Looking to learn how to draw a rectangle in GIMP? It’s super easy and beginner friendly! In this GIMP Help Article, I’ll show you how to draw rectangles in GIMP using built-in tools. You can watch the video version of this tutorial below, or skip over it to read the Help Article version, available in over 30 languages.
Step 1: Create a New Composition & Layer
For starters, you’ll want to create a new document (if you don’t have one open already) by going to File>New.
Choose the dimensions for your document (I went with 1920 x 1080 pixels – red arrow in the image above) and click OK (blue arrow).
Now that we have our new blank composition, I recommend creating a new layer to draw your rectangle or square on. To do this, click the “Create a new layer” icon in the bottom left corner of your layer’s panel (red arrow in the above image). Set your layer name to whatever you want (I named my layer “Rectangle” – blue arrow) and set the background “Fill with” option to “Transparency” (green arrow). Click OK to create the new layer.
Creating a blank layer to draw your shapes on is important if you intend to move your shapes at a later time during your session (using a transform tool like the move tool, for example). If you don’t draw your shapes on their own layer, you will not be able to move them from whatever their position is at the time you draw them.
Step 2: Draw Your Rectangle Shape
Now that we have a dedicated layer to draw our shape on, I’ll come over to the toolbox and will click on the “Rectangle Select” tool (red arrow in the image above), which you can also access using the shortcut key “R” on your keyboard. If you are using GIMP 2.10.18 or newer, your tools will likely be grouped as you see in the photo. If you are using an older version of GIMP, each individual tool will be displayed in the Toolbox. Also, your tool icons may look slightly different than mine depending on the icon theme you currently have set up in your GIMP.
With your Rectangle Select tool active, click and drag your mouse across your image to draw a rectangle. You will see the dimensions of the rectangle you draw either under the “Size” section of the Tool Options for this tool (red arrow in the image above) or in the status bar at the bottom of the GIMP window (blue arrow). When you’re ready, release your mouse.
This will create a rectangle selection area on your composition. The moving dotted line moving around the border of your rectangle is known as the “marching ants” line.
If you want to adjust the size of the rectangle, you can do so by clicking and dragging any of the transform handles around the outer edge of your rectangle (one example of such a handle is denoted by the red arrow in the image above). These handles appear by hovering your mouse over any of the sides or corners of your rectangle.
You can also reposition the rectangle by clicking your mouse in the middle of the rectangle and dragging it to whatever location you want to place the rectangle. You’ll know you are repositioning the rectangle because little center crosshairs will appear at the center of your rectangle as you drag it with your mouse (red arrow).
Step 3: Color Your Rectangle
Once your rectangle is drawn and in place, it’s time to color it in. To do this, simply click and drag the foreground color swatch over your rectangle and release your mouse (red arrows following the blue dotted line in the image above). This will fill your rectangle shape in with whatever color your foreground is set to (in my case I just used black). Note that you can also color in this area using the gradient tool if you prefer.
Hit ctrl+shift+a on your keyboard to deselect the rectangle selection area, or go to Select>None. You’ll now have a rectangle drawn on your image.
The main issue is that the layer the rectangle is on is the size of the entire composition (layer boundary is denoted by the red arrows in the photo). I recommended shrinking the Rectangle layer (blue arrow) down so that it’s the exact size of the rectangle.
To do this, go to Layer>Crop to Content (red arrow).
Now your layer will be the same size as the rectangle (denoted by the yellow dotted line around the shape – red arrow in the image above). You have now drawn a rectangle in GIMP!
That’s it for this tutorial. If you liked it, don’t forget to check out my other GIMP video tutorials, and also get more information about how to draw the rectangles and squares or use the Rectangle Select Tool in general via the premium version of this tutorial available to DMD Premium Members!