Simple GIMP and Inkscape tutorial.odt

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Simple GIMP and Inkscape tutorial handout

Manual for basic tools in GIMP and Inkscape


GIMP is a powerful and complex open source image editing programme. The GIMPs tools are displayed as icons on the toolbox. A user can identify a tool by hovering over it. The name of the tool will appear below. Clicking on the icon will select that corresponding tool.

A beginner can utilise the following tools in GIMP:


Select the area that you would like to retain. The area can be extended or reduced by selecting one of the sides. Once your desired area is selected (the remaining area will turn grey or darker), then double click inside the desired area. The photo will be cropped to that size.

The tool is used:

  • to reduce the size of large images.
  • to remove unnecessary areas in a photo.


Open the image that you want to work on in GIMP. Select the scale tool and click on the image. The image would then have tiny boxes on every side. Another box will pop up. You can insert the measurements that you want in this box. Or you could manually drag with the help of clicking one of the sides and reduce to the size you want.

The tool is used:

  • to reduce the size of heavy images. It makes uploading on websites more easy.


After scaling an image, if you want to add another image to the frame, you would have to move the first image to the side. This can be done using the move tool. Select the move tool. Select the image. Click and drag to a suitable location.

The tool is used:

  • when there is more than one element in the window you are working on.

Add text

Select the Text tool (a capital A). Now, drag the tool to were you want to insert text. A tiny box pops up. Type your text in the box. The size, colour, style of the text can be changed in the settings below the tool box. The length of the text box can be adjusted after you finishing typing your text by selecting the corners and dragging.

The tool is used:

  • to add a title or caption explaining the text is useful.


Select the image. Go to the menu bar on top and click on the 'Image' option. Then click on 'Mode' and finally click on 'Grayscale'. This would make the image grey.

The tool is used:

  • to make a photo black and white. It is preferrable for printing purposes.

Scale image size

Select the image. Go to the menu bar on top and click on the 'Image' option. Then click on 'Scale image...'. This would show you options of 'width and height' along with 'X resolution' and 'Y resolution'. Enter in 72 pixels in both X and Y spaces. This would help reduce the file to a small size.

The tool is used:

  • to reduce resolution which helps in file size.
  • to make photos for uploading on websites (should not be used for printing).

Transparent background

Open the image you want to work on. Once the image is open, go to File → Save as → and save it as a .png file. Once this is done, go to Layer → Transparency → and see if the option 'Color to Alpha' is active. If yes, then click on it and say yes. This will make your background transparent. If no, this tool cannot be applied to this image.

This tool is used:

  • to make white backgrounds transparent.
  • to remove backgrounds from logos.

Sepia photos

Import the image into GIMP. There is more than one way to do this.

One: Go to Color → Colorize. A dialogue box will pop up. Adjust the bars to your desired levels. Else let the values be around Hue: between red and yellow – 25 to 35. Saturation: Between 50 – 60. Lightness: Between 4 – 10.

Two: Go to Filters → Decor → Old photo.

Three: Another method requires you to first desaturate the image. For this, go to Color → Desaturate. Then repeat the processes in method One.


The importance of working on layers in a canvas is to meddle with more than one photo. In case your layers box is not visible, go to Windows → Recently closed docks → Layers, Channels, Filters. You can slide the layers one above the other. But the user must keep in mind that actions such as desaturate/ sepia will be done on the active layer. The action will have to be repeated on every other layer.


Inkscape is a free and open source vector graphic editor. The tools are displayed as icons on the toolbox. A user can identify a tool by hovering over it. The name of the tool will appear below. Clicking on the icon will select that corresponding tool.

Adding captions with transparent backgrounds

In case you want to add a caption to a photo, you will need to import the photo into Inkscape first. Then draw a rectangle (in a colour of your choice) where you would like the caption. The opacity of the rectangle needs to be changed at the bottom of the Inkscape window. Once this is done, the title tool can be clicked and text can be entered. The colour of the text can be modified based on the background colour. The photo then has to be saved: File → Save as → Cairo PNG (.png).

Importing pictures

There is a simple way to import an image into Inkscape. You can merely drag and drop the image into the Inkscape window. This will prompt the application to ask you if you wish to 'Embed' or 'Link'. Embedding results in the .svg file being heavy but it is the better option of the two.

Note: While adjusting the size of the imported, kindly press Shift + Ctrl in order to not distort the image.

Adding filters

Adding a Drop Shadow/ Glow to text or images can make the output more creative. done by selecting the text or image and going to the Filters option and choosing from options available.

Gradient to background

There is a simple way to create a graident with two colours in Inkscape. First you need to draw the rectangle and then by double clicking on the 'Fill' option. A new dialogue box will pop up. Here you will see two types of gradients: One linear and the other circular gradient. Pick and apply one of the gradients. When this is done, you will notice a blue line on the rectangle box, with one end as a circle and the other as a square. Click on the circle end and pick a colour.

Text typing (justify)

A note for text:

In order for the Justify option to be active, the user must first draw a text box and then type inside it. This will allow one to use all options for text alignment.