We would like to introduce Ronnie Tucker – a prolific editor for Full Circle Magazine – who graciously agreed to contribute to the SpiderOak blog. Ronnie’s true passion is graphic design; as such, today he’ll talk a little about GIMP.
In the first of several GIMP posts, which I’ll be doing for SpiderOak, I’m going to show you some beginner to intermediate techniques. Things that people may think are only possible with Photoshop. If you’d like to read more about the absolute basics of GIMP then I’ll refer you to Full Circle magazine [FCM#12-19]. While I used an older version of GIMP in those issues the layout of GIMP has changed little in the passing years.
So, what is ‘tilt shift’? It’s the process whereby you take a photo and make it look like it’s actually a model. Some people can do it using cameras with tight depth of fields, but most apply a digital blur. Here’s how I do it.
Here’s the source image I’m going to use:
To achieve a tilt-shift, we need to apply a heavy blue to the foreground, and to the background. Enough to fool your brain into thinking that the photo can’t possibly be of something as large as an actual landscape.
First, click the rectangle select tool. Before doing anything else make sure you tick the box for ‘Feather Edges’ and move its slider up to about 50. If you don’t feather the edges you’ll get a sharp line where the blur ends and the unblurred image meet.
Now, left click on the far left, level with the road and then drag down to the bottom right of the picture:
Don’t worry if you over/undershoot the selection as you can move your pointer to the sides of the selection where you’ll see a bar, click and drag to resize your selection if you need to. The main thing here is to have the top of the selection just below where the road goes over the hill.
Now go to the menu and choose Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur. In the window that shows, make the horizontal value about 10, and click OK.
If you can see a little chain link icon between the horizontal and vertical then they are linked so changing one should change the other. If not, click the broken chain link icon and it should link the two values.
Now we need to select the background. This may seem a bit of a daunting task, but we don’t need to be too specific here.
Click the ‘Free Select Tool’ and loosely draw around the outline of the treeline then out of the image around the edge of the image and back to where you started. If the start point and end points aren’t exactly the same press the Enter key and it’ll connect them automatically and complete the selection.
Again, back to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use a value of about 10. Click OK to apply the blur.
Click Select > None in the menu to see the resulting image.
Now that wasn’t difficult was it?
Play around with the blur values. Choose lower values and the tilt-shift effect won’t work as it doesn’t fool your brain. Higher values will work, but too much and it’ll spoil the effect.
Remember to back up your work! If you would like to read more of Ronnie’s work as well as ask him any question, he’d love to hear from you!