Tutorial by Ted Bergeron

Scaling an image in GIMP is not easy like Photoshop. There are no handles to grab onto to transform and scale. So here we go.

Starting files

You’ll need a background image and a character image.

  • A large cityscape image.

  • A character image. I’ll use a potato on a white background so I can easily remove the white and make it transparent.

Open GIMP and create a new file

  • 7" wide x 10.5" high

  • Create a layer to paste your background into

Add city background

  • Open your city background image

    • Select all and copy (Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C)

  • Edit ▸ Paste into your working image.

2016 03 15 gimpScale1paste

That is a large image so let’s make it fit side-to-side.

Scale the layer

  • Layer ▸ Scale Layer…​

    • In the width set to the width of the image, which is 7".

    • Tab into the height box.

    • Click the Scale button.

2016 03 15 gimpScale2width

Add the character layer

Next we will add the giant potato character.

  • File ▸ Open as Layers…​

    • Select the potato character image and click Open.

This is a faster method than opening a file and copy/pasting onto a layer.

Make background transparent

  • Layer ▸ Transparency ▸ Add Alpha Channel

  • Use Fuzzy Select Tool

    • Click in the white background

    • Delete

Resize the character to fit the scene

  • Use Layer ▸ Scale Layer…​ again

  • This time you are going to guess. I tried 4" wide to start.

  • Still too big, so I used Scale Layer again and changed it to 3" wide. Looks good.

  • Move your character into place using the arrow keys or mouse.

Duplicate cityscape to complete the image.

  • Select the cityscape layer, I’ve labeled Background Sky, and Duplicate Layer.

  • Move the new layer, I’ve labeled City with sky removed, to the top.

2016 03 15 gimpScale3layers

  • Use Fuzzy Select Tool.

    • Click in the sky to select it.

    • Use the Shift key to add to the select as needed to select the sky.

  • Click Delete.

Layer sandwich

The illusion is complete. We have a background city on the bottom. A potato character on a transparent layer sandwiched in the middle. Finally the city layer duplicated on the top with a transparent sky so that the potato and background sky can show through.

You can use this same technique with your own hand drawn sketches.


San Francisco cityscape by Richard Giles