Pseudo 3D with Gimp




[Photo de l'auteur]


Original in fr André Pascual

fr to de Katja Socher

de to en Katja Socher


Originally an industrial designer, now a professor of production, he teaches CAD. Computer graphics, especially 3D graphics, is one of his passions.


Gimp is a software exclusively 2D, but with a few tricks and thanks to the numerous tools that are available, it is possible to create an image in pseudo 3D.




[Figure 1]
Figure 1

To get to the result of the example given in figure 1, four steps are necessary:

  1. Create a background with a perspective effect for the ground
  2. Create a text with an effect of a magnifying glass on the vertical wall
  3. Create a reflexive pseudo sphere
  4. Polish it by adding shadows, impressive splendour and lenses.

Create the ground

Choose the background pattern

I assume that the pattern "circuit" is available in Gimp. If this isn't the case, any other motive (the list in Gimp appears by clicking on <File><Dialogs><Patterns> or by pressing [Shift+ Ctrl+ P] ) will do for the matter. In this list, press the pattern to get the image shown in size 1:1. This shows also the name of the pattern at the top of the window.

If you want to reproduce the suggested image exactly and the motive "circuit" doesn't exist in Gimp, you can get it. For that open Gimp, load the file /opt/kde/share/wallpapers/circuit.jpg and save it with the extension"pat", choose in the list of formats <By extension> in the menu <Save Image>, that is /usr/local/share/gimp/patterns/circuit.pat.

The pattern will be available the next time Gimp is started. It should be noted that the suggested way here is for KDE 1.1.1 and Gimp 1.0.4 installed on Mandrake 5.3; it can be different in other distributions.

Before starting recall that if you are unaware of the meaning of an icon in the toolbox you only have to put the cursor over the icon in question to see a help text appearing. Recall as well that a double-click on an icon opens the dialogbox <Tools options> specific to the tool chosen. Recall in addition that a straight click on an image opens the pop up menus that consist of all the manipulation tools, from saving to filters and other Script-Fu... And finally recall gimp has shortcuts for all the operations that can be choosen from menus. Some of them are very useful: new, open, close, quit, copy, paste, cut, undo, redo...

Prepare the background

That's it.

As it will be necessary to have one image for the wall and one for the bottom, save the work in jpeg quality 1.00 (without compression; we will later compress the final image) first as 1.jpg, then a new one as 2.jpg. We now have two identical images, 1.jpg and 2.jpg, image 2 is shown on the screen. It will serve us to create the ground.(See Figure 2)

[Figure 2]
Figure 2, the background

Create the ground

The final image will have a dimension of 400x400 (arbitrary choice). You can distort 2.jpg which is shown on the screen and which is much bigger (640x480), with the help of the magnetic guides. They are activated by clicking in the rulers that border the image. Click on one ruler and then press the left button of the mouse, hold it and move the pointer to the work zone. This will show a a dotted red line moving, horizontal or vertical depending on the ruler on which you have clicked. Place the guides as shown in the image below. This dotted line becomes blue when it is unselected: it is a magnetic guide that draws the mouse pointer or the border of a selection when you approach it.

Create the front wall

Assembling wall and ground

Create the text

Produce a text-logo

[Figure 6]
Figure 6, the Logo

Assembling the text

Create the reflexive sphere

Prepare the reflexion

The sphere must reflect the text on to the front wall, that is, it must be invers to the original and rounded on the sphere.

Drawing of the sphere itself

Now it will become more delicate.

Assembling sphere and background decorations

Polishing the work

This is the part of the work that reflects more the sensibility and tact of the creator. I will only give general advice to let each creator express his/her own creativity. A remark for continuing: the letters of the logo "LOUPE" receive a horizontal light coming from the left side of the image (observe the shadows). The sphere must therefore logically be lighted in the same manner; in consequence, it must project a resulting shadow of that light on the bottom and have a portion of its surface in the shadow.

Create a shadow on the sphere

Create a moving shadow on the ground

Create a specular reflection on the sphere

The light is coming from left, the whole left frame of the sphere must be more luminous.

Create a lens effect

The incoming light of the sphere is projected in the objective of the camera, it produces an aberration, called "flare lens".

The final touch

You can now polish by adding some points of light by double-clicking> Filters> Light Effects> Super Nova with the parameters so that Radius 2 or 3 and Spoke 50 on the letters of the glass near the lighted route. The colours of this points are a matter of taste.


Voilà. The work is almost finished. I write almost because when we look at it there are surely mistakes, approximations... All creators have their own view of the objects and their own style. Everyone will have a different opinion.

Everyone should be amused.

Because Linux, and more Gimp, or evenmore the enthusiasm of the creator should not be neglected as a source of amusement.