Hello Bar

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Poirot Effect


This project was inspired by the opening of the British TV series Poirot. I've always thought the graphics used were very dramatic and interesting, so, I decided to try to create a similar effect using GIMP.




Some of the things you will do in this project:

  • Draw a path and make a selection from it
  • Open an image as a new layer in the current image
  • Scale a layer
  • Use guides
  • Apply a layer mask


Download these source images before you begin: Poirot | OHVLamp


Create a new image 800 pixels tall by 600 pixels wide. Fill it with default black using the Bucket Fill Tool. Drag out vertical guides to 525, 310, 290, and 75 pixels. Pull down horizontal guides to 650 and 125 pixels.

pult01.jpgimg: pult01


Step 1. The light cone

Choose the Paths Tool. Draw a tall trapezoid with corners at 290, 125; 75, 675; 525, 675; and 290, 125. In the Tool Options, click on the Selection from Path button. Create a new transparent layer named Cone. Use the Bucket Fill Tool to fill the selection on the Cone layer with white. Then deselect, Select > None.



Step 2. The light fade

Add a white layer mask to the Cone layer, Layer > Mask > Add Layer Mask… . Using the Blend Tool, draw a black-to-white gradient up from the bottom of the trapezoid. You may have to experiment a few times to get the best effect. I went from 675 pixels up to 400 perpendicular to the base of the image.



Step 3. The oval of light on the floor

Choose the Ellipse Select Tool. Draw a white oval 450 pixels wide and 95 high. Make a new transparent layer, Oval. Fill the selection on this layer with white. Deselect. Use the Move Tool to center it over the lower horizontal guide.



Step 4. Hercule

Open the Poirot image as a new layer in the image, File  > Open as Layers… . From the Layer menu, choose Scale Layer… , and scale it down to an appropriate size (I used 25%). Position this layer so that the feet are in the center of the light oval.



Step 5. Poirot's shadow

Add a new transparent layer, name it Shadow. With the Ellipse Select Tool, draw an oval around Poirot's feet. Fill it with black using the Bucket Fill Tool. Deselect. Select the Rotate Tool and turn it a little clockwise, about 5 degrees. You may need to adjust the position a bit with the Move Tool.



Apply a Gaussian blur with a Radius of of about 45, Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur… . Drag the Shadow layer under the Poirot layer. Turn down the opacity to about 85%.



Step 6. The overhead lamp

Open the OHVlamp image as a new layer on top of all the other layers. Scale it down to an appropriate size (I used 30%). Position it over the top of the light cone.



Adjust the Brightness-Contrast from the Color menu, Brightness: -100, Contrast: 30.




If you wish to continue, download this image:  Industrial



Open the Industrial image as a new layer and drag it immediately above the Background layer in the Layers pallet. Scale the Industrial layer to fill the image above the lower horizontal guide.



Set the blending Mode to Lighten Only and slide the Opacity all the way down to 13.



From the View menu hide the guides. That’s it.



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Clipping Masks

As you are likely aware, GIMP does not include a clipping mask function like some other image editors. A clipping mask allows a background image to show through holes in the masking layer and can be very useful. I looked around a little for a how-to on getting that kind of functionality in GiMP, but those I looked at didn't allow the background image that shows through to be repositioned after the mask was created. I think the ability to move the background is important to achieving just the right result, so I set out to figure out how this could be accomplished and discovered that it isn't at all difficult.



Some skills used in this project:

Text layer

Grids and guides

Layer effects

Selecting by color

merging layers


Open the image you want to show through and name that layer Background. Create a new transparent (must be transparent, not white) layer, White, and fill it with default white using the Bucket Fill Tool.


Click on the Text Tool to make a text layer. Use a heavy, bold font in default black. I used Futura Ultra Bold Condensed.



Select then merge the text layer down onto the White layer, Layer > Merge Down. Select the black text on the White layer with the Select by Color Tool.



Cut out the black text, Edit > Clear, then deselect. You may want to select the Background layer and move it around a little to get a better effect.



That's the basics of making a clipping mask in GIMP.  With the Layer Effects plugin, you can get some dramatic looks. Get the plugin here if you don't have it yet.


I got this look by choosing the White layer and using the Outer Glow effect with the color set to black and everything else defaults.




Now, I'll show you how to use this technique to give the impression a picture has been cut into sections and each section placed on a raised panel.


Open the picture, add the transparent layer, and fill it with white as above.


Display the grid, View > Show Grid. From the rulers, I dragged out guides to divide the image in half both vertically and horizontally.



Next, using the Rectangle Select Tool in "Add to the current selection mode" and the gridlines, I selected four rectangles as shown.



Cut out the rectangles, Edit > Clear, and deselect. Hide the gridlines and the guides from the View menu. (You may at this point want to reposition your background picture a little bit.)



Add the shadow effect from the Script-Fu menu, Script-Fu > Layer Effects > Inner Shadow… . I bumped the size and offset both up to 8.0.



For a final touch, I used the Bucket Fill Tool to fill the White layer with the Wood pattern from the default Patterns pallet.