Making photo graphics using Gimp

Today is a tutorial on making graphics using GIMP. GIMP is a free Photoshop-like program that I have been using for some time to edit photos and add text for graphics for both my blog and posting on Facebook. I know many gals who use Picmonkey, but for me, it ends up that most of the cool tools I want to use are not free, so I’ll stick with Gimp – because FREE IS GOOD!
blogging 101 graphics

Generally, I don’t start with an idea. I start with a photo. Now I’m blessed to have a daughter who is a growing photographer and she let’s me use any of her photos. Sometimes I’ll use a landscape one or an animal/insect one. Sometimes I’ll even use a people one that just strikes my fancy. Then I re-size it, generally using Microsoft Office Picture Manager. (My computer is quite old and this is not available anymore. But I haven’t found any free program that is as easy to work with or as user friendly.) You can use Gimp to re-size but I prefer to re-size before I open it in Gimp.

Once I choose the photo, I pray for what will fit to say on the photo. For me, that is usually a scripture passage as my goal is to make my graphics encouraging others toward God. And I find most quotable quotes to be kind of cheesy (sorry, my bias is showing).

Once I have chosen my photo and my verse, I open Gimp and then click File–>Open As Layers–>and then find my photo which I’ve saved to the desk top. Once it is the size I want I begin.

If you re-size in Gimp, go to scale tool – making sure you lock it (little padlock image) to keep the scale of height to width no matter how you size it up or down.
re-sizing in Gimp

Next I click on Layer–>New Layer–> and a pop up box will open. You can name it whatever you want. I generally just leave that alone (as new layer) as well as the size. I will be scaling it smaller in a minute. But I DO change the Layer Filler Type to White.

create new layer in Gimp

A new and white layer will completely cover your image. Go back to the scale tool (see above), click on the white layer and shrink the layer to any size you want for your text. Try to make it a size that won’t overshadow your image. Once you have it to the size you want (you can always change the size further at any time), you’ll want to pick the Move Tool and move it around to wherever you want on your photo. At this point, play with it: size and position until you have it where you want it.

move tool in GIMP

Next, we need to change the opacity of this layer, otherwise it will completely take over the focus of the photo. The only reason we have this layer at all is to give a gentle background for the text, so we don’t want it very dark or obvious at all. If your layer box is not open, click Cntl L (lower case is fine) and it will appear.

Layer tool in Gimp

Your new layer should still be highlighted, now go to the Opacity slider scale near the top and move the opacity lower…how low depends on your preference and the photo you are using. I usually use somewhere between 40-50. Now you are ready to type in your text.

In your toolbox again, click on the Text button and choose the font color, size and style.

text tool in Gimp

You can always come back and change these as you go along, in case you don’t like what you’ve chosen. Try to make the font fit the words and the style of the photo. And choose a font color that will give a good contrast – you do NOT want to make the font hard to read!

Change anything you want  on any of the layers by clicking on the layer in the Layer Toolbox (see above). The photo itself will be the background, then the New Layer and then the Text will each be separate layers. If you choose to change the size of the New Layer, or its opacity, click on that layer in the Layer Toolbox.

When you have gotten the graphic to what you are satisfied with, it’s time to save it! Click File–>Save As and another box will open. Here you get to name your graphic and choose where it will be saved. Be sure and click on the Select File Type and choose a type. Either JPG or PNG – I prefer PNG with anything that has text. As the pop-up boxes appear, click Export and Save. I don’t change the settings usually and things come out fine.

You should be good to go! Here is my graphic which I created as I did this tutorial. In this particular image, I didn’t like the white for the new layer background. I clicked on the layer and the black color tool on the Toolbox, then I choose the color picker on the color tool pop-up and clicked on her dress and clicked OK and filled the new layer with this color. Since the photo was not exactly in black and white, I wanted a softer color to not be so glaring in the background of the text. I think it looks nice.

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Hope this was helpful and clear!

Hannah bride sepia graphic GIMP tutorial

Linking to any number of these lovely blogs.

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  1. In honor of your blog post, I will have to try it out! So proud of you and your site is fabulous.

    • 😀 Thanks, darling! I’ll say this, the more I learn the more I realize I’m in the baby phase of this internet-thingy!! 😀

  2. Oh, thank you so much, Kate!! I had been thinking that I needed to learn this soon and here you dropped into my inbox with this post!! I liked what you said about graphics being too cheesy with what they choose to say. People try too hard to come up with a unique saying when the Bible says it better!!

    • Well, Judith, isn’t God’s timing GOOD??? I’d love to see the ones you come up with!

  3. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this information. You seem to have explained it so clearly. I am also so grateful it is free, just what I can afford!

    • NO KIDDING!! Frugal is the word of the day and Free and Frugal go hand in hand!! I’m glad it was clear to you. If you get to trying it, I’d love to see what you end up designing!


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