Stock images for this tutorial
- BigStockPhoto: Title
Full Size Screenshots
As you’ve seen in previous tutorials, 3D effects are popular in all kinds of advertising, and there are many ways to use GIMP to create 3D images in a just a few short steps. This tutorial presents one more method, showing you how to use three stock filters to create an imaginary cityscape of high-rise buildings. This tutorial proves that, when used in combination, the noise filters and the Cubism and Wind filters are more than just the sum of their parts.
For larger versions of the cityscape, such as those intended for print, you may need to repeatedly scale, blur, and apply the Unsharp Mask to the image to achieve the desired effect. The exact settings for the Unsharp Mask filter will depend on the results of the Cubism filter, and those results will be different every time because the Cubism filter uses randomization. So don’t be upset if your experiments with this tutorial come out vastly different than what you see here.
You can also incorporate the resulting image into a poster or flier by simply adding text, but make sure to place the text where there is enough contrast so it can be read easily. Placing white text over the solid black background would be best.
Start with a new canvas (File=>New) set to 480 640 pixels at 250 dpi (change the resolution in the Advanced Options section of the Create a New Image dialog). You can easily create a canvas of these dimensions by using the 640 x 480 template in the Create a New Image dialog. Just swap the width and height values, or rotate the image 90 degrees (Image->Transform->Rotate 90 degrees clockwise). This will produce an image that is about 2.5 x 1.9 inches, though you can scale up the techniques used in this tutorial. If you use this tutorial for a print project, the size of the paper can be changed to suit your needs. You can use the A4 or US Legal templates for a new image for example. When everything is in order, click OK to create the new image and then fill the canvas with black.
Adding Noise with the Hurl Filter
- Choose Image->Guides->New Guide (by Percent) to add a horizontal guide at 50 percent.
- Create a rectangular selection of the bottom half of the canvas. Copy and paste this selection as a new layer (Layer->To New Layer). Name the new layer Cubism.
- Use the Hurl filter (Filters->Noise->Hurl) to fill the new layer with noise. Set the Random Seed to 10 and the Randomization to 80 percent. Click OK to apply this filter to the new layer.
- Desaturate the layer (Colors->Desaturate).
- Remove the guide (Image->Guides->Remove All Guides).
Copying and pasting the bottom half the Background layer is an easy way to create a new layer of the required size. Alternatively, we could add a new layer (Layer->New Layer) scaled to half the size of the canvas.
Adding a Pattern with the Cubism Filter
- Open the Cubism filter (Filters->Artistic->Cubism). Set the Tile Size slider to 35 pixels and the Tile Saturation slider to 2.7, and then click OK to apply the filter to the Cubism layer.
- Adjust the layer size so that it equals the size of the full canvas (Layer->Layer to Image Size).
- Add a new transparent layer by choosing Layer->New Layer and setting the Layer Fill Type to Transparency. Name the new layer Gradient.
- Choose the Blend tool from the toolbox. In the Tool Options dialog set the Gradient to FG to Transparent, set the Shape to Linear, and choose None from the Repeat drop-down menu. Fill the new layer with a gradient by clicking just above the Cubism layer top edge and dragging to just below that edge. The gradient should flow just until it starts to fade the squares generated by the Cubism filter.
- With the Gradient layer active, merge the Gradient layer with the Cubism layer (Layer->Merge Down).
Applying the Cubism filter produces lots of randomly positioned, randomly sized, semi-transparent blocks. Later we extrude these blocks (convert them from two dimensions to three dimensions) to create our skyscraper-filled city.
Stretching with the Wind Filter
- Rotate the Cubism layer 90 degrees clockwise (Layer->Transform->Rotate 90 degrees clockwise).
- Open the Wind filter (Filters->Distorts->Wind). Set the Style to Wind, set the Direction to Right, and set the Edge Affected to Leading. Then set the Threshold slider to 2 and the Strength slider to 50. Click OK to apply the filter.
- Repeat this process by pressing ctrl-F two or three times, until additional applications of the Wind filter have little or no effect.
- Rotate the Cubism layer to its original orientation (Layer->Transform->Rotate 90 degrees counter clockwise) so that the buildings stand vertically.
Use the Wind filter to make three-dimensional buildings from the two-dimensional blocks.
Sharpening and Scaling the Image
- The edges of the buildings can be made more distinct by applying the Unsharp Mask filter (Filters->Enhance->Unsharp Mask). Set the Radius slider to 9 pixels, set the Amount slider to 3.50, and set the Threshold slider to 2. Click OK to apply the filter to the Cubism layer.
At this point the image is essentially done. Only cleanup and detailing work are left, and neither is required, though they can enhance the final effect. If the buildings are too dim, duplicate the Cubism layer, set the layer mode for the duplicate layer to Dodge or Overlay, and reduce the layer’s Opacity a bit. Then merge the duplicate layer with the original Cubism layer by choosing Layer->Merge Down.
The Unsharp Mask filter enhances the edges of the buildings.
- Open the Gaussian Blur filter (Filters->Blur->Gaussian Blur). Set the Blur Method to RLE and the Blur Radius to 2 pixels for a smaller image. Click OK to apply the blur.
- Now let’s make the buildings taller. Choose the Scale tool from the toolbox and drag the Cubism layer up until the top of the buildings rise to half of the canvas window or higher. If necessary, zoom out on the canvas (View->Zoom->Zoom Out). Fit the layer to the canvas (Layer->Layer to Image Size).
Adding Color and Intensity
- If the detail provided by the Unsharp Mask filter is lost after scaling, try duplicating the layer, reducing the duplicate layer’s Opacity, and setting its layer mode to Dodge or Multiply. Then merge the two layers and reapply the Unsharp Mask filter (Filters->Enhance->Unsharp Mask), this time setting the Radius to 3, the Amount to 3.5 and the Threshold to 2.
- The Gaussian Blur filter reduces the transparency of the buildings’ walls.
- Add a new transparent layer and name it Color. Fill the new layer with a color of your choice (use the RGB value of 201/132/0 to match the color shown here) and set the layer mode to Color.
You can use a different color for each building by adding multiple color layers, each with a different layer mask that only affects one building.
This tutorial used a few of GIMP’s filters to create a Cubism-inspired skyline full of high-rise buildings. If your project calls for something less experimental, Section 4.10 might prove more helpful. In that section we create a cartoon streetscape. Once again, it’s a lot easier than it sounds.