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How to Use Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8

Updated on February 3, 2017
Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8
Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8

It’s very good to learn how to use Layers and Layer Mods in GIMP. It opens new possibilities to image post-processing. Layers and Layer Modes help you to get more creative with your images and allow you to improve your photos in minutes.

If you don’t have GIMP yet, you can download it for free.

Step 1

  • Open your image in GIMP by dropping it on the canvas from a folder or going to File / Open / find your image in folder / Open.
  • Duplicate your image by going to Layer / Duplicate Layer
  • Now you should have two layers—see fig 1.

Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.1
Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.1

Step 2

  • Click on Layer Mode and select Overlay—see fig 2.
  • It will instantly increase the contrast of your image, but you might need to reduce the Opacity.
  • For my image, I reduced Opacity to 63.5%.

Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.2
Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.2

Step 3

  • Some of the areas in the image get too bright or too dark and now I will explain how to change it without affecting the rest of the image.
  • In my case, the whole building on the right is too bright.
  • Create a New Transparent Layer by going to Layer / New Layer / Transparency. Set this layer to Overlay Mode.
  • Set your Foreground colour to Black colour. Take Paint Brush with 100% softness and start painting over the bright areas in the image. You will see how they get darker before your eyes. Reduce the Opacity of this Layer if needed. I reduced mine to 35.5%—see fig 3.

Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.3
Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.3

Step 4

  • Now I want to brighten the fence and the wall just above the water.
  • Create a New Transparent Layer by going to Layer / New Layer / Transparency. Set this layer to Overlay Mode.
  • Set your Foreground colour to White colour. Using the same Paint Brush with 100% softness and start painting over the area you want to brighten. Reduce the Opacity if the painted area feels too bright. I reduced mine to 52%—see fig 4.

Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.4
Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.4

Step 5

  • Now I will show you another trick. It doesn’t have to be always only Black or White colour to use with Overlay Mode; you can also use other colours. I will demonstrate to you how to warm up a part of your image. I’m going to warm up the colour of the building.
  • Create a New Transparent Layer by going to Layer / New Layer / Transparency. Set this layer to Overlay Mode and reduce the opacity to about 30-35%
  • Set your Foreground colour to dark yellow my number is #e7bd64—see fig 5.

Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.5
Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.5

Step 6

  • Take Paint Brush with 100% softness and paint over the area you want to warm up—see fig 6.

Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.6
Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 fig.6

Step 7

  • To finish the image go to Image / Flatten Image.
  • Next go to File / Export (for GIMP 2.8) / give name / save with .JPEG extension.

Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 before and after
Overlay Layer Mode in GIMP 2.8 before and after

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