I am trying to make a simple "Q" logo in gimp.

Instead of just typing the character "Q" in big font I am trying to make it using "Ellipse tool". However, I don't know how to make the borders of the ellipse circle bold or hollow. Can someone show me how to do this?

This is what I'm trying to accomplish (a circle with only its boundary in color rather than the entire circle colored)

enter image description here

When I try to do this using ellipse tool this is what I get:

enter image description here


2 Answers 2


The "ellipse tool" is actually the "Ellipse Selection tool" in GIMP: by using it you create a Selection on the image.

Selections in image drawing programs, including GIMP, are not part of the visible image per se (they are indicated by the "marching ants" boundary, but are invisible in any saved or exported version of the image) - rather, selections delimit areas which can suffer alterations by other tools and filters, so that one can limit the application of a filter to the selected area of the image. As in text-based applications, they also denote the area of the image that will be copied in a edit->copy, paste sequence.

However, GIMP has got a simple command to commit the border of a selection as part of the image: just hit the Stroke Selection... option on the Edit menu. You will be presented by a dialog box where you can fine tune the desired line style, and pressing OK there will actually draw the active selection (an Ellipsis if you had drawn it with the Ellipsis Selection Tool) into the image.

For more information, please check: http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-selection-stroke.html

I should further mention you can fine tune the paintbrush options and even the Painting Dynamics to fine tune the boundary color to a vast possibilities of painting effects - but simply hitting "Ok" in the dialog that shows up under the Stroke Selection command will render a nice ellipse, in the current active foreground color.

In time: since you want the letter "Q" you will probably want the extra crossing glyph, beyond the ellipse: I'd say you to use Selection->To Path to get your ellipse as a Vector stroke, and then use the Bezier tool (a.k.a. Paths tool) so that you can complete the "Q" as part of the same vector that contains the Ellipse. Proceed like this:

  1. Draw the elliptical selection with the Ellipse Selction tool
  2. Promote the selection to a path, (Selection->To Path)
  3. Unmark the ellipses selection with Selection->None
  4. Open the Paths dialog (Windows->Dockable Dialogs->Paths)
  5. Mark the ellipse path as visible, by clicking at right of the thumbnail of the Path named selection in the Path's dialog. To do that, you click on the space directly below the word "Lock" - that should make its outline visible on the image, and put an "eye" icon its entry in the Paths dialog, just as it works for Layers. The outline shows up in red color in the image, but just as the selection, it does not belong to the visible image: it is just a marking outline.
  6. Switch to the Paths tool (click on the tool box, or Tools->Paths)
  7. Click on the path outline on the image. The control points used to mark the Bezier curves drawing the ellipsis should be displayed as small translucent circles. You won't need to move them, but they indicate that you can now add more line segments to the same path
  8. Mark the stroke completing the "Q" by clicking and adding two extra control points in the correct places of the image
  9. Optionally drag and bend the new line segment until it suits you (ctrl+Z will undo the latest changes to the path, so don't be afraid to try modifying it as you want)
  10. Issue the edit->Stroke path command to actually get the pixels drawn:Letter Q drawn(Path and Paths dialog shown, after stroking it with "Use a paint tool" option in the Stroke Vector dialog, and selecting the Paintbrush tool, and in its options the "Bristles 02" brush (ships with GIMP) and size 26px)

  11. Make the path you used as guide invisible again, by clicking on the Eye icon in the Paths dialog and pick any other tool than the Paths tool in the toolbox.

    (check the Paths dialog and Paths Tool in the manual, if you can't figure out how they work)

After drawing the "Q" as a Path, you can use the command Edit->Stroke Vector instead of the similar mentioned Stroke Selection to render the pixels.

  • Nice detailed answer!
    – Yisela
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 3:22
  • +1 to the "Stroke Selection" tip, for somebody like me that is hardly able to operate with graphic tools this made my life easier
    – diegueus9
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 13:08

Firstly, jsbueno's answer is better than this one. It's more complete, and exposes more of GIMP's powerful tool set. This answer is merely to show different ways of accomplishing tasks in GIMP.

This technique might be useful if you wanted something a bit more stylized.

  1. Use the ellipse tool to select your outer-most border, and hit enter to clear ellipse tool guides:

    enter image description here

  2. Switch the selection mode of the ellipse tool to Subtract:

    Switch to subtract mode.

  3. "Cut out" your center with another ellipse selection:

    Cut out center.

  4. Use the Fill tool to fill the selected area with your desired color:

    Fill with color.

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