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Tutorial: Preview: GIMP 2.8 - the new features

Written by , translated by redforce · Created on Sep 04, 2009, last updated almost 5 years ago CC BY-NC License
A newer version of this article is available: GIMP 2.8: A review of the new features!


A specific release date for GIMP 2.8 is still unknown, however, following deveolpers work and discussion, it seems that GIMP 2.8 will be released somewhen in 2011, maybe in Q2 or Q3. GIMP 2.8 will have kick-ass features such as a long awaited single window mode, full on-canvas text editing capabilites and layer groups!

Tutorial details

  • Category: Basics
  • Time to reproduce: ≈30.0 minutes Skill_1
  • Tested with GIMP 2.7
  1. 1

    Finally here: layer groups!
    It’s now possible to group layers into folders in a tree-like way. You can move and show/hide all layers of a group at once so it will finally be possible to create complex layouts without getting lost. The layer sets don’t work perfectly, since layer masks don’t work yet for example. Nevertheless the basic behaviour works quite well already!

  2. 2

    New: Rotating brushes, brush aspect ratio

    Finally, you can rotate brushes at your will. Very useful, especially for drawers and painters.

    The aspect ratio allows you to squeeze a brush along the horizontal/vertical axis.

  3. 3

    Brush dynamics have been extended to comprise rotation, inclination (angle) and aspect ratio.

  4. 4

    New & useful: resource tagging

    All kinds of GIMP resources (brushes, fonts, patterns, gradients etc) can be “tagged” now. Then you can filter resources by these tags, so you can manage huge amounts of resources quite easily.

  5. 5

    FINALLY: On-canvas editing: Write your text directly on the canvas (no input window needed anymore, although you can still use it if you want to do so).

    Also, the possibilities for font hinting have been exteneded.

    However, it’s still not possible to format certain words within a text (only the whole text block).

    To edit a text block again, you first have to click on the layer in the Layers window. Then use the Text tool and click on the existing text block.

  6. 6

    “Path from text” has been moved to the context menu:

  7. 7

    It’s now possible to do calulcation in input fields. For instance, you can scale an image (Image / Scale image) to “2*100px+1in”. This value will be converted to the required units (here 272 px).

  8. 8

    New default gradient available: a hard gradient between foreground and background color

  9. 9

    Layer modes have been grouped by context for easier use. For example, all modes that darken/brighten the image are arranged together now.

  10. 10

    Completely different: Exporting to other formats like JPEG or PNG isn’t possible via File / Save anymore, but only via File / Export.

    File / Save is only used to save images using the native GIMP format “.xcf” (or .xcf.gz, .xcf.bz2 for compressed files).

    If you want to create a JPEG, PNG, TIFF etc. image file, you have to use File / Export. This new UI behaviour saves some time that would be wasted by dialogs (the hint that the image is reduced to one layer e.g.) otherwise.

  11. 11

    Quickly export to JPEG/PNG without specifying options every time

    Above the Export menu entry, you can find a quick export function that you can use to export your current image without having to specify format-specific settings (compression and so on) every time.

  12. 12

    Image palette: export to CSS, PHP, Java, Python or plain text

    You can now export color values in several formats. If you choose PHP, Python or Java, the colors are declared as variables. For CSS, unnamed classes will be created and plain text files will only contain a Hex code list.

  13. 13

    Vector layers should be integrated since 2006, but now the chances are good that they are relased with GIMP 2.8. We’ll see if it fits into the time plan.

  14. 14

    Customization of the Tool window is now possible via the Edit / Settings dialog. Tools can be sorted by priority or removed completely.

  15. 15

    New: Alt(Shift)click = Alpha from layer
    New: Ctrl+Shift+E = File / Export
    New: Ctrl+E: quick export
    Modified: Ctrl+Shift+R = Resize canvas to window size
    Modified: Ctrl+R = Resize window to canvas size

  16. 16

    Other changes:
    - Canvas edges are now “magnetic”
    - Support for JPEG2000
    - Support for 16 bit RAW import

  17. 17

    The GEGL library is now resposible for layer modes and the mixing of the layers to the resulting image.

    So the most important GEGL functions are integrated to GIMP now and the course for GIMP 2.10 / 3.0 is set. This will allow great new features for future versions, but not before 2010.

  18. 18

    GUI changes
    - When the window is minimized, the Tools window and other aren’t shown anymore.
    - The close button (X on right top) doesn’t close the whole application anymore but only the Tools window. GIMP is closed as soon as the last image window is closed or you choose File / Exit.


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over 2 years ago

Yeah, the Export feature is really annoying. Go back to SAVE AS please

over 3 years ago

Not possible the previous image icon for know what the file to open.

Lindsay Fowler
over 3 years ago

Excuse me, Gimp is excellent, but... why on Earth does it lose the toolbar and all the tabs I docked whenever it shuts down? It's so annoying that it can't remember the layout. Please fix this (Win 7 Gimp 2.8)

over 3 years ago


i am a MAC user,

do you know when it will be available the 2.8 RC for mac osx?
have a easter sunday

almost 4 years ago


I have gimp 2.7 using Windows 7 64 bit.
I am trying to open Canon raw files without luck.
I have d.loaded ufraw, the missing .dll file with no luck.

Any help is appreciated.

Thank you

almost 4 years ago

I'm a total dork I guess cuz I'm getting an erection reading this. Can't wait for 2.8 to come out.

over 4 years ago

-different brush selection gallery(?) dialog (with 'follow active image' uncheck) brush selected one for each image/layer etc
(or can just quick switch between 'recent used'?)

-group similar tools.
eg circle+rectangle select=just select
(maybe can put extra tab/dropdown or something to put extra individual option?)

-easy make palette from not index working on file.
(maybe make temp palette file (like temp brush in gallery place that look like whole image)that track all colour used in file--and maybe again, if can, multiple dialog for each image (no 'follow image')

..i dunno one window. i click tab and window disappear well =))
export idea good. will make less confuse =DD
brush rotation also i think was very good idea =DD much need

sorry post.
sorry long post=..=;;
thank you for reading =)

over 4 years ago

i have a suggestion =D

be able to dock more than one of the same dialog things. and make it usable.
ie. two palette dialogs show different palette each?

devvv member for about 9 years devvv 1460 comments
about 5 years ago

this preview is obsoleted by:

no confirmed dates yet. the developers are working when they have free time :) so release dates will probably only be available short before an actual release
about 5 years ago

Do we know if there are any confirmed release dates yet?

over 5 years ago

It's nice to see progress, but I fail to see the point in continuing in 8 bit mode like previous people have said. I would prefer it was stopped right now and not started again until 16 bit was included in the the roadmap for the first next vesion, I mean, really, what on earth are you guys thinking?! This feature has been around for years in other tools! Take the KDE approach, make it suck for a while but at least something decent will come out at the end.

Karrie rated this topic with 3/5
over 5 years ago

I'm an intermediate graphics designer for a small fansite for a singer. I use Gimp whenever I can b/c it's free, but it is very frustrating to use at times. Please give use some kind of way to do selective coloring more effectively. I know there are techniques on this, but the most frustrating thing, is that it takes several steps to accomplish! Also, it would be nice if there was some way to 'lock' the dock and toolbars, so they don't hide the canvas nor get in the way of other windows such as the Internet. Lastly, please make the text box appear on the canvas rather than in its own separate diaglogue box. And make the points on the path tool smaller! It's so frustrating to have to zoom in to cut out an image and then not be able to see around the points b/c they're so large! Since PS is too much $$ for me, Gimp is one of my only alternatives, unless I bite the bullet and pay money for a student copy since I'm a uni student. Please make some improvments to make this program easier and more powerful to use.

23dornot23d member for about 6 years 23dornot23d 10 comments
over 5 years ago

I would like to see an option for custom Menu Layouts added .........

Where a user can choose which menu's they want and the contents in each of them ..... by adding a menu Layout Template ......

This then would allow adding a Menu Template to change the Layout ..... this way options could then become available for ........

Basic - Intermediate and Advanced Menus ......

( plus any other menu layouts that people may need for painting etc .... )

This could then see the end to new users saying that GIMP is too difficult to use.

They would have the choice ..... its all about choice ...... like saving jpg's .... instead of having to do 3 things every time a new picture is saved
go into export change it to jpg from the default png in the export option .....

The amount of times I do a quick edit and stupidly hit the save button to save a jpg .....
Then after saving an XCF I do not really need going into export and changing the extension from png to jpg
then exporting it ......

Then the next edit doing the same ...... for quick edits on jpg's loading upto the web this is a real pain in the neck ..... just needs a option for the user to choose the menu system that suits them.

Menu Layouts and choices for the USER ..... would be a great addition at this point if possible .....

andrewandrew member for almost 6 years andrewandrew 1 comment rated this topic with 4/5
over 5 years ago

good stuff!

I'm still hoping to be able to "undo" up my previous brushstroke and "redo" it on a new temporary layer... so I can tweak it and merge it back down.

over 5 years ago

I think this sounds pretty cool, except:

1.) "Export..." Geez... Is it really necessary to have two options for saving. Personally, I just type my file extensions into the "Save" dialog so i don't have to go down the list. Plus, "save" already chooses .xcf format by default if you don't add the extension or choose it in the drop down.

2.) Layer groups sound nice, but...I'll be really happy when they can make layer STYLES like Photoshop. That's just ONE thing I'd like GIMP to be able to replicate without the tedious work of applying those changes to multiple layers. (I get that some plug-ins are actually copyrighted by Adobe, but I'm not sure if this one is or not.)

3.) Get rid of the blank window!!! I'll decide when I want to make a canvas, thanks!

4.) I'd love/hate the idea of one window. In small projects, a single window would be better, but whenever I'm opening MANY images (like to make things for Sims 2) I like being able to witch. Plus, the tool window gets in my way a lot. And if I load an image into the big, blank window, it doesn't adjust the size on its own.

Other than that, good job!

over 5 years ago

I'm not a pro user but I miss the esayness of dragging together images and forms and fonts together to the exact position I visualize it looks just perfect for me, selecting and unselecting them just by clicking over or off them, as I do on a ppt presentation. Make it easy for the basic user and the mass will follow.

Steve Smethurst
over 5 years ago

Seems that the users are saying what we want:
1) 16 bit editing is absolutely long overdue
2) Keep the separate windows

Martin W rated this topic with 4/5
almost 6 years ago

I want to move away from Photoshop but the lack of support for 16bit TIF is getting in the way. Then I will be able to dump Windows for most purposes.

As others have said don't make Gimp a fat PS clone. Gimp loads so much faster than PS - professional tools are best kept lean and mean.

J. Dunlavy
almost 6 years ago

With bated breath, I wait for GIMP 2.8.


Thanks to the talented GIMP team!

david vilaplana
almost 6 years ago

I don't wanna be ungrateful, so thanks for these changes. But if I can't edit my pics in 16bits this software is almost unuseful for me. It would be easier say nothing and use another soft, but I can see how perfect GIMP would be in 16bit! I encourage you to forget the rest of changes and make a bigger effort to get it! Half on Earth, and me, would be happy!

Jeremy Coleman
almost 6 years ago

Does anyone else have a problem not being able to export to an animated gif in 2.7 series? When I go to export all of the animation options are grayed out even though I can load the same exact file and load it into 2.6.8 and it will export an animated gif just fine.

Samuel MacLachlan
almost 6 years ago

Yes keep GIMP as GIMP!! I use Photoshop and GIMP . GIMP has its own special things. The only thing I would change and pretty please ask for is the option to put the tool and layer docks into one window with the editing window. But have the option to have the regular style too. :)

almost 6 years ago

The layer groups is the reason I'm definitely moving to Gimp, since Photoshop Elements doesn't support layer groups. The one major limitation for me is the fact that you can't format text inside a text block. That's a major pain. Hope to see that change in a coming version. Keep it up!

Thales Oliveira
almost 6 years ago

46. Gez, 16 Dec 2009 05:59 AM "..."
your words are my words!
thanks for said those before me ;)

almost 6 years ago

I'm happy with all the enhancements. GIMP is going in the right direction.
A couple of things for the people that complain about the lack of 16 bits:
Please stop assuming that developers are idiots because they don't give you higher bit depth right now. That requires a lot of work on the core, and they are doing it but it won't be matter of days. Just learn to wait and meanwhile use workarounds. They exist and you can use them.
It's not true that is IMPOSSIBLE to work without 16 bit. If you work with multiple exposures and adjustments from your preferred digital darkroom software and work with zones, you can work with GIMP without posterization or visible image degradation.
It just takes some extra work. Of course it would be nicer to have 16 bits directly, but hey. You can still buy PS if you can't live without it!
And please stop saying "I won't use it until..." Just do it and save us the warning, we can live with you not using GIMP :-)

almost 6 years ago

For the record, Photoshop is only a single-window application in Windows. On OSX each image has its own window, but in the standard OSX fashion Photoshop only has one menu bar. There is not a menu bar on each window as in the GIMP/Linux. As a professional graphic designer that is used to Pshop on OSX, the multi-window approach is just fine and familiar.

almost 6 years ago

Absolutely yes to the single window. Multiple windows are annoying.

23dornot23d member for about 6 years 23dornot23d 10 comments
almost 6 years ago

I agree 100% with #42 ..... 16 bit is what is needed here more than anything else ....

The quality ... can then be improved and then more Photographers/designers should use it ....

The single window mode feels good to use ..... does anybody know the release date .... for 2.8 ....

almost 6 years ago

I really wish you could just stop \'doing things\' and adding featurettes and interface changes all over the place. It is 16 bit editing that is needed, without that Gimp is not usable for so many of us - the icing is nice, but without the cake it is useless.

almost 6 years ago

I want the newest version of Gimp -- because I love it so far....
Am hoping to use some brushes in it soon and extend my knowledge and use of this awesome program!!!

about 6 years ago

HALLELUJA, Layer Groups!!

Don Levin
about 6 years ago

I do scientific research with a 12-bit camera and PGM images. It's very sad that GIMP can't handle these images.

about 6 years ago

It would be cool to see text formatting a-la RTF/HTML in GIMP.

about 6 years ago

I've been using Gimp on Windows since Tor Lillqvist first ported it over. Here's another vote for allowing us to opt for the GIMP user interface rather than a PS look-a-like.

Gimp - Inkscape - Scribus - Blender - Stay Free! Support Libre Graphics Meeting

Jeffrey Eggenberger
about 6 years ago

Yes to all the changes!! Hope to see 2.8 soon!!!

about 6 years ago

16-bit RAW import. But no 16-bit editing? You import 16 bits per pixel (well, 14 for my camera) and then throw away half the data bits?

Maybe that works if you're just editing JPEG files for use on the web, but it's not so useful for high-image-quality photography.

about 6 years ago

Many years have passed and yet still I'm waiting for GIMP to support 16 bit (12 bit) formats. This feature is waaaaayyy more important than deforming the GUI into a fake Photoshop. I dont like photoshop by the way. Include my vote to the thousand (or countles) voters for keeping GIMP as original program. Please don't ignore our comments. After all, we users ARE the raison d'etre of any software. Thanks.

about 6 years ago

CANNOT WAIT! You had me a brush rotation.

about 6 years ago

"File -> Export" is a step backwards.

Humans shouldn't have to know/care about the difference between "Save" and "Export" (Next, will "Open" only read XCF files, and you have to "Import" JPGs?)

Gimp's current ability to Do What I Mean (DWIM) has been one of the stellar examples of how software SHOULD work; "File -> Export" is a step backwards.

about 6 years ago

That looks great. Also, I would like to see vector layers, because They help when I want add some draws or sings over photos.

about 6 years ago

Gimp looks great and I look forward to using Gimp whenever it supports 16-bit color. Until then I can't. In the finished photo, 8 bits is fine, especially on a computer monitor. However, raw files from a $500 (or less) camera have 12-16 bits. If you truncate these to 8 bits before adjusting white balance or brightness then the noise and banding are visible. For example, with just 12 bits, you can lighten a section of a dark photo by 4x and you still have 10 bits of resolution. At 8 bits, the 4x brighten gives you 6 bits of resolution which shows obvious banding. Sorry to sound negative or beg. What I've seen of Gimp looks wonderful.

23dornot23d member for about 6 years 23dornot23d 10 comments
about 6 years ago

I have reverted back to 2.6 ..... the save option is stunting the workflow for me ....

Lets save it .... oh I forgot again ... yes its Ctrl+e after using Ctrl+e+shift ....

I have just got so used to typing in filename,jpg or whatever and it working ,,,,

Gif files are only saving as one Frame at the moment which does not make for a very good animation ....

It might be ok for others ,,,, but it does my head in .... and am still not sure why it makes it easy to program it ....

Keep up the great work though as I am sure most of the other options are really useful ....

about 6 years ago

this is a great news for gimp users like me.

about 6 years ago

Devvv: you don't seem to know Gimp very well, why doing that kind of videos then?

D'you need your 15minutes?

about 6 years ago

Gimpy: Use toshop then. If you use Gimp on Linux, you don't see the point to have everything in one window.

Gimp, stay GIMP!

about 6 years ago

Will 2.8 finally have the entire program as one window rather than multiple windows? Or at least the option to customize it into one? Like PhotoShop is a single window. And second, will there be a circle took and history brush???

23dornot23d member for about 6 years 23dornot23d 10 comments
about 6 years ago

Item 10 export ...

If you want to create a JPEG, PNG, TIFF etc. image file, you have to use File / Export. This new UI behaviour saves some time that would be wasted by dialogs (the hint that the image is reduced to one layer e.g.) otherwise.

Saves what time for who where ,,, not the user .... this is not a good move ,,,
It adds more operations for the user ... this is a backward step .... and GIF files are saving as one frame ...what use is that > ?

Jayme Ayres
about 6 years ago

Grouping of layers, this is awesome! I think it would be important also User can select layerst. I will wait anxiously for this new version

about 6 years ago

I would like see the same interfece presented in Dia 0.97...

about 6 years ago

I have a video up at "Meet the GIMP", which shows a lot of the above described life, in full colour and HD.

about 6 years ago

@16bit fans:

No 16 bit in 2.8. Not possible to do until GEGL is fully integrated. And when it is it will go way beyond 16bit. Ask the question again when 2.10 is being worked on. That's when full GEGL functionality is slated to be integrated.

On the upside, the color processing in 2.8 should be a lot better since the projection code has been ported to GEGL.

about 6 years ago

And yes, yet *another* vote for 16-bit colour channels. DCRAw does a good job of importing *.CRW (canon raw) files but it would be far more better than having to use DCRAW or RawStudio do the colour balance/brightness adjustment before importing the photos in to the Gimp.

Ah well, at least this release has improved significantly. Congrats, team Gimp!

about 6 years ago

So, you're heading for being a fully-featured photoshop clone, then? Like: Save a copy.. Com'on, it's one of the most frustrating bugs features of Photoshop!

Ian Tester
about 6 years ago

Yes, another vote for handling 16-bit component images. I still have to use an ancient, slow, and quite buggy version of CinePaint to work on my 16/48-bit film scans.

As for making The Gimp UI more like Photoshop - I haven't used that program for a dozen years, so cloning its interface does not help me one bit. It's very annoying.

about 6 years ago

What about 16 bits editing? Will this feature be at last in Gimp 2.8?

Ditto, will we be able to edit half and full float exr or should I continue ignoring the gnu image manipulation program in favor of programs that don't ignore their users needs for 10 years?

sirgandolf member for about 6 years sirgandolf 2 comments
about 6 years ago

ditto RB's post. My 3d software likes 16bit grayscales and only accepts psd for import and export.

Roland B.
about 6 years ago

What about 16 bits editing? Will this feature be at last in Gimp 2.8?
We desperatly need it for serious photo editing...

gimp user
about 6 years ago

please give us tools such as drawing shape & arrows ,and probably other simple tool kits that are just good enough for newbies. thanks a lot!

about 6 years ago

Wow this is pretty sweet! Grouped layers! Layer masks (I know not yet, but soon). On canvas text editing! Bush dynamics yay! Vector layers coming soon, SWEET!

Hopefully soon we will see non-destructive text effects too! Gimp is awesome!

about 6 years ago

I don't like those GUI changes. First, I minimize my image window constantly. I don't mind the clutter and I hope I have a CHOICE to determine whether or not I want it to turn into one window.


The reason I use GIMP is NOT because I want to use another clone of Photoshop! PS's workflow is slow anyways!!

about 6 years ago

Super! Very happy with point 11. Looking forward to installing. Thanks to all, Robert

WWWWolf member for about 6 years WWWWolf 4 comments
about 6 years ago

Layer groups! Oh how many times I have wished this would be possible! Better brushes! Oh yes oh yes oh yes!

...but File-Export is *not* tempting. Mostly because *most of the time* I'm working on non-.xcf formats, and there really should be only one way to save files for the sake of consistency. Oh well, it doesn't seem like a big thing to worry about, but still...

Now, all I really want from GIMP is to get rid of this useless big empty window and go back to the 2.4 behaviour that worked much better. Pretty please???

about 6 years ago

I translated this awesome article to Korean.

devvv member for about 9 years devvv 1460 comments
about 6 years ago

Update: Layer groups. Thanks to user "eek"

about 6 years ago

I say, "Yes, Yes, Yes" to every change.

mamboze member for almost 7 years mamboze 15 comments
about 6 years ago

Thanx guys, lots of very useful improvements.

about 6 years ago

On #5, regarding canvas editing. Does this mean also, that font can be resized by "rubber bands" (dragging out the textbox) on the canvas and not by inputting a new size in the font toolbox? If so, this will totally rock!

sirgandolf member for about 6 years sirgandolf 2 comments
about 6 years ago

"- Support for 16 bit RAW import"

Question - I have some grayscale alphas from another program that saves them in 16bit psd. Will the 16 bit RAW import allow me to work on them and then save/export back to a 16bit psd?

redforce member for about 9 years redforce 230 comments
about 6 years ago

LOL thanks I have changed it now

jstavast member for about 8 years jstavast 1 comment
about 6 years ago

In point 7 "It's not possible to do calulcation in input fields."

Should that "not" be "now"? Reading the rest of the point implies that it is now possible.