How to make shapes in Gimp

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Matthew Wilhelm Kapell
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Even though GIMP, the image editing application, is not a drawing program, you can still use it to create various geometric shapes. That said, GIMP doesn't have a built-in shape tool, so the only way to create shapes in this program is manually.

There are two methods for drawing straight lines and geometric shapes in GIMP, and both will only take you a few minutes to learn. In this guide, we'll show you how to create circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles in GIMP using different tools.

How to make a circle

The easiest way to create shapes in GIMP is to use the Selection Tool. There are two built-in selection tools: the rectangle selection tool and the ellipse selection tool. To make a circle we will use the Ellipsis selection tool.

The first thing to do is to create a new document.

  1. Open GIMP on your computer.
  2. Select the "File" tab in the upper left corner of the window.
  3. Click on the “New” option from the drop-down menu.
  4. Choose the image dimensions and click the "OK" button in the pop-up window.
  5. Go to the lower right corner of the program and click on the "Create a new layer" icon.
  6. Select "OK".

    The reason you need to add a new layer before creating a shape in GIMP is that you will be able to move the shape around the document. If you create a shape directly on the background, you won't be able to move it later.
    Now that the canvas is ready, it's time to make a circle. But before doing that, we need to choose the foreground color and the background color. This is how it's done:
  7. Go to the "Tools" tab in the top menu and select "Toolbox" from the drop-down list.
  8. Find two colored boxes under the toolbox in the left sidebar.
  9. Choose the foreground color (the color of the circle) and the background color (the color of the canvas).

    Notes: The foreground and background colors are black and white by default.
  10. Select the "Ellipsis Select Tool" from the toolbox.
  11. Click on the canvas and drag the edge of the circle to make it the desired size.
  12. Switch to the "Edit" tab above.
  13. Choose "Fill with FG Color" from the list of options.

Your circle will appear on the canvas. You can use the Ellipsis Select tool to create round or oval shapes. If you want to create a circle that is just an outline (no fill color), here's what you need to do:

  1. Select the "Ellipsis Select Tool" from the toolbox.
  2. Draw the circle on the canvas by clicking on it and dragging the line.
  3. Go to the "Edit" tab again.
  4. Choose “Stroke Selection…” from the list of options.
  5. Select the line type (solid color, pattern, or anti-aliasing).
  6. Determine the width of the line.
  7. Click on the “Process with paint tool” box.
  8. Choose the “Paint” tool.
  9. Select the "Race" button.

The circle will only have an outline, with the foreground color you selected. If you want to change the dimensions of the circle after creating it, just click on its border and drag it until you are happy with the size.

How to make a triangle

GIMP only lets you create shapes with the Rectangle and Ellipsis marquee tool. Since there is no selection tool to make triangles, it's a bit trickier. The tool you will need to create a triangle is the free selection tool. Follow the steps below on how to do this:

  1. Open a new blank canvas in GIMP.
  2. Create a new layer by clicking on the "+" icon.
  3. Go to "Tools" in the top menu and select "Toolbox".
  4. Click "Free Selection Tool" in the toolbox on the left sidebar.
  5. Left-click on the blank canvas to start the first line.
  6. Right click to release it.
  7. Click again with the left mouse button to create the second side of the triangle.
  8. Repeat this process until you have linked all three lines.
  9. Press "Enter" on your keyboard to select the triangle.
  10. Go to the “Bucket” tool and click on the triangle to color it.

That's all we can say about it. You have successfully drawn a triangle in GIMP.

How to make a square

Making a square in GIMP is no more complicated, and it will only take you a few seconds. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Open GIMP and select "File" from the top menu.
  2. Go to the “New” option and select “OK” to open a blank document.
  3. Click the "Create New Layer" icon in the lower right corner of GIMP.
  4. Go to "Tools" in the top menu and choose "Toolbox".
  5. Access the "rectangle selection tool" in the left sidebar.
  6. Click the “Expand from center” box in the lower left corner.
  7. Click on the blank canvas and create a square tool by dragging its borders.
  8. Go to "Edit" in the top toolbar.
  9. Choose the “Fill Outline of Selection” option from the drop-down list.
  10. Click "Solid Color" in the pop-up window.
    The square will immediately be colored in the default foreground color, which is black. If you want to change the color of the square, here's how:
  11. Select the "Bucket" tool from the toolbox.
  12. Click on the foreground color box.
  13. Choose a new color for your square and select “OK”.
  14. Click on the square to color it.

If you want to create a perfect square, you can set a fixed aspect ratio in the toolbox. You can do this by going to the lower left corner of GIMP and clicking the down arrow next to “Aspect Ratio”. To create a square, choose an aspect ratio of 1:1.

How to make a rectangle

Making a rectangle in GIMP is very similar to making squares. Let's see how it's done:

  1. Launch GIMP and select the "File" tab in the upper left corner of the program.
  2. Open a new blank document.
  3. Go to "Create a new layer" in the lower right corner.
  4. Next, go to "Tools" and select "Toolbox" from the drop-down menu.
  5. Select the "Rectangular Selection" tool.
  6. Check the “Expand from center” box.
  7. Click on the canvas and drag the edges to the desired length.
  8. Go to "Edit" and choose "Fill with FG color".

Another way to create rectangles or any other shape in GIMP is to use the Brush Tool. This is how it's done:

  1. In the toolbox, find the “Pencil” tool.
  2. Choose the "Brush" icon from the "Tools" options menu.
  3. Find the "Brush Type" that suits you.
  4. Under "Hardness", select "100".
  5. Modify the height and weight of the rectangle.
  6. Click on the canvas and drag the edge until you have the desired rectangle size.
  7. Left click on the rectangle to save it.

Create Lines and Shapes in GIMP

GIMP can seem quite complicated for novice users. But once you get the hang of it, you can use this program to create circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, and any other shape you can think of.

Have you ever created a shape in GIMP? Have you used any of the methods described in this guide? Let us know in the comments.

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