Graham King

Solvitas perambulum

Migrating from Picasa to GIMP

Update April 2012 Google has discontinued Picasa for Linux, so I’m going to try to do all my photo editing in GIMP. Here’s what I use most often:


  • Colors / Auto / White-balance
  • Colors / Auto / Color enhance
  • Colors / Brightness-Contrast / Contrast up by 5 or 10


  • Tools / GEGL Operation / Color temperature / Raise desired by 0.5k or 1k.


  • Filters / Enhance / Unsharp mask

Original post follows

I’ve been using Picasa to edit my pictures for a long time, and it’s an excellent program. Recently however I’ve started shooting RAW, and I’d like control, so I’ve started using GIMP. It’s more powerful and more complicated than Picasa, so to start myself off I went through all the features of Picasa and made notes on how to duplicate that operation in GIMP. Here are those notes.

Most of what Picasa does can be replicated with the Colors / Levels or Colors / Curves tool. It’s well worth spending a little time experimenting with both of those (the documentation is very good too).


In the Toolbox, click the Rectangle select tool In its options (beneath the tools), tick ‘Fixed: Aspect Ratio’ Enter 6:4 ratio (for 1.6 sensor, most DSLRs) Tick Highlight. Draw a rectangle on the image that you want to crop to. Image menu / Crop to Selection


Click one of the rulers above or to the left of the image, and drag a guideline onto your picture In the Toolbox, select the rotate tool Select ‘Clipping: Crop to result’. Maybe ‘Interpolation: Sinc (Lanczos3)’, although that doesn’t seem to matter Rotate until your picture is straight, using your guideline Click Rotate Image / Fit Canvas to Layers or Image / Autocrop Image Image / Guides / Remove all guides


Filters / Enhance / Red-Eye Removal (I have never used this)

I’m feeling lucky

Colors / Levels / Auto

Auto Contrast / Auto Color

Colors / Auto / something

Fill light

Colors / Levels Drag the middle triangle (grey) to the left


Colors / Levels Drag the right side (white) triangle


Colors / Levels Drag the left side (black) triangle

Color Temperature

Tools / GEGL Operation / color-temperature Adjust Intended Temperature

Neutral Color Picker

Colors / Levels There are three color pickers near the bottom right Use the left one to select black, the middle one neutral gray, and the right one white


Filters / Enhance / Unsharp mask Try these values: Radius: 1 – 5 Amount: 0.5 – 1 OR Colors / Components / Decompose. HSV, Decompose to layers Switch off the hue and saturation layer Apply the Unsharp mask, as detailed above Colors / Components / Recompose


Filters / Decor / Old Photo

B & W

Image / Mode / Grayscale OR Colors / Desaturate


Colors / Curves Select Blue – pull the center-right of the curve down most of a grid box Select Red – pull the center-right of the curve up most of a grid box OR Tools / GEGL Operation / color-temperature / Increase intended temperature by 10k or 20k


Colors / Hue-Saturation / Pull the Saturation slider to the right

Soft Focus

Duplicate layer (right click / Duplicate or use the icon bottom of layers pane) Filters / Blur / Gaussian Blur.. Set to 60 Reduce Opacity to ~60% Right click on blur layer, Add Layer Mask, White (full opacity) Click the foreground color, set S to 0 and V to 50 (or 60, 70) Select a brush, the Paintbrush tool, paint over the parts you don’t want fuzzy To replicate Picasa this would be a big circle somewhere in the middle of the picture

Graduated tint

Duplicate layer Switch off Background by clicking the eye Edit that layer with Levels and Curves to expose sky correctly Right click on new layer / Add Layer Mask/ White (full opacity) Select Blend tool Draw a line on the image to make a gradient. Try again. Click the Background eye back on Right click on the edited layer, and Apply Layer Mask Merge the layers