Creating and Transforming Image Objects

Suppose you want your Easter egg image to appear as if it's on a television screen. To that end, you will build both the image and the television. This exercise will show you a relatively simple way to produce rather complex image objects with 3D effects. Remember, this is an exercise designed to give you lots of experience and practice.

You should already be familiar with many of the steps required in this exercise. Nevertheless, I will briefly discuss each of the steps involved, including the ones you've already learned, just in case you may need a review. Proceed as follows:

• Create a new image (choose File > New from the menu bar) with the following properties: resolution = 300 dpi; width = 6 in; height = 4 in; mode = RGB; background color = white. Save the image as monitor.xcf.

• Open your eastercard.xcf image and save it as eastercard.png. The visible layers in the eastercard.png image should be merged into one layer, so open the Layers dialog, right-click the top layer to access the context menu, and choose Merge Visible Layers. Minimize the image, but don't close it. In a few minutes, you will need to export a layer from this image.

• Return to the monitor.xcf image. The first thing you want to do is create three empty layers in the Layers dialog: front (for the monitor's front), screen (for the monitor's screen), and bezel (for the monitor's housing).

• Make front the active layer. Use the Rectangle Selection tool to create a rectangle that measures about one quarter of the image size.

• Use the color area to select a light-gray color for the foreground. Then use the Bucket Fill tool to fill the selection.

U SI NG MASKS AN D LAYERS—PAI N TI NG, FI LLI N G, AND COLOR TOOLS

Figure 3.74

The monitor.xcf image with the new layers. The width of the monitor front is measured with the Measure tool.

Figure 3.75

The layer from east- •£-ercard.png is inserted and aligned with the front layer using the Alignment tool.

Figure 3.75

The layer from east- •£-ercard.png is inserted and aligned with the front layer using the Alignment tool.

3.12 USING LAYERS, MASKS, AND PATHS TO CREATE THREE-DIMENSIONAL OBJECTS — SHADOW LAYERS 0*

Now get ready to paste eastercard.png on the new image. You will be virtually integrating it into the television.

• Use the Measure tool to measure the width and height of the gray rectangle in pixels. Write down the two values.

• Return to the eastercard.png and select the Image > Scale Image menu item. Scale the image so that its width will be roughly 100 px smaller than the rectangle in monitor.xcf.

• In the monitor.xcf image, use guides to mark a border of about 50 px in the gray rectangle. Export the main layer from the eastercard.png image and align it along the marked border in the gray rectangle.

• You may need to scale the height of the gray rectangle. Select either the Scale Tool or Layer > Scale Layers. Make sure the border beneath the exported image is wider than the one above it.

You can also position the front layer and the inserted eastercard copy layer with the help of the Alignment tool (see also section 3.12.2). To do this, you must crop the two layers to the size of the image by selecting the Layer > Autocrop layer menu item.

Having done this, activate the front layer in the Layers dialog. Then select the Alignment tool in the Toolbox. In the tool settings, choose Active layer from the Relative to drop-down menu. Now select the image area of the Easter card image in the image window. To do so, click into the window and create a rectangle around the image object by holding the left mouse button. This way, you tell GIMP what is to be aligned.

In the next step, click the Align center of target button in the tool settings of the Alignment tool. The Easter card will be aligned in the center of the horizontal center axis of the front layer.

Then set the value in Offset to 50 (pixels) and click the Distribute top edges of targets under the Distribute button.

Since the two layers have been aligned with each other, they have also been moved and positioned on the image area. Therefore, you can link the images together in the Layers dialog. Simply click left of the preview image next to the two layers. A chain icon appears. Now you can reposition the linked layers with the Move tool.

What you need next are surroundings for the screen.

• Create a selection along the contour of the imported eastercard layer. Since you don't want the program to find the front layer's image contour, set the front layer to invisible in the Layers dialog. Make sure the Select Transparent Areas and Sample Merged options for the Fuzzy Select tool are selected. Click the Fuzzy Select tool on the transparent area around the image object in the image window. Everything around the object has been selected. Now use the Select > Invert function to precisely select the object's contour.

You can select the unit of measurement for the Measure tool in the settings at the bottom of the image window. For the purpose of this exercise, you should select pixels, px.

Access Select > Rounded Rectangle to round the selection's corners by 20 pixels or so.

Access Select > To Path and create a path from the selection.

Access Select > Invert and invert the selection again. Then choose Edit >

Delete so you can delete the corners of the eastercard image object.

Next you'll want to create a screen for your television, so let's do that now. Invert the selection once again to reselect the actual image object in the layer.

Switch to the screen layer in the Layers dialog. Fill the selection with a circular gradient blend. Select a pale green-gray as the foreground color and a dark green-gray as the background color.

On the screen layer, choose Filters > Light and Shadow > Lens Flare to set a highlight.

The flare reflection on the screen layer.

The flare reflection on the screen layer.

3.12 USING LAYERS, MASKS, AND PATHS TO CREATE THREE-DIMENSIONAL O B J E C TS — S H A D O W LAYERS 0*

To create a realistic illusion, the screen should appear to be inside the monitor. You can offset the screen in the monitor by creating a recessed bezel:

• Switch to the bezel layer.

• Select a very light silvery gray as the foreground color.

• Set the Path dialog to active in the Layers, Channels and Paths dock. (You previously saved the screen selection as a path.)

• Right-click on the path and select Stroke Path in the context menu. Alternatively, you can click the Paint along the path button at the bottom of the Paths dialog window.

• In the Stroke Path window, select a line width of 40 px, select Solid color, and confirm by selecting Stroke.

• Since the path was traced on the centerline, you now have to erase the overlapping border. Again, right-click on the path in the Paths dialogand select Path to selection in the context menu. Then invert the selection (Select > Invert) and conclude by removing the selection (Select > None).

• Use a smaller hard brush to erase the upper-left edge of the bezel on the bezel layer. You could apply the default brush with 19 pixels diameter and scale it, using the tool settings of the Eraser tool. This should create an illusion of depth because the bezel will look as if it has disappeared due to a natural perspective distortion. Zoom into the remaining corners and use the Eraser tool to carefully round them out.

Figure 3.77

Using the Eraser tool to erase the bezel and round the corners

Figure 3.77

Using the Eraser tool to erase the bezel and round the corners

U SI NG MASKS AN D LAYERS—PAI N TI NG, FI LLI N G, AND COLOR TOOLS

You've now completed the front of your monitor. In the following steps, you will use the Shear tool, the Perspective tool, and the Scale tool to apply a series of transformations to the existing image layers to jointly bend their perspectives.

To ensure that the transformations will affect all layers of the image concurrently, you should link them with the chain icon you'll find near the preview in the Layers dialog. Make the chain icon visible on each layer with the exception of the white background layer.

• Now select the Shear tool to bend the layer vertically. Use a shear shift of about -300 for the y-axis.

• Next, use the Perspective tool to bend the right edge of the layers.

• Finally, scale the layers horizontally from left to right, approximately 70%. If necessary, you can correct the size and slant of the front further with one of the transformation tools.

Figure 3.78

Using the Shear tool

Figure 3.78

Using the Shear tool

3.12 USING LAYERS, MASKS, AND PATHS TO CREATE THREE-DIMENSIONAL OBJECTS — SHADOW LAYERS 0* VI

Figure 3.79

Using the Perspective tool

Figure 3.79

Using the Perspective tool

Figure 3.80

Figure 3.80

You've almost finished with the front of the monitor. What's missing?

Most monitors have control knobs or buttons of some sort, so why not create a couple of knobs as separate image objects on a new layer, of course.

• Create a layer titled knob on the top of the stack in the Layers dialog. Zoom into the left bottom corner of the image. Use the Ellipse Select tool to create an ellipse. Fill the ellipse with a gradient blend so the top is white and the bottom black.

• Use the Move tool to move the elliptic selection slightly horizontally. Pay attention to the tool options: Move > Selection.

• Access the color area and select a light silvery gray as the foreground color. Use the Edit > Fill with FG Color menu item to fill the selection. If you like, add a bevel to the selected front of the knob (Filters > Decor > Add Bevel). Voila! You're done with the first knob. Don't forget to delete the selection (Select > None).

• Now duplicate the knob layer (by clicking the Duplicate Layer button in the Layers dialog) and paste it on the right bottom corner. Scale the new layer to about 70% of its size to make it proportionately smaller.

• The front of the monitor is done. Save your image.

Figure 3.81

Using an elliptic selection with a gradient fill to create a control knob

Figure 3.81

Using an elliptic selection with a gradient fill to create a control knob

3.12 USING LAYERS, MASKS, AND PATHS TO CREATE THREE-DIMENSIONAL OBJECTS — SHADOW LAYERS 0*

You've probably noticed that the image is still missing the left and top sides of the television along with the monitor's shadow. Begin by creating three new layers: The top layer will naturally be on the top of the stack in the Layers dialog. Insert the shadow and side layers directly above the Background layer.

You can use paths in Design mode with the Polygonal option set in the tool options to produce the necessary objects on these layers.

• Start with the side layer. Create a square with a closed path that attaches to the left side of the front part of the monitor. Create a selection from this path. Then fill it with the same gray tone you used for the front layer.

• Duplicate the side layer (using the right-click menu in the Layers dialog) and call it side shadow. Fill the selection with black this time. Reduce the layer's opacity to about 50%.

• Create the cabinet top on the previously prepared layer. To create the path, just follow the corner points of the surfaces. Use a very light gray to fill the area.

Figure 3.82

Using a path and a selection from that path to create a cabinet side

Figure 3.82

Using a path and a selection from that path to create a cabinet side

U SI NG MASKS AN D LAYERS—PAI N TI NG, FI LLI N G, AND COLOR TOOLS

The cabinet is finished except for the shadow, which will, of course, add perspective, depth, and realism to the image.

• Create a shadow near the monitor's base on a new layer named drop shadow. Use the Paths tool to create the shadow; then turn the path into a selection. Apply a soft edge gradient (Select > Feather) of 25 px to the selection. Fill the selection with black.

• In the Layers dialog, reduce the layer's opacity (transparency) to 80%.

• Success! You've done it. Time to save your image.

Figure 3.83

The monitor.xcf image with all its layers

Figure 3.83-A

monitor.png

Figure 3.83-A

monitor.png

3.12 USING LAYERS, MASKS, AND PATHS TO CREATE THREE-DIMENSIONAL OBJECTS — SHADOW LAYERS VI

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