Chapter 12.  Toolbox

Table of Contents

1. The Toolbox
1.1. Tool Options
2. Selection Tools
2.1. Common Features
2.2. Rectangle Selection Tool
2.3. Ellipse Selection Tool
2.4. Free Selection Tool (Lasso)
2.5. Fuzzy selection (Magic wand)
2.6. Select By Color Tool
2.7. Scissors Tool
3. Brush Tools
3.1. Common Features
3.2. Bucket Fill
3.3. Gradient Tool
3.4. Painting Tools (Pencil, Paintbrush, Airbrush)
3.5. Pencil
3.6. Paintbrush Tool
3.7. Eraser
3.8. Airbrush Tool
3.9. Ink Tool
3.10. Clone Tool
3.11. Convolve (Blur/Sharpen)
3.12. Dodge or Burn
3.13. Smudge Tool
4. Transform Tools
4.1. Common Features
4.2. Move Tool
4.3. Crop and Resize Tool
4.4. Rotate Tool
4.5. Scale Tool
4.6. Shear Tool
4.7. Perspective Tool
4.8. Flip Tool
5. Color Tools
5.1. Color Balance Tool
5.2. Hue-Saturation Tool
5.3. Colorize Tool
5.4. Brightness-Contrast tool
5.5. Threshold Tool
5.6. Levels tool
5.7. Curves Tool
5.8. Posterize Tool
6. Other
6.1. Path Tool
6.2. Color Picker Tool
6.3. Magnify Tool
6.4. Measure Tool
6.5. Texttool
7. Color and Indicator Area
7.1. Color Area
7.2. Indicator Area
7.3. Active image Area

1.  The Toolbox

Revision History
Revision $Revision: 1972 $ 2006-02-09 j.h

The GIMP provides a comprehensive toolbox in order to quickly perform basic tasks such as making selections or drawing paths. The many tools contained within The GIMP's toolbox are discussed in detail here.

The GIMP has a diverse assortment of tools that let you perform a large variety of tasks. The tools can be thought of as falling into five categories: Selection tools, which specify or modify the portion of the image that will be affected by subsequent actions; Paint tools, which alter the colors in some part of the image; Transform tools, which alter the geometry of the image; Color tools, which alter the distribution of colors across the entire image; and Other tools, which don't fall into the other four categories.

(In case you're curious, in GIMP lingo a "tool" is a way of acting on an image that requires access to its display, either to let you indicate what you want to do by moving the pointer around inside the display, or to show you interactively the results of changes that you have made. But if you want to think of a tool as a saw, and an image as a piece of wood, it probably won't do you a great deal of harm.)

Most tools can be activated by clicking on an icon in the Toolbox. Some, however (namely, the Color tools), are accessible only via the menus, either as Tools->Color Tools or as Layer->Colors. Every tool, in fact, can be activated from the Tools menu; also, every tool can be activated from the keyboard using an accelerator key.

In the default setup, created when GIMP is first installed, not all tools show icons in the Toolbox: the Color tools are omitted. You can customize the set of tools that are shown in the Toolbox using the Tools dialog. There are two reasons you might want to do this: first, if you only rarely use a tool, it might be easier to find the tools you want if the distracting icon is removed; second, if you use the Color tools a lot, you might find it convenient to have icons for them easily available. In any case, regardless of the Toolbox, you can always access any tool at any time using the Tools menu from an image menubar.

The shape of the cursor changes when it is inside an image, to one that indicates which tool is active.

1.1.  Tool Options

Figure 12.1.  Tool Options dialog for the Rectangle Select tool.

Tool Options dialog for the Rectangle Select tool.

If you have things set up like most people do, activating a tool causes its Tool Options dialog to appear below the Toolbox. If you don't have things set up this way, you probably should: it is very difficult to use tools effectively without being able to manipulate their options.

[Tip] Tip

The Tool Options appear beneath the Toolbox in the default setup. If you lose it somehow, you can get it back by creating a new Tool Options dialog using FileDialogsTool Options and then docking it below the Toolbox. See the section on Dialogs and Docking if you need help.

Each tool has its own specific set of options. The choices you make for them are kept throughout the session, until you change them. In fact, the tool options are maintained from session to session. The persistence of tool options across sessions can sometimes be an annoying nuisance: a tool behaves very strangely, and you can't figure out why until you remember that you were using some unusual option the last time you worked with it, two weeks ago.

At the bottom of the Tool Options dialog appear four buttons:

Save Options to

This button allows you to save the settings for the current tool, so that you can restore them later. It brings up a small dialog allowing you to give a name to the array of saved options. When you Restore options, only saved sets for the active tool are shown, so you need not worry about including the name of the tool when you assign a name here.

Restore Options

This button allows you to restore a previously saved set of options for the active tool. If no option-sets have ever been saved for the active tool, the button will be insensitive. Otherwise, clicking it will bring up a menu showing the names of all saved option sets: choosing a menu entry will apply those settings.

Delete Options

This button allows you to delete a previously saved set of options for the active tool. If no option-sets have ever been saved for the active tool, the button will be insensitive. Otherwise, clicking it will bring up a menu showing the names of all saved option sets: choosing a menu entry will delete those settings.

Reset Options

This button resets the options for the active tool to their default values.