Monday, July 26, 2010

GIMP Tutorial: Easy Water Ripple Effects

(Click to enlarge)

I have upgraded GIMP to version 2.6.10.

Step 1:

Find a photograph (any photograph will do). For this project, I decided to use this image of Wild Horse Island at Flathead Lake:

Feel free to use this image for the tutorial. (Click the photo to enlarge it)

Crop the water area of the bottom of the image like shown:

Step 2:

Use Saul Goode's Mirror script to create a vertical flip of the image (Script-Fu - Transform - Mirror):

 Duplicate the mirrored layer.

Step 3:

Create a new transparent layer named "Ripple".

Using the Ellipse select tool, with the Feathered Edge set at 10, create an ellipse in the center of the layer.

Fill the ellipse with black.

Using the Blend tool, shape set at Radial, create a gradient similar to what is shown below:

Turn off the selection (Select -None).

If you're wondering why fill the ellipse with black and use a white to black gradient in the center, its due to how the wave filter splits the two colors into ripples. You want the outside ripple lines to be black to give them more definition when using the displace map.

Step 4:

Filters - Distorts - Waves with the following settings:

Change the mode of the Ripple layer to Overlay.

 Using the Rotate tool, I rotated the ripple 90°.

 Using the Scale tool, I made the ripple slightly smaller, filling the lower half of the layer, like shown:

Keep in mind that for the Scale tool, you can manipulate the ripples by turning off the aspect ratio (unchain the chain link) 

TIP: If you want your water ripples to be more of a completed circle, duplicate the layer and then flip the duplicate layer horizontally and change its mode to Multiply. Right click the duplicate layer and        "Merge Down".

Step 5:

Right click the "Ripple" layer and select Layer to Image Size. (Displace menu will not show the Ripple layer UNTIL you do this)

Select/highlight the mirror layer copy (the middle layer), and go to Filters - Map - Displace. Apply the following settings:

You may want to make adjustments to your pinch and whirl settings to suit your own ripple.

Turn OFF (click the  ) the Ripple layer to see the final effect.

Step 6: (Optional)

I added an extra to give the viewer an indication of what made the ripple by adding a fishing bobber:

Edit - Paste Image As - New Layer.

Adjust the bobber by scaling it to fit the ripple.

Add a new transparent layer, name it "Fishing line top".

I used the Path tool to make the filament (fishing line) using 1 px, using a bluish gray color (5e6274).

I duplicated the fishing line layer and flipped it vertically, then used the Move tool to align it in a mirrored fashion. Rename the duplicated layer "fishing line flipped". See below:

Right click the fishing line flipped layer, select Layer to Image Size.

Filters - Map - Displace.

Use the same settings and layer as in step 5. Your image should now resemble the following:

That's it, you're done! :) Thank you for stopping by.


  1. Hey!
    Thats a very nice tutorial! Wonderfully simple, but a really powerful effect. Thanks for sharing that!

  2. hi, i have a problem with the script; it says bad syntax. how can i fix this? thanks

  3. No idea why the mirror script is showing "bad syntax". You could join and ask Saulgoode.


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