GIMP Tutorial {Glitch Text Effect}

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What exactly is a glitch effect?

Well, it’s an art form that represents the presence of flaws in the original image. It reminisces of days gone by, with analog TVs, that yielded errors in the form of a “glitch” when a channel was not clearly visible.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create this effect in GIMP. This tutorial includes detailed info on adding an image to a pre-existing canvas, how to create a vignette, how to cut out letters for the glitch effect, and more.

Are you ready to master the glitch effect? Awesome, 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: Create a New Document

create a new image canvas

For this project, I recommend the following dimensions; 1920 x 1080, set to 300ppi, and a black background.

Pro Tip:

What’s the purpose of a resolution at 300 ppi? Since GIMP is 100% raster-based software (i.e., pixel-based), and the text will look softer or pixelated at lower resolutions.

If the project is destined to be posted online, I’ll still design at 300ppi and will convert to 72ppi after the design is completed.

Step 2: Add Text, Adjust Kerning + Align

add your text

It’s time to add your text, add some Kerning, and align the text. Let’s use this free font from Google, size it to 400, and set the color to #e8e3e3. In all caps, type out GLITCH.

Next, we need to set the Kerning. What exactly is Kerning? It’s an adjustment to your text that will increase the spacing between the letters. For this glitch effect, I recommend at least 12. Locate the box next to the color box and type in a number. Click the tab key to see the spacing updated.

Hit your escape key to deactivate the text tool and press “Q” to select the Algin Tool. Even though your text layer is selected, it’s not enough for aligning. We have to take an extra step in letting GIMP know which layer to align.

Clicking on the inside of the Layer Boundary (yellow dashed line) will activate the layer for alignment. Next, go to the tool options and click on the two icons labeled;

Step 3: Duplicate Text Layers + Reposition

To add to the effect, you’ll need to duplicate the text layer twice and update it with a new color. Rename each layer as follows; White, Blue, and Pink.

Select your Pink layer, grab your text tool, and click on the text. Now, double click on the word to select all the letters and update the color to #931898. Do the same for the Blue layer and use this color #188598.

Note: to access the color layer of text, you may need to turn off the layers’ visibility appropriately. To do so, click on the eye icon next to the layer. Click it again to make it visible.

Next, arrange your layers in the following order; White, Blue, and Pink. Now, grab your Move tool (M) and set the Tool Options to “Move the active layer.” Select the Blue layer and move it to the right. For the Pink layer, move it to the left.

Pro Tip:

I recommend working non-destructively in-case you’re unhappy with the end result. This way, you have the option to go back to the original layers vs. starting over from scratch.

For this project, we will take all 3 layers and put them into a grouped layer called Originals. Then, duplicate that group layer, right-click on it to select “Merge Layer Group,” and name it Glitch Effect.

Step 4: Shear the Text + Glitch Effect

make your text italic

To enhance our glitch effect, let’s tilt our text with the Shear tool (Shift + H). But first, let’s increase the Layer Boundary. Otherwise, our effect will be clipped along the edges.

Layer > Layer to Image Size

Now, click on your text, drag to the right, and when you’re happy with the angle, hit Enter or Return.

Step 5: Make the Glitch Effect

create the glitch effect

The key to this effect is cutting and pasting a part of the text multiple times. Grab your Rectangle Select tool (R) and draw out a selection that encompasses all the letters. As for the height, make it reasonably small… around 10 – 20 pixels. In other words, a small portion of the text.

Now, right-click on your canvas, go to Select and click on Float (Shift + Ctrl or Command + L). This creates a Floating Selection (see your layers panel) that requires creating a new layer to paste into or anchoring it into the existing layer.

First, with your Move tool (M), move the selection to the right or left. If you want to work non-destructively, create a new layer. For this project, I will “Anchor the floating layer” (via the anchor at the bottom of the Layers panel) to the existing layer.

Repeat this step as often as you wish based on your creative vision!

Step 6: Add Image + Style With Vignette

add an image

Let’s finish our design by styling the background with an image that already has the glitch style added. Download the image and drag/drop onto your interface. After releasing your mouse button, the image will be included as a new layer.

Click and drag this image layer just above your Background layer. For the Blending Mode, I’m going to change it to Lighten Only and drop the Opacity down to 12.

The last step is adding a vignette to this image. Let’s add a Layer Mask filled with white. With your Gradient tool (G), you’ll create a radial shape via the Layer Mask, which will result in a vignette!

Here’s how;

  1. Set the Gradient type (in its panel) to FG to BG (RGB)
  2. In tool options, select Radial for the Shape
  3. Set the foreground color to black and the background color to white
  4. Add the gradient in the center of your canvas

Action Is Power

Now it’s your turn to complete this text effect. Oh, and I want to see your final design too!

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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