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Spray Graffiti Style Text Tutorial in GIMP

Use GIMP to Make Dripping Spray Graffiti Style Text


This is a simple spray graffiti style text tutorial that will show you how to create the effect of spray painted lettering using GIMP. This stylized effect could be used in all sorts of ways when you want less formal text. This tutorial builds on our earlier Dripping Blood Text in GIMP tutorial and before progressing with this graffiti style text tutorial, you will need to follow the steps covered in the earlier one.

To show how easy it is to adapt the earlier piece, I'm using the very same file that I created previously.

1. Open a Document

Dripping text

You will need to have followed the steps in the Dripping Blood Text tutorial before proceeding. If you haven't yet followed those steps, click on the link to it in the introduction, but remember that ultimately you're aiming to produce graffiti style text so feel free to use a different color other than blood red.

If your dripping text document isn't open, go to File > Open and navigate to the file before pressing the Open button.

2. Change Text Color

Color changed

If the text you are working on is already in the color that you want to use, skip to the next step. If like me, however, you want to change the text color, this simple step will show how.

Ensure that the text layer is selected in the Layers palette and then go to Colors > Hue – Saturation. In the Adjust Hue / Lightness / Saturation dialog, slide the Hue slider to the left or right to change the color of the text. When the text is the desired color, click OK.

3. Duplicate the Text Layer

Layer duplicated

We need a copy of the text layer that we can add a spray paint effect to.

Go to Layer > Duplicate Layer and you'll see a copy of the layer added to the Layers palette.

4. Apply Gaussian Blur

Gaussian blur applied to text

We can use Gaussian Blur to increase the size of one layer so that we can produce the effect of overspray.

Select the lower text layer in the Layers palette and go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur. In the dialog, you can set the Blur radius. I set both the Horizontal and Vertical settings to 15px, but depending on the resolution of your image, you may need to experiment with this setting.

5. Change Layer Mode

Dissolve layer mode applied

The Dissolve Layer Mode works well to produce the stylized appearance of overspray.

Still with the lower text layer selected, in the Layers palette, click on the drop down arrow to the far right of the Mode setting and select Dissolve.

6. Soften the Overspray Effect

Layer merged down

We can soften the effect that we just added to make it appear a little more naturalistic.

In the Layers palette, click on the Background layer and then go to Layer > New Layer to insert a blank layer below the lower text layer. Now right-click on the lower text layer and click on Merge Down. This combines the layer with the overspray effect with the blank layer, but you'll notice that the layer Mode is now set to Normal, which means we can gently blur the layer. Blur cannot be applied to a layer in Dissolve mode as it just changes the pattern of dots, rather than blurring them. Apply Gaussian Blur as you did earlier, but this time set the Blur Radius to just one or two pixels.

7. Remove Overspray from the Drips

Overspray removed from the drips

To make the effect more realistic, the overspray should be deleted from around the drips of paint.

Click on the Eraser Tool in the Toolbox and in the Tool Options that appear below the Toolbox, select a soft edged brush from the Brush control and use the Scale slider to adjust the size of the brush as appropriate. You need a relatively large brush, but not so large that you can't delete areas around the drips without affecting the areas around the text. You can zoom in by going to View > Zoom > Zoom In as required. Now, with the lower text layer selected in the Layers palette, just use the Eraser to remove the overspray around the drips.

8. Outline and Mask the Text

Text is blurred and masked

The final steps will soften the appearance of the text a little and again make the effect rather more naturalistic.

Click on the uppermost layer in the Layers palette and go to Layers > Duplicate Layer and then apply some Gaussian Blur to the layer. I set the Blur Radius to nine pixels. Now select the Free Select Tool from the Toolbox and draw a rough selection around the text, but not including the drips. I used straight lines by clicking to place each individual node, rather than clicking and dragging to draw a freehand outline, but use whichever technique you find easiest. Now right-click on the layer in the Layers palette and click Add Layer Mask. In the dialog, click the Selection radio button and click Add.

9. Mask the Drips

Drips masked to soften the text

This final step will ensure that the text appears soft and the drips appear sharp.

The selection you made in the previous step will still be active so now right-click on the layer below the layer which you just added a mask to. As before, click on Add Layer mask and in the dialog use the Selection radio button. This time, however, also click the Invert mask checkbox before clicking the Add button.

10. Conclusion

The final image

This simple spray graffiti style text tutorial helps to demonstrate how you can reuse some techniques within GIMP, alongside other techniques, to produce quite different final effects. This isn't a photo realistic type technique but the stylized result can add a strong visual element to all sorts of projects.

It is possible to combine the two tutorials to achieve similar results in less steps, but this covers a number of techniques that will help you to become more proficient using GIMP. This will particularly help you when you have an image with elements on a single layer that you wish to apply different effects to.

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