A Geek and her Babies

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

Your First Layout April 22, 2009

If you’ve followed along for the first three posts, you should now have everything you need to complete your first layout, so let’s get to it.

We are going to start with a very simple layout involving one photo, two background pages, a few elements and some text.  To make it even simpler, I am going to use the papers and elements from one kit – the Happy Go Lucky kit at Shabby Princess.

The first thing I do is pick my photo and place it in the In Progress folder.  I then start searching through my Scrapbook Supplies folder for the papers and elements that I want to use.  When I come across some that I may want to use, I copy them into the In Progress folder.

Note: If you are going to publish your finished layouts, you may want to start a text document with the names of the designers.  That way you have them available when you are ready to give credit.

Sometimes your In Progress folder will have just a few things in it, sometimes you will feel like you copied just about every element you own into that folder.  Don’t worry about it, the purpose of this folder is only to make it easier to cull through your supplies while you are assembling your page and so that you can use Picasa to look at everything at once.

Then I open Picasa to view the In Progress folder and open Gimp and get to work.


First, you will pick a background paper and open it by selecting <File -> Open> or <Ctl+O>


You will see the background open both in the image window and a thumbnail in the Layers window.


Immediately after adding the first layer, I save the image as a Gimp xcf file.  This is Gimp’s working file type.  It will not be recognized by any other program, but it will preserve all the layers exactly as they are.  Other file types will cause the layers to be merged together and you will not be able to make changes.  Remember to save the file often so that you do not lose any of your work.


Next, I added the photo as a second layer by choosing < File -> Open as Layer> or < Ctl+Alt+O> and choosing the photo.


Then I open a second background to use as a mat.


As you can see, the mat layer is on top of the photo, which doesn’t make any sense.  To fix this, you go to the Layers window and click on the photo layer and then click the up arrow, which moves the photo to the top.


Now we need to crop the mat layer to make it fit the photo.  In order to do that, select the mat layer from the Layer window and go to the Toolbox window and choose the crop tool (looks like a scalpel).  Make sure that you click the option for “Current Layer Only”.  And then draw a box around what you want to crop.


Press <Enter> and you get a nice cropped mat.


If you look at the Layers menu in the screen shot above,  you will see two chain link icons next to the mat layer and the photo layer.  When you click on that option, it allows the layers to move as one without being merged.  That way we can keep the independent layers, but rearrange the elements of the page in tandem.  You will use the move tool (crossed arrows) to rearrange the items on the page.  I moved mine to the bottom right corner of the page.


We now want to make the layers look more like paper layers, and add some shadows.  Gimp has a nice drop shadow filter that allows you to do that.  It can be found under < Filters -> Light and Shadow ->Drop Shadow>.  I usually let the options exactly as they are.


When you add a drop shadow, it becomes its own separate layer.  Since I know that I’m not going to be changing the size or shape of the shadow without changing the size and shape of the original layer, I go ahead and merge these two layers.

In order to do this, you click the eye icon on each of the layers you do *not* want to merge, which hides the layers.  Then you can use the keystroke <Ctl+M>.  A dialog box comes up asking if you want to merge the visible layers (hence the reason for hiding all the other layers), make sure the option “Expanded as necessary” is chosen and click “Merge”.  The layers will become one.  (Remember, if you do not get the correct layers, you can always undo this).  We will discuss adding some plugins in the next tutorial which will make this process quite a bit easier.


Do the same thing for the mat layer.

Now we will add some elements in the same way.   If the elements, are not the correct size you can resize them using the scale tool.



Go ahead and add as many elements as you like.  Don’t forget to add the drop shadows.


Finally, we are going to add some journaling (well, actually just a name and date) to the layout.    Click on the Text icon (the big A). Pick a font by clicking on the square beside the word font.  Any font that you have installed on your computer will show up.


Then change the font size to something pretty large, I chose 400 px for this layout.  You can also change the color by clicking on the color bar.


Type your journaling into the layout.  Once you are done typing you can move it to the correct spot.


I wanted the journaling to be turned 90 degrees.  I choose the rotate tool from the Toolbox, and type -90 into the angle box.


When you are completely finished with your layout, you will want to save it as as a jpeg file.  Click <File -> Save As> and change the file name to reflect the .jpg format. When you click save, a pop up box will come up saying that “JPEG cannot handle transparency”.   Click Export.


And then pick the quality you want.  I usually pick 100%, but if you don’t have a lot of storage space you may want to make it 90% or a little less.


And, that’s it.  You now have completed your first layout using GIMP.  Here’s my finished product.



I’ve created a Digital Scrapbooking with Gimp Flickr group.  Feel free to add your finished layouts there.  And, as always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments you may have.


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