GIMP Text Effects Tutorial {Floral Design}

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Today’s text effect tutorial will teach you a lot about how to use GIMP for design projects! It’s an intricate design with a lot of steps.

Some of the things you’ll learn include how to use layer masks, creative ways to use your selections tools with layer masks, how to make your designs more creative with filters, and a lot more.

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

Table of Contents

Note: the video tutorial was created with beginners in mind. The following step-by-step instructions are for more experienced users.

Step 1: Open Images

open the included image files

Although I’m only using one set of illustrations for this design project, I’ve included 5 different files. Download the resource file to access the download links.

Once you have the files downloaded, you can open all five at the same time.

Locate the files on your hard drive, select all of them, and then click-drag to the GIMP interface. Once you release your mouse button, all will be opened in new tabs.

Step 2: Create a New Document​

add a new document

Let’s create a new document for your next design project. The dimensions I’m using are as follows; 1920 x 1080 @ 300 ppi.

For the background color, I’m going to go with a cream color. Click on your Foreground color swatch and type in this hexadecimal number (without the hashtag): #eeeed9. Under “Fill with:” select Foreground color and click OK.

Pro Tip:

Why a resolution of 300 ppi? The reason is GIMP, unlike Photoshop, is 100% raster-based software (i.e., pixel-based). The text, in GIMP, will have sharper details at a higher resolution.

Even if I’m working on a design project that will be mostly for online use, I will still use a resolution of 300. Then, when I’m ready to post online, I will resize the canvas to a resolution of 72 ppi.

Step 3: Add Your Text + Align

add your text

The first thing we have to do is add some text. Grab your text tool via the toolbar or press the letter “T.”

Type out anything you like. I’m using Montserrat Heavy for the font type, the font size is 500, and the color will be #437f9e.

For this text effect, I recommend a large, bold type of font. Which is why I chose the one I did. If you have another typeface you prefer, feel free to use it.

Note: once you add your text, the letters might be too close together.  To increase the spacing between each letter, adjust the Kerning.  This can be done in the tool options.  For my design, I set it to 99.

To align the text to the center of your canvas, grab your Align tool (“A”). Next, we need to tell GIMP which layer needs to be aligned. It’s not enough just to have the layer selected. That layer also needs to be activated with the Align tool.

Once you have the Align tool selected, click on the inside of the layer boundary. You know the layer has been activated to be aligned when you see a light-colored square in each corner.

Navigate to your tool options and set the “Relative to” with “First item.” Next, click on the following two icons labeled…

Step 4: Cut Out Illustrations

select your illustrations

Each file contains several illustrations. For this design, you’ll need to separate each illustration and place them in their own layer.

To achieve this, we’re going to use our Free Select tool to make the selections. Find it either on your toolbar or press the letter “F.” With the tool selected, draw around one illustration and go back to the start point to close out the selection.

To ensure the selection is appropriately closed, make sure the yellow circle appears before releasing your mouse button. The yellow circle will appear once you get close enough to the starting point.

Once you release, you’ll see the famous “dancing ants” which represent your selection.

Now, copy the selection with Command or Ctrl + C and navigate back to your new document. To add it to the canvas, use Command or Ctrl + V. This adds the illustration, but it’s not on its own layer yet. To add it to a layer, click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Repeat this step with additional illustrations until you have everything you’d like for your text effect design.

Step 5: Re-Arrange Layers, Resize + Rotate

rearrange, rotate, and scale your layers

Now that you have all your illustrations added as individual layers, it’s time to organize, resize, and rotate accordingly.

Let’s first rename each layer. Double click on the layer name and give it a new name. Next, with your Move tool (“M”), move one flower behind each letter. Also, duplicate some layers to place around the edge of the canvas.

To resize, use the Scale tool (Shift + S) and adjust to your creative vision for the design. Rotating can be done with, well, the Rotate tool (Shift + R).

Step 6: Apply Layer Mask + Brush

Let the magic begin! The key to weaving the flowers between the letters is the use of Layer Masks. Then, with your Brush tool, you can add or remove the illustrations as needed. You’ll paint with black to remove, and white will add it back.

I’m also going to show you how to use specific selection tools to make the job easier, faster, and more precise! To start…

add a layer mask and use your brush

Next, set your foreground color to black and the background color to white. Grab your Brush tool (“P”) and paint over a flower.

Where did it go? Well, no worries, it’s only hidden via the layer mask and is not permanent. If you delete the Layer Mask, it will come back. Or paint with white to reveal it.

That’s how easy it is to weave illustrations between other elements! But, the brush may not give you the desired result due to the edge being too soft. Therefore, you’ll need to make adjustments in the tool options to adjust the edge’s hardness.

Some of the letters have a straight edge, and one of the others (in my text) is round. Yes, you could use the brush to edit as needed. But it’s going to get tedious. Instead, use the Rectangle Select tool for the straight edges and the Fuzzy Select tool for round edges.

Once you have a selection, switch the background color to black (“X”) and press your Delete key or Backspace key. Check out my design below and finish yours, so it’s somewhat similar…

Step 7: Create a Drop Shadow

To enhance my design, I’d like to add some depth to it with a Drop Shadow. The first thing you’ll need to do is create a Layer Group and place your illustrations inside it.

Next, duplicate the grouped layer, turn off the original, and then right-click on the visible group. From the menu, select Merge Layer Group.

This method is known as working non-destructively. If you end up not liking the inner shadow, you won’t have to start over since you still have the original layers.

To add the inner shadow…

Filters > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow

Adjust the settings based on your creative vision. Here are my settings…

drop shadow settings for this text effect

Instead of a drop shadow on every element I’d like it to only appear on the inside of the letters.  Let’s add a Layer Mask and remove the shadow, so it’s only on the inside.

Step 8: Create a Painterly Effect

add an artistic filter

Let’s finish up our design by adding a painterly effect. GIMP includes some powerful, creative filters that can help you achieve your creative vision.

First, let’s take all our layers, place them in a grouped layer, duplicate it, and merge it. Next, let’s apply a filter…

Filters > Artistic > Oilify

You don’t necessarily have to choose the same filter. Go through each one and find one you like for your style. Once you’ve applied your filter, there’s one more thing you need to do…

Action Is Power

…complete this project, and I want to see your final design too! Here’s how…

Head on over to our community and post your 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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