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Grokking The Gimp
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2.5 Floats

In the previous section we came across a special layer called a floating selection, often simply referred to as a float. A float is a temporary layer that gets created automatically under certain circumstances and that can be explicitly created if needed. A float is a special type of layer. All other layers are disabled when a float is created, and nothing can be done with the other layers until the float is anchored. Although the other layers are disabled, almost all GIMP operations can still be performed on the floating layer.

Floats are sort of a throwback, a vestige of prehistoric times when the GIMP had not yet evolved into a layer-based tool. Back then, it was necessary to have floats because that was the only way to selectively process parts of an image. Now it is more effective to separate various image components into different layers, allowing you to more conveniently and effectively process and combine them. Nevertheless, as already noted, they are created automatically, so it is important to know how they work and what to do with them. There are basically three things about floats that you need to know: when they are automatically created, how they can be explicitly created, and how they are anchored.

2.5.1 Automatic Creation of Floats

There are two circumstances under which floats are created. The first occurs after you make a selection. After the selection is made, it becomes immediately possible to move it (even without selecting the Move  tool). This is done by placing the mouse cursor inside the selection (the cursor becomes a four-way arrow) and by clicking and dragging. After you release the selection, it automatically becomes a floating selection. Figure  2.12(a)

Figure 2.12: A Moved Selection Becomes a Float
Figure 2.12

illustrates a selection that has been moved. The corresponding Layers dialog, shown in Figure  2.12(b), shows the new layer, entitled Floating Selection. Also note that the original layer is grayed out, indicating that it has been disabled from other GIMP operations.

The second way that a floating layer is automatically created is after a copy and paste or a cut and paste operation. Whether the default buffer contains a selection or an entire layer, pasting from the buffer produces a float.

Grokking The Gimp
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  Published under the terms of the Open Publication License Design by Interspire