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Tutorial: Make an explosion effect

Written by · Created on May 08, 2012, last updated almost 12 years ago CC BY-NC License


This tutorial demonstrates how to use GIMPs extremely powerful brush dynamics to create a cool explosion effect pretty easy.

Tutorial details

  1. 1

    Create a new empty file with black background. Size can cary – I used 1024×768px.

    Next, create a new transparent layer. On it use the free select tool to make a small 4-edged selection – like mine seen on the image. Set FG color to white and go to Edit / Fill with FG color. De-Select all (Select / None)

  2. 2

    Use the rectangle selection tool and draw a selection around it. Press CTRL+C to copy this to the clipboard.

    Sidenote: With GIMP you can use the clipboard as an on-the-fly-brush. You can draw the clipboard contents using the paint tools.

  3. 3

    Now choose the Paintbrush tool. In the dropdown of the brush use the very first brush – this is the content from the clipboard you can paint with.

  4. 4

    After you set the clipboard brush set size to 170px. Open the dynamics options and in the gradient choose the Shadows 2 gradient. Also Check the Apply Jitter option and set it to 20.

    • Now go to Window / Dockable Dialogs / Paint dynamics.
    • At the bottom press the “Create new dynamics” button.
    • In the matrix that shows up choose the “Random” column and check vales in the rows for:
      • Size (varies the size of the brush based on the standard size you entered in the settings of the Paintbrush tool)
      • Angle (rotates the brush randomly now)
      • Color (takes a random color out of the colors that you have in the gradient you choose)
      • Aspect Ratio (shrinks, shears and disforms the brush)
      • Jitter (uses the jitter value from the settings)

    These paint dynamics are now active unless you set the “Dynamics off” in the Paintbrush settings.

  5. 5

    Go back to the layers dialog (or press CTRL+L to make it show). Click the eye symbol to make the layer invisible. Creat a new transparent layer and paint on the canvas (in the center) to create the base of the explosion.

  6. 6

    Next set the size of the brush to 370 and paint some bigger parts at the sides.

  7. 7

    Now go to Filter / Blur / Motion blur. Set “Zoom” and use a length of 30 and apply it.

  8. 8

    Create a new layer. Go to Filter / Light & Shadow / Supernova. Set the nova to the center, choose a light orange-yellow color and the values Radius 50 / Spokes 180 / hue 0. Then apply the almost same motion blur again but with 200 length. Then blur the layer using Filter / Blur / Gaussian Blur: 15px and set the layer mode to Screen.

  9. 9

    Rightclick the top layer in the layers group and choose “New from visible”. On it apply a slight S-curve in Color / Curves to higher the contrast a bit.

  10. 10 colorbalance_explosion.txt

    Now go to Color / Color balance.

    Shadows: 0 / 0 / -5
    Midtones: 5 / 0 / -10
    Highlights: 0 / 0 / 0.

    Alternatively right-click the file (attached to this step) and save it. Then import it in the Color balance dialog at the top right.

    After that apply Blur / Motion Blur: Zoom, 15px lenght and you’re done ;)

    Hope you enjoyed it!


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about 4 years ago

Thank you so much, a fantastic tuto, with I learn a lot of things

almost 8 years ago

Thank you it's very useful
almost 11 years ago

Great tutorial!

dthomas731 member for almost 14 years dthomas731 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
almost 12 years ago

Fantastic tutorial. I "changed" it up a bit.

devvv member for over 17 years devvv 1475 comments
almost 12 years ago

it is a new feature of GIMP 2.8 - so it is not available in former versions like 2.6.x

corona radiata
almost 12 years ago

I can't find paint dynamics in window > dockable dialogs.
Using gimp 2.6.12

almost 12 years ago

Simple and sweet :-), animation with blur is quite useful in Games.

Coche member for almost 15 years Coche 13 comments rated this topic with 5/5
almost 12 years ago

pretty cool devvv!