How to add layers in gimp

How to add layers in gimp

Advanced editing projects usually involve working with layers, since they’re the best way to keep your image elements separate and organized. GIMP’s layer system is extremely confusing at the moment, so don’t feel bad if you’re getting frustrated with how it works – or rather, doesn’t work.

Many Photoshop users expect GIMP to handle layers in a similar way (including me, when I first started using it), but GIMP has other ideas: it actually doesn’t let you select multiple layers.

Wait, what? Yes, you read that right, unfortunately.

Even though you can’t select multiple layers at once, you can apply transforms to multiple layers. Transform operations change the size, rotation, and position of your image objects, but GIMP doesn’t allow you to apply other edits like contrast adjustment or filters to multiple layers at once.

As I said earlier, the layer system in GIMP is a bit of a mess at the moment. But there are a couple of tips and tricks I can pass on to help you make the most out of the GIMP layer system, and hopefully speed up your workflow at the same time.

Layer Linking

If you want to apply a transform operation on multiple layers in GIMP – scale, rotate, or move – then the fastest way is to link your layers in the Layers palette. Layer linking does exactly what it says on the tin: any transform adjustments you make are applied to all linked layers at the same time.

By default, the Layers palette is located in the bottom right corner of the GIMP workspace, unless you’ve done some additional layout customization.

How to add layers in gimp

Linking your layers is extremely simple, although it’s not immediately obvious how it works just from looking at the Layers palette. Beside each layer, there’s a small eye icon to indicate if the layer is visible, but there’s also a small gap – click in that gap, and a wild chain-link icon appears!

How to add layers in gimp

You can also link layers by double-clicking the layer thumbnail to bring up the Layer Attributes window, and then selecting Linked on the side, but it’s not nearly as fast as the shortcut using the Layers palette.

How to add layers in gimp

Using Layer Groups

Layer grouping is a useful organizational tool that helps to smooth over some of the gaps in GIMP’s layer system by offering a tiny bit more flexibility. Once you place your layers into layer groups, you can move the groups around the Layers palette and link groups like single layers.

Creating a layer group is a simple process. At the bottom of the Layers palette are a few quick shortcut icons – we want the ‘new folder’ icon located second from the left, Create a new layer group and add it to the image.

How to add layers in gimp

Layer groups are really just an organizational tool that allows you to maintain different sets of linked layers at the same time since grouped layers behave the same way linked layers do. Transform operations applied to groups apply to all the layers within.

But it’s not exactly the best solution, because linked layers don’t have to be next to each other in the layer hierarchy, but layers within groups must also move through the hierarchy together.

This can make for some headaches when creating complex composites, but it’s all we have to work with until the next version of GIMP is released.

Will They Fix GIMP Layers?

GIMP does have a working development version of its next release that is supposed to revamp layer handling, but there’s no official word on a release date for GIMP 3. It should be an exciting and revolutionary new release, but until then, we’ve got to work with what GIMP 2.10 offers us.

If you’re curious, you can try downloading the highly experimental GIMP 2.99 release, but it’s almost like a completely different program so none of the tutorials here will be much help. When GIMP 3 is finally released, we’ll update TGT to refer to the new version, of course!

Bonus Tip: A Scripted Semi-Solution

The only other workaround that I’ve discovered involves a type of script that won’t work for all situations. The script copies each of your layers into a new document and arranges them side by side on one layer, and then you can apply any edits you want – filters, color adjustments, etc.

Once you’re done, the script splits that one composite layer back into all your original layers. The end result is that you’ve edited multiple layers, but before I even tested it out, I could already see that it wouldn’t work in a lot of different situations.

Many filters and edits use surrounding content to define their effects, so you might get unwanted effects from one neighboring layer-frame that wouldn’t actually be nearby in the properly multi-layered version of the image, creating unexpected results (though that can be fun too).

If you want to give it a shot, there are a few different versions of this floating around, but the one I discovered is named ‘ofn-layer-tools’ and hosted here on SourceForge along with a few other scripts written by the same author. Take a look through the list for more unexpected goodies!

They have been tested and are working with the latest version of GIMP, but that may change as new versions are released. Naturally, I can’t promise that it will work for you, but it might be worth a try if you’ve got a lot of layers to work on.

GIMP Quickies
Use GIMP for simple graphics needs without having to learn advanced image manipulation methods.

Simple Floating Logo
This tutorial walks through some basic image and layer manipulation techniques.

Making a Circle-Shaped Image
How to create a circular-shaped image.

Making a Heart Shape with Selections
How to create a heart-shape with selections.

Layer Masks
An introduction to using layer masks to modify the opacity of a layer.

Basic Color Curves
A first look at the Curves tool and adjusting color tones in an image.

Your GIMP Profile (and You)
What the GIMP Profile is and how to use it.

Image Formats Overview
Selecting the best image format for your purposes.

Asset Folders
Extending GIMP with new plug-ins, scripts, brushes, and more.

Photo Editing¶

Digital B&W Conversion
Detailed conversion tutorial for generating a B&W result from a color image.

Luminosity Masks
Using multiple layer masks to isolate specific tones in your image for editing.

Tone Mapping with ‘Colors/Exposure’
Using high bit depth GIMP ’s ‘Colors/Exposure’ operation to add exposure compensation to shadows and midtones while retaining highlight details.

Focus Group
Layer masking and creative filter applications.


Parametric Brushes
A look at the advantages and flexibility of using Parametric Brushes.


Basic GIMP Perl
Learn how to write simple perl scripts using the gimp-perl module ( GNU /Linux users only).

Automate Editing
Using GIMP Python to automate a workflow.

Automatic Creation of XCF from JPG
Import XCF images a directory at a time.

The list of legacy tutorials can be found found here:

Bear in mind that this list is being provided for legacy reasons only.

This possibility appeared with GIMP-2.8 .

You can group layers that have similarities in a tree-like way. So, the layer list becomes easier to manage.

How to add layers in gimp

You can create a layer group by clicking on the Create a new layer group button at the bottom of the layer dialog,

through Layer → New Layer Group , or through the layer dialog context menu.

This empty layer group appears just above the current layer. It is important to give it an evocative name (double-click or F2 on the name, or use Edit Layer Attributes in the context menu you get by right clicking the Layer dialog, to edit it), else you will get confused when several ones are created.

You can create several layer groups and you can embbed them, that is include a layer group in another one.

Adding Layers to a Layer Group

You can add existing layers to a layer group by click-and-dragging them.

The hand representing the mouse pointer must turn smaller before releasing the mouse button.

A thin horizontal line marks where the layer will be laid down.

To add a new layer to the current layer group, click on the Create a new layer at the bottom of the layer dialog, or use the New Layer command in the image menu.

When a layer group is not empty, a small “ > ” icon appears. By clicking on it, you can fold/unfold the layer list.

Layers that belong to a layer group are slightly indented to the right, allowing you know easily which layers are part of the group.

If a layer group is made invisible using the eye icon but still open (so that the layers inside the group are shown in the list), there is a struck out eye shown besides the layers that are inside the group to indicate that these layers are not displayed in the final projection of the image, but theoretically visible in the layer group.

You can raise and lower layer groups in the layer dialog as you do with normal layers: click-and-dragging, using arrow up and down keys at the bottom of the layer dialog.

Duplicate a Layer Group

You can duplicate a layer group: click on the Create a duplicate of the layer button or right-click and select the Duplicate Layer command in the pop up context menu.

Move Layer Groups

You can move a layer group to another image by click-and-dragging. You can also copy-paste it using Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V: then, you get a floating selection that you must anchor (anchor button at the bottom of the layer dialog).

You can also move a layer group to the canvas : this duplicates the group in the group. Chain all layers in the duplicated layer group, activate the Move tool, then, in the image, move the layer. That’s a way to multiply multi-layer objects in an image.

Delete a Layer Group

To delete a layer group, click on the red cross button at the bottom of the layer dialog or right-click and select Delete layer .

Embed Layer Groups

When a layer group is activated, you can add another group inside it with the “ Add New Layer Group ” command. There seems to be no limit, excepted memory, to the number of embedded layer groups.

Layer Modes and Groups

A layer mode applied to a layer group acts on layers that are in this group only. A layer mode above a layer group acts on all layers underneath, outside and inside the layer groups.

Figure 8.29. Layer Mode in or out Layer Group

How to add layers in gimp

We added a white layer in the layer group with saturation mode: only square and triangle are grayed out.

How to add layers in gimp

We added a white layer out of the layer group with saturation mode: all layers underneath are grayed out, background layer also.

Since GIMP-2.10, layer groups have a special layer mode: the Pass Through mode. This mode exists only if a layer group is active.

When this mode is used instead of any other one, layers inside the layer group will behave as if they were a part of the layer stack, not belonging to the group. Layers within the group blend with layers below, inside and outside the group.

While with Normal mode, layers within a group are treated as if they were a single layer, which is then blended with other layers below in the stack; a modifier on a layer inside the group blends layers below in the group only.

More details about Pass Through in Pass-through .

When a layer group is activated, opacity changes are applied to all the layers of the group.

Since GIMP-2.10, masks on layer groups are possible. They work similarly to ordinary-layer masks, with the following considerations.

The group’s mask size is the same as group’s size (i.e., the bounding box of its children) at all times. When the group’s size changes, the mask is cropped to the new size — areas of the mask that fall outside of the new bounds are discarded, and newly added areas are filled with black (and hence are transparent by default).

Of course, you still can add a layer mask to a layer in the group to mask a part of the layer:

How to add layers in gimp

We added a white (Full opacity) layer mask to the triangle layer.

When working with a lot of layers, finding a particular layer in the list may be difficult. With GIMP-2.10.10, a new on-canvas layer selection function appeared. Alt + Middle click on the image element you want to find the layer this element belongs to: the available layers will be looped through to show the new active layer and the layer name will be temporarily displayed in the status bar.

There has been problems with drawable preview rendering in case of many layers in a large image. This is fixed now, except for layer groups. You can disable rendering layer group previews in Edit → Preferences → Interface .

GIMP does not work like most other image editors. It has all the best features that advanced image editing tools like Photoshop have but how they work is a different story. In almost all image editing apps, when you paste an image from the clipboard into a project file, a new layer is created automatically and the image is pasted to the layer. On GIMP, you can do the same but the process is going to be just a bit different. It seems that adding a new layer and then pasting the image doesn’t quite do the trick.

Paste an image to layer in GIMP

Open GIMP and create a new file with the dimensions you need. Copy and paste an image either from your disk or from another GIMP file in the new file that you just created. At this point, it is important to check if the image that you pasted is larger than your canvas size. If it is, and you create a layer out of it, you will lose everything that doesn’t fit in the canvas. Normally, a large image will be an easy tell but if you’re not sure and think the corners cut a bit close to the edge of the canvas, tap the Shift+S keyboard shortcut.

How to add layers in gimp

This will put the image in scaling/resizing mode. You will see the full image and you will see an outline of the canvas so you can see the difference in size. Scale the image down or pan around to get the part you want to include inside the canvas. The point is to make sure you have as much of the image that you want to use inside the layer.

How to add layers in gimp

When you’re done, look at the Layers window. You will see that the image appears as a ‘Floating Selection (Pasted layer)’. Make sure it is selected and then click the green new layer button. This will put the image onto a layer of its very own.

How to add layers in gimp

You can then edit it however you like.

GIMP’s behavior is different from that of Photoshop, the app that it is the go-to alternative app for in many cases but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s poor execution. So long as an item isn’t turned into a layer, you can edit it as it is. Once it becomes a layer, it takes on the properties and the limitations of the feature which means some editing options may no longer be available.

How to add layers in gimp

Most color digital images are made up of three color channels: red, green, and blue, usually referred to as an RGB image. Each of the color channels is actually a black and white image where the white pixels represent the color intensity of the selected channel.

When the three channels are combined into a single image, your computer can display any of the colors your monitor is capable of showing – although they’re not all created equal!

Adding an alpha channel in GIMP allows you to add transparency to your image. The extra channel tells the computer which areas of the image are transparent (the black pixels in the channel) and which ones are opaque (the white pixels in the channel). This is sometimes known as an RGBA image (red, green, blue, alpha).

The One-Step Guide to Adding an Alpha Channel In GIMP

There are a couple of one-step ways to add an alpha channel in GIMP, but here’s the fastest method:

How to add layers in gimp

Step One: Locate the Layers palette in the bottom right corner of your GIMP window, right-click on an empty space in the panel, and choose Add Alpha Channel.

That’s all there is to it!

The Second-Fastest Option

The other one-step method to adding an alpha channel in GIMP uses the Layer menu to achieve the same result, but it takes a whopping 1.75 seconds longer (estimated, lol).

How to add layers in gimp

Step One: Open the Layer menu, select the Transparency submenu, and click Add Alpha Channel.

And you’re already done! Those are the two fastest ways to add an alpha channel in GIMP, and you can choose which one works best for your workflow. With an alpha channel added, you can erase directly to transparency or create a transparent-edged PNG image that’s perfect for use in web design.

Checking for Alpha Channels

If the option to add an alpha channel is unavailable when using either of these methods, it’s possible that your image already has an alpha channel. If it has multiple layers, GIMP may have added one automatically without telling you about you – but you can easily check.

Next to the Layers panel, you’ll find the Channels panel (by default). Click on the Channels label to bring it to the foreground, and you’ll see the Red, Green, and Blue channels that make up your image (assuming it’s an RGB image). If it has an alpha channel, it will also be shown in the list.

How to add layers in gimp

There are a couple of other ways to add an alpha channel to your image in GIMP which can save you a bit of time if you remember to take advantage of them. Let’s take a quick look at how they work.

Alpha Channels from New Layers

Any time you add a new layer to an image in GIMP, you’re given a set of options about how it should handle it, and what it should put into the new layer (if anything). At the bottom of the new Layer window below, you’ll see the dropdown menu Fill with: Transparency.

How to add layers in gimp

If you create a new layer that’s filled with transparency, GIMP has to automatically add an alpha channel to your image in order to handle the transparency data for the new layer. This saves you the step of having to add one manually if you’re doing cloning or other retouching.

Color to Alpha

You may have noticed in the Transparency section of the Layers menu that there were a few more options available to explore. The most useful is the GEGL operation Color to Alpha, which takes a specific color and uses it as a guide to creating an alpha channel, effectively converting all pixels with that color into transparent or partially-opaque pixels.

How to add layers in gimp

The same way that adding a new transparent layer requires an alpha channel, the Color to Alpha filter needs to automatically add an alpha channel in order to be able to automatically convert your chosen color into transparent pixels.

How to add layers in gimp

It’s important to note that while this method does automatically add an alpha channel, it might not be able to properly close-crop the subject of your image. It works best when you’ve already got an object on a white background, although you might have good luck with other colors, depending on the nature of your specific image.

A Final Word

Those are all the different ways to add an alpha channel in GIMP! Is there a better shortcut that I’ve left out of this quick guide? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply

Hi There!

How to add layers in gimpMy name is Thomas Boldt, and I’m the writer and image editor on the team here at, your free source for learning materials about the GNU Image Manipulation Program, better known as GIMP. Read more about me and why I created this website here.

Recent Posts

  • How to Make a Gradient in GIMP
  • How to Resize a Selection in GIMP
  • How to Change Eye Color in GIMP
  • How to Make a GIF in GIMP
  • How to Resize A Layer in GIMP


GNU Image Manipulation Program is a free cross-platform image editor made by The GIMP Team. We are not associated with them. This site is built by a GIMP user for GIMP users.

The Add Layer Mask command adds a layer mask to the active layer. It displays a dialog in which you can set the initial properties of the mask. If the layer already has a layer mask, the menu entry is insensitive and grayed out.

A layer mask lets you define which parts of the layer are opaque, semi-transparent or transparent. See the Layer Mask section for more information.

7.22.1. Activating the Command

You can access this command from the image menubar through Layer → Mask → Add Layer Mask

or from the pop-up menu you get by right-clicking on the active layer in the Layers Dialog.

7.22.2. Description of the “ Add Layer Mask ” Dialog

Figure 16.114. The “ Add Layer Mask ” dialog

How to add layers in gimp

This dialog allows you several choices for the initial contents of the layer mask:

With this option, the layer mask will make all of the layer fully opaque. That means that you will not notice any difference in the appearance of the layer until you paint on the layer mask.

Black (full transparency)

With this option, the layer mask will make all of the layer fully transparent. This is represented in the image by a checkered pattern on which you will need to paint to make any part of the layer visible.

Layer’s alpha channel

With this option, the contents of the alpha channel are used to fill the layer mask. The alpha channel itself is not altered, so the transparency of partially visible areas is increased, leading to a more transparent layer.

Transfer layer’s alpha channel

This option sets the layer mask as the previous option, but resets the layer’s alpha channel to full opacity afterwards. The effect is to transfer the transparency information from the alpha channel to the layer mask, leaving the layer with the same appearance as before. The visibility of the layer is now determined by the layer mask alone and not by the alpha channel. If in doubt, select this option instead of “ Layer’s alpha channel ” , because it will leave the appearance unaltered.

This option converts the current selection into a layer mask, so that selected areas are opaque, and unselected areas are transparent. If any areas are partially selected, you can click on the QuickMask button to help you predict what the effects will be.

Grayscale copy of layer

This option converts the layer itself into a layer mask. It is particularly useful when you plan to add new contents to the layer afterwards.

With this option the layer mask is initialized with a selection mask you have created before, stored in the Channel dialog.

If you check the Invert Mask box at the bottom of the dialog, the resulting mask is inverted, so that transparent areas become opaque and vice versa.

When you click on the OK button, a thumbnail of the layer mask appears to the right of the thumbnail of the layer in the Layers Dialog.

I’ve recently drawn 2 images and for the final product I need to combine half of each images, one on the left and one on the right, into a single image.

How to add layers in gimp

3 Answers 3

My answer is very much like the previous answer. I still provide it because the above did not directly lead to success. So you have two files: file1.jpeg and file2.jpeg . They can be different formats than jpeg, and they do not need both to have the same format. So file2.png would be fine too. As a matter of background you can think of the Gimp image as a number of layers over a canvas. The idea is to extend the canvas, add the second image as a layer. Next move the layers so that they do not overlap.

  • Open file1.jpeg using Gimp.
  • Save file1.jpeg in the native Gimp format. Say we save it to file1.xcf .
  • Expand the canvas. Go to the menu Image, next Canvas size. You can now expand the canvas in the direction you like. Make sure there is enough space for both file1 and file2 . If afterwards it turns out the canvas was not big enough you can always make it bigger so that both images fit. One option would be to check the images x dimension in terms of pixels and expand by that much in the direction required.
  • Next choose Windows , then Dockable Dialogs, then Layers. This shows the layers dialog. If all is well you have one layer. It is file1 .
  • Now choose File, Open as Layers and open file2.jpeg .

At this point you see two layers in the Layers dialog. The image itself has become quite messy with the two images overlapping. One is file1 and the other file2 . You now want to move these layers so that they no longer overlap.

  • Choose View, and select snap to canvas edges, that way you can align the images correctly
  • Choose Tools, Transform tools , and next Move. You can now move the layers that is selected in the layers dialog.

Move the layers until they no longer overlap. If necessary adjust the canvas size.

In this post I’ll be demonstrating how to download and install the GIMP 2.10 Layer Effects plugin — a third party tool that adds neat features to GIMP, like Bevel and Emboss.

Layer Effects Plugin

The Layer Effects plugin adds a new sub menu to the bottom of the Layers menu in GIMP.

It adds an assortment of features — many of which now come standard in newer versions of GIMP — but the one feature that I really like is the Bevel and Emboss tool. Here’s a tutorial that makes good use of it…

At some point in the past you may have come across a similar GIMP tutorial that utilizes Layer Effects, but when you followed the download link, you were probably greeted with an error page…

I ran into this problem the other day and it was quite frustrating, so I figured I’d make a post sharing my findings after doing a bit of digging around.

As it turns out, I was able to find a Reddit post where someone shared a download link that someone had uploaded to DropBox.

The plugin can be downloaded here: Layer Effects

All credit goes to Jonathan Stipe, the creator of the plugin.

How To Install Layer Effects in GIMP 2.10

For Windows users, to install the Layer Effects plugin in GIMP 2.10, simply grab the file from the .zip folder and place it in the following directory…

Local Disc (C:) > Program Files > GIMP 2 > lib > gimp > 2.0 > plug-ins

Now go ahead and restart GIMP. The Layer Effects sub menu should appear at the bottom of the Layers menu in the toolbar.

For users of other operating systems: unfortunately I can’t say for sure whether or not this will work. I do know that the file needs to be placed in the plug-ins folder, but I can’t say for sure if the pathway is the same.

Get Started with GIMP!

Want to learn more about how GIMP works? Check out The GIMP Series – a comprehensive collection of over 60 videos where I go over all of the major tools, features and function in GIMP and explain what they do, how they work, and why they’re useful.

Logos By Nick LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read affiliate disclosure here. is an educational media platform for learning about graphic design software.

40 thoughts on “ GIMP 2.10 Layer Effects Plugin | Free Download ”

Still works beautifully as of GIMP 2.10.24, thank you!!

I was not able to install the plugin on my Manjaro system, but I was able to install the Layerfx.scm.
I dropped the layerfx.scm in my /home/.config/Gimp/2.10/scripts directory. Restarted gimp and there it was, under Scipt-fu.
The only difference between the .py and .scm version is the preview option. I have installed the .py version on my mac and that’s the only difference between the two versions.

I’m running gimp 2.10.22 on Manjaro and I can confirm that the .scm works. Also, if you don’t have thte .config folder, you can simply create a folder with such name. Just make sure you have “show unhidden files” ticked on your home folder options.