By Kate Smith
15 Sep 2015

Creating Graphics with Gimp — Tutorial Tuesday

Content Creation     Content Marketing     SEO Strategy

Welcome to another Tutorial Tuesday! Today I’m going to show you how to make a blog image using Gimp.

Gimp is a design program similar to PhotoShop but a little less user-friendly and a lot more free (as in completely free).

Welcome to another Tutorial Tuesday! Today I’m going to show you how to make a blog image using Gimp.

Gimp is a design program similar to PhotoShop but a little less user-friendly and a lot more free (as in completely free). Gimp’s a little less intuitive to use compared to options like Canva simply because it actually has a huge range of functions for most types of graphic design-- it just takes a little bit more know-how to get around than some freemium programs.

If you put in the work to learn Gimp, you’ll have more control over the images you create.

You can download a copy of Gimp here:

As a quick note, there’s no autosave in Gimp, so save your image via the toolbar or “ctrl+s” often. If there’s a power surge or something and you have to re-do all of your work, you will be VERY sad.

Let’s get started!

Tutorial Tuesday Banner

Step 1: Open up Gimp

When you open Gimp, it should look something like this:

Labels screenshot

Note that you have three windows here:

  1. Toolbox -- This is where the most commonly used tools can be accessed easily. This window is your friend.
  2. Canvas -- This is where your image will open. All of the work you actually do will be done in this window.
  3. Layers -- This is where you can keep track of what elements and layers you have active on your canvas. We won’t use this window much for this tutorial, but it’s very useful for more complicated projects.

Step 2: Open your background layer

First you need your background image. It’s easiest to save an image to your computer so that you can open it by selecting “File” in the toolbar and then “Open”:

Tutorial screenshot

From here you should be able to choose your image from wherever you’ve saved it and hit "Open". I named my image “birds” on account of the birds:

Tutorial screenshot

Your background image should open on its own canvas, fit to size:

Tutorial screenshot

Step 3: Add text

To add text, you’ll need to access your "Text Tool". You can find your Text Tool in your Toolbox window:

Tutorial screenshot

Select it from your Toolbox window like so:

Tutorial screenshot - tool options

With the Text Tool selected, click pretty much anywhere on your canvas to lay down a text layer. Maybe it’s just me, but mine always shows up very tiny on my canvas. No matter! Go ahead and type your text, even though it’s text for ants. Don’t worry about typos-- you can fix those later.

You can’t see it properly yet, but I chose a Han Solo quote for this tutorial because I’m left unsupervised for long stretches:

Tutorial screenshot

Note: You might notice a helpful floating toolbar that appears above your text box at this point:

Tutorial screenshot

It would be overly dramatic to say that it’s a trap and isn’t helpful at all. But I will say that I’ve had, at best, varying success with changes made in this toolbar consistently taking effect on the canvas.

With that in mind, I’d suggest working out of your Toolbox window instead, as I’ve done in this tutorial. Or give it a try and tell me what I’ve been doing wrong. You do you.

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Step 4: Adjust text

Look to your Toolbox window again. Since your text layer is currently selected, your Toolbox will have now have options for your Text Tool under the “Tool Options” section. This is where you can make adjustments to your text:

Adjust text example screenshot

There are only three adjustments we’ll mess with right now for your text.


Adjust text example screenshot


Adjust text example screenshot


Adjust text example screenshot

Step 4a: Adjust text size

First mess with your text size (so we can see the dang thing). In your Toolbox, double click the box beside “Size” to be able to enter a new size value:

Adjust text example screenshot

Input a value and hit enter to finally get a  good look at your text. I took a shot in the dark and put 200, which ended up looking alright, but you might need to fiddle a bit to get the text the size you like.

Tutorial screenshot

Step 4b: Adjust text color

Once your text is a goodly size, you can turn your attention to its color. Again in your Toolbox window, click the box beside “Color”:

Adjust text color example screenshot

A new mini window will pop up with a whole array of things to play with:

Adjust text color example screenshot

You can either tinker until you find a color you like or look up the HTML notation number for a specific shade you want and enter it in:

Adjust text color example screenshot

I went for white, or HTML notation #FFFFFF for the cool kids. Once you’re happy with your color, hit “Ok”.

Step 4c: Adjust text font

Finally, choose your font. In your Toolbox window, you’ll find a text box with the name of the default text, in this case “Sans”. If you know the name of the font you want, you can type it into that text box:

Adjust text font example screenshot

If you want to play around a little with fonts, click the graphical “Aa” and scroll through that drop-down list of font types:

Adjust text font example screenshot

Be advised that Gimp doesn’t have all of the texts in the world pre-loaded into it. There are ways to upload a font into Gimp, but I sure as heck ain’t covering that process here. Try this video walkthrough:

I chose “Segoe Script Bold” as my font because it reminded me of a motivational poster:

Adjust text font example

Step 5: Move text layer

To get your text where you want it, select your “Move Tool” from your Toolbox window. It looks like a little Cartesian coordinate plane:

Adjust text font example screenshot

With the Move Tool selected, grab onto your text box and drag it where you want it to go. It can be a little finicky, so make sure that the dashed border around your text box is solid before dragging or you’ll probably drag your background right off the canvas:

Adjust text font example

If you’re struggling with this, you can select your text box layer in your Layers window before clicking on it in your canvas:

Adjust text font example screenshot

Sometimes that helps.

Step 6: Add image

Now let’s talk about if you’d like to add a graphic, say Linkarati’s logo. Again, it’s easiest if you save your desired graphic to your computer.

To open it on your canvas, go to your toolbar and select “File” and then “Open as Layers”:

Adjust text example screenshot

Just like when you opened your background, choose your image from where you saved it on your computer and then hit “Open”:

Adjust text example screenshot

And just like your text box when you first made it, your image will probably open really, really ridiculously little:

Adjust font example screenshot

Step 7: Adjust image

To make this image visible to people larger than Tom Thumb, select your “Scale Tool” from your Toolbox window:

Adjust font options example screenshot

Then click on your tiny little image, which will prompt a pop-up window:

Adjust font example screenshot

Before you go messing with dimensions, make sure you click this thingamabob here...

Quote scale image that it looks like this:

Adjust font example screenshot

This will lock your dimensions so that you don’t distort your image to some grotesque shadow of its original self.

To adjust the scale, bring your cursor to one of the image’s corners and pull until it’s the size you want and then click “Scale”:

Adjust font example screenshot

To move your image, select your Move Tool again and drag it around just like you did for your text box layer.

Step 10: "Export As" - Saving the Image as a .jpg

Gimp uses a weird file type by default, .cxf. To save your image as something more common, head to your toolbar and select “Export As”:

Adjust font export screenshot

This will prompt a window where you can rename your file and select where it will save to. Most importantly, it will allow you to select what kind of file you’d like to save it as.

To do this, click the little “+” next to “Select File Type”...

Adjust font screenshot

...which will drop down into a list of options:

Export options screenshot

The most common choice, of course, will be .jpg, which is what I chose.

When you click “Export” it will prompt you with one more window regarding image quality:

Export screenshot

Higher quality images will be bigger files and take up more space on your computer, but I do recommend jacking up that quality slider to “100” before hitting “Export” again:

Export screenshot

Now you should have a copy of your beauteous image on your computer, wherever you saved it. Mine popped up on my desktop like so:

Desktop screenshot

And it opens into a nice, manageable .jpg image when you click on it:

Export screenshot


So there you go! You should have a lovely image that will bring some serious visual interest to your blog post -- or to your social post, or as a promotional image, or as a computer wallpaper (and before you ask, yes, of course you can use my Han Solo image for your computer).

Again, Gimp may not be quite as user-friendly as its web-based counterparts like Canva and Pablo, but it has way more horsepower. If you put in the effort of learning to harness that horsepower, Gimp will take you farther. You’ll be able to make far more ambitious images with all kinds of fancy things like wrapped text and customized graphics. It’s more DIY and requires more forethought and skill, but poke around and see what you can achieve.

This Tutorial Tuesday is just the tip of the iceberg.

Happy designing!

Kate Smith

Kate Smith is a Content Marketing Specialist at Page One Power in Boise, Idaho. When not at work Kate enjoys obscure movie trivia, reading Shakespeare, and the occasional zombie video game. Sometimes all three at once.