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Tutorial: Glow FX extreme

Written by , translated by devvv · Created on Apr 10, 2010, last updated about 1 year ago CC BY-NC License


I guess this tutorial will mostly be enjoyed by graphics enthusiasts ;) We're going to create a special glowing lines effect with saturated colors and good dynamic!

Tutorial details

  1. 1

    Create a new image: 1280×700px – use black as background color.

    We’re first making the basics for a single glowing line.

    - New transparent layer. Only work on this layer. Click it in the layers dialogue to make it active.
    - User the Paths tool, create an exact horizontal line. The lenght is no too important. Most important thing is that the line is even as seen on the picture below.

  2. 2

    - Switch to a white as foreground color.
    - In the tool properties click “Stroke path”. Deactivate the “Antialiasing” option and set the witdh to 1px. Click OK/STROKE.
    - Let the path remain active. [Tip: If the path has disappeared already, click the Paths dialoge and double click on the path to activate the path again]

  3. 3

    - Create a new transparent layer.
    - Stroke the path again. Use 11px width now.

  4. 4

    - Press M to select the Move tool. The path will disapprear.
    - Filter / Blur / Gaussian Blur: 100px;

  5. 5

    Click the right mouse button on the blurry layer to bring up the context menu and choose “Merge Down”. That will combine the layers into one.
    - Layer / Crop layer automatically.

  6. 6

    - Now choose the “Perspective” tool (SHIFT+P).

    - Move the top and bottom left corners to each other so that they meet in the left middle as seen in the picture below.

  7. 7

    By now you should have a line that has a shine and is thinner on the left side. We’re finishing the line base by duplicating the line and flipping it:

    - duplicate the layer
    - choose the Flip tool (SHIFT+F) and click the layer on the canvas to flip it.
    - now move the duplicate to the right so that there is a perfect smooth looking line that looks like it would be one.

  8. 8

    - Choose “Merge Down” again from the layers context menu.

  9. 9

    We’re now using the IWarp tool to get some curves in.

    - Move the layer to the middle of the canvas.
    - Layer / Layer to picture size. By doing that we get more possible space to work on the layer with the IWarp filter.

  10. 10

    - duplicate the layer with the line 3 to 5 times.

  11. 11

    - Select Filter / Distort / IWarp. As values use:

    Choose 180-200px for the “Move” option, select a “Radius” betwenn 0.10-0.20.

    Maximize the filter window. Work in the preview window to the left and click inside below the left end of the line and drag the mouse cursor to the upper right direction. You’ll create a nice smooth curve by doing so. You have to player around a bit in this step to get nice (but not too big) curves in you line.

  12. 12

    Choose another layer and repeat the step above for all of the duplicates. The aim is to get little different curves all the time.

  13. 13

    Move the lines a little bit away from each other.

  14. 14

    Deselect the eye icon to make the background layer disappear. Choose the layers context menu and select “New from Visible” (or go to Edit / Select visible. Edit / Paste visible as new layer. this has the same effect).

  15. 15

    Make sure the new layer is active and you can work on it.

    Now we’re getting some dynamic into the picture. Go to Filter / Blur / Motion Blur. Use “Linear” and a length of 170px, Angle 0 as values. It should look like the image below now.

  16. 16

    Duplicate the blurred layer and re-use the filter again. But this time use 190px length and an angle of 40°. After that use the Scale/Transform tool and scale it to 150%. Drag the layer to a position so that the gray blurry area lies above the lines.

  17. 17

    - New transparent layer
    - Use the Gradient tool now. Select Black as new foreground color. In the gradient tools properties choose the FG to transparency option. Then drag a gradient from the left to the right. That should darken the left side. Do so for the right part of the image too.

  18. 18

    - New transparent layer
    - Use the Brush tool and paint some color along the lines. It should look somehow like the picture below.

  19. 19

    Now use the Motion Blur filter again: Angle: 0, Length about 200 pixels.

    After that blur the layer again by using Filter / Blur / Gaussian Blur: 100px. Set the layers mode (the option is found above the opacity/transparency ruler in the layers dialogue) to “Color”. You can move the lines to other positions that fit better if you want. You may also choose a lower opacity for some layers. The aim is to get a nice looking image (of course ;))

    Save the image as i.e. lines-base.xcf.

  20. 20

    Duplicate the whole image (CTRL+D) and merge all layers by pressing CTRL+M in the duplicate.

  21. 21

    Duplicate the background layer. Go to Filter / Blur / Gaussian: 10px. Set the layers mode to “Dodge”.

  22. 22

    Next we want to highlight the middle of the picture.

    - Create a new layer. Choose the Brush tool and use a big smooth Brush. Paint a single point into the middle of the image using #b5edff as color. Set the layer mode to “Lighten only”.

  23. 23

    - Use the scale / transform tool and move the point a little together (rom top and from bottom).

  24. 24

    Now write a text using a thin font into the middle and flip a duplicate of the text – maybe use a layer mask with a black-white gradient to get a nice mirror-effect. That will emphasize the glowing effect even more.

  25. 25

    We’re done! Have fun with your own glow fx extreme effect! It can be nicely used as desktop wallpaper or for any graphics work.

  26. 26

    And here is a 2nd version that I created using the techniques above.

    I hope you enjoed the tutorial!


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10 months ago

LOVE YOUR STYLE AND ESP. YOUR TUTORIALS. SIMPLY SPEAKING I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IM DOING, See I didn't even know i was shouting....can this be used if I want to make one ribbon?

about 1 year ago

I get stuck at 6. Every time I use the Perspective tool, the line disappears. I am using Gimp. 2.8.10. I don't know what I am doing wrong arrgghh.

devvv member for over 8 years devvv 1438 comments
about 1 year ago

It's not possible, but you can help yourself by adding a new horizontal guide... Better then nothing ;)

about 1 year ago

How do I create an exactly horizontal path? :/

almost 2 years ago

To be fair, it doesn't really matter if you create the path before the layer or vice versa - as long as you perform all actions of step 1 before you advance to step 2.

almost 2 years ago

One of the worst tutorials I've seen. Your screenshots don't even match the description, i.e. in Step 1 you say to work on the transparent layer above the black background layer, but your screenshot shows you have only ONE layer present and you're drawing on it. Ridiculous.

drankinatty member for over 2 years drankinatty 2 comments rated this topic with 4/5
over 2 years ago

Oops forgot to attach the finished product :)

drankinatty member for over 2 years drankinatty 2 comments rated this topic with 4/5
over 2 years ago

Excellent article. I always wondered how the glow was done. Followed the tutorial all the way to the flipped and mirrored text. Consider adding a bit more detail in applying the quick mask to the flipped text to complete the mirror effect. Thanks for the tutorial!

over 2 years ago

This is a wonderful tutorial - but I can't complete it.. :(
I can't seem to get past Step 18. Once I do the Motion Blur it looks terrible, then when I do the second blur, some of the lines have faded out entirely and the colours are extremely light. If I even attempt to change the layers mode to "Color" it desaturates the colour from the image almost completely. And suggestions about what I'm doing wrong? Help please?
Thanks in advance,

almost 3 years ago

Awesome tutorial you did a great job and I love it!

over 3 years ago

For the paths tool part, you don't drag it. You have to click at one side, then at the other and try to keep it straight. It should work then.

over 3 years ago

I am stuck at the Paths Tool part! Every time I go to stroke a path, it NEVER shows up! :(

over 4 years ago

I would really want a video fro this.

devvv member for over 8 years devvv 1438 comments
over 4 years ago

just switch to the german portal:

over 4 years ago

Can you do this in a video in german? oder this tutorial in german? kriegs nich gebacken :D

over 4 years ago

I'm using Ubuntu 10.04, its the Ambience theme that comes with the OS. Windows users can use a program called Gimp Themes v 1, found on Just Google "gimp themes". I think the similar theme is Dark Midnight.

Tristen member for over 4 years Tristen 4 comments
over 4 years ago

And how do you change the color of like the GIMP style?

over 4 years ago

In this case, since you are using Paths, the tool properties would be found when right clicking the Path layer and selecting "stroke path" option. See the following:">

over 4 years ago

Tool properties are found in the Toolbox menu toward the bottom. Whenever you select a tool (e.g. Blend tool, Bucket Fill, etc.) the "properties" for that tool are shown below your selection.

Tristen member for over 4 years Tristen 4 comments
over 4 years ago

I find this very confusing. You say got to tool properties. WHERE THE HELL IS THAT.

Tristen member for over 4 years Tristen 4 comments
over 4 years ago

When you open GIMP 2.7 and write the word it closes. How did you do it? How do you change it to brown to.

over 4 years ago

Ich komm leider nicht weiter,denn mein Gimp ist auf deutsch. Gradient tool und Distort Filter wären mir auf deutsch lieber. Hast du vill. auch ein deutsches Tutorial gemacht?
Liebe Grüße

Leanne rated this topic with 4/5
over 4 years ago

Is there a video for this?

emma member for over 4 years emma 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
over 4 years ago

Hi ur tutorial is great but am stuck at 11 when u iwrap my line does not curl in preview it only moves up and down what to do????

Rasto Cichy rated this topic with 5/5
over 4 years ago

Cool tutor, thx!

Josh C rated this topic with 5/5
over 4 years ago

i cant make the line? for some reason when i apply stroke path it just wont appear for me! but nice tut anywho

Phi rated this topic with 5/5
over 4 years ago

hey this tutorial is awesome but for some reason way back in step like 3 or 4 the line wont even show up. my friend helped me hes good with gimp but even when i did exactly what he told me to do nothing came up. why is this???????

Muhammad Anas rated this topic with 5/5
over 4 years ago

Thank you very much for such a nice tutorial ...

@ dar:
click on "Autocrop Layer" in the "Layer" menu while the required layer is selected in the layers dialog..

dar rated this topic with 4/5
over 4 years ago

Step 5:

- Layer / Crop layer automatically.

How is this done?

junapp member for over 4 years junapp 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
over 4 years ago

just awesome! thank you for this.

red666 member for over 4 years red666 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
over 4 years ago

This is damn excellent! Thanks for this tut.

Jose rated this topic with 5/5
over 4 years ago

Wow is really awesome when you apply the "color" layer mode in step 19. Is my favorite step in the whole tutorial :)

rosie rated this topic with 5/5
almost 5 years ago">
thanks for the tutorial! (:

yeaaa rated this topic with 4/5
almost 5 years ago

Awesome tutorial!
Didn't completely followed it, mine is a bit more soft :)

devvv member for over 8 years devvv 1438 comments rated this topic with 5/5
almost 5 years ago

thanks ;) I'm happy that you enjoy it! I'm using a development version of GIMP (2.7 as you see above in the tut. details) under linux.

127markaz member for over 5 years 127markaz 6 comments
almost 5 years ago

Thank you so very much for the tutorial, Bernhard. I will use it quite often. Beautiful!
What version of the The Gimp is used in this tutorial? It looks like the description of 2.8 (single window).

coche rated this topic with 5/5
almost 5 years ago

Wow really nice Bernhard! Thanks!!

mahvin rated this topic with 5/5
almost 5 years ago

Included a picture of my results, I can think of several other uses for this effect. :)

almost 5 years ago

Thanks for the tutorial, Bernhard. :)