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Paint.net to GIMP?

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Hello, I need some help moving over to GIMP. I recently switched over to Linux (Arch) and on my little netbook and the program that I've been missing the most, is Paint.net. I use this computer for portable web development and I have no clue on how to use GIMP. I wish I could get wine to work (it freezes constantly) and install Paint.net through that, but since it keeps on freezing, it just isn't an option. Any excellent switching guides would be helpful.

Thanks! =D

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The GIMP is a beast. It's a powerful beast, but one that takes time to tame. Without knowing exactly what your working style is, I'm not sure how best to help, but I'll cover a few basics.

If you were a heavy user of keyboard shortcuts in Paint.NET, I'd recommend spending time with The GIMP's keyboard shortcut mapper (Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts). You can change, remove, and assign custom shortcuts to just about anything, from dialogs to tools to effects filters.

As for brushes, The GIMP comes with a default collection of brushes in various diameters, but I find it handy to create at least one custom brush that I can manipulate independently. At the bottom of the Brushes dialog (Shift+Ctrl+B by default) is a row of five buttons. The second button creates a new brush and brings up the Brush Editor. This dialog is dockable, and I usually put it as a tab behind the Tool Options dialog for easy access. You can do this by clicking on the title "Brush Editor" and dragging it over onto the title of your currently selected tool at the top of the dialog under the tools bin. The editor has six brush controls, but the ones I use most often are Size and Hardness. Size works just like the Paint.NET brush size controls, while Hardness adjusts the spread of the alpha painted by the brush.

Layers work similarly to Paint.NET, except for the fact that GIMP layers are allowed to be sized differently than the canvas itself. They can be smaller or larger than the visible area, and can have any part of them dragged off the visible canvas without losing the data on the layer outside of the canvas bounds. The layer boundaries are denoted by a black and yellow dashed line by default, but I tend to turn that off (View > Show Layer Boundary) because it annoys me.

While the Right Mouse Button in Paint.NET is used to access alternate tool functions, in The GIMP the RMB brings up a context menu. You can get at alternate tool modes by a combination of Shift, Ctrl, and Alt. For example, let's take Rectangle Select: before you begin drawing a selection, holding Shift changes the selection mode to Addition, holding Ctrl changes the mode to Subtract, and holding Shift+Ctrl changes the mode to Intersect. After you've begun drawing the selection, the modifier keys take on new functions - the mode is locked in, so any modifier keys can be released without consequence. While drawing a selection, the Shift key locks the aspect ratio of the new selection, and Ctrl changes the drawing mode to Expand From Center, which draws the selection area with your origin as the midpoint, expanding outwards equidistantly to your cursor position.

As for selection tools, you've got your basic shapes (Rectangle and Ellipse), as well as the the Lasso, Magic Wand, and Select By Color tool. The Lasso serves as both freeform selection and point-to-point selection - click and release to create a selection point, click hold and drag to draw a freeform selection boundary. Either method can be used at any time, and can be used in combination while drawing a single selection region. The Magic Wand and Select By Color tool together perform the same functions as the Magic Wand in Paint.NET. The difference is, while in Paint.NET the Shift key with the Magic Wand changes the mode from Contiguous to Global, in The GIMP the Magic Wand is strictly Contiguous and Select By Color is strictly Global.

For Manipulation tools, you've got the Move, Rotate, Scale, Sheer, Perspective, and Flip tools. Move, Rotate, and Flip are pretty self-explanatory, and Perspective can provide an effect similar to that of Paint.NET's Layers > Rotate/Zoom. Any of these tools can be changed to manipulate the current layer, selection, or path. For example, in Paint.NET you would use the Move Selected Pixels ( :MoveTool: ) tool to move, scale, or rotate the current layer contents, and you would use the Move Selection ( :MoveSelectionTool: ) tool to move, scale, or rotate the current selection. In The GIMP, you would select the tool for the type of manipulation you wanted to perform, then change the mode of that tool to affect the Layer (default), Selection (hold Alt), or Path (hold Ctrl).

The Paintbrush and Pencil tools are quite similar, with the exception of The GIMP's ability to use custom brushes. One feature of Brush tools is the ability to draw point-to-point. This would be equivalent to the Line function of the Line/Curve tool in Paint.NET. For example, if you click to make a point with the Pencil tool, holding Shift will begin a point-to-point line from that position to your current mouse position. This line method can be used with any tool that uses the Brush (Paintbrush, Pencil, Eraser, Airbrush, Ink, Clone, Healing, Blur, Smudge, and Dodge/Burn tools), and the line can be constrained to 15-degree increments by holding Ctrl.

To draw Curves, The GIMP uses the Path tool. This tool creates paths with Bezier handles to define lines. To make a curve, click and hold to create a point, then drag away from the point to create the Bezier handles. These handles define the trajectory of the point, and the length of the handles defines the amount of influence that trajectory has on the path. You can go back and pull these handles around at any time to redefine the path and get it right. It's difficult to explain unless you've used a vector image tool before, so it's probably easiest to create two points, then play around with the handles and see what they do. Note that these paths are vector data, and as such do not exist on the raster canvas by default. To create a Paint.NET-like Curved line from them, click the "Stroke Path" button in the Paths dialog under the tool bin. Here you can set up the width of the line, or you can tell it to draw using the current settings and behavior of any of the Brush tools.

The Fill tools (Paint Bucket and Gradient) are also quite similar, with a few exceptions. In Paint.NET, the Gradient is dynamically editable until you commit the fill, while in The GIMP the gradient is finalized as soon as it is drawn. You must undo and redraw if you'd like to change the gradient trajectory or length. With the Paint Bucket, in Paint.NET, the Shift modifier serves as a Contiguous/Global switch similar to the Magic Wand, while in The GIMP, the Paint Bucket is always contiguous. Instead, the Shift key functions as a temporary Tolerance override, allowing you to overwrite everything in the current selection. This would be like using the Backspace key to fill a selection in Paint.NET.

As I said, The GIMP is a beast. I've been using it for the last 7 or 8 years, so I've got all my keyboard shortcuts and brush customizations exactly the way I like them. It'll take time to learn, but if you have any questions, I'll be happy to try and answer.

I am not a mechanism, I am part of the resistance;

I am an organism, an animal, a creature, I am a beast.

~ Becoming the Archetype

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