HC MID Devoted to the study of incompletely published primary sources

Notes on creating images of bifolio spreads


All our editorial week is keyed to citable images. When the layout of a manuscript was planned to spread across two facing pages, we need to be able to cite images showing the full bifolio spread. But it’s never possible to photograph a bound codex very satisfactorily this way: instead, we can more easily and safely photograph individual pages, so we need to create composite images joining verso and following recto in a single image.


Set up

  • Open GIMP
  • Select “File” then “New”
  • Set Width: 10000 px Ignore any warning that the file is too large. Height: 7000 px

Image Editing

  1. Copy the Verso image
  2. In GIMP, select “Edit”, “Paste As”, and then “New Layer”
  3. Repeat Step 2 (creating another layer) for the corresponding Recto image
  4. Using the “Move Tool” in the left-hand artist bar (it looks like four arrows in a cross pattern), move the Recto image to the right until its left edge slightly overlaps with the Verso’s right edge (i.e., make the image look like an open book)
  5. Make sure both images as aligned properly
  6. Use the “Crop Tool” in the left-hand bar (it looks like the tip of a small x-acto knife), cut off the black border all around the edge of the image (i.e., leave only the manuscript pages)
  7. Delete the “background layer” in the right-hand artist bar by selecting it and clicking the trash button below


  • Select “File” and “Save As”, and choose a place to save it where you will have easy access (desktop, a folder, etc.)
  • Name the file using the pattern: manuscript - verso number v- recto number r (e.g., gen49-10v-11r.xcf). This should create an .xcf file (still in GIMP).
  • In that same file, go to “File”, “Export” then select the location where the .xcf was saved, click “Export” in the saving window, and then click “Export” a final time in the new window which pops up. This should create a .png file with the same name.