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Mike Angelo's Digital Darkroom

How to Use GIMP for Photo and Image Editing #3:

Framing Photos and Images

Use GIMP rather than Photoshop and save money

Mike Angelo -- 25 February 2004 (C) -- Page 3


Article Index

  • Moving the Frame layer

To lay the groundwork for this task, first add an alpha channel to the background (layer). To do that, toggle the combo dialog box to the Layers Dialog if you already have not done so. Then, please click on the Background-layer entry to make it the active layer.

Next, alternate-click (right-click if you are using a right-handed mouse) on the Background-layer entry in the Layers Dialog. Then in the context menu that pops up, please click on Add Alpha Channel.

For more about this process and Alpha channels, please see the Alpha Channel section in Part 2 of our Gimp tutorial series.

Now, make sure the Frame-Layer entry in the Layers Dialog is highlighted. To highlight the Frame-Layer entry click on it.

Then click on the down-arrow at the bottom of the Layers Dialog to move the Frame-Layer entry under the Background-Layer entry (the barn photo). (Please see Figure 5, below.)

Figure 5. The GIMP Layers Dialog. (Please see text for an explanation.)


  • Add the wood frame pattern

Here you can toggle the combo dialog box to the Pattern Grid Dialog (the paint bucket icon on the combo dialog box).

However in Figure 6, below, we will use the separate Pattern Grid Dialog that already had been opened earlier and was partly under the Navigation Dialog in the previous figures. (To do that, use Dialogs > Create New Dock > Brushes, Patterns, & Gradients ... and then click on the Pattern Grid icon on the Icon Bar at the top of that new combo Brushes, Patterns, & Gradients dialog.)

The Patterns Dialog at the lower-right of Figure 6 shows the pattern samples in Extra Large size.

To change the pattern sample sizes, alternate-click on the Pattern Grid icon on the Icon Bar at the top of the combo Brushes, Patterns, & Gradients dialog. Then on the context menu that pops up click Preview Size and then click on your size choice.

Now let's add the Wood pattern to the Frame Layer of the photo. First, select the Wood pattern. That's the sample that is fourth in from the left in the bottom row of pattern samples in the lower-right dialog of Figure 6. Click on the Wood Pattern Sample to select it.

You are all set to add the wood frame to the photo. In order to make sure the wood gets onto the Frame Layer, please go to the Layers Dialog (bottom-left in Figure 6) and click on the Frame-Layer entry to highlight it.

Next, click on Edit > Fill with Pattern.

Bang! The wood now is in the pattern layer and putting a wood frame around your photo/image. (Please see Figure 6.)

Figure 6. Screen shot of the framed barn photo. Please see text for an explanation. (Country Barn photo by Mike Angelo)

  • Finished

Figure 7, below, is the framed barn photo.

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.

That should do it. Nice work.

However, there are many more things that you can do with just 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 7. The framed, Country Barn photograph. If you have a good eye, you might notice there is a slight skew in this picture. We will show you how to straighten that skew in an upcoming GIMP tutorial. (Please see text for an explanation.)


On your own

Try doing this photo-framing project with different frame widths. Also try it with different pattern choices.

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 4.

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.

Version-wise, Grokking the GIMP is somewhat outdated. It is about GIMP 1.0.x. 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 Grokking the GIMP. That makes it a very good deal 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 Grokking the GIMP was published.

About the Barn Photo

The barn photograph was shot with a Microtek, Take-It S1 Digital Camera ($99) at f/2.8 and 1/1208 second. The original image size is 2048x1536 pixels (interpolated).

The Microtek S1 is a very nice 2.1 MegaPixel camera that is compatible with the GNU-Linux operating system, although Microtek lists it as only a Mac and Microsoft Windows compatible camera. More about that in our upcoming review of the Microtek S1.


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