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How to trace images in Gimp for beginners

In this beginners tracing tutorial, I will show you how to do draw a vector looking picture, over an original image using a Paths Tool.

  Author: mat | Version: 2.8.0 | 16th June 2012 |  

Before we proceed, please click here and go through the Paths Tool tutorial, as it is essential for learning how to trace.

Now that you are down and understand the basics of GIMP Paths Tool, open an object you want to trace.

I'm using image of a tomato. Click here to download it. I suggest you to download the tomato image so we can go through the same object for a better understanding of this tutorial.


Create a new layer.

In the New layer settings window, choose Transparency and click OK.


Choose the Paths Tool.


Now make a path around the tomato the same way I did.

You don't need to be perfectly accurate, just go around and don't waste too much time trying to achieve that perfect fit. You will have time for that when you start tracing and perfecting your own objects.


Press D to select a black foreground color.

Click Stroke Path.

If you don't see the Paths, click Windows in the menu, then Dockable Dialogs and choose Paths.


Choose the same stroke settings as I did and click Stroke.


Now click Selection from Path.


Choose an orange/red tomato foreground color and then choose the Bucket Fill Tool.


Choose FG color fill and Fill whole selection options (see picture).


Press inside your selection path to paint your tomato.


Now make your new tomato layer invisible by clicking the little eye button next to it (see picture).

We did this, so we can continue tracing the rest of the tomato.


Create a new layer, again choose Transparency.


Now let's trace the white shinny bit on top of the tomato.

Again, you don't need to be to accurate.


Press X to select a white foreground color.

Click Stroke Path.


Choose the same settings as I did and click Stroke.


Click Selection from Path.


Choose the Bucket Fill Tool ...


... and click inside your selection path to paint it white.


And again, create a new transparent layer.


Trace the green tomato leafs ...


Click Stroke Path.

Choose the same settings as I did and click Stroke.


Now do exactly same thing we did for our previous selection paths.

Just follow the steps from 7 to 10 only to choose a green color for your leafs.

You probably noticed that we traced in layers, beginning with the tomato itself, as the bottom most visible layer, then the white shinny stuff, green leafs and so on. I advise you to build your traces this way.


You can also trace the tomato stalk thingie in the middle of leafs if you want, just do exactly the same thing you did for the leafs, beginning with creating a new transparent layer and so on.

If you get stuck or want some extra help, just click the Comment and ask away.

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Ainabaen, 13th Oct 2014, 4:57 AM
Great tutorial, but here's one question - how do i save it as a vector graphic file, like eps or sthin?
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mat, 16th Oct 2014, 5:47 AM
Thanks a bunch Ainabaen.

Unofortunatelly Gimp does not support saving vector files, there are some plugins you can use, but from my experience they don't do the job. I suggest you to look at http://www.inkscape.org/en/ It's a great piece of free vector editing and saving software.

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