In part 1 of this tutorial, we began to improve an image using GIMP, the free photo editor that does almost as much as programs like Photoshop. You can click here to read the first part of the tutorial.

Now we’ve got a photo open, we’ve added a new layer, and are ready to being enhancing the slightly off-color image.

Click on the first layer. This is the very bottom layer that you initially opened. Double click and let’s rename that layer, background. Keeping your layers named is a vital part in staying organized when editing your images. You’ll find the more advanced you become, the more layers you will work with and keeping them properly named avoids any confusion or accidental deletion. It’s good practice to go ahead and get into that habit early. I’ve named my layers “background” and “color overlay.”

background layer named

Now that our layers are organized, let’s take a look at the lighting issues. Here, we are going to make a few corrections to the background layer. Click on the eye next to the color overlay, this will make the layer invisible so that you may see what you are doing to the layer below. We don’t need this layer right now.


Select  the background layer. Remember, whichever layer you have selected is the layer that will be affected by any changes you make. So be sure you have the correct layer selected when making adjustments.


Let’s take a look at this image’s levels.


Here, you are going to deal with three of the image’s values. Shadows, Midtones and Highlights. This is not as complex as it sounds. You can make the shadows darker, the lights pop and give this image an overall better contrast. For this image, I darkened my Shadows and Midtones by moving them slightly right, then brightened up my Highlights to give it a bit more luminance. This takes away that overall haze and gives it a much deeper hue. I encourage you to play with the levels until you‘ve found something that suits you.

Now, let’s move on to that layer we left in the dark!

Click on the eye and reveal the layer we named color overlay.



This will make your image appear as if nothing has happened. This is because the color overlay is the top layer. This layer takes precedence over any of the layers below it. This is important to remember for the next step. You can assign your layers to do different things to your images using blending options.

Under Mode, click the drop down and click overlay. This takes the top image and blends it with the image or images below it. This gives you a much sharper, more vibrant photo. Congratulations!!!! You’ve went from drab to FAB!


This gives you a much sharper, more vibrant photo. Congratulations!!!! You’ve went from drab to FAB!


~ Jessica