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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick and Easy Zoom Effect

In this tutorial you’ll create the effect of having zoomed in on a portion of a screenshot to emphasize something in that area.

This lesson was inspired by Jessica Cam Wong's very good tutorial on this effect. In this exercise your product may be be less elegant, but you'll achieve what I believe is a satisfactory and pleasing result a bit more easily and quickly.

A portion of this procedure includes using the GIMP Layer Effects plugin. If you don't have the Layer Effects plugin installed, you can get it here at the GIMP Plugin Registry.

Some of the skills you will use in this exercise:
  • Create a new layer from a pasted selection
  • Expand a new layer to the size of the image
  • Resize (scale) a layer
  • Create a selection using Alpha to Selection
  • Grow a selection
  • Apply the Drop Shadow filter
  • Hide, merge, and reveal layers
You will, of course, need a screenshot on which to work. You can capture a screenshot in GIMP using File > Create > Screenshot… . Capture an approximately 700-800 pixel square screenshot using whatever method you prefer.

Begin by using the Ellipse Select tool to define the "zoomed in" area.

Then copy and immediately paste this selection (Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V). It looks as though nothing has happened, but in the Layers pallet you should notice a "Floating Selection".

Create a new layer (Layer > New Layer…) which will turn this floating selection into a new layer, name it Zoom. Expand this layer to the full image size, Layer > Layer to Image Size.

In the Layers pallet, select the Background layer. Scale this layer down to the desired size, Layer > Scale Layer… . I made the Background layer 400 pixels wide.

Position the Zoom layer over the Background layer as desired.

Right-click the Zoom layer in the Layer pallet and select Alpha to Selection. This creates a selection from the zoomed in area.

Grow the selection by 2 pixels, Select > Grow… .

Create a new layer, Border, and use the Bucket Fill tool to fill the selection on the Border layer with black, the foreground color.

In the Layers pallet drag the Border layer below the Zoom layer.

Apply the Inner Shadow script from the Layer Effects plugin, Script-Fu > Layer Effects > Inner Shadow… with the default settings. You can skip this step and still get a fairly nice effect if you don't want to install the plugin.

Remove the current selection, Ctrl+Shft+A. Now apply a Drop Shadow to the Zoom layer, Filters > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow… . Use the default settings.

The next step is to merge the Drop Shadow, Border, and Zoom layers. In the Layers pallet, click the eye icon for the Background layer to hide it temporarily. Right-click any of the visible layers and select Merge Visible Layers…, then click the Merge button.

Make the Background layer visible again (click where the eye should be) and select that layer.

From here, I'm going to present two different ways to finish this effect.

Background Blur
Blur the Background layer just a bit, Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur… , set the Blur Radius at 2 for both Horizontal and Vertical.

Background Dim
Create a new layer, named Dim, in the Foreground Color (black). Set the Dim layer's opacity to about 25%.

Finally, crop out the transparent region around the perimeter, flatten the image, and save it as a JPG or PNG for web use.

Experiment with different settings, filters, and colors to get an effect you like. As always, I’ve tried to use one or two less familiar tools or techniques. Hope you learned something and are inspired to try something new.

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