Friday, May 30, 2014

GIMP Tutorial: Simple Gaussian Blur Behind Text Effect


     This is a simple effect you can do in GIMP to make your text pop out a little more from the background. There are plenty of ways to make your text stand out more, such as adding a drop shadow or a border. But this is a more subtle method using gaussian blur - and it's very easy, too. After learning this effect, you can experiment and try things like adding a glow to your text or creating motion.

 Step 1: Open GIMP and create an image whatever size you want. I made mine at 1000 x 1000 pixels, 200 ppi for this tutorial. Fill the background with black.

Step 2: Next, select a medium-blue foreground color (mine is 00008F code). Select the Blend Tool and set the gradient to "FG to Transparent," with a "radial" shape. Put your cursor directly in the middle of the canvas, hold down your mouse button and drag and release at the edge. You should now have a round blue shape like this:

Gaussian Blur Text Effect 1

Step 3: Now go to Layer -> New Layer and add a transparent layer. Make the foreground color white and use your text tool to add your words to the design. I used Arial Bold, size 70, centered. When you have your text the way you want it, select Layer -> Merge Down so it becomes part of the transparent layer:

Gaussian Blur Text Effect 2

Step 4: Right click on your text layer in the toolbox and click "Alpha to Selection." Now go to Layer -> New Layer and make a new transparent layer. Use the Bucket Fill tool to "Fill Whole Selection" with black (code 000000). Now go to Select -> None. It should look like you have black text now. Move this new layer below the white text layer (your text should look white again).

Step 5: With the black text layer selected, go to Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur. Set the blur radius (horizontal and vertical) to about 40. You now have a slight black blur behind your white text, making it pop out a little more. NOTE: Depending on your image and text size and font, you'll have to experiment with how much blur you want.

Step 6: If you want to make it pop out even more, simply right-click on the blurred layer and select "Duplicate Layer." I duplicated it a couple times:

Gaussian Blur Text Effect 3

Step 7: Now you can merge your layers together for the final image. Doing this simple effect can really make your text pop out from the background, while also being subtle. Experiment with different color variations. Do a dark text with a white Gaussian blur behind it. Try lessening the opacity of the blur for an even more subtle effect and experiment with different amounts. See what happens when you change the layer mode.
The final image:

Gaussian Blur Text Effect 4

That's it! Here are a few more examples. Red text on a red background becomes visible without having a harsh outline. Adding a subtle white blur behind text on a lighter image makes the text more legible. The dark blur behind the text on the right makes it easier to read against the camouflage pattern. 

Gaussian Blur Text Effect 5

This is a very simple technique to learn, but it makes your designs look more polished.

Have fun using GIMP!

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All images copyright MK Hess

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