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How to Make Inset Style Text In Gimp: Produce Recessed Characters With the Free Image Editor

Inset or recessed style text is an effective and subtle way of adding a little interest to text elements and it is very easy to achieve using Adobe Photoshop and layer styles. For Gimp users, however, it is not so straight forward as the fee image editor does not have layer styles included in the out of the box installation.

There are two ways that a Graphic Designer can get around this issue when producing inset text. The first is to download and install a layer styles plug in. The second is to use a simple technique to replicate the end result and that is what this article will cover.

Open a New Document

The first step is to open a new document in Gimp. This can be any size and will depend on the end usage of the graphic, but the accompanying image shows a document 1024px wide.

A solid color or a blended gradient should be applied to the background layer and then the text tool can be used to write some text on a new layer, with the color of the text being set to white. At this stage, Adobe Photoshop users would select Bevel and Emboss from layer styles and that would give them the desired effect, but Gimp users need to take a few more steps.

Duplicate Text Layer

The text layer should now be duplicated using the duplicate layer button at the bottom of the layers palette. It is the fourth from the left. The color of this text layer should be set to a light to mid shade of gray, depending on the required darkness of the inner shadow in the final graphic. If necessary, this layer can be made to appear lighter later by changing the layer opacity.

Offset the Text

The next step is to change to the move tool in the tools palette, click on the gray text and then use the arrow keys to nudge the layer to the left and upwards. In the example image, the gray text was nudged three key presses left and three up. The number of key presses will vary depending on the size of the graphic that is being worked on, but it is important to remember how many key presses were used.

Now the Designer should right click on the gray text layer and click Discard Text Information to rasterize the layer. This is followed by right clicking the original white text layer and selecting Alpha to Selection. The Designer now clicks on the grey text layer again to ensure it is selected and goes to the Edit menu and selects Clear.

Position the Shadows

The gray text has now been changed to the shadow areas and this needs to be repositioned over the white text. This is done by selecting the move tool and using the arrow keys to nudge the layer back the same number of key presses that were used to move the layer before, though obviously moving the layer to the right and down.

Some Graphic Designers may be happy with the result at this stage, but the effect can be softened by selecting the shadow layer and going to the Filters menu, and selecting Gaussian Blur from the Blur options. Depending on the size of the graphic, the gaussian blur settings may need some adjusting, but it’s easy to experiment by using Edit > Undo and applying different blur settings.

When the blur looks correct, the Designer should right click on the original text layer and select Alpha to Selection, then click the shadow layer and right click, selecting Add Layer Mask. This opens a pop up menu and the Selection radio option should be selected before clicking Add. This step ensures that the blurred shadows don’t overlay outside of the white text.

While this isn’t as straightforward as using layer styles in Adobe Photoshop, the end results appear very similar and once the technique is learned it can be applied very quickly.

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