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How to Create & Edit Digital Art with GIMP 2.6 - The Basics

Updated on October 29, 2012
My Grandfather & Great Grandfather Gormley Left Side Touched Up W/GIMP; Right Side Original
My Grandfather & Great Grandfather Gormley Left Side Touched Up W/GIMP; Right Side Original | Source

GNU Image Manipulation Program

GIMP 2.6 is an image manipulation/creation program, which can be downloaded for free. GIMP can be used in many ways, either to design a website, create a cute animation, paint a picture, or to just simply add text to a picture you like. With GIMP, the choices are endless. As you learn more about the program and it's abilities, your own skills at using this program will expand. This program is completely safe to download and won't harm your computer(s). Newer versions appear every so often with the slightest alterations, though the version featured here is 2.6.7.

Getting Started

To begin using GIMP, first you'll have to open the program by clicking the icon either on your desktop or in your downloads folder. The downloading process itself is simple and easy to follow. When the program loads, it will show you a picture of "Wilber", GIMP's mascot, along with a bar showing the loading bar. The first time it's opened will take a few minutes as it assembles all of its components, but it will speed up over time. The Wilber will disappear for a moment and be replaced with 3 dialogs in the setup of GIMP!

The first step on your road to becoming a master at GIMP is to go to the top left of the middle screen where it reads "File". Go to File>New. A screen will pop up with options for the sizes of your document. An easy-to-use size is 640x400, but in time you will understand the need for smaller or larger documents. Click Okay and up pops your first document, a blank screen. The first step to understanding GIMP is to get to know the tools and what they are used for. Your toolbox is one of the windows that opened with GIMP, you identify it by the words "Toolbox" across the top and the numerous buttons in the shape of little paintbrushes, buckets, etc.

**If this window isn't visible, go to the top of the middle window and go to Windows>Recently Closed Docks>Toolbox**

Basic, Easy-To-Use Tools

Free Select Tool
Select a detailed region
Click to begin selection, click/drag around desired area, click again at beginning to close selection
To Cut/Copy/Modify an area of document
Color Picker Tool
Changes your foreground color to color selected on image
Click on pixel containing wanted color of image
To use a color previously placed on image
Move Tool
Moves objects/layers
Click/Drag to designated area
Move parts of image/selected areas
Rotate Tool
Rotates Object/Layer/Selection
Click/Drag in circular area, Click OK to finish change
To rotate image/object/selection
Scale Tool
Changes shape of Object/Layer/Selection
Click/Drag to change shape, Click OK to finish change
To change the shape of an object/image/selection
Flip Tool
Reverse the object/layer/image
Click on object/layer/image
To flip the object/layer/image the opposite way
Text Tool
To create/edit text layers
Click/Drag over region. Type wanted Text.
To add fun/informative text to an image
Bucket Fill Tool
Fill Layer/Selected Region with selected color
Click in selected area/on layer/in region
Fill an area with a solid color
Pencil Tool
Hard-edged tool to paint with
Create hard-edged lines,shapes,etc
Paintbrush Tool
Soft-edged tool to paint with
Create soft-edged lines, shapes, etc
Erase Tool
To erase parts ofbackground/color/image
Erase unwanted colors
Smudge Tool
Smudge parts of image/selection
Smudge together colors/parts of an image
Dodge/Burn Tool
Lighten (Dodge) or darken (Burn) parts of an image
To make a color darker or lighter quickly
Basic tools used most often. See below for the icons associated with the tools above.

GIMP Tools Identification

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Free Select ToolColor PickerMove ToolRotate ToolScale ToolFlip ToolText ToolBucket ToolPencil ToolPencil ToolErase ToolSmudge ToolDodge/Burn Tool
Free Select Tool
Free Select Tool | Source
Color Picker
Color Picker
Move Tool
Move Tool
Rotate Tool
Rotate Tool
Scale Tool
Scale Tool
Flip Tool
Flip Tool
Text Tool
Text Tool
Bucket Tool
Bucket Tool
Pencil Tool
Pencil Tool
Pencil Tool
Pencil Tool
Erase Tool
Erase Tool
Smudge Tool
Smudge Tool
Dodge/Burn Tool
Dodge/Burn Tool

Give it a try!

With this information at hand, go ahead and try it out! Remember that the more fun you have, the more you will learn. Don't be afraid to go out and try something. If you get stuck, just CTRL + Z (undo) out of there! If you did CTRL + Z too many times, CTRL + Y (redo) fixes it. On that note, here are some helpful keyboard shortcuts to help you around GIMP. If you have any questions/comments, comment below!

Keyboard Short-cuts

Open New Document
Select None
Helpful short-cuts to memorize


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