Category: GIMP

How To Remove A Selection In GIMP

How To Remove A Selection In GIMP

How do I make this selection go away? Once you’ve selected something in GIMP, it’s not super obvious how you unselect so you can do on editing everywhere on your canvas.

So how do you make a selection go away in GIMP? Simple. It only takes one little step.

Remove a Selection In GIMP

To get rid of the current selection without saving it first:

  • Go to Select > None in the Main Menu. The selection will be removed.
  • Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Shift Ctrl A on a Mac, or Shift Cmd A in Windows.

If you want to save the selection before you get rid of it, you can save it as a Path which you can turn back into a selection later.

  • To do that, first go to Select > To Path.
  • You can check that your selection was saved as a path by going to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Paths in the Main Menu to open the Paths Dialog. You can dock this dialog to the Toolbox if you want to keep your saved paths handy.
  • Then go to Select > None to remove the active selection from the image.
  • Now, if you want to re-activate the selection, go to the Paths Dialog, highlight the correct path, then go to Select > From Path in the Main Menu. The path will be turned into a selection.


See? Making a selection go away in GIMP isn’t super obvious, but it’s not exactly hard either.


Fix Brightness and Color in GIMP

Fix Brightness and Color in GIMP

I’ll be honest. I don’t always get great photos right out of my camera. Most of the time there are two problems I have to tackle with my photos. White balance (or color problems) and exposure (or brightness problems).

Lucky for me, White Balance and Exposure are both really easy to fix in a program like GIMP.

Anyway, since I usually have to correct these two problems, and I’ve seen these problems in a lot of photos on the internet, I thought I would give you the quick run down on how I tackle them. If you sell anything online (maybe you’re an Etsy seller looking to up your photography game?) this tutorial is for you!

The Problem:

white balance problems gimp
This picture of a necklace was taken on a white background, but it’s easy to see that this background isn’t white! With a little tweaking I can correct the blue tone of the photo and make the beads stand out against the background by adding some contrast.

How to Fix Color and Brightness in GIMP:

First, open up the problem picture in GIMP. To do that, just open GIMP and go to File > Open. Navigate through your computers files to find the photo you want to open, then click Open.

Now, follow along to Fix White Balance and Exposure problems fast!

Fix White Balance (color)

color balance tool for white balance problems GIMP

Like I said before, this picture is too blue so I’ll need to balance the blue out with more yellow, and even a bit of red. I’ll do that with the Color Balance Tool.

  • Go to Colors > Color Balance in the Main GIMP Menu Bar. The Color Balance Window will pop up.
  • Start with the MidTones option checked.
  • Adjust the Blue/Yellow slider to remove some blue, and add yellow. Then Adjust the Red/Cyan slider to add some Red, and take away some Cyan. (If your photo is too yellow or orange, do the opposite)
  • Now, check the Highlights option, and do the same thing.
  • Check the Shadow option, and repeat the process.
  • Go back and forth between the MidTones, Highlights, and Shadows, tweaking your adjustments until the colors are just right. Then click OK to apply the effect to your photo.

You may have to adjust the Magenta/Green slider a bit too to make your picture perfect.

So that’s problem number one solved. My picture no longer has that blue tint, but it’s still pretty dull. It’s bright enough, but there isn’t enough contrast. So, I’ll use a tool in GIMP called Curves to make the beads and the shadows a little bit darker against the white background. The contrast will make them really pop!

Use Curves to Fix Exposure/Contrast in GIMP

fix brightness and contrast in GIMP

  • Go to Colors > Curves in the Main GIMP Menu. The Curves window will pop up.

Let’s pause for a second to take a look at this window.

There’s a grid in the middle of the window with a diagonal line going across it. That line is adjustable, you can click anywhere on that diagonal line and drag up or down to make parts or your photo lighter or darker.

Drag up to make the photo lighter, drag down to make it darker. Where you click matters. The right side of the line controls highlights in the picture, the left side controls shadows, and the middle of the line controls mid tones.

Got that? Cool, here’s how we’ll use that line to fix this photo:

  • Click the highlight side (a box or two from the right edge) and drag up, just a little bit. The highlights of the photo will start to get brighter as you drag.
  • Now, the shadow side (a box or two from the left edge) and drag down a bit.
  • The shadows and mid tones of the picture will get darker as you make this adjustment, so you can tell how far you should drag.
  • Click OK to apply the effect when you’re happy.

That’s better!

I usually only click two points with Curves to make a nice smooth S curve. That keeps the line, and therefore my picture, nice and pretty.

Bonus: Levels to Whiten Whites

levels in gimp to whiten whites
If the whites of your photo aren’t quite white, but curves it making everything too bright, try this trick. It whitens whites better than bleach!

  • Go to Colors > Levels. The Levels window will pop up.
  • In the top section of this window, there’s a chart (AKA a histogram), and if you look closely you’ll see three little arrows underneath it.
  • Click on the arrow on the right side of the histogram, and drag it just a little to the left. As you drag the white parts of your photo will whiten without substantially brightening the rest of your picture.
  • Click OK to apply the effect

That’s It!

I ended up going back to do another Color Balance adjustment after I brightened my photo because I realized there was still some blue to remove. And that’s kind of the nature of photo editing. Sometimes you have to go back and tweak things.

I hope that helps!

Turn Off Dotted Yellow Line in GIMP

Turn Off Dotted Yellow Line in GIMP

I’ve gotten a lot of visits from people who want to get rid of the yellow dotted line around their image in GIMP. So I figured, if you’re asking I should deliver, right?

This same problem drove me absolutely crazy for a long time, but it’s so easy to fix I’m almost embarrassed how long it took me to figure it out.

Without further delay, here’s how you turn off the yellow dotted line in GIMP:

  • Open GIMP
  • Click on View in the Main Menu, and click Show Layer Boundary box to uncheck that option. That’s it!

I think a lot of the issue is just knowing that yellow dotted line in GIMP is called the “Layer Boundary”. Still, after being annoyed by that little dotted line for so long, I feel like getting rid of it is cause for celebration.

I hope this saves you some money in therapy sessions.

How To Draw A Straight Line in GIMP

How To Draw A Straight Line in GIMP

There’s no “line tool” in GIMP. That might be frustrating if you’re familiar with image editing programs that have a tool like that. But, once you know how easy it is to make a straight line in GIMP without having to grab a different tool as you paint, you’ll never look back.

How to Draw A Straight Line in GIMP

  • Grab a painting tool like the Pencil, or Paintbrush.
  • Choose the appropriate tool settings for the brush in the Tool Options Dialog.
  • Click the starting point of the line on your image, then hold down the Shift button on your keyboard, and move your mouse to over the image to the point you would like the line to end.
  • You’ll see a straight “guide” line appear as you move your mouse to let you know where the line will be drawn.

drawing a straight line in GIMP with the help of the shift key

  • Now, click the end point of the line. The line will be drawn on the picture between the start and end points that you clicked.

how to draw a straight line in GIMP

See? Click, hold Shift, Click again. Super easy.

How To Open Images in GIMP

How To Open Images in GIMP

GIMP isn’t like an online editing program. You don’t have to upload photos before you can edit them. And it’s not a photo organizing program like iPhoto or Picasa. You don’t have to import photos into GIMP. You can use GIMP right out of the box to open and edit any photo that’s on your computer.

To open photos with GIMP do the following:

  • Start GIMP, then find the Main Window. It’s the one with the menu bar across the top.
  • Go to File > Open. The Open Image window will pop up (see the image below).
  • se this window to navigate through your computer’s files, and find the image you want to open. You can also use the Search function on the left side of this window to search for files by name.
  • Once you find your image, click it to highlight it, then click Open. The image will open in GIMP’s main window, and you can start editing.

There’s obviously a lot more to using GIMP than opening your photos. But it’s a really important first step! I mean, if you couldn’t open you photos, you wouldn’t get very far.

You can use GIMP to do just about anything to your pictures. From small tweaks to contrast and color, to creating web banners, ‘Photoshopping’ people onto different backgrounds, GIMP’s got it all.

So tell me, what do you want to do with GIMP? Do you want to retouch portraits, or spruce up your product photos? Make a web banner, or a Valentines card? Do you want to correct funky colors, or create photographic works of art? Pick your poison, and let me know in the comments below.

Help! I’m Missing a Dialog or Window in GIMP!

Help! I’m Missing a Dialog or Window in GIMP!

It happens to all of us at some point: a GIMP window is lost and you can’t find it anywhere. Honestly, I’ve been there and I know it’s frustrating. But that window is usually somewhere, and you’ll find it if you just know where to look.

I think the reason this happens so frequently is because GIMP was originally developed for Linux systems, so it uses conventions that Linux users might be familiar with. Unfortunately, that means us Mac and Windows users sometimes have to deal with things like “lost” windows, or comparatively clunky interface options. Im sure Linux users feel the same way about software on a Mac or when using windows 😉

If you lost a GIMP window or dialog, here are a few things you can try to find it again.

Missing Dialog in GIMP

The first thing I recommend trying if you lost a Dialog in GIMP is this:

  • Go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs in the main menu
  • Click the name of your missing dialog from the list

If you lost a dock like the Toolbox or the Layers/Channels/Paths etc. dock, try this instead:

  • Go to Windows > Recently Closed Docks in the main menu
  • Click the name of your missing dock from the list

If your dialog or dock was accidentally closed, that will re-open it.

I Tried That And My Window Is Still Missing

Window still missing? It’s probably caused by one of two things.

  1. The dialog may have popped up, but it’s hidden underneath another window (This is part of that “made for Linux” thing I was talking about). Move or minimize the Main Window to make sure the dialog you chose didn’t pop up behind it.
  2. The other possibility happens if the dialog you chose is already docked to a window like the Toolbox, or the Layers/Channels/Paths Docking Window.

If you don’t see the dialog hidden underneath another window, it’s probably already docked somewhere. Now, we just have to do a little detective work to find it:

  • If the dialog is docked to a window that you can see, when you go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs and choose your dialog, a black outline will blink a couple of times around the dialog. This lets you know where the dialog is already docked. There’s an example of this in the video on docking dialogs for GIMP 2.8, under the Troubleshoot Docking Dialogs section below.
  • If you don’t see that blinking outline, that probably means that the window the dialog is docked to is hidden. It might be minimized, it might be hidden behind another window, or it may have been hidden within the Main Window if you’re using Single Window Mode.
  • If you’re not using Single Window Mode (which is only available in GIMP 2.8 and up) check to see if you have any GIMP windows minimized, or hidden behind another window. If you do, maximize the window, or drag it to the front, and look for your missing dialog in that window. You can try going to Windows > Dockable Dialogs and clicking on the dialog you’re looking for to see if there is a blinking outline around your missing dialog.
  • If you are using Single Window Mode, and you hid any sections of the window by sliding them to the left or right, you can reveal them again by looking for a column of dots on either side of the Main Window, then hovering your mouse over the column of dots. when your mouse turns into a two way arrow with a bar in the middle (pictured below) click and drag the column of dots inward to reveal the hidden section of the window.

gimp help

Troubleshoot Docking GIMP’s Dialogs

how to dock gimp dialogs


GIMP windows and dialogs are almost never missing forever. It can get frustrating managing all of the windows in GIMP, making sure none of them are minimized, closed, or stacked on top of one another. But if you’ve lost a window taking a few minutes to try these few tips should save you a lot of headache.

Good luck!

How to Install GIMP

How to Install GIMP

You’ve decided to come join the fun in GIMP land, and we’re excited to have you! Now the question is, how do you get GIMP up and running on your computer?

It’s really easy to Install GIMP. Here’s the basic idea:

  • First, you’ll need to know just a little information about your computer. Basically, you’ll need to know what operating system you’re running, and if GIMP is compatible with it.
  • Then, you’ll find the correct version of GIMP for your operating system at
  • Last, you’ll download GIMP, and run the installer.

Now that you have the basic idea, here are the instructions in more detail.

Install GIMP For Windows:

At the time of writing, you’ll need Windows 7 or newer to run the latest stable version of GIMP.

If you’re on Windows, and you don’t know what operating system you’re using (ie Windows 7, Windows XP, etc.) follow these instructions to find out which operating system you’re running.

Now, go to the official GIMP repository and click the Download link at the top of the page to download GIMP. This version of GIMP will work with any version of Windows, as long as it’s Windows 7 or newer.

While GIMP is available from a lot of sites (since it’s free and open source software), I recommend only downloading it from the official repository at to make sure you don’t get stuck with any malware.

When the download is complete, open up the package, and run the installer. Follow any instructions on the windows that appear.

That’s it! You’re finished installing GIMP! The first time you start GIMP, it may take a few minutes to get going, because there’s a lot of new stuff to load. Just be patient, it will start eventually.

Install GIMP For Mac:

To install the latest version of GIMP on a Mac, at the time of writing you’ll need OS X Yosemite or newer.

Not sure which version of Mac OS you’re using? Follow these instructions to find out.

Now, head over to the official GIMP download page, and click it’s link to download GIMP to your computer.

When the files are finished downloading, open up the Zip file, then open the installer to begin installing GIMP. Follow any directions you’re given in the windows that pop up.

GIMP will now be installed on your computer! The first time you start GIMP, it may take a few minutes to get going, because there’s a lot of new stuff to load. Just be patient, it will start eventually.

Have Fun!

Now that GIMP is installed, you’re ready to get started editing! You can use GIMP to open and edit any image file that’s on your computer.

There’s plenty more GIMP help where this came from. I mean, literally, where this came from. has a growing library of easy to understand, plain English GIMP tutorials and videos to help you learn GIMP faster.

Don’t Understand GIMP Terms? Here are A Few Simple Definitions That Might Help

Don’t Understand GIMP Terms? Here are A Few Simple Definitions That Might Help

GIMP can be pretty confusing at first, just like any complex software. In GIMP you’ll find a lot of technical photography terms, digital image terms, and even software interface terms. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by GIMP, have a look at the simple definitions of a few of these terms. I promise, most of it isn’t as complex as it seems.

What does Dialog mean?

You might the the term “dialog” in GIMP tutorials on YouTube or even read it in written GIMP tutorials.
A dialog is a window that contains options and settings for a tool or function in GIMP. For example, the interface for dealing with Layers is called the Layers Dialog.

Some of these dialogs can be docked (or attached) to other windows, like the Toolbox Window, making the dialogs and their options easily accessible when you need them. I like to keep the Layers Dialog docked at the bottom of my toolbox so I can easily access it whenever I need it without hunting for a tiny floating window.

There are instructions for docking the Layers Dialog to the Toolbox window in Chapter Two of the How to GIMP book, and two troubleshooting videos on docking dialogs on this page under “Troubleshoot Docking Dialogs”.

What does Alpha mean?

Alpha (transparency) in GIMP and other programs is represented by a gray checkerboard pattern. That pattern isn’t really in your image, that’s just GIMP’s way of letting you know those parts are “clear”.

Alpha sounds like a math term, but in GIMP it just means transparency.

For example, If you go to Colors > Color to Alpha you’ll be taken to a window that lets you change any color in the image to transparent pixels. “Color to Alpha” really means “change color to transparency”.

Some functions in GIMP need to work with transparent pixels, and if your image or layer doesn’t have transparency enabled they won’t work properly. For example, if you are working with a layer and the Layer Mask option is grayed out, or the Eraser Tool isn’t working properly, you may need to add an Alpha Channel to that layer. Adding an Alpha Channel to a layer turns on the layer’s ability to use transparent pixels.

Add an Alpha Channel to a layer by right-clicking the layer thumbnail in the Layers Dialog, then choosing “Add Alpha Channel” from the list of options that pops up.

What does Delta mean?

Max Delta option in the Selective Gaussian Blur filter in GIMP

Again, sounds like it could be a complicated term, but Delta really just means difference.

In GIMP, difference often means the contrast between pixels, since contrast can be described as the difference between light and dark. A white pixel next to a black pixel has a lot of contrast, but two middle gray pixels are less different, so we say they have less contrast.

You might encounter the term Max Delta when you’re using certain filters in GIMP. For example, the Selective Gaussian Blur filter has Max Delta as an option.

In this case Max Delta means the Maximum Difference or maximum contrast.

The Selective Gaussian Blur filter will only blur portions of the photo that have less contrast than your Max Delta setting. Pixels that have more contrast (or more difference) than the Max Delta setting will not be blurred.

What does Threshold mean?

Threshold option in the Fuzzy Select tool options in GIMP

A Threshold is a limit. You’ll see this term when you’re using some filters and tools, like the Fuzzy Select (Magic Wand) Tool.

The Threshold setting for a tool or filter is usually the limit at which the tool or filter will no longer take effect.

For example, the Fuzzy Select Tool selects regions of a photo or image that have similar colors. Setting the Threshold option for the Fuzzy Select Tool to a very low number limits the selection to very similar colors. Setting the Threshold option higher means the range of colors is broader, so the selection will include a wider range of colors.

There is also a Threshold adjustment that’s under the Color section of the Main Menu, but its use is beyond the scope of the book and this website. You can learn more about the Threshold Adjustment here.

Other Confusing GIMP Terms

Those are just a few GIMP terms that threw me for a loop when I started using GIMP years ago. There are plenty of others though, so if you ever get stuck you’ll want to know where to find out what the heck they mean.

Though it’s often a little academic, is my go-to source for learning exactly what the developers of GIMP mean when they use a term. The official GIMP manual is REALLY dense, but the section on function references is really useful. Just look up the tool or setting you’re trying to use to see how it’s intended to work.

Happy GIMPing!

Digital Art News | How to GIMP Roundup

Digital Art News | How to GIMP Roundup

I consume so much info about photo editing, graphic design, typography, and other digital art topics throughout the week… it’s kind of crazy. Since I’m taking so much in, I thought it would be fun to curate a list of links from my favorite design and digital art tutorial and news sources.

Photo Editing News

This week published a post on creating a consistant visual style in your photography and post processing. If you find your style is all over the place (as I sometimes do!) their post might help.

Digital Painting News

My current YouTube obsession, Borodante, posted a tutorial/overpaint video on digitally painting night scenes. This guy is seriously entertaining, a master at Photoshop and other digital painting software, and has taught me more about light than I can even describe. His videos are seriously a must watch.

Graphic Design News

I’m a sucker for a good free font, and the good folks over at Free Typography wrote about a font called Mr Grieves recently. It’s a blocky, hand drawn, grungy font that’s free for personal and commercial use. That’s a winning combination for me. Looking forward to making a T-Shirt design or two with it.


Let’s wrap things up on an exciting note: in GIMP news, reported they received a $100,000 donation, which is sweet because that should keep development chugging while GIMP stays 100% free for you and me.

That’s it for the roundup. I hope you’re having a great week, and I wish you good fortune with any digital art endeavors you’re tackling in the week to come.

Eraser Tool Not Working in GIMP

Eraser Tool Not Working in GIMP

Why in the world would the eraser tool in GIMP paint a color instead of erasing? Sometimes quirks like this seem totally inexplicable, but if you know why it’s happening it actually makes sense… sort of.

If the eraser tool is painting instead of erasing, here’s what’s going on and how you can fix it.

Skip To

Why GIMP’s Eraser is Painting Instead of Erasing
Fix Eraser Painting Instead of Erasing
The Gray Checkerboard Pattern
Saving With Transparency

Why GIMP’s Eraser is Painting Instead of Erasing

Each pixel in your image has color information stored in a color channel. A channel is just a segment of color. In RGB mode, those channels are red (R) green (G), and blue (B). Pixels can use combinations of these channels, basically mixing colors to make other colors like you did in elementary school. Combining channels in different ways basically gives you every color of the rainbow. There are other color models like CMYK, but they work similarly. A set of basic colors can be mixed together to make other colors.

So you have a huge amount of colors to work with, but transparent pixels aren’t possible yet. Without transparency, the only way to “erase” using just R, G, and B channels is to replace the image pixels with a solid color. The color used to replace pixels is kind of arbitrary, so GIMP will use the “background color” to replace your image pixels as a default. That’s why GIMP’s eraser sometimes paints with black, white, or another color depending on the background color you set in the Toolbox.

The first layer in any JPG image you open in GIMP does not support transparency, because JPG’s themselves do not support transparency. That means any time you open a JPG in GIMP and try to erase, you’ll see this eraser not erasing problem. PNG files do support transparency, so if you open a PNG in GIMP the eraser tool will work as expected right away.

If you want that first JPG layer to support transparency you’ll need to add a “alpha channel”. In GIMP, alpha just means transparency. So in addition to R, G, and B, the alpha channel gives your pixels information about transparency to work with. The ability to make transparent pixels is what allows the eraser to really erase.

How to Fix GIMP Eraser Painting Instead of Erasing

add an alpha channel when the eraser tool isn't working in GIMP

Here’s how you add an alpha channel to a layer in GIMP:

  • Find the Layers Dialog. If you don’t see it, go to Window > Dockable Dialogs > Layers. If the Layers Dialog was already open it will blink. If it wasn’t open, it will open in a small window.
  • Now, in the Layers Dialog, look for the correct layer thumbnail. It will look like a mini version of the image you have open, or the layer you want to work on.
  • Right-click (or alternate click using your preferred method if you’re on a Mac) on that layer thumbnail. A menu of options will appear.
  • Choose “Add Alpha Channel” from the list of options.
  • The Alpha Channel will be added to your image, and the eraser should work as expected now.

Erasing with Transparency – The Gray Checkerboard Pattern

gray checkerboard pattern with eraser tool in GIMP

Now that your eraser is erasing and your pixels support transparency, you’ll be able to see through your erased parts of a layer to the layer below. It’s like you have a stack of papers, and erasing rubs holes in a sheet of paper so you can see what’s beneath it.

Makes sense… but when you only have one layer, you’ll see a weird gray checkerboard pattern everywhere you erase. It’s not exactly attractive, and it can be kind of alarming when you first see it. I mean, I know I really don’t want that pattern showing up in my image.

Thankfully that pattern isn’t actually part of your image. It’s there because you can’t see transparent pixels, so when there’s nothing underneath a layer GIMP has to show you something to indicate that there’s basically a hole in your layer. It could show you a solid color like white, but then you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between holes and where you actually painted with white. So it uses this really obvious checkerboard pattern to make it clear where transparent pixels are.

This is a standard way of representing transparency, and you’ll see it in other image manipulation programs like Photoshop. You’ll even see this pattern used to represent transparency in menus and tools. You can see a little gray checkerboard icon next to the “add alpha channel” option in the layers dialog.

This pattern is not saved in your image. If you save using a file type that supports transparency (like PNG), your transparent pixels will actually be transparent and they’ll allow anything that’s beneath that image to show through.

Saving Images With Transparency

Final note about transparency in GIMP:

Adding an alpha channel won’t change the fact that JPG’s don’t support transparency. If you save your new GIMP image as a JPG, those transparent pixels will be replaced with your background color again. If you want to keep the transparency, you’ll need to save your image as a PNG.

I hope that clears up some of the unexpected transparency related quirks you’ll find in GIMP and other photo editing programs. The big takeaway is, if your GIMP eraser isn’t erasing and it looks like it’s painting a color instead, you probably just need to add an alpha channel to that layer.