GIMP is a powerful photo editor and image manipulator with lots of options and tools. It can be overwhelming to see all of those new icons, buttons, and windows right out of the box. A well circulated tutorial posted in a gimptalk.com forum in 2005 is supposed to help you learn the GIMP interface in half an hour. It’s for an old version of GIMP and the images are missing. Suffice it to say I thought it could use some updating. My update/overhaul is the introduction I wish I had when I first installed GIMP 2.6.
Set up GIMP for easy use
Download the newest version of GIMP for your operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux ). Right now the newest official release is GIMP 2.6 . When you start GIMP 2.6 two windows will appear. They look like this-
Everything you need is here. Tools are right there in the Toolbox window. When photos are opened they appear in the main GIMP window (the one titled GNU Image Manipulation Program). There are handy tools that make the interface a lot more usable but they are hidden at the moment. You’ll want to un-hide them.
You’ll want to add Dialogues for Layers, Channels, and Paths to the Toolbox Window. These Dialogues make it easy to use their corresponding toolsÂ (Layers, Channels, and Paths) when you need them.Â You may not need to use these tools or their Dialogues right away, but it’s nice to have everything set up from the start. You won’t have to think later, “Now where did they hide those Dialogues?”
In the Main GIMP Window go to Windows > Dockable Dialogues > Layers.Â A small window called Layers will appear.
Put your mouse on the Layers Window near the word Layers. Not Layers in the title bar of the window, but the word “Layers” beneath that.Â Your mouse will turn into a pointing hand.
Use the pointing hand to click and drag the Layers Window into the Toolbox Window in the area that says “You can drop Dockable Dialogues here“. This will add the Layers Tab to your Toolbox Window.
Return to Windows > Dockable Dialogues and add Channels and Paths to the Toolbox Window in the same way.
The Toolbox Window will look like this
Now add color selection and brush settings to the Toolbox Window for easy access. This makes it easy to see the active» brush and colors. TheseÂ settings also allow you to quickly change the brush dynamics (like changing it from a hard edge to a soft edge), and active colors (switching the foreground and background colors, or completely changing them).
In the Main GIMP Window go to Edit > Preferences. On the left side of the window that appears choose Toolbox. Check the box for Show Foreground and Background Color and the box for Show Active Brush, Pattern and Gradient.Â
Your GIMP interface will now look like this-
Learn the GIMP Interface in 30 Minutes
Maybe. This is the claim of the original forum post. Using these tips should at least make learning the GIMP interface faster.
*Want to know what a tool in the Toolbox window does? Place your mouse over the Tool Button and wait a second. Info about the tool will automatically pop up. I made this 30 second video to show you what I mean.
You get the tools name, a brief description of what it does and it’s keyboard shortcut all in this little box.
*Want to know what the icons at the bottom of the Toolbox window do? Hold your mouse over the icon and wait for the magic info.
*But wait… Path to Selection? Selection to Path? What does that mean? We just need to add the words “turn” and “into a”.Â They are now “Turn Path into a Selection” and “Turn Selection into a Path”. Ta Da!!
*To bring up the Dialogue for a tool in the Toolbox Window just double click the tool’s button.
*When an eye icon is next to something, that something is visible. Clicking the eye makes the eye disappear, and makes that something invisible. For example, an eye icon next to a layer in the Layers Palette means that layer is visible. Clicking the eye makes the layer invisible. Clicking again where they eye used to be makes the eye icon reappear and makes the layer visible again.
*Copy and Paste have basically the same keyboard shortcuts as usual. For Mac use Control rather than Command. Use Control + c to copy and Control + v to paste.
*Right clicking (two finger tap on Mac) on almost everything brings up interesting options. Try right clicking all over the place and see what happens.
*If you use a Mac you can’t use Control + Click to right click. The best solution is to use your Mac System Preferences to make a two-finger tap on the track pad act like a right click.
*A gray checkerboard pattern indicates transparency. Because you can’t see transparency.
*Percentages at the bottom of the Main GIMP Window let you zoom in and out. 100% shows the image the size it would print on paper. More than 100% zooms in, and less than 100% zooms out.
*Most of the main menu options in the Main GIMP Window are self explanatory.Layers and Filters may not be as obvious. I have a post that explains Layers. Filters are effects you can add to an image or selection. Blur filters, for example, will blur your image or selection.
*This is my favorite GIMP Tutorial of all time.How to draw a straight line. It’s the funniest official documentation I’ve ever read. And it’s really useful.
More GIMP and Photo tips to come!
Active just means the one you’re using right now. It’s nice to see which brush is active. GIMP remembers your settings when you close the program and when you re open GIMP the last brush you used will be active.The problem is that I don’t usually remember what brush I used last. If I can’t clearly see the active brush It’s easy to start using the wrong one. Having this info right on the Toolbox Window is a life saver.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5