The Ultimate GIMP Guide. Learn Professional photo editing.
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The Ultimate GIMP Guide. Learn Professional photo editing.

Want to do the things the pro's are doing? From 0 to hero! Learn retouching and eBook cover design in GIMP in easy steps
Best Seller
4.7 (91 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
694 students enrolled
Created by Bernard 't Hooft
Last updated 7/2017
Current price: $10 Original price: $195 Discount: 95% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 8.5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 Article
  • 53 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Install GIMP and make it look and act as Photoshop!
  • Improve and correct photos at a professional level
  • Learn retouching like a pro!
  • Let the program remove objects
  • Save images for use on the web, for print, and make PDF's
  • Make eye-catching e-book covers with use of blending modes!
  • Create professional black and white images
  • Learn Liquify (weightloss/facial reconstruction)
  • Learn professional skin retouching with 'frequency separation'
  • Learn how to select hair
  • Patterns, gradients, HDR photography, brushes, tablet use, and much more!
  • No previous knowledge needed!
View Curriculum
  • I start from the very beginning, so when you are new to photo editing, that's no problem! Also, in the lectures I will show you step by step, how to install and configure GIMP to make it look and act as Photoshop!

Have you always wanted to do the things the pro's are doing? Now you can!

Welcome to the most in depth Gimp course on Udemy. In this course I will cover all aspects of photo editing, I have learned in the last 15 years working in the field of professional photo editing, and I will leave no stone unturned. I will show you everything in easy to follow steps. 

In this Gimp course 'The Ultimate GIMP Guide', you will learn: 

How to install GIMP, how to configure GIMP to make it look and act as Photoshop, how to improve and correct photographs professionally, how to work with layers, how to crop images, how to resize images, how to save images for web, how to save images for print, and how to make PDF's. You will learn professional retouching, like skin retouching with frequency separation, Liquify (for example to make someone thinner), how to let the program remove objects, and how to remove objects with the clone and heal tool.

You will learn how to use masks, and how to make selections. In Section 5 (Google plugins) you will learn how to make professional 'single click' selections using the 'U-point technology', that give photorealistic results (this is not possible in Photoshop). You will learn how to use text, how to make e-book covers, how to sharpen an image, how to create professional black and white images, and how to remove noise. You will learn everything about blending modes, selecting hair, gradients, patterns, using a tablet, brushes, dodging and burning, color theory,  and much more! 

And if you have ANY questions, please let me now. I am here for you!

Who is the target audience?
  • Anyone who wants to be able to adjust photographs at a professional level
  • Anyone who wants to learn professional retouching
  • Anyone who wants to make eye catching e-book covers
  • This course is made for the Windows user
Compare to Other GIMP Courses
Curriculum For This Course
71 Lectures
Install & configure GIMP
5 Lectures 34:12

Welcome back, and thank you for joining this course!

Preview 00:27

In this lecture we will download and install GIMP and the User Manual. We will set GIMP to 'Single-Window Mode', and Pin the program to the taskbar. 

Installing Gimp, and setting 'Single-Window Mode'

In this lecture we will download and install several plugins, that will expand the functionality of Gimp. These are: 'Resynthesizer', 'Save for Web', a Photoshop Theme, the 'layer-via-copy' plugin, and Photoshop's shortcuts. 

Resynthesizer is used to remove objects. Save for Web helps to efficiently save images for use on the internet. The Photoshop theme will change the look of Gimp to that of Photoshop. The layer-via-copy plugin makes the process of making a copy of a part of an image, and placing this copie to a new place (or layer as it is called), identical to how it works in PS. And we will replace Gimp's shortcuts, with Photoshop's shortcuts. 

Installing plugins

In this lecture we will make the user interface of GIMP look like that of Photoshop. We will adjust the Tools panel, and configure the panel groups. You will learn how to add and remove panel tabs. We will adjust the behaviour of the Move Tool, the Color picker, the Clone Tool, the Healing brush Tool, the Rotate Tool, the Scale Tool, The Perspective Tool, the Shear Tool, and the Rectangle and Ellipse select tools.

Configuring User Interface

In this lecture we will go into the Preferences and adjust the Keyboard shortcuts, and adjust the content of the Toolbox. 

Configuring Preferences
Working with Layers and color
16 Lectures 01:33:01

In this lecture we will look at how to open files in GIMP. You will learn how to bookmark a folder for quick access. We will look at different ways to sort and filter the content of a folder.

Opening files

Layers are the heart of an image manipulation program. Layers let you work 'non-destructively'. In this lecture you will learn all aspects of layers, such as creating new layers, changing the stacking order of layers, naming layers, duplicating layers, linking layers, hiding layers, deleting layers, and changing the opacity of layers. 

Preview 10:48

In this lecture you will discover what the 'background' layer in GIMP and Photoshop is. You will learn how to add an alpha channel to it, to turn the background into a normal layer. 

The 'background' layer

Smooth navigation in an image manipulation program lets you work convenient and efficient. In this lecture we will look at zooming and panning. You will learn how to quickly fit an image on the screen, and how to view an image at it's real or actual size. 

Zooming and panning

In this lecture you will learn everything you can do with brushes. You will also learn how to make your own brushes.

Using the paintbrush

In this lecture you will learn everything about the special effects you can achieve with brushes. We will also look at how to download creative brushes.

Brush special effects

In this lecture you will learn how to connect a tablet to GIMP, and how to adjust the sensitivity of the tablet inside GIMP. 

Using a tablet

In this lecture you will learn how to undo multiple steps. You can visually go back in time in the History panel, without losing any work. We will also look at memory (RAM) management. 

The history panel

Image manipulation programs are all about color. How to select color, and how to change color. In this lecture we will discover how color is manipulated, by looking at the HSV color model.

HSV color

In this lecture we will look at additive versus subtractive color. RGB stands for: red, green, and blue, and is an additive color model. RGB is the color a digital camera uses, as well as a screen. In this lecture you will discover how it is possible that combining red, green, and blue information results in all possible colors.

RGB color

In this lecture we will look at how to make images lighter and darker with Levels. You will learn how the Levels histogram helps you with improving images. You will learn what clipping is and how to prevent it. And we will look at how to color correct with Levels. We will explore three methods to remove color casts; adjusting channels, the Auto function to optimize the color channels, and using the black, grey, and white point pickers.


Curves is Levels on steroids. Instead of adjusting just three tonal areas, you can create as many tonal areas as you want, yourself. You can also create tonal areas by selecting them directly in your image. Working with the separate color channels, now gives unlimited possibilities for color correction. 


In this lecture we will look at how to increase the contrast of an image. We will also discover the relationship between Brightness-contrast and Levels and Curves.


With Hue-saturation you can adjust all three colors components, as described in the HSV color model: Hue, Saturation, and Value. With this powerful tool you can rotate the color wheel for all colors at the same time, and for individual colors. You will learn how to shift an individual color to another color. We will also look at how to improve images by increasing the saturation, and how to darken or lighten specific colors. You can also make a black and white image with Hue-saturation. 


In this lecture we will look at how to sample or pick a color from your image, using the Color Picker. You can sample a single pixel, or take an average of several pixels. You can define how large the area is you will take the average from. 

Using the Color Picker

In this lecture we will look at how to save a file that has layers, which is in Gimp's native .xcf format. You can later open this master or work file again, and continue working with the layers. 

Saving work file
Making selections
10 Lectures 01:33:38

In this lecture, we'll look at the Rectangle and Ellipse select tool. A selection looks like a row of 'marching ants'. Everything that is INSIDE a selection, is selected, everything that is oustide a selection, is not selected. Inside a selection, you can darken or lighten the content, change the color, and the saturation. You will learn how to combine selections by adding, subtracting, and intersecting them. 

The Rectangle and Ellipse select tool

With the Free select tool (often called 'Lasso'), you can quickly draw selection shapes by hand. You can draw by dragging, or clicking. The Free select tool is often used for adding, subtracting, and intersecting with another selection, to improve it. 

The Free select tool

The contour of real world objects such as people, flowers, or cars, exist of mainly curved lines. With the the Paths tool, we can conveniently select these curves. After drawing a path, we turn it into a selection. In this lecture, you will select a mug, by drawing a path around it. With a little practice, you will quickly start to recognize the natural existing sine forms, so you won't draw more curves than needed. 

The Paths tool

Another way to select is to make a selection based on color similarity. When you click in your image with the tool, you will select colors that are similar to the color you click on. How different a color has to be, before it is included in the selection, can be set under Threshold in the Tool Options. The higher the Threshold, the more colors that will be included in the selection, and so the larger the area of the selection will be. 

The Select by color tool

In this lecture, we look at different methods to improve a selection. We will also look at how to turn a selection into a Path. 

How to Improve selections

Another way to make a selection, is by painting it. This is useful for isolating objects that don't have a hard edge. With the Quick mask, you can clearly see the inside, and the outside of the selection, because of the red overlay. With a soft brush you can create a soft transition for the edge of the selection. Painting with black will make the selection smaller, and painting with white will make the selection larger. When we have a selection, you can press Ctrl-J to place the selected content on a new layer. 

The Quick mask

In this lecture, we'll look at a non-destructive alternative for using Ctrl-J: the layer mask. With Ctrl-J, the pixels outside of the selection, are discarded. This is called destructive, because we are losing pixels from a layer. Losing pixels from a layer also means losing the ability to make changes later on. The way to leave all the pixels of a layer in tact, when isolating an object, is by using a layer mask. A layer mask is a second, black and white image, that is added to a layer. A layer mask will store the selection that you made. This way, no pixels have to be deleted. They are just hidden by the mask. The mask is very flexible, because you can hide and show content of a layer, at any time. 

The Layer mask

In this lecture we'll look at some common uses of layer masks. We will do a local color correction with the use of a layer mask. We'll look at dodging and burning with the use of layer masks. And we will place an image inside text using a layer mask. 

Uses of Layer masks

Sometimes we can use the information of the red, green, or blue color channel. In this lecture we will look at how to get a selection from a channel. We'll also look at how to invert a selection. 

Selecting Channels

To select hair, we need the best contrast we can get, between the hair and it's surroundings. We do this by looking at the channels. We choose the channel, that gives the best contrast for the hair. Creating a mask is done by increasing the contrast a lot, and so forcing the hair pixels to become back, and the surroundings to be white. In this lecture, we'll discover the technique to do this. When the mask is ready, we'll invert the mask. Then we'll remove the fringing. Fringing means, that if the subject, that has been cut out, is placed against a DARKER background, than it was originally in, at some places you will see a light halo around the hair. We'll detect and remove this fringing. 

Selecting hair
Cropping, Resizing, and more
15 Lectures 01:56:23

When you're cropping an image, you're removing image space that you don't need. In this lecture you will learn how to use the crop tool. 


By resizing an image, you are changing the pixel dimensions of that image. Normally, resizing means reducing the amount of pixels, which makes the image smaller on screen and smaller for print. In this lecture we will look at how to resize for screen and for print. 


In this lecture we will look at how to save images for use on the internet. The different web file formats are: jpeg, png, and gif. You will discover wich image type suits which file format best, in order to get the highest quality, and the lowest file size. 

Preview 05:55

In this lecture we will look at how to save an image for professional print, for example in a magazine. 

Save images for print

In this lecture we will look at four ways, to transform the content of a layer; Scaling, Rotating, Skewing, and Perspective. We will place an image on a laptop screen, that is placed in perspective. To do a 3-D transformation, you use the Perspective tool. We will also look at how to transform selections and paths. Then we will look at how to rotate layers, and how to rotate the canvas. And we will look at how to straighten a picture of a landcape with a skewed horizon, with the Measure tool. 


In this lecture we will look at the Text tool. We will look at Justifying text (left, right, centered, and filled), line spacing, adjusting individual characters. selecting words and paragraphs, working with a text frame, kerning text, and how to turn (kerned) text into a path, so that the text can be transformed in a 3-dimensional space. 

Using text

Most fonts have special characters, often referred to as Glyphs. In this lecture we will install a Glyphs panel, with which you can quickly find a special character, bullet point, or icon. 

Preview 03:48

Blending modes are very powerful. Blending modes are different ways of looking through a layer to the layers below, without lowering the opacity of that layer. There are blending modes that will darken underlaying layers, and blending modes that lighten up underlaying layers. There are also blending modes that make underlying layers darker and lighter at the same time, increasing the contrast of the underlying layers. In this lecture and the next lecture, we will discuss all blending modes. 

Blending modes (1)

In this lecture we will look at the color blending modes. We will see how the Hue blending mode can correct undesired color shifting as a result of a Value adjustment with Levels or Curves. And with the Value blending mode, you can make color corrections in Levels or Curves without colors becoming lighter or darker. 

Blending modes (2)

Blurring is used for many things. It can be used to create depth of field, professional skin retouching with frequency separation, vignetting, tekst effects, glows, drop shadows, motion blur, and Bokeh. We will also discover the Smudge tool, with which you can smear pixels like wet paint. 

Methods for blurring

A gradient is a color transition from one color to another color. To create a gradient, you use the Blend Tool. Gradients can have different shapes, like Linear, and Radial. You can also use a gradient inside a layer mask, to blend images together. In this lecture we will create a gradient with several colors. And we will look at how to change the relative distances between the colors. 

Making gradients

A pattern is a small image, that is being repeated inside an area, until that area is filled up with the pattern. To fill a layer or selection with a pattern, simply drag a pattern icon on the canvas. Patterns can also have transparancy. In this lecture we will create a water pattern ourselves. To make the pattern seamless, we will use a filter. At the end of the lecture, I will show you where to download high quality, free seamless patterns. 

Making patterns

A duotone image is an image that is built up of two colors, normally a single color, and black. Duotone is often used to create a sepia-effect. In this lectures we will make different duotones. 

Making duotone images

The PDF format is a globally used format for sharing digital content, that contains both images and text. PDF stands for 'Portable Document Format'. 'Text' in a PDF ducument, is real text, and not pixels. The PDF format is not only optimized for viewing on the screen, but also for print. No mátter which size you print, the text will allways be sharp. In this lecture we will look at how to save in the pdf format. 

Saving as a PDF

Gimp can open Photoshop native psd files, and save Photoshop psd files. Gimp reads layers, masks, and paths. In the Gimp 3.2 release Gimp will also have layer styles and Adjustment layers.

Saving as a Photoshop file
Google plugins
11 Lectures 01:19:30

The Google Nik Collection, is a high-end photo editing plug-in suite, used by professional photographers all over the world. In 2016, Google announced that they will make the entire Nik Collection a FREE download, in order to get unique and powerful photo editing tools, once only used by professionals, out to more people. In this lecture we will Download and install the software, together with a plugin, that will let you work with the Google Nik Collection from within GIMP. 

Download and installing

In this lecture we'll explore the interface of the Google Nik software, and start with making global adjustments. We will explore two powerful adjustments tools: Shadow Adjustments, with which you can brighten up an underexposed image, and Structure, with which you can bring back color and contour in an overexposed image. 

Making global adjustments

The heart of the Google Nik Collection, is it's patented single-click selection method, called 'U Point technology'. Using Control Points, you can select an object, simply by clicking on it. The selection you get, will give photo-realistic results. The U Point technology makes photographic editing fast, easy, and intuitive, as we will see in this lecture in Viveza 2. 

Making local adjustments

If you want to continue working on the image, at a later point, you can save your work as a Recipe, with all the settings and placed masks in tact! In this lecture you will learn how. 

Using recipes

In this lecture we will look at some of the many filters the Google Nik collection has to offer. These filters are often used by professional photgraphers. We will look at filters that make images look warmer and sunnier, filters that bring the greens in nature images to life, color correction filters, and some powerful contrast enhancement filters, inside Color Efex Pro 4. 

Adjusting color and structure

The Nik suite also has creative filters, to get a different look and feel for your image. They can also be very useful to give an e-book cover a special look, as we will see in this lecture. We will look at Light Leak filters, motion-, zoom- and rotate blur, and the Bokeh filter. You will discover how to manipulate text from out of Gimp, inside Analog Efex Pro 2. 

Using creative filters

In this lecture we will look at several vignette filters and adjustable image borders the Nik suite has to offer. We will also look at how to add film grain, which makes, for example a black and white image, look like it has been shot with film. 

Making vignettes

Silver Efex Pro 2, which is one of the eight Nik collection plugins, is considered to be the most powerful black and white plug-in on the market, and is used by many professional photographers. With it, you can make professional looking black and white images, in just a few clicks. In this lecture, we will also look at ways to bring contrast in areas where contrast is missing. 

Making professional black and white images

In this next lecture we will look at reducing digital noise, which often becomes visible in the darker areas of an image. We will look at the flexible ways you can reduce noise with Dfine 2. 

Remove noise

In this lecture we will look at how to sharpen an image with Sharpener Pro 3. Apart from sharpening normal images, the Nik Collection also has a pre-sharpener, which is for RAW images. In this lecture we will look at how to sharpen an image with the sharpening controls Structure, Local Contrast, and Focus. 

Sharpening images

If you want, in a situation with a bright sun in the background, and very dark shadow areas, to make a picture that exactly shows, what you are able to see with your eyes, you will have to make more than one picture; a darker picture, and a lighter picture. This is because our eyes, are about twice as flexible as a camera. Then you combine these darker and lighter images inside a special HDR program, in our case HDR Efex Pro 2. If you have only one, preferably somewhat darker image from a scene, you can still open it in HDR Efex to improve it. 

What is HDR photography?
6 Lectures 39:08

With the Clone Tool you can copy one area of an image and paste it onto another area. This technique is often used to remove elements from an image. We will look at when to clone with a soft brush, and when to clone with a hard brush. 

Using the Clone tool

Heal selection is Gimp's variant of Photoshop's Content aware healing. In this lecture we will remove different objects. 

Remove objects with Heal Selection

The Clone tool and Heal tool differ in one essential way: the Heal tool doesn't transfer Hue and Saturation, but only Value. This means, only the structure is brought over, which is very valuable for retouching. As we will see, the Heal tool works well in situations with color variations.

Using the Heal tool

In this lecture we will look at a professional skin improvement technique, called Frequency separation. With Frequency separation you can make skin look smoother, without losing the texture of the skin. The way this is done, is by splitting a layer, into two separate layers. One of these layers will only have the color information, and the other layer will only have the value information. And it is on the value layer, where the skin texture will be visible. So if we smoothe the skin by blurring the Color layer, we won't affect the skin texture. In the texture (or value) layer, we will improve the skin texture where this is needed, by removing texture irregularities with the heal and/or clone tool.

Professional skin retouching with frequency separation

IWarp is Gimp's variant of Photoshop's Liquify. It can be used for fun, like making someones eyes really big, but when used subtly, like professional retouchers do, it becomes a serious retouching tool. In iWarp you have six different brushes: the Move brush, the Grow brush, the Shrink brush. Swirl clockwise and Swirl counter clockwise, and the Remove brush. 

Liquify with IWarp

Dodging and burning is the technique of selectively lightening and darkening an image. When you dodge an area, you make that area lighter, and when you burn an area, you make that area darker. In this lecture we will use the Overlay method of dodging and burning. There are two advantages of his method, over the mask method. First, there is no pre-set limit to the depth of the dodging and burning. And second, you don't have to switch layers, because you're working on just one layer. 

Dodging and burning
Making e-book covers
3 Lectures 38:06

In this lecture we will make the first e-book cover. We will look at the 'aspect ratio' of an e-book cover, and at the pixel dimensions. We will make a template of an e-book cover, that we can quickly open from out of the 'Open' menu of GIMP. We will look at how to set Guides, and how to work with the rulers. We will install high quality, free fonts, that we will use for making the cover. When we're finished, we will also look at how our e-book cover looks like on Amazon's website. 

Make a basic e-book cover

For our second e-book cover, the focus will be on the use of blending modes. We will look at how to use Google images, to find images that can be used commercially. Two websites where you can find high quality and high resolution images that can be used commercially are and We will let shine light through our text, using different blending modes. 

Make an e-book cover using blending modes

To finish the e-book cover, we will a Vignette, brighten up shadows, and give text some glow, using blending modes. 

Finish an e-book cover using blending modes
Gimp specifics
4 Lectures 06:37

In this course I've tried to take away the differences between Gimp and PS. The differences that remain are described in this chapter. I will explain why these differences are there, and how to deal with them. In PS, you can't walk through the layers with the arrow keys, in GIMP you can. As a consequence, for using the same arrow keys to move the content of a layer, first the focus has to be brought to the canvas..In this lecture I will show you how to do this conveniently.

Focus in GIMP

Líke in PS, a tool, will stay ACTIVE, until you choose, another tool. In GIMP, color correction tools like Levels and Curves, can also be placed in the Tool bar at the left, and are therefore also considered tools. Because I have left them out the Tool bar, the tool bar doesn't show them when they are used. The fact that they are still active after closing their window, will be visible though in the Tool Options. So when a Color adjustment opens after clicking on the canvas, just click on the tool you intended to use, for example the Move tool, and the color adjustment window will close automaticly. 

The active tool

In this course, we have used the Photoshop way, of pasting pixels. Pressing Ctrl-C, and Ctrl-V, I will result in a new layer, with the copied content. This is the same behaviour as in PS. However, it is not the default way of pasting in Gimp. Gimp by default gives a 'Floating Selection' layer when pressing Ctrl-V. By clicking on the Create a new layer icon you turn it into a normal layer. And when you click on the 'Anchor the floating layer' icon, the Floating Selection layer will be merged down to the layer below. The Floating Selection is Gimp's version, of Photoshop's Ctrl-J. Ctrl-J however needs only one step, so two steps less, to get the same result.  

The floating selection

In Gimp, a layer has a boundary, called the layer Boundary. By default, the layer Boundary has the same size as the image itself. When the content of a layer is made smaller, for example by scaling, the layer Boundary will shrink, together with the layer content. If you now want to paint or clone on this layer (normally you would use a new layer for this, to work non-destructively) outside the layer Boundary, you have to go to: Layer > Layer to Image Size. Now you can paint on the whole layer. 

The layer boundary
Bonus Section
1 Lecture 00:15

I hope you enjoyed the course. If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. I hope to hear from you. See you in the discussion board.

Thank you!
About the Instructor
Bernard 't Hooft
4.7 Average rating
319 Reviews
6,947 Students
2 Courses
Instructor for professional photo editing

Hi, my name is Bernard 't Hooft. Thank you for checking out my course!
I have a passion for photo editing, and a passion for GIMP, the free and open source photo editing program. I have over 15 years of experience with professional photo editing, and teach photo editing with GIMP at the VolksUniversiteit in the Netherlands. Now I have gathered my knowledge into two great GIMP courses. 

I hope you enjoy them as much, as I had making them! If you have any questions, please ask me. I am here for you!