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I'm not a graphic designer and use tools like only occasionally. I need to fill a circle with the gradient tool.

The problem I face: instead of only the circle, the entire rectangular space around it (the nodes) gets filled, too. Why is that?

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You need to make a selection first before you can fill something in GIMP (or in similar software such as Photoshop), otherwise it will just fill the entire canvas.

  1. Use the Elliptical Select tool to make a circle, then click and drag with the Gradient tool.

or

  1. If you already have an existing circle, use the Select by Colour Tool (aka Magic Wand tool) to select it, then click and drag with the Gradient tool.

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