The Complete Beginners Guide to GIMP: Part 1

The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a very powerful tool for photo editing; it even can rival Adobe Photoshop in power if some people use it correctly. However, it can be pretty intimidating when you first open it. This guide should solve any worries so you can use GIMP to its highest potential.

Part One of this guide will guide you around the ropes on GIMP’s UI. Let us get started shall we?

(We will be using Windows 7 for this guide, however there should be no major differences GIMP between Operating Systems except more features on the Linux release which we will cover later)

Please note: For people who like hotkeys we will have them listed in Bold and Caps next to a tool which uses them. Start early when using hotkeys, practice makes perfect. Example of a hotkey, Ctrl + V for paste is an example. If you want a picture bigger, just click on it.

For this guide you will need

  • GIMP 2.6 and above (Get it here
  • A Computer consisting of one of the following operating systems (Linux, XP, Vista, 7)
  • Preliminary knowledge of how to install a program and use drop-down menus.

1.1 Introduction

You have GIMP Installed and you are ready to go. Except, you don’t know what to do, you are overwhelmed by the number of Icons and dialog lists that you do not know what they do. Fear not, we will break them down to 3 simple workplaces.

YELLOW – This is the Toolbox, The toolbox is where you choose what you want to do with your creation on gimp. Here, I divided and color coded it into four major parts.

GRAY- This is the work area, this is where you apply effects, see what you are creating and the main point of your document, you do almost everything here, almost.

PINK- This is the Dialog area, this area is home to layer control, histograms, gradient samples, and a bunch of good stuff we will explain later.

1.2 The Toolbox

First we will cover the toolbox. The toolbox is where you choose what you want to do with your creation on gimp. Here, I divided and color coded it into four major parts.

RED – These are the tools, when you click on one of them, they have a specific job and is represented by an icon (Usually on what it does). Example, the erase tool (SHIFT+E), erases a certain part of the canvas.

GREEN – This is the Color selection, you get to choose the color you want to use when painting on the work area. (We will get to the work area soon). You can choose the Foreground Color (The color on the front) and the Background color (The color on the back) one double clicking each color will show a color selection window, you get to click and drag your pointer for the desired color. First, you chose which main color you want then change the hue and tone.

ORANGE – Tool Properties, you get to choose how your tool behaves. Example, I have the Paintbrush selected, you will be able to draw on the work area. In the Tool Property section, I can make the brush bigger, change the mode, and change the brush and so forth. You will be using this lot, later.

BLUE – Property Save, you get to default your properties and/or save them independently. Don’t touch this for now.

1.3 The Work Area

In the work area you do almost everything, this is your control panel. To get started and begin to make a new file just click File>New or select the main work area window and press CTRL + N. Select the size you want by typing it in, there you have it. Now you are ready to start. But we won’t do anything for now. If you want to save your work just File>Save/Save As. Or CTRL + S

1.4 Dialogs

The Dialogs are important, they manage layers (the order of stuff you have, example if text is above a picture, you will see your text shown above first and the picture on the bottom) color channels (useful for photo editors) and other stuff that we will show in the later parts.

The top part of the Dialog menu is for tabs for other Dialogs, in this photo you see a dialog for layers, channels, paths (saved selections) and history. On the bottom you have corresponding icons for the dialogs. The blank page on the bottom is to make a new layer.

1.4.1 Understanding Layers

In GIMP you are going to see layers a lot. Here is way to understand them.

Layers are photos within photos, they have transparency features so you can see though some parts that are not drawn though and they are stackable, the higher the layer on the dialog means it is above the bottom layer. See New Layer above Hydrangeas.jpg? The New Layer is above Hydrangeas.jpg therefore you see it above it.

Every time you make a new layer (SHIFT) it will always be above the other one.

1.5 Functionality of GIMP

GIMP can do most of the things Photoshop do, and even does some the things Photoshop does but better. GIMP can crop photos, add filters to them, has layer support, has transparency support and is pretty versatile. But now you are familiar with the user interface.

Next time, we will do basic and some cool stuff within GIMP.

How was the guide? Need any explanation?  I would love to hear from you. Comment below!

46.thumbnail The Complete Beginners Guide to GIMP: Part 1

About the author

Angelo was with a Windows ME computer and a copy of Half-Life, these two things were needed to spark the interest of a young boy in all things tech. This interest brought him to writing articles and with a passion to teach.

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