{Solved} How To Flip an Image in GIMP

large featured fliptool

GIMP is fantastic for editing your images… or even for graphic design. It’s definitely the hottest alternative to Photoshop. Like Photoshop, GIMP comes with a lot of tools. An often overlooked one is the Flip tool.

The Flip tool is perfect for flipping an image or graphic for both a horizontal and vertical orientation. In today’s GIMP tutorial, I’ll show you how to flip an image AND how to create a mirror image quickly and easily!

If you’re ready… let’s do it!

Table of Contents

How To Flip a Single Image Layer In GIMP

flip tool via toolbox

The Flip tool (Shift + F), in GIMP, can be used to reverse a layer, path, or selection. Your options include flipping for both horizontal and vertical. The horizontal option will flip the image from left to right, and vertical flips it from top to bottom.

tool option vertical or horizontal

Navigate to the Tool Options

dog photo flipped

Flip the image

Pro Tip:

Instead of using the Tool Options to change the direction, hold down the Command or Ctrl key to switch between horizontal and vertical. The option will switch once you click on the image.

How To Invert a Selection In GIMP

The Flip tool can flip a selection too! For example, let’s say you need to create a shape, a mirror of it, and then mask the selection to an image… as we did in this tutorial.

Although GIMP doesn’t have a Shape tool, you can still create shapes with it. One option is using the Paths tool to create a custom shape. As you can see in the following image, my shape is on the left.

shape to selection to mask

The shape also has a Blending Mode applied to it, and it’s revealing part of the image on the right. To remove the image from behind the shape, we can add a Layer Mask to it.

selection has been flipped
image masked after moving selection

How To Flip a Portion of a Layer In GIMP

Sometimes, you may want to flip something specific in a photo. For example, flipping a single letter vs. an entire word.

Or maybe you want a bird in a photo flying upside down or in the opposite way! The key to flipping a single subject is making a selection of it first. Let’s try it!

Download this image and open it in GIMP. We’re going to use the Rectangle select tool to select one Pelican and its surroundings.

select the pelican

At this point, the Pelican hasn’t been pasted into a new layer. Instead, it’s added in the Layer Panel as a Floating Selection. 

To complete the process, click on the new layer icon at the button of the Layers Panel.

Now, grab the Flip tool and set the direction of your choice. Click on the Pelican to flip it!

pelican flipped

How To Flip ALL Layers In GIMP

nine layers flipped simultaneously

A total of 9 layers all flipped simultaneously!

What if you have multiple layers you’d like to flip simultaneously? Well, it can be done in GIMP, too, with the Transform tool. Select the tool via the menu, Image > Transform and make a selection.

Boom… all layers have been flipped!

How To Create a Mirror Image Effect With the Flip Tool

So, far we’ve done a lot of flipping. Now, I’d like to show you how to create a mirror of an image with GIMP. Here are the steps…

Click the photos above and below to enlarge.

  1. Open an image file in GIMP that you want to mirror.
  2. Next, go to the menu, Image > Canvas Size. It’s essential to increase the canvas to match the current image’s dimensions to give room for the mirrored image. Double the height and click the Resize button.
  3. Duplicate the image layer via the icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel.
  4. With the Move Tool (M), reposition the duplicate image opposite of the other.
  5. Now, select the Flip tool and choose vertical. Click the image to flip it… and boom… you have a mirror image.

How To Flip a Path In GIMP

choose path

The process for flipping a Path is similar to an image, layer, and selections. Once you’ve created your path, use the Flip tool to, well, flip it. Make sure to select the “Path” icon in the Tool Options first!

What's Next?

Flipping layers, paths, and selections in GIMP are easy once you know the tools of the trade. But, what about something more advanced? 

Like rotating text… or rotating a word AND a single letter in the word simultaneously! To learn how to rotate text, check out this tutorial.

If you’re new to GIMP, I’d recommend discovering all the different types of layers and customization of those layers. I have several guides, on layers, that cover everything you need to know about them, and you can get started here.

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