Adding A GIMP Pattern

adding-gimp-patterns-iCreate your own patterns or download ones you like to make amazing special effects with GIMP patterns!

GIMP installs with a handful of patterns but you can create or find free ones you can also add and use. When you add patterns to GIMP to use in filter effects, logos and text and image editing you can create your own very unique designs. So, here’s a simple way to add patterns to GIMP.

GIMP Patterns: What are they?

But before getting started it might help to explain what a GIMP pattern is and what you use it for. A GIMP pattern is basically a small image. It is used for filling in regions by “tiling”. Tiling places copies of the pattern side by side like ceramic tiles on a floor or wall.

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Types of GIMP Patterns

The pattern is considered “tileable” if no seams are visible with the side by side pattern copies. Tileable patterns work best for many purposes although there are some interesting special effects that you can create with non-tileable patterns. As an FYI, textures are generally the same as patterns although some textures may not be tileable.

Now let’s get back to creating your GIMP patterns.

GIMP Pattern File Types

First, you need the patterns you want to add. Before GIMP 2.2 versions you needed to add patterns using the filename “name.pat” where the name is whatever you wanted to call your pattern. Now with GIMP 2.2.x and newer versions you can use BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, and TIFF files in addition to the .pat file extensions. Note the .pat file extension is part of Adobe Photoshop files.

Either create GIMP patterns by modifying royalty free stock images/illustrations or create GIMP patterns completely from scratch. Whichever you chose is your preference.

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GIMP Pattern Size

Realize that GIMP pattern files don’t have to be big (but the resolution needs to be good). The system .pat files that come with GIMP are less then 100kb and if exported to a png or jpg file end up at about 100 x 100 pixels. That’s basically a small thumbnail file.

So if you do use open source texture or other background files you like, I’d recommend you re-size them down appropriately (100 to 150 pixels).

GIMP Pattern Location

Now, GIMP doc’s indicate that there are 2 folders in GIMP that hold pattern files. The first is the system pattern folders and GIMP docs indicate that this should not be used or modified. The second is a pattern folder inside your personal GIMP directory. This is the correct folder to add any newly created pattern files you want to add.


How to Add GIMP Patterns

The easiest way to add your pattern files is to open up the Preferences dialog in GIMP. When in the pattern folder page of the preference dialog you will see the pattern search path for both the system pat files and your personal ones. The personal folder path is where the new GIMP patterns you create should be placed.

Window Users

The typical pattern search path will be “C:\Documents and Settings\{your_id}\.gimp-2.8” or possibly “C:\Users\{your_id}\.gimp-2.8”. (This is always subject to change with updates of Windows or GIMP). Copy and paste the file you created for GIMP. Restart GIMP and open … to see your pattern.

Mac Users

Use Finder > “Go to Folder” to search for and open your personal pattern folder. It will be something like “/Users/{your id}/Library/Application Support/GIMP/2.10/patterns” or possibly “/Users/{your_id}/Library/GIMP/2.x/” for older Mac OS’es. Remember this could change slightly depending on the version of GIMP and Mac used. Copy and paste the file you created for GIMP. Close Finder and restart GIMP.

Linux Users

Open the /Home folders and search for “/home/{your_id}/.gimp-2.x” or similar. Copy and paste the file you created for GIMP. Close the window and restart GIMP.



Once your pattern(s) is(are) in your personal pattern folder restart GIMP. You can find the new patterns in GIMP by going to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Patterns.

Creating GIMP patterns of your own gives you tremendously options in adding, editing and creating new effects using GIMP. Enjoy!

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