Saturday, 30 March 2013

Text with metallic surface textures

That took me the whole night to get right - almost gave up.... :D

The perforated aluminium texture is a micro-pattern, 4x4 pxs, like a scanline.

For the highlights i used blurred brushstrokelines, instead of a gradient.
Much easier !

The moire-esque lighting effect is satin.

A version with some variations:

And here is the walkthrough.

You can download all the micro patterns i made when working on this texteffect:

The texture of the version was done by layering the 4x4 with the 8x8 and i think offsetting the bigger pattern by 1px, but im not sure.
You could also zoom in the piece and recreate a new pattern from scratch.
Have fun !  :)

Open in new tab for bigger version.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Enamel meets Satin

The original PS effect had also Satin in the Layerstyle, so tonight i played around with some variations.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Tutorial: Enamel Effect

In this tutorial i will explain to you, how i made the Metallic Kitsch texteffects.

01. Create your canvas, and dont make it too small – i used 660x400 in a dark brown (#160404) with some added G'MIC samj Test Noise to give it texture.
(bigger canvas would be better but not so good for making screenshots and tutorials, so its relatively small...)

02. Type your text. "Lack" is german for lacquer.

A curly, thin font looks good, but dont choose a font that is too thin, as this will not work well with the highlights !

I used the font 'James Fajardo' 369px in my usual 50 grey (#808080).

03. Align your text and apply 'Layer to Imagesize'.

04. Alpha select your text, save the selection to a channel.

05. Fill the selection with a gradient on a new transparent layer.
I recommend creating your own gradient with three colours to get a strong look.

(for more control i filled the whole canvas and afterwards rotated it into place, but that isnt a must)

06. Call up the layerfx script and try the following values:

The essential part for the effect we want to achieve is that you set the 'Surface Contour' to 'Cone' and the 'Gloss Contour' to 'Linear'.

Dont make the 'Depth' too harsh.
The 'Size' has to be chosen in such a way, so the conical bevels do not touch !
If the bevel looks ugly (jagged), apply a bit of 'Soften', but go with a small value.

Make sure the Lighing is strong so that you get a shiny highlight.

Test your values with the preview option until you are satisfied.
Make sure 'Merge with Layer' is UNCHECKED !

[Because there is something strange goin on with layergroups and layerfx (i think its a bug), you have to drag everything out of your folder.]

07. Activate the Highlight-layer, set the Mode to Normal and 100%, so you can better see it, then call up the Curves Tool.
Apply an alpha-curve that looks like a variation of 'Rollin Slope descending'.
I added some anchors for my piece to fine-tune the effect.

Because the Highlight overlap the text, i added a layermask from channel.

08. Repeat the same for the Shadowlayer, but you might go for something less extreme.

09. A variation of the technique is using different colours, other than black and white. 

For my piece i alpha-selected the Shadowlayer, pasted a green on it (#66795e) and set the Mode to 'Burn'.
The same for the Highlight (#c5c3db) and the Mode 'Screen'.

You can always vary these colours with Hue/Saturation/Lightness, 
levels or colour curves.

10. At last i added an Outer Glow (#adf691), with a Blur of 10 plus an alphacurve (~Gaussian).
Set the Mode to 'Dodge' because that in connection with the Noise, gave an interesting sparkle effect; plus a second Glow (Blur 40, #adf692) on top of it, set to 'Value'.

In this picture you see some variations, just by using different modes, opacity and order of the glowlayer.

And this is my final result, which concludes this tutorial. Hope you found it useful.

.....and the same without the glow

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Basic Techniques: Contours and Alpha Curves

In this tutorial i will show you a technique that will bring your texteffects to the next level.

In Photoshop its called 'Contours' and an essential part of 'Layer Style'.

Almost anything done with Contours in PS can be imitated in Gimp with Curves.

There is a script called 'layerfx' by Jonathan Stipe.
It imitates most functions PS Layer Style has.
This script will not turn your Gimp into Photoshop, as Layer Style is far more sophisticated, but it does a pretty good job at helping you, making complex texteffects easily.

Also note that you cant translate PS tutorials 1:1 into Gimp.
You can use PS tutorials and try to imitate the effects with layerfx, but its not an easy task !

Download the layerfx script from one of these websites:



I recommend the Python version over the .scm, because the Python has a preview.
(Put py-script into your Plug-ins User-folder !)

layerfx has its Contours under the name of 'Surface Contour' and 'Gloss Contour'.
These Curves are all pre-programmed and cannot be changed.

While layerfx is a great script it has some flaws:
The Stroke is crap (jagged edges).
Also there are some bugs: sometimes the History/Undo is killed by the script, meaning your history is gone and Undo is greyed out. So its always a good idea to save your project before you use it.

The latest version of layerfx makes use of layergroups which is basically a good idea, but strangely enough, modes dont seem to work as long layers are inside the folder. You have to drag your layers out and then delete the folder. After that everything should look like its supposed to.

But now lets start with the tutorial !

Fill an elliptical selection with a colour of your choice. The layer must be transparent !
After deselecting, apply a Gaussian Blur of 50.

Call up the 'Curves Tool' under 'Colours'. 

Next to 'Channel' is a dropdown menu. 
As a default its set to 'Value' but for this technique to work, you have to set it to Alpha ! 
This is essential.

The Alphachannel represents transparency.
Manipulating the curve, tweaks the blur.

Drag the curve up and the blur expands. Drag it down, and the blur shrinks.

This can be used for tweaking all kind of blurred objects, like an Inner Glow or an Inner Shadow.
So in case you didnt chose a perfect blur for your layereffect, you can tweak it with an alphacurve.
This gives you a lot of control !

An other application is when using Gradients.
Fill a transparent layer with a gradient FG to Transparent. 
Drag it from top to bottom with the 'Adaptive Supersampling' box checked - this will give you the best gradient possible.

Now drag the curve up and down and watch how the gradient spreads or retracts.
With this trick you can customshape your gradient any way you like.

But this is only the beginning.

We can give our curve a much more complex shape, and tweak the appearance of the blur/gradient into ring and step-like shapes like this:

or this (wild curves on a radial gradient):

In Photoshop you have 12 Contours, 

and each one has a different name, which describes the effect.
These Contours can be displayed with little diagrams as in this chart and what you see is a cross chart of the final effect and at the same time, the shape of the curve.

You dont have to give the curve the exact same shape, something similar is good enough to get the same effect and you can tweak your curve and the blur by adding more anchors and playing with them.

A very obvious application of these effects is of course giving your Outer Glow the appearance of a ring-like aura, like this:

But you can even do more than that. Use a contoured shape as a map for your BumpMap script. This is what the 'Surface Contour' in layerfx does.

Getting above effect by hand, works by selecting your basetext, filling the selection on a new transparent layer with white and after deselecting, applying Gaussian Blur.
Then shape the map with a contour and use this layer as the bumpmap.

We can also render the bevel highlights and shades by running the 'Colour to Alpha' filter on the bumpmapped layer. After that you can shape them even further with a curve.

I always use a 50 grey (#808080) for my basetext to make this process even easier. Its a good colour for applying a bumpmap and you can memorize the value easily, when you want to use 'Colour to Alpha'.

When you use layerfx for making a bevel, you automatically get seperate layers for highlights and shadows and you can also select a contour in the script, called the 'Gloss Contour'.

An example for a shaped Gloss Contour can be seen here:

I made a bevel in layerfx with the 'Surface Contour': 'Cone'.
Afterwards i tweaked the Gloss Contour with the Curves Tool into a freehand ringlike shape, which gave me this glossy laquer effect.

To conclude this tutorial i will show you a chart with the 10 Contours applied to a Glow.
Its the same chart i posted on earlier.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Metallic Kitsch

Tutorial later - we will have to go through one more basic techniques tutorial before this will make all sense.

Hint: i made the base-effect with the layerfx script.

Font is: 'genotype RS BRK'

Font is: 'James Fajardo'

Basic Techniques: Outer Glow and Dropshadow

I already wrote a tutorial about Inner Glows and another one about Inner Shadows.
Both effects have something in common and some differences.

This is also true for the Outer Glow and Dropshadow effect.

The Outer Glow is the selection of your basetext filled with a light colour and then Gaussian Blurred, while the Dropshadow is the same but with darker colours and mostly an offset, meaning the shadowlayer is moved according to the lightsource.

The basic steps are:

01 create your canvas, type your text and align it, then 'Layer to Imagesize'
02 alpha select your basetext
03 create a new transparent layer under your basetext but on top of the backgroundlayer and name it
04 fill your selection with a colour
05 deselect
06 Gaussian Blur
(OPTIONAL: apply an offset for the dropshadow)
07 adjust Mode and Opacity

Phase 1-3

In the example i used white for the Outer Glow colour, a Blur of 25 and the default Mode/Opacity of 'Screen' and 75%.
Depending on the effect you want to achieve, other Modes may be the best choice.

For the dropshadow i filled the selection with black, a Gaussian Blur of 14 and then applied an offset of 8pxs down and 8pxs to the right.

You can do the offset by hand with the 'Move Tool'. Just drag it wherever you feels it looks best.


Click the shadowlayer once with the 'Move Tool' and then use the Cursor keys on your keyboard (more precise).


Use the Offset Dialog. You find it under Layer → Transform → Offset (shortcut: Ctrl + Shift + O).

As i already explained in the Inner Shadow tutorial, the left upper corner is the middle point of your coordinate system.

The „default“ Mode for shadows is 'Multiply' at 75%.

And finally an example of how both effects can look combined:
for a more dramatic effect i offset the Dropshadow a lot and reduced the Outer Glow to about 40%.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Beyond Ombré is Amber

This one was inspired by the knowledgable K1tesseraEna. Thank you K1te !

I googled 'amber', and found this ring.
All the colours i used in my piece come from this ring. It was an intersting experiment, but im not 100% satisfied with what i got.

Font is 'MCF Star Worms'

Back to the lab :)

Ombré: two versions

Experimented with different highlights.

Font is 'Boden Esperanto italic'

Friday, 15 March 2013