The Image Window the Main GIMP Interface

The image window offers the possibilities to change GIMP's appearance and features. For example, you can use the Windows menu to choose windows that should be opened when the program is started. You close the program by clicking the red X in the upper-right corner of the empty image window or the Toolbox.

The menus in the image window offer the most important options for working, for configuring the program to suit your needs, or simply for finding help. However, the most significant role of the menus is their image editing function.

Edit > Preferences offers access to the most important program settings. This lets you adapt the appearance and features of GIMP to your personal needs. The color management can also be found here.

With Theme, you can choose between at least two preinstalled themes for the interface. Toolbox lets you select to show foreground and background colors as well as the active brush, patterns, and gradients in the Toolbox. If you like, you can select to show the active image. The active image will appear in your Toolbox as a thumbnail, which can be activated by a click. You can also find this function by choosing Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Images. You can change the colors of the checkerboard, which is the background for transparent areas in layers. The default setting uses gray and dark gray. You find the settings under menu Edit > Preferences > Display. By clicking Check style, you can change the check color from mid-tone checks to light checks. Try these settings out for some time. I think these tools can help speed up your work.

Nevertheless, I have put together 22 themes with various program interfaces and color compositions for GIMP on Windows Vista. There are four standard themes and further themes from the websites and These can be found on the DVD under GIMP Themes (Windows). You will have to copy the contained subdirectories into the following folder: C:\Program files\GIMP-2.6\share\2.0\themes. Note that not all themes work equally well.

The themes work on Windows from XP upward and can be inserted under C:\Documents and Preferences \[own user name]\.gimp-2.6\share\2.0\themes or C:\Users\[own user name]\..gimp-2.6\ themes. Linux and Mac OS X users can try using the themes from the DVD or try using the GTK+ themes. These have to be copied into the appropriate folder during the GIMP installation.

The themes can be found on the gnome-look website: http://www. Look for the GTK 2.X link. (By the way, you can find great wallpapers and desktop background images on

E TIP: If you would like to equip GIMP (on Windows) with different program interfaces (themes), then you might like to read the contributions in the following forums:


Customizing the settings is for somebody who likes to tinker with computers.

On my Windows Vista and XP, it helped to copy the theme packages that were included in the gtk-2.0 directory of the downloaded files into the themes directory of my GIMP installation (C:\Program Files\ Gimp-2.0\share\gimp\2.0\themes).



In the View menu, tools such as rulers and a quadratic grid can be blended in and out, and you can choose the background color of your image window. The menu Windows offers possibilities to open or re-open additional windows or docks (Layers, Channels, Paths, and Undo). The Help menu offers access to the help functions of the program.

Most of the functions and modules enabling you to create script-fus, buttons for websites, 3D objects, and logos with effects that where attributed to the Toolbox under the Extras menu in previous versions of GIMP can now be found in File > Create, Edit and Filters.

The next time you start GIMP, you will find the windows that were open the last time you used it.

Figure 1.18

The Preferences > Environment window lets you set the number of undo steps and the amount of memory allocated to GIMP.

Figure 1.18

The Preferences > Environment window lets you set the number of undo steps and the amount of memory allocated to GIMP.

Undoing Editing Strokes (Undo History)

Similar to many other image editing programs, GIMP lets you undo editing strokes applied to an image. By default, you can revert your image to how it appeared five steps back in the editing process. You can increase the number of steps back you can take if your computer has enough memory to do so. To increase the number of "undo" strokes, access the File > Preferences menu. Select Environment to enter the desired number of undo steps along with the amount of memory you wish to allocate for this process. A number between 25 and 50 will allow you to undo even complex editing mistakes.

If you have enough memory installed in your computer, it is a good idea to reserve more memory for GIMP's document history—the number of undo steps—than the factory default provides. As a rule, you can reserve approximately 10 percent of your computer's available memory capacity for document history and about 25 percent for the GIMP program in general. If these values use too much of your computer's memory, the program or your computer may freeze up. To remedy this problem, just reduce the allocated memory.

When you are satisfied with the new values, click OK to accept your changes.

If you want to undo one or several editing steps while editing an image, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z, which will undo editing steps one at a time. Alternatively, you can select the menu option Edit > Undo. A more convenient way of undoing multiple editing steps is available in the Undo History window, which you will find as a tab in the Layers, Channels, and Paths dock. This window accesses a preview pane so you can see exactly how many steps you want to go back. Since you will be able to view each change in sequence, you can easily judge whether the editing improved the image. You can also view the document history from your image window by choosing Edit > Undo History.

Figure 1.19

The Undo History dialog

Figure 1.19

The Undo History dialog

Gimp Magnetic Pen Tool

Figure 1.20

Dockable windows

Figure 1.20

Dockable windows



The Toolbox



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The Toolbox

Figure 1.21

The Toolbox

Since GIMP 2.4, the graphics and tool symbols appear in Linux's Tango style. The icons have more detail, are more colorful, and are much easier to grasp. The tools in the Toolbox will be introduced in a couple of the following chapters.

The Toolbox used to be the central window. The major change since GIMP 2.4 has been that it has been reduced to a utility window. It contains all the tools that can be used and applied with the mouse:

• Selection tools for selecting specific areas of your image that you wish to edit, manipulate, and/or add new elements to

• Tools that can select colors, minimize or magnify view, and measure and position image elements

• Tools that can cut or transform the size and shape of image objects

• Text, painting, filling and touch-up tools

• Tools to manipulate an image's or partial image's sharpness, brightness, and contrast

• Tools that define colors, fillings, and fill patterns

In GIMP 2.6, the Toolbox is separated into a tool palette and the tool options. What appears to be one window are actually two separate windows. The Tool Options window is a dockable window and can be closed to save space on the desktop. Click the button with the small arrow pointing to the left (Configure this tab) and select Close Tab from the drop-down menu (see figure 1.17). The next time you double-click on a tool symbol, the tool options appear in a separate floating window. You can dock the Tool Options window to the palette again by hovering the mouse arrow over the tool option's name. A hand cursor will appear. Click on the tool option and you will see a tool options symbol, which can be dragged onto the bottom of the Toolbox window. The dockable section there will turn blue. It simply attaches itself (see figure 1.20).

The new feature in GIMP 2.6 is the little Configure this tab button, which you can use to add new tabs to the palette. You can also add tabs that are included in the dock or in the Windows menu. If you want to limit yourself to the most important tabs—Layers, Paths, and Undo—you can do without the dock window. Just open these tab windows in the Tool Options window and you obtain more space for the image window (see figure 1.17).


The following overview will describe the tools available in the Toolbox.

First row, from left to right:

Rectangle Select Tool

Selects rectangular or square regions of an image. Press the Shift key to switch between rectangle and square.

Ellipse Select Tool

Selects circular and elliptical regions from an image. The Shift key will switch from elliptical to circle selection.

Free Select Tool (Lasso or Polygon Lasso)

Lets you create a selection by drawing it free-hand with the pointer (not very precise, but simple and quick) or you can make a selection by setting key points with the polygon tool—for example, following a contour.

Fuzzy Select Tool (Magic Wand)

Selects continuous areas of the current layer or image based on color similarity. Sections 3.1.2, 3.6.2, 3.14.4

Select by Color Tool

Similar to Magic Wand; it selects areas of similar color all over an image. Section 3.1.2,

Scissors Select Tool

(magnetic lasso, scissors) free-hand selection: This tool produces a continuous curve passing through control nodes, following any high-contrast edge it can find according to the settings; it is not very precise. Section 3.1.2

Second row, from left to right:

Foreground Select Tool

Selects an image object with the help of an interactive program (automatic object extraction tool "SIOX"; SIOX stands for Simple Interactive Object Extraction) Sections 3.1.1, 3.14.3

Paths Tool

Creates and edits paths, creates vectors, and helps to make exact choices for complex forms. Sections 3.1.2, 3.11

Color Picker Tool (eyedropper) Finds colors on the active layer or image. Section 3.6.2

Zoom Tool

Changes the zoom level. Section 2.3.5

Measure Tool

Measures angles and pixel distances. Section 2.5.4

Move Tool

Moves layers, selections, paths, or guides. Section 3.6.3

Third row, from left to right:

Alignment Tool

Aligns the image layers with various objects. Section 3.12.2

Crop Tool

Crops or clips an image or layer Sections 2.3.8, 2.5.6

Rotate Tool

Rotates layers, paths, or selections. Section 2.5.5

Scale Tool

Scales images or layers, selections, or paths. Sections 3.6.5, 3.9.3, 3.12.1

Shear Tool

Shifts a partial image, layer, selection, or path to one direction while shifting the rest of the image to the opposite direction. Section 3.11.5

Perspective Tool

Changes the perspective of (or rather distorts) layers, selections, or paths. Sections 3.5.3, 3.5.4, 3.12.1

Fourth row, from left to right:

Lets you flip layers, selections, or paths either horizontally or vertically. Section 3.14.4

Adds text to an image or a layer. Sections 3.7.2, 3.7.3, 3.7.4, 3.11.7


Fills a selection with the current foreground color or a pattern. Sections 3.6.2, 3.9.3

Fills a selection with a gradient blend. Section 3.6.4


Draws free-hand lines with a hard edge. Section 3.9.4

Paints fuzzy brush strokes. Section 3.9.4

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Fifth row, from left to right:

Removes areas of color from the current image, layer, or selection.

Similar to Paintbrush Tool Section 3.9.4

Paints soft areas of color, similar to a traditional airbrush.

Similar to Paintbrush Tool Section 3.9.4


Paints solid brush strokes like a drawing pen for calligraphy.

Similar to Paintbrush Tool Section 3.9.4

Draws with content selected from an image or with a pattern; repairs and fills problematic areas in digital photos.

Sections 2.71, 2.7.3, 2.7.4



Removes small failures in images. Sections 2.7.5

Perspective Clone tool

Allows you to clone image content to repair areas in an image according to the desired perspective. Section 3.5.6


Sixth row, from left to right:

Blurs or sharpens an image depending on the tool settings; sharpening doesn't function well in highresolution images.

Smudges colors on the active layer or selection, mixing them and so creating transitions. Section 3.6.4

Lightens or darkens the colors in an image. Section 3.6.2


Seventh row, from left to right:

Color Area: Change Foreground/Background color

Changes the foreground or background color and accesses the actual Color Picker

Section 3.6.2

Note: Double-clicking the left mouse button on an icon in the Toolbox pops up a window displaying the current tool settings, either as a docked window or as a separate, floating window. The window displays options that can be used to configure tools for specific tasks. For example: the Clone tool gives you a choice between image cloning and pattern cloning. The Blur/Sharpen tool allows you select between a brush to blur and a brush to sharpen an image.

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