Monday, 18 December 2017

Into the darkness a shining tutorial

In todays tutorial, im gonna show you how to make a decorative ornament in the spirit of december.

We will be using Inkscape and Gimp, combination style.
Thanks to a simple trick, the Inkscape part will be suitable for beginners and contain no complicated boolean operations or clipping.
Just layering shapes, a simple Live Path Effect and one Extension effect.

Im using Inkscape Version 0.92.

1. Open your 'Document Properties' by pressing 'Shift + Ctrl + D'.
Make sure the measurement units are set to pixels.
Im using a 800x800px canvas.

Click the X to close the 'Document Properties' (Inkscape remembers the settings automatically), then hit 5 to fit the canvas boundaries into the workarea.

Make sure the 'Align & Distribute' dialogue (Shift + Ctrl + A) is open and set to 'Page'.
Save the project→ 'File → Save as…' with a suitable name and a filepath you can easily remember.

2. Draw a black star with 24 corners and a 'Spoke Ratio' of 0,857.
Make sure you hold down Ctrl while you drag up, to make the top corner perfectly straight.

Your final star should be 697x697px.

Align the object to the canvas area.

3. Draw a white 575x575px circle on top of the star and align to the page.

4. Duplicate the black star, and scale it down, so its inside the white circle, but a bit smaller.
(in my case 560x560px)

5. Select both stars, give them a 4px black Stroke and remove the Fill. Then perform a 'Combine'.

6. Add the Live Path Effect: 'Stitch Sub-Paths'.
The stars will transform into some sort of crosshair.
Change the 'Number of paths' to 256.

Put the star-rays we just created to the bottom of the drawing.

7. Duplicate the white circle, give it a black Stroke of 8px and scale it down to 564x564px.

8. Duplicate the circle. Remove the Fill and change the Stroke width to 3px. Scale it down to 541x541px.

9. Draw a square. Give it a white Fill and a black 8px Stroke.
Rotate by 45° and align to the canvas. Give it a size of 630x630px.

10. Duplicate the square. Remove the Fill, change the Strokewidth to 3px.
Give it a size of 602x602px.

11. Duplicate one of the circles, give it a Stroke of 4px and make it 415x415px in size.
Also convert into a path (Ctrl + Shift + C).

12. Draw a small black circle (8x8px) and convert into a path.
Select the 415px circle from step 11, then the small 8px with the Shift key pressed down and call up the 'Scatter Extension'.
Apply with the values you see in the screenshot.

13. Now its time to add some text.
Im using the font 'Liberation Serif' 70px with a Stroke of 1px to make it a bit fatter.

Spacing is currently broken in Inkscape Version 0.92. 
I used a 'Spacing between Baseline' of 66, but to get the words 'a' and 'Light' to sit nicely, you have to use manual kerning. Put the cursor in front of the word you want to change and use the up/down arrow keys on your keyboard, while holding down Alt.

14. Add another rotated square with a 3px Stroke and no Fill. Make it 372x372px.

15. Duplicate the text and give it a green 13px Stroke. This is gonna help to decide where we want the square to be broken.

16. Next zoom in and draw little shapes with the 'Bezier Tool' that will be used as overlays.
Theoretically we could also break the path with the Node Tool, but that would be destructive and hard to undo. (I gave my shapes a red Stroke so you can better see them in the screenshot.)

When happy, delete the helper text-copy with the green Stroke and put the original black text on top of the drawing.

17. Almost ready !
If you want to use the ornament as it is, you must add a white background to the image.
Otherwise you will have a transparent background.
Just draw a white 800px square, align it and put it at the bottom of the image.

18. To export go to 'File – Export PNG Image…' and make sure the 'Page' button is highlighted.


In the second part of the tutorial we will add colour and shine with the help of Gimp.

01. Open the image in Gimp.

02. To get rid of the white, apply 'Colour To Alpha' (thats under 'Colours')

03. Add a background layer #121212 and put it behind the ornament.

04. With the ornament layer selected, lock the alpha channel and drag and drop #fad130 over it.

05. Apply LayerFX – Satin to the ornament layer.

06. To smooth the Satin out, alpha select the ornament and apply a Gaussian Blur of 2px to the Satin layer.

07. For a texture effect, add a new 50ies grey (#808080) layer on top of all and remove the alpha channel.
Apply G'MIC – Degredations – Scanlines.

08. Next apply G'MIC – Deformations – Water.

09. Alpha select the original ornament and apply a 'Layermask From Selection' to the 'Texture Layer'

10. Change the Blendmode to 'Hard Light' at ca. 35%.

11. To make the text more stand out, we will edit the texture mask.
Use the Fuzzy Select Tool in Add Mode on the ornament layer and with the texture layermask selected, fill the selection with a very dark grey (or even black) #262626.
This will filter out almost all of the texture on the text.

And that was the final step. Congratulations you made it !
Happy Holidays !

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Diamond Shaped Gradient

In this tutorial im gonna show you how to make a gradient made of diamond shapes in Inkscape with the power of tiled clones.

Get the latest version of Inkscape (0.92.2) to make sure you have all the bugfixes !

I will use this effect to create a wallpaper for my desktop, so before we can start, i have to find out the resolution of my screen. In Windows you can do that by right clicking on the Desktop.

In my case the resolution is 1920x1080px.

Open the Document Properties (Ctrl + Shift + D).
Type in the correct pixelvalues for the canvas.
Remove the border shadow.
We will be working with white objects, so to make sure they will be visible, i change the backgroundcolor to something other than transparent and white, in my case: #d2e2e200.

Draw a rectangle and with the help of snapping make sure it fits exactly into the canvas borders.
Go to Object → Objects to Guides (Shift + G).

Draw a perfect square with the help of Ctrl and Shift.
Convert it into a path (Ctrl + Shift + C), select all four nodes with the Node Tool and hit the plus so that we end up with 8 nodes.

Make sure the aspect ratio is locked.

Now open the Transform Dialogue (Ctrl + Shift + M) and rotate by 45° to get a diamond shape.

Next we need to perform a bit of math.
I want my canvas filled with eight rows of diamonds on top of each other, so we have to divide the height by 8.

1080 / 8 = 135

Type this number into the sizecontrols of the Select Tool.

Open the Fill & Stroke Dialogue (Ctrl + Shift + L) and change the Fill of the diamond to 'Unset'.
It will turn the diamond black.

Now go to Edit → Clone – Create Tiled Clones and click the Reset button to make sure we start with a „blank“ dialogue.

I want eight rows.
No pure black or white shapes and double that number of Rows because our gradient has an offset.

8 Rows + 1,5 for the Extra Colours outside the canvas x 2 for the Offset.

That means 19 Rows.

For the Offset we need a stair effect, which means for each column it has to go down by one square.
Thats 100% for the Shift Y Value per Column.

In the Colour Tab, click on the coloured rectangle and set it to pure black (#000000ff).

We want this black diamond to be white at the end of the Row, that means the 100% for the Lightness must be divided by 18 steps to go from black to white at 19 Rows.
So for Lightness type 100/18 = 5,556.

The amount of Columns we have to find out by trial and error - i go with 24 for now.

Before we can click 'Create', we have to rotate the diamond back into its square position.
So Rotate the diamond by 45° again, then hit Create in the Tiled Clones Dialogue.

This is what you will get:

Remove the clone that sits on top of our original path and delete it.
Hit Ctrl + A to select everything, then Group.

Rotate this Group by 45°

Now we can align the Group on the canvas area.

Thats the basic effect, but before we can export, we need to do one more thing.
If you zoom in real closely you will see the background shining through the diamond edges.

We will have to perform a little tiled clones trick.

Zoom in on the original diamond and select it inside the group by clicking on the shape while holding down Ctrl (or enter the group through the right-click menu).
Put guides around it and make sure 'Snap to Guides' is active.

Now with the Node Tool drag the middle node to the guides intersection.
Because all our other diamond shapes are still clones, they will follow whatever happens to the parent tile and close the gaps. But because of the z-order, it happens under the „hood“, only visible at the edges.

Leave the group by double clicking on a free space on the canvas.

Make your final adjustments of the group on the canvas, then open the Export Dialogue.
Make sure 'Page' is selected, choose your destination and export.

This is the final result.

Now we import our Diamond Shape Gradient into Gimp and make it better.

Use Colours → Colourise to give it your favorite tint.

A High Pass Filter sharpens the image and enhances the edges.
I used RobA's High Pass Filter, with a Gaussian Blur of 14px, set to 'Grain Merge'.

You can also set up a second Diamond Gradient in Inkscape but this time with a gradient from white to black, instead of the Unset Fill (reset the value in the Tiled Clones Colour Tab to 100%).
Make sure the button 'Move gradient along with the objects' in the Tool Bar is on.
Otherwise your gradient will seem to vanish when you do the Rotation.

Imported into Gimp and put on top of our basic Diamond Gradient and set to Multiply to get rid of the white, it serves as a shading effect.

You can reverse the gradient by inverting the colours if you like.
Dont forget to play with the Opacity !

You can also customise the white to black ratio of the gradient with the Curves Tool.

With these b/w gradient diamonds you dont even have to make new ones in other colours, because you can always use the grayscale image as a layermask to get any colour you like !