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How to create an abstract background with swirls in GIMP tutorial

Updated on August 24, 2012
Background with swirls made in GIMP
Background with swirls made in GIMP

Step 1

Open GIMP, create a new image Image / New. Make it 1000 x 1000px and fill it with black.

Create a New Transparent Layer by clicking on the first icon at the bottom of the layers dialogue or right click on the background layer choose New Layer / Transparency. Call it “A”.

Take a brush with 75% Hardness, set Spacing to 10. In the Dynamics dialogue choose Dynamics Off.

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Put six circles of different size as shown in Fig 1. Note the position of the circles, they should be in the first half of the image and almost in the middle.

Go to Filters / Distorts / Whirl and Pinch. Apply settings as shown in Fig 2.

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

Step 2

Create a New Transparent Layer, call it “B”.

Put five circles of different size as shown in Fig 3. Check carefully the position of the circles.

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

Go to Filters / Distorts / Whirl and Pinch. Apply settings as shown in Fig 4.

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

Step 3

Create a New Transparent Layer, call it “C”.

Put three circles of different size as shown in Fig 5. Once again, note the position of the circles.

Fig. 5
Fig. 5

Go to Filters / Distorts / Ripple. Apply settings shown in Fig 6 and don’t forget to change Orientation from Horizontal to Vertical.

Fig. 6
Fig. 6

Go to Filters / Distorts / Whirl and Pinch. Apply settings as shown in Fig 7.

Fig. 7
Fig. 7

Step 4

Create a New Transparent Layer, call it “D”.

Put five circles of different size as shown in Fig 8.

Fig. 8
Fig. 8

Go to Filters / Distorts / Ripple. Apply changes to settings: Orientation - Horizontal, Period – 13, the rest leave as in previous time.

Go to Filters / Distorts / Whirl and Pinch. Apply settings as shown in Fig 9.

Fig. 9
Fig. 9

Step 5

Create a New Transparent Layer, call it “E”.

Put five circles of different size as shown in Fig 10.

Fig. 10
Fig. 10

Go to Filters / distorts / Ripple. Apply changes to settings: Orientation - Vertical, Period – 10, Amplitude 3, the rest leave as in previous time.

Go to Filters / Distorts / Whirl and Pinch. Apply settings as shown in Fig 11.

Fig. 11
Fig. 11

Step 6

Duplicate Layer “E” and rotate it going to Layer / Transform / Rotate 90° Clockwise.

Take Move Tool and move the layer about 0.5 cm up see Fig 12.

Fig. 13
Fig. 13

Step 7

Duplicate Layer “E” again Rotate 180° first and then Rotate 90° Clockwise.

Move the layer about 0.5 cm to the left and another 0.5 cm up see Fig 13.

Fig. 13
Fig. 13

Step 8

Create a New Transparent Layer, call it “F”.

Put three circles of different size as shown in Fig 14.

Fig. 14
Fig. 14

Go to Filters / Distorts / Whirl and Pinch. Apply settings as shown in Fig 15.

Fig. 15
Fig. 15

Step 9

Create a New Transparent Layer, call it “G”.

Put three circles of different size as shown in Fig 16.

Fig. 16
Fig. 16

Go to Filters / Distorts / Whirl and Pinch. Apply settings as shown in Fig 17.

Next it Rotate 180°.

Fig. 17
Fig. 17

Step 10

Select Background layer (black one), take Blend Tool, for Gradient choose “Incandescent”, Reverse (click once on two sided blue arrow), Shape – Radial.

Pull gradient from the middle of the image to its bottom part see fig 18.

Fig. 18
Fig. 18

Step 11

Create a New Transparent Layer, call it “Sparkles large”.

Take “Sparks” brush (it comes with every version of GIMP), set size to 35 and paint along the thick white lines. Do it slowly to make nice lines. Set this layer to Hard Light see Fig 19.

Fig. 19
Fig. 19

Step 12

Create a New Transparent Layer, call it “Sparkles small”.

Reduce size of “Sparks” brush to 15, click on Apply Jitter – Amount 10.

Paint starting from the middle and go along the swirl. Then add a few more strokes between the white lines see Fig 20.

Fig. 20
Fig. 20

Step 13

Create a New Transparent Layer, call it “Glow”.

Take 0% Hardness brush, set size to 200, colour yellow "fff958" and put three dots as shown in Fig 21. Set this layer to Grain Merge.

Duplicate this layer and set it to Overlay.

Fig. 21
Fig. 21

Merge all the layers going to Image / Merge Visible Layers.

Now you can flatten your image and save it.

Go to Image / Flatten.

File / Export (for GIMP 2.8).

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial :)

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