Using Gimp to create a simple media player skin

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Article from Issue 237/2020
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Forget the photos – Gimp is also a great tool for graphic design. This workshop shows how to use Gimp to create a simple visual image for a multimedia player application.

Many users call on the Gimp image editor [1] to crop and touch up their digital photos, but the powerful Gimp has many other uses. For instance, developers and graphic artists use Gimp to create graphic elements for desktop applications. The details of how to tie graphics features into a working application are numerous and depend on the programming language, the desktop system, and the nature of the application. However, the steps for creating basic GUI elements in Gimp are often quite simple and serve as a useful scenario for showcasing Gimp's impressive toolbox of graphic design tools.

This workshop introduces you to some of the tools that graphic artists use to build images in Gimp. In this scenario, I'll build the skin for a sample media player application. Of course, the media player on your Linux system is a software tool that processes the contents of a stream or sound file. A media player doesn't really look like anything, but the metaphor of the computer desktop environment means that humans need something to look at. In this case, I'll make the media player look like an old-school CD player, with the usual buttons (Play, Stop, Previous, and Next) and a little window to show what song is playing. A more complete GUI interface would include an enlarged window for displaying playlists, as well as other elements, but for the purposes of this workshop, I'll keep it simple.

The popular Gimp comes preinstalled on many Linux systems, and if you can't find it now in the Start menu (typically with the Graphics applications), you can surely install it from your distro's package manager. The Gimp website also provides source code and packages for several operating systems [2]. This tutorial is based on Gimp version 2.10.14; if you are using a different version of Gimp, the details might differ slightly, but the concepts are similar.

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