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 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.


  1. Thanks a lot!! You explain very accurate! I did not continue  with the old tutorial till I get your new explanations! Congratulations from Spain.

  2. I'm trying to create this type of 'shield' here but cannot find a tutorial on how to do it or what this type of 'shield' or badge is called. Any clues?

  3. @Brian: What graphics program are you using?

  4. GIMP. I tried searching online for templates I can use but I am not sure what that shape is called. I ran across your site and was hoping you could help.

  5. I can help, but I need to know what graphics program you are using. It's called a heraldry badge. They are easy to make. I added badge.xcf to the GIMP Extras page. It includes a path of the badge, drawn in GIMP.

  6. Thanks for the badge. I opened it in GIMP. I'm guessing if I need to make it like the Etsy picture, I can move the inner part of the badge towards the outside edge and then stretch it out and squish it to make it look similar.

    This is for my Wife and a family project ;)

    Thanks for your help

  7. You can scale the path (change transform mode to paths) to be as wide or thin as you wish, then start with a fresh selection (path to selection).

  8. Ok, I scaled the path, created two path-to-selections and pasted them into a new canvas. Looks good. Now, How do I make the four corners round like the picture. The bottom is perfect, just want to round out the top left and right so it is symmetrical.

    Thanks so much!

  9. I created a question on here:


If you intend to comment to complain about being unable to perform certain steps with tutorials, please explain where you are in the step process and what step you are unable to get to work correctly, instead of saying something like, "I can't do this!". Your comments will help get tutorial corrections made and help give clarification to future viewers who may have trouble in the same locations. Thank you. :)