What is the easiest way to circle out something in a picture, like this example

enter image description here

This is accomplished in Gimp:

Here are the steps necesary to draw an empty ellipse without clearing the contents of the image below it.

1 - Layer > New layer

2 - Make the layer to be the same size as the image and layer fill type to transparency. This should be already selected by default.

3 - On the toolbox select the ellipse select tool and make an ellipse

4 - Use the bucket fill tool to paint the ellipse with your desired color.

5 - Right click on it and go to Select > Shrink...

6 - Type in how many pixels you want the border to be and click ok.

7 - Go to the menu and click Edit > Clear.

I feel it is very indirect, in the sense that first fill out the region enclosed by the ellipse, and then shrink the region to the boundary. I wonder if there is a quicker and more direct way to circle out something, such as by directly drawing the boundary?

My OS is Ubuntu. What I was asking may be done outside of gimp, but must be by some software under Ubuntu.


3 Answers 3


You could try downloading Pinta for Ubuntu, it's very much like Microsoft's Paint where you can just click the ellipse tool and drag it over the desired area!


Have a look at Shutter for Ubuntu - http://shutter-project.org/about/


If you don't require a mathematical ellipse, you can approximate one using Bezier curves via the Stroke Path tool.

You may find that you can produce an oval that looks more attractive to you, in fact, and you can tweak the control points to adjust the shape:

Partial pseudo-ellipse

Here, I turned on Show Grid under View, and also Snap to Grid, in order to be able to place the control points in exact symmetry.

To simulate closing the path, I put the last point a little bit off:

enter image description here

Then move it into place:

enter image description here

Finally, out of the Stroke Path tool's Tool Options dialog, do a Stroke Path:

enter image description here

Note: this looks pixelated because the zoom is 200%.

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