Short course GIMP

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GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program it's the equivelent of paint shop pro for Linux (when you know how to use it). GIMP is also the great grandfather of Gnome as while writing the GIMP the developers created the GIMP Toolkit or GTK, it's moved on a bit now but it's these boys that got the ball rolling :).


For this short course a tutorial isn't really necessary and besides there are loads out there on the old internet. What we'll try and do here is give you a few pointers as to how the GIMP works and then maybe at the end there'll be some time to play.

Starting the GIMP

  1. The first time you run the GIMP it will get you to setup cache sizes and a temporary directory. Just use the defaults for these and click next.
  2. Now lots of text scrolls past, we can only hope this is doing stuff rather than r00ting the hard drive (I promise you it really is doing stuff)
  3. Ah-ha now that's finished we get a splash screen, you've probably got time to grab a biscuit or two here but there's not enough time to make some tea unless the kettle was already on or has very recently just boiled.

Bit's of the GIMP

Right so it's started and you may or may not have some tea but I'm pretty sure you should have some biscuits (if not put them on the shopping list for next time).

So the first thing you should notice is that GIMP isn't like other paint programs, cos it's not one massive window. Instead there are multiple (read potentially hundreds) of little windows.

If you're only reading this and not playing along check out the GIMP screenshots ( for an idea of what I'm on about.


The main panel (titled The GIMP) holds all the tools that the GIMP provides as well as their options. Lots of other panels are available by clicking on File->Dialogs and choosing the one you want. Useful ones are Layers and Fonts.

Doing stuff

Ok so enough looking at it; lets try and do something. Go on.. File->Open that's right.

Ok so now there's another panel with your picture in it and you're rapidly running out of desktop real-estate but who cares you can always buy more!!

The image window is very important. Anything you want to do to the image that isn't tool based (by tool based I mean brushes and stuff) like transformations of pretty effects is done via the menus on the image window. Go on give it a try! I recommend Filters->Light Effects->Supernova.

Right so now we know where the tools and effects are found now for some little tips and then you're on your own.

Tips for doing stuff

Ok so the GIMP uses both the keyboard and the mouse to make the most out of its tools.

Choose the pencil tool and try to draw a straight line. Probably a bit wobbly I'm guessing if it's not then this course wasn't really for you. This time click once and then hold shift on the keyboard and you'll get a straight line.

Another key that's used quite a bit if the Control (CTRL) key. Finish your line and choose the box selection tool. Drag out a box but don't let go of the left mouse button. Hold CTRL and drag it some more then hold shift instead and do some more dragging. Nice eh? MMmm.

Right ok I hope that's enough to go on for now, the only way you'll get better is if you play with it yourself. Also there are more tutorials for the GIMP than there are acorns in the world so go scavenge you little artistic squirrel!

Don't be afraid to check out the GIMP homepage ( or type GIMP into Google (seriously this is fine GIMP has been around a long time)