Making a 2D Character in Gimp

In this Tutorial I’ll show you my process for creating a 2D character in Gimp that will be functional
for animation in Blender.

In this tutorial I am going to show you how to bring your character from paper, to Gimp, and optimizing it for 2D animation in blender. If you want to follow along, draw a simple character and scan it to your computer (taking a picture on your phone works too) or save the example on this page to your computer.

First Open up Gimp, click “File” at the top and select “open” from the drop down menu. This will open your file explorer, navigate to the drawing you will be using, select, and open it.

You will see on your very right, in the “Layers, Channels, etc..” window, that your drawing is labeled “background” and that it is the only layer. We are going to create a new “Transparent Layer” by clicking the button. Make sure “Transparency” is selected and give the layer a name. I am going to draw the head first so I’ll name mine “Turtle Head”.

Now that you have a new layer, as long as it is selected in the layers window, you can draw anything you want and it will not affect the background layer below it. We can add as many layers as we want, arrange them in any order we wan’t, yet edit them all individually. This will allow us to place certain body parts in Front or Behind the main body of our character.

To start, we are going to use the “Paths Tool” to make the outline of the head. This tool allows us to make a shape in a “Connect-the-dots” like fashion. We can make curved paths by clicking to make a new dot, then (without letting go) dragging the cursor. If you mess up, fear not, Cntrl-Z will let you have unlimited do-overs.

Next, in the tool box, below the color pallet is the path settings, click the button that says “Stroke Path”.

This will open a pop-up box that will let us choose the style of stroke we would like to use. I am going to use the default “Solid Color” and a “Line Width” of 10. If your image is a different size, you may need to experiment with different line widths and decide which one is right for your character. Click “Stroke” when you’ve decided the style of line for your character.

Next, click on the color pallet. This will open a box where we can select a color to fill in our characters face.

With a new color selected we can use the fill tool to fill in the outline of our characters head by clicking within the shape of the head.

Now that we have the basic shape of the head, its time to move on to another body part. We are going to create the “body”, by this I mean the torso region that is the shell. But before we start working on the outline of his shell, we need to create a new layer and label it accordingly. I’ll call this one “Turtle Shell”. Then I will repeat the process above. using my imagination to sketch the part of the shell not visible in my drawing. Lastly I will move the Shell Layer down so it is under the head layer.

Refer to this animation:

To change a layer position, from the layer window you can either drag and drop it to your desired position or use these arrows to move the selected layer up and down.

Now, I will repeat this process for all the other body parts. When I come to limbs that will be behind the body, I cap them off with a round end so when rotating them in animation, they do not look severed.

Then I will adjust layer positions accordingly.

This is my final product after trying different colors, outline adjustments, and my own artistic touch.

I hope this tutorial was helpful, if you have question feel free to comment below. In the next tutorial I am going to show you how to import your character piece by piece into Blender 3D. (Coming Soon!)



  1. Xralph says:

    Thanks for such great tutorial!!!!

  2. Dan says:

    What do you use if you have a sharp end how do you use the paths tool to make sharp ends

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