Tuesday, August 25, 2009

GIMP-Python: Adrian Likins’ Font to Brushes & Font to Image Hose Plugins

I found the two python plugins on Carol's GIMP site (now a dead link), but while editing the py files, I learned they were created by Adrian Likins. Apparently, they were for the Linux OS because when I installed them, they tossed a $HOST error (file or directory not found). I know absolutely zero about the Python language, and wasn't getting much help from anyone on the web, so I decided to find the solution myself. After reading through numerous pages of the Python Developer website, I learned (after hours of frustration, and a lead from Adrian) that the path function was conflicting because it's written for the Linux OS, and not Windows. 

My next step was in finding out what the correct Windows path function was (I didn't have a clue, so I tried them all, hahaha). None worked. I was just about to give the plugins up when something prompted me to revisit the Python Developer website and search for the WINDOWS path functions, something I had failed to do the night before. Not only did I find the correct path function, I learned why my Windows variable changes weren't working in the old string. They were deprecated! Gah! I may not know Python, but I do know "deprecated". 

Toiling around in GIMP scripts has taught me that progress comes with a price, strings and variables are eventually changed and we need to adapt to those changes. Anyway, a LONG story short, the plugins now work in GIMP 2.6.7, using Vista. Windows users are encouraged to download them at the Gimp Registry, here

One last reminder: when creating new brushes from fonts (webdings, zingbats, etc) save them LARGE in size, about 250px or so, then reduce the size in the Brush tool dialog when using them. This helps retain their crisp edges. Saving small font brush sizes will only get fuzzy when enlarged. Additional info: I emailed Tanda, who created a brilliant "Edit Brushes" Python script for GIMP, and he advised me to yet another method of resolving the path function. You don't need to make any changes to the modified scripts as they are now, this information is just an additional method of getting a Linux script to work in Windows. 

Tanda said to replace this function brushdir = "%s/.gimp-%s/brushes/" % (os.path.expandvars("$HOME"), get_gimp_version()) with brushdir = pdb.gimp_gimprc_query("brush-path-writable") I tried using the new function and it does work. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

GIMP: High Pass Masking Tutorial

While checking out GimpUsers.com, I ran across Bernhard Stockmann's "Perfect High Pass Masking tutorial". On first note, this is a handy tutorial, but it's seriously outdated, no offense to Bernhard. The following steps are my approach to this tutorial, that simplifies Bernhard's. First step, let's grab the picture being used for the original tutorial (Angelina Jolie):

Step 1: Open the"Angelina" picture in GIMP, and duplicate the layer, just once. Step 2: Highlight the new duplicate layer. Run the Filters - Enhance - Adaptive Contrast script. If you don't have this script, the first thing you might want to check is your GIMP version. I am using 2.6.6. If you are running 2.6.6 and don't have the script, check with the GIMP Registry or download the GIMP Adaptive Contrast Enhancer plugin at PhotoComix's site here. The gimp-ace.exe file needs to be in either the Program Files/Gimp plugins folder or your Users/.gimp2.6/plugins folder. Read the "How To Install" file that comes with the zipped files. The settings for Adaptive Contrast is default, which should be:

Your picture of Angelina should now look like this:

Step 3: With the same layer highlighted, go to Colors - Desaturate - Average setting. Your image now looks like this:

Step 4: Select Colors - Invert. Your image should now look like this:

Step 5: Add a new layer with transparency, highlight the layer and select the Quick Mask tool or Shift + Q. The layer should now have a red film over it. Set the foreground color to white and select the Airbrush tool. Color in the body of Angelina in using white. It doesn't have to be perfect, just get it as close as you can to the edges that don't have a lot of white in the invert image. If you mess up, use black to retouch those areas. It won't actually paint the colors, it will show the red film being erased or re-added on the layer. White = full transparency (see through) and black = full opaque (not see through) in masking terms.

Step 6: Once you are done filling in the body area, like shown above, press Shift + Q again to deselect the mask and you'll now see the red film gone and a selection (marching ants) around Angelina's body.

Some people can use the Free Select tool and outline the body much faster than others can use a quick mask and get the result you see above. I have better luck with the Quick Mask simply because I can stay away from trying to "outline" the hair strands, since they show as white on the inverted image. The goal with Quick Mask is to create a quick outline to fill with white, not to achieve a perfect outline of the entire body.

Step 7: Once you have the outline, fill the interior (the body area) with white using the Bucket tool. Once that is done, we need to get the background around her body to be black. To do this, click on Select - Invert, select the Paintbrush tool, set foreground to black and color in around the body part (try to keep from coloring in the hair strands at the top, so zoom in and set your brush size accordingly. See image below:

Step 8: Merge the top layer down over the middle layer.  We will use the merged layers of black and white as a mask.

With the merged layer selected (highlighted), Select - All, this should give you marching ants around the border of the merged layer. Then select Edit - Copy. What this is doing is making a copy of the mask to the clipboard so you can paste it as a layer mask on the original image layer below it, but we have to create the layer mask on the original image layer below it, first!

Select (highlight) the original image layer at the bottom of the layers dialog, right click the mouse and Add Alpha channel. Click right again and add a layer mask. Press CTRL+V (Edit / Paste) then right click on the newly created Floating Selection layer and select Anchor layer. You should the see the result of your work now by clicking the eye on the top layer. Add any background image you want, by adding a new layer, moving the original image with the layer mask above the background layer. REMINDER: Don't forget to SAVE your original mask layer image as a *.xcf file so you can re-use it again and again.

Here's my results, with a new background included:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

GIMP: 2nd Look At An Online Shield Symbol Tutorial

Anyone who keeps up with my site knows that I search for GIMP tutorials to practice with, and sometimes an existing tutorial will throw us through a loop, and we'll get stuck. Older tutorials like this one found at GimpUsers.com are sometimes abandoned by the author. This particular tutorial is for the creation of shield symbols. This is in no way a discredit to Mike (the author), but merely a help guide to those of us who got stuck while following the tutorial. Click on the "tutorial" link above and print that tutorial out to help you follow along with the steps I provide here. First things first: I am using GIMP 2.6.6., are you? If not, you might want to upgrade before starting.

Since Step 6 is where it all "sort of" fell apart for me, that is where I will begin here.  By Step 6, you should have 3 layers, named Background, Basic Form, and Drop Shadow.

Add a new layer and name it "Shadow". Select (highlight) the Basic Form layer, right click on that layer in the layer dialog and select "Alpha to Selection". See image below:

See the highlighted blue area? Right click there and you'll see the right context menu as shown in the picture above. Once you select "Alpha to Selection" and it now has marching ants around the shield area, then highlight the newly made "shadow" layer above the Drop Shadow layer.

Forget about creating a black mask layer, it's not needed, simply fill the selection with white while the new "shadow" layer is highlighted. Leaving the selection as is, set the foreground color to black, select the Blend tool, with settings "foreground to transparency" and place a gradient like shown below (starting from the bottom upwards):

I actually only needed to reduce my opacity level of my shadow layer to 50%, not between 10% and 30% as indicated in the tutorial.

This is the result of 50% opacity (shown above).

Step 8 is basically a repeat situation of Step 6, only this time, instead of creating a shadow, you're going to add some form to the shield. Add a new layer, name it Form. Are your ants still marching around the shield? Mine are. If you already have a selection (marching ants) just select (highlight) the Form layer. If you don't have a selection (marching ants) you'll need to highlight the Basic Form layer again, right click it, and select "Alpha to Selection" then select (highlight) the new Form layer.

Fill the selection on your Form layer with white first. Then shrink (Select - Shrink) the selection by 3 pixels, and fill the newly shrunken selection with black.

Leave the selection as is. Instead of drawing a white line, we are going to extract an area from the form using the Free Select tool (lasso). Select the Free Select tool (it doesn't matter if the shield is still selected) and click a rectangular shape as shown in the image below:

To complete a Free Select tool selection, after you make the 3rd point in the rectangle, click the first point (top most point) to close the selection. Press Delete to remove that section of black from the shield. Then Select - None. You should see something similar to this:

I followed Step 9 as indicated, only when removing the white, the steps for that is Colors - Color to Alpha (make sure the color white is selected in the menu that pops up).

I skipped Step 10 altogether, as you can colorize your shield at any point, so this step seemed excessive, imho

The latter part of Step 11 didn't work for me, no matter what I did to get the Blend (angular shaped) to work with a black mask layer, it turned out crappy looking, so I improvised and skipped Step 11, as well.

On Step 12, I created a new layer named "Top Shadow" and followed the steps for the Blend tool only. Ignore the other stuff about deleting content and moving the layer to the top of the list. Do use the Blend tool and select the color white for foreground, using the foreground to transparency option. You only need to drag your gradient line from the top left corner of the shield to the midpoint of the shield. Note below:

It should now look like this:

Step 13 involves getting the mirror effect. There is a script that can do this for us, it's called Reflection, and can be found under Filters - Decor - Reflection. If you don't have this script, you can download it here. (Any script troubleshooting needs to be done with the script's author, but read the comments at the script's site, first.) Once you have the script loaded, apply the Reflection script and choose the settings as shown:

The trick here is to select (highlight) the newly created Reflection layer, right click and select "Apply Layer Mask". With the same Reflection layer highlighted, select the Move tool, and move the layer up to meet the bottom of the shield, tip to tip. Bingo, you have your reflection. Not to worry about the remaining transparent area on the Reflection layer, you can use the Crop tool to remove it. But we do need to take care of the overlapping opacity that discolors the original shield image. We can use the Rectangle Select tool to remove the top half of the Reflection layer to resolve this. See the image below:

The blue line is the Rectangle Select tool area, and the red line is the area we are trying to remove from the Reflection layer. Once you select the top half of the layer (as indicated) press the Delete button.

Step 14 involves adding text, and was simple enough to follow. No changes were required there. But do take note that Mike is speaking of using the Drop Shadow script in the Filters - Light and Shadow - Drop Shadow selection. NOT the drop shadow under Layer Effects. When you are done, save the file as an *.xcf file.

You're probably thinking, "What about changing the color? What happened to that step?" I didn't forget, honest. As long as you have the *.xcf version of this file, all you have to do to change the shield color is simply select (highlight) the Form layer and select Colors - Colorize. On the Colorize menu, moving the Lightness slider up a few digits past zero, first, will allow you to notice the color changes with Hue and Saturation more quickly. If you want any text to change to the same color as the shield, you will need to highlight the text layer and apply the same exact Colorize settings there as well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

GIMP Tutorial: Making Simple Waffle Textures and Patterns

If you're not using GIMP 2.6.11. you might want to consider downloading it to follow along with this tutorial. Otherwise, check under Filters – Render – Pattern – Grid under your GIMP menu bar, to verify if you have the Gridplugin. If not, you'll need to download 2.6.11. to follow along with this tutorial. After searching for a "waffle" pattern or texture via the internet using Google images , and finding none that I was interested in, I went to Filter Forge's website to check, and found this texture. Notice down at the bottom of this "Oh Waffle" texture page, where it shows 3 images: diffuse, bump, and normal. Click and open the bump image and save it to your own computer for later use. Grab and save the original "Oh Waffle" image of this texture, as well, we'll convert it into a GIMP pattern later. Now, although I liked the "Oh Waffle" images, it wasn't what I was actually looking for. My goal was to make an actual rectangular waffle pattern. I started out by painting lines and squares, but that was way too complicated, and it didn't result in the look I was after for a bump pattern. Which brings me to the Grid plugin mentioned in the first paragraph. Realizing grids have very sharp 90 degree intersections, I found this tutorialthat showed me how to use a simple method to round corners. This made for the perfect waffle texture and pattern tutorial. Open any size drawing you wish (I used 640 x 480). Drawing size doesn't really matter since we will be cropping out our grid. Create a new layer with a white background. With the new layer highlighted, select Filters – Render – Pattern – Grid from the menu bar. Check these settings:

Remember the rounded corners tutorial I mentioned in paragraph 3 above? Follow the same instructions as given, using this for the grid layer, only on step 2, raise the Gaussian blur to 20 instead of 15. Your grid should now look similar to this:

Highlight the bottom background layer and using the Bucket fill tool, fill it with a medium gray color.
Keeping the background layer highlighted, go to Filters – Map – Bump Map and follow these settings shown:

Bump map images tend to play tricks (optical illusions) on our eyes, if you try looking at the new bump map image with one eye closed, and then switch eyes, you'll notice in one instance the squares are inverted down, and then with a different eye they'll be raised. I've heard this has something to do with which eye is the most dominant communicating with the brain. Whether that is true or not, I have no idea.
Anyway, if you ran the bump map options and still don't see the result, have you clicked the eye icon eyeicon on the bump map layer to turn it off?. Once you run the bump map and you're happy with the results, you can delete the bump map layer and save the image. You should have something that looks like this:

That's all you need to do to for bump map textures, but if you want to save it as a pattern, simply save it as a *.pat file and store it in your C:\User\<yourusername>\.gimp-2.6\patterns folder.
You can save the original Oh Waffle image as a pattern the same way, and use the Filter Forge bump map image as a top layer, just as this tutorial just explained.
There is one nifty script for scaling patterns in GIMP that can be found here. I use it quite a bit to help me resize pattern images to better fit my drawing size. After saving the script to the appropriate folder (C:\User\<yourusername>\.gimp-2.6\scripts), it works by right clicking on a pattern thumbnail in the Pattern dialog, and selecting "Scale Pattern". The slider bar indicates decreases the image to 20% and increases to 500%. For those who might not understand the way the scale slider works, the bar on 100% would represent your image, as is, it's original size. Anything under 100% will decrease the scale, anything over 100% will increase the scale. Hope that helps.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stepping Outside The GIMP: Getting Ornate With Online Tutorials

Image borrowed from gimp-tutorials.net website - This is NOT my graphic

I spend a great deal of time online searching for and testing GIMP tutorials. Not because I want to bring something back and make a tutorial out of it, but because my mind, being like a sponge, always seeks the best way or best technique to use GIMP, Paint Shop Pro, or Photoshop. Fortunately, I ran across a GIMP tutorial that is a translation of one done in Photoshop. Now, let me say that both tutorials are extraordinary, with awesome tips and techniques. If you want to check them out, click here (thanks sglider12!) for the GIMP version, and here (thanks Alex!) for the PSD version.

Now, I'm not complaining, both authors did a remarkable job bringing us the tutorials with extensive instructions, for that I applaud them. But I wanted to step outside the box and make the design my own. Since I was sort of craving a hot fudge and caramel ice cream sundae, I figured why not take the above tutorial(s) in that direction, using different designs and fonts, and playing with a grunge-like background theme. So, that is what I did and ended up with this (click on the image if you want to see it at 100%):

I added some waffle pattern to the image, to portray my favorite waffle cone, in the image below:

If you're interested in knowing what fonts I used or what steps I did differently, leave a comment. For the most part, I followed the GIMP tutorial, but left a few steps out because I ran out of time. There is nothing wrong with not following a tutorial completely. I personally encourage everyone to make designs their own, by tapping into their creative side, and using a bit of imagination. I do recommend that you try to follow the original tutorial as close as you can a few times before striking out on your own, just so you can get familiar with the effects and scripts used. After you get those down-pat, take the ornate to a whole new level. Have some fun!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

GIMP: Making Your Own Bullet Holes

Bullet holes are very easy to make using GIMP. Before I can get you started on this tutorial, you'll need to check and see if you have the Layer Effects script installed under Script-Fu on the menu bar. (See image below.)

The Layer Effects under FX-Foundry won't work in this case (I've already tried it, unsuccessfully.) So you will need to go to the GIMP Registry site and download the correct version of this script, found here.

To save and use scripts for GIMP (*.scm files), most users open the files using Windows notepad. Keep in mind that by using Windows notepad will require you to save the file using a different tactic. If you are using notepad to open *.scm files, when you save them to GIMP, be sure to change the "Save As Type" to "All Files". And for extra measure, in the file name text box, add .scm to the end of the file name. In this case, the file name will be "layerfx.scm, and that is all you should see in the filename text box. The file should be saved to C:\Program Files\GIMP-2.0\share\gimp\2.0\scripts\

Once you have saved the script, you'll need to check to see if its loaded and then test it. Open GIMP and check under Script-Fu on the menu bar. Do you see Layer Effects listed? If you do, open a new drawing (any size). If you don't, check to see if "layerfx.scm" is in your scripts folder (see directory string above).

The Layer Effects require that any selected image be on a "layer". So, add a new layer to the drawing. Use the Free Select tool (Lasso) to draw out a selection, then visit Script-Fu - Layer Effects on the menu bar. Are the Layer Effect options greyed out? (Double check that you have a layer selected or highlighted). If the options are available, you're in business.

The tutorial:

Open a new drawing 360 x 360, white background. Add a new layer.

With the new layer highlighted, select the Ellipse Select tool and tick "Expand from Center" and "Fixed: Aspect Ratio" in the tool options. Drag out a circle about 115 x 115 pixels in the center of the drawing.

Leave the circle selected with the "marching ants" and select the Free Select tool (Lasso), Start drawing out a "star shaped" area around the circle, like shown:

It's not perfect, but the idea is give it a "shattered" look. Close the selection but clicking the first point you started with.

Set the foreground color to a mid gray color, select the Airbrush tool and paint the entire "star shaped" area. Leave the area selected with the "marching ants".

Remember the Layer Effects mentioned above? We're going to use those effects now to give this star shaped area a  blasted paint look, mimicking a cut-out dropped shadow. Go to Script-Fu - Layer Effects - Bevel and Emboss on the menu bar.

Follow the settings as shown:

It should now look like this:

Add a new layer.

Select the Ellipse Select tool and drag a circle out about 70 x 70 pixels in size. Center it in the gray star shaped area.

Select the Airbrush and using the same mid gray color, paint in the circle on the new layer.

Go to Script-Fu - Layer Effects - Bevel and Emboss, and enter the settings as shown:

You should get something that resembles this:

Add a new layer. Using the Ellipse Select tool again, drag out a small circle and center in the middle of the embossed area. You might be asking, "Why not just just the Airbrush tool and paint in the circle with a circle brush?" The answer: because using the Ellipse Select tool allows you to set feathering at "x" amount of pixels, leaving a nicely faded or softened circular area, which is the look we're going for here.

With the Airbrush tool, paint in the circle with black. It should look like this:

Now all that is required is setting your Airbrush brush to a very small setting, with foreground set to black, and then draw in small "cracks" or "splits" around the black circle. You're finished result should look like this:

    If you think the cracks and splits are too crisp or solid looking as you edit them, you can always soften the look using the Blur/Sharpen tool.

    GIMP: Steam Wisps In 3 Simple Steps

    Open a new drawing (360 x 480) with a black background.

    Using the airbrush, paint a thin gray line in the middle of the drawing, like shown below:

    Step 1: Using the Smudge tool, set its size to be double of the gray line you just created.

    Step 2: Slowly drag the Smudge tool upwards through the gray line, taking your time to cover the entire line. Then slowly drag the Smudge tool back down from top to bottom, intentionally going outside of the line.

    Step 3: This step is just cleaning up (or refining) the wisps you've just created in step 2 by dragging the Smudge tool from outside the line, halfway across the line. (Think of this effect as combing or brushing your hair, the hair being the newly created wisps, and the brush or comb being the Smudge tool.) You should have something that looks like this:

    Practicing this technique often will improve the realism of the smoke wisp look.