Label Tutorial

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Stacy

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Here is a guide to some basic techniques for image editing and design. I want to start out by saying that I'm fully self-taught, by no means is my way the best way, and it might not even be the most efficient. Hopefully I lead no one astray and if I give any misinformation, feel free to correct me.

I am also not a Gimp native. I use Photoshop, but the two programs are similar in a lot of ways. If you use Gimp all the time and there is a better way to do things, please let me know. Keep in mind that I’m trying not to overwhelm people who are new to this by including too much information about tool settings etc.

As with most new skills, the only way to get comfortable with doing this is to play around a lot. You will fall into your own habits and methods. Once you have some basics, you can look for more tutorials on YouTube. I highly recommend you look into to brushes if you're looking for some neat things to do.

I will only be covering some of the basics that will hopefully get you on the road to creating the labels of your dreams!

This ended up getting really long (and I apologize for the wall of text that is this post), but there are a lot of things that I felt fell under ‘basics’. The best way to use this information is probably not to try and read it once and take it all in. You may be better off coming back to the parts that are relevant to what you’re learning as you experiment a little.

Grab your favorite caffeinated beverage, we’re about to get started!

Get Your Gear

This tutorial will be using gimp 2.8 (available as of September 2015), which is a free graphics program. You can edit images or make your own in a variety of shapes and sizes.

You can download it for many different operating systems here http://www.gimp.org/downloads/

My tutorial uses a Windows operating system. If you use something else, there may be slight variations in keyboard shortcuts etc.

Installation is fairly simple, just download the file and double click it to open the installer and follow the instructions.

If you already have gimp installed, things may have moved around or disappeared. If that's the case, try resetting the windows layout and tools. This will reset all the tools and windows to the way they were when first installed. If you're happy with your layout as it is, you will not want to do this.

I go through how to do this in the first part of the video tutorial.

Once you make your image you'll need to print it, although you can print it from gimp, you'll most likely need to use something to layout multiple images on a sheet.

But What About Printing?

Word, publisher, or Avery online can help you with that. I am not covering that part in this tutorial, but the first step is making an image that you can use.

What size do you want your image?

Luckily this is pretty straight forward. As you'll see in the video, you can select the size and measurement you want. Find out the size of the labels you have and punch it in. For my example label, I am using a standard mailing label (Staples, Avery etc.) which is 2 inches high by 4 inches wide.

DPI is that some sort of hair gel?

Here is a really in depth explanation of DPI if you're interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dots_per_inch

But here's what you really need to know:

DPI refers to the physical dot density of an image when it is reproduced as a real physical entity, for example printed onto paper.
Let's simplify that a little shall we? DPI (sometimes used interchangeably with PPI) is dots per inch (PPI = pixels per inch). Printers use small dots to recreate your image, this number tells it how many dots it should use. A larger number usually leads to a crisper image, you also have more freedom to resize it. Images can almost always be sized down, but up doesn't work so well. If you're sending something off to a professional printer, they will have something on the website outlining their requirements.

Your image will probably be fine at 300 or 600 dpi/ppi. Personally, I use 600 just to make sure I don't run into issues later on but I did everything in 300 in the video. If you are creating a very complex label with many images and layers, your file size might run a little large at 600 and you might want to stick to 300.

Fonts

I talk about fonts a few times through this post and in the video. Your operating system comes with a certain number of fonts. If you want to use anything above those, you need to download and install it before you use it. Here's how to install fonts on windows: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/install-or-uninstall-fonts

There are a lot of free fonts available and entire websites devoted to them. Just google something like 'free fonts for commercial use' or "free fonts for personal use'.


If a website is offering free fonts, you shouldn't have to pay anything. If you want to pay for them, that's up to you, but I have been downloading fonts for years without even needing to so much as sign up for an account on the sites I use.

Remember, whenever you're downloading and installing files, use an anti-virus program!


What are layers and why are they so important?
Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.
This is one of those fundamentals to working with images. Imagine your image is like a sandwich. You take a piece of bread put some cheese on it, maybe some tomato and some onion and slap another piece of bread on top. It's a fine sandwich and you're proud of it...but wait a minute the person you made it for doesn't want cheddar cheese, they want Swiss. So you go back, take your sandwich apart and replace the cheese. Viola! Problem solved.

Now imagine that you took that same sandwich and grilled it. Well now your sandwich isn't really separate ingredients anymore, it’s more like one solid piece. It's not impossible to change the cheese now, but it's going to take a lot of work.

The grilled cheese is like a flat image. Changing the text or anything else requires some major editing to cut it all apart and fix. The first sandwich all you have to do is go to the piece you want to change (the layer) and you're done. It will make more sense when you see it in action, but for right now remember, layers are important.

The tutorial proper...

Although I could do this with a ton of screen shots, there's just no substitute for showing you the program in action. So I've decided to bite the bullet and make a video.

This means I had to actually talk...and record it, it was very harrowing. Oh and please pardon my Canadian (that was a very Canadian thing to say, wasn't it?)

I tend to speak a little fast so I've included subtitles in case you have a hard time understanding anything I'm saying. Just click on the "CC" button in the player to turn them on and off.

I also recommend that you use full screen so that you can see what I'm doing on screen. It came out a little smaller than I had intended.

My hope is that you can watch the video and read this post multiple times and use it as a sort of cheat sheet while you're learning these basics.

I learn best by doing. Whenever I’m learning new techniques, I open my program and try to work alongside the video. This lets me do each step and rewind to get the parts I inevitably miss. Everyone learns differently though so that may not work best for you.

Alright, without further ado, let’s go to the video over on YouTube. The post continues below with a list of some of the tools I use, as well as some tips, but they'll probably be more helpful after you've watched the video and used the program a little.

Each of these videos is about 16 minutes (I know I know, I tried to keep them as short as possible).

The Basics
https://youtu.be/r6ad08PBMTw

Here's what we'll make in the basic tutorial:


The still-basic-but-a-little-more-advanced basics…
https://youtu.be/xIldhPwDHAs

Here's what we'll make in part two:






Dahila had a question about rotating so there's a video to cover that as well:
https://youtu.be/zvxfK9Yk6Es
 
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Stacy

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Tools I Used In The Video

  1. Rectangle Select Tool: click and drag to select a section for further editing (filling erasing). Holding down shift after you start dragging will force the box to a 1:1 square
  2. Ellipse Select Tool: same as above but makes circles and ovals.
  3. Fuzzy Select Tool: Allows you to select an area of all one color.
  4. Zoom Tool: allows you to zoom in on your image by left clicking. Holding ctrl and left clicking will let you zoom out. A good shortcut for zooming is holding ctrl and scrolling your mouse wheel. It's fast and doesn't require you to change tools.
  5. Move Tool: Moves Layers. With gimp you want to make sure your pointer is actually on what you want to move regardless of the active layer.
  6. Scale Tool: Allows you to make something bigger or smaller.
  7. Text Tool: For creating and editing text.
  8. Bucket Fill: fills selected area with a color or pattern.
  9. Gradient Tool: Fills in layer/selected area with two (or more colors). Direction and size of gradient is control by your mouse.
  10. Clone Tool: Allows you to select an area of your image to ‘paint’ onto another area. Set your source (where you’ll be painting from) by holding ctrl and left clicking. Now left click anywhere else to copy that area.
Other Tools I Mentioned

Guidelines: Pulled down from the ruler at the top or left side. Useful for aligning and centering things. If your rulers are missing you can turn them on by navigating to the ‘View’ menu and clicking 'Show Rulers' near the bottom.

History Tab: Allows you to undo and redo an action. You can also undo one action at a time by holding ctrl and pressing z. It is important to note that if you go back in your history list and make a change, you cannot go forward again to your previous actions. You can move this tab so that it sits on its own by clicking on the tab and dragging. You can put it back the same way. If you lose this tab you can reopen it by clicking Windows > Dockable Dialogues > Undo History

Layer Tab: This tab shows you the different layers of your image. You can move this tab so that it sits on its own by clicking on the tab and dragging. You can put it back the same way. If you lose this tab you can reopen it by clicking Windows > Dockable Dialogues > Layers.

Keyboard Shortcuts I Mentioned

The following shortcuts are performed by holding the CTRL key and pressing or holding the second button.

CTRL and Z - UNDO - Will undo one action at a time (use this instead of having to select the undo tab from your layer window).

CTRL and A - Select All - Will select all the content of an area. I used it for selecting text.

CTRL and mouse wheel - Zoom in/out - By using this you don't have to change tools to zoom in and out.

Some Design Tips

You may already have an idea of what you want to create, but take a look at some of these tips. Most of them are the product of trial and error. Maybe you can skip some of the mistakes I made. This leaves you free to make all new ones of your own!

Printers do not print white.
If you're hoping to create some fancy clear labels, you might want to think twice about your design. Printers assume the paper they are printing on is white and reduce pigments on that basis to create shades. If you start with a clear label, you will have no white areas and any colors will be opaque. The only thing that will really work on clear without a lot of fine tuning is black. Even if you plan on sending your label to a professional to be printed you need to specify that you want white and it will cost extra.

Labels rarely print perfectly.
Keep important things away from the edges so misalignments don't ruin your label. Most mishaps can be saved with a little trimming as long as all the information is there. This is why I stay away from borders close to the edge, it's a sure way to end up pulling your hair out.

Deep color backgrounds are hit and miss.
On a paper label I find most color combinations work fairly well. The only thing to remember is more color=more ink=higher cost.

I use a weather resistant label with a laser printer, and I've found that areas that are heavier in color tend to wear off the quickest.

Printer variations are a real thing.
Your printer and your computer screen don't see eye to eye. If you print something on your printer, my printer and at a print shop you will most likely end up with 3 different color palettes, all of which are different from what you see on your screen. How different depends on many things including the age of your devices, the brand of the printer/ink, the settings of your monitor etc. You can buy devices to calibrate your monitors but unless you're doing a lot of design it's not worth it.

The best thing to do is to print out a sample copy of your label on the printer you intend to use and see how it looks. From there you can fine tune your image if there’s a little too much of one color or another. This will also allow you to check and make sure that your text is sharp and readable and that any images are an appropriate quality.

What you see on your screen is not the final product.


When you're making your label, it's easy to forget that you're sitting a few inches from it and probably have it zoomed in. Your product will be in someone's hand and you don't want to require the use of a magnifying glass to read what it is. A lot of problems can be avoided just by keeping the size of your label in mind. You aren't going to fit War and Peace on a 2 inch square label (if you do let me know what printer you're using because I want one). Once you're done your design, print it out, cut it out and tape it on your product to see how the label works. Maybe the color that you chose on screen clashes with your product, or that fancy font you fell in love with is illegible in printed form (script type fonts are notorious for this).

Step Back And Get An Outside Opinion


It's easy to get tunnel vision whenever you're designing something. It's difficult, but you need to show it around and get some honest criticism. A lot of the 'How's my label' threads on this site have been fantastic for that. Just remember, when someone is giving you honest feedback, they're not trying to put your work down, they're trying to help improve it. Try to keep an open mind and look at your work from a new angle.

Fonts are something that a lot of people have a hard time with at first (again script fonts are the biggest culprit). A font can look great on screen, but once you get it printed it's hard to read. The problem is, you know what it says so you're biased. Show it to a bunch of people and see if they can read it clearly.

Housekeeping Tips
These things aren’t important right away, but if you find yourself making more complex labels they might make your life easier.

Backup - I keep backups of my labels. This way if I change something without noticing and can’t recover it by using undo, (like accidentally deleting a layer or changing some text and closing the file/program) I have an older copy I can retrieve it from. Sometimes you can just recreate it, but if you nailed something you might not be able to make it exactly the same way again. I date my backups using the following format: 2015-09-16 – labelname.xcf

I use this format because then I can sort my backups by name and they will be in date order.

Folders-Gimp lets you organize the layers of your image by using folders. Unfortunately, I can’t show you this in a video because the software I use to capture the screen seems to break the ability to drag and drop layers. In the image below you can see the folder button (arrow 1). You will also see a folder (arrow 2) where I’ve put all the layers for the back of my label. Inside that you will see another folder (arrow 3) where I have the backup text layers I’ve kept in case I need them later. Each of these folders can be contracted or expanded by using the +\- signs beside them. You can also make the entire layer visible/invisible by using the eye icon by that folder.



To create a folder, click the folder button (arrow 1) (or right click in your layer window and select ‘New Layer Group’). If you want to move the folder you can click and drag it. Remember that layer order rules still apply, if you place a group behind your background it will be covered by that background. Once your folder is set up, you can click and drag each layer into it.

You can rename layers and folders to help keep things more organized. Just double click on the layer/group name, make your changes and press enter. You can also right click on the layer/group you want to rename and choose “Edit Layer Attributes” and type your name in the popup window, then click “ok”.

Please note that you can rotate the entire group instead of linking layers as I showed you in the video, but in this instance, because the text layers that I want to keep intact are inside that group they will rotate as well and lose their editing capability. Plan your folders accordingly!
 
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Stacy

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Resources

This section is meant to give you some general information on sourcing assets (assets=fonts/photos/artwork/things other people make). Please do your own research to ensure that you're not using assets without the proper permissions. I will do my best to give you good advice, but I am not a legal expert.

Generally, most free photos and fonts are ok for personal use. What you want to look for is the licensing information. For instance, one free font site I like is http://www.1001fonts.com/ if you go there, you'll see the green/pink tag to the right of the font. If you mouse over them you'll see "Free for personal use" or "Free for commercial use".

Remember, Google just pulls images from places all over the web. Even if you use the image search function and specify "labeled for reuse" etc, Google does not cover licensing. If you're concerned about proper rights to use images, Google isn't enough. You need to go to the page that hosts the image and look for the licensing information there.

While all this applies to anything you use that belongs to someone else I'm going to focus on photos because that is what most of you are likely to use.

Another example for freebies is http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/. You can get photos here (this is where I got the sunset image I use in the tutorial) and most will be suitable for commercial use, but again you will need to look for the licensing information on any picture you want to use.

Let's look at this picture specifically: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=4011&picture=oriental-dancer.

Pictures of real people need a model release (as far as I know this is any picture that has a real person). If you scroll down to the bottom you'll see that this photo already has a release, but there are limitations.

License: Public Domain

Note: We obtained Model Release form for this image but please note that file must not be used in a way that places any person in the photo in a bad light or depicts them in a way that they may find offensive.
"in a way that they may find offense" is fairly broad and can be interpreted in a lot of ways. Most photo sites (even paid ones) specifically state things their photos cannot be used for (the big one is anything involving ****ography - yeah that's going to get censored, but I think we all know what I'm talking about.).

Please also note that a lot of free photo sites link heavily to paid stock photo sites like Shutterstock. Some paid sites are very reasonable, and some are very expensive.

Even if you pay for an image there are limitations on how many times/where you can use that image. Some will limit the impressions (150,000 page views or prints for example) or say that you cannot use their assets in logos etc.

Check the licensing information carefully before you put a lot of work into something you won’t be able to use.

Some sites require a link back if you use their assets. Of course if you're using it for something offline that isn't really possible but you might want to email the creator with a picture of your product. Everyone likes to know that their work is appreciated.

When all is said and done, even if you do everything right, there is no guarantee that an image you researched carefully wasn't stolen from its rightful creator and uploaded to a free picture site. This is the internet after all.

The only way to be 100% sure is to use photos that you create or get them from someone you actually know. Regardless if you plan on using something for commercial purposes, I strongly suggest you keep records of where you got each image and the accompanying licensing information.

Are you terrified yet? Read on!

Will anything come of it if you use an image you shouldn't?


In my experience, probably not. At worst you will have to stop using it, not a big issue if you're printing labels as you need them. It does become a bigger problem if you've spent hundreds or thousands on having a lot of things printed using the image in question.

I have story to share here that I hope will save someone a lot of time, money and/or stress if something does go wrong.

A few years ago I used to own a small chocolate shop. I made all my advertising materials and product labels myself and some of them were used on my website (my flavor labels for one). I had a product which had a label with a picture of hazelnuts. I still don't remember where I got the picture, but I'm fairly certain I did my due diligence for labeling.

I couple of years after I started using this label I got a very official and scary looking letter from Getty Images claiming that I was using their image without permission and that I now owed them a lot of money. If I remember correctly, they claimed the fee for my usage was in the thousands. Fortunately for me, being the kind and benevolent company that they were, they would settle the matter for a mere $800 and change.

After I finished laughing at the dollar amounts, I googled this particular letter (https://www.google.com/search?q=getty+images+letter+of+demand) and found out this is a common...I don't want to use the word scheme here...let's say revenue producing strategy...they use.

As far as I know, I was in the clear legally because as soon as I found out I stopped using their image. My usage was also very limited. It's not as if I produced a world famous Hazelnut Calendar and made millions of dollars. I was also pretty darn certain that they weren't going to escalate this all the way to a court case, which is what they would have needed to do to get a penny out of me. I got a few more letters with dire warnings about collection agencies all of which were promptly filed in the garbage can.

They stopped bugging me eventually. To be fair, I was using their intellectual property, even if it was an honest mistake, but I take offense to the massive dollar amount and the scare tactics.

So the worst happened to me and it really wasn’t all that bad.

As long as you’re smart about what you use and where, you’ll probably be fine.

Other Tutorials
If you find something helpful, let me know and I'll list it here.
DeeAnna did up a tutorial on how she tackles folded labels : http://classicbells.com/soap/labelTut.html

In Closing…

I probably missed many things, but hopefully this is enough to give you a kick start. If you have any useful information for label makers to be, please share it in a post. The same goes for any questions you may have.

The best of luck to you in your label endeavors!
 
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not_ally

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Stacy, you are a soapy helpful goddess. Imagine emoticon for small prostrated figure here :) I am in the midst of madly packing for a move, so did not have the time to go through it carefully and practice so I could ask questions, but be warned, they will be coming! Also the videos were fantastic, your text is already very clear, but it was so helpful to have you talking through it and demo'ing as a visual as well, that was hugely helpful. You did a great job (and you do not talk to fast, either :))

I am very grateful for all the work you did here, thank you so much.
 
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Seawolfe

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Stacy that is awesome! I'm so glad you decided to go with Gimp! I really love your video tutorials - I hope you don't mind if I link to them in some of my virtual world Gimp classes?

I dont know if its of interest, but I print my Soap labels right from Gimp. Once I make my single layer label as you show in your tutorial (I use png, but jpeg is just peachy), I then set up a new 8.5 x 11 page in Gimp, and setup guides from the rulers to match what my labels require for printing. Then I bring that single label in as a layer and copy it, snapping to the guides and print right from Gimp - just make sure that the print options have margins turned off. It's worked well for me for kraft round labels so should be good for square ones. Word or Open Office Write would also let you do this as well, using that label wizard and inserting the image.
 
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Stacy

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Thanks guys, I really hope it helps out and I'm happy to answer any questions I can (I know famous last words).

As far as I'm concerned, I've got a lot of advice, knowledge, and support from this community so this is a small way I can give a little back! :)

Seawolfe > Link away! I've never really thought about printing right from the image program, but really it should be just a case of simple math and layout, you're right. I always have about a 1/4" gap on the left column of labels in Word and I chalked it up to a template issue I could live with. This might be a good fix.
 

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Well done, Stacy! I haven't watched your video yet but the information you've covered is pretty complete. There's only one or two small things I might add.

First, stay away from all caps when using a script font. It's nearly impossible to read.

Second, images you find on a Google image search are NOT free for personal use and are, generally speaking, subject to copyright laws even if there is no copyright information on the picture. As Stacy wrote, do your due diligence.

On that note, here are a couple more sites with free images:

http://www.vintageimages.org/index.php/
http://www.freeimages.com
https://openclipart.org

And lastly, if you want to have your final creation printed at a real print shop, get in touch with them and work with them. Ask questions - they're more than happy (generally speaking) to help you in whatever way they can. Obviously, they're not going to sit you down and give you a tutorial but if you need information, they're more than willing to share what they can.
 

Stacy

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Yes, thanks! I probably should have made that clearer. I've added the following to the original post (I left it here so that if you've already read it, you don't have to go through it again ;) )

Remember, Google just pulls images from places all over the web. Even if you use the image search function and specify "labeled for reuse" etc, Google does not cover licensing. If you're concerned about proper rights to use images, Google isn't enough. You need to go to the page that hosts the image and look for the licensing information there.
--
It's easy to get tunnel vision whenever you're designing something. It's difficult, but you need to show it around and get some honest criticism. A lot of the 'How's my label' threads on this site have been fantastic for that. Just remember, when someone is giving you honest feedback, they're not trying to put your work down, they're trying to help improve it. Try to keep an open mind and look at your work from a new angle.

Fonts are something that a lot of people have a hard time with at first (again script fonts are the biggest culprit) A font can look great on screen, but once you get it printed it's hard to read. The problem is, you know what it says so you're biased. Show it to a bunch of people and see if they can read it clearly.
 
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Krystalbee

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Awesome! Thanks a bunch for the tutorial. I downloaded Gimp months ago but gave up because I just wasn't getting it. This tutorial definitely clarifies things!
 

Dahila

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I am going shopping then sit down here and read the tutorial (printed it) and watch the video. I need to make two new labels so maybe they will be good this time. I need logo to, I already have an idea :)
 

CaraBou

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Impressive, Stacy! I used to make video tutorials for my job and know how time consuming they can be to get the perfection you want for your viewers. Yours are so smooth, to the point, and very clear. It doesn't appear you had to edit anything out! Just curious -- what software did you use? I used Camtasia, but that was years ago.

I've been toying with Gimp for a few years, but have stayed pretty basic and never gotten fluent. Consequently, I avoided layers. Happy to say you've inspired me to branch out again and see what I can do!

Thanks again for sharing your time and expertise. What a great resource to have at our fingertips!
 

Stacy

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I'm so happy you guys are finding it useful. And thank you for the kind words, I know I'm not the only one on here, but I find it really nerve-wracking to put my work out there for consumption. It's good to get out of your comfort zone though (so they keep telling me).

CaraBou > Yes I used Camtasia too. It's a great program. And there was LOTS of editing! I actually tried doing it all together a couple of times at first, but I wasn't happy with it. There was just too many balls to keep in the air with having to pay attention to what I was doing, narrate and remember the order of how I wanted to do things. I also learned how much I use 'ummm' among other things. I ended up recording an audio version, then 'filming' just the video part alone and editing the two together. It took more time, but I think it was worth it. Wait I'm ruining that mystique where I did it all flawlessly without effort on the first time aren't I?

I'm sure you're all too familiar how imaginative your cursing can get after the first few hours!
 

Dahila

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I am trying to find how to flip my text box. The way I do it in publisher. There is an option with rotating tool but it rotates only individual words not the text box: Is there any other way Let's say my label is 2x4
I uploaded the picture so you know what I am asking in not so fluent English. Stacy I will appreciate any advice. Can it be done in Gimp?

DSCN4575_010.jpg
 
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Seawolfe

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Dahlia - what are you trying to do? You can use the rotate function to rotate the text 90 deg via Layer > Transform > rotate 90 deg clockwise or counter clockwise (make sure the text layer is active first) or you can free rotate via that path or the rotate tool. If you actually want to flip that text there is the Flip tool on the tool box between perspective and cage transform. Once you click on the flip tool you will see in the tool options the choice for vertical or horizontal flipping.

If your words are in seperate layers, you can make them all into one layer by merging them (stack the words on top of each other and right click the top one and select "merge down"), but you will loose the ability to later edit the text I think, so copy the text layers before you do.
 

Dahila

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thank you very much , I tried it, but I was not sure how to do it. Thank you Stacy and Seawolve, it takes some time, but I am going to master it, like so many things. Learining is easy, dealing with real people is not , thank you Ladies!!!
 

navigator9

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OMG, Stacy I can't thank you enough. I learned so much from just the first tutorial. I had myself convinced that I'd never be able to use Gimp. I was so panicky at the thought of losing my much beloved program when I upgrade my computer. I've been holding on to the old computer which is limping along on it's very last leg, because the program runs on XP, and it's like an old shoe.....I'm so comfortable with it, and I know it so well. But I think with your tutorial, I can finally let go, and learn to embrace Gimp. Thank you for such a great tutorial!!!

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Aline

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Great tutorial :) I have been using Gimp for several years and love it but it's definitely not as intuitive as Photoshop.

Is 2.8.14 an update to 2.8 ? I have 2.8 so I'm not sure if I need to update....?
 
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Stacy

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You're all very welcome :smile: I'm glad it's helping!

navigator9 > I think even with learning a new program your frustration level wont go up too much. Personally, slow computers drive me craaazy.

Aline - I literally learned Gimp for this tutorial, so as far as how the program works if you already know graphics programs, I'd give it high marks. I had to google a few things, but mostly it was fairly easy.

Comparing it to Photoshop, there are a few things missing, but at a discount of a thousand dollars or so, I think it's worth it!

I'm not sure about the versions. I don't see a change log that details an update to .14 exactly. I know the 2.8 release was a big one with lots of new features so if it is an update it's probably minor bug fixes etc. In case you're not sure how to check what version you're running, go into the Help menu then About Gimp.
 
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