VGMaps

General Boards => Mapping Tips/Guides => Topic started by: TerraEsperZ on September 13, 2012, 05:14:11 PM

Title: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 13, 2012, 05:14:11 PM
Okay, so taking GSA's advice, I've decided to give GIMP a try as my main mapping program. However, seconds after opening a file, I'm already frustrated by the apparently convoluted method needed to simply paste an image from the clipboard while removing a specific colour making the removed portion "transparent".

As I'm fond of saying, MS Paint is great because it's fast. I always use #FF00FF as the "transparent" colour of every file I save. When I'm pasting lots of images like sprites or anything where a portion must be transparent, I only need to make #FF00FF the background colour, select the "Transparent Background" icon and anything I paste will have that colour disappear.

From the various tutorials I've read about GIMP, I'd need to select and then remove the background colour every time I paste a selection. Isn't there an easier way? How hard can simply pasting something correctly be?

Seriously, I'm already willing to pull the plug right there with using GIMP as my primary paint program. I'm probably going to do like Peardian and do more of my work in Paint with the final assembly taking place n GIMP.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: GSA on September 13, 2012, 08:50:31 PM
It's not harder, but there's a paradigm shift you need to get used to.

The thing you need to know is: In GIMP, "transparent" is not a color, it's a channel. So, instead of having 3 channels (Red, Green, Blue), you have 4 (Red, Green, Blue, Alpha).
This brings a few advantages.

To answer your question, all you need to do is: Instead of saving your images with a purple background (#FF00FF-FF), just save them with a transparent background (#xxxxxx-00)! PNG supports having an alpha channel. (See the sprite I attached for reference.)

Just to make sure I'm clear:
Your "Before" technique: Open an image, select "purple" as your active color, pick the paint bucket tool, click the background, save.
What your "New" technique should be: Open an image, pick the "magic wand" or "color picker" tool, click the background, press "Delete", save.

Then, when you'll paste stuff, it'll work exactly the same way.

Unfortunately however, GIMP won't be that great for your old files with purple background.

I hope this solves your issue. If there is anything else, just say so.

NB: If delete doesn't work (ie: you see no checkered background), that's because your image doesn't have an alpha channel. You need to add one by doing: Layer -> Transparency -> Add Alpha Channel. There is no shortcut by default but I highly recommend setting one up.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: DarkWolf on September 14, 2012, 09:36:53 AM
This is how it works with Paint.NET as well.  I'm not sure what kind of tools GIMP has, but in Paint.NET you can use the magic wand to select the background color then hit delete key and it will change the selection to transparent.  Most newer programs don't support the type of masking that MSPaint supported, and you'll need to start thinking in layers as well as using a transparent color for your background.

I stuck with MSPaint for quite a while when doing sprite or mapping stuff, and it's a bit of a pain to start with something new at first.  But it's worth it.  Mapping is much easier with layers.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 14, 2012, 02:51:30 PM
Sorry for the irritated tone in my opening post by the way. I'd really like to move from MS Paint but it's really aggravating when more modern programs make you jump through hoops to accomplish things that used to be so simple before.

And I perfectly understand the necessity for layers, I really do. I've become very efficient in MS Paint to end up with the results I get, and some things have become almost second nature to compensate for the lack of certain functions like "snap-to-grid" for example. But having layers to keep everything separated would be *so* nice.

But it just seems like a pain to think that I'll need to select and erase the background colour every time I paste a screenshot on a layer. I'd basically be forced to go from a simple keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + V) to that same shortcut *plus* clicking the [Select By Colour] tool, clicking the offending colour and pressing DELETE. It's not that much longer or harder for a single screen, but it's 4 or 5 times longer than with MS Paint. Doing this with hundreds of screen captures simply isn't efficient, which isn't to say that I see no value in using GIMP.

The ability to select by individual colour would eliminate my need for another program which I use almost exclusively for that. Also, alpha channel transparency would make certain effects much easier to pull off than with Paint Shop Pro 8 which didn't feature an alpha channel (I had to make do with a mask layer which complicated things a little).

Since GIMP seems to support scripts of some kind (haven't checked that part in detail), I wonder if it wouldn't be useful for me to see about making a script that would let me paste the content of the clipboard, then add an Alpha channel to the selection if there isn't one and assign an Alpha value of 0 to all the pixels that are of the current background colour. Otherwise, I'll still have to assemble the bulk of each layer in Paint and *then* do the actual layering in GIMP. I'm positive that would be faster in the long run.

This wouldn't be a problem for me. I'm used to having to rely on different programs when a single one doesn't do everything I need it to.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: GSA on September 14, 2012, 08:34:54 PM
But it just seems like a pain to think that I'll need to select and erase the background colour every time I paste a screenshot on a layer. I'd basically be forced to go from a simple keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + V) to that same shortcut *plus* clicking the [Select By Colour] tool, clicking the offending colour and pressing DELETE.

There is something I don't understand.

You said that you save your images with a purple background... But that purple background isn't there by default, right? You need to paint it.
Why can't you replace that step with "deleting the background" instead?

I don't see where there would be additional steps, it's just replacing one step with another.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 14, 2012, 09:43:23 PM
Several emulators allow you to disable individual layers, with the empty portions being replaced with either the overscan colour (the first colour entry of the first layer I believe) or the colour value of your choice. That means that when I'm capturing, let's say, the foreground of a stage, I'll end up with dozens if not more of screenshots with (hopefully) a unique colour value representing the "empty" area where another layer might show through.

So, it wouldn't be a problem for the elements I wish to keep aside like individual layers, sprites, fonts, tiles, etc, because I'm already processing them a bit before saving them. It's the dozens/hundreds/thousands of potential screen captures that need to have their background removed that would slow me down. That's why I'm thinking that the initial assembly would be quicker to do in MS Paint because every time I paste a shot the colour of my choice is automatically removed, leaving a transparent selection I can place anywhere with ease.

I really appreciate your help so don't take my whining personally. Sometimes I think I might just be a relic of a simpler time. I remember when I asked Peardian how to texture a bunch of polygons for a map. I was expecting something simple like "select polygon" and "assign texture" which would stretch the image to fill said polygon. But no, there's all this stuff about objects, materials, UV mapping, texture modes and offsets, anti-aliasing, lighting and who knows what else. It feels like needing to learn all about chemistry and molecular physics before being allowed to simply bake a cake using cake mix. Powerful tools are great to do complex work, but they suck when you just want to do something really simple.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: GSA on September 14, 2012, 10:25:06 PM
OK, I understand the problem for the screen captures assembly. But then, why don't you do this?

1- Assemble your screen captures while keeping the overscan color there.
2- Erase the overscan color only after everything* is assembled, so you only have to do it once.

*Edit for clarity: When I say "everything", I mean "the whole foreground of a given level".
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: Troy Lundin on September 17, 2012, 08:53:04 PM
If he doesn't remove the overscan color on each screencap, then it will overlap the main image. It has to be done for each screencap.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: GSA on September 17, 2012, 11:29:10 PM
If he doesn't remove the overscan color on each screencap, then it will overlap the main image. It has to be done for each screencap.

What do you mean by "main image"?

PS: I attached an image showing what I mean.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: Revned on September 18, 2012, 04:53:39 PM
Troy's right. My regular routine is
1) snap a screenshot
2) paste it into PS
3) crop off the black bars on the top and bottom of the screenshot
4) position the screenshot

Eventually I remove the background all at once, but step 3 is what Terra really wants to avoid. I usually end up doing it manually since I like mapping as I play, but if I take a million screenshots up front, I can crop them with a small shell script all at once and then happily place them all without step 3.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: Troy Lundin on September 18, 2012, 10:12:00 PM
PS: I attached an image showing what I mean.

I've always giggled at the selection lines when selecting a color. I know, I'm weird. :D

Edit: I understand what everyone is saying. Using the GIMP method, you would have to capture each layer separately, so that you can layer them in GIMP. With the screenshot method, you could just have the sprite layer disabled, so when you screenshot, you are actually grabbing multiple layers at a time. I think this is what Terra means.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: GSA on September 19, 2012, 12:16:30 AM
With the screenshot method, you could just have the sprite layer disabled, so when you screenshot, you are actually grabbing multiple layers at a time.

Of course, grabbing multiple layers at a time is preferred when possible. However, in many games, most notably on the SNES, the background doesn't move at the same speed the foreground does (it's called a parallax effect). When this is the case, if you don't capture them separately, you'll end up with pretty bad cases of background misalignment. This is where you need to use layers.

I didn't recommend GIMP only for this reason, but this was the question Terra asked in this thread. (It was about transparency and layers.)

Now, if you wonder why I recommended GIMP to Terra, it was to help improve his efficiency as explained in this post in the Solstice (NES) thread (https://www.vgmaps.com/forums/index.php?topic=1215.msg16203#msg16203).
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: Rekrul on September 19, 2012, 06:51:21 AM
I'm new here, and by no means a graphic expert, but I wanted to add my two cents to the discussion.

I was never an artist. I can't draw a realistic looking image to save my life. I'd say that any skills I have are more geared toward drafting and image manipulation than actually creating "art". I used to use Deluxe Paint on the Amiga to create diagrams, cassette inserts, code rings (the resolution wasn't high enough to create code wheels) for copy protected games, etc.

When I started using Windows, I tried using MS Paint and found it incredible frustrating. As a test, I took a simple cartoon image of an eagle in front of a flat US flag and tried to erase the eagle. It should have been a simple matter of copying parts of the flag and pasting over the eagle, but the clunky select, copy, paste, position, stamp process was a royal pain in the butt.

I tried an earlier version of Jasc Paint Shop Pro, but it also had a complex method for copying parts of the image. You can cut out a 'brush', but it only uses the shape to paint with. When I emailed the company, they described how to create an image tube, which takes about ten steps and doesn't let you see the copy before stamping it down, making it impossible to position correctly.

I've also tried GIMP, and I'm sure it's powerful, but it also seems clunky. For example, to copy part of an image, you have to use the selection tool (no arbitrary-polygon tool?), select Copy, switch to a painting tool, then select Select None from the menu to clear the current selection box, then select Paste, select the movement tool, position the box where you want, select Paste again, then move the selected image out of the way to see the modification to the image. Not to mention that after selecting Paste, I can't figure out how to make the floating copy go away. How do you take a large portion of the image and just draw with it? How do you select an irregular portion of the image without resorting to the freehand tool?

Why do so many programs over-complicate things?

All this is my long-winded way of saying I found a program that I think is much easier to use. It may not have all of the features of the fancier programs, but I find it quite intuitive to work with. It's called Ultimate Paint (http://www.ultimatepaint.com). It's the closest thing to Deluxe Paint that I've found.

Cutting out and using a brush is as simple as selecting the brush tool (or pressing "B"), and then selecting the region you want (there are seven different methods). As soon as you release the button, the selection is attached to the pointer (you can switch the handle to the center or four corners via the menus or by pressing "5" on the numeric keypad), then you can stamp down copies, paint, etc. There are separate options for cutting brushes and selecting regions to constrain operations. For all the tools, the left button draws, the right button erases to the current BG color.

On the downside, it lacks layers and the function to constrain mouse movement with the Shift key is seriously broken. It's available as both a free version and a paid version with a bunch of different image filters.

I'd be curious to hear what everyone here thinks of it.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: GSA on September 19, 2012, 06:56:40 PM
When I started using Windows, I tried using MS Paint and found it incredible frustrating. As a test, I took a simple cartoon image of an eagle in front of a flat US flag and tried to erase the eagle. It should have been a simple matter of copying parts of the flag and pasting over the eagle, but the clunky select, copy, paste, position, stamp process was a royal pain in the butt.

That kind of job calls for the "Clone Tool (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clone_tool)". (Available in GIMP, Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop. Not available in MSPaint. Can't say for other software as I didn't try them.)

I've also tried GIMP, and I'm sure it's powerful, but it also seems clunky. For example, to copy part of an image, you have to use the selection tool (no arbitrary-polygon tool?), select Copy, switch to a painting tool, then select Select None from the menu to clear the current selection box, then select Paste, select the movement tool, position the box where you want, select Paste again, then move the selected image out of the way to see the modification to the image. Not to mention that after selecting Paste, I can't figure out how to make the floating copy go away. How do you take a large portion of the image and just draw with it? How do you select an irregular portion of the image without resorting to the freehand tool?

Why do so many programs over-complicate things?

Huh? ???

First, there is a polygon select tool in GIMP. It's the lasso. It works as freehand selection if you hold down your click, but if you do single clicks, it defines polygon vertices. Click on the starting point or double click to close the shape.

Secondly, I am dumbfounded by how circumvoluted your method of copying an image part is. Just select what you want. Hit Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V. Then "drag and drop (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_and_drop)" to move that piece around. Then click anywhere outside to anchor it. (No need to change tools; you can move an image part with any selection tool (http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-tools-selection.html) as the active tool.) Really, it couldn't be any simpler.

All this is my long-winded way of saying I found a program that I think is much easier to use. It may not have all of the features of the fancier programs, but I find it quite intuitive to work with. It's called Ultimate Paint (http://www.ultimatepaint.com). It's the closest thing to Deluxe Paint that I've found. Cutting out and using a brush is as simple as selecting the brush tool (or pressing "B"), and then selecting the region you want (there are seven different methods). As soon as you release the button, the selection is attached to the pointer (you can switch the handle to the center or four corners via the menus or by pressing "5" on the numeric keypad), then you can stamp down copies, paint, etc. There are separate options for cutting brushes and selecting regions to constrain operations. For all the tools, the left button draws, the right button erases to the current BG color. I'd be curious to hear what everyone here thinks of it.

I don't see in your description anything that Ultimate Paint would do more easily than GIMP. Therefore, I am not enticed to try Ultimate Paint. Sorry.

Feel free to ask more questions about GIMP; I'll do my best to answer them.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: Rekrul on September 19, 2012, 09:03:27 PM
That kind of job calls for the "Clone Tool (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clone_tool)". (Available in GIMP, Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop. Not available in MSPaint. Can't say for other software as I didn't try them.)

I just tried GIMP's clone tool and unless I didn't know how to work it, it didn't seem at all suitable for the job of erasing a cartoon eagle from in front of a 3-color US flag image.

The GIMP documentation is vague on how to use it. It says you need to Control-Click the source image, but doesn't tell you how to change the selection from the thumbnail sized circle that it defaults to. Also when pasting copies of it, it blends the edges with the surrounding image. I guess that's how it's supposed to work, but it's more suited to working with imperfections in photos, rather than limited color images.

Huh? ???

First, there is a polygon select tool in GIMP. It's the lasso. It works as freehand selection if you hold down your click, but if you do single clicks, it defines polygon vertices. Click on the starting point or double click to close the shape.

Thank you, I didn't know that you could do that.

Secondly, I am dumbfounded by how circumvoluted your method of copying an image part is. Just select what you want. Hit Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V. Then "drag and drop (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_and_drop)" to move that piece around. Then click anywhere outside to anchor it. (No need to change tools; you can move an image part with any selection tool (http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-tools-selection.html) as the active tool.) Really, it couldn't be any simpler.

OK, I just tried it again, following your instructions.

I made a square selection, pressed CTRL-C, then CTRL-V. The pointer changed to an anchor, but nothing else happened. I clicked outside the selection and the box went away, but then I had to press CTRL-V again to make the copy appear. Moved it to where I wanted, clicked outside the box and it pasted it. If I wanted to paste additional copies, I had to press CTRL-V again for each one.

I don't see in your description anything that Ultimate Paint would do more easily than GIMP. Therefore, I am not enticed to try Ultimate Paint. Sorry.

You can more easily copy large pieces of the image and paste them elsewhere. Let's say that you want to erase some characters from a screenshot and for the sake of simplicity, let's assume that the background is a repeated pattern such that you can just seamlessly copy and paste over the characters. You would press "B" on the keyboard to activate the brush selection tool, and draw a box (or circle, freehand, etc) around the portion you want to copy. As soon as you release the button, the area you selected will be attached to your mouse. Position it where you want and left click to stamp it down. It remains attached until you make another brush or go back to one of the factory shapes. If there's part of the image you don't want copied, Press "G" for the color picker, right-click to select the background/transparent color and then this color will be omitted from the brush when you create it.

Or lets say that you have screenshots for a game saved as individual files. You create one large image to serve as the map, then open the first screenshot, which opens in a separate window. Press CTRL-A and the whole image becomes your brush. Close the screenshot window and left-click to paste it into your large map (using snap to grid if you want). Load the next screen shot, press CTRL-A, close the window and paste it into the map. Repeat.

Since the right mouse button erases with virtually every tool, it turns all the drawing tools into erasers without the need for a dedicated erase mode. Draw a filled box with the right mouse button and you erase a rectangle. Use a brush to erase freehand. Cut brush from the image, fill with the BG color, etc.

I'm not saying that Ultimate Paint is more powerful than GIMP. It's definitely more of a pixel-oriented program than an art program or an image manipulation program, but for simple image editing, it's fast and easy.

Feel free to ask more questions about GIMP; I'll do my best to answer them.

Can Gimp allow you to make multiple, unconnected selections at the same time?

I actually needed to do this for a project I did.

I wanted to make a scan of the copy protection codewheel for the C64 game Demon Stalkers, but I didn't want to rip my original codewheel apart to do it. So I drew two pencil lines on the back at the 12 & 9 O'clock positions and placed two pieces of tape on the edges of my scanner. I then aligned the wheel to the first selection and made a scan. Then I turned it to the next one and made another scan. I did this 24 times, which gave me scans of all the words on the back wheel, nine at a time, visible through the windows in the front wheel. I marked the exact center of each scan, then created a blank copy of the back wheel by erasing one of the scans and filling it with the same color. I then loaded each scan and used the multi-select option to outline each of the nine windows and the center mark simultaneously. Once copied, I could switch to my copy of the back wheel, line up the center mark and paste in all nine words at once, which would automatically be in the right positions. I repeated this 24 times and ended up with a filled in copy of the back wheel.

Also, is there any way to select part of an image, copy it and then just draw with it, at the original size? Using Paste requires you to position the frame and then click outside to make it permanent. Using the copy in the brush panel shrinks the size to a thumbnail, seems to rotate the brush as it moves and blends the edges.

Can I just copy, say a 100x100 area of the image and then draw with it, with no change to the size, no blending and no rotation? Basically I'm looking for something similar to copy & paste, but where the copy becomes your brush, follows the pointer around and you just use the left button to stamp it down, or hold the button and move the mouse to draw with it.

Oh, is there a way to copy part of the image and then use it as a stencil to erase parts of an image?

For example, I've made a bunch of tile sets for a small Windows game called Dragonboard, which is a Shanghai/Mahjong Solitaire game. I made two stencils, one for the tile faces and another for the tile edges. By copying either to a brush and then using the grid option, I can instantly erase all the faces while leaving the edges intact or erase the edges while leaving the faces intact. This comes in handy if I want to change the edges slightly, so that I don't accidentally leave any of the old ones while applying the new ones. Or if I want to re-use the edge graphics for a new tile set, I can just copy the faces stencil to a brush, use the grid and right-click to instantly erase all the tile faces leaving just the edges to work with.

Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 19, 2012, 09:30:28 PM
Thanks for all the responses, and sorry for not coming back to this thread sooner. I've been kept away from my computer for a couple of days.

I've been reading this thread with great interest all evening but I think for now I just need to try and get the hang of how GIMP handles everything. So far, "converting" a recent unfinished project into usable files to then combine in GIMP has been rather difficult and time-consuming, although I've finally gotten the hang of alpha transparency. Apparently (according to me and a few message boards), you can't directly edit the alpha channel but can circumvent this limitation by creating a layer mask which you *can* edit and then applying said layer mask which becomes the alpha channel. Why they make this so difficult while allowing you to move any layer or canvas around even without anything selected selection (and putting everything in place is really a bitch) is beyond me. I suspect that GIMP is perhaps unwittingly betraying his "by programmers for programmers" origins sometimes. God knows what little paid coding I did ended up with horribly unfathomable UIs.

So far, anything I can think of doing aside from transparencies and using layers to position sprites takes me less time on Paint and my other tools by several orders of magnitude. I'm not giving up on mastering this ugly beast, but I can tell that some of its quirks will probably never stop annoying me.

I'll report back later on whatever successes and/or failures and/or annoyances I run into.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: Maxim on September 20, 2012, 12:15:01 AM
Ultimately it seems everyone prefers what they know and have got used to the workflow for - I have easy ways to do all of the above in Paint Shop Pro and I can name  a few things I think it can do more easily :) (flood fill with a repeating pattern, paste with colour coded transparency...). Gimp always seemed clunky to me, but I guess with time it'd become second nature.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: GSA on September 20, 2012, 12:58:27 AM
Because there are now too many branching questions and I want to answer each one adequately, I'll make a different post to answer each one, alternating between interlocutors. Don't worry though, I'll get back to all questions eventually.

In this post, I answer Rekrul about the clone tool.

I just tried GIMP's clone tool and unless I didn't know how to work it, it didn't seem at all suitable for the job of erasing a cartoon eagle from in front of a 3-color US flag image.

There are different types of cartoons and I took a guess at what exactly you meant. I could have been wrong. It could be possible that the clone tool is not best suited for the particular image you are speaking of. It actually depends on the amount of high frequency data (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:High_Pass_Filter_Example.jpg) there is in your image. So, unless I see your image, I can't give you precise advice. (I don't know if there is noise (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_noise) in your image or if it's perfectly clean.)

Nevertheless, as the Wikipedia article on the clone tool (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clone_tool) states: "A typical use for the tool is in object removal – more colloquially, "airbrushing" or "photoshopping" out an unwanted part of the image." Hence, the clone tool is usually the designated tool for object removal.

The GIMP documentation is vague on how to use it. It says you need to Control-Click the source image, but doesn't tell you how to change the selection from the thumbnail sized circle that it defaults to.

In this case, you should have read the introduction of the tool section in the GIMP documentation as well. Most importantly, the section about the tool options dialog (http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-tools.html#gimp-tool-options-dialog). By default, you will find these options just below the toolbox.

Of course, there is an option for the size of your brush there.

Also when pasting copies of it, it blends the edges with the surrounding image. I guess that's how it's supposed to work, but it's more suited to working with imperfections in photos, rather than limited color images.

In the aforementioned tool options dialog, you can choose your brush type. The default one is a circle with 50% hardness. That mean that the border of that circle is progressively more transparent. Hence the blending.

In your case, you don't want this. So, pick a brush with 100% hardness, either circle or square shaped.
Additionally, if it matters, you might want to check the "hard edge" box in the options. This will "pixel snap" your brush and disable the 1 pixel wide anti-aliasing around it.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: GSA on September 20, 2012, 01:53:18 PM
In this post, I answer TerraEsperZ about his last post. (Nodding at Maxim's last post along the way.)

I've been reading this thread with great interest all evening but I think for now I just need to try and get the hang of how GIMP handles everything.

I'm glad to hear that you still have interest and that you don't want to kill me yet for recommending GIMP! :D

So far, "converting" a recent unfinished project into usable files to then combine in GIMP has been rather difficult and time-consuming,

Oh, I'm not sure you should have done that :o. Converting takes time and is probably inefficient. I think you should have finished your current project with your current tools and learned GIMP later.
But hey, let's see things on the bright side. You are learning! (https://www.vgmaps.com/forums/Smileys/default/rolleyes.gif)

Apparently (according to me and a few message boards), you can't directly edit the alpha channel but can circumvent this limitation by creating a layer mask which you *can* edit and then applying said layer mask which becomes the alpha channel.

Masks work, but there has to be some confusion here... because I never used masks. If you want to directly edit the alpha channel, you can! Either delete a selection or use the eraser tool.
Did you miss the tutorial image I attached here (https://www.vgmaps.com/forums/index.php?topic=1839.msg16238#msg16238)?

Why they make this so difficult while allowing you to move any layer or canvas around even without anything selected selection (and putting everything in place is really a bitch) is beyond me. I suspect that GIMP is perhaps unwittingly betraying his "by programmers for programmers" origins sometimes. God knows what little paid coding I did ended up with horribly unfathomable UIs.

I'm going to get lynched for saying this, but... If you think GIMP is unintuitive, just try Photoshop! You'd really know what "being lost" is. (By the way, normal people actually need to take a course to be able to use Photoshop...) But hey, Photoshop is recognized as being the best raster image manipulation software.

What you'll learn in GIMP works the same way in Photoshop, but GIMP is much more approachable for it's relative simplicity. Simple enough, actually, to make me believe that you won't need a course to learn GIMP.

So far, anything I can think of doing aside from transparencies and using layers to position sprites takes me less time on Paint and my other tools by several orders of magnitude. I'm not giving up on mastering this ugly beast, but I can tell that some of its quirks will probably never stop annoying me.

You know, transparencies and layers was the essential part of my recommendation of using GIMP. If you want to use MSPaint for the rest because that's what you are most used to, just do so. It may be the best thing to do if using multiple programs doesn't bother you.

Maxim just spoke about "pattern fill". Well, it's in GIMP as well. This is a pretty great feature that you should learn about too. Not only it would save you time when when you work on backgrounds, but it would have helped you greatly for your fancy borders in your Castlevania Legends Map. With pattern fill and grid snapping, it'd have taken about 1 min to generate all the borders of a map.

About Paint Shop Pro, it's good too if you can afford it. However, I don't think that it's better enough to be worth the price tag it has. (It's your call actually, you might want to try a demo.)

I'll report back later on whatever successes and/or failures and/or annoyances I run into.

You're welcome.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: Rekrul on September 21, 2012, 03:49:03 AM
There are different types of cartoons and I took a guess at what exactly you meant. I could have been wrong. It could be possible that the clone tool is not best suited for the particular image you are speaking of. It actually depends on the amount of high frequency data (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:High_Pass_Filter_Example.jpg) there is in your image. So, unless I see your image, I can't give you precise advice. (I don't know if there is noise (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_noise) in your image or if it's perfectly clean.)

I've attached the image in question. I like to use it as a test for how easy an image program is to use. In my opinion, it shouldn't take more than a minute to completely erase the eagle, leaving the flag untouched.

Nevertheless, as the Wikipedia article on the clone tool (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clone_tool) states: "A typical use for the tool is in object removal – more colloquially, "airbrushing" or "photoshopping" out an unwanted part of the image." Hence, the clone tool is usually the designated tool for object removal.

I guess with the right options it can accomplish what I wanted to do, but it seems more suited to "airbrushing" small imperfections in a photo, rather than making large-scale changes.

The biggest problem is that you can't see the cloned copy of the image before you click the button. You have to rely on the dotted outline, which is hard to position precisely. For some reason, it never seems to work consistently. Sometimes I position the lower edge right on the edge of one of the stripes and it matches perfectly. Other times, I put it right on the edge and there's a one pixel offset. Even positioning the source box is a pain. It never seems to want to go right on the edge of a stripe, it's always one pixel above it or one pixel below it.

Basically, you're working double-blind; You can't tell exactly how the source box is aligned (do you put the outline on the pixels you want, or is the line outside the pixels?), and you can't tell how the copy is aligned until you stamp it down.

In this case, the copy function is better suited to erasing the eagle, except that when filling in the stars, the outline around the floating copy keeps getting in the way, making it hard to tell when I have the stars lined up properly. It looks right, but then I stamp it down and discover that there's a slight mismatch that was hidden by the border, so I have to undo it and try again.

It's just so much easier when you can move the actual copy in real time without a border to get in the way or without having to press CTRL-V every time you want another copy.

Plus, why can't you scroll an iamge with the arrow keys? Virtually every other program with a scrollable display allows the use of the arrow keys, but not GIMP. So I go into the prefs, find the shortcuts section, open the View options, find the ones for scroll left/right/up/down, click one and it says to enter new accelerator. I press the arrow keys and nothing happens. Back to the help file. To define shortcuts, there's a special option you have to check in the prefs. Why??? If I'm going to the shortcuts window, it's a good bet that I want to configure them! So I check the Dynamic shortcuts option, go back to the shortcut prefs, click the option for scrolling, it says to enter new accelerator, I press the arrow keys and it still does nothing! Why do they have an option to change the shortcuts if you're not actually allowed to change the shortcuts???
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: TerraEsperZ on September 21, 2012, 07:54:30 PM
I'll report back later on whatever successes and/or failures and/or annoyances I run into.

You're welcome.

I hope I didn't sound ungrateful there because that wasn't my intention at all. Just poking some fun at myself for not being very adaptable ;).

Anyway, I just wanted to chime in a bit more and thank you for suggesting GIMP to me. Right now, it looks somewhat improbable that I'll ever switch completely from MS Paint to it but it's already being useful for my The Final Fantasy Legend project. I've been slowly separating all the layers of the maps I've done so far not because it's really needed, but rather because I just love turning them on and off depending on what I want to show. Also, once I've moved on to the last few remaining maps, placing sprites and labels will be a lot easier than before.

I also have no problem using multiple programs, if it saves me time. And so far, GIMP definitely feels easier and more powerful than Paint Shop Pro 8 so the later will most likely be retired as far as I'm concerned.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: GSA on September 21, 2012, 10:47:13 PM
In this post, I answer Rekrul about arrow keys in GIMP. (Note: I am only able to provide slow drop by drop answers as I'm very busy these days. I'm sorry.)

Plus, why can't you scroll an image with the arrow keys? Virtually every other program with a scrollable display allows the use of the arrow keys, but not GIMP.

Scrolling with arrow keys? Oh, you are so old school! :D

Actually, scrolling is much less efficient with arrows than what GIMP offers. In GIMP, you scroll by holding [either the middle mouse button or spacebar] and moving the mouse!

Really, it's so much faster that I wouldn't go back to old programs where I can't scroll with the mouse.

So I go into the prefs, find the shortcuts section, open the View options, find the ones for scroll left/right/up/down, click one and it says to enter new accelerator. I press the arrow keys and nothing happens. Back to the help file. To define shortcuts, there's a special option you have to check in the prefs. Why??? If I'm going to the shortcuts window, it's a good bet that I want to configure them! So I check the Dynamic shortcuts option, go back to the shortcut prefs, click the option for scrolling, it says to enter new accelerator, I press the arrow keys and it still does nothing! Why do they have an option to change the shortcuts if you're not actually allowed to change the shortcuts???

I don't know *everything* about GIMP, but I think some keys are not configurable because they have multiple functions. For instance, you can't change what "left click" does. Same goes for arrow keys; you can't configure them. (And I don't see why anyone would want to remap arrow keys.)

Speaking of this, the arrow keys are used to move layers around. For instance, right after pasting something, you can move the "floating selection" one pixel at a time with arrows or faster with shift+arrows. It's quite useful to align stuff.
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: Rekrul on September 22, 2012, 12:32:11 AM
Scrolling with arrow keys? Oh, you are so old school! :D

Actually, scrolling is much less efficient with arrows than what GIMP offers. In GIMP, you scroll by holding [either the middle mouse button or spacebar] and moving the mouse!

Really, it's so much faster that I wouldn't go back to old programs where I can't scroll with the mouse.

I suppose so, it's just that it's so ingrained and intuitive that I can't help reaching for the arrow keys when I want to scroll.

I don't know *everything* about GIMP, but I think some keys are not configurable because they have multiple functions. For instance, you can't change what "left click" does. Same goes for arrow keys; you can't configure them. (And I don't see why anyone would want to remap arrow keys.)

Just as an experiment, I tried to remap CTRL-arrow and it told me that it was an invalid shortcut. However when pressing the arrow keys alone, absolutely nothing happens. I wish it would pop up a brief explanation so you're not left wondering. Like "We're sorry, but GIMP doesn't allow remapping that key".

Speaking of this, the arrow keys are used to move layers around. For instance, right after pasting something, you can move the "floating selection" one pixel at a time with arrows or faster with shift+arrows. It's quite useful to align stuff.

Yes, I agree. I've often wished that Ultimate Paint had the option to move things with some form of keyboard control. On the Amiga I used to use the keyboard equivalents for moving the mouse in some cases, just to get more precise control. I know I could turn on Mouse Keys, but it's always nicer when the program offers it. :)
Title: Re: GIMP 2.8.2 - Basic questions
Post by: GSA on October 14, 2012, 01:20:56 PM
I'm back. It's been more than 3 weeks since my last post and I apologize for the delay but I had to take care of other things.

In this post, I answer Rekrul about...


About copy and paste.
OK, I just tried it again, following your instructions.

I made a square selection, pressed CTRL-C, then CTRL-V. The pointer changed to an anchor, but nothing else happened.
Let me stop you right there. It looks like nothing happened but if you looked at the layers dialog, you would have seen that your selection was copied in a "floating" layer (meaning that the operation was indeed successful). The pointer changing to an anchor means that you will anchor the selection if you click.

I clicked outside the selection and the box went away, but then I had to press CTRL-V again to make the copy appear.
You anchored the first floating selection and you pasted a new one. You could have used the first one instead.

Moved it to where I wanted, clicked outside the box and it pasted it.
When you press CTRL-V it pastes the selection. When you click outside the box, it anchors the selection. (Just to make sure you understand the terminology and what's going on.)

If I wanted to paste additional copies, I had to press CTRL-V again for each one.
If you paste a new copy, the previous one will be anchored automatically (saving some time). Doing multiple CTRL-V shouldn't be noticeably slower than Ultimate Paint "stamping" method assuming that you keep your left hand on CTRL-V and your right hand on the mouse/arrows the whole time.



About GIMP lacking an error message.
Just as an experiment, I tried to remap CTRL-arrow and it told me that it was an invalid shortcut. However when pressing the arrow keys alone, absolutely nothing happens. I wish it would pop up a brief explanation so you're not left wondering. Like "We're sorry, but GIMP doesn't allow remapping that key".
Not including every error message is generally a bad practice and this is a legitimate complaint from your part. However, I'd like you to keep in mind that GIMP is a free software made by a team of volunteers (anyone really). They don't have full time employees dedicated to QA testing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_quality_assurance) and as such, it is expectable that they wouldn't think about every invalid use case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_case).

I am not involved with GIMP development myself, but you could submit a bug report (http://www.gimp.org/bugs/) if it matters.



About multiple selections
Can Gimp allow you to make multiple, unconnected selections at the same time?
Yes. Hold [Shift] while making a new selection to add it to the previous selection. Hold [Ctrl] to subtract the new selection from the previous one. And more rarely needed, hold [Shift]+[Ctrl] to intersect the new selection with the previous one (intersecting means to keep only the part that is shared by both selections).

You can use this in inventive ways. For instance, you could select a box then remove a color with [Ctrl] and the color select tool to keep the inside of the box that's not of that color.

I actually needed to do this for a project I did.

I wanted to make a scan of the copy protection codewheel for the C64 game Demon Stalkers, but I didn't want to rip my original codewheel apart to do it. So I drew two pencil lines on the back at the 12 & 9 O'clock positions and placed two pieces of tape on the edges of my scanner. I then aligned the wheel to the first selection and made a scan. Then I turned it to the next one and made another scan. I did this 24 times, which gave me scans of all the words on the back wheel, nine at a time, visible through the windows in the front wheel. I marked the exact center of each scan, then created a blank copy of the back wheel by erasing one of the scans and filling it with the same color. I then loaded each scan and used the multi-select option to outline each of the nine windows and the center mark simultaneously. Once copied, I could switch to my copy of the back wheel, line up the center mark and paste in all nine words at once, which would automatically be in the right positions. I repeated this 24 times and ended up with a filled in copy of the back wheel.
It works. Personally I would have layered all the images in GIMP and then erased the plain part of each one except the last to see underneath. Then I would have aligned them if needed and "merged them down" for export. The advantage of working this way is if something goes wrong, you can go back and adjust the problematic layer independently.



About drawing with an image part.
Also, is there any way to select part of an image, copy it and then just draw with it, at the original size? Using Paste requires you to position the frame and then click outside to make it permanent. Using the copy in the brush panel shrinks the size to a thumbnail, seems to rotate the brush as it moves and blends the edges.

Can I just copy, say a 100x100 area of the image and then draw with it, with no change to the size, no blending and no rotation? Basically I'm looking for something similar to copy & paste, but where the copy becomes your brush, follows the pointer around and you just use the left button to stamp it down, or hold the button and move the mouse to draw with it.
Yes, you can. However, you won't see it follow your cursor like in Ultimate Paint (you'll only see the outline). If you need to precisely see what you are going to stamp, use copy and paste. For drawing, you were in the right direction with the brush panel "clipboard brush". To prevent size change, you must click the small icon next to "size" (in the tool options) called "Reset size to brush's native size".

Use the pencil tool instead of the paintbrush tool to get rid of the blending.

About the rotation, I don't understand. Make sure "Angle" is set to 0 and if you are drawing with a tablet, check the "dynamics" options.