Flip Flops and a GIMP Bump Map

I was working on a graphic to use as a promo for my debate this Saturday with Nate Langel at the NovaNOW conference in Grand Rapids. (sidebar - if you're in the area, it'll be a great conference. You should come).

Here's the final image:

It's too cold in Michigan for sandals, put on some shoes

If you're wondering what the topic of the debate is, well...it's Flipped Learning. And perhaps debate is the wrong word...we'll be discussing the pros and cons of flipping from our viewpoints. I'm going to try and make sure the whole thing is recorded so I can post it later.

Anyways, this took me way longer to make than it should have, but through that time, I learned a lot by making a ton of mistakes.

So, first, I needed a background image. I just did a quick Google search for some flip flips and picked an image that was top-down showing both sandals so I could put the text on each foot.

I pulled the JPEG into GIMP and got to work. First, I looked for a summer-ish font and landed on Bauhaus 93 mainly because I think it's something Old Navy used to use. And they're always having fun in their jorts and sunglasses.

The text gave me a hard time. GIMP, for whatever reason, gives you three or four interfaces for editing text, but not all of them work. The best way I found to edit the text was to make sure the "Use Editor" option is selected with the text tool.

So, I had some flat text on the flip flops and I knew that there was a way to add some texture in the GIMP menus. Canvas is a great one for old-timey book covers or for faux paintings, but it wouldn't have worked on this one because the sandals have some larger bumps. After doing some research, I came across the Bump Map. That allows you to take the texture of any layer and apply it to a layer sitting on top, letting it come through.

This is where it got tricky for me. Lesson #1 - make sure the layer you want to texture is the same size as your image. You can do this by right clicking on the layer and selecting "Layer to Image Size." It makes the mapping much easier.

In the dialog, you have some options. In the dropdown, set the textured layer. In other words, this is the layer you want to use to apply the texture. For me, it was my base flip flop image.

You can see that the text now has the same texture as the flip flop, making it look like it was printed rather than digitally added. It isn't perfect, but it looks better. I also played with the Azimuth, Elevation, and Depth controls to make it look like it was the same grit as the rest of the shoe. I also filled the text with a 60% opacity to make it look a little faded...it let some of the orange of the sandal bleed through. The last thing I did was take the eraser and select a brush tool to create some fade marks. They're hard to see, but it gives a little more authenticity to the text.

One thing I need to work on is fading the edges of the text to match the texture a little bit. Right now, they're too clean, which ruins the effect a little bit. If anyone has tips on how to do that, I'd love to see how in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Flip Flops and a GIMP Bump Map

  1. Kelly Campbell says:

    Hey Im Kelly Campbell from EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. This is very insightful. I have never been to computer savvy but I know the basics. I have never heard of the program GIMP. Being a future educator I probably need to learn more about this program so I can make
    graphics to help my students learn. Obviously, I do not have any tips on how to use this program for you right now but I do think your graphic looks great. But like you said, just some more fading around the edges to match the texture and I think you will have an outstanding
    graphic.

  2. […] mentioned yesterday that I’m leading a conversation at Saturday’s NovaNOW conference in Grand Rapids. The […]

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