This article explains the GIMP tool box or the place where are the tool are.  It will help clarify what each tool does.  Thanks to About.com for this article.

Anatomy of the GIMP Toolbox

Brief Appraisal of the Main Tools in Free Pixel-Based Image Editor GIMP

By , About.com Contributing Writer

The Toolbox is the point of easy access to all the main tools within GIMP. The Toolbox must always be open as closing the Toolbox will force the whole application to quit.

The tools break down into three primary groups of tools, namely selection, paint and transform tools, with a few miscellaneous tools falling outside these groups.

By default, below the Toolbox is docked the Tool Options dialog, but if you prefer you can remove the dialog from that position and dock it into another raft of dockable dialogs or have it float free on its own. Personally I leave it docked below the Toolbox as that seems the best use of space.

The Tool Options dialog displays various options for adjusting the way that each tool operates. The information displayed varies depending on which tool is currently selected.

Selection Tools

The selection tools offer a range of ways to select areas of images to allow you to work on some pixels without affecting those surrounding them. All of these tools share the same main tool options, including the operating Mode, Antialiasing and Feather edges.

  • Rectangle Select Tool – this allows rectangular areas to be selected and offers further options to allow precise positioning and rounded corners
  • Ellipse Select Tool – this allows circles and squashed circles to be selected and shares all of its options with the Rectangle Select Tool, though obviously without the Rounded corners option
  • Free Select Tool – this is simple tool that can be used to draw a line freely or by clicking on individual points that are then connected by straight lines
  • Fuzzy Select Tool – basically this this selects areas of an image that are of a similar color to the point of the image that is clicked – it only makes a single continuous selection
  • Select By Color Tool – this operates in a very similar way to the Fuzzy Select Tool but may produce multiple unconnected selections
  • Scissors Select Tool – this automatically attempts to draw a selection by looking for the edge of elements within an image based upon marker points that the user places
  • Foreground Select Tool – the effectiveness of this tool can vary depending on the image it is being used on, but it can be an easy and effective way to make complex selections

Paint Tools

These offer a range of ways to change the appearance of individual pixels or groups of pixels.

  • Bucket Fill Tool – this will fill a selection with the foreground color or, if there is no selection, the complete active layer will be filled
  • Blend Tool – can be used for a range of effects, including editing layer masks, with the option to produce custom gradients
  • Pencil Tool – offers a selection of hard edged drawing tools with options to edit and create new types
  • Paintbrush Tool – largely the same as the Pencil Tool but with softer anti-aliased edges
  • Eraser Tool – offers same options as the Pencil Tool and Paintbrush Tool, but removes color rather than adding
  • Airbrush Tool – the same options, plus Rate and Pressure controls which affect the opacity
  • Ink Tool – offers a range of options to help emulate different styles of fountain pen nib
  • Clone Tool – allows users to copy pixels from one part of an image to another part
  • Healing Tool – this copies pixels from one area but combines them with existing pixels to help hide blemishes and imperfections
  • Perspective Clone Tool – allows pixels from one area to be copied to another area with perspective applied automatically
  • Blur/Sharpen Tool – effective tool for applying targeted blur and can also reduce effects of anti-aliasing
  • Smudge Tool – neighboring pixels can be blended together in an organic manner
  • Dodge/Burn Tool – digital interpretations of the photographic techniques for lightening and darkening targeted parts of an image

Transform Tools

Apart from the first two listed here, the transform tools can generally operate on layers, selections and paths.

  • Alignment Tool – offers controls to allow layers to be aligned or distributed relatively to different items
  • Crop Tool – allows users to change shape and size of an image
  • Rotate Tool – individual layers, locked layers and paths and selections can be rotated
  • Scale Tool – simply resizes with options to maintain proportions
  • Shear Tool – gives the ability to make the selected part apparently lean
  • Perspective Tool – give the control to apply the effect of perspective to parts of an image
  • Flip Tool – options to flip vertically and horizontally

Miscellaneous Tools

This last group of tools cover several important but standalone features.

  • Paths Tool – often referred to as the pen tool, it allows the production of bezier curves
  • Color Picker Tool – select color from a single pixel or the average of a group of pixels
  • Zoom Tool – offers options to zoom in and out of the working image
  • Measure Tool – can be used to find a selection of measurements including angles
  • Move Tool – has the option to move the active layer or select a layer by clicking on the image
  • Text Tool – allows you to apply text through the text editor and apply text to a path

It’s very easy to become blind to tools that you don’t use on a regular basis, but if you want to get the most out of GIMP, any time that you can spare to experiment with the full range of tools will be paid back as you produce more impressive results and, generally, more quickly.

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