10Jan

Design-a-week: Multicolored box tiles effect with Gimp

Posted by Elf Sternberg as Design

I’ve been trying to do a design thing every week.  I doodle a lot, and make lots of scratches, and I might show you a few of those, but as a web developer I have to keep my hand into the design side of things.  Recently, the magazine Photoshop User had an article on doing “Multi-colored Box Tiles”, an effect they consider “a classic.”  It turned out to be significantly more difficult with the Gimp, but I did finally manage it.

Take your subject in front of a neutral background.  Here, I’ve put my daughter, Kouryou-chan in front of  a medium blue background with a slight lighting gradient.  Open the Layers dialog (Windows -> Dockable Dialogs -> Layers, or CTRL-L).  Now create four new layers (Layer -> New Layer) above your subject.  Select the first new layer, set the pen to color #cccccc.  Create a couple of random boxes, making sure that one encapsulates the head completely (otherwise it’ll just look weird).   In the second layer, do the same thing, but using pen color #999999. It’s okay if the boxes overlap.  In the third, again but this time with color #666666, and in the fourth with color #333333.  You should by now have completely obscured your subject.

For each layer, set the Mode to Overlap (On the layer dialog, Mode -> Overlap), and play with the opacities, and you’ll get a nifty mosaic effect.

Now for the 3D effect, here’s the fun part.  Create a new image, transparent background, big enough to hold your subject.  Go back to your working image, pull up the selection editor (Select -> Selection Editor).  Pick one layer and click on the selection editor.  You should see that layer’s boxes highlited– but the selection is inverted, so Select -> Invert Selection.  Now copy the selection and what it contains (Edit -> Copy Visible).

Now go to your blank image and Edit -> Paste As -> As New Layer.    If you’ve got a complete copy of Gimp, you should have Layer Effects installed, so you can just Layer -> Layer Effects -> Drop Shadow, but if not, drop shadows are simple: Duplicate the layer, go to the new layer and fill it with a dark grey, blur the edges (Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur), then position in behind your existing layer as you like.  Once your drop shadows are nice, merge down the existing collection of boxes on top of its drop shadow layer, so you get a few random boxes and their drop shadows.

Do this with all four layers.  Now that you’ve got all four layers on your new canvas, it’s time to play puzzle, moving the four layers to construct the whole image again.  You can set the upper layer to 50% opacity; that’ll help make sure you’ve merged the textures correctly.  It’s just a lot of fiddling; up the magnification to 400% or 800%, that’ll also help a lot.  Once you’re done, set all four layers to 100% opacity again.

For the new background, I just picked a nice grey with a gradient, the glow centered behind the subject’s heart.

2 Responses to Design-a-week: Multicolored box tiles effect with Gimp

Todd Warner

February 14th, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Use inkscape in combination with Gimp to do this kind of stuff. It will change your world. (disclaimer, I haven’t read all your entries to see if you have already played around with inkscape)

Inkscape is to illustrator as Gimp is to photoshop.

I do all my photo/static manipulation in Gimp and use Inkscape to do everything else. I spend 90% of my time in Inkscape. Also… Inkscapes UI is worlds better than Gimp’s if that matters. Learn it. Love it.

MRIGANKA

February 2nd, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Hello there. Thanks for this wonderful post. Really glad to see and be able to use GIMP for such beautiful effects.

After the initial steps, instead of a new background, I took the image to the original image. Even that came up to my liking.

Many thanks!

Comment Form

Subscribe to Feed

Categories

Calendar

January 2010
M T W T F S S
« Dec   Feb »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031