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Create Flying American Flag with GIMP

Updated on February 28, 2016

American Flag

American flag - example
American flag - example

With GIMP open, create a new project with the settings of 1280 by 800. Size is strictly preferencial. So, you may choose a different size if you wish. This is just my preference. For this tutorial, you'll be needing GIMP's G'MIC plugin. If you don't already have it, you can download it here.

Create a new layer. Grab the Rectangle Select Tool and make a rectangle selection like so:

First rectangle selection
First rectangle selection

The most important thing to remember here is, make it small enough to fit 13 of these selections top to bottom. Now, select the Bucket Fill Tool and fill it with the HTML hex color b52c49. And now comes the quick and easy part.

Duplicate that layer and color it white. Duplicate the next one and use the hex color you used the first time. Continue duplicating and filling with opposite colors until you have 13.

13 layers created
13 layers created

Now, first, turn visibility off for the Background layer. This will make the next series of steps easier, trust me! Re-select the last layer, grab the Move Tool and move that layer down. Once you have all them separated, zoom in about 300% and carefully move each one into its place - one below the next.

Zoomed 300%
Zoomed 300%

Now, merge all layers down until you get to the Background layer.

All layers merged
All layers merged

So, now we have the strips. Now, let's create the stars. To do this, I created another project with a Width of 1380 and a Height of 800. We need exactly 50 stars. So, my way of "get-in it done" was, I created a square selection of about 100 by 100 in dimension. I selected the Paintbrush Tool and, using the brush 2.Star, painted a white star in the center of the selection.

Star selection
Star selection

Then, I duplicated that layer 9 times and moved each one next to the other until I ended up with a complete row of 10.

Complete row of stars
Complete row of stars

After that, I merged all layers down. Then, what I did is, I moved one of the duplicated layers down, but I offset it so the first star aligns with the second star in the row from the top one (since most flag's stars are offset). And I repeated this for every other layer so that I ended up with something like this:

All columns created
All columns created

I merged all these layers down to the Background layer. After that, I created another layer and called it Base, picked up the Rectangle Select Tool and made a selection over the rows of stars. I created this rectangular selection to be larger than the rows of stars, but not quite the size of the canvas.

Then I painted it using the same color of blue - b52c49. I saved the layer Base as well as the rows of stars, each, separately. Then, I opened each one and pasted the rows of stars onto the layer Base.

Stars created
Stars created

After that, I re-sized it to 555px by 321px and pasted it onto the strips. It should fit nicely.

Stars and strips
Stars and strips

Now, we right click that layer and select Alpha to selection. Click Select > Shrink and shrink it by 1. Go back to select > Invert. After you have inverted it, add a Gaussian Blur of 5px for both a Horizontal and vertical Blur Radius.

This is just to be sure our edges come out smooth. At this point, we're going to need to save our work. Re-open afterwards. Now, comes the transformation. Let's go to Filters > G'MIC. In the G'MIC dialogue, select Deformations > Cartesian Transform.

In the Cartesian transform dialogue, under X-warping and Y-warping, change (w+h)/20* to (w+h)/100* and then click Update for each one.

Cartesian transform dialogue
Cartesian transform dialogue

After this, select Apply and OK. Create a new layer and name it Wave effect. Additionally, under Layer fill type, you'll want to select White. Go to the Foreground and background colors box and be sure that you have black selected as the color.

This will help to give it the shadowy appearance needed for the "wave effect". On this newly created layer, draw 3 wavy lines from top to bottom using GIMP's Paintbrush Tool. I used the brush Hardness 100 with a brush size of 100.

Wavy lines added
Wavy lines added

Apply a Gaussian Blur. I used a Blur Radius of 150 since my image has the dimensions of 1280px by 800px. And the last thing we do is, in the Layers, Channels, Paths, Undo dialogue, select Grain extract under Mode. You may want to turn off visibility for the Background layer if you want transparency in your final image.

Final image
Final image

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