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GIMP Quick Tips: Abstract Background Effect

I was thinking a few days ago, what I should do, what I could create. I entered in some sort of a minor art block, when I took a look at my old design. One of them caught my eye. It was one of my old GIMP experiments. I couldn't remember anything about how I made it, but it looked awsome, so i saw in this a challenge. Finally, I managed to remember and put back together a quick step-by-step tutorial. This is what I hope to achieve. A simple spiral fiery background. Nothing complicated, everything kept to the minimum, and simplicity has laid its word here. I hope you will enjoy my tutorial as i did creating it. And of course, i would like to thank Abduzeedo for this occasion. So, let's get to work : Step 1 Open GIMP, and create a new project, let's say 1920 x 1200 px with about 300 ppi resolution. This should do the trick. Step 2 Grab the Gradient Tool (L), and then drag a gradient like i indicated below. The Shape must be Spiral (cw). As for gradient itslf, use Incandescent. Leave any other setting default. Step 3 Duplicate this layer, and then Flip it Vertically and Horizontally. Set the resulting layer to Multiply. Step 4 After that, Merge the two layers, and then apply a Gaussian Blur (Filters ⇒ Blur ⇒ Gaussian Blur ...) of about 25 pixels. Apply a Lava Render (Filters ⇒ Render ⇒ Lava ... ). Set this layer to Overlay. Eventually, duplicate the Lava layer and set its Opacity to 50%. Step 5 Nice. But still not ready. Create a new layer directly above the background layer, and fill it with the "Walnut" texture (drag it to your project from the Patterns pallete). Set the layer to Overlay. If it seems a little bit dull, then create a new layer above the texture layer, fill it with white and set it on Overlay. Step 6 It looks really nice even now, but let's add a little bit of dynamism to it. You can see that the Lava texture, and the Walnut texture are getting along perfectly. And as an extra, that Gaussian Blur we applied a while back makes it look more fluffy. But enough talking, and more working. Moving on ... Create a new layer, above the Texture Layer, and pull your Gradient Tool (L) again. This time we are going to use the Cyan Neon Gradient, and as a Shape, we'll use the Spiral (CCW). Drag like i did below, ... basicly from the center to the top, and bottom. (twice, one from center to top, and one from center to bottom). Set the resulting layer to Overlay. Step 7 Great, looks good. But it's still a little bit too obvious. how about we change that? Apply a Gaussian Blur of about 50 pixels, and we should be done. Conclusion Excelent. we're all set right now. Seven simple steps, to achieve a pretty remarcably simple effect. I must admit, i stumbled by accident about 6 months ago on this amasing fit of the Lava and the Walnut textures. Everything else was just filling. Feel free to experiment with other colors, shapes, anything your heart pleases. You can add some sort of logo to it, or anything like this. Click on the image for full preview Download the Photoshop File Click here to download the Photoshop file used for this tutorial About the Author My name is Marcu Sabin. I'm a 15 years old enthousiast from Romania, and i've "stuck my nose" up most of the big design tools. I'm quite adept of GIMP, Photoshop and Pixelmator. I really enjoy working with all of them, and got a few great ideeas. I also enjoy your site, the tutorials are great, and i would like to contribute as much as i can. I have a few GIMP tutorials at the ready, and it would be an honor if you would allow me to post it on your site. It is fully detailed, easy to follow, and all in all pretty nice.

Reader Tutorial: Colorful Light Effect in GIMP

I was browsing the other day and saw a Sony-Ericsson Xperia X1 with a beautiful wallpaper on it and thought to myself "Can I make one that looks like it but using only GIMP?" And guess what? I could! And with this tutorial so can you. Step 1 We first create a new document, you can make it any size, though I used 1600 x 1200. Setting by default Black as your Foreground color, we can ask in the advanced options to use it as our background. Step 2 We now create a new layer, this time it should be transparent. Step 3 Using Filters > Render > Clouds > Solid Noise we fill our New Layer. Play with the values until you find the one that works for you, I preferred to size it 6 in both X and Y. Step 4 Set the New Layer opacity to something between 15 and 30. I went with 20. While we are at it, rename this Layer to Clouds. Step 5 Create a New Layer and using the Rectangle Selection Tool (R) create a rectangle that's as wide as your document but only 10 pixels in height. Fill that with #cccccc. Duplicate this layer 3 times. Step 6 Select the lowest Line Layer, go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and select 70 as your Blur Radius. Repeat this step for the next two layers above it, only setting the Blur Radius to 30 for one and 10 for the other. There should be still one Line Layer with no Gaussian Blur above them all. Step 7 Create a new layer and use the Stripes Fine pattern to fill it. We'll call it ScanLines. Step 8 Create another new layer and fill it with using the Blend Tool (L) and the Full saturation spectrum CW gradient from left to right (Press the Ctrl Key to keep your line horizontal). We'll call this one Colorful. Step 9 Place the ScanLines Layer below the last of the Line Layers. Step 10 Go to Filters > Blur > Motion Blur and use 256 in Lenght at an angle of 90 degrees on the Clouds Layer. The Final Touch We add the logo and duplicate it twice and using Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur by 70 and 10 each, leaving the third, without any Gaussian Blurring, on top of them and making sure they arebelow the Colorful Layer. You can play with it by inserting another layer and filling it with black, painting some circles and applying Gaussian Blurr and setting this layer just above the Clouds Layer and setting its mode to Multiply. About the Author Hi! Ricardo Francés here, a freelance web programmer/designer from El Salvador with a passion for open source software. I sometimes post at twitter (username: squidjam) and write for my site at It's a real pleasure and I feel honored by this opportunity. Thanks!

Reader Tutorial: How to create an awesome action picture in GIMP

This tutorial is a remake from a Photoshop tutorial, that can be found at It was written by Paulo Canabarro. This tutorial is intended for people that have a general idea of layer masks, as layer masks are a big part of this tutorial. Some things you will need before we get started: A few pictures, that were shot in the “burst” mode of your camera. (See step 1 for more info about this) Step 1 The most important part about this whole tutorial, is having pictures that will work. To get the pictures that are needed, use the “burst” mode setting on your camera. On my camera (Sony) its found under the “menu” button. On your camera, it could be located in a different area. In a short description, the “burst” mode takes pictures for as long as your capture button is held down. There are some things to know about this option though. If your not in good lighting (at least on my camera) the photoshop will be blurry, which is why I recommend a well lit, outdoor setting. It's all trial and error, so just find out what works for you. Step 2 Load all your photos into GIMP, and find your first image. This would be the one that's either coming in from the far left, or far right. In my case it will be coming in from the right. Step 3 Find your next image in the order, and select the whole document (select>all) Then copy the image. Move to your original image (the one in step 2) and paste it in. Make this floating selection, and new layer by clicking the new layer button. Step 4 Repeat for each image. Keep selecting them, and pasting them until there all in the document. Step 5 You may notice that one image does not line up perfectly, that will be fixed. Step 6 Hide all the layers except for the bottom layer, and the next one up. In my case this will be the background layer, and layer 1. Step 7 Select layer 1. Make a selection around the subject, make sure to get any shadows that are casted by the subject. This is important when adding the layer mask. Right click on the layer that you just made the selection on, and add a layer mask. Make it a black layer mask. Step 8 Your layer will disappear, but don't worry, we will get it back. Make white your foreground color, and fill that selection. There is the subject now in view, but without the background it originally was on! Step 9 This part is important. If you don't click on the layer image, before you move the image to line it up, you will move the layer mask, which is not what we want to achieve. Make sure the image thumbnail is highlighted with white. Step 10 Move your new selected layer, to match it up with the background picture. Don't worry if parts of it don't line up, you can fix it with the layer mask. Step 11 After you have lined it up, select your brush tool, and change your foreground to black. Remember black hides, white reveals. It's all trial and error now, trying to get the look you like, perfect. Remember to reveal the shadows, to make it look good. You can play around with layer opacity, to easier view areas you need to reveal and hide. (Note: If your layer mask doesn't seem to be working, remember that you selected your layer, and unselected your layer mask in a previous step, so remember to reselect your layer mask by click on it in your layers panel.) Step 12 Once you have completed this with your first image, complete it with all the other layers you have. Here is what my GIMP layers looks like: Conclusion My layer masks didn't need to be changed very much because my images lined up pretty well. You can do this tut with as many, or as little pictures as you would like, though I recommend more then 3 pictures, and not too many pictures that they are overlapping and you can't tell what's going on. I also did not use very many pictures, because the goal was to get the technique across. If at all possible, use a tripod, it makes the lining up process a lot easier. This can be done with any kind of image that shows movement. If you have any questions about this tutorial, or would like to contact me, you can email me at

Reader Tutorial: Easy Way to Create Light Effects in GIMP in 9 Steps

Following our Reader Tutorial series we have a GIMP tutorial from Maximilian Dirkmamn, a 14 years old boy from Munich Germany, that design on his free time. The idea of this series is give opportunity to the readers to show their work and, of course help the design community sharing tips and opinions. If you want to contribute, just let us know. My name is Maximilian Dirkmann and I'm 14 years old. I come from Munich, Germany. In my free time I do designing. Check out my German website (GIMP tuts ) and my DA . Also I want to thank the whole members for always giving me criticism and comments. Step 1 Start the GIMP application and create a new image with 1024 x 768 pixel. Make sure, that the background is black. Step 2 Now we will add a light. Use the paintbrush (shortcut [P]) and open up the "brushes" box (shortcut [Shift] + [Ctrl] + [B]) create a new brush, edit it and apply those settings: Step 3 Create a new layer (Layer ->New Layer). Call it "Light" and click one times into the middle (make sure that your foreground color is white). Adjust the opacity to 60. Step 4 Now we're going to add some color. Create a new layer (call it Color) and apply Filters ->Render ->Clouds ->Plasma with the value 0.1 at Turbulence. Set the layer mode in the layer dialog ([Ctrl] + [L]) to Divide. Adjust the opacity to 65. Step 5 In this step we will add light rays. Create a new layer with the name Light Rays. Go on Filters ->Render ->Clouds ->Solid Noise. Set the X and Y size to 16.0. Go on Filters ->Blur ->Pixelize with the width 5px and the full hight of the picture (768px). Apply Filters ->Distorts -> Polar Coordinates with the values 0 | 0. Now set the Layer mode to Grain extract. Step 6 Pick up the text tool and type a letter for example A standing for Abduzeedo. I chose Sans as the font and a size of 490px. Now go on Filters ->Light and Shadow ->Drop Shadow with the values 0 | 4 | 30 | white | 80 | and uncheck Allow resizing. Step 7 Now we are adding a gloss to the A. Go on Layer ->Transparency ->Alpha to Selection. Use the Eclipse Select Tool and hold down [Shift] + [Ctrl]. Create a new layer (call it Gloss). Pick up the Blend Tool. Set the gradient to FG to Transparent (make sure your foreground color is white) an drag a Gradient from the right bottom to the left top. Now select all [Strg] +[ A]. Step 8 The reflection of the A. Go twice on Layer ->Merge Down. Duplicate the Layer, Layer ->Duplicate Layer. Tarnsform it: Layer ->Transform ->Flip Vertically. Move the transformed Layer to the top of the A. Now add a layer mask (Layer ->Mask ->Add Layer Mask; with white full opacity). Pick up the Blend tool again but now with black as the foreground color. Drag it just like this and you will get a nice fade out effect. Conclusion Finally we are going to add a lens reflection. Create a new Layer, call it Lens Reflection and fill it with black. I want to place it on the top of my letter so I need the position. Just move your mouse to the top of the image an on the left bottom of the gimp window you can see the position. Mine is 540;190 so go on Filters ->Light and Shadow ->Lens Flare with the values 540px and 190px. Set the Layer mode to Screen an you are done! Download the GIMP file Click here to download the GIMP file used on this tutorial.

Leopard's Aurora Borealis wallpaper in GIMP

Finally Apple will release their new OS called Leopard. One of the things I like the most with Apple, and probably everybody loves too, is that they always release tons of beautiful stuff. From the package box to the t-shirt. Yeah there is a very cool t-shirt as well. And now it’s not different. I loved the space feeling of the new wallpaper with that sort of aurora borealis effect. Besides that, this week the new version of GIMP was released. The 2.4 version has a renewed interface, with new icons, and much more stable, at least running on my mac it has not crashed yet. Anyways, what I want to show on this tutorial is how to create that Aurora Borealis effect using the new GIMP. Basically I used the Leopard’s wallpaper as my reference. I have to say it was easier than I thought. Step 1 Open GIMP 2.4 and if you don’t have it, download it and give it a try. Create a new document, in my case I used 1600x1200, and using the Bucket Fill Tool (Shit+B), fill the background layer with a very dark purple. Step 2 Using the Free Selection Tool (F), draw a shape like the one I did. That will be the source of our light, so the position here is very important. Try to place it more at the bottom of the image. After that, fill it with white. Tip you can add a blur or a feather to the selection. Step 3 Go to Filters>Render>Clouds>Difference Clouds and apply the filter. Select Randomize, Turbulent and Tileable. Step 4 Go to Filters>Blur>Motion Blur and change the settings to: Blur Type ZOOM and the length to the maximum. It will take a little bit to generate the effect. This will generate that light burst. Step 5 After that go to Colors>Colorize. Now we will add colors to our light. Change the hue, saturation and lightness settings until you get a sort of dark pink. Step 6 Now lets just duplicate layers, scale and rotate them. The shape you use will define how many times you will have to do that. In my case I had to duplicate and rotate twice. Besides that, I duplicated each layer once to make the light stronger with the Blending mode. I have in my file 6 layers and the blending mode for each in order is: Screen, Hard light, Normal, Normal, Screen, and Screen. You can use the erase to correct some issues with the layers. Step 7 Here I changed the color of the second layer to a red using the Colorize again. Step 8 Duplicate one layer, and using the Colorize again, lets create the blue light. As in the step 4, just change the hue, saturation and lightness until you get a blue color. Don’t worry if the color is not strong enough, we will duplicate the layer to make it stronger. For the blue light I duplicated the layer twice, so I have 3 layers for that light. The order of blending options is Normal, Dodge, Dodge. Step 9 Now lets add the stars. Create 2 new layers and fill them with black. One will be for the small stars; the other for the big ones. Change their blending mode to Dodge. Set white for the foreground color and select the Paintbrush Tool (P). When you select the Paintbrush the Tool Options will open. There you will change the parameters. Specially the Apply Jitter. The image below shows the values for the big and small stars. Final Result I know that it does not look exactly as the Apple's wallpaper, but it's pretty close. However the most important thing here is that the new GIMP is an excellent tool, we can create all sorts of effects with it and it's free. The only thing that bothers me is that it still needs the X11 to run on my mac. Click on the Image to to see it bigger. Download the GIMP file here

Gimp Galaxy

I’ve been using Photoshop for a long time, I think it’s the best tool for manipulating images and creating all sorts of effects. Besides that there are people that can make magic with Photoshop, like I posted before on the 10 Photoshop Masters’ article. Although I really like the Adobe’s main product, I have seen a lot of articles about GIMP, that stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, and people creating amazing effects using this tool. So I decided to give it a try. I have to say, it’s possible to achieve very good results using GIMP. There are great variety of Filters, some of those I wish Photoshop had. However the interface is not that friendly. It lacks a lot of features like organizing layers in folders, the layer styles and running native on Mac OS X, if you compare to Photoshop. But I don’t want to compare or review software here, I just want to show my first creation using GIMP and how I did that. The idea for the image was inspired by the new Mario Galaxy game. 1- Open a New Document, I used 1440x900. 2 - Create a Gradient: Set the shape to radial, and choose black for the background and any color for the foreground. 3 - Adding some smoke: add a new layer, set the foreground to white and go to Filters>Render>Clouds>Solid Noise. Set the layer mode to Overlay 44%. Set randomize, 1 to detail, and X and Y size to 16. 4 - Creating the Beam of light: Create a new layer, choose the Create and edit paths tool (B) and draw a triangle to be the beam of light. After that create a selection clicking on the button to create selection from the path. Fill the selection using the Fill tool (shift+B) with a blue color. 6 - Create 2 copies of the Beam of light layer, and apply the Gausian Blur to them. Set Overlay to the layer that is in the back, and Dodge to the others. This will produce the lighting effect. 7 - Creating the sparks: Add a new layer. Using the Paing fuzzy brush strokes (P) to create the sparks like the picture bellow and apply Dodge to the layer mode. 8 - Add colors to the sparks: Using Filters>Colors>Colorify to change the color of the sparks. Tip: Duplicate the layers and add a little blur to create that glowing effect. 9 - Creating the light circle: Create a new layer, go to Filters>Light Effects>GFlare, choose hidden_planet in the selector tab. Try some different setting values or like the ones I used. Set the layer mode to Dodge. 11 - Resize the Layer to add the perspective. 12 - Some dust: Duplicate the light circle layer and add a Filters>Blur>Motion Blur. Type linear, and angle 90. The layer Mode is Dodge again. 13 - The Supernova: Add a new layer, fill it with black, go to Filters>Light Effects>Supernova. Again, try different values and choose the ones you like or follow the image bellow. After that apply Screen to the layer mode. 14 - More depth: In a new layer, use the Gradient but this time with a blue foreground and black background, create a radial gradient from the top left corner to the bottom right. Set the layer mode to Screen with 65%. 15 - Add some noise: Add a noise Filters>Noise>Hurl to the first layer, the background gradient of the image. 16 - The Final Result: If you want to create the stars, like in the Final Result image, just follow the photoshop tutorial about how to create the Leopard Starburst effect in Photoshop. It's exactly the same in GIMP. The GIMP file can be downloaded here (13mb), and the icons can be found at