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Tutorial: Structure based deformation (adaptive distortion)

Written by , translated by devvv · Created on May 28, 2014, last updated almost 10 years ago CC BY-NC License


This tutorial shows how you can distort a logo in a realistic way so that it seems to be lying directly on a surface. We're using a distortion mask to create this effect which "tells" the image what is being distorted with the depth information.

Tutorial details

  1. 1 01_logo_struktur.jpg

    What you basically need is an image of a surface that has some realistic depth (such as stones, a wall or even a picture of a face). It is important that the image has dark and bright spots which indicate the structure. In my example the contrast between the stones (bright) and the spots between them (dark) helps us to determine the structure.

  2. 2

    The next step is to prepare the mask that is used for the deformation.

    Duplicate the surface layer, rename it to “gaussed” and blur the image using

    • Filters / Gaussian Blur / 5 – 10px. Then desaturate using:
    • Colors / Desaturate

    Tip: The higer you blur the image (higher values) the softer will the distortion be at the end!

  3. 3

    Disable the visibility of the “gaussed” layer.

    Open any image that should be deformed and import it to you structure picture. The easiest way is to use

    • File / Open as layers /

    I opened the logo of our open source Android app “DAVdroid” for this example.

  4. 4

    Important: You need to make your logo exactly equal-sized as the deformation mask. Otherwise you’ll be unable to choose the mask in the “Displace” filter. To achieve this select the logo layer and use the menu

    • Layers / Layer to image size

    Now we’re using the deformation mask to distort the image based on the structure.

    • Use Filter / Map / Displace. (see values on the image)

    Choose the deformation mask (“gaussed”) for X and Y. The X value displaces the image horizontally, Y does it vertically. The higher the values the more deformation you get. In most cases values between 10 and 30 will fit your needs. The “Polar” option instead of “Cartesian” deforms the logo towards the corners and edges. Just experiment with it!

  5. 5

    Now use the layer mode “Grain merge” to blend the logo layer with the background structure. You can also lower the opacity to around 70-80 if you feel the colors are looking too strong. This process will merge the contrast of the structure with the logo.

  6. 6

    Now if we’re looking closer on the image you can see that the white arrow of the logo is “melting” over the stones. As intended the ground is a darker area which lets the logo sink down to it at the space between the stones.

  7. 7

    This is our final result. I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial ;)


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This topic (Structure based deformation (adaptive distortion)) has been rated 4.8/5.0.

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about 5 years ago

Прекрасный урок. Спасибо! Очень жаль, что я попала
на ваш форум только сейчас и - почти случайно. Буду его с удовольствием рекомендовать.

Patricia member for almost 13 years Patricia 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
about 6 years ago

This is a nice tutorial. Short and to the point. This is something I have been wanting to do but really not much time to figure it out myself. Thank you.

Newer Nightmare
over 6 years ago

This is awesome.

nateart member for almost 7 years nateart 2 comments rated this topic with 5/5
almost 7 years ago

Awesome... used to do this in photoshop - great to see it implemented in Gimp. Often used it to wrap text/image around a cylinder (like a can) or a bottle shape - these were usually simple grey scale. The most complex one I made was using a topo map of a golf green to create appropriate shades of grey and then impose the map of the green (hole, sand traps, etc.) over the grey-scale to match the contours... very useful feature!

bitchboy member for over 15 years bitchboy 6 comments
over 7 years ago

That's a cool one and thanks for sharing, I really like the way you're helping with your tutorials

AllstarSeaworthyofNBC member for almost 8 years AllstarSeaworthyofNBC 4 comments rated this topic with 4/5
almost 8 years ago

Look, this tutorial is a bit great, but I feel used to it. I used the Wave 103 logo (fictional radio station in Vice City) and displacing it into a wall. Very thanks!

devvv member for over 17 years devvv 1475 comments
over 9 years ago

Glad you like it ;) You should have upladed this picture, hehe.

AxureAdam rated this topic with 5/5
over 9 years ago

Great tutorial. Works really well. I put a starbucks logo on Brad Pitt's face.

Take that Brad!

minima member for about 10 years minima 2 comments rated this topic with 5/5
almost 10 years ago

Awesome tutorial.

Thanks Devvv

almost 10 years ago

Great tutorial, will look at using better images next time as this was a quick make do. Great effect.

josephbupe member for about 13 years josephbupe 20 comments
almost 10 years ago

Hi Devvv,

This is a cool tutorial.

Thanx for sharing.

Lyle member for about 12 years Lyle 91 comments rated this topic with 5/5
almost 10 years ago

Nice tut Devvv. :)