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Dripping Blood Text Tutorial in GIMP

Use GIMP to Make Dripping Blood Text for Halloween


This tutorial to make dripping blood text in GIMP is ideal for Halloween, but this technique also can be adapted to produce dripping paint text, if you want the effect of simple graffiti.

There are a few steps needed to achieve this effect, but it is a simple one and suitable for complete newcomers to the free pixel-based image editor GIMP.

1. Open a Blank Document

New document opened
© Ian Pullen

Go to File > New and set the size of the document depending on how you intend to use the finished text. I've just used a preset size of 1024px X 768px with the X and Y resolutions set to 72 pixels/in, but if you're going to print your piece on your desktop printer, you will want to set the resolution to anything from 150 pixels/in to 300 pixels/in.

2. Set the Foreground Color

Color set to red
© Ian Pullen

For this piece we want to use the color red to give the impression of blood.

In the Toolbox, click on the Foreground Color box, just below all the tools, to open the Change Foreground Color dialog. You can then set the color to a bright red.

3. Add Some Text

Text is added
© Ian Pullen

With the foreground color set, we can add some text.

Click on the Text Tool in the Toolbox and then click on the document, which opens the GIMP Text Editor, into which you can type your text and click Close when you've done that. Now, in the Text options box that is below the Toolbox, click on the button labeled Font and select the font that you want to use – a bold font is best. I selected Deja Vu Serif Bold Semi-Condensed, which is available for free under an open source license. Use the Size control to resize the text.

Important: The text is surrounded by a box with grab handles on each side and corner. Click on the bottom handle and drag the box downwards so that there is free space between the text and the bottom of the box.

4. Distort the Text

Text is distorted
© Ian Pullen

This step isn't necessary, but does add some extra interest to the final result.

Go to Filters > Distorts > Iwarp to open the Iwarp dialog. I've used the default settings and you can click the thumbnail to see the full range of settings, however do feel free to experiment with the different options to see the full range of effects on offer. To distort the text, just click in the preview window and drag your cursor to distort the text. You can always click the Reset button at any time to undo your tweaks and allow you to start again. Click OK when you're happy.

5. Add Dripping Blood Effect

Blood runs painted on
© Ian Pullen

Adding the dripping blood is a three step process using the Smudge Tool and Brush Tool.

The Smudge Tool is in the Toolbox and has the pointing finger icon, so click on that to activate it. In the Smudge options that are below the Toolbox, select a smallish hard edged brush – remember you can use the Scale slider to change the size of the brush. You must also move the Rate slider fully to the right. Now you can click on the text and drag down the first part of the drips. Try and make these random lengths and have some vary a little in the path that they take.

6. Add the Blood Drops

Circles added to end of runs
© Ian Pullen

The next step is to add the drops of blood to the runs that we just added.

Click on the Brush Tool and in the options, select a brush size that is a little larger than used to make the runs of blood previously. You can use the Scale slider if there isn't a suitably sized preset brush. Now just click at the tip of each run to add a red circle.

7. Refine the Shape of the Drops

Smudge Tool applied to drops
© Ian Pullen

This step uses the Smudge Tool again to make the circles look more like drops of blood would.

Click the Smudge Tool and in the options select a brush that is about halfway between the size of the brush that you used for the drops and the brush you used to paint the runs. Before using the tool, slide the Rate slider left to about 60. With the brush set, click on one of the drops and drag upwards and you should see that you have added a bit of a tail to the drop that looks more natural and realistic. If necessary, change the brush size and try again.

8. Add Highlights

Highlights brushed on
© Ian Pullen

You may prefer the effect without adding this step, but adding some quick and simple highlights can enhance the final result.

Set the foreground color to white using the technique described earlier and switch back to the Brush Tool, selecting a small soft brush this time. You will probably find this easier if you zoom in a bit, so go to View > Zoom > Zoom In. Now you can just paint on small and rough white highlights, as you can see if you click on the thumbnail. Don't worry about trying to be too precise – if you look at my effort, you'll see they're quite rough, but when you zoom out again they look good enough.

9. Conclusion

Finished image
© Ian Pullen

This is a simple technique to produce dripping blood text that doesn't require you to be too careful and precise and as such is ideal for new GIMP users. If you're having a Halloween party, this could be ideal for use in your party invites. Alternatively it is just as effective as a technique to produce the effect of dripping paint text, like simple graffiti.

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