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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Create an Attractive Star Field

In this tutorial, as in most of my lessons, the emphasis is not on the product you will end up with, but on the tools, techniques, and skills you will use in completing the activity. You should feel free to experiment. Deviate from the "recipe" and see what happens if you make some changes.

Among the things you will do in this tutorial:
  • Use the Blend, Bucket Fill and Elliptical Selection Tools
  • Feather and Move a selection
  • Manipulate the Layer Mode and Opacity
  • Use special brushes and modify Brush Dynamics
  • Create new layer and a Layer Mask
  • Use the Blur Filter

Some or all of these techniques may already be familiar to you, but hopefully, you'll learn something new. So, here we go ...

The Background Layer
1) Create a new image using the default settings (640 x 400, white fill).
2) Set the FG color swatch to a rich shade of medium dark blue. I used 1f4d64 (the HTML color code).
3) Use the Bucket Fill Tool to paint this as the background color of the image.

4) Reset the FG and BG color swatches to the default black and white.

The Gradient Layer
1) Create a new layer named "Gradient".

2) Select the Blend Tool and set the Gradient to FG to Transparent. Drag down from the top of the image about 3/4 of the distance to the bottom.

The Bottom Glow Layer
1) Create a new layer named "Bottom glow".
2) Use the Elliptical Selection Tool to create a short oval the entire width of the image.

3) Select the Move Tool and apply it to the selection. Drag the oval to the bottom of the image so that only half of it is within the image boundary.

4) Feather the selection by 25 pixels. (Selection -> Feather...)
5) Set the FG color to a light medium blue. My choice is adc3dc. Fill the selection.
6) Set the Layer Mode to Burn, Opacity to 50%.

The Stars Layer
1) Create a new layer named "Stars".
2) Reset the color swatches to the defaults and swap them so the FG is white, the BG is black.
3) Select the Brush Tool: Shape Star 06, Spacing 180, Scale: 0.4
4) Expand the Brush Dynamics settings: Pressure: Opacity, Random: Opacity and Size
5) Check Apply Jitter, set the Amount to 5.00.

6) Paint stars on the upper 3/4 of the image.
7) Apply a Motion Blur to the layer: Filters -> Blur -> Motion Blur..., set the Angle to 90 and the Length to 2.

8) Highlight the "Stars" layer in the Layers palette and select Layers - Mask - Add Layer Mask..., set to White (Full Opacity).
9) Swap the color swatches back to the defaults.
10) Use the Blend Tool (FG to Transparent) to apply a gradient to the layer mask from just below the lowest star to the top.

The Blue Stars Layer
1) Create a new layer called "Stars Blue".
2) Select the Brush Tool (which should still be showing the settings used earlier) and choose a light blue for the FG color. Something like c0d9f4.
3) Paint some blue stars in the upper third of the image.
4) Apply the same Motion Blur to this layer.

If you followed the directions fairly closely, your image should look something like this:

If you want to look for more interesting star brushes go to BlendFu.com

Friday, July 31, 2009

Create a Bright Neon Pattern of Repea...

In this lesson you will learn how to create an image in which a simple shape is repeated in a variety of glowing colors on a black background. This is our goal ...

To complete this exercise you will need to have the GIMP Layer Effects plug-in installed. If you don't have it, you can download it here.

You will also need a simple black-and-white line art shape like these ...
Download either shape or use one of your own. I chose to use the star shape.

Some of the things you'll do in this lesson ...
  • Use the Layer Effects tools
  • Paste as a new layer
  • Move layers
  • Rename layers
  • Hide and show layers
  • Merge layers
  • Use the Select by Color tool
  • Shrink a selection
  • Use guides

1) From the image menu, click Image > Image Properties to get the dimensions of your chosen shape image. As you see, the star image is 479 pixels high by 455 pixels wide.

2) You're going to create a new image (File > New...) based on multiples of these dimensions. To get the height of the new image, multiply the star's height by 1.2. 479 x 1.2 = 575. The width of the new image is 4 to 6 times the width of the shape to allow plenty of room to work. If you multiply the star's width (455) by 6, you'll get 2730, or about 2800 pixels.

3) Now return to the star image. Use the Select by Color tool to select the black star shape.

4) Then shrink the selection by 3 pixels, Select > Shrink... .

5) From the star's image menu select Edit > Copy.

6) Now switch to your new image and paste the star as a new layer, Edit > Paste as > New Layer.

You should now see the pasted layer in the upper left corner of the new image.

If, as in the screenshot above, you aren't seeing all of the new image in the window, the key combo Ctrl-Shift-E will fit the entire image into the window.

8) Use the Move tool to slide the star to the right edge of the image and position it roughly vertically centered.

At this point you should rename this layer in the Layers Palette to make things easier to keep sorted out. Double-click on the name "Clipboard" in the layer list and rename it as "blue".

9) drag a Guide down from the top ruler to help you align the rest of the stars.

Now you can begin creating the neon effects using the Layer Effects plugin.

10) First you'll give the star a bright blue outer glow. Script-Fu > Layer Effects > Outer Glow...

11) Click the color swatch in the Outer Glow dialog and choose a bright blue. I chose 142ffb for the example.

Set the Size: to 8 and use the other defaults.

12) Next comes the inner shadow using a darker shade of blue, Script-Fu > Layer Effects > Inner Shadow... . Click on the color swatch in the Inner Shadow dialog, choose a darker shade of blue. I used 00008a. Set the Size: to 8 and use the other defaults.

13) The next step is to merge the three layers of the blue star into a single layer. Make the Background layer invisible by clicking on the eye next to it in the Layers Palette. Right-click on any of the visible blue layers and select Merge Visible Layers... . Use the default settings.

There should now be just a single blue layer. Make the Background layer visible again by clicking where the eye should be.

This is what you should have right now, the black star with a blue glow around it.

Your next task will be to add a second star with a green glow.

14) Repeat step 6 to get another star and position it with the Move tool. Judge the amount of overlap you'd like to your taste. (You should not need to copy the star from the original image again. It should remain on your clipboard throughout this exercise.)

15) Rename this layer "green" as shown previously in step 8.

16) Repeat step 10 to open the Outer Glow dialog.

17) Click the color swatch and choose a bright green. In the example I used 0bf805. The Size: should again be 8, other settings are defaults.

18) Do the inner shadow as in step 12 using a darker shade of green (144716).

19) Hide the non-green layers and merge the three green layers into a single layer (See step 13).

You should now see two completed stars in the new image when you make all the layers visible again.

Continue this process until you've added as many shapes as you like to your new image.

To finish up, you need to paint the Background layer black with the Bucket Fill tool. You may be wondering why I didn't simply create a black background in the first place. I could have done, but manipulating the black stars on a black background ..., well, you see the point :-).

20) Be sure the Background is the active layer in the Layers Palette, the default color swatches are shown in the Toolbox, and the selected Fill Type is FG Color Fill. Now paint the Background layer.

22) Finally, in the View menu, uncheck Show Guides.

You likely have a bit of unused canvas so you'll probably want to crop the image to suit your needs. In the immortal words of Porky Pig,"That's all, f-f-f-folks!"

Hopefully, you've learned something new in this tutorial. If you found it useful, please share it with others. Any constructive comments are appreciated as well as donations through PayPal.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Two Tone GIMP

Apply a Two-Tone Tint Effect to an Image

In this tutorial you'll see how a two-tone tinting effect can be easily applied to a picture using GIMP.

Among the tools and techniques you'll use in this tutorial ...
  • Desaturate an image
  • Set guides by percent
  • Multiply layer mode
  • Layer mask
  • Blend tool

First open an RGB (color) picture to use as the base image for this tutorial. I found this nice image of kids playing football, but you can apply this technique to just about any RGB image.

Step 1 - Desaturate the image and adjust the brightness and contrast

Colors - Desaturate... Use the default settings in the Desaturate dialog.

Next, Colors - Brightness-Contrast...

In the Brightness-Contrast dialog, set the Brightness to 15 and the Contrast to 18. You may want to adjust these settings to work better for your base image.

The result should be something like this.

Step 2 - Set three horizontal guidelines to help define the tinted regions

Image - Guides - New Guide (by Percent)...

Set a Horizontal guide at 25%.

Set two more guides in the same way, one at 50%, one at 75%.

Note the percentages are 0% at the top and left to 100% at the bottom and right.

Step 3 - Apply a green tint to the lower half of the image

Create a new transparent layer named Green tint, Layer - New Layer...

Now fill this layer with green. You'll need to select the Bucket Fill tool and set the foreground color to green (00cb2f).

Your picture should now be solid green. From the Layers palette select Multiply from the Mode dropdown list.

You should now see your picture with a green tint applied to the entire image. Next, you'll use a layer mask to limit the tint to the lower portion of the image.

Layer - Mask - Add Layer Mask...
Be sure White (Full Opacity) is selected in the dialog.

Next you need to paint a black to white gradient on the layer mask Select the Blend tool and be sure the colors are reset to the default black foreground and white background.

Draw your blend line from the top down to the 75% guide to get the following result.

Step 4 - Apply a yellow tint to the upper half of the image

Create a new transparent layer named Yellow tint in the same way you created the Green tint layer in Step 3, then fill this layer with yellow (ffff00).

Apply a layer mask to the Yellow tint layer as described in the previous step, but draw the blend line from the bottom up to the 25% guide to achieve the following.

Finally, remove all the guidelines. Image - Guides - Remove all Guides.

Finish up by flattening the image and saving it as a JPG.

That's it. I think it's a nice effect to use in some images. You might like to experiment with applying the two-tone effect vertically or even diagonally, maybe even along a curve.

Hope you picked up a new skill or idea. If you liked this lesson, please share it.

I'm trying something new. I'm embedding the map I used to write this tutorial. It might be a good post-tutorial reference.

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