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    Standard photo retouching in GIMP


    The post Basic Photo Retouching in GIMP first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Ana Mireles.

    Do you feel that your photos are good but not great? Do you think something is missing in your images? You may need a small post-production to give your images the boost they need to catch the eye. Keep reading to retouch some basic photos in GIMP – a free software – that will make your photos stand out.

    Standard photo retouching in GIMP

    GIMP is an image editing software that you can download for free. If you are not familiar with it, check out my previous article, A Brief Introduction to GIMP. You can do many things with it. To get you started, I decided to make a quick overview of the most common photo editing adjustments.

    To turn

    Usually you take a photo without a tripod, you will certainly tilt the horizon line to one side. You can easily solve this common problem with the help of the rotation tool. First, you may want to enable the visibility of the grid. To do this, go to View -> Show Grid. If you want to make it wider or narrower, go to Image -> Configure Grid.

    GIMP. Configure the grid

    To straighten the image, click the rotate button in the toolbox to open the tool settings window. You can then drag the slider or type in the desired angle. The last two options are to reposition the rotation center point if you want. You can also do this by dragging the image yourself.

    Standard photo retouch in Gimp. Rotate tool


    After rotation or other transformation methods such as perspective, some parts of the canvas remain empty and you must cut them out. To do this, click the Crop tool in the toolbox and drag around the part that you want to keep. The portion that is cut out is shaded. To fine tune the selection, click and drag the edges. If you are satisfied, click on the image to apply the crop.

    Harvesting tools

    To monitor the composition during cropping, you can use a number of guides as a reference point. For example, to play with symmetry, set a guideline at 50%. You can also set one to 33% and another to 66% if you want to follow the third-party rule. You can do this by right-clicking on the image window to open the main menu. From there you have to go to Image -> Guides -> New guide per percent.

    Guides per percent


    For retouching it is always best to work on layers. That way you can always go back if you don't like how it goes. First make sure that the layer dock is visible. If this is not the case, open it from Windows -> Dockables.

    From there you can add a new blank layer from the blank page icon. Duplicate the current layer with the symbol of 2 squares, or remove it by dragging it to the paper shredder.

    Standard photo retouching. Create and manage layers

    By the way, if you don't want to cancel the entire process you've done on a layer, you can go to the Undo tab and do it step by step. The Undo tab keeps a history dialog assigned as a dock with your latest actions. If the dock is not there, you can open it from Windows -> Dockables.

    Standard photo retouching. Undo

    Color adjustments

    If your image is not properly exposed, you can find the adjustment tools to correct it in the Color menu. Right-click the image window and choose Colors to open it. Then choose the tool that best fits the adjustment you need to make. Consult the article Let your photos shine with GIMP to view these options in more detail. For now I will only show you the Levels tool, which I think is one of the most versatile.

    Standard photo retouching in GIMP. Tools for color adjustment


    With Levels you can correct the color balance and tonal range of your image. GIMP offers you various choices to change the levels from the same window. You can move the sliders, enter the underlying values, use the pipettes to set the brightest, darkest, and midtones, and even use automatic mode. They all make similar changes, but they can be more or less precise.

    Don't forget to check the preview box so that you can see the changes before you apply them.

    Standard photo retouching. levels


    You can also apply a wide variety of filters; from correcting, for example, sharpening an image to special ones such as coffee stains. You can find all these options in the Main menu -> Filters.

    Feel free to experiment with them.

    Standard photo retouching in GIMP with filters

    Finally, you can switch to multiple Windows mode (in case you are not using it) by going to the Windows -> Single Window Mode menu and removing the check mark. Then open the original file and a second window will open with the image, so that you can compare the images before and after images side by side.

    GIMP. Before and after

    I hope you have learned some useful tips to improve or improve your images.

    If you want to do more in-depth work on GIMP, view the tutorials:

    • How to replace a Sky in GIMP
    • Change content aware format to GIMP

    Did you use GIMP? what's your opinion? Do you have any other tips to share in the comments? We would love to hear from you.


    The post Basic Photo Retouching in GIMP first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Ana Mireles.

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