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Tutorial: A colored swirl of light

Written by · Created on Sep 05, 2007, last updated about 12 years ago CC BY-NC License
A colored swirl of light


Some effects are just very simple to do and look still pretty cool. This one here is such an effect, usable vor all kind of graphics things such as flyers, splash-screens, wallpapers etc. I'll show you how to create such an colored light swirl below!

Tutorial details

  1. 1

    Create a new Image. 640×480. You can take any size. Apply Filter / Render / Clouds / Plasma.

  2. 2

    Now do Filters / Distorts / Whirl and Pinch…

    Whirl angle: 130
    Pinch amount: 1
    Radius: 1

    It should look like that now.

  3. 3

    Create a new transparent layer.

    Use the Blend tool, use white as foreground color and black as background color. The fastest way to do this pressing D to reset colors and then X to swap the colors.

    Shape: Radial

    Move the gradient from the center of the image to one of the four corners.

  4. 4

    Duplicate the layer. The original one name “fade black”. For this set the layer mode to “Multiply”.

    The duplicate, which should be at the top, name “light”.

  5. 5

    Click the light layer.

    - Colors / Brightness & Contrast, use values -65 / +45

    Now apply Whirl and Pinch again. The values should be still saved from step 2, if not enter the same values. Only one value has to be changed: Pich from 1 to 0.8.

    Apply the filter.

  6. 6

    Set the layer mode for the layer to Dodge. Duplicate the light layer to enhance the effect.

    Activate the background-layer. Filter / Blur / Selective Gaussian Blur.

    Radius: 50
    Max. Delta: 70

  7. 7

    If you want a single color use Colors / Desaturate, then Colors / Colorize or Colors / Color balance like me if you want an icy version:

    Shadows -30 / -30 / +30
    Mids: -30 / +10 / 0
    Highlights: 0 / 0 / 30

    Have fun.

  8. 8

    Here is just an example i played with: a splash screen for gimp 2.4 ;)


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almost 5 years ago

There is no filter - render - clouds - plasma in my version of GIMP 2.10.10

about 10 years ago

pls if you can show us the steps on how you got to this point, because i couldn't even find and option as apply filter. pls am looking forward to your reply. Thanks

PastExpiryDotCom member for almost 12 years PastExpiryDotCom 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
almost 12 years ago

Ooh! Logo creation here I come!

almost 12 years ago

Do you think you can send me the xcf file for the Splash screen? I would really love to know how you made it. My e-mail address is

almost 12 years ago

Do you think you can send me the xcf file for the Splash screen? I would really love to know how you made it. My e-mail address is

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
about 12 years ago

Sorry, I meant "shape" corrected it. You'll find it in the dropdown below the gradient chooser.

about 12 years ago

I can't find the 'Radial' form

over 12 years ago

I think that you should explain how you did the final image I wuz kind of wanting to learn how to do that not the stupid swirl!!!!!!

zadig brooks
over 12 years ago

the blue blood boy!

over 12 years ago

I love colours! I'd like to be able to create some efects like this, I'll take your tutorial and move my hands. By the way,I'm noob in GIMP:D

Muhammad Anas rated this topic with 5/5
about 14 years ago

I followed the whole tutorial + the comment of author in which he mentioned that to get more light in the center, we should copy the light layer multiple times .... and it produced exactly what is shown in step 7.
Thankyou very much for such a nice tutorial......

Winter rated this topic with 4/5
over 14 years ago

The boxes(in the splash screen) are done by playing with the layer modes (such as value saturation Hue etc etc.) am I wrong? great howto btw.. thanks!

over 14 years ago

hi, i had troubles with step 6(layer mode dodge) but now everything is good,thx :)

India Spiritual
over 14 years ago

Good one. I was looking for something like this for a long time. I am learning as of now.

over 14 years ago

Works like a charm.

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
over 14 years ago

hello, just tested it with the values from above - you just need to duplicate the swirl-layers 2 or 3 times to enhance the "light" from the middle. also you can apply a selective gaussian blur to the colored bg layer with lesser radius and strenght.

hope that helps...

Rob K
over 14 years ago

This is not complete, I am having the same problem as two other people, you do not explain how to activate the background layer. The fade to black layer covers the colours, you are definitely missing a step, maybe it is a mode of layer, or something, Would be great if you could clear this up, as you have not answered the other two people either. Any help here at all would be appreciated. It is a tutorial after all.

over 14 years ago

You rock

almost 15 years ago

Could you send me the .xcf of the 2.4 splash screen please? Thanks =]

about 15 years ago

This is retarded i did every exactly the way it said and it ddnt come out anything like te picture... wasted my time

about 15 years ago

Yeah can u send me a tutorial or how-to of somekind on how to make that last image

about 15 years ago

Ok, im having difficulties with step 3. Im triyng to figure out how to do the gradient thing.Need help.

P.S.: I have GIMP 2.6.6

about 15 years ago

I'd love to know how to get from the end of this tutorial to the finished splash screen. Is there another tutorial that shows that process?

over 15 years ago

Where do u get this picture!?!?!?!?!

J'ann Baill
over 15 years ago

Thank you for this :-)

over 15 years ago

Adianna, are you sure you're applying the whirl and pinch to the right layer?

And my question is that I do all of the steps but the fade black layer just covers up the back layer so all i get is the Dodged and whirled top layer. Am i missing something?

over 15 years ago

I'm having difficulty with step #5 after I do the whirl and pinch the second time it doesn't give me that whirl effect.. it just stays a sphere.. I've gone over it again and again... I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Can you help?
Thank you in advance if you can...

over 15 years ago

May I know how the detail how do you make a "splash screen for gimp 2.4" from step 7 to 8?

It was a really nice splash screen you made.


over 15 years ago

Nice... but how do u do the Gradient thingy?? That's my only problem...

over 15 years ago

Dude that splah screen is damn awesome...
big props yo

almost 16 years ago

Ok, all is good until Whirl and Pinch. My 4 corners have disappeared in the process and the colors are off. Then the gradient isn't a circle and is transparent...not likeyours. So I gave up for the moment. Help???

bluegimp member for over 16 years bluegimp 3 comments
over 16 years ago

or you can send me the tutorial of that splash screen so that i know how do you do that...

bluegimp member for over 16 years bluegimp 3 comments
over 16 years ago

hi devvv, can you also send me the gimp file of splash screen above?thank you

bluegimp member for over 16 years bluegimp 3 comments
over 16 years ago

hi devvv, how did you do the splash screen? can you please tell on how to do that kind of artwork? thanks!

Amyk13 member for almost 17 years Amyk13 5 comments
over 16 years ago

Nice splash screen! I love it!

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
over 16 years ago

i would, but since i have no email address to sent to, i can't ... ;)

over 16 years ago

would you send me the gimp file for the splash screen, I'd like to see how you did the change color witht eh little box things lol

over 16 years ago

So how do you activate the background? I couldnt do this because you didnt tell how to activate the background =[

almost 17 years ago

That splash screen is awesome! Best I've seen yet for Gimp! Excellent!

henriquemaia member for almost 17 years henriquemaia 11 comments
almost 17 years ago

You’re right. I have tried now and it’s ok. Great howto, by the way.

Note to self: do not follow howtos when you’re sleepy. My apologies.

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
almost 17 years ago

hi! just tried it again and everything works fine. nothing is missing. why do you think something is wrong with the howto?

henriquemaia member for almost 17 years henriquemaia 11 comments
almost 17 years ago

Is this howto complete? It seems to be missing something after selecting the "light" layer mode to dodge. What about the other layers?