Pseudo 3D with Gimp
Original in fr André Pascual
fr to de Katja Socher
de to en Katja Socher
Originally an industrial designer, now a professor of
production, he teaches CAD. Computer graphics, especially 3D
graphics, is one of his passions.
Gimp is a software exclusively 2D, but with a few tricks and
thanks to the numerous tools that are available, it is possible
to create an image in pseudo 3D.
To get to the result of the example given in figure 1, four
steps are necessary:
- Create a background with a perspective effect for the
- Create a text with an effect of a magnifying glass on the
- Create a reflexive pseudo sphere
- Polish it by adding shadows, impressive splendour and
Create the ground
Choose the background pattern
I assume that the pattern "circuit" is available in
Gimp. If this isn't the case, any other motive (the list in
Gimp appears by clicking on
<File><Dialogs><Patterns> or by pressing
[Shift+ Ctrl+ P] ) will do for the matter. In this list, press
the pattern to get the image shown in size 1:1. This shows also the
name of the pattern at the top of the window.
If you want to reproduce the suggested image exactly and the
motive "circuit" doesn't exist in Gimp, you can get it. For
that open Gimp, load the file
/opt/kde/share/wallpapers/circuit.jpg and save it with the
extension"pat", choose in the list of formats <By
extension> in the menu <Save Image>, that is
The pattern will be available the next time Gimp is started.
It should be noted that the suggested way here is for KDE 1.1.1
and Gimp 1.0.4 installed on Mandrake 5.3; it can be different
in other distributions.
Before starting recall that if you are unaware of the
meaning of an icon in the toolbox you only have to put the
cursor over the icon in question to see a help text appearing.
Recall as well that a double-click on an icon opens the
dialogbox <Tools options> specific to the tool chosen.
Recall in addition that a straight click on an image opens the
pop up menus that consist of all the manipulation tools, from
saving to filters and other Script-Fu... And finally recall
gimp has shortcuts for all the operations that can be choosen
from menus. Some of them are very useful: new, open, close, quit, copy,
paste, cut, undo, redo...
Prepare the background
- Start Gimp, if this isn't already done.
- Prepare an empty file with File> New> 640x480
- Open File> Dialogs >Patterns and choose Circuit (or
- Fill the actual background with white by double-clicking
on Fill (fill bucket)> Pattern Fill
- Click in the active window.
As it will be necessary to have one image for the wall and
one for the bottom, save the work in jpeg quality 1.00 (without
compression; we will later compress the final image) first as
1.jpg, then a new one as 2.jpg. We now have two identical
images, 1.jpg and 2.jpg, image 2 is shown on the screen. It
will serve us to create the ground.(See Figure 2)
Figure 2, the background
Create the ground
The final image will have a dimension of 400x400 (arbitrary
choice). You can distort 2.jpg which is shown on the screen and
which is much bigger (640x480), with the help of the magnetic
guides. They are activated by clicking in the rulers that border the image.
Click on one ruler and then press the left button of the mouse,
hold it and move the pointer to the work zone. This will show
a a dotted red line moving, horizontal or vertical depending
on the ruler on which you have clicked. Place the guides as shown
in the image below.
This dotted line becomes blue
when it is unselected: it is a magnetic guide that draws the
mouse pointer or the border of a selection when you approach
- Place in this way a horizontal guide at 300 pixels from
the origin, then two horizontal guides, one at 120 and the
other at 520.
- Select a layer by a click on the image and Select>
- Double-click on Transform tool to get the options for
In the menue <Tools options> that appears
- Distort the selection to get a trapeze while making the
corners high/left of the selection coincide with the left
intersection of the guides. Attention this is a cpu power
intensive operation and calculation will need some tim.
Wait until it is finished before clicking somewhere else.
Pull then the corner high/right of the right intersection
of the guides. You obtain an isocele trapeze (See Figure 3)
Figure 3, the ground
- Iconify the image or send it to another desktop. As a
precaution can you save it also.
Create the front wall
- Recall image 1.jpg
- Place a horizontal guide at 400 pixels, and two vertical
guides, one at 120 and the other at 520.
- Select the layer by clicking> Select >Select
- Select Transform Layer or Selection and, in <Tool
option> which should still be open from the former call,
- Distort the layer so that a square of 400x400 ends with its
borders at the guides.
Now add a transparent layer by clicking > Layers>
Layers and channels >New layer. Place the ground on the
layer, then you can call it "ground" by clicking on the
name which is "new layer" by default. (See Figure 4)
Figure 4, adding the ground to the front wall
Assembling wall and ground
- Copy the trapeze-shaped ground of 2.jpg in
(use the feather tool click on each summit of
the trapeze, finish by clicking on the point you started with
and then inside the trapeze )
To paste it into 1.jpg, in the layer "ground" which we have
just created, click on > Edit >Paste. The bottom
places itself in the empty layer. Shift it such that the
interior corner of the selection coincides with the
horizontal guide.(See Figure 5)
- Flatten the image by clicking> Layers> Flatten
image. Now the image consists of only one layer.
- Cut the image to a dimension of 400x400 with the tool
Crop of the toolbox (it will automatically be pasted to the
- Add a layer "Text"
- Save (just for security reasons) as 3.XCF (the format of
Gimp preserves the layers.
Create the text
Produce a text-logo
- Click on Xtns> Script-Fu> Logos> Crystal
Enter the text "LOUPE" ("Magnifying glass" or something
else), Font "Cooper" (or other), Font size "105",
Background "/opt/kde/share/wallpapers/circuit.jpg", OK.
- Note: the font "Cooper" is part of the package
"Freefont" and isn't installed per default in all
distributions. It is a good idea to install this
package as well as the package "Sharefont" which are
essential for a the Logos of gimp. (101 vectorial
fonds are available from Christoph Lameter,
- The logo is produced; the letters are textured with the
same motive as the wall but in a bigger scale than that of
the wall which was reduced. You get a magnifying glass
- The logo consists of several layers, of which one is
called "Background". This is of no use, you must remove it by
double-clicking > Layers> Layers & channels>
Delete layer, the layer that will be removed must be
selected. You can select it by clicking on the button: it
will be in the blue splendour.
- Assemble the other layers by clicking> Layers>
Merge Visible Layer (most of all don't use Flatten image: you
would loose the transparency of the background) (See Figure
Figure 6, the Logo
Assembling the text
- Copy the text in the press-paper
- Paste it into 3.XCF (which hasn't been closed) on the
Place it according to demand (that what can reasonably be
seen through the transparency must correspond more or less
with the drawing of the wall which lies behind. See Figure
- Save as 3.XCF (necessary this time because we will now
divide the image shown on the screen without wanting to lose
what we just made)
Create the reflexive sphere
Prepare the reflexion
The sphere must reflect the text on to the front wall,
that is, it must be invers to the original and rounded on the
- Select the text with a rectangular selection, the layer
"Text" is the active layer
- Select the symmetric vertical tool by double-clicking on
Flip layer or selection> Vertical (The Flip layer is in
- Define the selection to distort it with the cursor which
will be replaced at this moment by a up/down arrow
Drawing of the sphere itself
Now it will become more delicate.
- Flatten the image by clicking >Layers> Flatten
- Use the circular selection tool (press Shift and at the
same time move the mouse so that you obtain a circle and not
an ellipse), so that at least 3 letters are inside the
selection and are situated in the upper part of the
- Distort the selection by clicking > Filters>
Distorts> Whirl and Pinch with the following values:
"whirlangle:0", "Pinch amount:-1", "Radius:2" (they are the
chosen values for the desired result and are obtained by
numerous trials: there exists no formula in this field)
Validate and restart the operation with the same values
(See Figure 8)
Figure 8, Whirl and Pinch
- The selection is always active, copy it into the press
paper. You can now close the drawing without saving.
Assembling sphere and background decorations
- Recall file 3.XCF
- Create a layer called "sphere"
- Paste the sphere and place it (even change its scale) so
that the reflexive letters correspond with the letters of the
- Save as 3.XCF
Polishing the work
This is the part of the work that reflects more the sensibility
and tact of the creator. I will only give general advice to let
each creator express his/her own creativity. A
remark for continuing: the letters of the logo "LOUPE" receive
a horizontal light coming from the left side of the image
(observe the shadows). The sphere must therefore logically be
lighted in the same manner; in consequence, it must project a
resulting shadow of that light on the bottom and have a
portion of its surface in the shadow.
Create a shadow on the sphere
- Add a layer "shadow sphere", transparent, opacity 90
(there is always the possibility to change this value),
mixing mode "Normal"
- Place 4 magnetic guides tangent to the sphere.
- Carry out a circular selection with the help of the
guides (starting at the intersection high/left to the
intersection low/right). The selection must surround the
- Double-click on the tool Fill with a color gardient; in
the menu <Tool options> choose "Blend: FG to
transparent" and "Gradient: Linear".
- Select a black colour if this isn't already done
- Fill the circular selection with a degradation of black
->transparent by drawing a horizontal line which goes from the
extreme right part of the diameter of the sphere to the
extreme left part of the sphere (you must imagine the
diameter: it is not represented).
The shadow is in its position. Make some trials with the
mixing mode of the layer "shadow sphere", to see how the
black pixels behave with the ones on the layer below.
- Save the work when you are satisfied.
Create a moving shadow on the ground
- Add a layer "shadow ground", transparent, opacity 80
Imagine the shape of this shadow: it is a very flattened
ellipse. To obtain it draw an elliptic selection (without
pressing) and place it so that the extreme left line of the
big axe (horizontal here) coincide with the point of
contact between sphere/ground. You can use the magnetic
guides for help (See Figure 9)
- Double-click on the tool Fill with a color or pattern; in
the menu <Tool options> choose "Mode: Normal" and "Fill
Type: Color fill".
- Choose a very dull green (R:18, G:35, B:14 for
- Fill the selection with this green.
- The resulting shadow is not realistic because the
environment is too clear. A realistic shadow is always more
diffuse on its borders. This can be obtained in two
- In the selection that is always active, click >
Filters> Blur> Motion Blur> Radial with the values
"Length: 35" and "Angle: 45"> OK
- Unselect, then double-click> Filters> Blur>
Gaussian Blur (RLE) with the default values > OK
Create a specular reflection on the sphere
The light is coming from left, the whole left frame of the
sphere must be more luminous.
- Add a layer "reflection"
- Carry out a selection that is big enough in crescending
from the left frame of the sphere with the Feather tool (more
difficult with the lasso).
- Select a white color
- Paint it in degradation FG->Transparent with the same
method as before, but from left to right.
- Mix the layers with the mode "overlay". If the effect
isn't emphasized enough, paint it two or three times with the
Create a lens effect
The incoming light of the sphere is projected in the objective
of the camera, it produces an aberration, called "flare lens".
- Flatten image
- Place two magnetic guides so that their intersection
corresponds with the center of the reflexion (See Figure 1),
and shift them back on the rulers to their position on X and
- Double-click >Filters> Light Effects> Flare
- Enter the back-shifted values in X and Y in the
parameters "Center of Flare FX". You can also distort the
cursor with the mouse on the button of the image and then
place the center of the reflexion visually.
The final touch
You can now polish by adding some points of light by
double-clicking> Filters> Light Effects> Super Nova
with the parameters so that Radius 2 or 3 and Spoke 50 on the
letters of the glass near the lighted route. The colours of
this points are a matter of taste.
Voilà. The work is almost finished. I write almost
because when we look at it there are surely mistakes,
approximations... All creators have their own view of the
objects and their own style. Everyone will have a different
Everyone should be amused.
Because Linux, and more Gimp, or evenmore the enthusiasm of
the creator should not be neglected as a source of