Tuesday, October 13, 2009

GIMP: "COOL & EASY" No-Hassle Text Effects

I see a lot of GIMP text effect tutorials and they always involve creating multiple layers upon layers, this effect, or that effect. What if you just made your own text effect that could be re-used over and over again and NOT require duplicating layers? Could it really be that easy and simple, you ask? Yes, it can. It's not really a secret, but I am surprised that (up til this point) no one has taken advantage of (*gulp*) making animated brushes of their text. It's incredibly simple and quick, it will blow your mind why you didn't think of it before. Or maybe you did think of it before but just thought it was too complicated. First, the effect, so you can see what you're signing up for:

These are all brush strokes, folks.

I'm using the "Subway" font. If you want to use it, too, you can grab it here.

Video Tutorial:

Best viewed FULL screen.

Now on to the tutorial:


Make your drawing window BIG (640 x 640), transparent, and at least 300 dpi.


Type whatever it is you want to make a text effect of (i.e. your name, a title, etc.). Enlarge the font so that it takes up most of the width of the new drawing.

STEP 3: Using the Perspective tool, slightly angle the top of the text down toward the horizon (middle point of your text height):

You can lay it down even more, if you want, but keep in mind, the flatter you lay the text down, the smaller it gets.


Now would be a good time to delete the transparent background layer. Crop the text to a decent, even size:


The fun begins. Now that you have it in the perspective you want, and cropped to size, it's time to make it into an AWESOME animated brush. Save the file as whatever you wish to name it, but use the extension .gih, (Save the file to your .gimp-2.6/brushes folder):

These are also the settings for your new animated brush.


The final step is "refreshing" your brushes and then testing out the new brush:

Using the Airbrush tool, selecting "Use color from gradient" start drawing with your new text brush, changing the gradients to test with. Now that you got this covered, you can always make new text brushes for other names or titles, etc.

(NOTE: If you don't feel like saving a bunch of text brushes in your brushes dialog, you can circumvent making the text into brushes by simply saving the text to an alpha selection, copying the selection - this automatically creates a brush default in your brushes dialog and will remain there until you copy another selection or image. While having the copied text selected, simply move the spacing slider down to 1 and off you go making cool 3D effects.)


Here is just one example of the kinds of cool effects you can make using this text brush:

I used the text brush set at Incandescent gradient and in combination with Bernhard Stockmann's "Hot text on flames/fire" tutorial found here.

The trick here is to do Bernhard's tutorial first, using the text brush you made, setting both foreground and background colors to white, when using color as a gradient. You'll have to make the background black, the text white. Once you follow that tutorial through to the end, then set your text brush to the incandescent gradient, and work your way up.

If none of this is making any sense to you, leave a comment. If I get enough requests I'll just create the tutorial for this effect.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

GIMP Experiment: Dealing With Line Drawings

A comment came up on the GIMP Registry asking about scripts for working with/creating line drawings in GIMP. As is usually the case, people want to know if what they can do in Photoshop can be done in GIMP. And most always, the answer is yes, but...there are x amount of methods in GIMP to arrive at the same effect done in Photoshop. So I went hunting for a few Photoshop tutorials that would give me comparable effects/functions/or filters to GIMP, to experiment with. First stop, Lunacore.com, using very simple methods/filters, I might add. I'll use the clock as the example for this experiment. Feel free to follow along, if you want.

The watch piece:

Lunacore's method to get the line drawing using Photoshop:
  1. High pass filter (radius of .3)

  2. Sketch to notepaper

  3. Threshold level of 180
Here is that result:

Here is the same process using GIMP:
  1. High pass filter (radius of 2, with -100 Contrast adjust, mode Grayscale)

  2. Quick Sketch filter by Harry Phillips and Michael Schumacher (Gaussian blur between 30-45)

  3. Colors/Threshold of 124

The result of those settings:

Judge the results for yourself.

A second Photoshop approach can be found at VirtualPhotographyStudio.com. This involves the "Old School" method and I featured a similar Paint Shop Pro version of this process here.

The Old School method is fairly simple:

Convert the image to greyscale.

Duplicate the image layer.

On the top most image layer, convert it to a negative image (Invert).

Change the blend mode to Dodge.

Go to Adjust – Blur – Guassian Blur – set to 15.

Select bottom-most image layer.

Go to Adjust – Blur –  Average – set to around 5. Use preview and make your own judgement.

To darken the grays, use Brightness and Contrast, by lowering brightness and raise contrast to bring in the black.

It might help to add some texture to the lines if you feel the image is too crisp or you could tinker with the levels (Color/Levels) by making adjustments using curves.

The same watch piece using the above process:

This looks fairly crisp. Usable as a line drawing?

I've had similar luck using a different method, altogether. It involves :

  1. Use Edge Detect (Laplace)

  2. Run Quick Sketch

  3. Use Colors/Levels adjusting with curves. (Tinker with it until you're happy with the results)

The result of that process look like this:

Looks very similar to high pass process shown above.

If I find additional tutorials that show better methods for obtaining line drawings in Photoshop, I'll share it here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

GIMP Tutorial: How To Make Caricatures Using GIMP *UPDATED*

I'm going to show you how to turn this:

Into this:

Scripts/Plug-in(s) used in this tutorial:
  • In lieu of the former method, I have replaced it with Adaptive Contrast Enhancer, found at the GIMP Registry, here (for Windows) and here (for Ubuntu).

  • You'll need to download the G'Mic plug-in found here. This tutorial uses the Presets filter called PhotoComix Smoothing (using Photocomix's presets).

  • Other scripts used are built in to the latest versions of GIMP (Gaussian blur, IWarp, etc) so you should be fine with those.

  • I am using Windows 7 (64bit) and Ubuntu 10.04, with GIMP 2.6.11 (32 bit)

  • Please take your time to READ the Installation notes for the G'Mic plug-in prior to starting this tutorial. Read this post if you don't understand how to install scripts and plug-ins. Leave comments if you have any questions.

STEP 1: (Is G'Mic and Adaptive Contrast Enhancer loaded? They need to be, in order to proceed)
Don't have Adaptive Contrast Enhancer loaded in the latest GIMP? Click here

Find a suitable face picture of the intended "victim" for this tutorial. Use a picture of yourself if performing this tutorial could be potentially hazardous to your health using a picture of anyone else.

I will be using this picture of Napoleon Dynamite. You can grab it or use your own.


Run Filters - Colors - Adaptive Contrast on the image using the following settings (your preview should be similar to the one below):


Go to Filters/G'Mic/Presets/PhotoComix Smoothing. The correct settings we'll be using were suggested by Photocomix, and they are as follows:

The need for the dark outline becomes clear once you run this G'Mic filter. It actually highlights the shades and features of the entire image and makes it stand out. Adaptive Contrast adds those elements to your photo.

You should have something similar to this:


There is no right or wrong way to run I-Warp (Filters/Distorts/IWarp). Just remember to use the "reset" button as often as needed (instead of closing the image and restarting the script).

The way I used IWarp was to make minimal changes and then click ok. Open IWarp again and make more changes. Doing this prevents you from losing ALL of your changes when doing a reset.

When doing caricatures, I tend to avoid using Shrink and Grow, as much as possible, as it tends to distort the pixels to a point of losing quality. So, I prefer using the Move tool at the default setting.

On the Napoleon image I Shrank his eyes a little bit, used Grow on his bottom lip and forehead (slightly), and used the Move tool to extend his jowls outward, make his neck smaller, and to lower his shoulders.

Take note of the image for reference:

That's it, you're done! Enjoy... :)

Please leave a comment to report problems with steps in the tutorial or if you have any questions.

Some Additional Caricatures: