An Introduction to Layers in GIMP – The Interface

When working on any project in GIMP larger than a few simple tasks, layers become vital to keeping one’s sanity.  For starters, layers allow for quick changes and easy edits.  The more comfortable you are with layers, the more you will find that they are useful.  Through this multipart tutorial, I plan to share as much as I can about the power of using layers.  This first part is a fairly basic one to get everyone comfortable with the basic use of layers.  Even though it is called “The Interface”, I don’t plan on going too deep until later parts of the tutorial.


A) The New Layer button does just that, it allows you to create a new layer.  New layers will appear above the currently selected layer.

B) The Raise and Lower buttons allow you to move the layer up and down the list. Personally, I tend not to use these buttons because layers can also be dragged up and down in the list, which I find to be much faster and convenient.

Below: The layer ‘Green Circle’ has been moved from below ‘Orange Rectangle’ to above it.



C) If you just need to make a small change to a layer, but still want the original to fall back on, the Duplicate Layer button is for you.  Once again, another button that does exactly what it sounds like it does — it copies the currently selected layer and inserts a copy of it above.

D) Don’t want a layer? Just click the Delete button.  You can also drag the layer onto the button.


E) Most of the time, the active layer will be listed here. Occasionally other information will be shown here, generally relating to the active tool.

F) Layer Visibility.  When the eye is shown, so is the layer.  A single click toggles the visiblity.

G) The active layer will always be highlighted.  Any changes performed will affect this layer.

H) Layer Preview.  Use this to quickly get an idea of what the layer holds.

I) Layer Name.  When working with just a few layers, I generally don’t name them, either because I have so few, or because I know the preview will give me a good idea of what the layer hold.  With that said, it is still a good idea to name all your layers to prevent confusion.  The easiest way to do this is to double click on the current name.

As mentioned at the start, this is only a brief introduction to the interface.  Look for the next part later this week.  (Ok, who am I kidding, it will probably be next week after SELF.)

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