Gimp Quick Tips: Part Two

March 2, 2010

This was not the entry I planned on writing tonight – which was one about faking an HDR effect in Gimp, since one of you asked for it many moons ago. Long story short – I think my computer really does not want me to write that entry, as this is the third time I’ve attempted it and something has gone wrong and I’ve lost some of my work. It will get posted eventually, though, I promise – right now I’m just a bit annoyed and bitter about the whole thing (again), so I’m walking away from it (again).

So, instead I’m going to write a follow-up to this Gimp Quick Tips entry, and give you MORE quick tips! How exciting!

New Layer From Visible

New Layer From VisibleYou guys all should know by this point that I like to play with a lot of layers. Sometimes I’ll end up with multiple layers with all different blend modes and opacity and I realize that I want to do something to the image as a whole and not just one of the layers (like adjust the levels, or sharpen the photo). I used to right click on each layer and select “merge down” to combine two layers together into one, but that was a pain because it sometimes took a while if I had multiple layers, and I’d also lose all those individual layers I had.

The fix? Go to Layer –> New from Visible. Which does exactly what you think it would do – it creates a new layer that contains exactly what you see on the screen RIGHT NOW. Yay!

Dragging Guide Lines

Are you playing with the perspective a photo or rotating it and wish that you had a guide line to base it off of? You might have realized you can add guide lines to your photo by going to Image –> Guides –> New Guide, but then you have to know either what pixel you want the guide at, or at what percentage, and sometimes you just want to place one where you want it by yourself.

Well, you can! Just click and drag from the ruler at either the top or left side of Gimp and you’ll be dragging a guide line:

Dragging a Guide

Move ToolIn order to to remove the guide line, make sure your “move” tool is selected (looks like the icon you see on the right), and you can drag the line around again and to remove it, drag it back up into the ruler again. You can also remove ALL guides on your photo by going to Image –> Guides –> Remove All Guides

Dragging Images into Gimp

Drag a New Layer

So, you’re working on a photo in Gimp and you want to add a texture to it that you have in your file system. Did you know you can drag and drop it from the file system into your image in Gimp and it will add it as a new layer for your automatically?

Show Layer Mask

We’ve talked about Layer Masks before, but I always like giving a quick recap each time, because if you’ve never used them before, I know they can be confusing. A layer mask is something you can add to your layer and then paint either white, black, or shades of gray on it to control the opacity of certain parts of a layer. Basically – a pure white layer mask (which is what a mask is by default) means your entire layer is completely opaque. But if you were to draw a black line right through the middle of it, everywhere you drew the line would be transparent – so you could see through to the layer below.

Often I find myself creating my own layer mask, or using a script that adds a layer mask for me, and I want to see the mask itself. Usually when working with the masks, you see the result of the mask (so, your layer turns more transparent or opaque) instead of seeing the black and white you’re painting with. To see the mask itself, right click on it and select Show Layer Mask:

Show Layer Mask

And now you’ll see the mask. You can edit it, too, of course, from here. To go back to how it was before, just right click on the mask again and select Show Layer Mask again to uncheck it.

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Filed under: Photo Editing
  • Thanks for your awesome tips. I need more practice understanding and working with the layer masks in Gimp.

  • This is great, thanks and keep it up, I need to understand layers better (I'm like the kid at school who never went in the day they did the 7 times table) and I'm going to play with this later!

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