December 26, 2012

Graphics Studio #1 + Important Notice

I'll do the important notice first to get it over with. To everyone who planned to come to my party tonight:

I have WAY more stuff to do than I thought when I first posted this party. Yes, even after Christmas it can be hectic, and I'm sure you all have things to do as well. It was a tough decision, but I've decided to cancel the party. I may still finish the house and post up a tour since it looks really awesome. Happy holidays, and thanks so much to all of you.

Whew. That's done. Anyway, I'm introducing The Graphics Studio! This series of step-by-step illustrated GIMP tutorials starts you at beginning, and takes you through everything you'll need to know to make something you'll be proud of. 

Lesson 1: The Basics

So, you want to be a graphics artist? First, you'll need to download GIMP, which is a free image manipulation program. You can download the newest version, GIMP 2.8 (which is what I use) here. (Click the first link.) Warning: when you first try to open GIMP, it may not respond for a while. When you get the little pop-up window that says close or wait for a response, just click "wait" every time. Patience is key. 

To start, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+N. You should get this pop-up window:
Creating a new image. Read the comment.
When you click OK, you should have three windows open in GIMP. One is your new untitled image. One shows the layers and brushes (we'll get to those later.) The last one shows all the tools. Here's a picture of them: 
Although many of these are great, many are also useless. You'll only use a few of these during your GIMP experience. Ignore the selection.
They can be really confusing without explanation. Chances are, you'll only use less than half of them. Here's what they are: 
The one that looks like a gray rectangle is the rectangle select tool. You click and drag to select a rectangular area. This tool is useful for pop-out images and is necessary for these specific types.
The one that looks like a gray oval is the ellipse select tool. You click and drag to select an elliptical area. This tool is occasionally used for smudging, but not much else and is rarely used.
The one that looks like a lasso is the free select tool. You click and drag carefully to draw a shape to select. This tool is extremely useful and is good for rendering. It's used very often.
The one that looks like a magic wand is the fuzzy select tool. You simply click an area and it "magically" picks out a selection for you. This can be used for rendering and is quick and easy, but produces sloppy results and is usually never used.
The second row includes four tools that are practically useless.
In the third row, the one that looks like an eyedropper is the color picker tool. You click an area in the selected layer and it makes the color you clicked on your foreground color. This is useful when you want a specific color that is in the image and is often used.
The one that looks like a magnifying glass is the zoom tool. You can select to zoom in or out, and it's very useful when rendering or when you need to do intricate detail and is used very often.
The next ten tools are various manipulations that can come in handy. The move, rotate, scale, and flip tools are used often, while the others are very rarely used. 
The one that looks like the letter A is the text tool to type in text on your image. This is another essential tool that is used very frequently.
The one that looks like a bucket is the fill tool. You click on the layer and a whole area is filled in with one color. This is used occasionally.
The one that looks like a two-color square is the gradient tool. You click and drag to gradually fade one color into another. It's really useful and is used very often.
The one that looks like a pencil is the pencil tool. It's not much different from the paintbrush, except that it has less options. Because of that, it's almost never used. 
The one that looks like a paintbrush is the paintbrush tool. You click and drag to draw custom shapes, and special brushes that look like pretty much anything can be downloaded to put in your image. It's used often but not as much as you might think.
The one that looks like an eraser is the eraser tool. You click and drag to erase things you don't want in your image and is used very frequently.
The one that I have selected is the airbrush tool. It seems to be another drawing tool, but it doesn't really work for me. Use the paintbrush instead.
The one that looks like a bottle of ink seems to be yet another drawing tool, but has different and confusing settings. Use the paintbrush instead.
The eighth row is very rarely used.
In the ninth row, the one that looks like a hand is the smudge tool. You click and drag to create a smudged effect in your image. It's only used in special images where you specifically want that kind of effect.
The last one is the dodge and burn tool. You click and drag to lighten and darken areas of your image.

Whew! That's a lot of tools! Now that we've gone over those, here are the most essential keyboard shortcuts you'll need. (Don't worry, there aren't as many of those.)
Ctrl+N: New image
Ctrl+S: Save image
Ctrl+Shift+S: Save image as
Ctrl+Z: Undo
Ctrl+Y: Redo
Ctrl+A: Select all
Ctrl+Shift+A: Select none
Ctrl+I: Invert selection
Ctrl+X: Cut
Ctrl+C: Copy
Ctrl+V: Paste

That's all for today. Come back later for Lesson 2: Textures and Layering! Comment if this helped you!

- Sophia E

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