Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GIMP Tutorial: *Beginners* Make Your Own Coffee Cup

It's not too complicated. Approximately 7 layers, very little graphic editing involved.

I didn't use any special GIMP scripts for this tutorial. Everything you need to create this image should be available in GIMP. I am using GIMP 2.6.8 (currently on Windows 7 OS using the Google Chrome browser).

Lets get started:

Step 1:

In order to make the coffee cup you'll need to have a picture available to use for the Map Objects plug-in.  

Open an image with a white background that is 640 x 480px.

Copy and paste any image you want to become part of the cup into the new image. When you finish doing that, merge the new layer down onto the white background:

Step 2:

Go to Filters - Map - Map Objects. There are 5 tabs with screenshots of each tab shown below:





POSITION: X and Y position moves the cylinder up and down on the background. Z moves it in closer or further away.

ROTATION: X moves the cylinder up and down on a central axis. Y moves the face of the image east and west. And Z turns the cylinder like the hand of a clock.


Select OK.

If your image doesn't center itself on the cylinder like you want, back up your steps (Ctrl + Z) and use the Move tool to move the pasted image over a little bit before running Map Objects again. It might take a few tries to get it where you want it.

Step 3:

Now you should have an image of a cylinder with a transparent background (hopefully with your own pasted image on it):

It does look a little bit distorted, but it is expected when an image is wrapped around a cylinder. If its too distorted (depending on which direction (tall or wide) you will need to increase or decrease the radius or length on the Cylinder tab. I would not mess with the x,y, and z parameters on the Orientation tab unless you know what you are doing. (I explained what they do below the Orientation tab image).

Step 4:

Now its time to use the Perspective tool to angle the bottom of the cup, slightly. On the new cylinder image, select the Perspective tool and angle the cup like shown in the screenshot below:

You can leave it like it is if you want to, and skip this step altogether. I prefer the cup have a little bit of angle to it, for looks.

Step 5:

Open a new transparent image, 600 x 800px.

Duplicate the background layer three (3) times:

Think about the order of your images with a wall and table top with coffee cup, its reflection and shadow, with steam rising from the cup.

  1. Bottom-most layer will be the wall background, choose any color or method to obtain this (I used a green/dark green radial gradient)

  2. The next layer up will be the table top (I used a white and gray linear gradient in the bottom half of the image)

  3. 3rd from bottom layer will be the cup's shadow

  4. 4th layer from bottom will be the cup's handle

  5. 5th layer from bottom will be the steam wisp 

  6. 6th layer from bottom will be the cup itself

  7. 7th layer from the bottom will be the cup's reflection (with a gradient layer mask added)

It's important to think of how your layers will stack up so that when you work on the image, you don't get lost and perform edits on layers that won't show them, causing you to think something is wrong with GIMP. It does happen and has happened to me on occasion.

Step 6:

I'll be using YouTube videos from this point on out so you can "SEE" how quick the next few steps are. Keep in mind that you can "pause" and restart the videos at any time, and move the slider back to replay a part you miss.

Setting up the wall background, tabletop, and coffee cup shadow, click here:

Step 7:

Making the cup handle, click here:

Step 8:

Final steps to completion. Merge cup and handle together to one layer, create a steam wisp, click here:

A video of all the steps done together in one sequence, start to finish, click here:

That's it, you're done. Add some objects to the table or wall to suit!

You're feedback is important to me, so please let me know if you're having problems or success, so I can improve or change the methods of instruction. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Thanks for visiting my blog! :)


  1. Just want to say 'thanks'. It is very helpful :)

  2. Hi - learnt a lot, thanks so much. Quick question - was there any commentary with the videos? As somebody new to GIMP I found them a bit hard to follow. Grateful nonetheless, though.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Unfortunately, I lack the time to add audio to the older videos, as I only intended to show the steps in GIMP as the tutorial progressed. One way of making the video easier to watch is to view it on YouTube, and go fullscreen mode. That should help some.


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. :)