value and smooth stroke toggled off...

  • 1
    Welcome to GD.SE! And how does this answer answer the given question? Could you please explain better?
    – Mensch
    Aug 28, 2015 at 13:29
  • 1
    "Smooth stroke" doesn't control the solidity of lines. This answer is misleading. Aug 30, 2015 at 22:39

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