19.3. Getting Started in GIMP

Although GIMP can be a bit overwhelming for new users, most quickly find it easy to use once they work out a few basics. Crucial basic functions are creating, opening, and saving images.

19.3.1. Creating a New Image

To create a new image, select File+New or press Ctrl-N. This opens a dialog in which to make settings for the new image. If desired, select a predefined setting called a Template. To create a custom template, select File+Dialogs+Templates and use the controls offered by the window that opens.

In the Image Size section, set the size of the image to create in pixels or another unit. Click the unit to select another unit from the list of available units. The ratio between pixels and a unit is set in Resolution, which appears when the Advanced Options section is open. A resolution of 72 pixels per inch corresponds to screen display. It is sufficient for Web page graphics. A higher resolution should be used for images to print. For most printers, a resolution of 300 pixels per inch results in an acceptable quality.

In Colorspace, select whether the image should be in color (RGB) or Grayscale. Select the Fill Type for the new image. Foreground Color and Background Color use the colors selected in the toolbox. White uses a white background in the image. Transparent creates a clear image. Transparency is represented by a gray checkerboard pattern. Enter a comment for the new image in Comment.

When the settings meet your needs, press OK. To restore the default settings, press Reset. Pressing Cancel aborts creation of a new image.

19.3.2. Opening an Existing Image

To open an existing image, select File+Open or press Ctrl-O. In the dialog that opens, select the desired file. You can also press Ctrl-L and type directly the URI of the desired image. Then click OK to open the selected image or press Cancel to skip opening an image.

19.3.3. Scanning an Image

Instead of opening an existing image or creating a new one, you can scan one. To scan directly from the GIMP, make sure that the package xsane is installed. To open the scanning dialog, select File+Acquire+XSane: scanning device.

Create a preview when the object to scan is smaller than the total scanning area. Press Acquire preview in the Preview dialog to create a preview. If you want to scan only part of the area, select the desired rectangular part with the mouse.

In the xsane dialog, select whether to scan a grayscale or color image and the required scan resolution. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the scanned image is. However, this also results in a correspondingly larger file and the scanning process can take a very long time at higher resolutions. The size of the final image (both in pixels and bytes) is shown in the lower part of the dialog.

In the xsane dialog, use the sliders to set desired gamma, brightness, and contrast values. Changes are visible in the preview immediately. Once all settings have been made, click Scan to scan the image.

19.3.4. The Image Window

The new, opened, or scanned image appears in its own window. The menu bar in the top of the window provides access to all image functions. Alternatively, access the menu by right-clicking the image or clicking the small arrow button in the left corner of the rulers.

File offers the standard file options, such as Save and Print. Close closes the current image. Quit closes the entire application.

With the items in the View menu, control the display of the image and the image window. New View opens a second display window of the current image. Changes made in one view are reflected in all other views of that image. Alternate views are useful for magnifying a part of an image for manipulation while seeing the complete image in another view. Adjust the magnification level of the current window with Zoom. When Shrink Wrap is selected, the image window is resized to fit the current image display exactly.