The G.I.M.P. community "help-line"

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While most members use PS and PS plug-ins for their PPg, there are a few of us who use other programs, such as PWP or GIMP. I have had several requests for help/understanding in using GIMP. While I'm not an expert with the software, I have been working with it for the past year. And I think I have reached a point where my experiences with GIMP might allow me to answer some questions anyone might have. Of course I expect somone will ask about something which I haven't tried or learned yet. But I look forward to those scenarios as great fodder for learning for everyone including myself.

I don't have a particular format in mind for this thread, just that by my own account that GIMP is capable of achieving practically the same PPg results as PS. I expect we will be able to clarify certain things thru a greater understanding of the language used across various programs. For example, whereas PS may use the term "Layer", and whereas PWP uses the term "Mask" - Gimp uses both terms. We will also be learning how to "streamline" our workflows via keyboard shortcuts. Hopefully we can start with some basic actions and build from there.

At any rate and for whatever it's worth, I am offering my assistance with GIMP. I look forward to this journey with you. :smile:
 
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I have heard of GIMP but haven't tried it. I struggle with PSE because it seems to take so long to do basic things. I often use Picasa 3 for basic editing. Do you find that GIMP does a better job than Picasa?
 
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Do you find that GIMP does a better job than Picasa?
Cindy,

Oh yes. It's not just that GIMP does a better job than Picasa, the thing is that it does so much more. I use Picasa for uploading from the camera card, as a basic viewer to pick which shots i want to PP further, for basic straightening, and for uploading to the web for hosting, so that I can share images here at the cafe. Picasa is a wonderful free program, but it is also limited. And that is where I incorporate GIMP into my PPg workflow.

GIMP allows for things such as: Perspective straightening (useful for undoing lens distortion or straightening architectural lines), Selective PPg (such as sharpening just the eyes of a persons' portrait, blurring out the BG of a shot or replacing the BG completely, with say, a white BG as we would do with a product shot), Adding borders and frames, Tweaking contrast, Cropping with a "Rule of Thirds" grid overlay, and White Balance adjustment, just to name a few. There are many other things that GIMP can be used to do with an image. But, like PS, it allows you to do those things/steps to your desire, to make the image look the way you think it should. My limited understanding of PSE is that it allows for more control over the PPg than Picasa.

Picasa has a cloning tool. But in GIMP I can specify exactly the size of the tool, the shape of the tool, and how much the edges are feathered. And when PPg a portrait, I can use the HEAL tool to correct pimples and other blemishes, again specifying size and shape of the tool along with how much feathering. I like that I can also specify how many "undo" steps are retained in the History dialog box. Mine is currently set to 25, but it appears that I could bump that up to 100 if I chose to do so.

Now, as with any software, camera, or lens, there are things to learn and practice. The repetition of practicing/doing creates a greater associative understanding of the knowledge and features "at hand". :smile:

I believe that PS, PS plug-ins, and GIMP offer the same tools, although they may be named differently.

Can I ask what basic steps in PSE seem to take longer than they should?
 
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Thanks for the reply In all likelihood the length of time is takes me to use PSE is due to my own slowness. I was hoping that the GIMP program might be more intuitive. As you said practice would help my understanding greatly. Thanks again. Everyone here is always so helpful and kind in their replies.
 
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Ahh... I found the thread! I tried seriously to use GIMP for a few hours but I was completely overwhelmed by all the jargons and features. It's almost like learning another language. I will definitely follow this thread and hopefully makes my learning curve easier.

Thanks for the effort Herschel. I have this subscribed.
 
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I have only 1 option for PP right now and that is The gimp... I really dont know how to do anything with editing digital photos. Any basic tips you can share would greatly help me.

I spent a few hours following along with youtube lessons, and I found them impossible to duplicate because they start too far ahead of me.

Sorry I dont mean to sound quite so pathetically uneducated in this matter, but I really learn best via dialog and observation. If possible would you mind walking me through the changes you made on a few photos? or perhaps help me clean up 1 of mine?

Daniel
 
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Kiley and Daniel,

You are both quite welcome. Yes, GIMP and any other PPg software, can seem like learning a new language. The great thing is that the more we practice, the better we get and the easier it will come to us. :tongue:

Yes - I'm going to use a combination of dialog and screen captures. The screen captures will have particular elements highlighted in one way or another. And I will do my best to keep the dialog tone more "common" rather than technical. :wink:

Think of this as an "open class" or "field-trip" - Feel free to ask questions at any time. :smile:
 
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Opening A Picture File:​

We'll start by opening an image file. And there are 2 ways to do this, the long way and the short way. We'll start with the long way and then we'll look at a quicker, more efficient way to open an image file.

In the top left corner of your GIMP screen, Left Click (LC) "File" and then LC "Open".

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The "Open Image" dialog box will pop-up:

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From here, we need to select the folder that contains the image we're going to open. In this example, you'll see that I've selected "CS Music 4". When I double LC on that folder, we get this view. From here, we're going to select a particular image file for PPg. Notice the preview of the image in the right upper corner of this dialog box.

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And here we have the image file that we want to PP on the screen, ready to go:

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Now here is a shortcut in this process: Try using "Ctrl + O" - see how it brings up the "Open Image" dialog box? This may not seem like much of a time saver right now. But I have found that the more keyboard short-cuts that I use, especially when I have several hundred images to PP, the short-cuts add up to become a real time saver.
 

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Creating and Saving Key-Board Shortcuts​

As I've mentioned, becoming familiar with and utilizing key-board shortcuts can be a time saver during PPg. So before we get into cropping, adjusting color levels, and more, let's learn a bit more about how to create a shortcut, and thereby "bend" Gimp to our control, instead of feeling like things are the other way around.

By default, GIMP has several actions which already have a shortcut assigned. These defaults can be changed. For this example, let's change the default for the "crop action" to have an accessible shortcut of (Shift + C).

To start, LC "Edit" in the upper left part of the screen, scroll down and LC "Preferrences"

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The "Preferrences" dialog box will pop-up:

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On the left side of this dialog box, I want you to LC "Interface", which is the second item down from the top, directly underneath "Environment". This will bring up the "Interface" dialog box:

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Next, on the right side, I want you to LC the first item "Configure Keyboard Shortcuts". Now the "Configure Keyboard Shortcuts" dialog box will pop-up:

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At the top, type into the search bar the word "crop". The dialog box will change to this:

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Notice that I have scrolled down to the crop action under "Tools", and that the phrase "New Accelerator" has appeared in the center column. Now we're ready to tell GIMP what key or combination of keys we want to use to quickly access the 'crop' tool in the future. At this point, hold (Shift) and (C) at the same time. (Shift + C) will now appear in the center column, like this:

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At this point, we can do 1 of 2 things: We could choose another tool or action and assign a shortcut to it, or we can close this dialog box. For now, let's close this box and Gimp will take us back to the "User Interface" box that was up earlier:

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You'll notice that I have highlighted "Save Keyboard Shortcuts Now". I highly recommend doing this every time you re-assign a shortcut because Gimp will remember these shortcuts even if GIMP is completely closed/shut-down. Not doing this will only save the shortcut for the current open session. In other words, if you don't save now, then all the hard work you just did will have to be repeated again and again. So LC "Save Keyboard Shortcuts Now", and be done with it. :wink:
 
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Saving Tool Preferences

I promise that we will get to actual PPg. Before we do, there are a few other tweaks to the general programing to do right now, so that we don't have to worry about it again.

Today was a small lesson for me in tweaking GIMP's presets. For example, I like for the edges on my selection tools to have a feathering of 1.6 - as this has dealt me the least amount of "halo-ing" when performing selective actions. I also like for the crop tool to overlay a ROT grid on the image. The problem is that GIMP will undo these preferences when the program is closed - unless we instruct the program to keep things to our personal liking. :wink:

So, in the Preferences dialog box, let's scroll down to "Tool Options". To the right, there is a check-box labeled "Save tool options on exit". Make sure that box is checked and click "Okay".

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Checking this one box is going to make our PPg lives easier in the long run. I have a particular font that I like to use for my copyright text. Until now, every time that I have opened GIMP, I've had to re-set the text to the desired font. And now I don't have to. :wink:

It's little things like this that will help to make a work flow more efficient in the long run. :smile:
 
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How do I create a frame in GIMP. My dad uses PS and he has an action that does it for him instantly. Is there such a thing for GIMP?
Gimp uses scripts which are similar to actions.

You can find some here.

I have also read of someone working on integrating photoshop actions into gimp. Maybe someone can provide more information on this.
 
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Daniel,

Yes, GIMP does have frames/borders. You can find them under: Filters>Decor>Add a Border.

You can specify the X and Y "thicknesses", and the color. I generally start out at 30 and 30 respectively, adjust the border thickness to preferrence. To change the color, click on the color bar. From the dialog box that pops-up afterwards, you can use the eye-dropper to pick a color from the image. ((This is useful when you want a frame that compliments the colors of the image.))
 
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Okay, a big 'Thank You' to Daniel for providing three example pics. We're going to take a look at each one and see what we can do with them. At the same time, we're going to try to gain some understanding as to why we're making certain adjustments. :smile:

So, here is our first pic, a nice shot of some potted flowers:

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Nice shot - but we could do a few things to really make this shot "pop". Notice along the right side that there is something slanting outwards, away from the main subject. This might be a little bit distracting to the viewers' eye - so we're going to crop that out later on. Also, there are some "fuzzies" left over from the scanner glass - we're gonna clone those out. Lastly, the human eye tends to pay attention to brighter areas first. Since the right side BG is so much brighter than the subject, we're going to crop some of that out so as to re-direct the eye to the flowers.

In my own workflow, the first thing I do is double-check the WB, which in this case is right on. But I wanted to eliminate some of the 'flatness'. And I like for shots to appear as close as possible to having been shot on film. (This example happens to be a scanned film shot.) To achieve this, most of the time I apply one of three possible 'S' curves. I'll get to what different 'S' curves look like a little later. Suffice for now that I used my "Base S" which looks like this:

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Decided to bump the contrast by 5:

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Applied a slight USM (Unsharp Mask) with a radius of 2.5 - To bring out the edges of the flowers just a tad:

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And now to crop. Notice that we're getting rid of the slanted "whatever" on the right side along with some of the bright BG in that area as well. Notice also that the horizontals of the ROT grid lead the eye to the two blooms that are reaching out of the pot on the right side. (My way of balancing the bright BG that is left with a part of the true subject - the flowers.:wink:)

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In case you didn't spot them earlier, here are the two main areas of "fuzz" to be cloned out. Note: when cloning out things like this, work as tightly as possible. IOW's - zoom in to 200-300% and then choose "Source points" close to the area you're going to replace:

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(The '+' is my source point and I'm going to use that particualr patch of real estate to make the white dot that is nearby to disappear.)

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Now that we've done some color adjustment, sharpened a bit, and cloned out some irregularities, let's put a border or frame around this. If you click on the color bar, the dialog box on the right will appear. Clicking on the eye-dropper will allow you to pick a color right from the image. (Note that the dialog box will disappear down to the bottom tool bar - appearing as "Script-Fu".)

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Looks great, right?? Not so fast - Before we save this, let's make sure that we copyright it using a text box. We want to make sure that proper credit is given to the photographer.

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Now flatten all of the layers into one layer:

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And lastly, save the new image with a new name, preferrably with some intials and the current year as another copyright referrence. (Since Daniels' username is DangerKilo, I've assigned his initials as DK, followed by the current year.) Let's also note that by assigning a new name to the PPd file, we keep the original file intact, as free from artifacting as possible - and ready to PP again in the future. :wink:

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To put this all into perspective, and remembering that this is just one possible PPg version, here is the original:


And here is the final product:

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Herschel,

Forgive my ignorance but where do you double click to check WB?

Also, OT, not sure if you have installed this plug-in. I was trying to open a raw file but GIMP doesn't recognize it. So I install the UFRaw plug-in. Here's the URL for download:

UFRaw

Not that I know what to do with it yet, but my oh my... it just open up another world of jargons and complexity once I opened up a RAW file. :confused: :biggrin:

Kiley.
 
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Herschel,

Forgive my ignorance but where do you double click to check WB?

Also, OT, not sure if you have installed this plug-in. I was trying to open a raw file but GIMP doesn't recognize it. So I install the UFRaw plug-in. Here's the URL for download:

UFRaw

Not that I know what to do with it yet, but my oh my... it just open up another world of jargons and complexity once I opened up a RAW file. :confused: :biggrin:

Kiley.
Kiley,

Auto WB adjust can be found via: Colors>Auto>White Balance. ((I set the 'W' key as a shortcut on my version.

Note that Auto WB in GIMP is pretty much like AWB in your camera - It adjust the picture to the way it "thinks" the WB should be. And that may not be the way you think the WB of the image should look. On average, most PPg programs over-do the WB by about 30%. The cool thing is that you can fade the WB to taste. After applying WB in GIMP, click on EDIT>Fade. Use the slider to adjust the WB to taste.

While we're on the subject of WB, I'll note that there is another way in GIMP. Colors>Levels will bring up the Levels dialog box. The 'Auto' radio button will apply an AWB adjust. Using the middle slider will allow you to increase from the left, or decrease from the right, the amount that is applied. Notice that there is a drop box that allows you to control the R, G, and B channels within the entire image, or within the actively selected section or part of the image. Sometimes I use that method to remove blueish or redish casts from an image. ((In the next post using one of Daniels' sample images, I'm going to show you some of the possibilities of using selective PPg.))

I haven't used UFRAW. If I recall correctly, GIMP should show 2 files per image that has been shot in RAW. I know that there are a slew of plug-ins out there. The plug-ins are written and released almost like video games: IE - a newly released game will be released in 3 different versions, 1 for PS, 1 for Wii, and 1 for X-Box. The plug-ins seem to be released for PS, PWP, and Gimp. At any rate, not sure at the moment why a RAW file isn't opening. I'll do some digging and let you know what I come up with. :smile:
 
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In order to know what to do in PPg, it's important for us to first understand how we want the image to look. We need to understand what aspects of the image that we want to change.

My thanks to Daniel for our sample image:

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Aspects that we could change about this image and why:

1) Straighten and crop tighter - Because the brain "likes" vertical verticals, horizontal horizontals, and (using a ROT grid) to pull the viewers' eye to the subjects' direct gaze.
2) Apply noise reduction - To help smooth the skin.
3) Selectively brighten/sharpen the eyes - Because the subject is looking directly at the viewer, we want to emphasize that subliminal eye-to-eye contact/connection.
4) Flip the image horizontally - To take full advantage of the diagonal division of dark and light.
5) Check and adjust WB as needed or desired.

Let's jump to the NR first. For this I use the freeware NoiseWare. And for this image I used NW's default "Portrait" NR settings and saved the results. If you want to reduce artifacting, you will need to purchase the license so that you can copy and paste the from NW to GIMP without saving.

Now that we've applied some NR and checked/adjusted WB and contrast as illustrated in earlier posts, let's use GIMP's Perspective Straightening tool to take care of the verticals. Shift + P is the default keyboard shortcut. You'll notice that there are corner "grab handles" to use for re-aligning the image. Once you have shifted things around to where you want them, click on "Transform", or just hit the 'Return' key:

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Next - crop. Notice that, for my taste, I've place an intersection of the ROT grid pretty close to the subjects' eyes, and that I am going to take advantage of the diagonal created by the arm on the lower left side.

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Now let's really emphasize the direct eye contact of this image. Zoom in to 200-300% and use either the freehand tool or the eliptical tool to outline one eye at a time. And remember to set the feathering for either tool to 1.60.

There are several methods for "eye-pop" in PPg - I think that it depends upon the image, the scene, personal taste, etc... For this example, I used the eliptical selection tool, and applied a 2.5 radius USM. Zoom out - check it for taste, maybe zoom back in and apply another 2.5 USM, or try adjusting the contrast, boosting the brightness, etc until it pops just the right amount for the overall scene. Then select the other eye and go thru the procedure again. One of the keys to selective PPg is not to over do it - to the point the it looks overcooked or unbelievable.

Lastly, I flipped the image from left to right. (Image>Transform>Flip Horizontally) You'll see that now we have a diagonal division from the top left to bottom right, with two triangular areas - one dark, one light.

So here again is the original:


And the final version:

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Herschel you are a wizard!! How did you make him repose for the shot on the other side :eek::wink: I don't even know his real name anymore, he is and always will be "Sensei"... crazy what these programs can do. I am going to have to try all these techniques this week... I have Border all set.

I do have 1 question about borders. When I use Filter>Decor>Border my border size is never consistant. If i use default it comes out fine, but if i make it thicker 30 or 50, for example, it doesn't get any bigger? Do I need to resize something before running the script?
 
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Herschel you are a wizard!! How did you make him repose for the shot on the other side :eek::wink: I don't even know his real name anymore, he is and always will be "Sensei"... crazy what these programs can do. I am going to have to try all these techniques this week... I have Border all set.

I do have 1 question about borders. When I use Filter>Decor>Border my border size is never consistant. If i use default it comes out fine, but if i make it thicker 30 or 50, for example, it doesn't get any bigger? Do I need to resize something before running the script?
Daniel,

LOL - All I did was ask Sensei kindly and nicely. :tongue:

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No, you shouldn't have to do any re-sizing. When you are specifying a border size of 30 or 50, are you changing both the "X size" and "Y size"? (I have yet to change the Delta value number.)
 

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