Recoloring Simple and Layered Elements

This is a tutorial on recoloring elements. There are many ways to recolor, or to colorize. This is what I do for most of them but it requires some playing. Not all hues (colors) work the same with each element. Highlights and shadows play a big part in how the final product will look.


I start with choosing an element I want to recolor and open it up. If it's already colored, you can either desaturate (layer>color>desaturate) or leave it as is for a different effect. The above is the image I chose for this tutorial. I added the black background for both this tutorial and also for quality control. I delete this layer before saving as a png.


Create a new layer and bucket fill with the color you want to use. If you are not working with a specific palette, you might want to try a shade or two darker since the results are better. The image above points to the two items that make this work, layer mode (normal) and opacity (100%). Before you change these your image will be just the solid color you bucket filled. Once you change the layer mode to overlay or burn you'll see your element pop back up.


This was done with 1 bucket filled layer set at 100% opacity in overlay mode.


This one is 2 layers, both 100% in overlay mode.


This has 3 layers, 100% overlay mode.


I used one bucket fill layer, set at 100% opacity and layer mode burn.


Final example, 2 fill layers, one set at burn and 70% with the other as overlay and 100% opacity.


When you are satisfied with your coloring, test your background layer with different shades to see if it's what you need for your project and to look for brightness issues, stray pixels, etc. Delete your test background and

! IMPORTANT !

merge visible layers*. Do NOT merge down if you have more than one fill layer. It will change your results. You can merge down one at a time if you select the fill layer directly above the element. Merging down one fill layer onto another will create a solid filled image at normal layer mode again. NOTE: Use caution with merging visible layers if you are using this technique while creating a finished layout instead of a simple element. You can hide the layers you are not using by clicking on the eye in the layers dialog box. This is what I do when I am recoloring my photo book frames with the ribbon. My ribbon, rivet and paper take different amounts of shading so I assemble and recolor this in layers. My template has been saved as an xcf file so I can use it and alter it for other kits. You can see an example of it's layers in the image below:


(Click image for larger view)


The layers marked tint I will alter the color of to reflect the palette I am using, or I will replace with background papers or patterns. I keep my shadows so I don't have to create them again as well. Above the page frame layer is where I would place any texture overlays if using a bucket fill in order to add a pattern or texture. This example only shows 3 tint layers and all in a different color. I did this to get a more natural look. What it doesn't show is that I may or may not use more than one ribbon, rivet or page tint for each detail. This is where I play the most.

When I am doing the ribbon tint, the whole image will show the effects. I will merge down the ribbon tint to the pinch ribbon layer or I will hide all layers I am not actively using and use the merge visible method. Then I'll hide the finished section and unhide the next part of the layered element, in this case the rivet. Once I think I am happy, I'll unhide the ribbon to check for harmony, hide it again and merge my rivet parts. I'll finish off by repeating these steps with the page section. I'll unhide all, recheck and if happy, merge all, save as png and make sure to save as a different name as your template! Nothing more irritating than to overwrite your template, which is why I copy and paste the templates being used into a folder for the kit I am creating. This keeps from losing my template. When I create a new element, I save it as a template in case I need to tweek it or want to use it in another kit in a different color or style.

*Merge Visible Layers and Merge Down are two different operations and are listed as such on both Gimp and PSE. If you pick the wrong one, you can undo it. Once you see what each does to different layers, it's easy to understand which one to pick.

Recoloring

[LONG Imageless Tut]

I'm going to make an effort to talk about the basic tools.
I'm going to start with colors.

Have you fell in love with a kit but the colors just don't work for you? Don't skip over a download or a purchase simply because the colors won't fit your needs.

There are several ways to recolor something and depending on what needs to be recolored, there are ways that are better than others so knowing what the tools do will allow you to choose correctly.

HUE TOOL:

I use this often. If I'm just wanting to offer a bunch of elements and am not working with a specific palette, this is the best choice. It's also what you want to use if there are many colors in the item to be changed.

Hue - changes the actual color (red to orange to yellow)
Lightness - makes it lighter or darker but doesn't change the color (dark red to pink)
Saturation - adds color or removes color from the image (takes the red and makes it fire engine red or a grayish red, even gray and no red at all)

Used with the magic wand or selection tools, you can isolate parts of your image to recolor.

Saturation can make a bright color more earthy and an earthy color brighter. You can manually change the saturation of an image to give it that watercolor effect you see in many professional photos. You will use selection tools, don't forget about Select>Invert too. Let's say you want a black and white photo but leave some items in color. You can select the area that is to stay in color, and then invert, then use saturation tool, or you can choose what changes to black and white and desaturate. It all depends and what's easiest for you to select.

Get confused about saturate and desaturate? De is a negative prefix and if you can remember saturate in relation to water means get wetter, think of the water as paint and paint as color. To saturate is to get wetter, more paint, more water. To desaturate is to take away the water, the paint, the color.

COLOR BALANCE:

You have to be careful with color balance. This tool comes with sliders where you can change the amount of each color that is within the image or selection. An area of color can contain shadows, midtones and highlights. If you have a circle of color, changing the color is simple, but if that circle is actually an orb, things get a little complicated. You'll notice that the color balance tool might change those shadows, midtones and highlights to an undesired effect. This tool needs a lot of experimentation and you have to eyeball your image in different zoom levels. It might look fine at 25% but at 100% you might notice the edges between a midtone and highlight has morphed into something more sci-fi than you intended.

Color balance is a great tool for playing with those images from the 70's that have aged. I will save several versions. After a few days, I'll go back and look at the results. Sometimes staring at the image for so long, they all look good or awful. Later you'll find the one that looks right.

I will repair blemishes on the photo after fixing the color balance. Sometimes CB will actually make those repairs pop. You don't want that.

Dirt spots? Color balance can help here. Use your selection tools to pick the dirt spot and play with the blemish. You might need to use the smudge or clone tools to deal with the edges. I'll talk more about those later.

COLORIZE:

This is a quick recoloring tool and comes with a hue-sat slider. It's a fun tool. I use it if I am not using a dedicated palette.

COLORIFY:

This is under filters. It's just like the colorize tool, however this one you can add a color code to use a specific color. If you don't know the color code, you can get it from your foreground color picker. Double click on the foreground, pick your color and grab the code from the HTML notation box. You can copy and paste this.

COLOR TO ALPHA:

Use this if you have a color you want to remove and you can use the copy and paste method from above. You have to remember that this color you are removing might be hidden throughout your image and will create vellum qualities in areas. Lets say you want to remove a blue color but have reds and purples. You know that it'll take the blue hue from the purple, but did you know that it might also alter the red? Experimentation and selection tools are recommended. I most commonly use this for black and white images, however turning your image to grayscale will allow the program to remove the white anyway when creating a brush.

SELECT BY COLOR:

Under the selection tools menu, this will allow you to select all parts of the image that are of that color, thus being able to use the hue-sat or color bal tools. This is a really fickle tool like color balance. You have to pay a lot of attention to detail to get the correct results you desire. Make sure you Select>None to check boundaries. The marching ants will hide those borders.

DECOMPOSE:

This is found under Image>Mode and it'll pull apart an image into layers and results are grayscale. I haven't needed this so I can't comment on it.

BRIGHTNESS-CONTRAST:

This can do a lot for an image for color correction. Those faded photographs sometimes have the correct color and color balance isn't fixing the problem. Also, it's neat to use this to make some things just pop. The photo might be fine, you just want to emphasize or 'trick-out' your image. This can be a very powerful tool in layout creation. It gets neglected, as do many tools, thinking they are just for repairs. B/C is similar to saturation, but remember this deals with the whole image, background, flaws and all. Use with the selection tool to isolate areas.

THRESHOLD:

This can recolor a pic from normal to a photocopy like image. I don't know what it's intended for but I like playing with the pics, using this and layers. I leave one layer in color and then use this layer on top or bottom. I play with the opacity and layer modes for each of the layers. Threshold can be a whole lot of fun.

LEVELS:

Take Threshold, Saturation and Color Balance and put them in an all-in-one tool. I've used this a few times to fix photos. It's one best left to playing instead of explaining. I still don't know enough about this tool to be even an 'almost' expert.

CURVES:

Another tool I don't know too much about but have used before. Some tutorials use curves and will walk you thru it. It also alters color, brightness and blackness. I used this once to create a metal frame (remember my square buttons with the semi-opaque glass?).

LAYER MODES:

Changing your layer mode can change the color of that layer or the one beneath it. I use bucket fill and layer modes to color items like ribbons. I have the ribbon as the bottom layer and the color layer is above it. I usually use overlay mode. I might use a combination of overlay and burn using multiple copies of the color layer. Sometimes one layer of color isn't enough, but two is too much. That's when I change the opacity of one of the layers. Keep in mind that your color layer doesn't have to be color. It can be an overlay of texture or a pattern. If the color layer has many colors, this will affect the layer below and the final color. If your bottom layer has blue and the upper layer has red, you will end up with purples.

If you are designing, this can be a way to find new kits. If you don't have a color palette, start by playing with grunge layers of different colors and experiment with tucking in some of your old papers and see what happens. Add some brush work on one of the layers or it's own layer.

THAT'S IT.

If I missed something, please share it in the comments for all to see. Have a favorite method? Share that too.

Gimp -vs- PSE and other programs

A QUICK NOTE: When reading this and other tutorial sites, READ THE COMMENTS to the posts. Chances are you'll find other steps, corrections, links to similar tuts and other important info. I don't always have the time to reflect these into my post, as I'm sure is the same for others. It only takes a minute to scan them.

...........................


Many of my regular readers over at the Freebie Vault know that I use various programs while designing. I started using Adobe Photoshop Deluxe but I couldn't do png files or drop shadows, a must in the business. So I surfed for some free trial when I found both Jasc Animation Shop (the bestest blinkie maker ever) and Gimp.

I've been using Gimp since July 2006. I bought a small (too small) wacom tablet November 2007 and it came with Photoshop Elements 5. I eventually bought PSE 6 for $100 in March 2008. In May, I was given (sweet) a copy of Adobe CS3 Extended.

Wacom Tablet: for those that don't know, it's a pen mouse and a special tablet. I have the one called Bamboo Fun and it was around $100. Good price but I really should have held out for the larger tablet. I plan on getting one of those during tax return season. If you are on a budget, it's nice to have. It has software but I found that it's plug and play compatible. It comes with a USB plug, extra 'normal' cordless mouse and extra tips for the pen. Once you get really good with this tablet you can handwrite on your layouts (no more fonts for journaling) and you can create custom doodles.

Did you know that most Windows based computers now have a built in program that you can teach it to type as you speak? It's called Windows Speech Recongnition and its under Start>Programs>Accessories>Ease Of Access Tools. There's also a narrator which will read things for you - great for reading blogs while you dust! Yeah, I use it. And it's great for the little ones learning to read. You can download pdf children's books from the internet and have the computer read it. It's not the same as Mom, but if you simply don't have the time, its a fun alternative. I love it when the computer occasionally says something wrong (its rare on my version) and they correct it! I give them treats for finding those errors. Makes them pay attention.

Believe it or not, I'm having fits learning the CS3 program, which is something I absolutely want to learn because that's the program running the actions. I find myself running the actions, saving and opening the results up in Gimp or PSE for finishing touches. I use Gimp 90% of the time, PSE6 the bulk of the balance, with some of that being the occasional CS3, Ultimate Paint or another program.

For those that know Adobe products and are new to Gimp, Script Fu is just Gimp's version of actions. Actions are scripts that tell the program a series of steps to do to create something that has several steps. Many S'Fus have settings you can alter before it begins and most leave the project in layers so you can alter further. Even the drop shadows you can tweek in the end by using the move tool to move the layer or opacity to reset the darkness. Have you thought of using a different color for your shadow instead of black? Sometimes I use a really deep brown, it creates a warmer shadow.

Here's my preferences:

Grow Tool - Gimp (has a menu to change settings)
Cropping Tool - Gimp (Guillotine)
Drop Shadows - Gimp
Bevel - PSE
Styles - PSE (none in Gimp yet)
Creating Brushes - Gimp (I have brush batch script fu)
Text Tool - Gimp (regular)
Text on Path - PSE
Filter Work - PSE (because of Filter Gallery)

Saving - Gimp (because you can type in your extension, no PSD defaults and renaming to .png or copy.png in the title, I wish PSE had a way to check your file extension default in a check box during the save process so the next image will automatically choose that same type unless you use the menu to reselect a different one)

Open In Layers - Gimp (I still haven't found an easy way to open in layers in PSE, any tips for me?)
Extraction - PSE (magic eraser)
Scaling Brushes - PSE
Patterns - Gimp (love the dialog boxes)
Bump Map - Gimp (haven't found one in PSE, though I installed an 8bf file for it)
Start Up - PSE about 1 min 30 seconds (Gimp about 3-4 minutes)
Overall running - PSE (uses less ram, Gimp takes a lot of ram)
PSD - Gimp and PSE both open these files, no preference

Misc. PSE issues: I had to put styles in 2 locations to get styles to work and I can't delete one set. The problem is that I have several megs of styles that are taking up space not once but twice on my hard drive. Then most of these are loaded twice. If I delete a set, they all disappear. Anyone that has a solution, I'd love to know.

Misc. Gimp issues: The main reason why Gimp crashes on someone's computer is because of the ram it takes. It really taxes a machine. I combat that by not multitasking while I have Gimp going. I shut off unused programs that are running, like the Vista Sidebar (widgets). I dedicate the resources to just Gimp and ACDSee. Sometimes I can have PSE running at the same time without failure. I also work with an 'insurance plan', meaning saving often. I used the word Edit in the name of all my files that are not finished so I know simply by looking at the filename that it's not a finished product. And I save it in layers as an xcf file, Gimp's layered format. My version of Gimp (2.2) and higher you can save as psd and open in another program.

As a designer, I find myself favoring Gimp.
As a scrapper, I also favor Gimp.

I'll toss an image or layer back and forth between the programs to handle the tasks that are easily done on that program, but they all end up back at Gimp in the end. I can't see not having either one since each has it's role in everything I do digi.

If you have any questions, tips for me, comments to add, tuts to request - post a comment and I'll take care of it.

Script-Fu Tips

While running script-fus to create something, such as word art (alpha to logo), you are left with an image made up of layers. You don't have to stop there. Play with your layers. Change the opacity, the hue, the order of the layers, layer mode, delete layers, add more of them, add some filter work to the layers... Just remember to save occasionally. If I'm playing and doing things that are extreme, I keep a notepad handy and write down my settings. If I ever want to repeat something, I'll know what I did. I also save my projects as "ProjectName-EDIT-01" and as an xcf file. If I'm going to import to PSE, I'll save as a psd file. Using the term edit tells me it is not a finished product and numbering sets it aside from the later steps I take. Gimp is a resource hog at times. I find it helpful to go back occasionally, providing my saves have been done, and clear out the undo history (look at the size at the bottom of the image window before and after you clear the history).

Applying Papers To Alphas

[UPDATE: There's an alternative by using Alpha-To-Selection, which is fantastic, but I'm leaving the tut as-is since not all other image manipulation softwares have this function but have those similar items to follow along with the tut below, as tedious as it may be. I use Alpha-To-Selection 99% of the time now.]

If you don't have a pattern sample to use, you can always use a paper for a fill for an alpha or other shape. For this tutorial I'm using my Tabloid Alpha template and a paper from my kit Backpacks Forbidden. If you have the tabloid font you can copy, but any font will do.

You can always take your paper and turn it into a bucket fill, but the pattern file will be large and large file size tools tend to crash Gimp on even the best systems from time to time.

Open a file that's 3600 x 3600 pixels and transparent background at 300 dpi.


Have your text large enough to arrange nine at a time on a sheet like I did above. This allows you to embellish and be able to cut them apart using the guillotine tool without cutting into another alpha. Also, you want the alpha large enough to be high in quality (I have since increased the size of my alphas I create).


You can do one of two things to insert your paper. You can File>Open As Layer or you can open it as a separate image. To import it, in the paper's image menu select Edit>Copy. Then select your alpha image and Edit>Paste. Your layers dialog box will look like the image above. Click on the sheet icon marked with arrow #2. Your pasted layer was just added to a new layer.


Now click on the eye to hide the paper layer and select the alpha layer. Using the magic wand, click in the transparent areas on the image. Select the paper layer (still hidden) and Edit>Cut. You can check your work by clicking the eye to unhide the papers.

[Gimp Alternative: Click on the alpha layer, go to Layer>Alpha To Selection, then click on paper layer Select>Invert, Edit>Cut. You're done and can skip the steps below. Embellish your alphas with any shadows or bevels and save.]


If you were successful, you'll have an image similar to the one above. You may notice, as shown by the arrow, that the centers of some characters have not been cut. Not a problem. Keep repeating the steps above that you used to remove the centers.


On the alpha layer, click your wand in the center of your character, like above in the center of the number six. Then select your paper layer, Edit>Cut. Again, if you wish to check your work, unhide the paper layer.

Once you have deleted all of the unnecessary areas, you can embellish this further by adding a bevel, drop shadow, brush work, adding elements. In my case I chose to save as is and open it up in PSE6 and add a layer style. Since I don't like how PSE cuts apart alphas I'll open it back up in Gimp and use the guillotine tool to separate my alphas, create a preview, file in a folder, zip it up and upload it to 4shared to share with all of you.


The black alpha layer can be deleted or used. You can create a different looking drop shadow by using the blur tools, move tool and changing the opacity of the black layer.

I find the method I have used above, though a bit time consuming, gives a nicer edge on the alphas than had I chose to bucket fill. For some reason I find Gimp alters the edges a bit during a bucket fill. You can experiment with this and see for yourself. Vector shapes seem to avoid this problem. When I want to bucket fill a pattern, I'll just create a paper and use this method or I'll use the Script-Fu called Alpha to Logo>Glossy. Settings are to taste. For a flat effect (not layered alpha) I will uncheck the shadow and set all numbers to 0 or 1. Be sure the check the boxes for using a pattern instead of gradient.

Using Templates In Gimp

NOTE: I'm using 2.2, some functions were relocated in 2.4 but you should be able to follow along easily. To see more details from the image, click on it for a larger pic.

For this tutorial I used Template 101 from my Totally Templates blog.


In this image you'll see the layers dialog box. Notice the eyes. I always deselect layers I am not going to be working with that way they are out of the way. To deselect click on the eye. To unhide click again.


To get started I have chosen to leave the block frame overlay and the bonus paper visible. Select the overlay layer.


Now take the magic wand and select the white portion of the overlay layer. You'll see the marching ants.


Now go back to your layers dialog box and select your paper layer.


This step is important. You want to delete the cut-outs and have a frame with the paper pattern. In order to do this you must invert your selection, in other words, you want the opposite removed from what you selected. To do this go to Select>Invert in the image menu.


Now you need to Edit>Cut. I added a white background for this tutorial so you could see that the frame was left. You should have the transparency background on yours.


I want to add a drop shadow to my frame. Since my frame is the same size as the entire layout, I don't want the drop shadow to alter my canvas size. To prevent this, uncheck the box marked allow resizing. This is good to have checked if your image is tightly cropped and there's no room on the canvas to add a shadow. Merge your layers so your shadows are hooked to the layers they belong to (in the layers dialog box right click and merge down).


Here's my results of my shadow.


I'm going to go back and deselect the layers I just worked with since I am finished. I usually will delete the white overlay frame too. I unhide the next item I want to use. In this case it's one of the photo boxes to the left. You don't have to use a photo to fill in these boxes. You can use papers instead. The above image shows my color block and an added photo. I selected the block layer then I went to my image menu and File>Open As Layer and chose my photo.


I need to use two things from this menu option shown above. It's very important that when you want to alter the layer that you choose layer instead of image. So first I'm going to Layer>Transform>Rotate Right then I'm going to Layer>Scale Layer because I want more in the photo than there's space for on the block.


Once it's scaled to size, as shown above, I will select the box layer, then using magic wand select the box (image), then I'll use the move tool (the thing that looks like a compass with arrows) and move my photo to the box, selecting the photo layer before moving. You can still resize your layer if you need to. If for some reason you lose your marching ants, repeat the steps selecting your box. Once it's centered, select invert, make sure your photo is selected in the layers box and Edit>Cut.


Here's my results so far. Keep repeating until you filled in all of the parts from the template with your papers and photos. You can embellish it more by using the File>Open As Layer option to add elements and don't forget text, alphas, any filter effects, drop shadows, brush work. It's only limited by your imagination.

Keep in mind when scaling something, you can scale down but if you scale down too far you can't scale up, use the undo tool to get your larger size back or re-open the item you're scaling. Scaling up will distort your image.

Save your work often. Stuff happens. In Gimp you can save as an xcf or a psd file to retain your layers. Xcf files seem to save smaller megabyte wise than psd for some reason although there's no loss of quality. You might want to save your item in layers when you are finished too, just in case down the road you notice an error or you changed your mind about something. I keep these working files around for a month or so, but that's just my preference.

Check your spelling. If you're not sure, use Dictionary.com since Gimp doesn't have spell check. Flatten your image and save as a jpg file. Change the default 85 to a 100 for a higher quality image. I put it at 90 and 600 pixels to display in forums to keep the file size per the rules (usually under 100kb). Some coloring in your photo may effect the file size.

Creating Blog Headers

This is an imageless tutorial.

For those that already do digital scrapbooking, this will be easy to follow. Your going to create a header using some of the same basic steps as you would a normal scrapbook page from scratch.

You can also use brag book and scrap page templates to create the header. You'll have to adjust the size.

A typical blog header is 800 pixels wide and either 200 or 300 pixels high. The header on my Totally Templates blog is 800x300 and the one on the Freebie Vault is 800x200.

Open a new image in the dimensions you wish your header to be.

Now import items you wish to be a part of your header (use the File>Open As Layer option in the image box). Don't worry if the items are too large for your header.

To resize the layers: Right now I recommend clicking on the eye in your layers dialog box and hiding each layer you are not currently working with (click on the eye to unhide). Adjust your background image. For each layer you want to resize, you need to click on it in the layers dialog box (making it your active layer) and then returning to the image box and select !! IMPORTANT !! Layer>Scale Layer. If your whole image scales, you selected the wrong scaling method. Image>Scale Image resizes every layer. Also, remember to scale it down in increments. You cannot scale down then back up because you will lose quality. If this happens you can also undo or open another copy as layer again.

It doesn't hurt to save this file every once in a while. Make sure your extension is xcf so you retain your layers.

Now, adjust all of your items one by one to your taste. You can scale down, adjust color, add brush work, add text, etc.

If you are using a script-fu technique on one of the layers, I highly suggest you click on that layer, Edit>Copy>Edit>Paste As New, then add the script on the new image, then Edit>Copy, go back to header and Edit>Paste (click on single blank page in layers dialog box to add this image to it's own layer), arrow down to place into position. Delete your old layer if needed. If you didn't export this image first, most script-fus dump the other layers permanently, and you would have lost all of your work so far. Standard filters do not do this, but with 2.4 you have to be careful to watch which ones will.

When you are happy with your work, save as an xcf file first, in case you want to alter it down the road such as adding a snowman or fall colors for the seasons. Once you save, merge layers and save as a jpg or png.

WAIT!! Do you want blinkies or tags for siggies? Scale down your header to use for forums. Sizes are based on forum rules or you can use others as an example. You can also rework your header to make a matching tag for your package previews. This is another example of why saving in layers is important.

TIP: Once you create a matching logo from your header, you can turn this into a full color brush. Do not change it to grayscale or it won't be in color! In 2.2, go to Script Fu>Selection>To Brush. In 2.4, Edit>Copy as Brush. You can always save your text portion as a brush as well. It will come in handy. If you want the brush to pick up colors in the active palette, then go to Image>Mode>Grayscale, then save as a brush based on the method for your version. I have another post here that goes into more details on creating brushes.

Quick Page Tutorial

This is a tutorial on how to create single layer png quick pages for digital scrapbooking.

Clicking on any photo will bring a larger view.

First of all, have all of your items you wish to use opened in it's own layer. In my case (image 2 below) I have a paint smudge, a flower, a doodle, a frame, an overlay and a background.

IMPORTANT! Your background layer MUST have an alpha channel or when you cut you will end up with white space. In Gimp 2.2 you can find this under Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel. Make sure you have the correct layer selected when you do this. If it already has a channel you won't be able to select it (grayed out option).


This is the page I am using. It's Template 100 (available at Totally Templates). I chose a simple page for this tutorial. You can use templates and add your papers and elements then convert to a quick page but I am not going to cover that here. Also keep in mind, your items may need drop shadows. Now is the time to do that, except skip the photo frames for now. Merge your drop shadows to their corresponding element and if you need to, rename your layer (in layers dialog box right click on each layer and select edit layer attributes, rename, okay).


Here are my layers. I want to take a last look at the image and make sure it's complete, everything is where it should be, drop shadows are added as needed (minus frames), nothing needs to be rotated, SPELLING IS CHECKED for word art.

You are a gimper, so before you do anything else save this as BlahBlahQP-EDIT.xcf because now if you goof or would like to use these items but rearrange them for a similar QP, you have a working copy, which is why you use the word Edit in the title. It tells you to never ever upload this page to the net. It's a tool or unfinished. And saving as an xcf file helps retain your layers, for those that are familiar with Photoshop, it's like an unmerged/unflattened psd file.


Here we are to the next step. You see now I have only 3 layers. Your project may have more at this point. What I did is take everything that is on top of the frame layer and merged them together. Then everything below that photo frame is merged together in one layer. I have titled my layers so you know what is in each of those layers.


Now select the frame layer, if you have more than one you will repeat this step for each frame. If you have doodles under these frames that are supposed to be there, they must be merged with the background layer or this won't work. Take the magic wand and select the empty space of your frame (note my marching ants in the example above). Now click on the background layer, select Edit>Cut. Your background should now have a nice empty space.

Keep repeating this step for all of your frames.

Drop Shadows: Now is when you add your shadows for your frames. Had you done it earlier, you wouldn't have erased enough of the background.

If you are happy with everything... Merge Visible Layers. DO NOT flatten. Flattening will create a white space in your cut-outs. Save as NameQP.png and you're done!

Copyright Brush - Watermark


After learning how to create a brush, if you want to watermark your images with a copyright, simply create in black the image you wish to use. Convert it to grayscale (Image>Mode>Grayscale) and then create it as a brush (mentioned on other posts). I suggest creating ones very large to very small. Mine are 900 pixels at the largest to 100 pixels as the smallest. Above is one of my copyright brushes in white. It's the same brush. In the toolbox there is a setting for the brush called opacity. The upper-right is white at 100, bottom-left is white at 55, top-left is dodge clicked twice, bottom-right is burn clicked 5 times.

You can create brushes as the top border of a package preview for your blog, your avatar (keep that as RGB when making the brush so you don't lose your colors), and anything else you might want to use over and over again that isn't part of your kit. It's obvious to make flowers and doodles, though many don't think to make things you use for each and every kit. Even that plastic package look can be a brush that you stamp over your preview of goodies. Instead of having it a pasted layer, a brush would be simpler and quicker.

Cropping Alphas and Elements

Note: Click on the Post Tags to see other posts regarding the guillotine (crop) tool after reading this.


To avoid repetitious tasks, it might be easier to make a sheet of alphas or elements and add the filters and scripts to it then cut them apart later. I save these sheets, like the one above, in case I need it again. I also name the lettered sheet after the font I used.


I space out the letters or elements so I can get a guide between them. To add a guide, drag your mouse (which will change into the move tool automatically) from the ruler down for a horizontal line or from the left across for a vertical line.


By selecting Image>Transform>Guillotine you'll get the image above, several new images or offspring of the larger image you added the guides to.

You can alter your image with bucket fills, script fu's, filters, drop shadows, layers, etc. all with the guides in place. Make sure before you use the guillotine tool you don't have the blue guides across a shadow or it'll appear in the next image over. Also, you might want to merge your layers first (do not flatten if you are wanting a transparent background). If you guillotine before merging, you'll have a new image in layers and will have to merge or export when saving.

One of the other posts talk about the naming of the offsprings.

Color Image to Transparent PNG - Making Stickers

There's two items in this tutorial - one cutting the image from the white background, the other making a sticker from your element.


1. Open Image
2. Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel


3. Use Wand Tool to select white area
4. Select>Grow> (I used 3px for example - all you need is enough to get inside the image and past the white sections).
5. Edit>Cut
6. Save image as name.png or add drop shadow or other alterations, then save.

TO MAKE STICKERS:

1. Open Image
2. Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel
3. Use Wand Tool to select white area


4. Select>Shrink> (I used 20 pixels for this but you can go larger for a bigger border).
5. Edit>Cut

Note above and below there's a white box around the shape as well as the border around the flower.


There's two ways to get rid of that box border:
1. Select white area with wand tool (click on the white) and select Edit>Cut or 2. Just use the crop tool (knife) to crop the whole image, getting rid of the border.

EDIT TO ADD: During the shrink process there's a box to uncheck that says shrink from image border. That will prevent the square from appearing.

Save as name.png after you do any alterations or adding drop shadows.

Black and White JPG to Transparent PNG


To create an image with a transparent background that's black and white, the process is simple. Open your image. Select Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel.


Now select Layer>Transparency>Color to Alpha. Since you are removing white, you don't need to change the color. Note: if this was a color image, any color containing white, the white will be removed, giving the colored areas an opaque effect, or in the digital scrapbooking world - vellum quality.


If you want this new image to be a brush, then go to Image>Mode>Grayscale. In 2.2 you go to Script-Fu>Selection>To Brush. Name the brush and the script will create it and add it to your currently selected brush. In 2.4 go to Edit>Copy>Paste As Brush. Name it and it'll pop up in your brushes tool box. Making it grayscale will allow the brush to take on the currently selected color in your palette. More about brushes were posted elsewhere.

Be sure to save your finished product as name.png - if you save as a jpg you'll get the white background again.

New Image With Transparency - PNG Elements


If you want to create an element or an alpha that has a transparent background you should start with a transparent blank image. In another post I talk about sizing your items for the digital scrapbooking world. For this example I have chosen to create an element 1200x1200 pixels in size. I set the dpi to 300, made sure I was in RGB mode, selected transparency from the drop down menu and added my copyright information (this gets recorded in the exif data of the image - also another topic mentioned here on the blog). You can put anything in the comment section, but I would keep it simple. You can put your blog address here, though I'd skip the http part. In my case, I'd just put brainsongimp.blogspot.com though I just choose to put my name and a small note.

To get this box above, go to the main Gimp window, select File>New and this box will popup. Click the button next to advanced options to see the whole box.

iVillage Gimp

You might want to refresh the search for Gimp as this page ages, but this is a link using the search for Gimp on iVillage. There's a bunch of tips and tuts for Gimp here.

Exif Data and Copyright Info


When creating image templates, open up your image template dialog box, select new template and fill in your information, like what I have. Name your template for it's purpose. Set your transparency/background preferences, size, resolution and color mode (digital scrapbooking you'll want RGB). Click okay to save.

Now a little bit about piracy and why doing the above is important:

People steal images. It's not going to stop. But you can help prevent yourself from being a victim by learning different things.

Exif data can also be known as comment info. For this post, I am using it interchangably, yet exif data has oh so much more than your input. It records the program used to create the image, cameras and scanners involved, apertures, etc.

One way of prevention is to add your copyright information in the exif data of an image. This happens when you open up your template to create an image. You've just programmed that into your template and it's permanently set into your image, and when using guillotine, every offspring image. This information isn't typically seen by anyone unless they are using a viewer that allows them to see it, like ACDSee, even some forums will. Most image theives do not see it and do not know how to change it. There is an easy way, but it's not what you'd think and I'm not advertising it here. It's not something you need to know to protect yourself anyway.

Saving your edits in some form is another good way to prove that you are the author. Case in point, two gals in a forum post something darn near identical about a year apart. A mod caught it and didn't know what the deal was. Everyone thought the second poster was the pirate but she wasn't. First off, she had her brushes, a few trials and an unfinished psd file in layers. And of course the exif data. She proved her case.

Poor (very talented and awesome designer) Lilybelle is going through a similar issue. And it seems so many pirates are from another country.

Some will steal your download links and they can even find a way of stealing them for shopping cart related downloads. In the case of Lily, they stole her download link and possibly also renaming files, rezipping and hosting them on their own. You can rename a file, that doesn't change the exif data.

I have altered an item for my use and then deleted the image but used the image space to create something else. I should not have done that, because now I know the comment info was from the first image and not mine. I was in a bad habit of using select>all>edit>delete and then creating. Never again.

I once had someone steal my photobucket pictures, hotlinking them. These were PB photos I had under a password protected account that I paid for - I paid for the bandwidth they were taking as well as the fact those photos were in that file for a reason. So I swapped the image out with another one that said "I steal images". That showed their readers what they were made of. I've also added files to my freebies that said "if you didn't find this via the Freebie Vault and my hoster, than this was illegally downloaded". I have downloaded a file that had a blinkie that at first glance is no big deal, but if you waited, it had the information on their about her terms of use. I got it from her site, but had it been pirated, meaning I got it other than from her sources, I would have known how to reach her to let her know someone had her stuff.

Being popular also helps with the piracy issue. The more people who know you and your stuff, the more likely the person will think twice about it, but popularity alone won't keep you from being a victim. I think, though I have no proof, that if you offer a freebie of a store kit, then the store kit may be safe and depending on the severity, maybe theft of a freebie can be "let go". Not without letting them know they have been caught and making them remove it. I mean, go as far as contacting each and every person on their blog that you can that had said thanks for the freebie and let them know. This way they can give proper credit to you instead of the pirate.

If you want to know more and to find some great links visit the Stop Piracy Blog.

That's all I have for now. I've spent way too much time on the computer today, lol!!

Making Stitches

Open up a new image with a transparent background 3600 pixels wide and 600 pixels high.


In any color (I used pink f44871), use the text tool to make a dashed line using a hyphen in any font that looks nice, rounded ones will look more like a stitch. Space your hyphens to your taste. If you are wanting to make a crosstitch, then use the letter x. In the example I am using both simultaneously. If you don't like your letter as you are typing it you can change the font size or font without deleting what you have typed. Just keep your Text Editor box open. For this tut, I am using the Orange Fizz font. Note that I have made it so there are about 3 stitches per 500pixels. You don't want to go much smaller than 4 per 500 because they become too small unless tiny is what you want.

[Another way you can do a crosstitch with more added depth use / then copy that layer and then layer>transform>flip layer horizontally. Now you have an x. Don't merge these. After you embellish, you will add drop shadows between that make it look like they are separate.]

When done adding your text, select image>merge visible layers so you are left with a single layer.


I'm going to make a glittered stitch. You can use bumpmapping to make your stitch appear like fabric by bucket filling a new image with your texture and bumpmapping your stitch image. This is where you can experiment. For my glittering, I'm adding noise filter>noise>scatter rgb, then filter>generic>erode followed by filter>light effects>sparkle. My settings are in the pic below.

Add a new layer from the layers dialog box or layer>new layer>transparent. You will want the dialog box open because you will be switching. Make sure you have the new layer selected. It will be highlighted as in the image below.

With black and a circle brush, dot your ends of the stitch. Now go to filter>blur>gaussian blur> (anything between 5 and 25 will do, depending on your taste here, I used 20).


Using the layer dialog box image above, you can see the word opacity, move that slider until dots fade to how you like them. Mine is set at 70. Now hit the arrow down in the layers dialog box to lower your layer. Then select the background layer. From the image select (in 2.2) script fu>shadow>drop shadow. My settings are 3/3/6/60. You can play here or even skip it if you don't want to shadow. And you can tweek your dot opacity and blur to your taste too. Before you close out your image, save it and test it on a scrapbook page. If you like it then proceed to the next options - recoloring. Click on the hue tool in your Gimp Tools window, click on your image and tweek the slider. "Save as" for each color combo you like. If you have two elements on a page like I did then use the my quick crop method - guillotine.


TO GUILLOTINE:

Take your mouse and left click and hold, sliding down until you are betwen your elements, this creates a horizontal guide. Same can be done from the left for a vertical guide. Now go to image>transform>guillotine. This will cut your image apart. Note the auto-renaming. You might want to name and save your parent image before you cut because the offspring will take on the name with some numbers. It makes it easier for saving and renaming later. I just click on the x on the new image and then gimp will ask me if I want to save, then I click Alt-S. Image saves to the same folder the parent image was saved in. I then use my ACDSee program to do a batch rename.


Your done.

Now make your previews, terms of use and who to give credit to images. Once you zip it up, you are good to go with your blog or store. A tip - have your name on the file and images. Lots of pirating going on. Also see the post about Exif Data.