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Tutorial: Create a colored zig zag pattern!

Written by , translated by devvv · Created on Dec 11, 2011, last updated over 12 years ago CC BY-NC License


This tutorial is a very simple one showing a way to create a interesting zig zag pattern in GIMP. It has no special sense, but it is well usable in various ways (webdesign, background for something, etc).

Tutorial details

  1. 1

    Create a new document: 600×600px. White background.

  2. 2

    Go to Filter / Render / Fractal explorer.

    Switch to the “Fractals” tab, choose the second one – its called “Bar code label”. Double click it, then press OK and the pattern will be rendered.

  3. 3

    Duplicate the background layer once (the hotkey combination for this is CTRL+SHIFT+D). On the copy use the Rotate tool. Click the layer on the canvas and set 90°. Press OK

  4. 4

    Set the layer mode (this is a drop down menu found atop the most top layer in the layers dialog) to “Multiply”.

  5. 5

    Press CTRL+M or go to Image / Flatten image. This combines the current view of all layers to be on one single layer.

    After that go to Filter / Artistic / Oilify. Remain the settings on 8/8. Just click OK to apply the filter.

  6. 6

    Next go to Filter / Distort / Ripple. Take the values from screenshot please:

  7. 7

    The pattern itself is done by now! Not it’s time for some color ;). There are various ways to get the color in. I.e. you can just use Colors / Color Balance or you can make it super colored using this technqiue:

    Choose the Airbrush tool (hotkey = A). Create a new very smooth, also big brush (go to Windows / (Dockable) Dialogs / Brushes and click “New”). After you created it choose it from the brushes drop down menu in the airbrush options. In the screenshot my brush is named “weich”. Use the options from the screenshot please:

  8. 8

    After that paint with the airbrush straight through the image. The more you move over the same area the more intense the color will be.

    Just experiment a bit with it ;)

  9. 9

    Some different color settings:


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engine777 member for almost 8 years engine777 5 comments
almost 8 years ago

Thank you for the tutorial

devvv member for over 17 years devvv 1475 comments
over 11 years ago

Hi ilomo: since GIMP 2.8 this option is available through Windows / Dockable Dialogs / Paint Dynamics. From this dock choose "Create new dynamic" and in the popup matrix choose "Direction/Color". Thank you for telling, I will update the tutorial soon!

ilomo member for over 11 years ilomo 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
over 11 years ago

Hi, I'm trying to repeat what you've done but, when I'm gonna complete the step 7, can't use the color from gradient as you done cause there is no place select it... I'm using Gimp 2.8. Do you know how can I fix it?
I send you a screenshot...
Thanks for your tutorial!!!!!

kensgirl91 member for over 12 years kensgirl91 1 comment
over 12 years ago

@kestrel4 I to wanted to use gimp as just for improving photos. I didn't want to do all the designs and such that many tutorials were showing. But then I found that by using tutorials like these, especially short easy ones, I started to learn the different effects that I would be able to use. Hope this makes sense.

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

GIMP is a program to be used in many ways. This can be i.e. used for background in webdesign, textures for 3d models... or somethng like that. I will however try to make some more things for photographers ;)

over 12 years ago

I have never worked out why anyone would want to create this or any of the other odd patterns and weird effects I get told about in these tutorials. What I want to do with GIMP is edit and improve photographs whilst keeping the realism. Is that something that just boring Photoshop users do? I feel like I'm in the wrong room.