Set up initial gimp (2.6) drawing

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http://www.linuxquestions.org – I have an image gif for a base layer, which I am able to create. Now I want to create a 2nd layer which will allow me to see the base layer and allows me to also draw lines/circles on second layer. I need to see the base layer below to reference the begin/end of lines. I have done enough reading I should not be confused but am. Can someone help here? When I try to get a transparent layer created as 2nd, I get the checker board or I get the layers swapped. U C I am confused! (HowTos)