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switching layers

Jun 17, 2012, 11:03
Post: #1
switching layers
I just realised I posted this question in the wrong forum "introductions rather than "beginners" so here's my question again, in the right forum this time.

I am just beginning learning Gimp. I have read the help virtually all the way through but must be missing something. To work on different parts of images I understand that stacked up layers must be created for the different parts one wants to modify. However, once several different layers are created I don't understand how to switch from one layer to another in order to work on each individually. In the Windows menu I have created dockable "Layers" dialogs and I can see the different layers I've created, but by clicking on one or the other doesn't "get me into" that layer to work on it (to paint, erase etc). I know this must be a stupid question with a very obvious answer but I'm stuck and without this basic concept I cant get past square one in working with GIMP. Thanks in advance for anyone's help.
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Jun 17, 2012, 12:03
Post: #2
RE: switching layers
The "active" layer is highlighted in blue. This is the one on which everything happens.

But one doesn't get "into" the layer... it is quite frequent to work on a layer in the middle of the stack while looking at the image to control the end result. If you see only the layer you are working on you don't see its interactions with the other layers. If you want to see only the layer you work on you can make the other ones invisible, but this isn't how most people work.

The next step in your apprenticeship will be layer masks: you paint on a layer mask without even seeing it (even if you can). A layer mask controls the transparency of its corresponding layer, and you paint it while looking at the whole image to see how it is affected by the transparency changes in the layer.

Aspirin? Smile

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Jun 17, 2012, 14:39
Post: #3
RE: switching layers
Thanks for your help. I now understand that the basic starting image i loaded is where everything happens and the other layer additions I make need to show in it so they are properly oriented etc.
However I'll give you a simple example of how I just got stuck again. I added a line of text to the image and then closed the text dialog. I was left with a new layer which shows up in the principal image window with a dashed line box around it. However when I select a new section of the background image and try to work on it nothing happens. I seem to be stuck in the layer with the text. The only solution I found to continue working was to merge the text layer (merge down) with the background and then I was able to work on the main background image again. But that's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to leave the text layer in existence for possible later modification and go back to into the main image (layer) to work on another section of it. This is what I guess I meant by "switching layers". Maybe it would be better called "escaping newly created layers". I hope this makes sense. I took the aspirin. Thanks again in advance for your help.
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Jun 17, 2012, 15:12
Post: #4
RE: switching layers
(Jun 17, 2012 14:39)Tontonolmet Wrote:  However I'll give you a simple example of how I just got stuck again. I added a line of text to the image and then closed the text dialog. I was left with a new layer which shows up in the principal image window with a dashed line box around it.
So far, so good
(Jun 17, 2012 14:39)Tontonolmet Wrote:  However when I select a new section of the background image and try to work on it nothing happens. I seem to be stuck in the layer with the text. The only solution I found to continue working was to merge the text layer (merge down) with the background and then I was able to work on the main background image again. But that's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to leave the text layer in existence for possible later modification and go back to into the main image (layer) to work on another section of it. This is what I guess I meant by "switching layers". Maybe it would be better called "escaping newly created layers".
Merging layers is a capital sin in Gimp, always keep things in as many separate layers as you can manage, but you are already aware of this. Normally, you should have been able to work on the background. The only case I know where you have to merge a layer to continue is when the layer is a "Floating selection", created by a "Paste" or because you used a transform tool (Scale/Rotate/Perspective/Shear/Flip") on a selection. But then the layer is labelled as such in the Layers list. And merging is only one of the options, the other is to create a new layer (Shift-Ctrl-N), that will take its contents from that floating selection. Otherwise when things seems to be stuck, there is a checklist.

Save the file as XCF, exit Gimp and reopen it, do you still have the problem?

Can you reproduce the problem on a small file (create blank image, add text, try to make a brush stroke on the background), and if so can you post it in XCF format?

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Jun 17, 2012, 16:15
Post: #5
RE: switching layers
OK, I checked whether my text layer was floating; it wasn't. Then I tried saving my file as xcf (it had originally been .jpg) and re loaded it. I was still stuck; no way to paint on the background with the text layer in existence. I tried another very simple file with the same result. Then I just created a new small blank file, xcf by default, added a line of text and was again unable to draw on the background. Am I perhaps doing something wrong in terminating my new text layers ? Maybe I need to take another action beyond just closing the text dialog ? Maybe the text layer doesn't consider itself fully created and is waiting for a termination action.
I don't quite understand what you mean about possibly changing the problem text layer to another type. Thank you for your patience.
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Jun 17, 2012, 16:32
Post: #6
RE: switching layers
(Jun 17, 2012 15:12)ofnuts Wrote:  
(Jun 17, 2012 14:39)Tontonolmet Wrote:  However I'll give you a simple example of how I just got stuck again. I added a line of text to the image and then closed the text dialog. I was left with a new layer which shows up in the principal image window with a dashed line box around it.
So far, so good
(Jun 17, 2012 14:39)Tontonolmet Wrote:  However when I select a new section of the background image and try to work on it nothing happens. I seem to be stuck in the layer with the text. The only solution I found to continue working was to merge the text layer (merge down) with the background and then I was able to work on the main background image again. But that's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to leave the text layer in existence for possible later modification and go back to into the main image (layer) to work on another section of it. This is what I guess I meant by "switching layers". Maybe it would be better called "escaping newly created layers".
Merging layers is a capital sin in Gimp, always keep things in as many separate layers as you can manage, but you are already aware of this. Normally, you should have been able to work on the background. The only case I know where you have to merge a layer to continue is when the layer is a "Floating selection", created by a "Paste" or because you used a transform tool (Scale/Rotate/Perspective/Shear/Flip") on a selection. But then the layer is labelled as such in the Layers list. And merging is only one of the options, the other is to create a new layer (Shift-Ctrl-N), that will take its contents from that floating selection. Otherwise when things seems to be stuck, there is a checklist.

Save the file as XCF, exit Gimp and reopen it, do you still have the problem?

Can you reproduce the problem on a small file (create blank image, add text, try to make a brush stroke on the background), and if so can you post it in XCF format?

In my last reply I forgot to enclose a copy of the the little blank file I created test.xcf - its attached


Attached File(s)
.xcf  test.xcf (Size: 6.32 KB / Downloads: 38)
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Jun 17, 2012, 17:25
Post: #7
RE: switching layers
Works for me. What you should be seeing;
- open the file: the text layer is active (highlight in blue), and there is a rectangular selection (since it is outside the active layer, the "marching ants" are stopped
- select the background in Layers list: the ants start marching
- start the brush tool
- click and swipe across the selection, starting from outside the selection rectangle: the stroke is clearly cut and only appears in the selection

Is it not the case? Or where does this differ from your expectations?

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Jun 17, 2012, 18:02
Post: #8
RE: switching layers
(Jun 17, 2012 17:41)Tontonolmet Wrote:  
(Jun 17, 2012 17:25)ofnuts Wrote:  Works for me. What you should be seeing;
- open the file: the text layer is active (highlight in blue), and there is a rectangular selection (since it is outside the active layer, the "marching ants" are stopped
- select the background in Layers list: the ants start marching
- start the brush tool
- click and swipe across the selection, starting from outside the selection rectangle: the stroke is clearly cut and only appears in the selection

Is it not the case? Or where does this differ from your expectations?

You've unblocked me. As I suspected the explanation was very simple. After creating my text layer and closing the dialog box I was not then taking the final step in getting out of the text layer by selecting the background layer before trying to draw on it. This is the final step I suspected I was omitting in getting myself out of the text layer and into the background. When I closed the text dialog I had thought I was finished with the text layer. I thought that making a new selection in the background was sufficient to move into that layer. Now that I see it its almost embarrassing; its so simple. Anyway thanks so much for your help. Maybe now I can move on into some more complex issues.
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Jun 17, 2012, 19:19 (This post was last modified: Jun 17, 2012 19:40 by ofnuts.)
Post: #9
RE: switching layers
(Jun 17, 2012 18:02)Tontonolmet Wrote:  You've unblocked me. As I suspected the explanation was very simple. After creating my text layer and closing the dialog box I was not then taking the final step in getting out of the text layer by selecting the background layer before trying to draw on it. This is the final step I suspected I was omitting in getting myself out of the text layer and into the background. When I closed the text dialog I had thought I was finished with the text layer. I thought that making a new selection in the background was sufficient to move into that layer. Now that I see it its almost embarrassing; its so simple. Anyway thanks so much for your help. Maybe now I can move on into some more complex issues.
Always glad to help...

By the way, when you say "I thought that making a new selection in the background was sufficient to move into that layer" you are hinting at another misunderstanding that I'll debunk right now to avoid you more hair-pulling. You don't make a selection on a layer, because the selection always applies to the whole image. When you use the selection for painting or cut/paste, the target pixels are the intersection of the active layer and the selection. You can of course base your selection on the contents of a specific layer (select by color, for instance), but the resulting selection always applies to all layers. Rectangle/ellipse/freehand/path selections can be performed with any layer active.

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