In teaching the basics of GIMP to non-professionals I have found one of the
more problematic concepts to be the floating selection. Even to users who
have no previous experience with Photoshop (where pasting something on an
image automatically creates a new layer), it seems to be non-intuitive.
What often happens is they paste something, and begin to manipulate the
floating selection before turning it into a layer. Then an accidental click
with the move tool on the background fuses selection with background, and
what they thought was a layer is suddenly immobile. I always have to go
over this (the difference between floating selection and layer) several
times before it really sinks in.

The selection tools are comparatively easy to explain, except maybe
scissors select, where losing sight of the first anchor makes it impossible
to close the selection and where, unlike free select, anchors cannot be
deleted by pressing back space. This, and having to click inside the line
to make the selection, makes this tool unnecessarily hard to use IMO.

isabel
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