Sunday, 22 September 2013

Fresh Gradients - The Tutorial

In this tutorial i will show you how i made the gradients from my last two posts.

Creating new complex gradients in Gimp is hard work. The FG-BG gradient option works great, but if you want more colours, be prepared to invest some time.

Here is an easier way of getting gradients made of more than two colours, and there are a few possibilities that you cant do with the gradient tool.

01. Type your text. Most of the time i start with my so called Base-Text in the 50ies medium grey (#808080). That colour is great for bumpmapping, thats why i use it in every tutorial.

Alpha select your text and save it to a channel for future use. Its always good to have a backup of your text and it makes working with layermasks easier too.

02. Choose a basecolour for your text, create a new layer in that colour and apply a 'Layermask From Channel'

03. Create a new transparent layer. Chose another colour and set the gradient tool from 'FG to transparent'.
Stroke the gradient tool any way you like. In my example i started at the bottom and ended in the middle of the text.

04. Go to your saved channel, turn it on by clicking on the eye and then double click it. A window pops up.
Here you can edit the channel's attributes. Change the fill opacity to 100%. You can also change the colour of the channel if you dont want black.

05. Now everything outside the text boundaries is covered by the channel.
Call up the Move Tool and drag the gradient layer around until you are happy. Or rotate it with the Rotate tool.
If you are no happy with the way the transparency is distributed, change it with an alpha-curve.

When you are done, apply a layermask 'From Channel.

06. Repeat with more layers !

07. Once you filled top and bottom, you can use paintstrokes.
I used a size 10, Hardness 025 brush.

Then blur that line – i used a value of 14px.
Position and then apply the layermask.

08. You can duplicate those line, change colour with the Hue/Brightnes/Saturation Tool and do your usual alpha-curve magic.

To finalize my piece i added a stroke, an inner shadow,

then a bevel on top and applied chrome-curves, like i already showed you in some other tutorial. Also added a different background.
And thats it, hope you found it useful.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Upcoming: The Fresh Gradients Tutorial

It would probably be overkill to post another tutorial today, so i give you all just a teaser :P

This is a technique how to get interesting gradients without fighting your gradient editor.
Its fun and intuitive.

Style Wars with myself

Im trespassing, im beating my system.
Im putting my names up there, right.
I've drenched this blog with my ideas.
[Well, Im trying my damndest.]

Friday, 13 September 2013

Colourful 3Dish Text With A Stroke

Here i will show you how to create the colourful text made with the german flag gradient from my last post.

01. Start with a canvas 700x300px in #35323d.

02. Type your text and align it as usual.
I used the font 'Ultra Violent BB' 173px, then converted the selection to a path and stretched the text to give it more height.
Also save the alpha selected text to a channel for future use.

03. Then fill the customised path with the 'German flag smooth' gradient. I had to try several times to get it right, so there wasnt too much black.

If you find that difficult try this instead:

a) Create a new layer on top and drag the Gradient Tool (with adaptive supersampling ticked, to get a nicer gradient), from the bottom to the top of the text.

b) Turn your saved channel on, change Opacity to a 100% and the colour to something else than black for good contrast (i chose green).

c) now you can drag around your gradient layer with the Move Tool or scale it with the Scale Tool until your text looks eactly the way you want it.

d) I scaled my gradient layer 97% down in height. To be able to see it better, i reduced the Image Opacity in the Scale Tools Options Menu

e) when happy, apply layer to image size and turn off the channel

f) with the gradient layer active, apply a 'Layermask From Channel'

04. Next the Stroke. Duplicate the gradient layer. We could now alpha select the base text from the saved channel and shrink it by 5, but there is a problem:
you get rounded edges and the very sharp corner on the right side of the number THREE doesnt look good.

There is a better way to grow the selection and get sharp corners, that is based on a technique by RobA.

Create a new layer on top.
Stroke the path with a width twice the size you want your stroke (i want a stroke of 5, so i used 10).

Now the tricky part: alpha select the stroked path and with the selection active, go to the channels tab. On your saved channel, right click and choose 'Intersect with Selection'.

That will give you a selection thats exactly the size your want your stroke but with sharp corners.

Now with the layermask of the Stroke layer active, fill the selection with black.
Then deselect.

You cannot see the result yet, because Stroke and Gradient text have still the same colour, but if you turn off the Gradient layer for a moment you see what we have done.

05. Lets quickly make the Inner Shadow:
-New transparent layer on top of the Gradient Text.
-With the Layermask of the Stroke Layer active, choose 'Mask to Selection'
-On the Inner Shadow layer, fill with black, then deselect !
-Blur by 10px
-Add 'Layermask from Channel'

06. To change the look of the stroke i applied 'Hue/Lightness/Saturation', like this:

Then created a new transparent layer under the Stroke Layer and filled the alpha selected BaseText with white.
Next i applied a Colour To Alpha on the Stroke`s gradient to get rid of the black and finally applied a layermask on the white text by calling up a selection from the mask, by rightclicking the layermask of the Stroke layer, choosing 'From Mask' and then applying the layermask 'From Selection'

07. Because the Stroke is a bit jaggy, i blurred both Layermasks (!) by 2px and then fine tune with a Value curve.
I chained both layers togester, then clicked on one layermask and applied the curve. That way, both layermask will be affected in the same way (thats a trick i learned form K1te).

08. Add a dropshadow (i used a Blur of 12px and an offset of 4/4). 
Reduced the Opacity to 55% with the Grain Merge Mode.

09. I want to make the Inner Shadow a bit stronger. No problem with an alpha curve:

Then reduced the Opacity to 45% at Multiply.

10. Finally i want to add an Outer Glow. I turn off Background and Dropshadow, click 'New From Visible' and turn everything on again.
Put the new Glow layer on top of the Dropshadow and blur by 8px. 
Reduce Opacity to 45% and set Mode to Adddition.

11. Looking at my piece i find it needs a bit more contrast. So i create a new transparent layer on top of the Gradient Layer, name it Outline.
Then i go to the layermask of my Stroke and apply 'Mask To Selection'. That gives me a selection of just the stroke. I Grow it by 1 and then fill it with black on my Outline layer.
Set the Mode to Grain Merge and reduce the Opacity to 71%.

12. At last i tuned the gradient of my Stroke layer with an alpha curve, so that the purple gives more space for the white from the Stroke tune layer.

And thats it, hope you did not find it too confusing as there are quite a few tricks involved.
If you want to have a look at my xcf, here is the download link:

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Four More

Four Styles that all follow the same principle:
a gradient, an inner shadow and a stroke.

If you want to study what i did, here is the xcf-file:

Monday, 9 September 2013

A Simple Three Dimensional Looking Text With A Stroke

In this tutorial i will show you a simple yet effective 3Dish effect and some variations.
Its basically just a Gradient, a Stroke and an Inner Shadow,
later modified with an small Bevel and some decorational elements like a Dropshadow an an Outer Glow.

01. Start with a canvas 700x450px.

02. Type your text in a medium 50ies grey. Align and center - i also rotated my text.
Font is Argel 300px.

03. Create a new transparent layer. Name it 'Gradient'.
Alpha select your text and save it to a channel for future use.
Fill the selection with a gradient: #807f80 - #d8d8d8.

04. Next we duplicate the gradient layer, rename it 'Stroke', open the 'Hue/Saturation/Lightness Tool' and make it darker. I reduced the Lightness by -80.

05. Alpha select the text, shrink by 4 and on the 'Stroke' layer, apply a 'Layermask From Selection', but make sure 'Invert Mask' is ticked. We want everything inside the selection to be transparent !

06. as you can see, the lower gradient is bleeding at the edges of the stroke. 

We fix that by applying another layermask. This time we alpha select the text, shrink by two and apply 'Layermask From Selection'. 
Make sure the 'Invert Mask' box is unticked this time, because we want everything inside the selection to stay visible !

07. Now for the killer-feature !
We add an inner shadow to make it look 3D.
Create a new transparent layer on top of the Gradient layer, but under the Stroke layer. Name it 'Inner Shadow'.
Alpha select your base text, shrink it by 4px (same as Stroke) - invert the selection and fill it with a dark colour (i used black).
Then deselect.

07.a. Gaussian Blur the layer. I used a value of 10px.
Then offset the layer, depending on your lightsource.
I went for a simple 3/3.

07.b. To get rid of the black outside the textboundaries, apply a 'Layermask From Channel'.
I also changed the Mode to 'Multiply' and the Opacity to 85%.

08. Next, i want to add an Outer Glow. That always looks good.
Create a new transparent layer underneath your basetext layer, name it 'Outer Glow'.
Alpha select your text and fill it with white then blur it (i used 8px).

09. As you can see, this Outer Glow changed the overall look, now we see that our edges are quite jaggy. I fix that by giving the stroke-gradient layer a Blur of 2px and the layermask a Blur of 1px.
Also i decided to make my Outer Glow a bit stronger. So i used an alpha curve to expand the blur a bit.

10. There are several ways to finetune the Glow.
One possibility is to use the Mode 'Screen' at 55%, that will give you a white glow, like this:

Or, and thats what i will go with, is changing the Mode to 'Value at 90%. That gives me a red shine.

11. For a Dropshadow, i create a new transparent layer on top of the Background, alpha select the text and fill it with black.
We offset that shadow according to your imaginary source of light with the Move Tool (i used 21/21) and reduce the Opacity (i used 60% with 'Grain Merge').

I also give my shadow a blur: Horizontal:15px, Vertical 30px (you need to unlink the chain to be able to do that).

Thats the basic effect. I changed the Opacity of the Inner Shadow to 70%, to make it blend better.

Now we can add some more effects.
I will give the Stroke a bevel. 
Fire up layerfx and try a small bevel.
I used a Size of 1. If its looks jaggy, apply soften.
I also used shades of red, instead of black and white. The default Depth of 3 was good, but i made it a bit stronger, so its 5.

11.a. For some reason the highlights made with layerfx, tend to bleed over the textboundaries. Sometimes that looks good, but in this case i want to fix it, so i apply layermasks from channel to the shadow and highlight-layer.
Looks a lot crisper like that !

Now for some variations

Turn off all layers except for the Stroke, and the Bevel highlight and shadow.
Make a 'New From Visible', then turn on all the layers again.

Apply chrome-curves. I alpha selected the base text and applied a Blur of 5px to the New from Visible Stroke, to make it smoother. That was better for the chrome-curves-process, but its optional depending on your text.

I also changed the Brightness to 31 and the Contrast to -18.

Here are two more variations with curves:

For my final variation i changed the gradient to almost black.
Tweaked the Stroke some more with Contrast/Brightness, Levels and Colorize. Then shaped the Outer Glow into a ring.

Also added a bit of Noise to the Background, because that makes it look less clinical.

Here is another variation, where i more or less just deleted the highlight and added another (=second) Outer Glow, this time blurred by 16 and extended with a curve.

And thats it. Hope you found it interesting !