GIMP Tutorial {How To Slice Your Text}

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Cutting your text in half is easy once you know the steps. In today’s GIMP tutorial, I’ll provide step-by-step instructions to do just that.

You’ll learn how to cut text with the Paths tool, how to create realistic, curved drop-shadows, how to create a radial gradient, and more.

Ready to master this text 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

Here are the dimensions I’m using for this design project; 1920 x 1080 @ 300 ppi.

The first thing you have to do, of course, is to create a new document. For all my design projects, in GIMP, I set the resolution to 300ppi. Let’s also set the width to 1920 and the height to 1080.

As for the color, it doesn’t matter since we’re going to create a radial background in the next step. But first, you may want to check out the following pro tip…

make a new document

Pro Tip:

Why a resolution of 300 ppi and not 72ppi?

The reason is GIMP 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 300pp. Then, when I’m ready to post online, I will resize the canvas to a resolution of 72 ppi.

Step 2: Create a Radial Gradient

make a gradient

Here are the colors I’m using for my radial gradient;

For this design, I’d like to start the gradient directly in the center of the canvas. You could try to eyeball it and may get it close.

However, what if you need it precisely in the center? Well, you could use GIMP to show you where it is. Here’s how…

Where the two guides intersect is the dead center! Grab your Gradient tool (G), in the Tool Options, set the Shape to Radial, and for the type of gradient, select FG to BG (RGB).

Click where the guides intersect and draw out your gradient. The longer the line, the more of the foreground color will be visible.

Once you’re happy with the length, hit Enter or Return.

Step 3: Text + Align

add some text

Let’s grab our Text tool (T) to add our text. For the font, I’m a free one from Google called Fugaz One. For the font size, let’s go with 400 and white for the color.

In all caps, type out the word SLICED. Now, hit your escape key to de-activate the Text tool. Then, crop the Layer Boundary to the text by going to; Layer > Crop to Content. This will allow us to precisely align the text.

Grab your Align tool (Q) and click on the text. This is required to activate the layer for alignment. Selecting the text layer itself isn’t enough for GIMP!

Your visual cue that the layer is activated for alignment is 4 light-colored squares in each corner of the Layer Boundary. Navigate to your Tool Options and click on the following two icons labeled;

Once aligned, increase the Layer Boundary to the size of the canvas. This way, our effects are not confined to a small boundary.

Layer > Layer to Image Size

Step 4: Slice Text With the Path Tool

cut the text

Now the fun begins! It’s time to slice our text with the Path tool (B). Start by clicking in your text’s top left (outside of it and not on it). This creates the first anchor point for your path.

Create your next point of the path in the bottom right of the text. Once created, a line between the two points is added. This is your path.

If you would like to change the position or the angle of the path, click on an anchor point and move it accordingly.

Next, you’ll need to close out the path. This is done by creating additional anchor points until you get back to the original. Let’s click around the text (bottom) several times until you get back to the first point.

To close the path, first, hold down your Ctrl key and then click on the point. Now that the path is closed, we need to convert it to a selection with your Enter or Return key.

Cut the Text

Next, cut out the content with Command or Ctrl + C. Paste back with Command or Ctrl + V. This creates a Floating Selection (see your layers panel). 

To add it to its own layer, click on the New Layer icon (bottom of layer panel). At this time, it would be a good idea to increase the Layer Boundary;

Layer > Layer to Image Size

Let’s organize our layers by renaming them accordingly; Slice Bottom + Slice Top. Then, place the Slice Top layer above the other.

Make sure your Slice Bottom layer is selected, then with your Move tool (M), reposition the layer to the right and down. Zoom into the text to ensure the two layers do not have a gap between them.

Step 5: Create a Curved Drop Shadow

create a drop shadow

To create our drop-shadow, we’re going to use the Path tool again. Add your first two anchor points in the same location as before. This way, the angle lines up with where you cut your text.

To make this easier, reveal your original path via its panel (Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Paths). Turn on the visibility of the path, and you’ll see a red outline. Place your anchors accordingly.

To create the curve, add a third anchor point back near the original point. Also, do not click and release your mouse button. Instead, click and drag your mouse to bend the path.

If you’d like to alter or edit the path, grab one of the two handles (from the point) and drag it out to bend the curve more or less. Unlike the previous path, this one doesn’t need to be closed.

Convert the path to a selection with Enter or Return and create a new layer named Drop Shadow (filled with Transparency). Make sure this layer is in-between the two text layers.

Set your foreground color to black to be used as the fill color. To fill it in, go to the Tool Options, hit the “Fill Path” button, and click “Fill.” Don’t forget to deselect with Shift + Ctrl or Command + A.

Tweak the Shadow

So far, the shadow isn’t too realistic. Let’s fix that by blurring the edges and making a couple of other adjustments.

Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur @ 5 for the size

This will cause the shadow to appear as though it moved lower. With your Move Tool (M) selected, use your up arrow keys to move it into position.

Where the text has been cut, you’ll need to make that part of the shadow have a hard edge. Go to your Paths panel and turn on the visibility of the second path you created. Then follow these steps…

cut the shadow
  1. With your Paths tool (B), click on the red outline to activate the path
  2. Click Enter or Return to convert to a selection
  3. Invert the selection; Select > Invert
  4. Hit your Delete or Backspace key
  5. Deselect & turn off the visibility of the path
The last thing I’d like to do is to lower the Opacity. Adjust to your creative vision!

Action Is Power

Knowledge is not power. Action is! That means it’s time to take your new knowledge and complete this sliced text effect design. Oh, and I’d like to see your design too. Here’s how…

Head on over to our community and post your “sliced text effect.” It’s a great place to ask questions, get feedback on your designs, and more.

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