A Geek and her Babies

How one geeky Mom combines technology and old fashioned values to raise her babies.

The Software April 21, 2009

Well, you downloaded GIMP and some supplies and you came up with some photo organization and you’re thinking, “Let’s get to work, already”. But, before we dive in, we better take a look at the software with which you will be working.

From Screen Captures

This is what you will see as GIMP opens. Notice that there are actually three windows opened. You will need all of them, believe me.

The big window is the image window. That is where your work will be done and where the main menus are. You can resize that window to suit you. I usually maximize it, and leave it alone. Later on in the series I will show you some neat tricks with dual windows of the same image, but for now we will just have one image window.

Note: by default the two side windows will always be on top of the main image window. There are ways to change that behavior, but for now let’s just keep them there. If they get in the way, we can move them around, but they are important, so I don’t want you to lose them.

The Toolbox

The second most important window is the window on the left called the Toolbox window.

From Screen Captures

This window is so important that if you close it, the entire program will close. It is where you will grab your different brushes and other tools, and where you choose options for those tools. There are keystrokes for many of the tools, and you can find them by hovering your mouse over them. Although most graphic artists swear by the keystrokes, I don’t use them much. Probably because I can’t remember them!.

I have found that for scrapbooking, I use a few tools almost constantly, in fact, there are some layouts that I only use these four tools and some filters and nothing else.

The first tool that I use all of the time is the scale (or transform) tool.

This tool resizes images to fit into the space that you want them. You can resize the image by dragging its borders or you can use the pop-up menu.

From Screen Captures

If you do not want to change the image’s size ratio (for example, so that people don’t all of a sudden become very skinny), press the Ctrl key while resizing and make sure that the little chain beside the width and height numbers is locked.

Another tool, I use pretty much constantly is the move tool.

This tool does exactly what it says it does. It moves things around. Its options include “Pick a layer or guide” or “Move the active layer”. Pick a layer or guide means that whatever your cursor is on at the moment, that’s what it will move. Move the active layer means it will only move the part of the layout that is “active”. We will talk more about that in a little while. I usually automatically pick the move tool as my “default” tool. That way I don’t accidentally paint something or resize it.

Another useful tool is the crop tool.

Again, it does exactly what it says it does. It crops the image. The options on this tool include “Current layer only”. Most of the time you will want to make sure that you have this option selected. If not, the entire layout will be cropped.

The final tool I will talk about today is the Text tool.

This tool allows you to write on your scrapbook. Very important for journaling. We will discuss this tool more when we actually start to use it.

That’s it for the toolbox, now we will look at the window to the right.

Layers, Channels, Paths, Undo

The window to the right does a lot of really cool things. But the most important thing it does is show you where your layers and allows you to manipulate them.

Layers are very important to digital scrapbooking (actually, any graphic design) so you will want to get used to seeing this window. The best way I have to explain layers is that they are exactly like the bits of paper and photos and other stuff that you use in paper scrapbooking. Your background paper is one layer, each photo is another layer, each button or eyelet is yet another layer. Each layer is capable of being moved independently of the other layers and the only way you can make two layers into one is to glue them (paper) or merge them (GIMP). You will see how this all works very soon.

For now, the other part of this window you want to familiarize yourself with is the Undo tab.

GIMP allows you to Undo just about everything you do. It even holds a cache of your actions so that you can go back multiple steps. The Undo tab shows you those actions so that all you have to do is click on the step you want to go back to. That will come in very handy in the future.

There you have it. The most basic tools that you will need to use GIMP for digital scrapbooking. Of course there is much, much more to learn about this program, but for now that will get you started.

The next post will be our very first layout.

Please leave me a comment if you have any questions. I will be more than happy to help you out.

 

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