GimpShop Review – Part III

Previously we looked at taking a pretty generic Ubuntu logo and adding a color gel shadowing effect to the humans portion of the logo and a basic dropshadow for the text. We were looking at this in an effort to cover some of the versatility and ability of GimpShop as compared to the king of all photo editing software – Adobe’s Photoshop.

The end result that I promised included an inverted reflection of the logo as if it were sitting over a mirror or body of water. Today we will cover how to do just that. Photoshop users will be happy to learn that we will be using the Transform and Alpha Channel features of GimpShop and see just how similar and easy they are to use compared to Photoshop.

Lets first take a look at where we should be now and where we want to go:

This is where we are… halfwaydone.png

And this is what we want… ubuntu upgraded logo

What’s it going to take? Simple First we need to make the reflection, then we need to do that gradient transparency to it. So let’s get at it. To begin with we need to make our whole logo, including all the layers, into a single layer. This simplifies the process greatly because we can then make the reflection act as if it were on a simple layer in far fewer steps.

We want to turn off the white background layer by clicking on the icon of an eye next to the layer named “Background.” This will save all the transparencies, you will get something like this:


Now we need to combine all of our logo layers into a single editable layer by clicking the “Layers” menu and choosing “Merge Visible.” Again, this saves the transparencies but preserves our background layer. Your Layers Palette will change from this:

layers1.png to this… layers2.png

Use the default options on the “Merge Layers” dialog. The appearance of the logo on the canvas should not have changed but the number of layers did. I don’t know how it picks the name of the layer we just created, I think it may be based on what layer was selected when we merged. Regardless, lets change it to something more usable, like “Logo.” I would also recommend turning the “Background” layer back on because it make visualizing the process easier.

[If you are enjoying this article or are new to GIMP or GIMPShop be sure to check out the GIMP Tips Tricks and Tutorials on my T3 (Tips, Tricks and Tutorials) page.]

The reflection will be made manually in much the same way we made the drop shadow manually, initially by duplicating the layer. Since we know that this new layer will become the reflection, go ahead and rename it to “Reflection.”

Now we get to Transform. Photoshop users will find themselves in very familiar territory with this process as it is nearly identical to the Photoshop Transform. On the Edit menu choose Transform – Flip Vertically. You should see something like this on the canvas:


Just as we did with the drop shadow, we need to move this layer into the proper reflection location. A good reflection line is the bottom edge of the shadow under the “g” in the logo, this appears to be the vertically lowest point. Give an extra few pixels between the two logos for good measure, it will add to the effect.


And now we get to play with Alpha Channels. The Alpha Channel refers to the transparency of the layer but gives us more control over how or what portion of the layer becomes transparent versus the Opacity slider in the Layers Palette. The transparency is dependant on black and white colors: The whiter the color on the Alpha Channel the more of the current layer you see and the blacker the color on the Alpha Channel the more of the lower layer you will see. A true neutral Grey (50%) will give you a 50 percent viewability through the current layer.

To do this type of reflection we are going to use a Black to White gradient on the Alpha Channel The white end of the gradient will be closest to the correct logo and the black end of the gradient will be at the far bottom edge of the logo to make the very bottom edge seem to disappear – in this case, fade off to white.

Top open the Alpha Channel you need to right click on the Reflection layer and choose “Add layer mask.” You will get the following dialog box:


Your Layers palette will now show TWO icons for your “Reflection” layer:


The one on the left represents your current layer, the one on the right represents the mask for that layer. We need to be sure to click on the icon for the layer mask before applying the gradient, otherwise we will end up aplying the gradient directly to the reflection layer which will cover the layer in a black to white gradient! Remember, the gradient is applied to the Alpha Channel of the layer, not the layer itself!

Go ahead and click on the Layer Mask for the Reflection layer and then select the gradient tool on the Tools Palette. This is the tool that looks like a green fade to white square on the thrid row from the top, second to last from the left…


So we’re selected on the Alpha Channel and have the Black and White gradient tool open, lets drawy our gradient as a transparency, shall we? Drawing a gradient in GimpShop is easy. Click on the point that represents the start of your gradient and while hilding down the mouse button, drag the curor to the point where you want it to end. In our case we chose a Black and White gradient. Where we click the first time will be where the foreground color is solid and where we end (by releasing the mouse button) is where the background color is solid. The GimpShop will calculate the gradual change of color for you between those two points automagically. But remember the effects of Black and White on the Alpha to make this easier on us (without changing the foreground and background color order), I would recommend checking the box “Reverse” as this will change that order for us. In other words where we click first will initiate the White, where we let go will be the Black.

I recommend starting at roughly centered between the two layers and finishing at the “top” edge of the inverted letters.


Play around with it for a little bit to get the effect you like! Try adjusting things on the Gradient tool itself like opacity and shape to see different effects you can create. And don’t forget about the Opacity slider in the Layers Palette either , this will adjust the opacity of the entire layer to blanch out the reflection a little. In fact I set my layer opacity to about 60% to add more to the effect.

So all that’s left is flattening the image to a single layer and cropping our logo to something a bit more manageable in size that the 800×600 canvas we created it on. Flattening the image is done almost the same way as merging the layers. On the canvas, go to the Layers menu and choose flatten image. This will combine all of the layers (visible and non visible) into a single layer. We do this because we want to share our work with others and unless they also have GimpShop they will have a hard time viewing it. It also makes it easier to save into a format that can be used online such as .png. So go ahead and flatten your image and then lets talk about cropping.

[If you are enjoying this article or are new to GIMP or GIMPShop be sure to check out the GIMP Tips Tricks and Tutorials on my T3 (Tips, Tricks and Tutorials) page.]

Crop in GimpShop is a bit different than crop in Photoshop. In some ways it’s easier, but in actuality I prefer the Photoshop crop tool overall. The fact is, when I first started in Photoshop I actually was looking for a method of cropping the way GimpShop does it because that seemed the intuitive way of doing it. Over tim I have come to appreciate the flexibility of the Photoshop Crop tool though.

Anyhow, on to the crop. There are two methods to do this in GimpShop, you can make a selection with the rectangular selection tool, or you can let GimpShop do it automatically for you.

Method 1: Select/Crop

With our flattened logo you quite literally (and easily) use the rectangular selection tool to draw a square around what you want to KEEP.


When you are satisfied with your selection go to the Image menu and select “Crop Image.”

Method 2:

Autocrop is the alternate method of cropping in GimpShop. I don’t have all of the technical details about it but essentially it looks over your image, finds the overall average background color, then scans each pixel looking for the X Y coordinates of each of the extremes. It then uses these coordinates to draw a box around your selection and crops it for you.

I don’t like this method for a number of reasons. First, it takes a VERY long time on a moderately sized image (like what we are working on) and second it doesn’t give me any artistic license in how the image is cropped.

I pine for the day that GimpShop includes a crop tool on par with that of Photoshop.

Once your crop is complete you can save it as whatever image type you like. This is standard fare, go to the File menu and select Save As. It can’t be much easier than that!

Stay tuned, tomorrow I will post up my overall thoughts on this comparison trial of GimpShop to Photoshop and my final verdict as to the usability of GimpShop coming off of years of Photoshop editing!

[If you are enjoying this article or are new to GIMP or GIMPShop be sure to check out the GIMP Tips Tricks and Tutorials on my T3 (Tips, Tricks and Tutorials) page.]


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