GIMP Resources

GIMP Mini-Lessons

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free open source graphics editor comparable to Photoshop that works on many operating systems. You can download your free copy from the GIMP website.

GIMP#23 Shadow and Shadow Play (Gimp 2.8)

This demo has two parts. The first is a minute and a half demonstrate how to easily add a shadow for a cutout figure added to a scene. It is very flexible. The second part is a demonstration of how to make an animated shadow that seems to move on its own while the figure stays still. Gimp 2.8 is used for both parts.

The basic approach for making a shadow is to start with the cutout on a separate layer, then copy that layer and move it under (behind) the figure. Rendering the copy as difference clouds and then darkening it makes for an effective shadow which you will blend in with Grain Merge. The copy, now a shadow, can be moved independently of the figure to allow the light casting the shadow to come from different directions. The opacity of the shadow can be used to get the right level of dark for your purposes.

The animated shadow is somewhat more complex. It is easiest if you have a second (or more) shot of the original cutout figure to use as a target shadow. This could be the person raising a knife or something else, or could be the person sitting down. Whatever you want the shadow to do. Once you have that separate cutout, you can make a second shadow. From there, it is only a question of how many intermediate steps you want between the original shadow and the final shadow. You copy either the original shadow or the final, and shift and edit it to make it closer to the other so that you get a series of steps moving from one shadow to the next. I find the most effective is to make copies of the intermediate steps to reverse the process, so that when the shadow repeats, it is back where it started smoothly.

Finally, you make a series of layers by copying the background layer as many times as there are shadows and merging one shadow with each background. Then, you make copies of the cutout figure layer for each, and merge those as well. You should end up with a series of layers that are all the same except for the intermediate changes to the shadow. You can the use Animation - Optimize for GIF to make it into animated. Slow down the steps however you like to make the animation look like you want, then save as GIF, making sure to check the box saying it will be animated.
Transcript (and text of closed captions):
The is Ben Langhinrichs with a mini-lesson called Shadows and Shadow Play with Gimp 2.8. In this, I'm going to show you how to take a cut-out figure and put it in a scene, copy and paste it into here, and we're going to create a shadow. The way we're going to do that is we're going to position her where we want her. Label the layers, but now we're going to copy the figure, that layer, then we will isolate it, show just the shadow.
Now, we're going to do Render - Clouds - Difference Clouds, and what that's going to do is give a kind of black and white view, but something with some complexity. It makes the shadow look better. I'm going to darken it, so it's mostly like a shadow. It's in the same position she is, so first we're going to move it a little bit, so the shadow is a little behind her. We can move it around depending on where we want the angle of the light to come from. Play with the shadow itself after we get it in the right position.
Now that we're happy with where it is, we're going to change the mode to Grain Merge so you can see it behind. It's still a little too dark, so we can just change the opacity so that you can see the shadow as dark as you want it to be. And that's how you make a shadow. It's that simple.
But now what if we want to play with the shadow? Taking another of the same figure, but in a different position. I'm going to paste that image, that shadow, in. What I'm going to do is make an animated GIF with a few different transitions from the one shadow to the other, so that it looks like the shadow is leaning back and stretching while the person doesn't move. Kind of a cinemagraph. Put her at a little bit of an angle and a little bit further away so that it looks like there's movement. Play with it a little bit more. Get it where we want it.
Then what we're going to need to do is we're going to need to make several transitions between the different shadows so that it looks like there's an animation almost. What we'll do is we'll copy the figures, the individual ones, and we'll start manipulating each individual shadow. So, there are the two. We're going to start with the first shadow and make a copy of it and change that, and then we can work from that shadow or we can work back from the other shadow. I'm going to do a little bit of both. And then try to move the shadows so they are a sequence. In this one, I'm actually shifting the arms a little bit.
So, once I've got a series of shadows where I want them to be, I'm going to copy the background (layer) multiple times, and merge down each one of the shadows onto a background. And then I copy the figure and I do the same thing. Basically, merge down the figure on top of each one. So now, you watch and I'm going to merge down. One by one, I'm going to merge down each of the backgrounds. Then I'll go to the figure, make several copies of that, one for each layer, and then I'll shift them down and I'll merge those as well. What that does is give us identical layers except for the shadow. This is what we use in Gimp to make an animated GIF. It's just a series of layers.
So now I can go to Animation - Optimize for GIF since most of the image is exactly the same, I don't need it to show. I just need a little tiny bit of difference between each one, which means it's smaller. You'll notice that each layer now has a hundred milliseconds as the time (delay), so it's a very, very fast shadow which is not what we want. We want something more subtle than that.
So, I'll go and edit the layer attributes for each one, change the first one to be a longer time and each of the others to be about a quarter second so that it's not as fast, but it looks like there's a pause before she starts stretching, and maybe a little bit more like a half a second when she's all the way stretched out. Once we go ahead and do that, we can try the animation again. We'll do the playback, and now you'll see that you watch for a moment and then the shadow stretches out as if she's stretching out.
That's the effect we're going for, so thank you very much for watching, and see our other videos.

GIMP#22 Quick Mask: Fun, easy ways to use Quick Mask (Gimp 2.8)

The purpose of this demo is to introduce the Quick Mask tool in Gimp 2.8, and show a couple of easy ways to use it.

Gimp 2.8 has regular layer masks which are very useful, and which I use all the time, but it has an almost hidden feature called the Quick Mask which beginners often miss. This is a form of layer mask that shows a light red overlay anywhere in the image that is not selected. If you select a rectangular area and click on the Quick Mask in the lower left corner, everything outside the selected rectangle will be filled with the semi-transparent red layer. You can then paint it away or in with white and black, just as with a layer mask, but the painted out parts (unselected) are covered in the semi-transparent red.

In this demo, I show how to use the paint in/paint out feature, but also show how it is different than the ordinary layer mask because the end result is a selection rather than a transparency, and you can use the selection any way you like.

The Quick Mask tool icon is well hidden. It is in the lower left corner, not with the other tools. It is no surprise that many people who use Gimp don't even know it is there.

Quick Mask icon

Rough transcript (and text of closed captions):

This is Ben Langhinrichs with a mini-lesson called Quick Mask in which I show two easy ways to use the Quick Mask in Gimp 2.8.

The way that Quick Mask works is a little like a layer mask, except easier. Select something. In this case, I'm going to select around the doorway. Then you click on the Quick Mask icon, which is fairly hidden so I'm going to show you where that is.

I got a selection, and when I click on it, right down in that lower left corner it turns everything that is not selected red, but you can still see through it. It's like a layer mask in that you can go in and you can paint in and out features using black and white just like a layer mask except that you can actually see the features behind it, so it's a little bit easier.

It's a very quick way of forming a selection. Anything that's not red will be selected. So I'm going to take a little bit away from the selection right now by painting in black, which shows as red.

When I'm finished with this, I click the Quick Mask again, and I have a selection but one advantage that you have over a regular layer mask is now you can just use that selection. I'm actually going to invert the selection because I want everything outside the doorway.

I can do anything I want with that (selection), I don't have to just show through something below. I'm going to turn it into a cartoon look like this, just so you can see that I've done something to the rest of the picture. Then I've got my image. That's how easy it is to use Quick Mask to take a certain selection and do things to it.

Another trick is to use Quick Mask for a kind of a vignette or border around something. I'm going to take this image and make an oval around her (Behati Prinsloo). Then I'm going to click on the Quick Mask again, and you'll see the selection right around her.

But now I'm going to actually play with the selection, or with the red by putting some waves in there and the waves will be on just the red part.

You can see them a little bit, and when I click the Quick Mask again and now that selection is inside. I'm going to invert it again. And now I'm going to put white out there where the selection is and what you'll see is we're going to get a nice border area. I'll remove the selection so you can see it. It just makes for a very nice border around her.

Anyway, these are a couple of quick ways you can use Quick Mask. Please join us again for more mini-lessons at

GIMP#21 Clone Away: Copy background elements more naturally with Perspective Clone tool (Gimp 2.8)

The goal in this demo is to isolate a figure not on a clean background or color, but on a background that looks naturally like the rest of the background.

Gimp 2.8 has both a Clone tool and a Perspective Clone tool. While the Clone tool copies from the selected part of the image (which may be this or another image, as I showed in my earlier Clone Tool tutorial)., the Perspective Clone copies with a shift in perspective size. This is useful for cloning an object at a different size, but also for cloning background elements that look correct at a different distance, or simply look different enough that it is not obvious you have cloned part of the image. It is this latter use that I demonstrate here.

While I mention in passing the importance of copying the layer first and working on the top layer, I want to be sure to emphasize that step. Cloning is a naturally destructive step in that it overwrites whatever is under it. This means that if I slip and clone over something I wanted, my only choice is to Undo and try again. If I have kept my mouse down the entire time, that means losing all of what I have carefully done.

One solution is to frequently stop and start, but if the mistake I made was early on, I still have to undo multiple steps. A better approach is to keep a layer as the original under the current layer. That way, if I make a mistake or want to paint back in something, I just add a layer mask (all white) on the top layer with all the cloned content, and then paint with black where I want the original to reappear. If I paint too much and part of the unwanted elements reappears, I can switch to white and paint back in the parts from the clone layer.

Rough transcript (and text of closed captions):

This is Ben Langhinrichs of Genii Software with a Mini-Lesson called "Clone Away". We're going to copy some of the background over parts we want to get rid of. In this case, we're going to try to get rid of that bus. We're going to use the Perspective Clone tool to get a more natural look.

The first thing we are going to do before we use the tool is we are going to copy that layer, just to make sure we can get back to it if we need to. Now we go to Perspective Clone, and first we are going to modify the perspective.

I'm going to follow the line of that pavement so that it give a sense of how it's receding into the distance. We're going to move it up here just to change the look a little bit so it doesn't look like it's copied. It always look bad when the clone looks too much alike in different parts of the image.

Then I'm going to pick a brush, a soft brush, of sort of the right size and CTRL click where I want to it to copy from. Then I go up. I can get pretty close to her head, because I can always paint it back in if I need to from the other layer.

Let's just get rid of that bus and extend the sidewalk. Clean away the elements. It's a soft brush so we can try to get an edge that looks natural.

And there we have it. Thank you very much.

GIMP#6 More Selective: Advanced use of selection tools (Gimp 2.8)

Select toolsNotes: Gimp 2.8 has seven explicit selection tools: Rectangle Select, Ellipse Select, Lasso (Free Select), Select Contiguous by Color, Select by Color, Intelligent Scissors and Foreground Select, plus it is possible to select using the Paths tool.

Each new selection has a mode: Replace (new selection replaces existing selection), Add (new selection added to existing selection even if not overlapping), Subtract (new selection which covers existing selection will be subtracted) and Intersect (where new and existing selections overlap will be selected).

Pro tips:

The Shift and Ctrl keys when held down before your start to select are used to temporarily switch modes (Replace no keys, Add Shift, Subtract Ctrl, Intersect Shift+Ctrl).

The Shift and Ctrl keys when held down after you start to select either a rectangle or ellipse are used to control shape and position. Shift will make the rectangle a square or the ellipse a circle. Ctrl will center the rectangle or ellipse on the starting point of your selection rather than that being the edge. Shift+Ctrl will do both at once, making a square or circle centered on the starting point.

GIMP#20 Dem Eyes!: Selective Color with Gimp (Gimp 2.8)

Sometimes you will see an image that is either B&W or monochrome, but some small detail is in color, such as a B&W image of a girl with a yellow flower. It can be very striking, so this lesson shows how easy it is to make such an image, and also some ways you can play with the concept a little more.
Below is an image from the page that show a cute and different way that selective color can be used.

Pro-Tips to take away:
  • Selective color works best if there is a story to why that part is in color. In the image above, the colored part is not simply the focus, but a message about what is seen and by whom.
  • Sometimes a super-saturated color is best, aas in the example I show in this demo, but sometimes a subtle color is more effective, as it attracts the viewer's eyes but without it being quite clear whether the color is an illusion or not. Use your discretion, and remember that you can adjust either the top (monochrome) layer or the bottom (colored) layer until you get the combination you like.

Rough transcript (also used for closed captions):

This is Ben Langhinrichs with a Mini-Lesson called Dem Eyes: Selective Color with Gimp 2.8. In this I'll show how to use Gimp 2.8 to take this image and highlight the eyes by making them the only things in color in a black and white image.

First thing I'm going to do is up the saturation all the way (using Colors - Hue-Saturation...)
and that will make the eyes stand out a little bit more. Then I need a little more contrast before I make it B&W, so I'm going to change the levels from Colors - Levels. Change that until you have the right amount where you have enough detail.

Then we're going to duplicate this layer. This new layer we're going to desaturate, so go to Colors - Desaturate. Normally I like the Luminosity as the way to Desaturate, but sometimes the Average works better, gives it a little more detail, so that's what I'll use here.

Now we have a black and white image, and we're going to make the eyes show through. We're going to do that by adding a Layer Mask, which is going to be all white so it's completely opaque. We're going to highlight (zoom in on) just the eyes and we're going to paint black where we want it to show through from the other side. In this case, make sure to do the entire eye, not just the iris, because it looks more realistic.

So, I carefully paint it black which shows through from underneath. Then I usually show the layer mask just to make sure there aren't any holes in there. If there are, I can correct them here if I want. That looks good, so I'm going to apply the layer mask.

Now I've got the picture, and that's really all it takes to do the selective color, but you can play a bit more. Sometimes you want to highlight it but you don't want it black and white, you just want it monochrome.

In this case what I'm going to do is to use Colors - Colorize on the top layer, which is the one that has the holes where the eyes are, so that I can change everything else but not the eyes. I'll come up with a Hue that I like. Okay, I think that stands out somewhat. Then I can play with the saturation and the lighness. I think that I'll make it... actually I think the lightness is pretty good. I'm going to change the saturation, try different things. I can make it higher or lower. I'll make it a little lower. I like that contrast. It's not black and white, but it's a good look.

You can do more as well. You can also... Let's duplicate the image again. You can just change that layer to do something like, in this case, add a canvas texture. Anything that, again, leaves the eyes there highlighted.

Thank you for joining me, and don't forget to subscribe to our channel.

GIMP#19 Hold Still, Kate!: Turn an animated GIF into a Cinemgraph (Gimp 2.8)

Cinemagraphs are very popular these days. Still photographs with just a tiny bit of movement may show a lovely young woman with her hair or dress blowing gently in the breeze, or a still in a bar where just the bourbon pours into the glass. There are various techniques to make these, most of which depend on a fixed camera and a simple image, but with a little work, we can take many animated GIFs and make cinemagraphs. Stay tuned for more mini-lessons on how to make these eye-catching images. In the meantime, open your mind to the possibilities of freezing part of an image and letting another part move. Staying with the royal theme for a moment, the following two cinemagraphs come from the same animated GIF, but give very different impressions of what is happening. I made these using the same techniques as in this mini-lesson, although the camera was fixed so that made it easier.

Pro-Tips to take away:
  • If the camera moves, you need to find a fixed point close to the moving part of the cinemagraph and move any layers so that the fixed point is in the same place. Vertical and horizontal guides help.
  • It is far easier when the part of the image you want to move does not overlap moving parts of the image you want to freeze. There are techniques for that, but they are much harder.
  • Selectively turn on and off the layers to be sure you have the right portion of the image selected.
  • Use Filter - Animation - Playback to see how the revised image works.
  • If you have to move layers, you will need to crop (or allow Gimp to crop) the parts that have moved out of frame.

Rough transcript (also used for closed captions):
Hello, this is Ben Langhinrichs of Genii Software with a mini-lesson on making cinemagraphs with Gimp 2.8. In this picture, we have Kate Middleton and you can see that it jiggle some because of the way the camera was held. What we're going to do is make most of it freeze solid.

In order to do that, we're going to make sure that all the images, all the different layers are positioned at the same height so that when we carve out parts of the image, they work together. We're going to use the vertical guide and the horizontal guide and find something in the picture that we can find in every one of the images. In this case, I'm going to do the tip of her nose. Then, I can turn on each one of the subsequent layers and, and then I'm going to move the layer until the nose is positioned just in the same place.

It may not look like I'm moving it a lot, but even a little bit shows up in a cinemagraph. Once I get all of these made, and all are positioned properly, then what I'm going to do is select the area which I want to move. In this case, I just want her blinking and I don't want anything else moving in the image. I'm going to basically look at her eyes and put a selection around them. Then I'm going to change the selection to Add mode so that as I go to each layer and I see that any part goes over the line, I'm going to add that part.

When I'm done I'm going to invert it (invert the selection) and then go to everything except the background layer and I just Edit - Clear (delete). I delete each one of those. So what I've done there is use the background layer as the only one that's going to show except for her eyes. Now when you play it, all that's going to happen is that she's going to blink. That's the basic technique.

When I save this, I've moved those layers so I may have to crop the layers. I could have done it myself earlier. Make sure to save it as an animated GIF, which it was originally.

Now, so that's the original, and if we open it up we can see that the cinemagraph version with her eyes moving looks the same except only her eyes move. So, that's how you can make a cinemagraph in Gimp 2.8. Thank you.

GIMP#18 Make-A-Meme: Edit an animated GIF in Gimp 2.8 (Gimp 2.8)

Animated GIFs with text are very popular now. I recently made one for my daughter for her birthday, and decided I should do a tutorial on the techniques I learned. Gimp 2.8 makes it easy to scale the image, crop it to different dimensions and add text or graphics to the GIF. This is a simple, brief introduction to how you can edit an animated GIF to make a meme, or for any other similar purpose.
Rough transcript (used for Closed Captions as well):
This is Ben Langhinrichs of Genii Software with a Mini-Lesson called Make-A-Meme: Scaling, cropping and adding text to an animated GIF.

In this case we're going to use this dancing bear. We'll open it up in Gimp, and we'll see that each layer is one of the frames.

We can scale it quite easily. Just go in and make sure that you're linked together so that the scale will work in both dimensions, and scale and that will work just fine.

If I want to crop it, it's a little bit more complicated. Go into the Canvas Size. In this case we don't want the dimensions linked because we just want to make it more narrow. Let's change it to 350, and then we'll shift it to where most of the action happens. Now we need to make sure that the "Resize layers" is set to "All layers". That is key.

So, now we have it resized, and we want to add text to it. If you look at each of these layers, you'll see that each layer is only the difference between the previous layer. So, we need to look for a space down at the bottom where there's an empty space meaning that they all share the same. Now, we'll go to that bottom frame, the image on which the layers are combined, and we'll make some text.

I want this to be white, because that is typical for a meme, but you could obviously make it any color. So, I'm going to go in and pick a font that I think works well for this theme. Then, just set the font size a little bit higher, and I'm going to type a funny phrase or ssomething. In this case, I'm going to say "I gotta pee so bad!" because that's what the dancing bear looks like. We can adjust that size, and in this case I'm going to center it because that makes it look right.

Now, you'll notice it's kind of yellow, so I check the mode and it turns out it is indexed colors. I'll just change it to RGB. When you do this and you click on the text, it's going to say you are changing the text, so just confirm that.

So there you have it, but now we need to merge that text layer down onto the bottom layer because it can't be a separate layer. When you run it now, the text will show up in all the others because there isn't anything overwriting it. So, we'll do an animation playback and see that it works.

Let's save it and go out, back to our browser and view it, and there it is. It's cropped and resized or scaled and has the text.

Thank you very much. Stay tuned for other mini-lessons on Gimp. Visit us for other mini-lessons at

GIMP#17 Splattered with Gimp (Gimp 2.8)

Splattered or shattered images are quite popular, and this uses an easy technique for creating them in Gimp 2.8. Once you get the hang of it, you can try out a variety of brushes and approaches to get the exact look you want.
B-Movie model stock courtesy of Marcus Ranum

Splatter brush stock from‒74806122 courtesy of Though she says the brushes are for Photoshop, they'll work fine if you unzip them into your \users\{yourname}\gimp−2.8\brushes directory or its Linux equivalent. See this link if you are having trouble getting brushes to work.

Rough transcript (used for Closed Captions as well):
This is Ben Langhinrichs of Genii Software with another mini-lesson on Gimp 2.8. This one is called "Splattered with Gimp", and the idea is to take an image and make part of it splatter.

I'm going to duplicate the image a few times into separate layers. On the top layer, I'm going to select the figure and carve it out. I'm going to use the Intelligent Scissors to select around the edges. You don't have to be really perfect with this because the original image will be underneath it, but it helps to get a pretty good cut.

Once I've carved all this out and hit Enter to select, I invert the selection so I can delete everything but the figure. I need to add an Alpha channel so the delete will be transparent, then I hit clear to delete. There's still a little under her arm, so I'm going to use Choose by Color to select that and then hit clear again.

Now that the figure is cut out, I duplicate that layer. The top layer is going to be the figure as it is now, the "Normal" figure. The second layer will be the "Warped" figure, and the third layer will be the "Background" layer.

For the background, we need a solid color, or at least a background that extends under the figure. It doesn't need to be perfect, but something to show under the holes I'll make in the figure. I just select part of the background, copy and paste, then scale to cover the whole layer. We will erase the parts we don't want later.

Now, we take the "Warped" layer and we need to put some color over where the splatters are going to be. We go to Filters - Distort - iWarp, which is like Photoshop's Liquify, and we just pull parts of the image over. That way when the splatters show up, they'll be the right colors and look consistent. Now we have our "Warped" figure, and we're going to add a layer mask on that, and we are going to make it completely transparent so you don't see it unless we brush it on. Then, we take the "Normal" figure and add a layer mask on that and make it completely opaque so you can see the figure.

Now, we're going to change the brush. I loaded some splatter brushes which you can find listed in the Description. (See link above.) When I use the splatter brush with Black, anywhere it touches will become transparent on the top layer so we can see the "Background" layer through it. Anywhere you use White on the "Warped" layer mask, you're going to paint in color from the Warped figure which creates the splatters. You can mix up different brushes, sizes and angles. I'm doing this in a very rough way. I'm sure you can do a better job if you take some time, but I want to show the basic idea. Just keep switching the brushes and brushing out with Black and in with White on the two figure layers. If you do too much, just switch to White for the "Normal" layer and Black for the "Warped" layer to undo parts.

What you get is a bunch of splatters coming out from her and holes where the splatters look like they came from. That's where the background shows up. When you are all done and happy with what you've got... it always takes me a while to tweak... Let's add little splatters around her arm. When you've got a splatter that you really like, you apply the layer masks and the figure will be done.

Then you go to the "Background" layer and add a new layer mask. This time you should use a big soft brush, and the idea is to paint away to get to get where the shadows and such, getting back to the original image on the bottom part. When I'm done, I've got the image I want.

Thank you very much, and visit us for some other mini-lessons at

GIMP#16 Splashy Text in 60 seconds: using the Blend tool (Gimp 2.8)

There are many ways to create fancy text in Gimp 2.8, and many tutorials showing you, but few are as simple and fast as this technique.

1) Create the text in a color which contrasts sharply with the background (either white or black usually work).

2) Select either one letter with the Color tool or all the letters with a rectangular select followed by a fuzzy select set to Intersect mode.

3) Use the Blend tool, which I also call the gradient tool, and set the Shape to Shaped (spherical). This creates a shape that hugs the border of the selection, which is the entire layer if nothing is selected.

4) Try out a colorful gradient, best if it does not have any transparency. If you don't like it, just hit clear (which will delete the selection but leave the space selected) and try another.

Rough transcript:
This is Ben Langhinrichs with Genii Software presenting a mini-lesson on Splashy Text.

Here we have some very non-splashy text, we're going to make every letter different just for the sake of doing it.

We'll use the Color tool to select a letter, then to the Blend tool and change Shape to Shaped (spherical), then pick a garish color and see what it does to the text.

Now, we'll go through and select each letter and try out a number of different blends to see what we come up with.

Hurrying through so that you can see the effects.

I'm going to do all of the "with Gimp 2.8" in the same blend. I select it all, then use the Fuzzy select on Intersect mode so I get all the black text, and then go to the Blend tool again. I'll choose one more, Golden this time, and I'll change that on the selected text.

And that's what it takes. Thank you very much.

GIMP#15 Fading Frames: Transparent frames using the Blend tool (Gimp 2.8)

There are many ways to create frames and borders in Gimp 2.8, but this shows a quick and easy approach to creating transparent frames with zing, even if your border is irregular and not a rectangle. The key points to remember are:

1) Create a transparent layer the same size as your original image (which it will be by default when you use New layer).

2) Switch to Overlay for the transparent layer, though you may later either switch to Hard Light or Grain Merge, or alternatively change the opacity of the transparent layer which contains the frame.

3) Use the Blend tool, which I also call the gradient tool, and set the Shape to Shaped (spherical). This creates a shape that hugs the border of the selection, which is the entire layer if nothing is selected.

4) Try out various gradients, especially those with some transparency such as Square Wooden Frame, Tube Red, Radial Rainbow Hoop and others. After each gradient, be sure to clear the layer before trying another, as some will mix together (although that can be interesting as well).

5) Don't forget that after creating the frame you like, you can alter the Hue, the Brightness/Contrast and more to get just the look you want.

GIMP#14 Channel Art Specs: Youtube One Channel (Gimp 2.8)

Youtube is moving everybody toward their new One Channel design, and one requirement for anybody who cares about their brand is proper channel art backgrounds that work on various size devices. I have created a specs file based on their official specs, but with pre-made layers for each size device, as well as mask layers.
The video shows how to use both mask layers and the logo-safe layer. The biggest additional hint is to look at your original image and decide whether preserving all of the vertical or all of the horizontal is most important, then scale your image accordingly. The full size image is supposed to be 2560x1440, and it is best not to skimp on that or scale up a smaller image. This Gimp file may be shared with others, but I'd prefer credit and a link to the lesson at

Stock image of industrial decay from courtesy of

GIMP#13 Mug Shot: Making someone look BAD (Gimp 2.8)

The core take away from this lesson is that it is possible to use the Enhance filters to exaggerate facials features such as 5-o'clock shadow. In particular, we use the Unsharp Mask, which is more commonly used to retrieve details out of a blurry or out-of-focus shot. We use the Wavelet Decompose plugin, available for download from the Wavelet Decompose plugin page. This is a very useful plugin for photo re-touching.
I used Russell Crowe for this because his slight stubble tends to be described as ruggedly handsome, but only because it is slight. As far as I know, he has never been caught doing anything terrible to warrant the inevitable mug shot images Hollywood likes when taking down its own.

Rough transcript and steps:

It happens in Hollywood all the time. Someone gets arrested and all of a sudden the papers want to post a photo where the actor who usually looks GOOD suddenly looks BAD.

The too long, didn't read version of this tip is simple. Just go to Filters - Enhance - Unsharp Mask, and up the values of the Radius and Amount. (They default to 5 and 0.5, and I changed that to 10 and 2.)

You set these, and it makes a much rougher picture, but I wanted to do a slightly more sophisticated version of this that creates a more natural, authentic-looking image.

1) Use Wavelet Decompose (standard settings)

For this, we are going to use Wavelet Decompose, a free plugin (download link above) that is very useful for photo retouching. This plugin creates a series of layers, each with a different level of the texture of the image. Together, they make the original.

Normally, these levels are used to smooth out the complexion and clean up irregularities, but we are goingto use the Unsharp Mask to heighten and emphasize those irregularities.

2) Select the head and neck with Free select tool (lasso), then switch the mode to Subtract and select away eyes. Feather selection to 5.

We only want to change the face and skin, so we select it, and deselect the eyes as they looks more realistic untouched. We will feather the selection a little so that the transitions between sharpened and unsharpened are smoother.

3) Do the Unsharp Mask with same settings (Radius=10, Amount=2) on each of the layers except the Original and the Residual.

Since the layer titled Residual has all the color and none of the texture, leaving it as is makes the end result more natural.

The end result looks much rougher, but uses only the actual stubble and facial features, simply exagerated to look both older and more "rough", as we are used to seeing in a Hollywood or political mug shot.

GIMP#12 Add-A-Ghost (Gimp 2.8)

Two interesting things to take away from this lesson are the isolation of the image and the use of the Difference Clouds from the Filters - Render - Clouds - Difference Clouds.

Pro tips:

Isolating the image. While there are other ways to carve out a figure from a background, when there is a high contrast between the figure and a relatively solid background, using the Fuzzy Select, which selects contiguous areas of the same color, and should not be confused with the Select by Color, which selects all color in the image. The reason this is important is that there are often small patches of the background color in the eyes, for example. The Fuzzy Select is safer.

When you try the selection, it may decide that the color is not all the same and only select part of the background. This is where the Threshold setting matters. The higher the percentage, the more variations in shade and lightness will match. Go too far and parts of your figure will be selected, but if that happens just dial it down and select again.
Difference clouds: While the difference clouds worked well in this image, remember that while you still have the selection, you can tweak the contrast, hues and brightness generated. The goal here is a spectral image. Also, the larger values that you use for Grow and Feather, the more the effect will be gradual.

Stock image of woman and background from courtesy of Stock image for ghost at courtesy of

GIMP#11 Out Damn'd Spot: Simple photo touch up with Heal and Blur (Gimp 2.8)

Out Damn'd Spot: Simple photo touch up in Gimp 2.8The purpose of this mini-lesson is to demonstrate some of the simple ways to fix up blemishes or smooth out roughness. The Heal tool is very easy to use, and is essentially a one-spot clone. You can see more about the Heal tool in our earlier mini-lesson, #8 Healer - Doing More with the Heal tool.

The Blur tool is effective for simple softening of rough patches of skin, but be careful to use it lightly, as it can make the skin look unrealistic if used too heavily. It is still a better choice than using the Smudge tool in most cases, as it does not creates streaks.

Pro tips:

The Heal tool uses the brush hardness, so a softer brush will fade more quickly from the center.
The Heal tool also follows the shape of the brush, so if you use the rectangular block (second brush shape in standard set), the cloned part will be rectangular. This can be useful for dealing with scars or other elongated blemishes (and also for copying rectangular objects such as pencils).

In a future mini-lesson, we will show the Wavelet Decompose plugin, and how to use it for more sophisticated photo retouching (as well as some fun tricks for digital art).
Gimp manual references: the Heal tool, the Blur/Sharpen tool and the Smudge tool.

GIMP#10 Providing a Contrast in Gimp with the Retinex tool (Gimp 2.8)

GIMP#9 Cut Out Bridesmaid (Gimp 2.8)

Technique for cutting an image out of a complex background.

Bridemaid comes from a deviantArt stock image by which can be found at Tunnel is a deviantArt stock image by which can be found at

GIMP#8 Healer: Doing more with the Heal tool (Gimp 2.8)

This lesson shows how the Heal tool works when used as intended, but also how to use this single spot clone to copy objects.

Gimp manual references: the Heal tool

GIMP#7 Writing Inside The Lines (Gimp 2.8)

Adding text to images of lined paper can be a challenge due to the mismatch between the font and the lines. This mini-lesson show how you can use the font size first, then shift the lines further using fine-control line spacing, and finally how you can add small increments of space to adjust for slight offsets in the spacing.

GIMP#5 Kicking the Tires with G'MIC filters (Gimp 2.8, G'MIC)

G'MIC (pronounced Gee Mick) stands for Grey's Magic for Image Computing. G'MIC is "an open and full-featured framework for image processing, providing several different user interfaces to convert/manipulate/filter/visualize generic image datasets" according to their website, but our focus is on the G'MIC plugin for Gimp, which can be downloaded and installed in the Gimp directories to provide many G'MIC filters inside Gimp 2.8.

GIMP#4 Clone tool (Gimp 2.8)

GIMP#3 Perspective Clone Demo - More complex example (Gimp 2.8)

GIMP#2 Perspective Clone Tutorial (Gimp 2.8)

GIMP#1 Speech and Thought Bubbles (Gimp 2.8)

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