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How to Change Image Color in GIMP: A Guide for Changing Colors with Images

written by: KateG•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 1/22/2010

This guide will show you how to use several of the basic color-related tools in the GIMP freeware for editing the colors in your images.

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    Changing Colors with GIMP

    Now that you know how to crop your images and rotate them we are going to talk a little bit about the basics of playing with color in your photos. After all this is another one of those basic tools that you can use to alter your photos without having to learn a lot of technical details. In addition it is also one of the most dramatic tools that is in your arsenal. Don't believe me? Well think about the impact of changing your mother in law's hair to cotton candy pink or making the sky in a photo black. Both of those would be major changes and in one case may land you in the doghouse.

    So today, we will take a look at some of the color tools that you may use in GIMP and go over how to use them.

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    Color Balance

    This will adjust the overall tint of a photo in the direction of one of the images primary colors (Red, Green and Blue). It is good if you have a photo that have been over exposed by one color, and you need to correct it. To get to this tool you will click on 'Tools' then 'Color Tools', then 'Color Balance'. Now a new window will open and you will be presented with three radio buttons. You can choose to alter the midtones (the bulk of the photo), the Shadows (the darker tones) and highlights (the lighter tones) by clicking on the radio button next to it. Then you can use the three sliders below to adjust the colors.

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    Brightness/ Contrast

    This tool will let you make a photo taken in a dark room lighter, or a light room darker without altering the colors. In addition it can also be used to boost the contrast, or the difference between colors that makes them more or less distinguishable from each other. To use this tool you can just click on "Tools", then "Color Tools", then "Brightness-Contrast". Once you have done that a new window with sliders will appear and you can drag them left or right to adjust these values as needed.

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    Color Picker

    This tool will allow you to choose all of the pieces that of the same color so that you can make alterations to all of them at once. So you can take all of your reds and make them pinks or all of your mahogany and make it tan. To activate this tool you can click on "Tools" and the "Color Picker" or of course, you could just click on the image of the eye dropper.

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    Making Your Color Image Black and White

    OK, so this is technically not a color issue, it is a lack of color, but it is a cool effect so let me walk you through the simplest way to make your color image into grayscale, which is the technical term for black and white. Click on 'Image' then click on 'Mode' and finally click on 'Grayscale'. Your photo is now B&W.

    Now you can go any enjoy playing with the colors in your photos, and stay tuned to this series for more on how to make yourself into a GIMP master.