How to Create a Text Border in GIMP

Mychelle Blake
designer with tablet

Often you will find a need to make your text "pop" in a document. Styling the text can increase a reader's focus on the words which is useful for emphasizing key points. Adding a text border with GIMP is a great option in this case

Borders Step by Step

A border is simply a line border that conforms to the shape of your text. The border is usually a different color from the main text and helps your text to stand out from the image or colors behind it.

  1. The first thing to do is to create a new image file. To do this, go to the File option in main horizontal menu and click on "New." Alternatively, use Ctrl+N if you prefer to use keyboard shortcuts.
  2. A small dialogue box will pop up. For the purposes of this tutorial, leave the default image properties (size, orientation, etc.) as-is. Click on "OK" to create your file.
  3. Once your new file is open, go to the "Tools" option in the main menu or use "T" shortcut key. Then, select "Text" from the resulting pull-down menu.
    Opening Text Tool Menu in GIMP
    Step 3: Opening text box menu
  4. A text dialogue box will pop up. Use this to type in your text. You can use the options in the text box to change the font, size, color and style of the text.
  5. Now that you have some text typed in, use your cursor to highlight the text. Then, right-click using your mouse and choose "Path from Text" in the menu that comes up.
    Opening Path to Text option in GIMP
    Step 5: Opening the Path from Text option
  6. Choose the "Layer" option in the main menu, then "New Layer." You can use Shift+Ctrl+N if you prefer keyboard shortcuts.
  7. The New Layer dialogue box will pop up. You can choose to name your layer if you wish. Keep the default fill type set to "Transparency" and click "OK."
  8. Now, choose the "Select" option from the main menu and then "From Path." (Or, Shift+V).
    Opening From Path option in GIMP
    Step 8: Choosing Select and From Path
  9. In the same Select menu options, choose "Grow." The Grow Selection box will pop up. This is where you will choose how thick you want yourr outline border to be. Add in an appropriate number and click "OK."
    Using Grow selection box in GIMP
    Step 9: Using the Grow Selection box
  10. You will notice now that your text is highlighted with dashed lines that appear to flicker.
  11. Before you move on to the next step, make sure that your toolbox is available on the screen.
    • If you don't see it, go to the "Tools" option in the main menu and scroll down and choose "New Toolbox." Or, you can just hit Ctrl+B. The box will then pop up on screen.
    • You can move it wherever you like by holding down your cursor and dragging it.
    • You will need the toolbox to be available for the next step in order to choose your outline color.
  12. Under the same Tools menu, choose Paint Tools and Bucket Fill (or Shift+B). The little paint bucket icon will now be part of your cursor.
    Using paint bucket tool in GIMP
    Step 12: Selecting the Paint Bucket Fill tool
  13. Move your cursor over to the toolbox and click on the foreground color box at the bottom of the toolbox. The default color for this will be white. When you click on it, the color picker box will pop up. You can choose your desired outline color here and hit "OK" when you are ready.
    changing colors in GIMP
    Step 13: Changing the color of your border
  14. Hold the cursor over your highlighted text and then click on it. You may find that nothing happens if the cursor is not properly placed. If you see a circle with a slash through it next to the arrow and bucket, this means you need to move your cursor directly over the text until that circle turns into a filled-in dark rectangle. The end result is your entire text area is now the color you chose for the outline. The original text will be completely covered, but don't worry!
  15. Go to the Select menu and choose "None" (or Shift+Ctrl+A). The yellow dotted line that you previously saw around the edge of your document should disappear. This now means that the layer you are working on is no longer selected.
  16. Use Ctrl+L to bring up the Layer toolbox. You should see 3 layers with a little "eye" symbol to the left of them.
    • The bottom layer will be called Background and will be white.
    • The middle layer should have a T symbol on it and you will see your text in the box to the right.
    • The top layer will have a transparent background, which looks like light and dark grey check boxes, and depending on the size of your outline text, you may see it inside of the box. The name of the layer will also be to the right of the icon box.
      layer box in GIMP
      Step 16: The Layer toolbox
  17. Take your mouse and hold the cursor down on the top layer and then drag it down so that it is between the text layer and the background layer. In other words, the text layer will now be the top, or number one, layer. The new layer you created will be the second or middle layer.
    Dragging layers in GIMP
    Step 17: Moving layers down
  18. Release your cursor and you're done! You should now see your text highlighted by the color border you chose.

    competed text with borderStep 18: Finished text with color border

Creating Beautiful Images

Using GIMP to create and edit your images can feel intimidating at first, but the process becomes much more streamlined and intuitive after you get more accustomed to the interface and features. Refer to our list of more GIMP tutorials to see what else this free photo editing tool can do.

Was this page useful?
How to Create a Text Border in GIMP