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Creating Metallic Color Images: A GIMP Tutorial

Updated on March 23, 2011
Create gold-tone images with GIMP
Create gold-tone images with GIMP

This Picture is Pure Gold

Creating a photograph with a metallic tone gives a very nice mood to the image. By choosing various background templates, photos can be tinged with gold, bronze, or any other metallic color. Using a silver-tone metal will give a very sharp and unique black-and-white image.

Before beginning this tutorial, find a metallic background image. This can be found by searching Google images for metallic wallpaper, metallic background, etc. Save the image file for future use.

Chose a Photo and Desaturate

Select a Photo

Choose a photo for editing. Go to FILE and OPEN the image.

Desaturate the Image

On the duplicate image, go to COLORS and select DESATURATE. Choose "lightness," "luminosity," or "average" for the method, depending on which type looks best for your photo. Select OK.

Resize the metallic background as needed, prior to anchoring the new layer.
Resize the metallic background as needed, prior to anchoring the new layer.

Create the Metal Layer

  1. Go to WINDOWS and select DOCKABLE DIALOGS. Select the LAYERS option and the layers window will open.
  2. Click on the "add new layer" icon in the lower left corner of the layers window. This will create a NEW LAYER. Select "white" as the layer type.
  3. Go to the FILE tab and OPEN a new file. Select a metallic background image.
  4. COPY the metallic image and then PASTE the image into the new layer.
  5. If the metallic image is not the full size of the photograph, then select the SCALE tool and re-size the image to cover the entire photo.
  6. Click on the ANCHOR LAYER icon in the layers window.

Copy the background image into the layer mask.
Copy the background image into the layer mask.

Create the Layer Mask

  1. Right-click on the metallic image layer and select ADD LAYER MASK. Choose white and full opacity for the options. A white square will appear next to the metallic layer: this is the layer mask.
  2. Click on the background layer (the original photograph). Copy the background image (EDIT-COPY or Control + C).
  3. Click on the mask layer (the white square next to the metallic image in the layers window). Paste the image into the layer mask (EDIT-PASTE or Control + V). Your photo will become visible again.
  4. Click on the anchor icon to ANCHOR the LAYER.

Invert Colors/Change Blending Mode

Invert Colors

Select COLORS and then INVERT. This will apply the metallic tone coloration in the right proportions to the image. The image will appear inverted: do not worry, as this will be corrected in the next step.

Change the Blending Mode

Go to the LAYERS WINDOW and click on the drop down menu by the MODE selection. Change the mode from normal to COLOR. Your basic metallic image is now complete.

Image with gray metallic background.
Image with gray metallic background.

Save the Image

When complete, go to the LAYERS tab on the top index bar and select MERGE DOWN. This will merge all of the layers.

Go to FILE and select SAVE AS. Save the file with an identifying name. GIMP will have a pop-up stating the file must be exported to save: click OK and select the 100% option for quality.


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    • leahlefler profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Lefler 

      9 years ago from Western New York

      I really enjoy photo editing - for the sake of creating scrapbooking photos! I won't be eligible for the contest, though (I'm one of the judges). I love Hubpages for the contests!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Obviously you know your way around the world of photo editing and this tutorial on metallic color images was most interesting. Thanks! Will have to study this further when I have some time. You should do well with the upcoming contest if you have the time to create some photo hubs!


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