GIMP Tutorial: Stitched Text Effect

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This GIMP text effect tutorial seems to be a favorite among our subscribers over at my Youtube channel. In this tutorial, the effect you’ll learn about is stitching your artwork.

This includes stitching letters and shapes. As for the shape, you may or may not know that GIMP doesn’t have built-in shape tools. Fear not! I’ll show you how to create a custom shape with the Paths tool.

Plus, you’ll learn how to work with Blending Modes, how to create custom brushes, set brush dynamics, and more.

Are you 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: Make a New Document

make your new canvas

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

For this project, let’s set the following dimensions for our canvas; 1920 for the width and 1080 for the height. For GIMP design projects, I prefer to use a resolution of 300ppi.

Why? Found out in the pro tip…

Pro Tip:

A resolution of 300 ppi? Yep, and here’s why… GIMP, unlike Photoshop, is 100% raster-based software (i.e., pixel-based). The text, in GIMP, will have sharper details at a higher resolution.

Even for design projects that are mostly for online use, I will still use a resolution of 300ppi. When the project is complete, I’ll export a file at 72ppi for posting online.

Step 2: Add Image + Style

create a textured background

Our design will include a background texture to enhance the overall design. Download this free image to use with your project.

After you download the file, locate it on your operating system and drag/drop onto your GIMP interface. Once you release your mouse button, the image will open in your document as a new layer. Double click on the layer name to rename it; “Texture.” Or anything you’d like.

Let’s change our Background layer color to the following hexadecimal; #2e5e7a. Also, make sure this layer is above your Texture layer. Now that the texture is hidden, you can reveal it by blending with the Background layer.

To do this, change the Blending Mode to; “Multiply.” Now that the texture is showing through, you may notice that the color has changed significantly. Instead of the blue, it’s now a teal color.

To fix this, let’s change the Texture layer from color to b&w. But first, duplicate the Texture layer so you can work non-destructively. That way, if you change your mind, you’ll have easy access to the original.

Colors > Desaturate > Desaturate

Step 3: Create Your Text + Align

create some text

For your text, I’m using a free Google font called Oswald Bold, the size will be 400, and the font color is; #5b1f09. In all caps, type out STITCH. With your Move Tool (M), place the text layer near the top.

I also want to align the content in the horizontal center of the canvas. To do this, grab your Alignment tool (Q) and click on the inside of the layer boundary to activate it for alignment. Now, in the tool options, click on the icon labeled “Align center of target.”

Step 4: Create a Shape With the Path Tool

create a path for your stitiching

This step involves creating a custom shape with the Path tool. No worries, it’s easy to do. Locate your Path tool (B) and start your shape by clicking on your canvas’s left side (outside).

This creates your first anchor point. Next, click on the inside of your canvas and hold your mouse button. Then, drag your mouse to bend the path.

Continue creating new anchors/paths that cover the width of your canvas. Then, to close the path, you’ll make additional points outside the canvas until you get back to the first. To complete the path, hold down your Ctrl key as you click on the first anchor.

To complete your shape, you need to fill it in with a color. But first, let’s create a new layer for that shape. Click on the new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and name it Custom Shape.

Select your color of choice (#3896cb), and in the Tool Options, click on Fill Path > Fill, to fill it in. For the Blending Mode, I’m going to choose “Screen.”

Step 5: Convert Your Text To a Path

create a path for your text

Before adding our stitching, we need to convert our text layer into a Path. Right-click on the text layer and select “Alpha to selection.” This will select each individual letter.

Now, you can convert that selection into a Path with…

Select > To Path

Don’t forget to deselect… Shift + Ctrl or Command + A.

Step 6: Create a Custom Stitch Brush

create a custom stitching brush

The secret for this text effect is creating a custom brush that looks like a stitch! So, how do you create one? Easy! Here’s how…

First, create a new document with the following dimensions; 100×100 @ 300ppi. And set the Foreground color to Black.

Next, create a new layer named Stitch and grab your Paint Brush tool (P). In your Brushes panel, select the brush labeled; “2. Hardness 050.” Then, draw out a “V” shape on your canvas. For reference, I sized my brush to 22.

Note: the shape doesn’t have to be perfect since stitches are not. It will add a bit of realism if it isn’t perfect.

To convert it to a brush, select the contents of the layer with; Select > All. Then, copy it with; Edit > Copy.

Once copied, your shape automatically was converted to a brush. Check out your Brushes panel, and you’ll see your shape listed as the first brush. How cool is that? I love it!

Step 7: Apply Your Stitch Brush

Stitch the path with your brush

The key to applying a realistic stitch is setting up the dynamics of the brush. In other words, how the brush is applied.

In the Tool Options, set up the following; Brush Size = 22, Angle = -5, and Spacing = 65. Then, under “Dynamics,” select “Track Direction.” To find it, click on the icon next to the word dynamics.

Previously, you created two paths — one for the shape and the other for the text. You’ll need to select a path before you can add the stitching. Navigate to the Paths panel (Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Paths), and you’ll see two items that look like layers.

Click on the path or layer that looks like your custom shape to select it for stitching. Also, click to the left of the layer to turn on the visibility. This path now looks like a red outline on your canvas.

Grab your Paths tool (B), click on the red outline, and navigate to the Tool Options to select “Stroke Path.” In the Stroke Path window, make sure to set the “Stroke with a paint tool” to Paintbrush and set “Emulate brush dynamics.”

The last step, before you apply the stitching, is creating a new layer. Let’s name it Shape Stitch and fill it with Transparency. Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for! Click that “Stroke” button!

Boom! You now have the stitching along with your shape. Repeat the steps for the text path… make sure to select the path in the Paths panel!

Wait! One more thing left to do, and that is…

Action Is Power

…now it’s your turn to complete this project, and I want to see your final design too…

Head on over to our community and post your “stitching project.” It’s a great community for asking questions and sharing your work… plus much more.

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

Looking for more free tutorials on GIMP?

Would you like to see how to process this design in Photoshop? If so, check out the Photoshop tutorial and article.

Like this article? If so, please share!

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