Thursday, February 18, 2010

GIMP Tutorial: Make Your Own Ornamental Tiles (*Beginners*)

I prefer making my own "stuff". Sure, grabbing a picture off the internet is quick and easy, but so is making your own ornamental tiles. Really, it is.

Embossed / Inverted

Raised via Bump Map (Layer Mode: Hard Light)

(Click image to enlarge)

Let's get started! :)

If you don't have the Smooth Path plug-in by ijontichy, grab it and extract the smooth_path.exe into your .gimp-2.6/plug-ins folder before starting this tutorial. While you're at it, grab the script-fu-copy-rotate.scm file by tekhertz and move it to your .gimp-2.6/scripts folder. Close and restart GIMP.

Step 1:

First thing we need to do is make our ornamental design. It's easier to accomplish than you might think. Open a square size drawing  with a white background (I made mine 800 x 800 at 300 dpi). Then create a transparent layer (top-most). Set up guides for the middle of your drawing both horizontally and vertically. (400 x 400).

Now, lets create the first of two paths (yep, all its gonna take is two paths to make this tile ornamental). Draw out the points for the teardrop path, as shown below (you can name your path "teardrop" in the path dialog, if you wish):

Then manipulate the nodes by dragging beside them, to make the curves (holding the shift key while dragging out nodes makes the curve symmetrical), getting the desired result, as shown:

Now we'll make the second path, called an "open heart". In the path dialog right click and select "New Path", name it "Open Heart". Click the eye on the teardrop path so that it shows while you are working on the open heart path. Set the open heart points as shown below:

For those of you worried about it not being even on both sides, fret not, a little trick to even things out, add guides like shown:

"Think squares", it makes it easier to align the nodes, like shown above. Don't worry about perfection, your ornament is still going to look awesome. :). Now, right click on the open heart path in the path dialog and select smooth path, accept default settings, select ok. Your heart should look like this:

With the Path tool selected, click the very top node to get the handles to show up, and then hold CTRL + Shift and click on both "handles". Do not click on the node. See the following:

You should end up with your open heart looking like this:

Now, with Path tool still selected, hold the ALT key down and move the open heart down to the top of the teardrop, like so:

The open heart is a little too wide at this point, so to make it thinner, select the Scale tool (open heart path must be selected in Path dialog) and select the path option under Transform in the toolbox:

Break the link on the Scale dialog, as we only want to reduce the width, not both width and height:

Now reduce the width of the open heart path to a suitable size. See my image below:

The hardest part is over!

Step 2:

In the Paths dialog, right click and "Merge Visible Paths", then right click and select ("Stroke Path"), and give them both a 5px black stroke (make sure your top-most transparent layer is selected and not the white background layer):

Under the Select menu, choose script-fu-copy-rotate and enter the following parameters:

Your image should now look like the following:

It has some fuzziness to it, so we need to give it a slight Gaussian blur (4 px) and then run Colors - Curves, like shown:

We end up with this:

(Save your drawing now, as "ornament1.xcf")

By now, you're probably thinking, "Quick and easy, huh?" Well, it is, once you get the initial grasp of creating the two path shapes and tidying it up, it just seems so long because the tutorial is stretched out picture by picture, so I know you'll understand it more clearly.

Step 3:

The fun starts here, making the actual tile face. Open a new image 800 x 800, with a white background. Set up the guides for the center point like the first drawing, and also add guides at  0, 200, 600, 800 both vertically and horizontally:

Go back to the first image and Edit - Copy the layer with the stroked open heart and teardrop image. In the new image, Edit - Paste As - New Layer. Using the Scale tool, we'll reduce the size of the pasted image to about half its original size (make sure the link isn't broken and that Transform mode is back on Layer):

At this point, Edit - Copy the new scaled path.

Step 4:

Start selecting Edit - Paste As - New Layer,  adding one image at a time. (I keep the Move tool selected and quickly move them into place after each paste) Your guides should be snapping (View - Snap To Guides). Follow along the lines of what I have done, shown below:

(TIPYou don't have to Paste every layer, you can do one half of the image, duplicate the layer and flip it the opposite direction, to save time. Just make sure that your original layers are resized to the image before duplicating layers and flipping.).

Now would be a good time to Merge Visible Layers and SAVE the file as "Tile1.xcf". We're not done, just taking precaution.

Edit - Paste As - New Layer, once more. We will use the Scale tool to reduce the current path to 2/3rd its size. Edit - Copy the newly scaled path and again, with the Move tool selected, Edit - Paste As - New Layer new images and place them as shown below:

Merge All Visible Layers, and save.

Step 5:

Filters - Distorts - Emboss:

(Note: if you want a raised area instead of inverted, simply choose bump map instead of emboss, leave Azimuth as is, raise Elevation to 145, and Depth to 5)

Add a new transparent layer, top-most. Set the Layer mode to Overlay. Select the Paint Bucket tool, and choose a pattern of your choice.( Light colored stone patterns work best. Dark colors and wiggly patterns are too busy for the emboss look). I chose a stone pattern I made from one of my older tutorials.

Step 6:

Now its time to put the bevels on the side of the tile. You'll need to set up guides on 0, 25, 775, 800, both vertically and horizontally, like so:

Using the Free Select tool, we'll make trapezoid shapes to mimic the bevels. I created a new layer, because I like to duplicate layers and flip them to save time.

(TIP: Once you make the selection for one side, use the Flip tool with Affect set to Selection, and flip the selection to the other side, to save time)

Do the same for the remaining three sides, making the left and top sides lighter gray, and the bottom and right sides, a darker gray. 

Finished bevel, with all trapezoid duplicate layers merged into one, and opacity lowered to about 60.

(Click image to enlarge)


  1. I can't get script-fu-copy-rotate.scm by tekhertz to work after it was copied,
    pasted onto my desktop, opened in notepad, saved as scm file again for whatever reason, then brought into gimp-2.0 folders for scripts. got out and got back into gimp nothing showing anything about this new script-fu scm file.
    Help - I see what you have done above.
    Your knowledge will be appreciated.
    Louis Wynne/landscape architect

  2. Louis:

    The script should be downloaded and dropped into the Users .gimp-2.6/scripts folder, and will be found in the Select menu in GIMP. If you follow the link in my above reply, you'll see how scripts are saved to GIMP.

    How to load scripts and plug-ins in GIMP:


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. :)