Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Open an image of any size to suit yourself, with a white background. (I am using 640 x 640 @ 300dpi).
Create a new transparent layer and name it "Wings".
Use the path tool to draw one set of wings, like shown (think maple seeds):
Then the second wing, make it a little wider than the first.
Activate both selections on the "Wings" layer and fill with a turquoise color (26b3b5) and reduce the opacity level to 50%.
Create a new transparent layer and name it "pattern".
Download this mosaic brush I created and add it to your .gimp-2.6/brushes folder, refresh the brushes dialog.
Using the Airbrush tool, set the foreground color to (086263), then select the new mosaic brush.
Make the brush a little larger than the wings and then apply the Airbrush.
Change the "pattern" layer mode to screen. Your image should now look like the following:
Right click the Pattern layer and select "Merge Down".
Duplicate the newly merged layer, then using the Flip tool, set to vertical, flip the wing image. You should now have the following image:
If you want to outline your wings, you could make copies of the paths and then using the Flip tool to flip them vertically as well, but there is an easier way to achieve this. First right click the wing copy layer and "Merge Down" into one wing layer.
Use the Color select tool and tick the "Select transparent areas" in the Tools options, then click a transparent area on the newly merged wing layer.
Invert the selection (Select - Invert), then create a new path of the wings (Select - To Path)
Create a new transparent layer, name it "outline".
In the Paths dialog, select the newly created wing path , right click it and select Stroke Path, and use the following menu options and have a slightly darker turquoise color than the wing fill (11898a):
Lower the opacity of the outline layer to 75%.
Making the body requires duplicating a technique. Each process is done the exact same way, only the body will grow from wide to slim, meaning you'll make large and small body parts to create one body.
Create a new transparent layer and name it "body".
Using the Ellipse tool, create an ellipse like shown:
You have numerous color choices to choose from on body color, but the dragonflies in my area tend to have a bluish green metallic look, so remaining true locality, I'll select those two colors (6dab00 & 0276d9) for my gradient Blend.
Select the Blend tool and use the following settings:
Fill the body with a gradient from left to right in direction, (if you don't like the color order, tick the box next to Gradient in the Toolbox and re-apply). You will be duplicating this same process for the tail of the dragonfly using smaller ellipses.
Now for the tail.
Create a new transparent layer and name it "tail".
Using the Ellipse tool, create a small ellipse and fill it with the same gradient Blend as shown in step 5, as shown below:
With the ellipse still selected, go to (Edit - Copy) then deactivate the selection (Select - None).
Press CTRL + V to paste more copies, using the Move tool to put them in line, as shown below:
Create one slightly larger ellipse for the end of the tail, like shown:
Now to make the reflective surfaces of the body and tail, create a new transparent layer and name it "reflect".
Use the Ellipse tool and create a continuous sequence of ellipse selections (hold the shift key down while performing this task):
(TIP: You can release the shift key to move the ellipse, then press the shift key to start the next ellipse)
Fill the selections with white, using the Paint bucket tool.
Reduce the opacity of the "reflect" layer to 25%.
Turn off the background layer, wing layer, and outline layer (by clicking on the eye on each). 3 layers should be showing: reflect, tail, body.
Right click the body layer and select Merge Visible Layers, accept the default "expand as necessary" prompt that follows.
Now it's time for the head of the dragonfly.
Create a new transparent layer and name it "head".
Use the Ellipse tool to create the head like shown:
Fill the head with a black and gray radial gradient blend.
Add a new transparent layer for the head reflection, and use the same technique as done in step 7.
Final steps in the dragonfly will be the eyes and legs. The legs are done the same way as shown in the ladybug tutorial, using the Stroke Path taper plugin.
Create a new transparent layer and name it "eyes".
For the eyes, I used a red/orange (radial gradient Blend, as shown:
I created one eye, then duplicated the layer, and flipped it vertically with the Flip tool, then merged the two eye layers together (right click the top eye layer and select "Merge Down").
Finally the legs. Create a new transparent layer and name it "legs".
Drag the "legs" layer down underneath the "wings" layer.
Before starting here, read the steps listed here (this link opens in a new window, and read from STEP 7 in the ladybug tutorial).
From photographs and drawings of dragonflies, you'll note how the legs are arranged, as this drawing from scientificillustrator.com indicates:
I'll create the legs for the top half, utilize the Stroke Path Taper as shown in Step 7 of the ladybug tutorial, and then duplicate and vertically flip the duplicated layer. See image below:
Finalizing and touch up pointers:
You can now go to each layer and right click, choose "Alpha to Selection", convert the selections to paths, and apply some outlines to the body, wings, head, and eyes. I tend to use a slightly darker color for path strokes of 1px, (this means, for each layer choose the darkest color of that layer, and make it slightly darker for any outlines you decide to do, with the exception of the head layer, which I made a lighter gray to contrast against the black color - what's darker than black, right?).
You can also use those same alpha to selections, create a new transparent layer above the original, like in the case of the body. To give it more depth, I selected the body layer, chose alpha to selection, created a new transparent above it, and applied a pattern fill and lowered the opacity to give it a blended look.
For the wings layer, I used a darker gray outline stroke, and added some lines to the wings just using the Airbrush tool and holding the shift key for point to point action.
I'll upload some YouTube videos that shows a few of these techniques, so check back if you want to know more.
YouTube video: Giving the dragonfly body depth
Remember to set HD to 720 DPI. Best viewed in FULL screen mode.
YouTube video: Adding details to the dragonfly wings
YouTube video: Adding legs to your dragonfly
YouTube video: Adding antennae and mouth to your dragonfly