I need to know how to trace patterns along paths, like in this image:

enter image description here

I've tried to stroke the selection with pattern, but that obviously doesn't care about any angles and only works like a mask.

2 Answers 2


GIMP isn't really the right kind of software to do that. You'd be better with vector image editing software such as Inkscape, which is also free and open source like GIMP. Or if you have money to burn, there's always Adobe Illustrator.

When you see graphics like that, these are nearly always done in vector image editing software, not using raster image editors such as GIMP/Photoshop.

There's a tutorial here to create a rope pattern along a path using Inkscape. Inskcape has a specific Pattern Along a Path effect for those type of effects.

Here's an example I made using that tutorial in Inkscape, although my attempt is a bit crap. I'm sure you could do better with more care.

Example made in Inskcape

  • Do you have to always vectorise a pattern first in order to use it? Is it possible to use a texture, like GIMP's patterns?
    – kacpr
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 11:51
  • @kacpr you really want to vectorize though since theres no downside. And its in this case less work
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 11:54
  • @kacpr Best to keep it vector since it will remain editable, you can always export a raster image of the finished work from Inkscape if you need to use it in GIMP.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 12:44

You can, if you replace your pattern by a brush (and you can always use the clipboard brush (first in the list), after copying the relevant image to the clipboard). Then:

  • Start the paintbrush tool
  • In the Tool options:
    • Select the adequate brush
    • Set dynamics to "Track direction"
  • In Edit>Stroke path, select
    • Stroke with paint tool
    • Select the paintbrush
    • Tick "Emulate brush dynamics"

enter image description here

Obviously, if you want a continuous pattern, and if it needs to be distorted in the curves, this is a whole other problem.

  • Continuous would be preferred, how much complexity would that add, would you suggest the other answer would be better in that case?
    – kacpr
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 13:01
  • I can think of ways to perhaps to this with a script, by repetitively applying the perspective Tool to the pattern, but such script has yet to be written as far as I know. For "line" drawings like yours, vector is your best bet.
    – xenoid
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 13:06

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