• The GIMP


    GIMP & Photo Manipulation (The Basics)
     
    No it is not something about a person in a mask but a free, yes that is right, free photo manipulation/editing package. GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring
    Several excellent articles have been done for Adobe Photoshop, and also for the other free package out there called Infanview, although the best is Photoshop it is an expensive package and as everybody likes something for free I thought I would put together a quick article on the basics using GIMP.
     
    Downloading the files
     
    First off you will need to download the software, this can be done from the following link for windows users http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net/stable.html the main download will give you two zipped files and you will then need to download the help files should you decide you want these as well. having gone through this step you should now have 2 or 3 zipped files, GTK+, The GIMP and the Help file. These files will now need to be unzipped before they can be installed, several programs exist for doing this. 
    Installing GIMP
     
    After unzipping the files the next step is to install these files, this is fairly straight forward, make sure you install the GTK+ program first before you attempt to install anything else.Once GTK+ is installed you can then install The GIMP and towards the end of installation of this file you will be given options to add short cuts on the desk top and quick launch bar, it is up to you if you take these options.Lastly install the Help files if you chose to download them and choose the languages that you wish to install with the Help files. As with a lot of programs these days the Help files contain a lot of information on how to use GIMP should you choose to advance past this little tutorial I have put together or if you get stuck at any stage so I hope you chose to download and install it
     
     
    Using GIMP
     
    Launch GIMP as you would any other program i.e. from the icon or the start/all programs menu or clicking on the short cut on your screen. This will put two windows onto your screen one called The Gimp the other Layers, channels, paths...
    By selecting the file menu on The GIMP window we can choose open and select a photo that we wish to use. For this I have chosen one of the shots of Libby the Barbarian Queen. You should then end up with 3 windows on your screen as below.
    Adjusting the Levels
     
    The file I have used is straight from the camera so first off we are going to adjust the lighting levels.From the menu on the picture window, select Tools then choose Colour Tools and Levels (Tools/Colour Tools/Levels) this brings up another window called levels which we can use to adjust the levels of the photo (see below). Its looking a bit crowded on the desk top but that is because I have set my windows to one side to avoid the clutter of files an my desk top, you can arrange your GIMP windows as and how you please.
    As you can see from the levels window below there are several bits to play with, for now we will do this the simple way and click on the button labeled auto and if you happy with the changes it has made to your photo click on the OK button on the levels window and it will close.You can play around with the other settings in your own time and as you aas you feel more confident using this program.You should now have something like the photo below. (No silly not the same photo as me).We now have a photo that looks good enough to send to CMON but not quite, there is a few other things we need to do.One of which is to crop the photo to get rid of the areas such as all that excess blue space to the left and right as well as some of the bits above and below our subject.[pagebreak]
    Cropping your photo
     
    On The GIMP menu you will see a list of icons under the menus choose the icon that looks like a knife/scalpel blade. If you hover over it, it will tell you what it is, in this case it is crop or resize an image.Clicking on this will bring up the crop and resize window and put cross hairs on the mouse pointer when you hover it over your picture.Position the mouse in the bottom of the picture in an area where you want to start the crop and then holding the left mouse button down move the pointer left or right and upwards (or downwards depending on the point where you have started from).You will have noticed the picture go dark, don't panic as you move the mouse with the button held in and the box gets bigger the picture will lighten to show you what you will get if you then select the crop button.Once you are happy with the area you are going to crop out simply click on the button labeled crop on the crop & resize window and all that excess space will go.You should now have a photo looking something like I have below.We now have our picture down to a reasonable size. However, if you look in the box at the bottom of the window you will see that the picture is still very large in size, far to large in fact to put onto the web. Plus if you look along the title bar you will see that this image is 957 pixels wide by 1254 pixels high (CMON and many other sites will either try to resize this and make a mess of it in the process or reject it completely) so we need to shrink the image to a more usable size.[pagebreak]
    Shrinking/Scaling the Image
     
    This is a simple step, to start choose the image menu then select Scale Image from this menu.This brings up the scale image window as seen below, you will notice that the width box is already highlighted. In the width box type in 600 to replace what is there.Then when you have done this click on the chain link next to it, when you click on the chain it becomes broken and it will automatically resize the height to match the width. In the case of my picture when I click on the chain after typing in 600 for the width it changes the height to 786 pixels.Lovely I am happy with the size of my picture now so all that is left to do is click on the button labeled Scale.Don't worry if it looks small in the window at the moment. If you look in the bottom of the window to the area I have circled in the photo below  you will see that the photo is only a percentage of its true size, if you increase this to 100% then you you will see your photo at its true size and how it will lokk once posted to a website or when opened from a folder (screen/monitor size dependant).[pagebreak]
    Saving the image for the Web
     
    Next we want to save our image for the web or just save it to a folder so that we can keep this as an original shot. But we first need to flatten the image because GIMP works in layers. To do this on the picture window menus choose Image/Flatten Image.Then click on File/Save As on the picture menu.This will bring up the Save Image menu (see photo below) and from here we can choose where we want to save our photo.Don't worry if the box at the bottom of the window still indicates that the photo is still to large for what we need to upload to a site, that is all part of the save image procedure.You will notice that on the Save Image window there are two expandable boxes (+ sign next to them) these will allow you to choose where you want to save the picture and what format you can save the picture as, This will usually be in jpeg/jpg format for web work.

    Once you are happy it is going to the folder that you want it to and you have given it a name we can then select the + sign and select the file type we want (see photo above).When you select jpeg you will get another window titled Save As JPEG (see photo above). When this first appears the file size may be greyed out, if it is just click in the show preview in image window box and this will then make the file size visable.The slider at the top of the window will allow you to adjust the file size (optimum for a jpeg is about 85%), we are looking for a file size of 100Kb or less as this is the max for CMON unless you are a supporter. So if the file size is shown as being greater than 100Kb then we can reduce it by moving the slider until we get the desired file size.When you are click the buuton labeled OK to save your work.[pagebreak]
    The GIMP & Making a Montage
     Nobody likes looking at multiple posts of a figure each from a different angle and a lot of people will not vote on your mini if you do this, or they may even leave you a comment telling you to sort your life out and in the extreme cases they will give you a very low score. Any of the above is not really what we want so we are now going to use the skills that we learnt in the basics and turn them into advanced skills and make a montage or in other words turn a group of photos into one with more than one view.Don't run off and hide under the sofa, this isn't as difficult as it sounds, trust me Launch The GIMP as normal and select a photo you wish to use only this time use the File?Open routine for each photo you wannt to use. This will give you multiple pictures on your desk top (as shown below). To keep this simple I have chosen two views of Liby.First off we need to make a note of the image size of each photo, to do this just click an the menu Image/Canvas Size for each photo.And from the window that appears make a note of the width and height of each photo closing each Canvas Size window on completion.In this case the two photos I have are 600 x 819 pixels and 600 x 847 pixels, ideally I would have liked the height to be a bit closer but it is not a problem. We don't want any white space on our finished photo so I am going to need a new canvas that is 1000 pixels in width and 819 pixels in height to be able to fit both photos onto the new canvas.From the file menu in The GIMP window select File/New.In the Create  a New Image window that appears type in the width and height measurements that you require and then click the OK button.With our blank new canvas now on the screen we are ready to start transfering the two images of Libby onto the blank canvas, there are probably more than one way of doing this  but as I normally use Photoshop we shall stick to one method that I have found works with GIMP.Choosing one of the pictures, go to the Edit menu and select Copy, then click on the blank canvas window and and selct Edit/Paste.This will paste a copy of the photo onto our blank canvas and by selecting the move tool in The GIMP windowwe can then move this image by dragging it into a position that we want (see photo below)Next we do exactly the same thing with the other photo, this will place the second photo in the left hand side of the window possibly over the other photo depending on how you placed the first photo but don't panic use the move tool which you should still have selected to move it over to the position that you want it to be in making sure that there is no white areas showing between or to the sides of our two photos.We now have both of our photos on the same canvas. This may look a bit small depending on the size of the photos used and if this is the case it the montage can be done by stacking the photos in a downwards direction instead of across the screen simply by calculating our new canvas size by height instead of width. However, for the purpose of this little tutorial I am going to leave it as is.[pagebreak]The next step is basically a repeat of the steps that we carried out in the basics. We need to Shrink/Scale our image.So, select Image/Scale ImageIn the window that appears change the width to 600 pixels. Then click on the chain next to the image size to automatically adjust the height and then when happy click on the Scale Button.Next we need to flatten the image so if you remember from earlier we need to choose Image and from that menu choose Flatten Image.After this we are at the saving stage so you need to select File and from this menu select Save As and do as we did before, saving the photo as a jpeg and making sure we are within the file size limits that we need to comply for whichever site we are going to post our photo on.As I mentioned before my package of choice is Photoshop so for those of you that can already use The GIMP you can probably add different ways of doing some of the things I have covered here but my main aim here is to give people a basic awareness of how to use this package to hopefully post better photos of their work in this hobby rather than spend a small fortune on the more expensive packages that are out there.To that end I hope this article has helped those that find the idea of editing photos way above their heads or out of their price/budget range.Enjoy and have fun.Martyn (War Griffon)













    Comments 3 Comments
    1. coolair's Avatar
      coolair -
      will have to give it a try..
    1. pinkneal's Avatar
      pinkneal -
      Just used this guide, and it's awesome! Really simple to follow with the pictures nicely highlighted. I'm just about to upload my first edited piccy :-)
    1. Bitflipper's Avatar
      Bitflipper -
      Thanks for the guide
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