Beginner Beginner gimp guide (Update)

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Thomas The Magnificent

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Hi to all. This is a simple guide to help people with Gimp in creating signatures.

This guide is not comprehensive and it will not show you how to make brilliant signatures, it will hopefully provide you the tools to do so.

This is obviously very image heavy. So it might take some time to load. That is why spoilers have been put there.

Forum rules:
No obscenity, max size 700x120 pixels

Starting off:

The first rule to good signature making is a theme. When people request signatures they are required to say what they want. Many people pick a favourite character from a game or a film, while others ask for something to do with grepolis.

Here are a few examples of signatures I have made using GIMP, the styles are completely different for each person I make a signature for. Every signature maker has a different style which appeal to different people. Your style will be your own and this is a good reason to make your own sig.

Other signatures I have Made

For this tutorial you will need to download GIMP

It is multiplatform and I am on a mac so some screenshots may be different to your version but I will try and help if I can get to a PC.

GIMP saves files as .xcf To upload to a image hosting website change to .png or .jpeg

Drop Shadow:

This tool creates a new layer. It creates a shadow of a selected layer, you can change the position/colour/opacity and size. It is important to select the right layer. Here you can see a before and after shot of the drop shadow. You also see in the layers tab how the drop shadow created a new layer. If it had all been one layer then The drop shadow would be of the whole picture which is not a good effect

The original image.

This is how to get to drop shadow on a mac, it should be similar on linux or windows.

Drop shadow toolbar.

Offset y and x to create depth.

Colour is generally black but experiment with it.

Opacity is how much it shows basically. I just picked a random value here.

With drop shadow

new layer created


Having a good selection of fonts is useful but not essential, if you are going to make signatures for people they may want a particular style of font. To find fonts for GIMP just google them or use this site.

Be careful not to mix your fonts to much, it can make it look messy. The most I will use on one sig is 2, but it is up to you.

You might need to install the fonts. I will try and find out how to do this on a PC and Linux if people request it, it may be the same. On a mac you will need to follow these pictures.

You will have to select the directory etc and then probably restart GIMP. Therefore it is a good idea to install them before you start a sig.

Picking a font. You simply click the button highlighted below and a drop down menu will appear, alternatively you can type the name of the font into the box next to that.

Thomas The Magnificent

There are many tools on GIMP. You will most likely have used MS paint and most if not all of them should be there.

I will try to show you how to use most of the available tools.

This is your toolbox.

These are some of my brushes you can scale up the brushes using the scale slider.

This is the gradient tool. There are many options for it, like which way the gradient will go and what colours to use.

These are some of the bucket fill options

This is the text tool.

The selection tools allow you to select in different shapes, the paths tool can create a path that has some advanced uses.

The select colour tool will change the foreground colour to that of a pixel or of an average of pixels around where you click.

The select by colour tool will select all the pixels of a colour in the picture.

The move tool allows you to move layers.

The rotate tool allows you to rotate your image.

The scale tool allows you to scale up or down or stretch your image.

The shear and perspective tools allow you to modify your image but aren't that useful in signatures.

The bucket tools fills in with colour all connecting pixels of one colour.

The gradient tool allows you to create a gradient. If you use it on top of your image it will cover everything. Either start off with it or use it behind a transparent layer.

The brush tool can be used to draw, it is better than the pencil tool because it creates smoother lines.
However the pencil tool is useful if you want to use the bucket tool as it only uses one colour it does not blend at all.

The eraser tool is the brush tool using the background colour.

The airbrush tool is similar to the normal brush.

The Blur/Sharpen tool lets you blur things and sharpening an image should make it clearer by making the difference between lighter and darker colours more clear.

The Smudge tool is as described.

The Dodge/Burn tool can make things lighter or darker. It can pick out highlights/midtones/shadows.


Thomas The Magnificent

How to create borders:
Now I have shown you how to create layers I can show you how to create a border easily.

You will need a new transparent layer.
Then you need to go to select --> all

Then shrink your selection by a few pixels, I use 3-5 although some people prefer a single pixel.

Then invert your selection.

Then fill with a colour or use the gradient tool. That is how I did the borders in the first 3 images

Here is an image with a border.

You will want a wide range of brushes. You can google them. Just search for Photoshop Brushes or search for GIMP brushes. They will need to be installed. This is very simialr to the font installation it is just slightly higher on the list. See post #2

Thomas The Magnificent

Your first Signature:
I will create a relatively simple signature. It may not be very good but it should show you how to use GIMP.

Now the first thing I did was search on google images for charizard render. The reason I searched for render was because I wanted a clear image without a background.

I created a new image in GIMP 1000x1000 px. Then it went to layers--->transparency--->Add alpha channel.

Then I selected by colour clicked on the white background and deleted.

Lots of grey boxes will appear, don't worry these are not there in reality.

I copied the image I wanted ( and pasted it into my image.

I then went to the layers box and slected the floating layer by right clicking it. I then selected anchor layer.

Then I went to Image---->Autocrop Image.

Then I went to Image---->Scale Image and scaled it down to 120px in height.

Just leave this image for a moment save it if you wish.

Then I created a new Image 500x120px.

I filled it with a purple colour.

I then created a new layer.

I then selected white as my Foreground colour

I then went to the gradient tool. On the gradient tool I selected Fg(white) to transparent. I selected radial, (drop down box standard is linear), then I lowered the opacity to about 30. I then used this in the right hand corner a few times to get the effect shown below.

Then I used my Cloud brushes to build up a cloud base. I generally used black. I did use a light colour near to the glow and then mostly covered them with darker clouds. I used a Moon brush I have over most of the glow to create this.

Then I went to the other picture. I have it so i can see both pictures. Do this if possible. I clicked on the layer itself and dragged it over to the 500x120px image. You could probably just copy and paste if you want.

I then moved it to the side and selected the text tool and wrote charizard in white.

I then created a border (see post #4).

This is my final image. It took me about 3 minutes to complete even with the screenshots. You can spend a lot longer and create a great image.


Thomas The Magnificent

Warning: The following steps are for high Beginner/low Intermediate:
By Thomas The Magnificent

I'm trying to update this so bear with me, it may take a while.

C4D stands for Cinema4D, a C4D is a image often used in tags. There are 3 different types of C4D's; Bubbles, Effect & Abstract all of which can be found on Using c4ds can be a make or break situation in a tag, depending on the direction (Which should match the flow), layer mode (Overlay, Screen, Hard Light etc.) Do not get c4ds mixed up with Fractals (which I'll explain later), despite their uses and sometimes looks they are different. C4ds can come in single or in packs. Downloading a pack is similar to downloading brushes just no need to create a new folder (In my situation, at least.)

Experimenting with c4ds can prove useful, especially with certain layer modes, colour options and/or smudges. Nearly all experienced users use c4ds in their signatures as you can see with some of lawpaok tutorials (He's a PhotoShop user).

Here is a signature with a c4d involvement.

Fractals are very similar to c4ds, you often find fractals that have the same design as Bubble C4Ds. Again, uploading/downloading Fractals Packs are the same as downloading Brushes/C4Ds. One of my personal fractal pack makers is greentunic. His works can be found on . Above is a picture of a fractal (Which I have used, myself). Fractals are made with a program called Apophysis, well, fractal renders at least. Another good place to search for fractals is Some Fractals are better set a Screen, Overlay or Addition. Be sure to check all of the modes stated before deciding on the best.

Here is a signature with Fractal involvement.

Flow is one of the most important things to have in your signature, it determines how well blended it is and betters the outcome. Creating flow is hard, as before smudging, adding c4ds you need to look at them and then decide whether to rotate it whatever degree so it creates/matches the current flow. There is lots of tutorials for flow but since this is beginner I'll stick to my explanation. :) In a few tutorials I've seen you can smudge the stocks in the direction you want flowed before adding renders etc.

Here is a signature with a good flow:

Can you see the flow created?
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I would just like to say that this guide has been extremely helpful, I have been interested in photo editing and I think this will be the perfect thing, thank you!

Olafur Axel


Awesome! I missed this one before. :(
Does sig making or any of these have any real world applications? can it show on my resume for a paid job?


Does sig making or any of these have any real world applications? can it show on my resume for a paid job?
LoL,tag making itself no but the skills you will acquire in photoshop if you are good might help you in the future for an actual job of that kind...;)


um is this kinda the right idea? i was following someone's tut on making some panda thing;
i dont understand a lot of the fracal and c4d or whatever their called things.


Fractals and C4D's are abstract renders that are created using programs such as Cinema 4D. They're meant to enhance or create a flow in your signature.


ah ok so they're extra layers that enhance color or something of your picture/render?


c4d question:
just not getting it. everytime i try anything other than normal the render disappears. please help.


this is what i did-
downloaded a render (several renders when every one of them did not work) and erased the black backround.
then tried to change normal to the addition/ overlay.
then the render disappeared.

Thomas The Magnificent

Ah, you need to create a full tag (background etc.) or else the addition/overlay one doesn't work.