mending in layers

I’ve read several tutorials on how to use Heal and Clone in GIMP. The advice for this – and other GIMP processes – is to work in a layer, to preserve the original. I can make Heal and Clone work in the original XCF file. But when I create a new layer and try to work in it, there’s no response. Nothing in the tutorials say anything about solving this problem, and none of my try-this button-pushing in the layer dialog box fixes it either. Beyond this problem is how to take the changes made in a layer and incorporate them into a final product, which the tutorials also have not made clear to me.

Hi @ScottBontz, and welcome!

a) Operating System?
b) Version of The Gimp?
c) From where did you obtain it?

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

OS Apple Ventura 13.1, Gimp 2.10, downloaded from Gimp.

I had this issue as well, but only now I discovered how it is intended to work: Could you try selecting the source layer, sampling (ctrl-click) there, select the transparent destination layer and start painting. Does this work? It does on my side. However, I think a “sample visible” option would be nice …

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I might be dense, but cannot find how to “select source layer” or “transportation destination layer”. I tried creating a new layer by the several routes at the bottom of the layers window. This sometimes allowed me to heal spots in the layer, which I’d been unable to do by starting at Layers in the top menu bar. But in every case the change was also made to my original, base layer, which defeated the purpose of the layer.

I believe he means:

  1. Select/activate your source layer that has the stuff you want to clone from.
  2. Using the clone tool, Ctrl-Left Click the region you want to clone from.
  3. Now, in your layers window, select/activate your transparent layer you want to clone to.
  4. Left Click to clone onto this layer.

Does that work?

I actually use the clone and healing tools extensively in GIMP for photo restoration. I personally never use a new transparent layer, which it sounds like you are trying to do, but instead I make a duplicate layer and work on that.

Chris and Pat, I wonder if I understand your suggestion correctly. It seems like a lot of trouble: copy from one layer, go to another layer, and paste. Why shouldn’t I be able to do it all in one layer other than the preserved original – since I can in fact do this in the original? Terry, I’m not sure what the difference is between a new transparent layer and a duplicate layer. All: But I found – finally – that I can mend in a new layer if, instead of creating a “new layer”, I make a “new from visible” or “duplicate” layer. I thought I’d tried this before to no avail. But today, at least, it’s working. Now I need to learn how to incorporate the changes in the various layers – I’ve read of some people making dozens – into a final image. (Until recently I used Photoshop but never bothered to learn layers. I just worked on a tif copy of the original file, and sometimes made a copy of that for further changes. Then I could compare and pick my favorite.) --Scott

Oh, that’s not the suggestion. I thought you are talking about the clone or heal tool. With it you can sample on one layer (ctrl-click) and clone/heal “to”/“on” another (transparent) layer.

You can also do it directly in a layer, e.g. the original layer, a copy, or a “new from visible” layer. However, the degree of non-destructiveness is different – or at least, the convenience to work with. Doing the corrections on a transparent overlay layer allows you to fine-tune the degree of application of these (layer opacity) and to easily do corrections of the corrections, without needing to get back to the original layer, it all happens on the overlay. If there is a mistake, you can easily spot it (e.g. switch off the visibility of others than the transparent overlay layer) and delete or re-do it, even if the stroke is lone gone from the undo buffer.

I thought this was the original question you were asking, but maybe I still did not get it.

I was indeed talking about clone/heal. Your rewording still sounds to me like I am to copy from one layer and paste to another. I probably should do some playing around with the tools and learn as I go. Some GIMP tutorials have been helpful, but others, including how to use layers, leave me behind.

Hi Scott, the really power of both PS and GIMP is layers and masks. If you are not using layers and masks in either program then neither program is being used to its full potential. Layers are described in the user manual found here GNU Image Manipulation Program

Forget about using new layers or transparent layers for restoration or cloning work (in my opinion). Just duplicate the original layer so you leave that layer untouched. It is not really needed unless you stuff up and decide to use a layer mask to bring back the original image in that section of the photo.

Also when working with layers they are flattened upon export usually and what you see on the screen is what you get in the export. Otherwise there are two important actions to understand. The first is flatten image. This will flatten all the layers and remove the masks regardless of if the layers have the visibility eye active.

The second is merge visible. This will only merge (flatten) the layers with the visibility eyeball turned on. This can be helpful when working with an extensive number of layers which you are unlikely to do at this stage.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you want some guidance working with layers and masks for restoration or any purpose.

Also copy and paste within the same layer is my recommendation. Forget the hassle of copying from one layer to another as it adds unnecessary complexity.


Thank you for the explanation. I will try following the directions later this week and let you know how it works.