How To Use the Smudge Tool in GIMP {Complete Guide}

large featured smudge

Remember that time when your mom, dad, or teacher presented you with a canvas, paint, and no brush… only to be told to use your finger! Oh, how fun that was. Wouldn’t you agree?

Well, that’s kinda what the Smudge Tool in GIMP is like. Heck, even the tool icon sports a finger. In today’s tutorial, you’ll discover everything you ever wanted to know about the Smudge Tool. If you’re ready… let’s do it!

Table of Contents

What Is the GIMP Smudge Tool?

Photo by Engin

Simply put, the Smudge tool allows you to mix paint… or, in the case of our digital world, pixels. 

Applying the tool is done in the form of a brush or the Paintbrush, as it’s known in GIMP. You can locate the Smudge tool either in the toolbar or via the keyboard shortcut, which is the letter “S.”

Tool Options

Click the image to enlarge.

Settings for the Smudge tool are not that much different from the Paintbrush. Although there are a few options designed specifically for the Smudge tool. For standard paint tool options, check out my Paintbrush guide. Here are the Tool Options you should know about for the Smudge tool.

Practical Uses For the Smudge Tool

What exactly can you use the Smudge tool for? Great question. To be honest, I have no idea and have never used it. Here are a few ideas on how you might be able to use them for your artwork.


It’s conceivable to think you can use the Smudge tool to reshape people’s bodies and faces. Although, a better tool for the job might be the Warp tool.


When it comes to using the Smudge tool, it might be best for paintings, illustrations, etc., as opposed to images. In fact, you could even use it for graphic design projects to mix pixels together.

Pro Tip

You can lock the Smudge tool in place to create a straight line. To achieve this, click once on your image and then hold down your Shift key. Next, move your mouse in the direction you’d like to apply the tool and click again to smudge the layer.

What's Next?

Of all the paint tools GIMP has, the Smudge tool is the one I use least… at least for my artwork. If you’re into photography more than painting, you’ll be better off learning about the healing tool, clone tool, and other paint tools.

Oh, and if you want to elevate your GIMP image editing skills, check out this series of free articles. And some more advanced tutorials here.

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