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How to enhance a photo in GIMP tutorial

Updated on April 4, 2013
Enhance an image in GIMP 2.8 using selective colour
Enhance an image in GIMP 2.8 using selective colour

There are a lot of different ways on enhancing a photo in post processing. In this tutorial I will show you one of them. You will learn how to convert your image to Black & White keeping only the sky in colour.

Open GIMP and add the image you want to edit by dragging it from a folder and dropping in on GIMP canvas or going to File / Open / find your image in folder / Open.

Duplicate your background image. Call it BW.

Go to Colors / Desaturate choose Luminosity. Set this layer to Overlay.

Duplicate BW layer, reduce opacity to 13% and set it to Screen.

Note that you might need to play with settings like opacity as every image is different and needs different levels of intensity.

Fig. 1 Enhancing an image in GIMP 2.8 using selective colour
Fig. 1 Enhancing an image in GIMP 2.8 using selective colour

Select Background layer, take Fuzzy Select Tool and select sky. It works like this: you need to click somewhere on the blue sky and then holding down Shift key on your keyboard (a little “+” will appear) click in the places of the sky that didn’t get selected (those are indicated by lines) see Fig 1. Do so until the whole sky is selected. Zoom in to 100% to be sure that all the sky is selected.

Go to Select / Grow choose 1px.

Select / Feather choose 5px.

Copy selected sky by going to Edit / Copy, then Edit / Paste. Or just click Ctrl + C (for copy) then Ctrl + V (for paste).

Double click on the pasted layer and call it Sky. Now we need to make this layer temporary invisible. Click on the “Eye” icon next to “Sky” layer see Fig 2.

Fig. 2 Enhancing an image in GIMP 2.8 using selective colour
Fig. 2 Enhancing an image in GIMP 2.8 using selective colour

Go to Edit / Copy Visible & Paste as Layer. Call it Mono.

Go to Colors / Desaturate choose Lightness. Move this layer below layer Sky.

Go to Image / Merge visible Layers. Now you should have only two layers: Background and Sky.

Make layer Sky visible again by clicking on the “Eye” icon next to it. Set it to Colour and reduce opacity to 65%.

Duplicate layer Sky, call it HD and set it to Hard Light, set opacity 100%.

Duplicate layer HD, call it M, desaturate this layer by going to Colors / Desaturate choose Luminosity. Set this layer to Multiply, opacity 100%.

Duplicate layer M, call it Over and set it to Overly , opacity 100%.

Go to Image / Merge visible Layers.

Colors / Hue-Saturation. Enter -5 for for Hue and click OK.

Final result of enhancing an image in GIMP 2.8 using selective colour
Final result of enhancing an image in GIMP 2.8 using selective colour

Sharpen your image going to Filters / Enhance / Unsharp Mask. Radius – 1.3, Amount – 0.30, Threshold – 4.

Go to Image / Flatten.

This is it, now you have nicely enhanced image.

Save your image going to File / Export (for GIMP 2.8).

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    • Dina Blaszczak profile imageAUTHOR

      Dina Blaszczak 

      5 years ago from Poland

      @ joanveronica Thank you for looking in and leaving a comment, much appreciated :) Trust me as you keep practising GIMP will appear more and more easy to you and one day you will look at GIMP and think: Can't believe it all looked so complicated to me at first! :)))

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 

      5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      I donwloaded Gimp, and I'm trying to work with it. This was very helpful. Hopefully it eventually becomes easier? Thank you a good presentation! Have a good day!

    • Dina Blaszczak profile imageAUTHOR

      Dina Blaszczak 

      5 years ago from Poland

      @ kristyleann Yes, you should try it, it's simple and won't take you much time. Thanks for reading my hub :)

      @ mts1098 Nice to meet another GIMP user, glad you found it useful and thank you for reading and commenting :)

    • profile image

      mts1098 

      5 years ago

      I use GIMP all the time and found this information very helpful...thanks and cheers.

    • kristyleann profile image

      Kristy LeAnn 

      5 years ago from Princeton, WV

      This is really cool...I'll have to try it out sometime. :)

    • Dina Blaszczak profile imageAUTHOR

      Dina Blaszczak 

      5 years ago from Poland

      @ jainismus Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for reading :)

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      5 years ago from Pune, India

      Useful information, thank you for sharing.

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