Add Text

First choose the text tool in the toolbox or just press the 't' key. Select properties such as font and size but be aware that you can also change these properties after the text has been created. Click on the image where you want to create the text then type your text. Your text will appear directly on the image (in a separate text layer) but you can also choose to display a text editor window in the tool options - the text editor even lets you load text from an external file if you wish. You can change all the usual properties such as color, font, size, bold, italic, underline and justification, but there does not seem to be an option to give the letters a colored outline or 'stroke' which other programs such as Paint Shop Pro do include.

The text box that you are typing in normally starts off in dynamic mode - the box will automatically extend horizontally as you type. In dynamic mode the text will not wrap but you can force the text to begin a new line by pressing Enter. If you change to fixed mode either in the tool options or by pulling one the box's corner handles then the box will no longer resize automatically and the text will wrap. Since the box no longer expands automatically you will need to resize the box manually to accommodate additional text that you add.

Make sure that the layers palette is visible and you will notice that a new text layer has just been created - you can tell it is a text layer by the symbol shown at left. Text layers are different from normal layers because they contain data in a text editor format.

While the text layer is selected you can use the move tool (see symbol at left) to move the text to the desired location in the image - be careful to drag the letters and not the spaces between them.

If you want to modify some existing text then make sure that the corresponding text layer is selected in the layers window and then click on the image with the text tool.

As explained in the Layers lesson, information about layers can only be recorded if you save your picture in the XCF format. Once you are sure that your image is finished, however, you should save it in the very compact JPG format.

More about the available options for this tool:

Anti-aliasing is a slight blurring of the edge of the letters to stop them appearing jagged. It should normally be turned on. Here are letters typed without anti-aliasing and then with anti-aliasing:

Hinting modifies the text when small fonts are used so as to make them more legible - it's on by default so you should probably leave it on.

It should be possible to convert your text into a path by right-clicking the text and choosing 'path from text' but this does not seem to work for me in version 2.8.2. If it does work for you then the text will lose its color and you will be able to manipulate the selection just as if the selection had been made with the paths tool: darken it, apply filters to it etc.

A text layer is not like a picture layer - a text layer contains only text information (font, size, the text itself etc) while a picture layer contains only information about pixels. There are many operations that you may want to apply to text (rotation, filters etc) which are only really meaningful for picture layers and therefore the GIMP will quietly convert the text layer into a picture layer if necessary, without telling you it has done so. The problem comes when you want to modify the text (e.g. change the spelling or the font) in a layer that has been converted to a picture layer - in order to convert the picture layer back to a text layer the GIMP will have to discard all the 'picture operations' that you have done since the text layer was converted to a picture layer. The GIMP will warn you about this and give you various options including discarding those changes. The best thing to do is to be sure that your text is correct (spelling etc.) before you apply any effect to the text layer (such as rotation) that would cause the text layer to be converted into a normal 'image' layer.

What special effects can be applied to text? With the text layer selected you can apply various menu items such as:

  • You can rotate the text with Layer>Transform>Arbitrary Rotation... (or just Shift+R). Drag a corner of the text rectangle and then press Rotate. If the text rotates the 'wrong way' then make sure the 'forward' direction is selected in the rotate tool's options window. Warning: rotating the text will cause the text layer to be converted into an image layer, as explained above, meaning that you will no longer be able to edit the text as text.
  • Other available effects include drop shadows (see bellow): Filters>Light and Shadow>Drop-Shadow

Now let's get some practice with the text tool. Download this top image to your folder, open it in the GIMP, then add text to try to make it look like the picture underneath. Note that there are some hints to help you underneath the second picture.

Some hints:

For the 'EEB3' text, I used the text tool with options set to Impact Condensed font (if you have it, otherwise something similar) size 255, bright yellow. Then I used Layer>Transform>Rotate 90° counter-clockwise to rotate the text (as soon as you do this you will note that the text no longer shows as a text layer in the layers dialog - it has been quietly converted to a regular picture layer). Then I moved the text roughly into position with the Move tool, stretched it with the scale tool and adjusted the layer's opacity in the layers dialog to make the layer semi-transparent.

For the green text I used Franklin Gothic Medium, Italic, size 45, centred. When I was sure the text was OK I added a subtle drop shadow with Filters>Shadow and Light>Drop Shadowusing the default settings. This makes the text stand out better by darkening the area around it. Note that the drop shadow is created as a separate layer meaning that the text layer can remain a text layer, still editable as text.

Finally, the chrome-style text. This uses a complex scripted effect and is best generated in a separate image and then copied and pasted into our image. Choose File>New and use the text tool to create the text with Arial, size 100. Then apply the effect with Filters>Alpha to Logo>Chrome. Now we need to copy the resulting image so that we can paste it into the main image - this needs care because we have layers which we need to delete before we copy the image. You probably have three layers in this image right now but we only want the top two so hide the bottom (background) layer by clicking its eye (visibility) icon. Now we need to copy the image but Ctrl-C won't do because that will copy only the contents of the active layer - you will need to choose Edit>Copy Visible to get both the visible layers at the same time. Paste what you have copied into the other image and move and resize as necessary. You're done!

Now that you have finished, you should save the image into your folder as a jpg (compressed) image. If you think you may want to do more work on this image then you should also save it in the XCF format. Working with text is a big topic in any advanced graphics program - see the 'text management' chapter of the user manual for more advice.