15 Great Color Effects Turorials for GIMP
The brilliant orange Namib Desert turned pink.
I’ve been focused on color in digital photography lately. Maybe because I start a class on black and white film photography soon. So, before I start my journey into black and white film, I wanted to share some GIMP color tutorials. This will wrap up a series of posts I’ve been doing about color in photography.(Click here to see the rest of the color series)
If you’ve read the rest of my posts on color in photography, you’ve already covered all of the practical stuff. Your color photos are as accurate as can be, and you’re using color in your composition to effect mood and draw peoples attention to the subject. Now, it’s time to PLAY!
Here are 15 fun and easy GIMP color tutorials. Each section either links to a tutorial that I’ve used or written, or it has a link ‘button’ that will let you expand the GIMP color tutorial I’ve written just for this post. Enjoy!
1. Selectively Color B&W photos:
An easy way to get this effect is with Layer Masks
Get this in demand effect by using layer masks in GIMP. My own tutorial takes you through the whole process from start to finish and even explains a little about what layer masks are and how they work.
2. Cross Process
This was a popular effect in the 90′s and I still think it’s cool in a kind of post-ironic way. Digital “cross processing” gives the effect of film that’s been processed in the wrong chemicals. It causes colors to change in a retro-cool kind of way. This is the tutorial that taught me how to cross process.
3. Ramp Up Saturation with LAB Colors:
This simple method will make the colors in your photos pop without adding a bunch of noise» I couldn’t find an up to date GIMP tutorial for this method so I wrote one for you. Click Here to Expand the Tutorial»
4. Pop Art
Actual Warhol Piece.
This YouTube tutorial shows you how to turn a photograph into a pop art masterpiece that Warhol himself might dig. This method is a little involved but very precise. Want the easier method? See the next section.
5. 4 Square Pop Art (The Easier Version)
Another actual Warhol piece.
Want to colorize an image a bunch of times but don’t want to color by hand?
This video GIMP tutorial (from the same creator as the one above) teaches you how to get the pop art look the easy way.
6. Change hair color in GIMP
Trying on hair colors in GIMP is much cheaper and easier than a trip to the salon. I threw on some lipstick too, just for fun.
I admit, maybe this berry red isn’t my color. But it sure was easy to try.
I might even use this to pick my next actual hair color. Edit: I have used this technique to try on and pick actual hair colors. Pretty cool, huh?
7. Sepia Toning
This photo circa 1897 courtesy of Okinowa Soba on Flickr.
This photo is a black and white image. It was made to look like a sepia tone picture using an image editor. You can get this classic look by using GIMP in your modern digital photos. Just follow this GIMP Color tutorial to make your digital photos look they were printed in the 1800′s.
8. Color Rotate
The brilliant orange Namib Desert turned pink.
Change one range of colors to another range of colors. In this photo I took in the Namib dessert, I changed everything that was yellow/orange into shades of pink.
The orange sand's opposite is blue. The white-ish sky's opposite is black.
Change every color in your photo to its exact opposite by using this GIMP.org color tutorial.
10. Posterize GIMP Color Tutorial
I reduced this picture of me to just two colors plus black and white.
Posterize lets you limit the colors used in your photo. When you reduce the number of colors in the photo a lot, it can cause this sort of comic book effect.
11. Alien Map
There's lots of options for this effect so you can tweak it to your liking.
Change the colors in your photo in a random, alien way.
12. Value Invert
The dark trees became bright orange, and the bright sky and sand are now very dark.
Inverts the brightness of each pixel. Light parts become dark and dark parts become light.
13. Palette Map
I made a palette of just four colors for this image.
Kind of like posterize. Reduces the photo to the colors in your active palette instead of auto picking those colors for you like posterize does. This effect has the potential to look really crazy and fun. Pick just a few colors for your palette for an effect more like posterize, or a palette with a lot of colors (some have more than 200) for an effect more like color rotate.
14. Neon Edge Detect
I think the Neon effect works well with simple recognizable subjects like flowers.
Turn your photo into neon lights against a black background.
15.Bonus! 32 Different GIMP Color Effects Using One Tutorial!
Find out which Blend Mode I used to get Each of these effects.» Click the button, then click the Links to see a larger version of each effect.
This basic technique uses Layer Blend Modes to create cool color effects in your image. Once you get the idea, you can use this in all kinds of ways to enhance and alter your images. Enjoy!»
Part One: Color Problems
Part Two: Color in Composition
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New to GIMP?
If you’re brand new to GIMP, and you don’t know where to start, check out my GIMP book for beginners. It’s called “Before and After” and it will help you learn GIMP with out all of the stress and guess work you thought you had to go through. Once you have a good GIMP foundation, you’ll be able to follow these GIMP color tutorials with ease. Enjoy!
Noise can be blobs of color, spots of color, or a grainy look where there should be smooth uninterrupted color in a photo. This short explanation
has a great example of the noise regular saturating methods can cause, versus the great results you get with the LAB method I’ve linked to in this post.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
- Open your image. Duplicate the background layer.
- Go to Colors > Components > Decompose. Choose LAB colors from the dropdown menu.Â Check the Decompose to Layers option. Click OK.
- You’ll now have a black and white version of your image with three layers called L A and B. Make only the B layer visible. Duplicate this layer. Choose Overlay from the Layer Blend Mode options.Â Now right click the top B layer and select Merge Visible. Check Expanded as necessary and click Merge.
- Repeat step 4 on the A layer.
- Make only the L layer visible. Go to Colors > Curves. Click and drag the top right end of the line UP a little, and click and drag the Bottom Left part of the line DOWN a little to create a slight S Curve like this:Â Click OK.
- Go to Colors > Components > Re-Compose. You don’t need the black and white version of your image anymore. Minimize or close the black and white version so you can see the color version again.
- Now you’ll have a saturated version of your image on top of the version you started with. If the image is too saturated for your taste, use the Opacity Slider to adjust. Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
- Open your image. Create a New Layer.
- Go to Filters > Render > Clouds > Plasma. Play with the Turbulence slider until you get a pattern of colors you like. Click OK.
- Now, go to the Layer Blend Modes dropdown menu and try out the different modes. Each of the 20 options will give you a different effect. (I did not include Dissolve as it doesn’t really blend the images and it doesn’t look that cool to me.)
- I know, I promised 32 effects not 20. Click on the Plasma Layer and drag it under the Background Layer. Select Background Layer again (now on top) and go through the Blend Modes. 12 of them will give you a different effect with this layer order. Cool!
- Try this with different layer combinations. Make a black and white version of your image rather than a plasma cloud and try out the blend modes.Â Or, just make a gray layer and test out the blend modes, you’ll end up with some really cool effects like I did in my Layer Blend Modes article. There’s all kinds of cool effects you can get with this simple technique.
- Have Fun!Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
- Check for Color Casts the Easy Way
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