GIMP Text Effects {Skyline}

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In today’s GIMP text effect tutorial, you’ll discover how easy it is to sandwich text between two buildings!

This will include learning how to use the Path tool, use layer maks, Blending Modes, and more.

If you’re ready to master this text effect, let’s do it…

Note: the video tutorial was created with beginners in mind. 

The following step-by-step instructions are for more experienced users.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Open The Included Image

open the image provided

Here is the image we’re going to use for this text effect design. Once downloaded, open the file in GIMP; File > Open (Ctrl or Command + O).

Step 2: Add Text + Align

add your text

The font type I’m using for this text effect is a free font called Montserrat Heavy. For the font size, let’s go with 450 and white for the color. In all caps, type out the word “CHICAGO.”

Let’s align the text to the horizontal centers of the canvas. But first, let’s move the word into position, so it’s just below the tallest building.

To align the text, you’ll need to use the Align tool (Q). Next, you have to activate the layer you’d like to align by clicking inside its layer boundary.

Having only the layer selected is not enough. For some reason, the GIMP developers added this extra step. You’ll know the layer is activated for alignment when you see four light-colored squares… one in each corner of the boundary.

Navigate to the tool options and click on the icon labeled…

Step 3: Add a Layer Mask

add a layer mask

The secret to this text effect is the use of a Layer Mask. To add a Layer Mask, click on the second to last icon (looks like a clown) at the Layers Panel’s bottom. Make sure you have White selected and click add.

To help with the next step, let’s temporarily drop the layer’s opacity to around 50%.

Step 4: Hide Part of the Text Behind the Building

create a path to remove part of the letters

This step is going to require the use of the Path tool (B). No worries if you’ve never used the Path tool. It’s easy to use. Promise!

We’re going to start our Path by clicking along with one of the building’s sides (where the text overlays). This will create your first anchor point. To make the path, move down the building and click again. This creates another anchor point, and the two are now joined with a “path.”

Continue going around the building where any letters overlap. To complete and close the Path, you’ll need to end where you started. Complete it by hovering over the first anchor, press your Ctrl key and click on the anchor.

You now need to convert this Path into a selection. Via the Paths panel (Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Paths), click on the “Selection from Path” button.

To remove the letters from this part of your design, you have to paint that area black via the layer mask. Black removes and white adds. Set your Background color to black and hit your Delete or Backspace key.

Boom! Your selection removed that part of the text.

Don’t forget to deselect before going on the next step…

Shift + Ctrl or Command + A

Step 5: Style Your Text

To finalize the design, I’d like to enhance the text, so it looks more realistic. First, let’s adjust the text layers Opacity back to 100.

Next, change the Blending Mode to Overlay. This option creates the illusion that the text is actually in the sky. Although I prefer Overlay, you may want to try out the other Blending Modes to see if there’s one you like better.

I’d like to intensify the effect a little bit. This can be done by duplicating the layer. Although it’s now too intense. To tone it down, drop the Opacity to around 50.

Since the lights on the building have more luminance values with the Overlay Mode, we should probably add a drop shadow to enhance the overall effect.

But first, let’s increase the layer boundary size. If you skip this, the shadow will be confined within the boundary, and the effect will not be pleasant.

Layer > Layer to Image Size

The key to adding a Drop Shadow to a layer with a Layer Mask is to make sure the mask is not selected. Click on the first thumbnail (left of the mask) to activate it. Now go to…

Filters > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow

Here are the settings for the shadow that I created for this text effect design (click image to enlarge)…

Only one thing left to do. And that is…

Action Is Power

…now it’s your turn to complete this graphic design project, and I want to see your final design.

Head on over to our community and post your skyline text effects project. I’ll answer any of your questions. Also, if you want feedback, add #CC.

Before you go, check out my GIMP text effects playlist with over 20 more GIMP tutorials.

Using GIMP can be challenging when you’re new to the software. If you’d like to master GIMP with less frustration, check out my GIMP Made Easy tutorials.

You can also click here to find all my free articles on GIMP.

Would you like to see how to process this design in Photoshop? If so, check out the Photoshop videos tutorial and article.

Like this article? If so, please share!

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