GIMP is a raster image creation and editing software that runs on all operating systems. It creates images that are made up of individual pixels, which are also known as raster images. Graphic artists talk about two different types of images: vector images and raster or bitmap images. Since GIMP creates raster images, it might seem that it doesn’t do vectors. But that really isn’t the case at all.
Definition of Vectors
Vectors used in vector graphics software are a powerful drawing tool that lets you create scalable shapes that still look smooth when you increase the size of the image. Compare this to the jaggedy, pixelated look you get when you try to enlarge a raster image too much and you see the benefit of vector graphics. They have other benefits, too, because the vectors have little “handles” on them that you can drag around to change the angle of the curve instead of having to erase and redraw the shape as you would if you were unhappy with a shape drawn with bitmap drawing tools.
GIMP Paths Tool
Essentially, GIMP has vector drawing tools, except it calls them “Paths” instead of vectors. The Paths drawing tool actually shows the little handles on the tool’s icon in the GIMP toolbox. Use it to draw straight lines, or curves or a combination of the two point-by-point. Easily alter a straight line to make it a curve, and change two curves into one smooth curve by holding down the “Control” key when you select the point that separates them. This tool essentially draws vector shapes; the difference between Paths and most vector tools is that you have to apply the shape’s properties after you draw it instead of before.
Stroke a Path
If you’ve tried to use GIMP’s Paths tool, you might have been confused. You might have drawn an interesting shape, only to have it just disappear. The reason this might happen is that your path is just that — a path, without any properties attached. To make it visible, you stroke it, either by clicking on the “Stroke Path” button in the Paths tool options, below the toolbar, or by clicking on the “Stroke Path” icon at the bottom of the Paths dock. This brings up a dialog that lets you specify the color and width of the stroke.
Paths and Selections
The Paths tool in GIMP provides the best of both worlds. You can edit paths like vector graphics, but then convert them to a selection and apply any special effect that you can use on any raster graphic.