GIMP Tutorial: Shattered Glass Text Effect

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Arranging shattered glass into words can be hazardous in the real-world. Not so much in our digital world. In today’s GIMP text effect tutorial, I’ll show you how to position broken glass into a word!

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to use the Path tool to cut your glass, how to use the Rotate tool, how to add a drop shadow, and more.

Are you ready to arrange glass into text? Awesome, let’s do it…

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

create a new canvas

The key to all design projects is creating a new document! I know, not very groundbreaking. For this design, I’m setting the canvas width to 1920 and the height to 1080.

Also, for the resolution, let’s set it to 300ppi. Oh, and we can’t forget about the background color; #d2cdc2.

No, this project is not intended for print, which requires 300ppi.

So, why the high resolution? Well, check out the pro tip…

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 Text + Align

add some text

What I recommend for this design project is a large, bold font. I’m going to be using a font called Montserrat Heavy. For the font size, let’s use 300.

The color is essential for the next step. So, set it to pure white; #ffffff. Type out, in all caps, “BREAK.”

I’m finding the spacing between the letters to be too tight. We can fix that by adjusting the Kerning (i.e., spacing). Double click on your word to select all the letters. In the text toolbox, adjust the box (to the left of the color box) to 35.

Let’s also align the text to the center of the canvas. But first, we need to change the size of the layer boundary.

At this time, the text itself is not perfectly aligned within it. You can see there’s more space on the left vs. the right. This means your text will not be perfectly aligned after using the alignment tool. To fix it…

Layer > Crop to Content.

Grab your Align tool and click on the “layer boundary” of the text layer (on the canvas). This is required to activate the layer for alignment. It’s not enough just to have the layer selected.

Then, go to the tool options and set the “Relative to” option to “First item.” Find the two icons with the following labels to make the adjustment…

The last step is increasing the layer boundary of your layer. Otherwise, the text effect will be confined within it.

Layer > Layer to Image Size

Step 3: Add Image + Style

add the included image

Here’s the same image I’m going to use for this text effect design. Once downloaded, locate the file in your system folder and drag the file over the GIMP interface.

After releasing your mouse button, the image file will be added as a new layer.

Let’s duplicate the image layer and rename it to Glass. Move the Glass layer to the bottom and make sure the other image layer is at the top.

The trick to clipping the (top) image layer to your text is changing the Blend Mode to “Darken only.” Next, right-click on the top layer and select “Merge Down.”

Before moving on, grab your Background layer and change the Opacity to 60%. Oh, and it’s going to be helpful to turn off both the Background layer and the Glass layer for the next few steps.

Step 4: Cut Letters Into Pieces of Glass

use the path tool to cut the letters

Zoom into the first letter, and you’ll notice cracks in the glass. You’ll use these as your guide for cutting the letters into pieces. The tool for this job is the Path tool. If you’ve never used it, no worries. Here’s how to use it…

  1. Grab the Path tool from your toolbar or with “B.”
  2. Click once outside of a letter, near a crack, to create the starting point (anchor) of your path
  3. Click on the opposite side of the crack (outside of the letter) and drag to create a curved path
  4. Click around the letter a few times until you get back to the starting point.
  5. Hold down your Ctrl key and click on the first anchor point to close the path
  6. Navigate to the tool options and hit the “Selection from Path” button
  7. Next, cut the selection with Ctrl or Command + X and paste with Ctrl or Command + V
  8. Create a new layer named Cut 1 (followed by cut 2, cut 3, etc.)
    Repeat cutting out your letters 2-5 times per letter

Step 5: Rotate Layers + Re-Arrange

rotate and rearrange the letters

Our next steps involve rotating and moving the cuts of each letter/layer. With your Move tool (M), re-arrange each cut to make it look random.

With your Rotate tool (Shift + R), rotate each layer to increase the randomness.

Step 6: Group Layers + Add a Drop Shadow

add depth with a drop shadow

Before adding a drop shadow, you’ll need to group all the cut layers. Add a new group layer and place each layer inside of it.

To work non-destructively, duplicate the group layer, rename it original, and hide. For the other grouped layer, right-click on it and select “Merge Layer Group.”

To add a Drop Shadow…

Filters > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow

Adjust the drop shadow settings based on your creative vision for this GIMP text effect design. The last thing I’d like to do is change the Blend Mode of this layer to “Hard Light” to add a little bit of contrast.

Now, you can turn on the Background and Glass layers!

One last thing to do and that is…

Action Is Power

…it’s now 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 shattered text effects project. It’s also a great place to learn more about GIMP, ask questions, and more.

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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Hello! My name is Chris Parker and I run this place. But, more importantly, what’s in it for you? Well, my passion is to help you achieve your creative vision.

With 30 years experience I believe I can help you do just that. So, if you’re ready… let’s do it!

 

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