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Create an abstract background in GIMP tutorial

Updated on August 17, 2012
Abstract background created with GIMP
Abstract background created with GIMP

It’s a simple tutorial to show you how you can create a nice abstract background in GIMP from scratch. Also I will show you how to create a ready to use brush in a few steps.

If you don't have GIMP yet, download it from here, it's official GIMP page.

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Open GIMP and make a new Image going to File / New. Make it 2600 x 1900 px. This image you just created should be white.

Next go to Filters / Render / Clouds / Difference Clouds. Move “X size” slider to the end on the left and “Y size” slider to the end on the right. Enter for Detail - 15. You can click “New seed” if you don’t like the pattern of the lines, click it as many times as you wish to find pattern to your taste, then click OK see Fig 1.

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

Go to Colors / Levels and move arrows of the highlights and shadow closer to the middle so that they are parallel to the line as shown in Fig 2.

Go to Colors / Color Balance.

With Midtones chosen move first slider towards Cyan so the number is -100. Then move bottom slider towards Blue so the number is 100.

Choose Shadows and repeat the movement of the sliders. Do the same for Highlights see Fig 3.

Make a New Transparent layer by clicking on the first icon on the left at the bottom of layers dock, or go to Layer / New Layer. Choose Transparency.

Go to Tools / GEGL Operation. Choose Vignette from the list of operations and apply setting as shown in Fig 4. Set this layer to Overly.

Fig. 3 and Fig.4
Fig. 3 and Fig.4

Next duplicate layer with Vignette and then merge all the layers going to Image / Merge Visible Layers. Your image should look like in Fig 5.

Now we need to make a new brush. Don’t get scared, it won’t take long.

Make a New Transparent layer (you already know how). Pick Paths Tool and set two points to create a straight line like shown in Fig 6.

Fig. 5
Fig. 5

Make sure White is set as your Foreground colour. Go to Paths dialogue and click Paint along the path icon (second on the right at the bottom). Select Stroke Line / Solid color. Line width 4 px, next click Stroke.

A thin white line will appear on the transparent layer. Take Select by Color Tool and click directly on the line, now the whole white line should be selected.

Go to Edit / Copy. Then Edit / Past as / New Brush.

Fig. 6
Fig. 6

Give your brush a name this way it will be easier to find it among other brushes. I’m avoiding giving two word names to my brushes as sometimes they don’t work because of this.

Select / None.

Take Paintbrush Tool and go to Brushes and click Refresh.

Fig. 7 and Fig. 8
Fig. 7 and Fig. 8

Find your new brush going to Tool Options dock, then click on the brush window and choose View as List. Click on the brush, set Size at 3000. For Dynamics choose Dynamics off. Go to Brushes Tab and set Spacing to 200.

You can delete the transparent layer with the thin line, just right click on the layer and choose Delete Layer.

Create a New Transparent Layer, make sure White is set as your Foreground colour and pull from the top of the image to the very bottom. You should get layer with thin lines like in Fig 7.

Set this layer to Overlay, next duplicate this layer see what it should look like now in Fig 8.

Go to Image / Merge visible Layers.

Fig. 9
Fig. 9

Make a New Transparent Layer. Set White as you Foreground colour and Black as Background colour.

Take Blend Tool and in Tool Options choose FG to BG (RGB), Shape - Linear.

Pull this gradient across the image from top right corner to the bottom left corner. Set this layer to Overly. Next duplicate this layer twice see Fig 9.

Go to Image / Merge visible Layers.

You can sharpen your image if you like going to Filter / Enhance / Unsharp Mask. Choose: Radius – 1.3, Amount – 0.50, Thrershold – 0.

Now you can flatten your image go to Image / Flatten Image. You are done.

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    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
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      Dina Blaszczak 4 years ago from Poland

      @ meh I'm glad you came back to read my reply ;) I will write more tutorials for GIMP so please look in again :)

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      meh 4 years ago

      Wow, thank-you for the reply. I didn't realize I was using 2.6 an obsolete version.

      I love this abstract digital art. I wish there were more tutorials like it.

      Thanks for making the tutorial and your help with troubleshooting it! :D

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
      Author

      Dina Blaszczak 4 years ago from Poland

      @ meh Then I would suggest you to go to www.Gimp.org and download the latest version of GIMP (2.8) , because it's really worth it :)

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      meh 4 years ago

      My version of GIMP doesn't have this part --- Go to Tools / GEGL Operation. Choose Vignette

      or this ---- Paths dialogue and click Paint along the path icon (second on the right at the bottom). Select Stroke Line / Solid color. Line width 4 px, next click Stroke.

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
      Author

      Dina Blaszczak 4 years ago from Poland

      @ mydigital-mind Thanks for reading and commenting :)

    • mydigital-mind profile image

      stephanie 4 years ago from phoenix arizona

      oh! nice I love tutorials, Great job

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
      Author

      Dina Blaszczak 4 years ago from Poland

      @ internpete Thanks a lot for voting up and sharing my hug, it's much appreciated! I'm glad you found what you were looking for in my tutorial ;)

      @ mary615 Thanks for pointing out that I should include link to GIMP, I have done it now, it's at the beginning of the tutorial. It's GIMP.org.

      Tutorial might look complicated at the beginning, especially for users who only start to use GIMP, but I hope I managed to explain it well. Thank you for reading.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      This looks really complicated to me. If you included a link for Gimp, I didn't see it. Is it just Gimp.com?

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 4 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      This is great because I was just looking into different options for a background on my hubpages profile. Maybe even mention that in the title? I think a lot of hubbers might be trying something along these lines, and this was very useful. Voted up and shared.

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