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Making a Tie-Dye Design With Gimp

Date/Time Permalink: 04/11/10 01:51:40 am
Category: Graphics Tutorials

Just another random thing you can make with Gimp filters. By "tie-dye" I mean the shirt design you see on most of the shirts at a Grateful Dead concert. Commence:

1. Pick the full-spectrum rainbow gradient, apply it to the canvas with the gradient tool on 'spiral' (cw here). Get it close to the center, but not perfect.


2. Make a new layer and move it under the top one. This time, pick an FG-to-BG gradient with black-and-white color. Apply it to the new layer with the gradient tool, this time a bi-linear gradient with 'repeat' checked. Again, this will look more natural if it isn't ruler-straight-perfect, so don't bother with the guides and just shoot from the hip. We're going to make a distortion map!


3. Now apply a polar distortion to the black-and-white striped layer. You should find it in Filters -> Distorts, unless they move it by the time you read this. Note in the dialog, we're moving the 'circle depth in percent' slider all the way over to 0 - we want a square frame with a burst design.


4. Open the Warp dialog, last seen at the time of this writing under Filters -> Map. This is the step where you can experiment some to suit your taste. Be sure the top rainbow layer is active and the dialog here sets the bottom black-and-white layer to be the displacement map. Here I have step-size to 20.00 and iterations set to '15.' I'm ignoring the advanced and more advanced options for now.


5. Gaussian blur to about 30.00 (Filters -> blur UTMI*). Then open the color curves dialog (colors -> curves UTMI). Here's another place to play with the settings. Notice that the colors get lighter when you move the curve higher than the diagonal baseline - useful to note if you're going for the printed-on-white-Tshirt-look. Click the curve type a couple of time to get multiple nodes to play with. Just groove around, here!


6. From here, you can use the brightness/contrast tool to bleach it out more, use some other effects such as applying a canvas to look like it's printed on cloth, or undo (Ctrl-Z) a couple of steps to go back and check out that warp map again. In the warp dialog, raising dither size (about yea 15 or so) blurs out the effect in a grainy scattering way, for the more realistic fabric-wrinkles from Tshirt knots; checking magnitude map and using the top layer will make only part of the design warp to the map; changing the rotation angle will also introduce some wrinkles; the other parts all do something too, but just diddle them around this way and explore everything.

Here's one I got:


By the way, digitally designing a tie-dye pattern and screen-printing it on a shirt and actually wearing it where hippies congregate is sure to get you some dirty looks, except for the ones who have a sense of humor enough to appreciate the irony of it.

*UTMI = Unless They Moved It

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