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"GIMP Primer"
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Author: Michael_McAloon, Contributing Editor


First I would like to thank Sylvia (Painterbear) for proofing/editing this and making me look a lot smarter than I am.


GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a full feature image/photo-editing program with many of the features of the top photo-editing software packages on the market today. The main difference being that it is FREE for downloading because it is open source. This program is an excellent resource for the artist.


Obtaining GIMP is easy. Although many places on the Internet have it for downloading, we will go directly to the source at www.gimp.org for the most current information and developments of GIMP..

From the menu on the left, select GIMP for Windows. (If you have a Mac, select the GIMP for
Mac OS X to download the software for it.) We will follow the Windows path here, but Mac users should be able to apply most of the directions we discuss as well.

In the new window, select the automated installer link that is highlighted near the top. This will take you to the GIMP for Windows page. You will see another menu on the left. Select the Download stable version link.

Numerous versions of GIMP are under development. If you are a programmer and want to work with these to help in the development of the software, you would download these. However, we arenít interested in developing the software, just using it! With that in mind, we will use the recommended stable version for users.

Once there you will see a list of installers. You will need these three:

1. Gtk+2.Runtime Environment (Choose the one for your operating system)
2. The GIMP for Windows The GIMP software (Always use the stable version)
3. GIMP Help 2 The Help files (Choose the one you need)


Notice that the order in which I listed them differs from the way they are listed on the Web page. I have found that installation seems to work best when you use the order I show above, that is, install the Runtime Environment first; then The GIMP; and, finally, the GIMP Help files. Choose the default settings for each, with the exception of the Help files. Select the languages you want to use.

When you start the GIMP software you will see three windows, typically as shown in Figure 1:
1. The GIMP,
2. GIMP Tip of the Day, and
3. Layers, Channels, etc.

Tips of the Day are just that, and you can elect to uncheck the box and not see it each time you open GIMP, but for now, just close it.

The GIMP is really the toolbox window. Notice that it appears to be divided into two sections. The top one, shows the various tools (which you can edit later if you wish). By placing the cursor on a tool, its name will appear.

The bottom section is the Tool Option dialog window that has been docked, or attached, to the Tool window. Notice that the bottom portion of the window changes with each tool that you select to show the various optional settings for that particular tool.

To undock, or separate, the bottom area from the top one, place your cursor over the top portion. When the cursor becomes a hand pointing sideways, click and drag until the window separates. To put the window back, or re-dock it, just reverse the process. Place the cursor on top of the separated window, and drag it back until the separator bar changes color, and then drop it. It is now docked.

The Layers dialog window also has two sections when opened. The upper section deals with layers, and the lower one with brush options for using the brush tools. You will use this window when editing and creating images. We will touch on that later.

What about Images? you may be thinking. At first the Image window is not open. However, since everything we will be doing here is about images, letís open one up and start to work on it.

In the GIMP window, select File to see these options:
1. New. This opens a new blank image.
2. Open. Allows you to open a file.
3. Open location. Opens an image stored in a location identified by a URL.
4. Open recent. This shows a listing of all recently worked on or opened images.
5. Acquire. This allows you to get an image from a screen shot, scanner, or other TWAIN source.

Letís go now to some basic tasks using GIMP to open and save an
image file.

Some of the basic tasks of image editing that we will cover here are opening and saving files; changing image sizes; cropping, brightening, darkening, and rotating images; fixing red eye; and straightening distortions.

Opening an Image

First we need to open an image. To do that select File and then Open to get the open dialog box as shown in Figure 2.

Use this window to navigate to the location where the image you want to open is stored. Although it looks a little different than an Explore window you may be used to, you probably can see some basic similarities.

Once you find your image, select it, then click on the Open button. It will open in its own window. (Note: each image that you open will open in its own window.)

Once you have opened an image, the image window will show a lot of information pertaining to that particular image: Image name, Image format (jpg, gif, tiff, etc.), RGB (color image), which layer youíre on, and the Image size.

Notice that when your image opened, the Layers window that we saw earlier now contains information about the image. Typically that will be a layer called the background of your image. If it does not show this, click on the Auto button at the top right of the window.

You now have an open image ready to be worked on. What about saving the image? When saving your image you can also change its file type. Images come in a variety of file types, JPG, TIF, PNG, and GIF, to name a few. As you will see when you save an image in GIMP you can change its file type to a different one from what you started out with
Don't wait - discuss this topic with fellow artists now in our forum!
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