How to Edit Photos Using Gimp (Tutorial)

Hey guys, Erin here I am 1/2 of Remote Work Guides, where we help you thrive in a virtual world

In today's tutorial I'm gonna go over GIMP Now, GIMP is a free open-source editing program that's most similar to Adobe Photoshop, so whether you don't have Photoshop don't have access to it, maybe it's cost prohibitive Whatever your reason is GIMP is a really awesome free alternative, and I'm specifically going to show you how to use it to make your headshots pop So we use GIMP all the time (really, all the time) I use it almost every day but I love to use it for headshots Whether we're using it for LinkedIn profile picture, Facebook page, the website, sometimes you take a headshot and you think "meh," and you want to make it better – this is your program

I'm specifically going to show you how to blur the background like this picture or how to change the background completely like this picture All right don't go anywhere, it's going to be a great tutorial First things first, I need you to download gimp Go to GIMP dot ORG and download the appropriate file for you Once you have it open, your interface will look just like this

You'll see three separate windows We'll call them your tools, the window where you'll actually work on your photo and your layers If you're like me and you accidentally closed a box, which I used to close toolbars accidentally all the time and then I would spend an hour looking for them, let me help you out Simply go up to windows and look under recently closed docks You'll find your tool options right there

If you prefer you can actually change the layout of GIMP Go back to Windows and simply click on single window mode – this merges everything together giving you a little bit more workspace and you're less likely to accidentally close the window, let's be honest So regardless of how you like to work this is how your setup is going to look and before we actually dive into editing some of the head shots, I'm gonna go through a couple of the tools, namely the tools that you're going to use to edit your headshot, and I'm not going to cover everything I do want you and encourage you to actually run through these tools on your own Have some fun play around with it, really dig into what GIMP can do because it's a very heavy lifting photo editing program

It's awesome so let's just drag a photo in so I can show you what some of these tools do When I say drag you really can drag a photo from your desktop right into your workspace and there it is It's one of the things that I love about GIMP – it's super simple So this is the photo that we're actually going to edit

If you recall, this is the one we're gonna blur the background This photo was my actual headshot for a while I like the way it looks The thing that I didn't like is that I was standing in front of a tree with a ton of graffiti on it and I just felt like it didn't convey a very professional message, so I thought let's just blur the background I like nature shots but let's take the focus off of the tree and put it more onto my face

So some of the tools that you're going to use to to work in GIMP most often: the eraser – if you make a mistake just wipe it away The paintbrush tool is great if you have to actually draw something over your your photo There's a little mustache The healing tool is great if there's a blemish on your face or if there's something -a smudge maybe on the picture that you need to get rid of, it's a really nice one The clone tool almost does the same thing as the as the healing tool, but it's great if you need to take a stamp image you

If I wanted to copy an image of the tree and stamp it on a different side of the tree it's just a clone tool I actually do use that quite often You can add text overlay if you wanted to over this photo The pen tool is a huge one It takes a little bit of practice to master but it's one that we're going to use for our headshots and it's one that I recommend you practice with

Now, you're probably wondering why is she leaving this mustache on her face It's actually very easy to get rid of You can either hit controls Z I'm on a Mac so it's just very easy to undo or if you prefer you can look over here under your layers and you'll notice this yellow arrow Let me move my face so you can see what I'm doing

Every time you click on a yellow arrow it changes – sorry it deletes something that you've just done So if you've made an error or you've done something yet you don't like, just come click the arrow and GIMP will get rid of it If you've gone back too far and you think shoot I really wanted that mustache again, simply click the green arrow to bring it back Something else I want to mention before we dig in is that you may have noticed when we click on these different tools, that these tool options underneath change Now that's true for every tool and what this means is that you can basically tailor this tool to make it work best for you

So let's say we want to erase this background, you'll notice that the default size is actually quite small That would take 1 million years to erase the background, so just simply change your size Just click and drag and there's really no limit with that I've seen to how large you can make a particular size Let's say you're working with this square or kind of an odd shape and you need a different angle Let's say you really want to angle the brush you know in into some crevice or corner or what have you, you're gonna just do the same thing

Toggle your angle, you'll see that the brush changes It's kind of a nice way to outline odd shapes if you need and if you do make changes and you decide you want to go back to that default square, simply click this yellow back arrow and you're back to your regular size So let's start actually editing the background of this photo, so it's gonna get rid of these eraser marks So as I mentioned (I think I mentioned), this was my headshot once upon time I loved it

I loved being in front of nature, but what I failed to notice at the time was that there was a bunch of graffiti on the tree and I felt like it wasn't very professional And rather than take another one, I thought I can just blur the background so that you're not – there's no emphasis on the tree itself The emphasis is on my face which is ultimately what I wanted So to blur a background there are actually several ways to do this, I'm going to show you how I do it and I think how it looks best What I like to do is use the pen tool

Now the pen tool, I think is actually called the path tool, is a great way to follow very specific lines and it's a great way to outline something I'll show you how this works but – once you're done outlining it selects a certain area and it allows you to manipulate that area specifically This basically means that once we outline my body or once you outline your face it allows you to blur the background, you can change the color, you could delete it if you wanted to There's ton of things you could do and it'll change the background without actually changing anything that's not selected – that being your face So the pen tool does take a little bit of practice, it's a it's not super intuitive, but if you look down here, this is a great way to zoom in on the photo

I like to zoom in so I can really ensure that I'm tracing the exact path that I want I'm going to go ahead and I'll show you how to click and drag initially and then I'll speed it up for you so you're not waiting, but when you are tracing the outline of your face you will want to select a point I like to start at the very bottom of the photo, so you know scroll down to as far down as you can go and click as close as you can to your shirt your face or shoulder your skin what-have-you, and what I'm going to do next is simply click on another point Once you click – now I've not let go of my trackpad here and if you're using a mouse don't let go of the left click button, and just practice with this But move your cursor around and you will see that the line follows the cursor

So this is a great way to add curve, it makes your photos look a lot less boxy and again this does take practice so you know be sure to give yourself a couple tries But I really do think this is the most effective way to outline something So I'm going going to go ahead and place my first line here Once you let go that is where your first line stays Now this is pretty crucial, before I speed this up, if I were to simply click another point you'll see that it's actually not aligned to my body anymore

I'm going to control-z and undo that, and that's because the next point that I click is connecting to this box area up here It's called a tail, we don't want that What you can do instead is click the square and drag it down into the circle Now once you click again and hold your cursor down you'll see that it's now following the path of my body, and again it's just because we want to make sure that all of our points where we're clicking are connecting with this little square So again you know if you need to move just click and drag this little square down into your circle and we're going to do that and I'm going to do this quickly

I'm not too concerned about my hair, I'm actually just going to cut it off at this point I'm gonna go ahead and click here I'm going to go ahead and click here but the point is to follow your outline as closely as possible All right, I'm gonna speed this up and I'll be back with you in two seconds Okay so I have a very rough outline of of the area that I want to work with Now something that I want to point out to you is I haven't actually closed the selection

This is very important because if you don't – if you were to try to edit an area without connecting this dot to this dot, the program won't know what to edit It just won't know what to do because you haven't actually selected anything, and you's think that you would simply click from here to here, on your original point That is not the case What you want to do to close your loop is simply hit enter and once you hit enter you will see magical marching little ants Now this dancing ants selection is exactly what you want to see it's how you know you've outlined something correctly, but I do want to point out that our work here is not yet done

In fact, the dancing ants indicate the area that the program thinks it's going to manipulate So right now the ants are only around my face and my body They are not actually around the tree – the background So if I were to try to lighten, darken, cut, blur, or do anything on this program, it'll change my face It will change nothing else it'll just change my face that's exactly what we don't want

So in order to flip it and to have the program recognize that we want to edit the background, you're going to come up here to select and click invert, and you'll notice now that the little answer yes around the outline of your body but they're also around the outline of the photo itself and that is what we want and from here we can go to filters, look for blur Gaussian blur – now this is the feature that is going to actually blurr the background A good rule of thumb I think personally is to choose a number between 5 and 15 I think anything higher looks very fake I'll show you this little preview box will pop up which is great because that allows you to look at your work before you actually make changes in the program

So let's say I just arbitrarily picked the number 50 There, it finally changed You can see that it's actually it's very blurry It's just not something that I'm looking for I'm just going to go ahead and pick 15 and I'm going to see how that works So I'm going to click okay, the program is going to do its thing and there you go

You see it's a very gradually changed the background of the photo and that's exactly what I want Now that's saying you choose a number and you think you know what this isn't the look I was going for, it's not enough You can go to your layers panel and click this yellow undo arrow or control-z It'll undo the blurred feature for you and do it again Go back go back to Gaussian blur, pick a new number and let's try 25

Click OK and see how that looks and if that looks good to you then great! The next step from here is to deselect So you're happy, you don't want to make any more changes We're gonna go back up to the select up here and click none and you'll still see that some of the the path is still there and the best way to get rid of that is to simply click on any other tool Literally any tool in your inbox – just click it, and there you have it You see, it's a very simple way to blur the background

Now as you can see my arm is blurry, parts of my hair are blurry, there are definitely ways that I could fix this and I think if I were using this as my main headshot I would definitely take more time and I would go and trace the outline of my face a little slower But but let's say you're here and you think yeah this is good but I want to change a couple things Let's say let's say this strand of hair here or you have a strand of hair here that's really bothering you In this case what you can do is zoom in and let's say you say you know what this this part of the tree isn't blurred that's not going to fly with me Now there are a number of tools you can use that we talked about

You can use the clone Let's say I want to change the size, as it's a little too big for this particular one I'm gonna hit Command, which means the computer is ready to copy whatever is within this circle So hold down command and use your trackpad or mouse to click Now the computer knows that whatever you've just selected is what it's going to copy and from there I can click on my hair and copy

So that's just one example of what you could do if that doesn't look great to you doesn't look great to me at the moment you can play around with it you can choose smudge or blur Now this blur tool – if you're thinking yourself why didn't you just just use that for the whole background of the tree – it's because it's not particularly strong and it definitely won't achieve the same look as this Gaussian blur for you, but if you have just a couple quick edits sure go ahead and select your blur tool That;s kind of mouthful, and just kind of work your cursor over You know, again, if you were using this for let's just say a LinkedIn profile headshot I think it'll be far enough sorry I think your window will be small enough that I don't think anyone's gonna notice if there's a hair that's a little off but again take your time with it it's a very valuable tool and before I show you how to change a background completely I did mention to you that there is a different way If you've tried the pen tool and you think "this sucks, I hate it, it's not working," that's totally fine

There's a different way to do it So I'm going to X out of this and I'm just gonna drag my picture back in so now we're back to our original photo So there is another way There are two other ways to do this actually Again the pen tool – I cannot emphasize enough – is the is the best way to do it with the most precision, so I really encourage you to take your time with the pen tool and learn how to use it

But if you have a steady hand, which I do not, if you have a steady hand you can try this lasso tool here So this essentially does the same thing and it allows you to draw so once you've selected you know click the mouse or the trackpad and while you're holding it down, just drag this line around your face and again if you're slow if you have a steady hand great use this one because it's much faster and again hit enter to close that loop From here it's the same thing If you recall we need to invert the path and we need to blur the background It literally is the same thing from here, it's just it's a little more imprecise

When I first started using GIMP, I used this tool a lot because I thought it was easier In reality, I actually wasn't able to get that kind of crisp outline that I was going for So I don't really use it as often but again if you have a simple outline or steady hand or even one of those – I don't even know what you call them – even one of those digital pens that connects to your computer and you can trace using a pen, go ahead and give the lasso tool a shot I think you'll like it and and the last one I'll point out is this little feather magic wand fuzzy select tool First, let me unselect this so I can show you what it does

The fuzzy select tool is pretty cool and it's really handy if you have a photo with a background that has one color So the fuzzy select tool basically takes a color and it selects all the pieces that are the same color within that photo Now, it's not great for something like this, where I'm in front of a tree, because there are lots of different shades So if I were to click and hit shift I would continually have to click around this tree but you'll notice it's following generally the shape of my face so if this you know if this were an option then great The reason that I didn't choose the fuzzy select tool at this point is because you can't tell just looking at it but the little black and whites – little dancing ants – haven't actually selected the tree

I'll just show you – if I were to blur itI'll show you, I'll cut it so it's a little more obvious It's not selecting the whole piece of the tree and what ends up happening is you get lots of noise and cluttered background and you end up erasing and it ends up being a lot more work Again the benefit of using this tool is if you have one color in your background so let's say your whole background is blue it's a lot faster to actually just select you know the same block color behind your head so that it just selects that one color and from there you can delete it you can blur it but again it's it's not often I think that you're in front of one singular color Again just wanted to point that out to you in case it's something that you can use Now, last but not least, let's just say you've selected your photo and you think it's perfect, it's amazing, I love it Let's just pretend like my background is still blurred To actually save it, it's a little counterintuitive, but you don't go to save or save as because that's going to save the gimp version of the file, which means you can go back and edit it

If you want to save the JPEG or the PNG or whatever you're gonna end up using, you're going want to go to export as So once you're here you can label it la-la-la and I'll move my head so you can see, and just simply click – oh and sorry – decide where you want it to go I like personally I like photos just to go to my desktop because it's easy for me to find so once you have all that set and square it away just hit export and the program will take care of the rest That's how you're actually going to save the physical photo and if you look here on my desktop, there it is Moving right along, now we get to move on to how to change the background completely and I'm just noticing by the way I don't know if you noticed that it's dark out now

I have literally done this so many times that I went from daylight to night time So let's just get rid of this Let's say you have a photo that that you like that you want to use for your headshot but you think the background is inappropriate Maybe you're somewhere that just looks kind of funky Here's a picture of Tannia that she took while she was shooting a video and she said you know what I really like this I'd like to use this as a LinkedIn profile photo but I don't like the background and I said no problem

So in some cases like this it doesn't make sense to simply blur it because you'll still be able to tell that there's a door and a couch and a whatever behind you, so we're simply going to follow the same thing that we did for the other photo with two key differences The first is we're going to have to head over here to this panel and you're gonna click on the actual photo itself and you'll see a little option box pop up, and you're going to want to come over here to add Alpha Channel Now what that means – add alpha channel – is that if we were to erase something on this photo oh it's no longer white It means there's nothing behind it and that's exactly what we want because if we were to simply you know trace like the other one and try to delete without adding that alpha channel, the whole background would turn white, and you can't manipulate that at all So first and foremost, make sure you are clicking on this photo, you can hit ctrl if you're using a keyboard

Control before you select the photo Add your alpha channel If you don't do that then this is all for naught, you've just wasted a lot of time Once you've done that we are going to follow the same process that we did before You're going to select your pen tool or if you're using the lasso or the fuzzy select tool, whatever is good for you, so we're going to do the whole process over again

So I'm gonna take the pen tool and again I'm going to do this and I'm going to speed it up and I'll see you in two seconds Okay so we've outlined our photo and if you recall – if you watched the first one that we did – you're gonna hit enter to close that loop so that you see your dancing little ants Again just like with the last photo, we're going to come up here to select and invert Now you'll notice that those ants are following your path of your face and along the outside of your photo that's exactly what we want From here, instead of going to filters – we're not actually using filters at all – we're going to simply go to edit and cut

Presto change-o! Your entire background is gone nNow how do you actually get a different picture behind it? Easy, I'm going to drop a link in the description below of the photo that I'm using but there's a website that I found with 20 or 30 professional-looking background photos Oh I made a mistake, back back Before you do anything, don't make the mistake I just did Once you're happy with your selection, click select none and then get rid of your path altogether by clicking something else in the toolbar

So as I was saying, there are a number of different backgrounds that you can do you can choose a kind of abstract background and again I'll put a link to that website below I think the benefit of having an abstract background like this is that it tends to look like it's a little more professional It tends to look like you went to a studio and a photographer actually put you in front of a setup with a kind of soft white background Of course if you want to have fun with your photo you can put yourself in front of anything If you want to be at the beach – find a beach photo

If you want to be flying through space – you know find a picture of the stars Alright so that's a little out there but to actually get your background behind your beautiful face, you'll notice here over the layers panel that the square is physically on top of your headshot Now you can move this The way the GIMP works, just like Photoshop, is whatever layer is at the top is the layer that you are going to see first So I'm just going to move this back real quick

So what I like to do, so you know, I found on this website with free professional backgrounds I found a picture that I want to use but it's actually quite small you'll notice that that Tannia's face is much much larger So to change the size you're going to come over here to this tool it's called the scale tool Once you click that you'll see a little yellow selection around the box That means the program knows that we're changing the size of the box and not your face

So you're simply going to click and you'll see scale come up here and you could input numbers if you happen to know the size I do not and I never do so I physically just click on one of the corners and click and drag It's just click and drag, you're just going to pull the corners down Okay, and then hit scale and you'll see it go to work and we're going to then pull your headshot layer up to the front so that you come shining through Now you could end here and think okay sure you know I think if it's a small photo from afar you can get away with something like this but I'm actually going to show you how to add a drop shadow to make it look like there's a light hitting your face casting a shadow behind you I think that gives it a touch of realism that's something like this doesn't

So from here you're going to might want to make sure that your photo is selected over the layers and you're going to come up here to filters, go to light and shadow, and then one of the options you'll see is called the drop shadow So GIMP is going to calculate the outline of your face There's really nothing for you to do but just click OK and you'll see it adding a drop shadow here and you can see a very slight shadow just to the right of Tanina's face Let's say let's say you don't want it there, let's say you have a light source hitting the other side of your face and you need to move it You're going come over here to your toolbar and click this kind of cross arrow

This is your move tool and this is very important The move tool is going to move whatever layer you have selected over here that's what it's going to move So if you intend to move your headshot but you are highlighted you've actually clicked on the background it's going to move the background To save yourself some trouble, just make sure you have the actual layer that you want to move selected So I see that I have my drop shadow selected and from here I can actually just click and drag and you'll see the shadow emerge

Maybe I want to just give her a really slight slight shadow and something else that's really cool that you can do come back over to your layers panel on the right and you'll see this opacity Basically, the lower it is the less the shadow – the lighter the shadow is If you want a really really heavy one bump it up to a hundred percent If you want if you want to just have a very like slight hint of a shadow, turn it down a little more I think this looks pretty good so I'm just going to leave it as is and lastly if you do want to spruce up your photo a little again you can just zoom in and you know as you can see I traced pretty quickly so you can still see remnants of the darker background

What you can do here is take your eraser tool you can bump the size down This is a small area that we're working on so I'm gonna make it even smaller and take the time to to really clean up your picture you know you can just gently oh I did there again I have my drop shadow highlighted so I'm erasing my drop shadow It took me a really long time to figure that out when I first started using GIMP Self-taught problems Okay so I have Tannia's face selected and I'd like to get rid of some of these dark remnants of the carpets and the fireplace that were behind her, and I'm just gonna trace the area very very slowly with my eraser tool and you know I think this is a good thing to do for the entirety of the photo so you know it's a little too dark up here so I'm just gonna quickly erase and if this is your primary headshot really take your time with this step

I'm just going to erase a little more over here Something else I want to mention let's say you've gone through and you have erased you know some errors or blemishes or you know something that you want to slim down, let's say you've erased something and you still think wow this looks really sharp sharp As in that's something that wouldn't naturally happen in a photo, something that I like to do just to help it along a little is come over here to this blur tool and again it's just let's just give it a slight blur so that your edges aren't quite so sharp against your new backdrop I'll keep the same size brush because it's a small area that I'm working with, I just want to outline the very outer parts – outer line of this particular headshot I could keep it at a hundred percent over here This opacity, it means that it's going to make it really really blurry

If that's not the look that you're going for you can always bump it down So I'm just gonna arbitrarily pick 29, why not, and let's just see what that looks like I'm going to graze over her ear, honestly I think that gives it just a slight blur Enough that I would look at this photo and think like okay, maybe she really is in front of that backdrop I think it's just enough to again just get rid of some of those rough edges that that don't really exist in real life, that you wouldn't have if a photographer really took your photo

Once you've played around with your photo and you're happy with the end result again you're going to come up to file and export as and I'm going to name this T-money I'm going to move my face and hit export The option will come up again and you're just going click export and it's going to go back to my desktop and that's it! That is how you change the background of a photo, and that's all I've got for you today So hopefully you found some value out of this Hopefully you were able to follow along step-by-step

Leave me a comment, let me know what was helpful, let me know what wasn't Let me know if there's a different function that you want me to go over and I'm more than happy to do it So leave a comment below and good luck! Have fun with it, this program is huge so once you really get into it, I hope you have a great time because there's so much you can do with it But again if you're just using this for headshots have a great time blurring the background, have a great time changing it, and again I do this all the time In fact, I've started to have clients ask me to do this for them too, so it's a really handy tool and if you have clients, who knows maybe it'll be a future service that you can offer

Thanks so much for watching! Again, I'm Erin with Remote Work Guides – helping you thrive in a virtual world, and that's all I got! See you later!