Episode 108: A lot of Paths

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The path tool icon - scaled up and sharpened insanelyPaths are a powerful tool in GIMP – and not so easy to understand. So I’ll make a two part series out of them.

Paths are Bezier curves and are controlled by anchor points and handles.With enough time and determination you can give them any form you want. A path can be generated with the path tool, from a selection and from a text in GIMP. And it can be stored and even exported as a SVG file.

So they do fit more into a vector based program like Inkscape. If you use them for drawing something, ask yourself if you are using the right tool.

Gimp has a good documentation about path basics , the paths tool, the dialog and the paths menu.

The last part of the video is edited in a hurry – you’ll notice some blunders.


01:10 Path concept
03:05 Adding the Path dialog in GIMP
04:20 Adding a path with the Path tool
05:50 The Paths dialog
06:40 Turn a path into a selection
07:20 Stroke the path
07:50 Path context menue
08:40 Turn a selection into a path
09:40 Turn a text into a path and back
11:50 Put a text on a path
14:30 Don’t use GIMP for vector graphics
15:00 Wrapping up

Creative Commons License
Meet the GIMP Video Podcast by Rolf Steinort and Philippe Demartin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://meetthegimp.org.

12 thoughts on “Episode 108: A lot of Paths

  1. GIMP is an adequate vexel illustration app. I use Photoshop, Illustrator and Inkscape for illustration work, but there are a lot of things about GIMP that I enjoy. Vectors will never be pixels, and vice-versa.

    So even though some might not consider it the ideal tool for vector-style illustration, here’s an example in GIMP:

    WIP: http://www.friendlyskies.net/currentdesktop.png
    WIP in a composition: http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkfriedrice/2805210344/

    …anyway, that’s 100% Gnu Image Manipulation ;-)

    There used to be a plugin that I used there to do the background sky. It would render clouds and the sun, and was very nice…sadly I don’t have it around anymore.

  2. Well, even though GIMP allows some vector operations you’ll always have to consider that you save a pixel image in the end. So the best advantage of tools as Inkscape is will be lost…

  3. You’re right, Gimp don’t have any pretension to go against vector graphic software like inkscape, but the fact that you can export, and save path, give to gimp the”bridge” capacity to stand at the border between pixel and vector and ease the cross edition.

  4. Well, you’ve guessed it Philippe… Three weeks ago I was creating a drawing in Inkscape. Then I wanted to apply a perspective to it and recognized that Inkscape can’t do this (it has a tool for it but it wasn’t working the right way). So I simply exported the drawing, imported it in GIMP as a path, applied the perspective tool, exported the path again and imported it in Inkscape. I was so impressed how cross-compatible those programs are…

    Rolf, that was one of the best shows in the last months! You’ve shown so many important steps. Maybe one thing to say: the stroke path tool has not only the solid line setting as you did several times in this video. It can also apply the current brush to the path and emulate the brush dynamics. So if you set hardness, opacity and size to random, choose a fancy brush and apply it to your path you will get a nice border e.g. You can find a nice example at http://www.gedankenquirl.de/gallery/index.php?twg_album=Blog%2F768___080702+Kongsberg+Jazzfestival&twg_show=DSCF0048.JPG

  5. Hi, I made many times the download of .mp4 and all times when I open in totem movie player says that the file is incomplete… I’ve proved open in VLC, but this isn’t audio. thanks

  6. Please check the file with md5sum in a terminal window.

    xxx$ md5sum meetthegimp108.mp4

    the result should be:

    215823284c106cfb79925cda80ba0553 meetthegimp108.mp4

    If it is, the download is complete and the file not corrupted. Then the error is in your system. If you get a different result, the download is at fault, Then try:

    xxx$ wget http://meetthegimp.org/torrents/meetthegimp108.mp4

  7. Thanks so much for this awesome tutorial! I had always wondered how paths work and I’ve been following the show for a while on miro. I know putting this show together takes a lot of time and patience and I really appreciate all the work you’ve put into it. This is so much better than reading the docs, especially for new users who aren’t so computer literate. You kick ass!

  8. I love the path (Bezier) tool! Once you learn how to use it to draw a path, you can make any path you want, however complex it may be.

    I have some .FLV videos that I’ve made for the highschool Info Tech (a.k.a. computers) classes that I can share with you Rolf. One set of videos on the path tool demonstrates how to use it in Macromedia Freehand, the other set demonstrates a possible usage in GIMP.

    The only issue is with the Freehand videos, the file that I use to demonstrate the technique of the pen tool is not my own file. I used some files from an Adobe Illustrator course that I took many years ago. The techniques are the same, but it’s not my document – it’s a reproduction of documents that I used to learn the path tool. I’m happy to let you view the videos though.

    The GIMP videos are my own of course so if you’d like to use them, please let me know.

    If you’re interested in my offer, email me and I can make those files easily accessible for you.


  9. I use the path tool ALL the time. I work in weird, hand-tooled text images, and it allows me a level of control that I really like. I am really looking forward to Episode 2, covering the control mechanisms. i am pretty good with the Paths tool, but I hope to learn a trick or two I did not know about (a regular happening when watching MTG).

  10. Pingback: MTG: Эпизоды 3 квартала 2009 « Блог фотолюбителя :)

Anything to add from your side of the computer?