GIMP Tutorial {Glossy Text Effect}

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Reflective, glossy text? Yep, that’s what this GIMP tutorial is all about.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create glossy (reflective) text, how to make a custom gradient stroke, how to add a realistic drop-shadow and lens flare… + more.

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: Create a New Document

Nothing fancy for your new canvas. Here’s my setup; 1920 x 1080 @ 300 ppi. Oh, and the Background color will be #333333.

create a document

Pro Tip:

Why a resolution of 300 ppi? The reason is, GIMP is 100% raster-based software (pixel-based). The text, in GIMP, will have sharper details with 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 2: Add Text, Adjust Layer Boundary + Align

create the text

In all lower-case type out the word “glossy.” If you’d like to use the same font type, size, and color here, they are…

To align your text to the center of the canvas:

  1. Use GIMPs Align tool (Q)
  2. Click on the inside of the Layer Boundary to activate the layer for alignment
  3. In the Tool Options, click on the “Align to center of target” and “Align to middle of target” icons.

Next, increase the Layer Boundary, so our effects are not limited to the smaller boundary.

Layer > Layer to Image Size

Step 3: Add a Color Gradient To Your Text

add gradient to the text

Confining a Gradient edit to just the letters requires selecting them first. Selecting is easy with the power of GIMP. Right-click on the text layer and choose “Alpha to Selection.”

Let’s add this gradient to a new layer so we can work non-destructively. Name the new layer Gradient 1 and set the “Fill with” to Transparency.

Grab your Gradient tool (B) and in the Gradient panel, select FB to BG (RGB). Set your foreground color swatch to #d3902a and #94510a for the Background color.

Start your gradient just above the letter “O” and drag down. Adjust the line to increase or decrease the amount of color transition based on your creative vision. Hit Enter or Return to apply the gradient and deselect (Shift + Ctrl or Command + A).

Step 4: Create a Gradient Stroke Around the Text

add a stroke to the text

Although we have a tool in GIMP to create strokes, it doesn’t give you the option to fill with a gradient color.

So, we’ll follow some of the same steps previously to make this custom stroke.

Step 5: Create a Drop Shadow

create a drop shadow

Let’s style our design by adding some depth with a Drop-Shadow. First, click on your Gradient 1 layer, duplicate it, and rename it; Drop Shadow. Also, move this layer below the Stroke layer.

Filters > Light and Shadows > Drop Shadow

Adjust the settings to your liking. Here are my settings…

Step 6: Create a Glossy Reflection

create a reflection on the text

So far, we have the appearance of glossy text due to the original gradient. However, let’s step it up a notch with a reflection!

Grab your Gradient 1 layer again and make a selection with Alpha to Channel. Create a new layer named Reflection. Set the Foreground + Background colors as follows: black & white. Then, fill in the color by going to; Edit > Fill with BG color and deselect.

The next step is cutting out a shape for the Reflection. With the Ellipse Select tool (E), draw out an oval shape. The shape should go beyond the length of the text and cut the letters roughly in half.

part two of the reflection

Now, invert the selection and hit your Delete or Backspace key.

The key to a realistic reflection is in the use of a Layer Mask. Add a Layer Mask (in white), grab your Gradient tool (G), and in its panel, choose FG to BG (RGB).

Start the gradient just above the letter “O” as before. You now have a cool looking reflection! Wouldn’t you agree?

Note: if you find the Reflection a little too intense lower the Opacity of the layer.

Step 7: Create a Lens Flare

add a lens flare

Let’s round out our text effect design with a Lens Flare. Create a new layer called Lens Flare and filled with Black (set “Fill with” to Foreground – if black is still selected for that swatch).

At this point, you can’t see anything! No worries. Let’s temporarily drop the Opacity to 50. Then…

Filters > Light and Shadow > Lens Flare

Adjust the position of the flare by altering the X and Y positions. Click on the lock icon (to the right) to unlock the sliders. Here are my settings…

Action Is Power

Now it’s your turn to complete this design, 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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