Monday, September 24, 2012

What's the Deal With Layers, Anyway?

I'm assuming at this point that you've downloaded GIMP to your computer and you're all ready to get started.  True?

If you haven't, go do it now!  Get it right here.

If you're working on a Windows box, make sure you get the package that says, "Installer for Windows XP SP3 or later".

Download the .exe file and install like you would any other program.  Keep the defaults, click Next, Next, Next, Next (and however many more Nexts there are) and Finish.

If you did it correctly, Wilber, the GIMP mascot--the dog/fox/mouse-looking guy with a paintbrush sticking out of his mouth--should be hanging around on your desktop as an icon.

If you're having trouble, leave me a comment and we'll see what we can do.

Alrighty then... once you have GIMP installed, we should jump right in, yes?  I know, if you're like me at all, you're chomping at the bit to see what all the fuss is about.  And we will.

But first things first.  We should understand what makes GIMP different.

Are you ready?  I always sort of feel like this should be in Marquee lights:

GIMP has LAYERING.  (Did you hear the angels sing just then?)

I think there are a bunch of folks out there who are completely freaked out about this layering business.  And I understand.  I was a little nervous, and it was a little foreign, and kinda bizarre, when I started, too.  But layering?  Y'all!  It's the best thing since sliced bread!

Let me see if I can explain it in a way that really makes sense.

Layering is what allows you to move everything around separately on your page.  Do you remember how it was in your paper scrappin' days?  Let's say you were doing a page for your youngest kiddo's first day of Kindergarten.  You might have had the following:

  • a 12" x 12" background paper
  • a round scalloped frame
  • the photo you loved most of the special day--you know, the one with the backpack that was bigger than he was?
  • a vellum rectangle with a quote about growing up, or school, or how great kids are, or something
  • an alpha set that spelled out S-C-H-O-O-L D-A-Z-E (or S-C-H-O-O-L D-A-Y-S if you were an English major, like I was and misspellings make you crazy)
Can you picture it?  You know how you laid out all of those things on that one background paper?  Then moved them around, and moved them around, and moved them around some more?  Maybe the frame started on the left side of the page and then you thought, "Wow, that would look so much better on the right," and over to the right it went?  Along with the photo that was underneath it?

And then you had S-C-H-O-O-L D-A-Z-E (or D-A-Y-S) spelled out in a straight line across the top?  But then you thought it might look better if it were arched, so you adjusted the S a little and followed with the rest of the letters up and over like a rainbow?  Then looked at it and decided it was better if the whole darned thing went down the left side of the page instead? 

The vellum might have started out to the right of the frame, but when you moved the frame over, the vellum  needed to go to the left.  And then when you moved your words down the left-hand side, the vellum needed to be below the frame.


Remember how you could move and adjust, and move and adjust, and move and adjust?  Each piece individually?  Right up until the time that you used some glue dots to nail those suckers down.

Layers... they're the magic that allows you to keep each piece free from the others.  They are, in the digital world, what lets you move (or rotate, or delete, or recolor, or resize) the frame separately from the vellum--what keeps each letter of the word S-C-H-O-O-L D-A-Z-E (just the S, for example) from being tied to the rest.

Layers mean freedom (forever) from glue dots and that, y'all, is the best news EVER!

Next... Some GIMP basics and your first page layout.

Stay tuned.


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