The “Paths” tool is a very powerful and commonly used tool in GIMP that lets you draw straight lines and curves for a variety of uses.
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to customize your paths by moving, adding, or deleting path nodes – also known as anchor points.
Table of Contents
- Create and Select Your Path
- Move Nodes on a Path in GIMP
- Delete Nodes on a Path in GIMP
- Add Nodes on a Path in GIMP
Create and Select Your Path
For starters, lets create a path around the text in the composition pictured above to demonstrate these features of the paths tool. I can do this by right-clicking on my layer or layer group (red arrow in the above image), then selecting “Alpha to selection” (yellow arrow).
Next, click the “Selection to Path” icon at the bottom of the “Paths” dialogue (red arrow in the image above). This will draw a path in the shape of the selection you just created. Hit ctrl+shift+a to deselect the selection area, then hit the “show/hide” icon next to the path you just drew to make it visible (yellow arrow in the image above). You should now see a red line going around your text or object – this is the path.
With our path drawn, we now need to make the nodes on our path visible so we can edit them.
To accomplish this, grab the “Paths” tool (also known as the “Pen” tool) from your toolbox (yellow arrow in the above image) or using the “b” shortcut key on your keyboard. Then, with your paths tool active, click on the path you drew in the previous step (blue arrow). You’ll now see all the nodes along your path, which show up as circles along each path.
Move Nodes on a Path in GIMP
To move a node on a path, with your Paths tool still active, simply click on the node you want to move and drag it to a new location (yellow arrow in the image above). The selected node will display as a hollow circle (a.k.a. no fill, just a stroke around the outer edge of the node). You’ll also see handles that appear on either side of the node if the node is on a curve.
Delete Nodes on a Path in GIMP
To delete a node along a path, click on the node you want to delete and hit the “backspace” key on your keyboard. (Note: the “Delete” key is a separate key on your keyboard – the Delete key will not delete nodes on a path. You must use the backspace key.). To delete multiple nodes simultaneously, hold the shift key while clicking on the nodes you want to delete. Once all your nodes are selected (yellow arrow in the image above), hit the backspace key on your keyboard.
If the nodes you delete are along a straight line, your line will remain intact. However, if the nodes you delete are along a curve (like in the image above – indicated by the yellow arrow), the curve will adjust to fit inside the remaining nodes (yellow arrow on the right side of the image).
Add Nodes on a Path in GIMP
To add a node to a path in GIMP, make sure your Paths tool is still the active tool and hover it over the line segment where you’d like to add your node. Hold the ctrl key and click on the line segment where you’d like to add your node (yellow arrow in the image above). Note: when you hold the ctrl key, your mouse pointer will have the Paths tool symbol with a little “+” sign just above it when hovering your mouse over a line segment.
So, as you can see, moving, adding, and deleting nodes of a path in GIMP is very simple! That’s it for this tutorial. You can check out other GIMP tutorials on my website by clicking this link. You can also enroll in my best-selling GIMP 2.10 Masterclass on Udemy.