How To Create Amazing Text and Font Effects in Gimp 2.6

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Over 50 recipes to produce amazing graphics with the GIMP

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by Juan Manuel Ferreyra | April 2011 | Cookbooks Open Source Web Graphics & Video

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This article by Juan Manuel Ferreyra, author of GIMP 2.6 Cookbook, is about working with text. GIMP uses the fonts installed in the system. Many times, they are not enough for even the average user. There are many websites that let you download cheap fonts for a low price and also, fortunately, there are hundreds of websites with free, open-source fonts for download, a huge community of font-loving enthusiasts that have no problem with sharing their creations.

GIMP comes with a wide variety of filters and effects. Now, we are going to use some of them with just text layers, to give you a clear idea of how to create great looking text starting from a solid-color font. In this article, we will cover:

  • Creating 3D text
  • Creating glowing text effects
  • Creating shining plastic text
  • Creating gold text
  • Creating icy cold and fiery text
  • Creating paper cutout and rubber stamp text

 

GIMP 2.6 cookbook

GIMP 2.6 cookbook

Over 50 recipes to produce amazing graphics with the GIMP

        Read more about this book      

(For more resources on GIMP, see here.)

Installing a font to use it with GIMP is a really quick and easy task. Just copy the font files to the .fonts folder or to your .gimp-[version]/fonts folder in your home directory. Then, restart GIMP.

Once you have your fonts set up, they will be available for you with which to work. GIMP comes with a wide variety of filters and effects. We saw a few of them in action in the previous article on Creating a Logo. Now, we are going to use some of them with just text layers, to give you a clear idea of how to create great looking text starting from a solid-color font.

Creating 3D text

This is a fairly simple recipe where we are going to create 3D text.

How to do it...

Follow these steps to create text with a 3D effect:

  1. In a new file, create your text. Pick a font, color, and size. Select the Perspective Tool, and drag the layer's corners to simulate perspective until you are satisfied.

    Creating 3D text in Gimp 2.6

  2. Duplicate the text layer, and make the copy invisible.

    Creating 3D text in Gimp 2.6

  3. With the original text layer selected, go to Filters | Map | Bump Map and experiment with the settings. You can see mine in the following image:

    Creating 3D text in Gimp 2.6

    Once you click OK, duplicate the layer five or six times. These layers are the basis of the 3D text effect.

    Creating 3D text in Gimp 2.6

  4. Now select one of the layers, click the Move Tool, and press the down key once:

    Creating 3D text in Gimp 2.6

    Select another layer, click the Move Tool again and press the down key twice. Repeat this operation on each of the duplicated layers, for each layer press the down key one more time than the previous layer. When you are satisfied with the thickness of the text, merge all the duplicated layers and your image will be ready:

    Creating 3D text in Gimp 2.6

Creating glowing text effects

This is a simple recipe. We will create glowing text with a subtle outline. I'll be using a gradient to fill it and make it a little more psychedelic, but you can pick a solid color if you want, or create your own gradient for it.

How to do it...

You can create glowing text by following these steps:

  1. Create the text, right-click on its name inside the Layers dialog, and select the Alpha to Selection option:

    Creating glowing text effects in Gimp 2.6

  2. Delete the text layer, and create a new one. Name it text. Don't erase the selection. Now, you can choose to use a solid color or a gradient for the glow effect. I'll pick a colorful gradient and apply it from left to right with the Blend Tool:

    Creating glowing text effects in Gimp 2.6

  3. You should still have the selection around the text, create a new layer (name it text2), and fill it with a solid white using the Bucket Fill Tool. Now, create another new layer (name it text3), and fill it with a solid black.
  4. Delete the selection by going to Select | None from the menu. Make these two layers invisible by clicking on the eye icon to the left of the layer's name in the Layers dialog:

    Creating glowing text effects in Gimp 2.6

  5. Select the text layer, and go to Filters | Blur | Gaussian Blur. Set the horizontal and vertical value to around 10 or 15 pixels:

    Creating glowing text effects in Gimp 2.6

  6. Enable and select the text2 layer, and apply the same Gaussian Blur, but with a Blur Radius of around 5:

    Creating glowing text effects in Gimp 2.6

  7. Just to give the glow effect another twist, select the text3 layer and set it to Overlay mode. Be aware that this works best with a dark, colored background. If you have a bright or transparent background, the effect won't be so noticeable:

    Creating glowing text effects in Gimp 2.6

    Here's what the final piece looks like:

    Creating glowing text effects in Gimp 2.6

GIMP 2.6 cookbook Over 50 recipes to produce amazing graphics with the GIMP
Published: March 2011
eBook Price: $26.99
Book Price: $44.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:
        Read more about this book      

(For more resources on GIMP, see here.)

Creating shining plastic text

In this recipe, we are going to create text and make it look like it is made of a plastic material.

How to do it...

We can create shining plastic text by carrying out the following steps:

  1. In a new file, create a new layer. Use the Text Tool to create the text you want. Pick a bright color, and place the text around the middle of the canvas.

    Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

  2. Select Layer | Merge Down from the menu or by right-clicking on the layer's name in the Layers dialog:

    Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

    Then, choose Alpha to Selection to select everything on the layer that is not transparent. Now, click Select | Save to Channel:

    Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

  3. Choose Select | Shrink from the menu and shrink the selection by around 10 pixels. Be careful how much you shrink the selection. 10 pixels worked for my example, but if you are using a small font size or if the font is too narrow, you will have to use a different number; experiment!

    Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

  4. Create a new layer, and fill it with a solid white using the Bucket Fill Tool:

    Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

  5. Go to Filters | Blur | Gaussian Blur from the menu, and apply a blur of around 20 pixels in both directions:

    Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

    Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

  6. Open the Channels dialog if it's not visible (Windows | Dockable Dialogs | Channels), and select the previously saved channel by clicking on it:

    Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

  7. Apply a Gaussian Blur of around 20 pixels (Filters | Blur | Gaussian Blur). You may not see the effect applied if you don't have the channel as visible. Don't worry now about that.
  8. Create a new layer, and fill it with a solid black using the Bucket Fill Tool. Place it on top of the other layers, and set its mode to Screen:

    Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

  9. Go to Filters | Light and Shadow | Lighting Effects and create some reflections, and play a little with the settings. I used the following:
    • A Directional light with a normal intensity. Use the X, Y, and Z direction buttons to point the light to the place you want:

      Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

    • The Material tab defines how light is reflected by objects. The small spheres show how each option reacts to light from the option's minimum to it's maximum values. The Metallic option simulates a metallic object:

      Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

    • The Bump Map tab lets you add relief to an image. Brighter points will appear higher than darker points. Everything depends on the light positioning.

      Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

    Play with this filter and the amount of blur applied to the saved channel until you are satisfied with the final piece. Following is what my final plastic text image looks like:

    Creating shining plastic text in Gimp 2.6

Creating gold text

This easy recipe will let you create a gold-like effect for your texts.

How to do it...

Follow these simple steps to create golden text:

  1. In a new file, create your text, and fill it with a solid white. With the text layer selected and still with the Text Tool, click on the Path from Text in the Text options box:

    Creating gold text in Gimp 2.6

  2. Create a new layer, and name it main. Then, go to Select | From Path to load the selection into this new layer:

    Creating gold text in Gimp 2.6

  3. Use the Blend Tool. Pick or create a gradient that looks like gold. GIMP comes with a Golden gradient, but it may be a little too bright. You may modify it to get a better effect:

    Creating gold text in Gimp 2.6

    Apply the gradient:

  4. Duplicate the text layer, and name it outlines. Go to Select | Shrink, and reduce the selection by 2 or 3 pixels. Delete the selection with the Delete key or by pressing Ctrl + X:

    Creating gold text in Gimp 2.6

  5. Go to Colors | Brightness-Contrast, set the Brightness slider all the way to the right, and set the layer's mode to Overlay:

    Creating gold text in Gimp 2.6

  6. Choose your main text layer from the Layers dialog. Go to Filters | Light and Shadow | Drop Shadow, and apply a small shadow:

    Creating gold text in Gimp 2.6

    Try not to make the shadow too strong. It's better if it is barely seen. Following is what my final golden image looks like:

    Creating gold text in Gimp 2.6

Creating icy cold text

In a few easy steps, turn any text into a cool looking cold piece.

How to do it...

To give that cool, icy look to your text, follow these steps:

  1. In a new file, type your text, and pick a font and size. Right-click on the layer's name in the Layers dialog, and choose the Alpha to Selection option. Go to Filters | Render | Clouds | Plasma, and apply it. You'll get something that looks like the following:

    Creating icy cold text in Gimp 2.6

  2. Go to Colors | Desaturate to change the layer to black and white values, and click OK.

    Creating icy cold text in Gimp 2.6

  3. Now go to Colors | Curves and try different options by clicking directly inside the graph. Take the following image as an example:

    Creating icy cold text in Gimp 2.6

  4. Create a new layer, and select Layer | Merge Down from the menu. Choose Select | None from the menu.

    Creating icy cold text in Gimp 2.6

  5. Rotate the layer 90 degrees counter-clockwise by going to Layer | Transform | Rotate 90° counter-clockwise:

    Creating icy cold text in Gimp 2.6

  6. Go to Filters | Distort | Wind and click OK. This will add a frosted effect:

    Creating icy cold text in Gimp 2.6

  7. Rotate the layer back to its original position by selecting Layer | Transform | Rotate 90° clockwise. Ice can be of many colors, pick the one you like by going to Colors | Colorize:

    Creating icy cold text in Gimp 2.6

    Your final image should look something like the following:

    Creating icy cold text in Gimp 2.6

GIMP 2.6 cookbook Over 50 recipes to produce amazing graphics with the GIMP
Published: March 2011
eBook Price: $26.99
Book Price: $44.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:
        Read more about this book      

(For more resources on GIMP, see here.)

Creating fiery text

This intermediate recipe will teach you how to make text appear as if it were on fire, and also give you a little more practice with the Smudge Tool.

How to do it...

In order to produce fiery text, follow these steps:

  1. In a new file, create a new layer, and fill it with a solid black. Pick a font and size, and create your text with a white solid fill. Merge down the text layer with the previously created one by going to Layer | Merge Down, or by selecting it by right-clicking on the layer's name from the Layers dialog.

    Creating fiery text in Gimp 2.6

  2. Select the Smudge Tool, pick a soft brush, an try with different settings to smudge the letters upwards simulating a burning flame.

    I used a soft circular brush, varying the scale to get better results as I was smudging the letters.

    Creating fiery text in Gimp 2.6

    This is how the first letter looks after a few strokes. Remember to smudge upwards:

    Creating fiery text in Gimp 2.6

  3. Use the Zoom Tool to work with more detail. Continue using the Smudge Tool to change borders of each letter, and turn the solid white into different shades of gray. Following is what I ended with after a while:

    Creating fiery text in Gimp 2.6

  4. Go to Colors | Color Balance, and apply it three times with these values:
    • First, adjust the color balance for the Shadows of the image:

      Creating fiery text in Gimp 2.6

    • Then, adjust the color balance for the Midtones:

      Creating fiery text in Gimp 2.6

    • Finally, adjust the color balance for the Highlights of the image:

      Creating fiery text in Gimp 2.6

    After applying these changes, you will end with something like the following:

    Creating fiery text in Gimp 2.6

  5. If you want, you could apply a small Gaussian Blur to it. Go to Filters | Blur | Gaussian Blur, and apply it with a value around 3 pixels. Following is my final piece:

    Creating fiery text in Gimp 2.6

Creating paper cutout text

In a few fairly simple steps, make your text look as if it has been cut from a piece of a old paper. Also we'll learn how to correct and improvise a little when we are experimenting with filters to get the results we want.

How to do it...

Follow these steps to produce a paper cutout text effect:

  1. Create the text, pick a font and a size. The font's color will be used as the object below the paper cutout:

    Creating paper cutout text in Gimp 2.6

  2. With the text layer selected, and with the Text Tool, click on the Path from Text button at the bottom of the options:

    Creating paper cutout text in Gimp 2.6

    Now, go to Select | From Path and then Select | Invert.

  3. Create a new layer and name it Drop Shadow. Go to Filters | Light and Shadow | Drop Shadow. Set it to a small amount, and also pick a color that is a bit darker than the text face to improve the effect of the paper casting a shadow on the object behind it:

    Creating paper cutout text in Gimp 2.6

    Now, sometimes when you are trying new things, they don't go exactly as you want. In this case, the filter applied a shadow also to the edges of our layer. Following is what it looks like:

    Creating paper cutout text in Gimp 2.6

    Pick the Eraser Tool and erase all the shadows you don't want. This is how it looks after erasing everything I don't like:

    Creating paper cutout text in Gimp 2.6

  4. If you don't already have it, create a new layer, and fill it with a white solid texture. Place it below the text layer:

    Creating paper cutout text in Gimp 2.6

  5. Now, go to File | Open as Layers, and pick a paper texture. As I told you before, I try to create my own texture library by scanning and taking photos of any kind of texture around me. You can do that too, or also download any royalty-free texture from the Internet.
  6. Once you load your texture, place it between the text layer and the solid white we just created in the previous step. You can adjust levels, change color balance, desaturate, and change its mode to Multiply. Experiment with all these until you are satisfied, Following is what my final image looks like:

    Creating paper cutout text in Gimp 2.6

Creating rubber stamp text

This is a quick and easy recipe to create an effect as if your text is made by a rubber stamp.

How to do it...

To create a rubber stamp-like effect carry out the following steps:

  1. In a new file, create your text, and pick a font, size, and a color.
  2. Use the Rectangle Select Tool, check the Rounded Corners option in the tool options dock, and draw a rectangle around the text you just created:

    Creating rubber stamp text in Gimp 2.6

  3. Go to Edit | Stroke Selection, set the Line width to something around 10 pixels, and click Stroke:

    Creating rubber stamp text in Gimp 2.6

  4. Go to Filters | Noise | Slur, and set the Repeat slider to something around 3. Apply this filter with the same settings both to the rectangle and to the text layer:

    Creating rubber stamp text in Gimp 2.6

  5. Finally, use the Rotate Tool to rotate the layers and make it look like real stamped text:

    Creating rubber stamp text in Gimp 2.6

Summary

This article explained how to work with fonts. We saw several techniques to turn any kind of text from a solid colors to brilliant effects like frosted text, golden text, or a rubber stamp.


Further resources on this subject:


About the Author :


Juan Manuel Ferreyra

Juan Manuel Ferreyra is an illustrator and animator from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is 34 and lives with his cat. Although he started drawing at a young age, computers caught all his attention, and he worked in the IT world for many years. He dropped out from Computer Engineering and started studying filmmaking, working on his own projects and as a freelance illustrator in his free time. After a few years, he decided to leave the IT world and started working as a full time freelance illustrator and animator; his website is http://www.omykron.com.ar. The cat is happy.

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