Brush Assets is out!

Late in 2022 the initial design for the Brush Assets1 was laid out.

Earlier this year it was chosen to be one of the development targets for 2024. Much has changed since its original design, including a fundamental aspect that improves usability.

It is now integrated into Blender, as part of the Blender 4.3 release scheduled for November 2024.


New Brush Workflow

In previous versions, brushes were saved in the current blend-file like any other data-block. It is very common to reuse, share and update brushes, so the traditional link/append workflow proved cumbersome.

Brushes are now assets, benefiting from the same ease of use and sharing capabilities as other asset types.

Combined with new ways to access brushes in asset libraries and a quick way to update them, this should improve the workflow considerably.

Essentials Library

The Essentials asset library was extended to bundle a number of brush assets with Blender:

So far all the included brushes have been converted into assets. Over time this library can grow to accommodate new brush variations.

Brush Tool

The new brush asset workflow is implemented wherever brushes are used, including sculpting and painting for meshes, Grease Pencil, and (hair) curve objects, as well as vertex, weight and texture paint (in the 3D Viewport and Image Editor).

A single, unified Brush tool replaces all the previous brush-based tools. Activating a brush automatically activates the Brush tool.

The unified Brush tool de-clutters the toolbar and makes the difference between tools and brushes clear.

For user created brushes, there is a guide on how to convert them as part of the 4.3 release notes.


Using Brush Assets

Asset Shelf

The new asset shelf introduced in Blender 4.0 has been extended to make use of the brush assets. It was also added to the Image Editor for texture painting.

Switch to a mode such as sculpting to find the brushes available for that mode.

Brush Selector Popup

Brushes can also be selected from the brush drop-down on the header, tool panel, or by shortcut (shift + space)


Edit Brushes from Anywhere

Brushes can be created and updated from any Blender session, without having to manually edit the files in your asset libraries. This might be all you ever need for your personal brush management.

It is still possible to take full control by manually editing asset library files, for example to carefully curate an asset library to prepare it for sharing with others.

For those following the early iterations of this project, this means there is no more need for drafts. The brushes can now be created on the spot whenever needed.

Creating a New Brush Asset

To create a new brush asset, all you need to do is pick a brush to use as a base, and select Duplicate Asset in the tool options. You can choose one of the asset libraries configured in the Preferences (by default the User Library), and Blender will save the new asset in there.

Brush Asset dropdown menu

After tweaking the settings, you can save the changes with Update Asset, and use Edit Metadata or Preview Image to change other data for the brush. Only brush assets created using the Duplicate Asset method support being edited this way. Others are managed as normal local brush data-blocks.

As mentioned before, Blender ships with a set of Essential brushes, covering all possible brush types to use as starting points for brushes.

Generated Asset Blend-Files

Brushes created using the Duplicate Asset operator will be saved as special .asset.blend files generated by Blender.

What is so special about these files? They are created and managed by Blender’s asset system, and contain a single data-block (plus any dependencies packed). It is not possible to overwrite these files from within Blender, although you can still open it and save it as a new file, which will then be just a regular blend-file. This is to prevent data loss as assets get changed, since the asset system may regenerate the file which would overwrite any manual changes.

A warning will be displayed when opening such files, and saving the file will prompt you to save as a new file instead.

https://projects.blender.org/attachments/4030c1a2-481e-40f0-938c-1845e1591e22

Feedback Needed

Download the latest Blender 4.3 daily build to try Brush Assets for yourself. If you have any feedback, please drop a message in the DevTalk thread.

Support the Future of Blender

Donate to Blender by joining the Development Fund to support the Blender Foundation’s work on core development, maintenance, and new releases.

  1. Brush and Asset Drafts ↩︎
22 comments
  1. Also perhaps being able to give the assets different colored borders so we can group the ones we use a lot more easily as the asset list gets larger.

  2. I like it overall. The actual previews are much clearer and I think just as pretty too. Perhaps the most universal functions like posing, masking, relaxing, etc. could stay in the old toolbar? How are you determining which ones go to the asset shelf? It looks like there are still some filters and masks staying in the toolbar. Perhaps there could also be a way to pin some brush assets to the beginning of the list or to a secondary toolbar section.

    • All the tools that use brushes were merged into the Brush tool, and the brushes converted to brush assets. The tools that are mere tools and don’t use brushes (masking, filtering, transform, etc) remain as tools, accessible in the toolbar.

      Having a way to pin brush assets to the toolbar has been discussed. But I think being able to favorite brushes (or assets in general) seems like a generally useful feature too having both seems redundant, there can be a quick “Favorites” tab or other ways to quickly access those.

      • if you don’t add favourite brushes to the toolbar, a payed addon will do it for sure. as always :(

  3. i’m not quite sure about having the brushes now on a big asset shelf. Is there a way in the future to set a brush to the toolbar panel ourselves? I do agree that asset shelf is useful since at this point the toolbar is too crowded. but having the logo be physically bigger (since it’s not a pictogram) limits what brush is on easy access all the time. Is there also a way to keybind to spesific brush now that it’s an asset?

    • yes, there should be some kind of favorit system to add some brushes back to the toolbar,

    • The size of the previews in the asset shelf can be changed, down to roughly the same size of the toolbar buttons.

      Assigning shortcuts to brushes is possible, simply right click one and use “Assign Shortcut” from the context menu.

  4. The old icons were so nicely placed on the left side and were beautiful.

    The new icons are not nice to look at and inconsistent in terms of UI design.

    • While I agree that the old icons look a bit nicer, I think it’s a worthwhile tradeoff. The old icons were more like pictograms, symbolizing (more or less abstractly) the brush function. The new ones are actual preview images that were created using the brush itself. It’s easy to create own preview images for custom brushes that fit in well with the default ones.

      • Yeah, but why not keeping the Pictograms as an overview on the new shelf? The new symbols are way harder to differentiate.

        Also it makes much more sense for the shelf to be vertical because there’s more horizontal space available then vertical in the viewport

  5. That kinda breaks consistency with the other tools, that are always on the left side.
    Why sculpt tools are treated differently ?

    • Brushes are not tools. When the toolbar was introduced in 2.8, brush types were wrapped into tools, for unified access. But this just caused confusion, and the workflow with anything more than the default brushes became more convoluted. You’d have to first select the corresponding tool, and then choose a brush compatible with that tool, rather than being able to activate a brush immediately. Feedback was very clear that this was an issue.

      Also, this design wasn’t scalable. Some new brush type developments were halted because the toolbar was already overcrowded. With the single “Brush” tool, you can have 100s of brushes, while the toolbar stays clean.

  6. You should be able to save Assets as an Asset Blend-File
    in addition to Mark as Asset, have Save as Asset and develop Sculpting in Blender even more.

  7. I love the new brush asset ! It is nice and useful, yes some people wanna to stick the old system but don’t it guys because it is meaning a evolution so everything needs to be evolved that you need to adapt as well too… Don’t be afraid to learn new thing and it is a good for your soul ! :)

    Keep it team your great work.

  8. The brush asset shelf is a step in the wrong direction.

    I get it you want to mimic the Z tool but what you’ve done is obfuscated a perfectly fine left hand toolbar.

    The thumbnails for the tools also need major work as of right now there’s no consistency and they look, well, amateurish.

    Please rethink your approach.

    • I second the thumbnails. The new symbols look really „slapped in“. The old symbols where do beautiful and now they will be removed…

  9. Absolutely love the improvements! Having used sculpting in blender since 2.8 the improvements that keep getting made are fantastic. Great work people

  10. Nah i don’t like it…. i prefer the old system is more clear and more intuitive ….

  11. Not sure too if i like it is not really organized correctly and some brush name are a big important things missed in any windows where you go …. Old system do better things in my opinion…. icon in new system aren’t explicit and don’t know what he do …. Than in the old system he was simple, and explicit about what he doing !….

    1. Add brush name
    2. Add colors for “Brush categories”
    3. Make an small border around the brush selected is better !
    4. Add a better scrolling options
    5. Make the square selection more modern and more intuitive !

    • “I mean enable the name brush by default etc”

  12. not sure if I‘ll like the new brush asset shelf.

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