GIMP Tutorial: Nostalgic Text Effect

Play Video

Watch and learn how to add an image to your text, in GIMP, via the video above.



Feeling nostalgic? Awesome, because you’re going to love today’s nostalgic GIMP tutorial text effect design.

So, what exactly will you learn with this project? A lot! Here are just a few of the things we’ll cover.

  1. How to rotate text
  2. How to add a stroke around your text
  3. How to create multiple drop shadows + control the size of each
  4. How to add textures and style with blending modes
  5. And much more!

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

As with all of my text effect design projects, I’m using the following canvas settings: 1920 x 1080 @ 300 ppi.

For the canvas color, I’m using an old-school, retro brown. The hexadecimal for the color is #afa58f.

To use the same color, click on your foreground color swatch and type that info next to the HTML notation (without the pound sign).

create a new document for your design

Pro Tip:

Make sure the resolution is set to 300 ppi. The reason why is GIMP, unlike Photoshop, is 100% raster-based software.

The text, in GIMP, will have sharper details at a higher resolution.

Even if I’m working on a document or project that will be mostly for online use, I will still use a resolution of 300.

And then, when I’m ready to post it online, I will resize the canvas to a resolution of 72 ppi.

Step 2: Add Your Text, Align + Rotate

create some text

The critical element for this text design is, well, text! Grab your text tool from the toolbar or press the letter “T.” For this design, let’s type out the word Nostalgic.

The font type I’m using is called Thirsty Script Extrabold. The font size is 250, and the text color is white. Now that you have your text written out let’s align and rotate.

GIMP has an alignment tool that makes it quick and easy to align. Either locate it on the toolbar or press “Q.”

Before you can align your text layer via the tool options, you need to first activate the layer. It’s not enough to have the layer selected. With your Align tool selected, click on the inside of the layer boundary that should be aligned.

Once you click inside, you’ll notice a light-colored square in each corner (of the boundary). That’s your visual cue that the layer has been activated for alignment.

Next, navigate to the tool options and set “Relative to” with “First item.” Then, locate and click the two icons labeled with…

The final step is to rotate your text with the Rotate tool (Shift + R). I’ve set mine at an angle of -7.

Now that your text is rotated, I’d recommend increasing the size of the Layer Boundary. Otherwise, the drop shadows you’ll add in an upcoming step will be confined to the boundary. And the final result will be unpleasant.

Layer > Layer to Image Size

Step 3: Create a Stroke Around Your Text

add a stroke to the text

Let’s style our text by adding a stroke. Although GIMP has a built-in tool for adding a stroke, I prefer a different method. The reason why is, the stroke tends to be crisper via the following method…

The first thing we have to do is make a selection of our text. Right-click on the text layer and choose “Alpha to Selection.” This auto selects each individual letter!

Next, let’s increase the selection’s size by going to Select > Grow and setting it to 3px. The selection is now large!

We now need to create a new layer. Click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel, name it Stroke, Fill with Transparency, and click OK.

For the color of the stroke, I’m going to choose a light beige color with #e9deb0. With the Bucket Fill tool, I will click on the inside of the selection (any letter will do) to fill it in with the color.

You can now deselect the layer with Shift + Ctrl or Command + A.

If needed, move your Stroke layer below your text layer.

Step 4: Create Several Drop Shadows

add your drop shadows

This text effect requires several long shadows and the first thing you have to do is create a Layer Group. Double click on the group layer to rename it Original. Then, place your text layer and stroke layer inside of it.

To work non-destructively, we need to duplicate this grouped layer. That way, if we are unhappy with the results, we can come back to a specific point (with the Original layers) vs. starting over from scratch.

Go ahead and duplicate the grouped layer and rename it “Nostalgic.” Now, take the Original grouped layer and hide it by clicking on the eye icon to the layer’s left. Then, right-click on the duplicate group layer and select “Merge Layer Group.”

Let’s duplicate this layer again and rename it Drop Shadow 1. You can now add your first drop shadow…

Filters > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow

Click on the color box to change the color to #9d4626. Then adjust the Blur radius to zero, Opacity to 2.0, and set the Grow radius to 15. For the position of the drop shadow, I changed the X + Y positions to 2.821.

Before adding the other shadows duplicate Shadow 1, name it Shadow 2, and place the layer below “1.” For the other Long Shadows, I used the following tool…

Filters > Light and Shadow > Long Shadow

For the Length, I set it to 49.4 and used the following color #d07e0e.

Additional shadows can be created by duplicating the Shadow 2 layer (rename it to “3, 4, etc.”) and repeating the steps to add a Long Shadow. Here are the settings I chose for the remainder of shadows…

Step 5: Style Your Design With a Retro Texture

add a retro texture

To finish up our retro text effect design, let’s add a texture. Here is the texture file I’m using. Once downloaded, locate the file on your computer and drag/drop into the GIMP interface.

After releasing your mouse button, the file will be added as a new layer. Grab the layer and move it all the way to the top. Next, change the Blending Mode to “Screen.”

The last thing you may want to do is adjust the Opacity, so it’s not as intense. For my design, I set it to 20. One last thing…

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 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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