Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gimp tutorial: How To Use Gimp to Make A Girl Look Cold and Scary

In this lesson, I'm going to show you how I took this photo:

This incredible photo was found on a stock photo site, and was taken by the talented
Belovodchenko Anton.  Some of his photos can be seen here.
And made that photo look like this:

Suggested Prerequisites:
Layer Mask Gimp Video Tutorial
Layer Mode Gimp Video Tutorial
Adjusting Colors Using Gimp
Layers and Selections Gimp Video Tutorial
Suggested Items:
Wacom Tablet (For Shading and Masking)
My eBook on Layer Masks - This short and inexpensive book focuses on one thing -getting you insanely good at making Layer Masks.  If you get good at layer masking, you'll get good at Gimp.

Part 1: How to Give the Hue a Blue Color
The first thing that we need to do is tweak the original photo a bit.  We need to create more dramatic shadows, and give the entire photo a blue hue.
First off, we're going to give the blue hue to the photo.  In my findings, the best way to do this is by altering the red channel in the photo.  A photo is made up of 4 channels, Red, Blue, Green, and Alpha.  Editing an individual channel will only modify that specific hue in the photo.  This time, we want to completely remove the red from this photo, (which will give the photo the blue hue that we seek, without sacrificing the green hues.)
To do this, switch to the channels tab in your layers, channels, paths window.  Next, Click on the green, blue and alpha channels so that they are deselected.
Select>>>all (control+A)
Using the bucket tool (shift+B) and making sure that the affected area is set to "entire selection," and not "fill similar colors," fill the entire selection with black.  Your photo should end up looking like this:
Removing the red from the photo keeps some of the yellow tones in her hair, giving a very cool-icy feel.
Colors>>>curves adjust to settings shown below

The curves tool makes it easier to pinpoint exactly what part of a histogram you wish to darken or lighten.
I ended up with this:
The curves adjustment really helps exaggerate the shadows.
Part 2: How to Edit The Eyes
A huge part of this photo (and most all photos of a face) rests in dramatizing the eyes.  That is where a person tends to look first, so making them pop out will really make a difference in this photo.  We are going to modify the color of the eyes, lighten them up, and darken areas around the eyes.
Create a new layer, name it "eyecolor." Set the layer mode to "color," and fill the layer with Cyan.
Create a layer mask in the layer eyecolor.  Set it to black.  This will make the layer completely transparent.Using a soft brush, take the brush tool (shift+B) and making sure that you're brushing the layer mask, brush each iris with white. If you make a mistake, you can "erase the blue" by brushing black.
We want these eyes to look ice cold, but still pop out.  Now that we have the ice cold color, it's time to make them pop.
Since we already masked the iris properly, there is no need to do it again.  We will duplicate the eycolor layer, and modify it so that we can re-use the mask that is associated with it.
Duplicate the eyecolor layer, rename it "eyelighten"
Set the eyelighten layer to overlay, and fill the entire layer with white.  My photo looks something like this:
Now that the eyes are lighter, it's time to add depth to them by creating some highlights in the center.
Duplicate the eyelighten layer, name it "eyehighlight."

Using a soft brush, take the brush tool (shift+B) and making sure that you're brushing the layer mask, carefully brush the edges of the iris black, keeping the center of the iris brighter, and darkening the inside and outside edges of the iris.
By duplicating the eyehighlight layer again, we make it easy to remove what we do not want to be extra bright.
Adjust the eyehighlight to something you're happy with.  I set my opacity to 55, and ended up with this.
The eyes look much more dramatic, although the left eye appears to be slightly darker than her right eye.  Let's fix that.
Duplicate the Eyehighlight layer, name it eyeEQ.Take the brush tool (shift+B) making sure that you're brushing the layer mask, brush her right eye with black, so that only her left eye is being highlighted further.Adjust the opacity of the eyeEQ layer until both eyes appear equally bright (mine is at 43).  I ended up with this:
The difference is very slight, but critical to maintaining the balance in the photo.
When it comes to making anything stick out in an photo, it's all about contrast.  Now that we have lightened the eyes up, we will make the area around the eyes darker.Create a new layer.  Name this layer "eyedarken," and set the layer mode to overlay. Fill this layer with black.Give the eyedarken layer a layer mask, and make that layer completely black.
In the brush tool options, make your brush a soft brush, and the opacity of your brush to a low value (I set mine to 15).  Giving the brush opacity gives you control of how dark certain areas of the eye are.Take the brush tool (shift+B) making sure that you're brushing the layer mask, brush the area around her eyes with white. Switching to white to darken, and black to lighten, work on the area around the eyes until they are darker and fade into the skin in a semi-natural way.
Take your time darkening the eyes, using both white to add color, and black to remove.  Use the shadows in the photo to give you an idea on how to make it look correct.
Part 3: How To Make The Final Photo-Editing Touches
In the final steps of making this photo, we're going to add the snow, the stripes, and darken the photo one last time.
First off, we're going to create the snow, using a selection of random white pixels from another photo.
Download, and open the snow file found here:
Use the color select tool (Shift+O), click on one of the bright white pixels.
Copy, the selection, and paste it into the girl photo.  Name the layer created "Snow."
Duplicate the snow layer, and move it to create more snow.  Continue to duplicate the layer, and move it around until you have the snow covering the entire photo.  Take your time, and try to keep the photo somewhat random.  Don't be afraid to rotate, or flip the photo.Right-click on each duplicated snow layer (except for the original), and click "merge down."  Continue to merge the layers until you only have 1 snow layer.
Filter>>>blur>>>motion blur, Set an angle between 45-60 degrees at a long distance.  Your girl should end up looking something like this:
The snow is cool, but it is way too visible.  It takes away from the rest of the photo.  Let's work to fix that.
Give the snow layer a layer mask, filled with white.
Using the free select tool, (shortcut key F) roughly select the girl's face, like so:
Don't try to be too accurate with this selection, we're going to blur it afterward anyway.
Make sure you're working on the layer mask, and fill the selection with gray.  This will make the snow around the face a little bit lighter.Make sure you're still working on the layer mask, and click filter>>>blur>>>gaussian blur.  Set the value of the blur around 150.  This will soften the edge on your selection.
Adjust the snow's opacity to something that you're happy with. (mine is 65) I ended up with this:

The layer mask really helps keep the snow off of the main subject - her face, without sacrificing the effect, or looking bad.
Next, we're going to add the icy stripes that give the photo a little extra texture.
Download, and open the wood grain texture found here:
Click Colors>>>threshold, and adjust the wood to an amount that works for you.  Keep in mind, the Black values are the only parts that will be visible when we put this into the final photo of the girl.
The black values will turn into the blue stripes, and the white values will disappear.
Click Select>>>all (or press CTRL+A) to select the entire wood grain.
Copy, and Paste the photo into the photo of the girl.
using the scale tool (shortcut key SHIFT+T) stretch the white and black photo to fit in the photo, like so:
You may want to stretch it a little bit wider than the original photo, so that you can move it to the left or right without cutting the stripes off of the photo.  This will give you some control on where the stripes will go.
Set the stretched wood layer's layer mode to divide.
Adjust the opacity to something you're happy with (mine is 20) I ended up with this:
Although the stripes and snow aren't necessary, I think they're cool.  What do you think?  Does this photo look better without them, or with them?
Create a new layer.  Name the layer "darken."  set the layer mode to overlay, and fill the layer with black.  The photo should look like this:
The overlay really makes the photo a lot darker.  Of course, we don't want the eyes to be dark, so let's work to keep those lighter.
Add a layer mask to darken.  Fill the layer mask with white.
Make sure you're working on the layer mask.  Using the brush tool and a soft brush, brush the iris of each eye black.  This will pull the eyes out one final time.

And there you have it.
What do you guys think?  How would you have edited this photo?


  1. See that is the problem this is showen using a mac windows users can not use this plus window users always get the watered down versions (less controls) while mac has every control to do this stuff. If using windows don't expect it to look like this cause windows does not allow you to edit or make pics like this. The windows kernel does not allow for good photo editing it's subpar at best and the photo above will look like crap if done on a windows based pc you will not get the same results.

    1. This is entirely not true. This could be done in windows just as easily as it was done on a mac. In fact, Gimp tends to run better in Windows!

  2. I seem that, everyone'll benefit to see this post .

  3. Thank you so much for sharing such post with us .

  4. This looks fascinating. You've made the picture out of this world. How can I do the same using the online alternative from

  5. Nice tutorial. It looks so real. I am already feeling so scared. Really nice tutorial


Wacom Tablet

In my Gimp Tutorials, I frequently use Wacom Tablets. Here is an awesome wacom tablet I recommend using.
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Gimp Reference Manual

I highly recommend getting this Gimp book to use as a reference manual in conjunction with my tutorials. This book will explain how the tools I use work. My tutorials will give you practical applications for the tools shown in this book.