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How to Add Layers with GIMP

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 3/23/2011

Want to know how to use layers in GIMP? Well, it's actually quite easy if you use this GIMP tutorial. Learn how to add layers with GIMP today.

  • slide 1 of 5

    Why Use GIMP?

    GIMP is a free program offered under the GNU Public License. This means that you can use, share and manipulate this program without paying a licensing fee. GIMP like the paid-for program Photoshop allows to create and to manipulate layers in GIMP. This GIMP tutorial teachers you how to add layers with GIMP.

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    Create a New Layer

    If you want to create a new layer, go to the Layers dialog box, and select the New Layer button. In this dialog box, you can also tweak your layer. For example, you can add different colors to it if you want it to be a fill layer. Once you are done setting the options for your Layer, hit OK.Layer Dialog Box 

    You’ll now see your layer in the Layer dialog box. If your layer is active, it has a blue background. If you don’t want your layer to be active, click on the Eye icon to make it invisible.

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    Creating a Layer Mask

    Besides making standard or fill layers, many people want to know how to create a Layer Mask. A Layer Mask allows you to combine two images into a single image, and GIMP also has this feature.

    To start adding a Layer Mask, you must open up the Add Layer Mask command. You can access this command by going into Layer, and then Mask and Add Layer Mask.

    In the Add Layer Mask dialog box, you’ll see the options for your Layer Mask, and these options include the following:

    • White (full opacity) Layer Mask 
    • Black (full transparency)
    • Layer’s alpha channel – This allows the alpha channel to fill in the layer mask.
    • Transfer layers alpha channel – This also uses the alpha channel, but it converts the channel into full opacity.
    • Selection – This option only changes whatever section of your image that you currently have selected into the Layer mask.
    • Grayscale copy of layer – This changes your layer into a layer mask.
    • Channel – This allows you to use a saved layer mask.

    You also have an Invert Mask checkbox. This changes the opaque areas of your mask transparent and vice versa. When you are done making your changes, click OK. Now, a thumbnail of your layer appears within the Layers Dialog box.

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    Apply Layer Mask

    If you actually want to combine your Layer Mask with your current layer, open up the Apply Layer Mask, by going into Layer, and then Mask and Apply Layer Mask.

    GIMP is a comprehensive program that allows you to add a lot of effects to your images. If you are on a budget, GIMP is definitely worth checking out, and it is an extremely good alternative the very expensive Photoshop program. Layers are only one of the tasks that you can perform in GIMP. Check out the GIMP website to see what else you can do with this program.

  • slide 5 of 5

    References

    GIMP, http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-layer-mask-add.html

    GIMP, http://www.gimp.org/tutorials/The_Basics/

    GIMP, http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-image-combining.html

    Screenshots by the author.