no wonder it's called the gimp
April 27, 2006 4:43 PM   Subscribe

GIMPfilter: Why does the gimp have "floating selections"? And why doesn't it have a simple move tool?

I have used photoshop for many years now and am used to adobe-ish ways of manipulating graphics.

1. Please explain to me what (tf) was going through the GIMP developers' heads when they decided that when you paste into an image you get the "floating selection" instead of just a new layer.
2. The GIMP manuals hint at some manipulations that can be done to this selection before it gets merged into either its own layer or an existing one; what are these manipulations and do they justify having this "special case" layer?
3. Why oh why is there no "everything is unselected" state in which I could use a move tool on an entire layer ala the big black arrow in photoshop?
posted by beerbajay to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
GIMP is not intended to be a clone of Photoshop. The developers are adamant about this, and trot this statement out whenever end users find something lacking by comparison. There are various efforts of Adobe-fy GIMP (GimpShop is one, but it's focused on UI changes rather than functionality) but none of them are especially successful.
posted by majick at 6:36 PM on April 27, 2006

Best answer: 1-2. The only reason I know of to have the floating select is so you can choose whether you want to make a new layer or anchor to the current layer. Since the latter could be accomplished with a quick "merge down" in the layer dialog, I'm not sure why pasted things don't just automatically get their own layers. I don't think there's anything you can do to a floating selection that you can't do to an independent layer.

3. I'm pretty sure you're looking for the move tool. Press M to pick it (or find it on the toolbox window). It will move the currently selected layer, unless the layer is completely transparent where you click, in which case, if there's a layer under it, it will move that. When using the move tool, selections stay anchored to the canvas, not to a layer.
posted by musicinmybrain at 6:37 PM on April 27, 2006

Oh, and if clicking to convert to a new layer bothers you, remember that any command in the GIMP can be mapped to a key command in the preferences.
posted by musicinmybrain at 6:40 PM on April 27, 2006

Best answer: The behavior in 1. is actually what Photoshop did in versions 3 and below. The Gimp project was started in 1995, when Photoshop 3.0 was the current version. I know a guy who still uses Photoshop 3.0.5 because it has this behavior, and I guess the Gimp folks like it like that for some reason, too.
posted by zsazsa at 7:09 PM on April 27, 2006

It looks like this has been a bug since 2003, with no official action taken yet. It appears that this behavior is kept around because that is how pasting works internally in the program, and is presented to the user that way simply because of inertia. Someone has posted a patch, so it would theoretically be possible to compile a custom version with the desired behavior, but that'd be a bit of effort.
posted by zsazsa at 7:24 PM on April 27, 2006

The behavior is actually what Photoshop did in versions 3 and below.
Yeah, Photoshop didn't have layers until v3. Floating selections are better than nothing, and PS kept them around for one version when they made the transition to layers, but I'm not sure why the Gimp would still be doing it that way.
posted by Jeff Howard at 9:53 PM on April 27, 2006

I remember photoshop 3. Actually, the move to four drove me nuts because I could not figure out how to paste into a layer's mask. Eventually I realized that you could do it by going to channels, selecting the mask as a channel and hiding the R, G, and B channels and then pasting. And that's what I've been doing ever since.

Is there any easier way to do paste onto a layer mask in Photoshop 4+?
posted by delmoi at 2:04 AM on April 28, 2006

I'm not sure why it does this (makes sense if its just a bug) I just remap new layer to crtl-n in the prefs. What also annoys me is that the background layer can't have opacity, more cruft from photoshop imo.
posted by psychobum at 3:18 AM on April 28, 2006

Response by poster: Duh. Move tool. Horrible icon. Thanks.

I realize GIMP is not a photoshop clone, and I appreciate that, but I was confused as to the possible benefits of the floating selection, and honestly I still see no benefits for it. It makes copying something from one image to another into a two- or three-step process when it should be a one-step process.
posted by beerbajay at 6:05 AM on April 28, 2006

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