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January 25, 2004

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Mike Angelo's Digital Darkroom

How to Use GIMP for Photo and Image Editing #2: Introduction to Layers

Use GIMP rather than Photoshop and save money

Mike Angelo -- 25 January 2004 (C) -- Page 4

Article Index

  • Some Tweaks

A few more manipulations were performed in getting to the Figure 10, below, rendition. The text was downscaled and moved. Also, the brightness and contrast levels of the geese (Background layer) were adjusted.

These additional manipulations help to demonstrate the power and usefulness of the GIMP layer tools. That's so because now, after having created and worked with a new layer, the pattern layer, we can go back to the text layer and the geese layer and make further edits to them.

To do that, highlight/select the text-layer entry in the Layer Dialog by clicking on the text-layer entry. Then open the Scale Layer tool by clicking on Layer > Scale Layer. The original height of the text is 26-pixels. Simply enter 20 in the New Height input box in the Scale Layer Dialog and hit OK.

To reposition the text-box, with the text layer still highlighted, select the Move layers and selections tool from the Toolbox. That is the four-pointed arrow in the Toolbox. Then move the mouse-pointer over the text-box until the mouse-pointer turns into a four-pointed arrow. Since we only want to make a small, vernier adjustment to the position of the text-box, we can use the keyboard arrow keys to move the text-box.

For more information about scaling, please see the Sizing your photograph section in Part 1 of this tutorial series.

To make the brightness and contrast adjustments to the geese layer, please select/highlight the Background (geese) layer by clicking on its entry in the Layer Dialog. Then open the Layer Brightness-Contrast Dialog by clicking on Layer > Colors > Brightness-Contrast. Then, push the Brightness slider to 20 and the Contrast slider to 10.

For more information about making brightness and contrast adjustments, please see the Brightening things up section in Part 1 of this tutorial series.

When you get your photograph or image just the way you want it, save it. To save your edited photo, alternate click anywhere on the canvas and then click File > Save As.

Figure 8. Screen shot showing the new layer (arbitrarily named the Pattern layer) with the Rocks pattern added to the photograph. Please see text for an explanation. (GIMP version 1.3 running on SUSE Linux 9.0 and the KDE desktop for Linux. Geese photo by Mike Angelo)


  • Finished

To finish today's exercise, let's crop the edited geese photo to a 250-pixel width photo so that it will fit in a 250-pixel width magazine column. (Please see Figure 11, on page 5.)

That should do it. Nice work.

However, today's lesson is just the beginning of using the GIMP's powerful layer tools -- just a start. There are many more things that you can do just with the tools used today. Moreover, the GIMP has so many more tools, too. Until our next class, you can learn and do lots on your own.

Figure 9. Screen shot showing the new layer (arbitrarily named the Pattern layer) with the Rocks pattern moved under the geese layer. The opacity of the geese layer has been reduced to .64 so rocks can be seen under the geese in the photograph. Please see text for an explanation. (GIMP version 1.3 running on SUSE Linux 9.0 and the KDE desktop for Linux. Geese photo by Mike Angelo)


On your own

There are lots more dialogs, filters, and other such tools to get your digital photographs and images just the way you want them. For example, in the Layer > Color Tools sub-menus you also will find dialogs to adjust color hue, saturation, balance, and more for just the active layer. There are lots of goodies in the Filters and Script-Fu menus too. Play around with these tools on your own to see what they can do and to learn how to use them.

Carey Bunks has a great chapter about layers, Chapter 2, in his book Grokking the GIMP. This book comes in both print and on-line versions. You can access the on-line version at no charge to you. Links in the Resources section at the end of this article on page 5.

There are lots of other nice resources at Carey Bunk's Gimp-Savvy Web site. So, surf around that Web site when you get there.

You will find brief introductions to many of the color tools in Chapter 17, Image Menu: Colors, Part VI, Filters, and Chapter 42, Script-Fu: Description and Function in Karin and Olof S. Kylander's book, Gimp User's Manual. The Gimp User's Manual is on-line and there is a free-download link in the Resources section at the end of this article on page 5.

Version-wise, Gimp User's Manual is somewhat outdated. It is about GIMP 1.0.x. Likewise for Grokking the GIMP. The current stable version of GIMP is 1.2.5 and the current developer version is 1.3.x. Moreover, GIMP 2.0 is expected to be released soon.

Nevertheless, you may freely download the Gimp User's Manual and Grokking the GIMP. That makes them very good deals and well worth using to learn how to use the GIMP. The main point of this versions discussion is to let you know that GIMP has lots more features and many user-interface improvements since Gimp User's Manual and Grokking the GIMP were published.

Figure 10. The edited Geese photograph showing the Rocks pattern moved under the geese layer. The opacity of the geese layer has been reduced to .84 so the geese layer dominates the rocks layer under the geese in the photograph. Please see text for an explanation. (Geese photo by Mike Angelo)


About the Geese Photo

The geese photograph was shot with a Casio 2.11 Mega-pixel QV-2300UX LCD Digital Camera with a 3X optical zoom at f/2.8 and 1/355 second. The original image size is 1600x1200 pixels. The Casio 2.11 Mega-pixel a very nice camera, by the way.

  • See GIMP v Photo$hop on Page 5 ----->
  • See Recap and Conclusions on Page 5 ----->
  • <---- Back to Page 3

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