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GIMP Tutorial on How to do Selective Coloring

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Tutorials Aims

As usual my tutorial is aimed at people who have no prior knowledge of GIMP. My aim in this tutorial will be to enable someone to follow in my footsteps and achieve the same end result as me.

I want complete beginners to be able to follow the tutorial. So there will be little assumed knowledge and I will explain each step.

Screen shots will aid the explanations. I have highlighted the relevant areas so that they are easily identified.

The illustrations will also help you find where things are in GIMP.

GIMP software is freeware. GIMP is a free alternative to PhotoShop. GIMP is powerful enough to do many of the things that PhotoShop can.

There are many versions of GIMP available I use GIMP 2.6 . This version of GIMP can be downloaded from http://www.gimp.org

For some reason the GIMP link will not work as a link but if you copy and paste it into your browser it will take you to the site.

Tutorial Photograph

This is the photograph I will be using for this tutorial.

You are welcome to use this photograph if you want to follow this tutorial.

To use this photograph just right click on this photograph. Select the save image as option and place it somewhere on your computer where you can find it.

Tutorial Photograph

gimp-tutorial-on-how-to-do-selective-coloring

What GIMP looks like

When you open up your GIMP program for the first time you will notice that it is slow to open. But bear with this as it is well worth the wait.

There are three separate windows a workspace, tool bar and the layers palette.

You can arrange these windows how you like this is how I have laid mine out see fig one.

I like this layout because it is similar to the layout in Jasc PSP and in PhotoShop.

This layout helps me because I find things are still where I expect them to be.

If you want to see a large picture click on it. I have enabled the 'View original size on click' option on each of the screen shots.

fig one

gimp-tutorial-on-how-to-do-selective-coloring

Open up your chosen image

To select an image to work on we go to file. You will find file at the top of your GIMP page on the left-hand side.

Click on file and you will be presented with a drop down menu, see the left hand side of fig two.

Click on open and you will be presented with another window see left hand side of fig two. Go to where you have put your image and click on it.

Scroll to Continue

When it is highlighted blue then click on open. This will bring your image into your workspace.

fig two

gimp-tutorial-on-how-to-do-selective-coloring

Your page should now look something like this see fig three.

fig three

gimp-tutorial-on-how-to-do-selective-coloring

fig four

fig four

fig four

Make a copy

We need to make a copy of this background layer.

We do this by going to the layer palette, which is on the right hand side of your screen.

Your screen should now look like fig four.

If it does not look like this check that the first icon is selected. The icon looks like a grey stack of paper.

If this is not the icon selected then you will see something different. We need to have this first icon selected for our purposes.

This icon is the top left hand side and I have highlighted icon on fig four.

Click on this icon to select it.


fig five

fig five

fig five

fig six

fig six


To make a copy of the background layer go to the bottom of the layer palette.

Here you will see an icon that looks like two computer screens one on top of the other.

Click on this icon and this background layer will be copied. Your layer palette should now show two layers.

The top layer is called Background copy. The one underneath is Background these names are given to these layers by GIMP. See fig five.

We are only going to use these two layers. So usually I would not bother naming these layers.

But so that you will know how to name a layer I will show you how to do this.

I will show you how to give the background copy layer a new name.

When editing an image that requires many layers open it is good to give those layers names.

Try to give the layer a name that reflects what you are doing on the layer.

To select the background copy in the layer palette click in the picture. It should turn blue showing that it is selected.

To the right of the picture you can see the text background copy with a lightly drawn box around it.

Place your cursor somewhere inside the text inside the box and double click on it.

Now the text ‘background copy ‘ is highlighted in blue all you need do now is type the name you want to give the layer.

In this case I have given this layer the name desaturate because that is what we are going to do next.

Your layer palette should now look like fig six

fig seven & fig eight

fig seven

fig seven

fig eight

fig eight

Desaturate

Select the layer named desaturate because this is the layer that we are going to work on.

Next go to the tool bar that runs along the top of the page and click on Colours. From the drop down menu select Desaturate. See fig seven

Clicking on Desaturate will open a new window. It invites you to choose shade of grey based on... and it gives three options.

Lightness, Luminosity and Average see fig eight.

I have chosen Luminosity and you can see that a little dot has appeared in the circle next to Luminosity. The dot next to an option shows that the option is selected.

Click on each option in turn. As you click on each one you will see the photograph change each time.

I chose luminosity because I thought that this effect suited our photograph best.

If you like one of the other two options better then choose that one instead.

When you have chosen click on OK. This will turn our photo into a black and white image.

But it is only changed on this layer, the background layer underneath will remain in colour.

Our image should now look like fig nine below

fig nine

gimp-tutorial-on-how-to-do-selective-coloring

fig ten & fig eleven

fig ten

fig ten

fig eleven

fig eleven

Selective Colouring


We are now going to uncover the colour on the background layer but only of the workman.

We could do this by using the eraser tool. But I prefer to do this by using a layer mask.

I prefer a layer mask because it allows me to edit in a none destructive way.

If I use the eraser tool and I make a mistake it is not as easy to undo that mistake as it is using a mask.

The bit that I have mistakenly erased is gone. I can't just paint that bit back. I have to go back to the place where I made the mistake. Only there can I undo the step.

Undoing a mistake can be a laborious and time consuming task.

Backtracking means that all the work you did after the mistake will also be lost. But this does not happen using a layer mask .

On a mask layer we can undo or change what we have done at any point.

Go to the tool bar at the top of the screen and click on layer. From the drop down layer,click on mask.

This will open a further drop down menu and from this menu choose Add Layer Mask. See fig ten

Clicking on Add Layer Mask opens another window. On the top of this window you will see that the layer that you are adding a mask to is identified.

In this window there are seven options. Choose the first option White (full opacity) when you have selected this click on Add. See fig eleven

Add Layer Mask

We are now going to uncover the colour on the background layer but only of the workman. We could do this by using the eraser tool but I prefer to do this by using a layer mask.

I prefer a layer mask because it allows you to edit in a none destructive way. If you use the eraser and you make a mistake you can’t just paint back the bit you have just erased.

If you don’t discover your mistake right away you will have to back track until you get to the point where you made the mistake in order to put it right.

This also means that all the work you did after the mistake will also be lost but this is not so with a layer mask.

Go to the tool bar at the top of the screen and click on layer from the drop down layer, and then click on mask. This will open a further drop down menu and from this menu choose Add Layer Mask. See fig ten

Clicking on Add Layer Mask opens another window and on the top of this window you will see that the layer that you are adding a mask to is identified.

In this window there are seven options choose the first option White (full opacity) when you have selected this click on Add. See fig eleven

fig twelve

gimp-tutorial-on-how-to-do-selective-coloring
gimp-tutorial-on-how-to-do-selective-coloring

Using the Layer Mask

Congratulations you have now added a layer mask to the layer named desaturate. In order to use the layer mask it is important that you select the mask to work on and not the desaturate layer itself.

Click on the desaturate layer and click in the photo see A in fig twelve, you will see that there is a white line around the box with the photo in.

This white outline tells you that it is the layer itself that is active and not the mask.

To the right of the photo icon you now have a white box this white box is our mask. In fig twelve A the white box has a black outline showing that it is not selected.

At the moment our mask is white but as we work on the mask you will see this icon change as we paint black onto the mask.

Click inside the white box and this will select the mask see fig twelve B the white outline is now around the white box and the photo icon has the black outline.