Gimp’s Ellipse Selection Tool shares many settings options with the Rectangle Selection Tool which have been covered in this description of the tool and some practical examples of using the tool for different purposes are described in Using Gimp’s Rectangle Select Tool.
Users who are not familiar with Gimp can find out more about this popular and free open source image editing application in this Overview of Gimp and it can be downloaded for free from Gimp’s website.
The Ellipse Selection Tool is located in the Toolbox beside the Rectangle Selection Tool. These two tools both have equivalents in Photoshop’s Marquee tool, though in Photoshop there is a single button in the toolbox to access several different selection options.
It is called a selection tool as it can be used to draw an ellipse that will ‘select’ all the pixels contained within and these pixels can then be manipulated in a range of ways. An ellipse is a circle or a squashed circle, which when very squashed may become a cigar shape.
The Ellipse Selection Tool can be used very simply to draw an ellipse that can then be filled with a solid color. The cursor should be placed on the canvas and then, with the left mouse button held down, the cursor can be dragged to draw an ellipse and the mouse button should be released when the ellipse is as required.
The resulting selection is surrounded by a moving dashed line and the pixels contained can then be manipulated in isolation from those outside of the selection.
The Ellipse Selection Tool defaults to Replace Current Selection mode that allows a user to draw a single ellipse at a time.
Changing to the Add to the Current Selection mode allows a user to draw multiple selections on the canvas at the same time which can be manipulated simultaneously.
The third mode is Subtract from the Current Selection which allows the user to remove pixels from a selection to produce cut out or hollow shapes.
The final option is the Intersect mode that allows a user to overlap to ellipse selections and only those pixels that are within both selections will remain selected.
Below the mode selection buttons are a number of other optional settings. The first of these is Antialiasing, which is selected by default, and when turned on, the edges of selections are visually softened by including tones of the selection’s main color. This prevents jagged edges which can result when the Antialiasing is turned off, though that maybe desired in some types of design.
Feather Edges also affects the color of edge pixels, but this is intended to blend the color of the selection with the background and the Radius slider can be used to vary the amount of feathering.
Expand from center means that when the Ellipse Selection Tool is used, the ellipse is drawn from the center rather than from an edge, making it easier to accurately place the center of the selection.
The next few options allow the user to pre-set sizing and positioning of ellipse selections, giving users a great deal of control over how selections will appear.
The Highlight checkbox does the simple job of making the area outside of the current selection grey and this can, in some cases, make it easier to visually place an ellipse selection.
The Auto Shrink button can be useful when wanting to make a minimum sized ellipse selection that completely contains an existing area of colored pixels. Selecting the Shrink merged checkbox makes Auto Shrink act on existing pixels on all visible layers.
The Ellipse Selection Tool is an important and versatile tool within Gimp’s toolbox that can be used for a range of different purposes.