By default when you run Grafx2, it starts a new image as large as the program’s window, with a default 256-color palette.

To change the canvas dimensions, click the Resolution icon, then click the image Width or Height to change it and click OK.

When an image is bigger than the editing window, you can use the cursor keys to scroll the view.

To load or save an image, use the Load/Save icon

To exit the program, press the ‘Quit’ icon, on the right edge of the tool bar. Grafx2 will propose to save your changes, if you have not saved yet.

Indexed colors

Grafx2 is made for drawing with a system called indexed colors. This means that your image defines a palette of colors, 256 at most, and when you draw with “red”, or “black”, in fact the program remember which color number you used. The big difference with a program like MS Paint or Gimp is that you can later alter your image’s palette, and this will affect all the places where you used the modified colors.

A typical file format for indexed colors is GIF.


See the chapter ‘Palette manipulation’ for useful palette actions.

Grafx2 can import 24bit images from a few file formats such as Jpeg, creating a custom palette by selecting 256 colors using a mathematical method (Median cut in the RGB color space) Be aware that the result can never be good with photographic images and the like, it’s mostly useful to convert screenshots of computer applications.

Grafx2 saves only indexed colors formats: for example it uses the PNG variant which keeps the palette.

Two-button drawing

Usually, clicking on the image with the left mouse button paints with the foreground color (FG), and clicking with the right mouse button paints with the background colors (BG). Some other tools will use left click for confirm and right to cancel/stop. In any case, it’s rare to get the same effect from left-clicking and right-clicking, and the right mouse button is as useful as the left one.

The current FG and BG are shown next to the palette, and clicking on the palette itself with the left and right mouse button will set the FG and BG colors, respectively.

Setting two useful colors can save you a lot of time when drawing, as you won’t need to change the active color so often.


If you have a third mouse button, it’s not used for drawing. You can assign a shortcut to the button and to wheel movements to perform punctual actions, for example to activate the color picker or the magnifier.


The program allows you to draw using single pixels, of course.

You can also use one of the built-in monochrome shapes, like circles, squares, horizontal lines etc. They are called monochrome because they automatically use your foreground and background colors when drawing.

To select a monochrome brush, open the Paintbrush window and click the button with the shape you want to use. Note that the single pixel is proposed, top left.


The last type is the Color Brush, often called simply “brush”. It’s a group of colored pixels that you get by grabbing with the rectangular grab tool, or the freehand grab. You can use a color brush to draw a texture, or displace part of a picture for example.

Note that the current Background color acts as transparent for your brush: pixels of this color will not be drawn. Drawing with the right mouse button will paste the background color only, in the shape of your brush.


In the toolbar, the paintbrush icon shows which brush you’re currently using. A special symbol indicates when you’re using a color brush.


The monochrome brushes are resizable, you can use shortcuts . and , to increase and decrease your current brush’s size. This allows you to pick sizes that are not available in the Paintbrush screen.

A very useful shortcut sets the paintbrush to single-pixel: DEL. (actually it’s a circle of size 1)

Many actions can be performed on the color brush, see the Brush FX menu.

You can use your color brush in monochrome mode by right-clicking the Paintbrush icon. It does not alter the brush contents, only the way it’s displayed and drawn.

Right-clicking the ‘pick brush’ icon recovers the last color brush you had. This is useful after using a built-in monochrome brush, or after turning your brush monochrome.

Drawing tools (general)

A lot of drawing tools work by pasting your brush repeatedly at several positions:

  • at all the mouse positions (freehand drawing),
  •   in straight lines from one position to the next,
  • outlining a circle, etc.
While such tool is active, the current brush is shown “stuck” under your mouse cursor, as a preview.

The current brush is not shown when you’re using “Flood fill” and other tools that don’t use your current brush.


A more in-depth description of drawing tools is in Drawing tools (detailed), but feel free to experiment. Some tools work by single click, or while dragging the mouse and releasing; but a few ones use a more complicated series of clicks. If the usage or effect of a tool is not clear, use the contextual help on its button to get immediate information.

Spare page

Grafx2 keeps two different images open at the same time. The image you see is called the “Main page”, and the one you don’t see is called the “Spare page”. You can exchange them by clicking the icon or using the shortcut TAB : The Spare becomes the Main (and visible), the Main becomes the Spare (hidden).

When editing a single image, the spare is often used as “rough paper”, to save pieces of your main image or brushes, for future use.

The program keeps track of them independently: file name, modified since last save, history of modifications for undo/redo, etc. Their palette can be different, but then a brush that you grab in an image will look different in another.

Drawing effects

Grafx2 has a system of  Effects, allowing you for example to darken a piece of picture, or protect some colors against drawing on them.

If drawing doesn't seem to give the right colors, maybe it's because you have accidentally activated an effect : Check the Effects screen.

When an effect is active, the "FX" button appears pressed, though it's not very noticeable.

This guide will describe some of the effects, when they are most relevant