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How to draw shapes like squares, lines, circles and triangles in GIMP



If you’re looking for a powerful alternative to Photoshop you’ll have to settle down with GIMP. It’s a great freesource image editing tool but it has its peculiarities and sometimes, unlike it’s commercial counterpart, even simple tasks can seem cryptic. For instance, if you want to draw squares, lines, circles and triangles using GIMP, you cannot select them from the tool box. But then many say GIMP is not a drawing software, it’s primarily used for image manipulation. So what do you do if you want to draw these shapes in GIMP? The developers may be thought (since you get it for free) if a task can be achieved with 3-4 steps, why have a separate button for that?

Instead, you use the selection tool and a combination of other tools to draw shapes like squares, lines, circles and triangles (and possibly, more intricate shapes — like autoshapes in Photoshop).

Drawing a square in GIMP

1. Open a new file (you can also use a currently open file).

2. Using the Rectangle Selection Tool you select an area. You can select a square area manually or you can add coordinates in order to achieve a square:

Drawing a square in GIMP

Drawing a square in GIMP

Then from the Edit menu, go to Stroke Selection…

Stroke selection

Stroke selection

This brings you to the following screen:

Stroke selection for drawing a square in GIMP

Stroke selection for drawing a square in GIMP

From this screen onwards it becomes fairly simple to draw a square of your choice. You can play around with different options. The color of the stroke (boundary) depends on the current color selected in the tool box.

This is how you draw a square in GIMP.

Drawing a circle in GIMP

You need to follow the same routine as you did while drawing a square, it’s just that this time you have to select the Ellipse Select Tool instead of the rectangle one.

Drawing a straight line in GIMP

Again, there is no straightforward button in GIMP that allows you to draw a straight line; you need to use a combination of different tools and the keyboard (the SHIFT key, to be precise) to draw a straight line. First of all you need to select any of the drawing tools present in the Tools bar.

Drawing straight lines in GIMP

Drawing straight lines in GIMP

Then in the editing area, click wherever you want the line to begin from, then press the Shift key (keep it pressed), drag your mouse pointer according to your line preference, click at the new position and then release the Shift key.

Drawing a line

Drawing a line

Your line is drawn.

Straight line is drawn

Straight line is drawn

Drawing a triangle in GIMP

Drawing a triangle in GIMP simply involves drawing lines using the method mentioned above and joining them to form a triangle. This image explains it better:

Drawing triangles in GIMP

Drawing triangles in GIMP

In case you’d like to manipulate the shapes independently you should first insert a new layer and then draw the shape on that layer, so that you can move it around.

4 thoughts on “How to draw shapes like squares, lines, circles and triangles in GIMP

  1. Erik

    There is a simpler interface. Perhaps newer than the original post but look into the paths tool. Make a selection and fill it or stroke the path.

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