Sams Teach Yourself GIMP in 24 Hours


Rather than simply running down a list of GIMP's capabilities, Sams Teach Yourself GIMP in 24 Hours actually teaches graphic art techniques and web media creation using GIMP. The GIMP is a fairly complex program with many features and capabilities, but not so complex to be beyond the grasp of most competent computer users. Sams Teach Yourself Gimp in 24 Hours takes you step-by-step through image creation and manipulation and teaches you the techniques for producing high-quality digital art. This book is neither a...
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Rather than simply running down a list of GIMP's capabilities, Sams Teach Yourself GIMP in 24 Hours actually teaches graphic art techniques and web media creation using GIMP. The GIMP is a fairly complex program with many features and capabilities, but not so complex to be beyond the grasp of most competent computer users. Sams Teach Yourself Gimp in 24 Hours takes you step-by-step through image creation and manipulation and teaches you the techniques for producing high-quality digital art. This book is neither a "dummied down" guide for novice computer users nor an incomprehensible technical reference for UNIX and Linux experts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780672315091
  • Publisher: Sams
  • Publication date: 3/22/1999
  • Series: Sams Teach Yourself Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 7.34 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Table of Contents

Hour 1. Installation and Configuration.
Bring Out the GIMP. Installing Linux—A Primer. System Requirements for Running GIMP. Installing GIMP. Summary. Q&A.

Hour 2. Getting Started.
Your First GIMP Session. The GIMP Interface. Creating a New File. Opening Files. File Formats. Closing and Saving Files. Other Toolbox Menu Options. The Xtns Menu. Exiting the GIMP. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 3. Basic GIMP Tools
Using the Basic Tools. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 4. Using Brushes and Patterns in Depth.
Using Brushes. Using Patterns. Saving Patterns. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 5. Working with Selections.
The Selection Tool Icons. Tool Options. Viewing a Selection. Making a Selection. Shape Tool Extras. Lasso Selections. Fuzzy Select. The B_zier Tool. Intelligent Scissors. The Selection Menu Options. The Stroke. Using Guides with Selections. Editing Selections. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 6. Transformations.
Transformation Tools. Crop. Transform. Tutorial. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 7. Working with Colors.
The GIMP and Color. Color Models. Color Channels. Working with Transparencies. Other Color Options. Gradients. Gradient Editor. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 8. Introductions to Layers.
What Are Layers? Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 9. Hands on Layering.
Blend Modes. Tutorials. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 10. Using Masks.
What Are Masks? Mask Tutorials. Text Mask. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 11. Special Effects.
Tips and Tricks. Creating Sharp Images from Scratch. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 12. Using Filters to Improve or Distort Images.
What Exactly Are Filters? Using Filters. Filters that Come with the GIMP. Blur and Sharpen Filters. Enhancing Your Images. Noise Filters. Obtaining Filters. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 13. Artistic Filters.
Using Filters Artistically. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 14. Cool Text Effects.
Working with the Text Tool. Dazzling Text Effects from Scratch. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 15. Web Graphics.
File Size. File Formats. Web-Safe Palettes—Necessary or Outdated? Making Good Looking Web Sites Quickly and Effectively. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 16. Photo Compositing.
What Is a Composite? Creating Composites. Framing Photos. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 17. Photo Restoration and Enhancement.
"This Photo Looks Bad! Is It Salvageable?". Edge Effects. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 18. Digital Painting.
Simulating Painting. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 19. About Plug-ins.
So, What Exactly Are Plug-ins? How to Obtain and Install New Plug-ins. The DB Browser. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 20. Using More Plug-ins and Extensions.
Gfig. GUASH. IfsCompose. Fractal Explorer. Screen Shot. Inroot. Crypto Tools. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 21. What the Heck is Script-Fu?
Using Script-Fu. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 22. More with Sript-Fu.
Using Script-Fu in Combination with Your Own Effects. Script-Fu as a Tool. Script-Fu—A Look Ahead. Procedural Database. Net-Fu. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 23. Animations.
Creating a Simple Animation. Building Animations for the Web. Size Issues. Optimizing Animations. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

Hour 24. Using Peripherals with Linux.
Digital Scanners. Digital Cameras. Color Printers. Wacom Pens and Other Pointing Devices. A Word About Video Editing. Summary. Q&A. Exercise.

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First Chapter

[Figures are not included in this sample chapter]

Sams Teach Yourself GIMP in 24 Hours
- 3 -
Basic GIMP Tools

By now, the interface has become a little more familiar to you, and you can getaround in the GIMP well enough to open and save images in various file formats. Youare now well on your way toward achieving full GIMP apprenticeship. In this hour,you begin to learn more about the basic tools, so we can illustrate the essentialconcepts well enough to proceed into creating and editing images (which is why thisbook was written, after all). We will also begin going into a little more detailabout some of the tools, and continue this trend into the next few hours, thoroughlyillustrating specific techniques for using the tools productively and creatively.

Using the Basic Tools

As a GIMP user, you will have at your disposal a tremendous library of variouseffects, plug-ins, and scripts to help you do amazing things with graphics. The GIMPwill doubtlessly acquire many more of these in the future as the program continuesto evolve. And yet the standard tools are the ones you will likely rely on most foryour creative tasks. Master these, and you will be surprised at the level of sophisticationyour images can achieve with relative ease. And ultimately, what you will be ableto acco mplish using this knowledge in concert with the intense effect capabilitiesthe GIMP has to offer will be no less than astounding.

The 21 basic tools, as shown briefly in the Hour 2, "Getting Started,"are essential to creating nearly any image. These tools often have more than onefunction, and many options available as well. To access the additional options andfunctions of any tool in the toolbox, double-click on the Tool Button icon.This will pull up that particular tool's Option dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.1.

FIGURE 3.1 Additional options and functions can be invoked by double-clicking a tool icon, or by going to File, Dialogs, Tool Options on the Toolbox menu.

In the interest of continuity and organization, these tools will be grouped hereby function into five basic categories--Selection tools, Transformation tools, Artistictools, Color tools, and the Text tool.

Selection Tools

NEW TERM: Selection tools are a way to mark a portion ofthe image apart from the rest of the composition. This allows the program to applyany functions or changes you specify only to that which you have selected,without affecting the rest of your work. Changes can include, but are not limitedto, alterations in color, size, shape, composition, orientation, and so on.

The six tools at the top of the toolbox deal with creating and editing selections(see Figure 3.2). Selections enable you to select any part of an image, marked bya blinking border, called the marching snts or marquee (see Figure3.3). (This marquee is animated, and to some people resembles blinking marquee lightsor an ts on the move, depending.

FIGURE 3.2 The Selection tools are valuable for affecting change on only certain portions of your image.
FIGURE 3.3 A selection is made. Any changes applied by any tool or menu item would happen only within the confines of the marching ants.

TIP: You can change the rate of the blinking marquee (or ants) by going to File, Preferences, clicking the Interface tab, and changing the value in the Marching Ants Speed text box.
Also, you can toggle the marquee on or off by right-clicking the image, and going to Select, Toggle.

When you make a selection, you will need to use the proper select tool for thejob. With these six tools at your disposal, you will have the ability to set apartany shape, size, and color portion of an image for alterations. Later in this book,you will go over selections in greater detail, and learn how to utilize them to donew and interesting things to your images.

Transformation Tools

NEW TERM: A transformation is anything that alters the perspectiveof the image, whether it is by size, position, rotation, mirroring, or plain distortion.

You have a good image to begin with, but something just isn't right with it somehow.Perhaps you could position it a little better, rotate it, or get a closer look atit. That's what the Transformation tools are for (see Figure 3.4). These tools aregreat at altering the perspective, size, position, ratio, or orientation of an image,as in Figure 3.5.

FIGURE 3.4 The Transformation tools alter your image in terms of shape, size, and position.
FIGURE 3.5 Transformations in actions. Transformations can make elements in your graphics more interesting.

Artistic Tools

The Artistic tools do exactly what their name implies--they enable you to draw,paint, erase, and brush your images with colors and patterns. The tools used to dothese things resemble the tools you'd find in any artist's tool collection--pencils,brushes, erasers, airbrushes, and so forth (see Figure 3.6). And they work in muchthe same way as the real things (see Figure 3.7).

FIGURE 3.6 The Artistic tools resemble the equipment used by the artists who work with analog media.
FIGURE 3.7 The Artistic tools in action. This example illustrates the many effects you can create with these tools.

The three last Artistic tools are unique, and worth mentioning here. The Airbrushworks just like a can of spray paint, thickening the paint the longer you use itin one place or enabling a thin spray of color to be applied with a sweeping motion.The Clone tool will paint with an exact duplicate of any image or pattern (whichwill come in handy for photo retouching). And the Convolve tool works like a paintbrush,but will blur or sharpen an image instead of painting it with color.

The Color Tools

The Color tools, as you've probably guessed, have to do with color, and the wayit is applied to your images. With these tools, shown in Figure 3.8, you can chooseand fill selections with color in ways that would be difficult to do using physicalart equipment. But thanks to t he wonders of technology, changing and altering colorsis as simple as moving a mouse. We will go ahead and touch on some of their aspectshere, as they will be vastly useful when working with the other tools.

FIGURE 3.8 The Color tools are used for selecting, filling, and creating effects with color.

Color Select Tool

The Color Select tool, also known as the Eyedropper, can select any color in yourimage. By clicking on the Tool icon, your cursor will be transformed into a littlecross-hair, at which point you can pick up a color from any pixel in yourimage (see Figure 3.9). By way of a mouse click, this tool will change the selectedtoolbox color in the toolbox Color Selector, either foreground or background, tothe same color as the pixel located under your cursor. This is a handy tool for colormatching, which is very important for doing things such as print and Web graphics.

FIGURE 3.9 One click, and that color is loaded into the foreground. You can now use it in conjunction with any tool.

Bucket Fill

The Bucket Fill tool (shown in Figure 3.10) fills your image or selection withany active color or pattern (via the Pattern dialog box). The Fill tool has a fewoptions worth noting here (accessed by double-clicking the tool icon, which bringsup the Fill Tool Option dialog box, shown in Figure 3.11).

FIGURE 3.10 The Bucket Fill in action. Experimenting with different fills on selections can alter the entire composition of an image.
FIGURE 3.11 The Fill Tool Option dialog box enables you to use the tool in many ways.
  • Opacity--Refers to the see-through quality of the color or pattern used as a fill. You can adjust this incrementally to let more or less of the background seep through.
  • Fill threshold--Approximates the area to fill by looking at the surrounding pixels and determining if they are close enough to the one selected and deciding whether or not to fill them as well. So, for example, a setting of 1 would mean that only the color you specifically click on will be filled. The maximum setting of 255 will fill the whole image or selection regardless of color.
  • Fill type--Lets you select what you want to fill your selection with, a color or a pattern. You can select any color using GIMP's Color Selection dialog box by double-clicking the Foreground color on the toolbox.

NEW TERM: Patterns are accessible from File, Dialogs, Patterns,in the toolbox menu. Patterns are interesting, repetitive designs that can be usedto fill in a selection or background to add texture. You can select a pattern inthe Pattern dialog box, and then fill an image with that pattern to create interestingeffects. Using and creating your own patterns will be discussed at length in Hour4, "Using Brushes and Patterns in Depth."

Gradient Tool

The Gradient tool will enable you to draw a gradient (transition between two ormore colors) into your image or selection (see Figure 3.12). It can do this in manydifferent patterns and color combinations. You can also create custom gradients usingthe Gradient Editor, which will be thoroughly detailed in Hour 7, "Working withC olor."

FIGURE 3.12 Gradient fills can add a lot of tone and realism to your images.

The Foreground/Background Color Selector

As long as you're covering the topic of color, you should go ahead and learn howto use this tool, shown in Figure 3.13, because it is a vitally important one.

FIGURE 3.13 The Foreground/ Background Color Selector is primarily what you will use to deal with color when working in the GIMP.

The foreground color is used by your tools--Paintbrush, Pencil, Airbrush,Bucket Fill, and Gradient (as the first color). The background color is used by theErase tool when cutting a selection from an image, and acts as the endpoint of gradients.

You can access the GIMP Color Selection dialog box by double-clicking on eitherthe foreground or background color icons in the box (see Figure 3.14). Now you canselect any color available by either dragging the cursor through the spectrum andcolor boxes, or by specifying any value with the sliders and text boxes. The sliderscontrol Hue, Saturation, Value, Red, Green, and Blue. By clicking the Close button,you have made your color the active selected color, which you can now use with anytool.

FIGURE 3.14 The Color Selection dialog box lets you pick any color to use with your tools.

The little arrows on the Foreground/Background Color Selector tool allow you toswap the foreground and background colors. And the little black-and-white boxes inthe lower-left corner bring the colors back to the default black and white.

Text Tool

The GIMP Text tool is very useful, especially in regards to creating graphicsfor use on the Web. It enables you to insert type anywhere into your image. And becausetext is treated essentially as a selection, you can insert it into anything as youwould a selection--fill it with patterns, gradients, or alter it any number of ways(see Figure 3.15).

FIGURE 3.15 The Text tool could arguably be one of the most useful tools available in the GIMP. With it, you can not only create simple text, but used in conjunction with the other tools and plug-ins, it can help you create some really neat effects, which is almost essential in creating a look for your Web site.

Using the Text Tool

Clicking on the Text Tool icon will change the cursor over the image into an I-beam.To insert some text, click the mouse with the I-beam over the image. This bringsup the Text Tool dialog box, as in Figure 3.16.

FIGURE 3.16 The Text Tool dialog box.

Near the bottom of the Text Tool dialog box, you will see a blank text space.This is where you need to type in your text. After this has been done, look towardthe left side of the dialog box to see a listing of the fonts that are availableto the X Window System. By clicking on any one of these, your text will be previewed,in that font, right where you typed it.

At the top of the dialog box, you will see an option for text size. The implicationhere is obvious. Type in any text size, click Enter, and your preview will be updated.

Foundry refers to the maker of the font. This can be important when dealingin fonts that have the same name but are made by different indivi duals or companies.

Other Options are available on the dialog box as well, such as Slant (Italics),Weight (Bold), Set Width (Spacing), and so forth.

After your text appears how you want it, click OK, and your text will appear onthe image canvas, as an active selection. The color of the text will be the activeforeground color in the Foreground/Background Color Select box in the toolbox. Youcan now move it using your cursor to any position in the page. Or, because it isan active selection, you can apply any pattern, fill, gradient, or effect to it.You will practice many of these effects as you continue throughout the hours in thisbook.

Using X Fonts with the GIMP

X supports many styles of fonts. In using the GIMP, you will likely want to increasethe volume of fonts available to use on your system. (The fonts that come with Xare admittedly pretty dull). On the CD-ROM, in the Fonts directory, there are twofont packages: sharefonts.tar.gz and freefonts.tar.gz. You should look into installingthese. Uncompress them into the /usr/X11R6/include/X11/fonts directory, read theREADMEs, and follow the directions. (These font packages can also be downloaded frommany Linux FTP repositories, such as Red Hat's pub/contrib directory).

You will find that all your native X fonts are located in subdirectories of /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts (or variant thereof, on different systems). So if you ever want toadd or remove fonts in the future, you'll know where to go. I've also found it helpfulto remove extraneous fonts by deleting certain font files and editing out the referenceto them in the file fonts.dir. The Far Eastern ones are good candidates for deletion(unless you really need them), and they do tend to take a long time to render.

Although these fonts are pretty good, I am still itchin' to utilize my vast collectionof TrueType fonts with the GIMP. Fortunately, X can be supportive of those too--witha little assistance. In order to use TrueType, you have to install and run a TrueTypeFont Server. This isn't too difficult, either. All you need to do is acquire thexfstt TrueType Font Server application and install it. It, too, is available on theCD-ROM in the font directory as Xfstt.tar.gz. Unzip it into your directory, compileit, and install it as follows:

make && make install

Create the directory /usr/ttfonts, and copy your favorite TrueType TTF files there.Then run xfstt sync to load the fonts.

Start xfstt as a background process:

xfstt &

Tell the running X11 server about the new font service:

xset +fp unix/:7100

Add the new font path to the X11 config file (probably /etc/X11/XF86Config):

FontPath "unix/:7100"

You should now be able to bring up the GIMP Text dialog box and see your TrueTypefonts there. After installing xfstt, you might then want to get it to start automaticallyevery time Linux boots (not that Linux ever needs rebooting) by adding a referenceto it in /etc/rc.d/rc.local. This keeps you from having to start the TrueType FontServer every time you start X. One caveat: If you do this, make sure that you addthe full pathname to rc.local, as in /usr/X11R6/bin/xfstt &, especiallyif you use xdm to start a graphical login automatically on startup.

Also, you might not want to load in every single TrueType font you own, but insteadbe sele ctive with the TrueType fonts you want to use with Linux. Xfstt is a handyapplication, but it can suck up a little RAM if left to load 200+ fonts. I've foundit's best to use only 30 or so of the very best fonts instead. And finally, thereare other TrueType font servers out there as well, although I have not personallyused them yet. One such server is called xfsft, which uses the Free Type libraryand has had a lot of positive review. It's available online everywhere xfstt is,so you might want to check it out. You can grab a RPMs of Xfree86 with integratedTrueType font support via xfsft from


The essential concepts in dealing with a graphics application such as the GIMPhave been covered during the first three hours. Before any real techniques can beapplied, you must have an understanding of the basic tools illustrated here. In thenext few hours, you will move on to mastering these concepts in order to create someinteresting images and effects. You might be surprised at what can be accomplishedusing only these simple tools. And, gaining mastery over them will give you an edgewhen confronted with specific graphics issues, such as image restoration or simplemanipulation.


Q When selecting fonts, the GIMP freezes up and won't do anything.
A It is likely that you have inadvertently selected one of the Far Eastern fonts that come with Linux. The GIMP isn't really locked up, but if your video card is like mine, it is taking its sweet time rendering these fonts. (The glyphs are quite complex in these fonts). You might want to avoid these fonts in th e future, or delete them altogether.


You might be wondering just how much you can accomplish using these ordinary tools.Well, in order to gain an understanding of them, you must use them. I suggest thatyou start experimenting right away. Try opening up a new palette, and begin to paintsimple shapes and textures with the tools outlined here. You can start off with simplethings, such as geometric shapes, logos, buttons, or even hand-crafted text. Thentry emulating some real-world objects and textures--the Gradient Fill to create metal,or the Airbrush to create mist. As you move along in the hours ahead, you will comeacross easier and more efficient ways of doing these things, which will in turn increaseyour mastery at a faster pace. Then the really fun stuff begins.

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