Gimp is a free image editor released under the open source GNU GPL license, meaning that anyone can download and use the application for free.
While it doesn’t claim to be a rival to the industry standard image editor that is Adobe Photoshop, Gimp does have many powerful features that mean it can be effectively used as a front line Graphic Design tool for Designers operating on a budget.
Graphic Designers generally use Gimp for two main purposes; editing photos and producing graphic elements for use in projects that maybe completed in other applications, such as Inkscape or Scribus.
This tutorial focuses on producing a logo for a hypothetical business called Newbys, using the Gradient tool to produce the effect of a reflection.
Starting the Logo
The first job is to open a blank document to work in. The size and resolution of this document will depend on how the final graphic is to be used.
If intended for professional print, then the resolution should be set to 300ppi and the document should be at least as large as the size that the graphic will be used, though if possible ideally it should be larger. This is because Gimp produces raster images and while it easy to make these smaller, they do not lend themselves to being increased in size.
Then the text ‘Newbys’ should be typed into the document using the Text Tool. In Gimp, as with early versions of Adobe Photoshop, text isn’t applied directly to the canvas, but is edited via a pop-up box. Fortunately the Text panel that appears below the Toolbox offers greater editing power than early versions of Photoshop.
The text is contained within a text-box and if some of the text disappears, the text-box can be resized by dragging one the handles that appear around the text-box.
Selecting the Font
In this example, a bold sans-serif font has been selected. A Designer may choose any font, but consideration should be given to the fact that the drop shadow will be relatively pale and so finer fonts may lead to the reflection disappearing.
Another point to consider is the shape that the letters form. In lowercase, ‘Newbys’ contains a descender in the letter ‘y’. Text with descenders can make reflections appear unbalanced and cause confusion for a Graphic Designer as to where the reflection should start. To avoid this potential problem, the text has been changed to upper-case.
Another option to avoid this problem would be to reverse the text out of a box of solid color or another shape with a flat base.
Making the Reflection
The next step is to duplicate the text layer by ensuring the layer is selected and clicking the Create Duplicate Layer in the bottom bar of the layers palette. The Designer now selects the Flip Tool from the tool-box and click on the Vertical radio button that appear in the panel that appears below. Clicking on the canvas, with the duplicated text layer selected, and dragging the mouse down flips the layer.
This layer can now be dragged into the correct position below the original text layer. There should a narrow space between the 2 layers to better match the reflection of an object placed on a glass surface.
The Designer now needs to ensure the duplicated layer is selected and click the Lock checkbox in the Layers palette. Now gradient effects can be applied to the reflected text without affecting the surrounding transparent pixels.
Before applying a gradient, a new foreground color is selected by clicking on the Foreground Color box in the toolbox and selecting a lighter version of the text color from the color picker. The background color should be the same as the background, in this case white.
Now the Gradient tool is selected and a gradient is painted onto the reflected text. The default settings in the Blend panel should be fine, but do ensure that Mode is set to Normal and the Gradient type is ‘Foreground to Background (RGB)’.
Now by clicking and dragging down on the duplicated layer, a gradient is applied to give the sensation of a drop reflection. If the first attempt isn’t as desired, the effect can be removed by clicking on the Edit menu and selecting Undo Blend. The final step is to move the reflection layer in the Layers palette so that it is below the text layer – this ensures that the reflection of the ‘S’ is underneath the text.
This is a very quick and easy technique that can be used in many different ways by changing the gradient effects and the colors of both the text and the background.