Thanks to GIMP or the GNU Image Manipulation Program, creating epic sketches and high-quality logos just got easier and more affordable. GIMP is a free, open source answer for image editors looking for an Adobe Photoshop alternative. It’s also beginner-friendly and has an active community that offers tips and tricks to help you make the changes and fixes you need to your image.
GIMP provides many tools and resources to make any image and add your professional look. Web designers, graphic artists and hobby photographers will find GIMP to be a great program that can easily meet their image enhancement needs. The same can be said for those who are just getting started with images.
For beginners, especially when it comes to working with new interfaces, your adventure in using the GIMP can seem daunting. When the required changes are minimal, something like cropping or resizing the image doesn’t require you to jump over the hoop. After taking the time to learn the basics and where to look for specific things, it doesn’t take long to understand why GIMP is a great investment.
Once we’ve downloaded and installed the GIMP program, we’ll go over the basics of editing to help navigate the interface and show you how to create a sketch like the one used in this article. We’ll also provide some resources that you can use to get more help for future GIMP projects.
Download and Install GIMP
- Go to the developer site and select download. The file will start downloading. Wait a few seconds before trying to install.
- Run the recently downloaded file. After opening the installer, click the Install button to install gimp to the default folder.
- To change installation and add-in settings, click Customize instead.
- Follow all installation instructions as presented. The complete GIMP installation may take several minutes.
- Once the installation is complete, you can start using GIMP.
Using GIMP: Learn the Basics
Begin the steps below by launching GIMP and dragging it to an empty canvas window. We will use the same image in all sections.
Scaling / resizing the image
- Click the File tab and import the image by selecting Open (CTRL + O)
- After loading the image, click the Image tab and select Scale Image from the drop-down menu.
- A dialog box will appear allowing you to edit.
- Scale / resize the image using the provided options.
- Adjust the image for width and height or X, Y resolution.
- Changes can be made in pixels, percentages, centimeters, etc.
- Remember that magnification images may result in a more pixelated image.
- After adjusting the settings, click “Zoom” to continue.
Reduce file size
- Click the File tab and select Export As (Shift + CTRL + E)
- Choose a name and location where you want to save the file.
- Click the “+” next to “Select File Type (by Extension)” to open a list of file types to save. Lossy files such as jpg or png are preferred.
- Then click the Export button to open a new window with options.
- The less saved, the smaller the image file size.
- Make sure the minimum size is set to “9”.
- Once you have decided what elements of the image you want to save, click Export.
- Navigate to the Tools tab and select Transform Tools> Crop (Shift + C).
- You can also select a crop tool by clicking its icon in the tools documentation in the upper left corner of the interface.
- Then, hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor across the area you want to make the final image.
- After setting, all parts of the image outside of the part you selected will darken, and the part set as the final image will remain untouched.
- You can adjust the area using the corners of the frame, by shrinking or expanding them by dragging the mouse button.
- Once you get the image you want, either left-click on it, press Enter, or press Shift + C at the same time to crop the selection.
- On the File tab, select Open As Layers (CTRL + ALT + O)
- Select the layer you want to add to the image, in this case we will use an arrow, and click Open.
- You will see a new layer at the top of the current image. To see how the layers are stacked on top of each other, the layers window is on the right.
- With the new layer selected, go back to the Transform Tools and choose Rotate. You can also find the Rotate tool icon in the tools documentation.
- This will bring up a new popup and apply a mesh-like texture to your image.
- If you know the rotation angle you want to apply, you can enter values ??in the corresponding fields. Otherwise, you can use the slider under the box labeled “Angle” or rotate the image yourself by left-clicking and dragging.
- Using precise values ??provides more accurate results and faster.
- When you like the results, click Rotate.
- Open the “File” tab and select “New” (CTRL + N)
- The message “Create a new image” appears, where you can select from a previously created template or manually select the image size.
- Our thumbnails never exceed 680 pixels wide, so we resize the image as such. For the height, we’ll keep it at 400 pixels.
- Once the dimensions are set, click OK.
- We should now be looking at a blank (white) canvas. You can choose the background color you like using the Bucket Fill Tool in the Tool Doc, but for now we will leave it white.
- The best thing to do now is to add an extra layer so that once we start adding text we can adjust it so it doesn’t block the image. So open the File tab and this time select Open As Layers just like we did for the arrow while rotating the image. Select the GIMP logo that you downloaded earlier and click Open.
- The layer image is 1200 x 1200, which is too big for our 680 x 400 main image. We will need to resize it. If you follow the instructions illustrated above, adjust the width and height of the image to 200 pixels.
- We can then drag the image to the side so that it doesn’t interfere with our text until we need to move it.
- Next comes the text. We will use the shortcut command and press the “T” key on your keyboard to select the “Type” tool. Now left click on the nice white area of ??the image and start typing the title.
- When everything is printed, select the text (CTRL + A) and select the font you want to use. We used the Bauhaus 93 font, which is not standard. GIMP will take all the fonts found in the Windows Font folder and add them to its selection library. You can add additional fonts by downloading them from sites such as DaFont and Google Fonts and moving them to the Windows Font folder.
- Then adjust the size of the letters so they fit well in the image, but don’t take up too much space. We stopped at 100 pixels.
- After making text adjustments, you can move the text box to the desired location by switching to the Move tool. You can easily do this by clicking on the non-text area of ??the image and pressing “M”.
- Select the text layer in the window on the right, right-click it, and choose Alpha to Selection from the list. This will add an animated border to the text of the image.
- Next we need to add an additional layer. To do this, in the same right side window, find and click the “Create a new layer” button. This will open a window for creating a new layer. Don’t worry about most of what’s going on here, this is for a more complex tutorial. For now, just make sure there is a Transparency option in the Fill with dropdown list and click OK.
- A new layer is created that reflects the text to which you have applied the alpha channel to the selection. This should be the selected default layer. Now we’re going to add a border around the text.
- Click the Select tab and select Zoom In. In the pop-up selection window, set the value to “2” and click “OK”.
- At this point, to make it easier for you, click the eye icon next to the original text layer in the layers window. The eye will disappear upon clicking, and this will hide the visibility of the text while you fill the frame with a bucket.
- Press Shift + B to select the Bucket Fill Tool and then click on the main colored square to open the color options. You can choose from several default options or create your own. We settled on a shade of blue with HTML designation 1b56ff.
- If you are a little familiar with CSS, you can use color codes in this field.
- Drag over the invisible text area, indicated by the animated frame, and to the left – click to fill it with color.
- Click the area where the eye icon used to be to show the original text again. Then drag the original text above the color layer in the layer window.
- Right-click the topmost layer and select Merge With Bottom. The image should now look like this:
- Now we will add some shadow to the text. Click the Filters tab, select Highlights and Shadows> Drop Shadow (Legacy)
- In the pop-up window, select the x, y access for the shadow, radius, and opacity.
- For the thumbnail, we selected 8 in the X and Y axes, 20 in the blur radius and set the opacity to 100.
- You can change the color of the shadow to make it more visible in the background, say for example If your background is black, it is better to choose a brighter color. However, since our background is white, black is fine.
- To avoid shifting the image, clear the Allow resizing check box before clicking OK.
- Merge the Drop Shadow layer on top of your text layer.
- Select tab> None (Shift + CTRL + A).
- This is not necessary, but we decided to add a drop shadow to the GIMP logo. If you choose to do this, the directions will remain the same. In addition, select the GIMP logo layer and move it to the desired location on the thumbnail.
- Finally, if you feel that the white background doesn’t work, you can select the background layer, select the Bucket Fill Tool and add some color. We chose a subtle gray color to not obscure the shadows. The finished product should look like this:
- Now all that is needed is to export as and save in the right place.
For this modification, we’re going to import another image into a layer on top of the current image.
In this section, we’ll show you how we created the sketch for this article using GIMP. Parts of this tutorial will use some of the tools used in Learning the Basics.
Before we start, it’s best to collect all the images you might need. Since the thumbnail is kept simple, the only image layer it will need is the GIMP logo, obtained through Wikipedia
Once downloaded and saved on your computer, we can get to work.
Using GIMP: Extra Help
Once you start using GIMP, it won’t take long before you feel like you’ve mastered the basics and take a look at more complex and professional style editing. There are countless tutorials available to help you expand your working knowledge of the GIMP software.
The GIMP also has a large online user community, which includes a subreddit, unofficial discussion platforms such as the GIMP Forums and GIMP Chat, tagged questions on the StackExchange graphic design section, and social media channels such as the Google Plus GIMP User Group. –