Re: [Gimp-user] Book recommendation sought

On 11/15/18 4:45 PM, Dick Marti via gimp-user-list wrote:
Thanks for answering my previous questions about Gimp.
Your answers led me to a further question. Amazon lists dozens of book titles on using Gimp. Many of them 
involve assistance with particular aspects of using Gimp, such as making posters or putting images inside 
text. Usually the book titles are not helpful in determining what the content covers. Can you recommend the 
best recent books on producing fantasy landscapes by arranging snippets of several different pictures?

Hey Dick,

As far as I know, no GIMP books in print are up to date, in the sense of
covering new and changed features in the latest version of the GIMP.

The good news is, that this will rarely make a difference.  When it
does, the GIMP's built in Help files and the online GIMP User Manual
should explain the differences at once.  If following the directions in
a book or tutorial fail or give unexpected results, review the tools
used and check there first.

As you are looking to produce fantasy landscapes by combining elements
from multiple images, topics of large interest would include:

* Layers:  The source images you are combining will each live on their
own layer in the XCF file you are working on, all but the lowest layer
"in front of" and hiding parts of the layers below it.

You will be working with layers and layer masks a lot, so it will pay to
learn how all their basic layer functions work early on:  Toggling
visibility on and off, moving layers up and down in the stack, moving
layers around on the canvas (main editing window), adding and using
layer masks, copying layers, creating new layers from the currently
visible layers.  Layer groups are also likely to come in handy.

* Layer masks:  In the GIMP a "mask" is in effect a black and white
(grayscale) layer "hooked to" a regular layer.  Where the mask is white,
its parent layer will be fully visible in the finished image.  Where the
mask is black, its parent layer will be completely transparent in the
finished images.  Shades of gray enable partial transparency, blending
from one to the other.

Masking vs. erasing:  You can use the Eraser tool (or numerous others)
to remove pixels from any layer, leaving the affected areas transparent
(if the layer's alpha channel is on).  This might look like the e-z and
obvious way to cut out bits of an image imported into a project, but
beware:  You can't bring erased pixels back except by "undo" (vs.
control-z), so if you decide WAY later in the editing process you need
to do that... oops.  But when using a layer mask to "mask out" unwanted
parts of imported images, the original layer is still there and you can
refine or change your cutting job by painting on the mask with white to
restore 'invisible' pixels, or black to 'erase' more of the pesky
things.  Paint on the mask with a soft edged brush to smoothly blend
edges - or, with the mask "active" in the layers dialog, do a "Fuzzy
Select" (magic wand) selection of a sharp edged area, drag and drop
white or black as required into the selection to feather its edge..

* Understanding issues of scale and resolution, to assure that the
source images you choose will "look right" in the finished images.

* The Scale, Rotate and Perspective tools:  Making the bits fit when
composing a collage that's supposed to look like a reasonably natural
landscape (dragons or etc. included as needs be) takes a lot of
tweaking:  Make them the right size, make them point the right way "up"
for a perfect fit, and smoothly stretching them into new shapes, will be
among the first things done to a newly imported layer in the kinds of
project you describe.

* Color and light adjustment:  The Curves, Hue-Saturation, and Color
Balance tools will probably play prominent roles in your project.  The
Curves tool allows selective brightening or darkening of a layer's
content, relative to the pixels' original brightness; hard to describe,
easy to understand if you play with it.  The Hue-Saturation tool lets
you make "big" color adjustments to a layer, the Color Balance tool
enables fine tuning of same.

The Perspective Clone tool will probably come in VERY handy:

Reading up on the specific tools named above in the GIMP Help menu and
the online GIMP manual, and playing with what you learn as you go... IS
the book you're looking for.  :D

Actual books:

I recommend Grokking The GIMP, eldrich horror that it is, to anyone
interested in image editing.  The ancient version of the GIMP Carey
Bunks wrote about is long long gone, but Carey's content related to
image editing itself is very much worth knowing:  Image composition,
manipulating perceived depth of field, vignette lighting, etc. never go
out of style.

Free as in Freedom:

Another and much more 'current' title, Beginning GIMP: From Novice to
Professional by Akkana Peck, strikes me as GIMP book worth paying for.
As the title suggests, Akkana carries the reader from clueless to
competent, especially those who "work along with" the chapters in the
GIMP itself while reading.  It's a little out of date relative to the
current GIMP release, but as noted above, the Help files and online
Manual are your friends.  Aside from major improvements "under the
hood," the latest greatest GIMP still looks and acts almost exactly the
same as when Beginning GIMP came out... just better, is all.


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