Thursday, December 22, 2016

Writer Life: Starting Over with GIMP (Part 1 - Creating a New Canvas)

So, today, I downloaded the newest version of GIMP—figured I couldn’t do a useful how-to for folk new to the program without having the version they were most likely to have downloaded. So, with great trepidation, I uninstalled the version of GIMP I was using – 2.8.0 – and downloaded 2.8.18.
I’d read the changes the developers had noted, and they looked pretty daunting. GIMP has never been an easy ride for me. And then I took the ‘Download GIMP 2.8.18 directly’ option, and crossed my fingers.

One of the things I noticed after the uninstall, was that all my GIMP picture files remained, but were blank. This is pretty scary for someone who is as much a know-nothing when it comes to this sort of thing, so I kept those fingers crossed and let the download complete, before hitting the setup.exe file, and following the directions all over again.

That part was easy.

Of course, the first thing I did was to click on a recently created file to see if it would work with the new version. I figured if it didn’t, I could always do another uninstall and then reinstall the old version. Fortunately, I don’t have to do that; the files from 2.8.0 open just fine in 2.8.18. Phew!
Next thing was to get moving on testing out the new interface, and that’s what today’s blog post is all about, so, here we go.

First thing, this new version of GIMP looks very similar to the older version I’m used to. This is a big relief. I note it does have the option for putting the picture and the docks in a single window, though. I prefer having the image window separate because I usually use two screens. Today, though, I’ll put everything on one screen so you can see how this looks.

NOTE: I used the single window option under the ‘Windows’ tab to see what it looked like.

I don’t like it, but you might. I unticked the option, and discovered that the separate ‘docks’ or menus remained together. I kinda like that, so I think I’ll keep it. That, and I haven’t worked out how to separate it yet. Give me time; I already have an idea of how to do this, but I just want to get moving on the whole ‘how-to’ thing.

This is how it looks when you untick the ‘Single Window’ box.

Creating a Cover in GIMP

To start with, I’ll just go through my normal cover creation steps, and see how they look in this new version.

Ready? That’s great, because I’m not sure I am. So, here we go.

Step 1: Create a new canvas.

You do this by clicking on the ‘File’ tab at the top of the picture screen.

This creates a drop-down menu, which I can’t work out how to snip, but I’m sure you can find the first option down ‘New’. Click ‘New’.

This gives opens a pop-up window titled ‘Create a New Image’.

You will see that it has a space for a template. This is very cool, but doesn’t have the settings I usually use for a cover. I will see if I can create a template for that, though. When I do, I’ll let you know. For the moment, ignore the Template dropdown.

Under Template, you have ‘Image Size’, followed by ‘Width’ and ‘Height’. It is set to a default measurements of ‘px’ (or pixels).

Width is where we are going to make the first change. If you double click on the numbers in the box beside Width, you can highlight the whole number and type in the number you want. For a cover, I use a width of 1875 px.

Height is where I make the second change. Change the current measurement to 2850.

The pop-up now looks like this:

Under the Height and Width options, you will see a header titled ‘Advanced Options’ with a little square next to it. Click on Advanced Options. Your pop-up window will expand to show the resolution of the final picture. Resolution helps measure how clear your picture will come out when it is printed or displayed.

A cover requires a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. The default setting for the X and Y resolution of your image is 72. This is not acceptable as a cover resolution for most of the platforms selling e-books. You will need to change it.

The minimum resolution is 300 dpi for most sites. I use 600 dpi. dpi stands for ‘dots per inch’. A pixel is a dot. The default setting in GIMP is pixels/in. I leave this as it is.

To change the X and Y resolution, you triple click in the box next to each setting. This will highlight the number inside. Do this for the X resolution box, and then type 600. This will change the number in the Y resolution box, as well. You will notice a little chainlink to the rightof the box. If you click on this, you will break it, and then the number in one box will NOT change when you change the number in the other box. In general, though, it is best to leave this link alone.

Below the resolution, you will see Color space. It is automatically set to RGB color. Leave this as is, since it is the color scheme compatible with the most web sites.

For the moment, I leave the ‘Fill with’ option set to its default, but I’ve noticed an option I’d like to experiment with, so I will fiddle with that later, and then blog the results.

The Comment box has ‘Created with GIMP’ for its text. I usually leave this, but then add ‘by C.M. Simpson as the cover for’ and then I put in the title of the story I’m creating the picture for.

When you’re happy with the details for the new image, click ‘Okay’.

You will end up with a screen like this:

I was originally going to post this as one very long post, but Blogger got a little grumpy, so it is not in four parts. I'll post two today, and two tomorrow.

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