Acorn Acorn 5

Paint and Pencil Tools

Acorn has two drawing tools: Paint (B) and Pencil (N).  Brushes are used primarily for painting and drawing because they create soft, smooth lines.  The pencil is most useful for when you are zoomed in and you need to edit single pixels.  This is because the pencil has sharper edges than the brush tool. 


Pencil (N)

The pencil tool can be changed in size and opacity, and the blending mode can be set via the drop down menu.  

The blending mode drop down menu includes a 'Copy' setting. 'Copy' erases the pixels you draw over and replaces them with the currently selected color.  This is especially useful if you're using a color with alpha in it.

You can change the color of the pencil by clicking on the color well in the tools palette.  

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Paint (B)

When you click on the paint tool, you can adjust the size and opacity of the brush in the Inspector Palette.  You can also turn on and off the tablet pressure, and precision mode.  To change the color of the paint brush, click on the color well in the tools palette.  

Shortcuts for modifying brush size:

  • Hold down the control and option keys at the same time while clicking on the mouse and moving it left (to decrease size) or right (to increase size). 
  • Hold down the [ key (left bracket) to decrease size, and the ] key (right bracket) to increase size

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If you click on the brush preview window, a drop down menu will appear for selecting different types of preset brushes.  You can select from Brushes, Pens, Pencils, and more.

Tip:  You can quickly convert any brush to an eraser just by holding down the command and option keys.

Importing Photoshop Brushes

To import a photoshop brush (.abr file), just drag and drop the brush file onto the Acorn icon in the dock when Acorn is open.  The brush will then be located under ‘Imported’ in the brush preview window.

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Acorn's Brush Designer

To the left the brush preview window there is an icon of a paint brush.  Clicking on this will open the brush designer which allows you to customize and save your own brushes.  Alternatively, you can bring up the brush designer by clicking on the Window ▸ Brush Designer menu item.  

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The Brush Designer is a powerful tool that allows you to make your very own brushes or modify existing ones.  Simply draw in the canvas provided, change the settings for the brush, and watch your brush strokes update to the new settings.

Here is a rundown of the various options:

A brush with blending set to multiply:


The same brush, with blending set to normal:


Tablet Options

Saving a Custom Brush

To save your brush, type ⌘S and a sheet will appear asking you for a name and category for the brush.  You can add your brush to an existing category, or create a new one.  If you purchased Acorn from the Flying Meat Store, custom brushes are saved to your ~/Library/Application Support/Acorn/Brushes/ folder.  If you purchased Acorn from the Mac App Store, the App Support folder has been moved to:  ~/Library/Containers/com.flyingmeat.Acorn/Data/Library/Application Support.  You can exchange your brushes with friends over email simply by sending them your saved brush from the Finder.  You can also delete brushes you have created from the Finder.

Deleting a Custom Brush

Acorn comes with a number of built-in brushes which cannot be deleted.  To delete a custom brush, you can navigate to the ~/Library/Application Support/Acorn/Brushes/ folder.  Move the brush you want to delete to the trash.  Alternatively, you can go to the brush drop down menu in Acorn.  Select the brush you want to delete while holding down the option key.  A pop-up window will appear confirming whether you want to delete the brush.  

See Also: Shape Brushes

Precision Mode

Precision mode is handy for drawing precise lines, especially if you are using a mouse.  This mode will slow down the motion of your brush, making it easier to control your line.  The option to turn on precision mode is located in the inspector palette.

To change the slowdown value of the precision brush, open Acorn's preferences window ( Acorn ▸ Preferences) and click on the Fussy Stuff tab.  There you will see a slider and value input labeled Precision Brush Slowdown Speed. The higher the number, the slower the brush will move. 

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See Also: Video Tutorials - Paint Tool Basics