Painting Basic Energy Effects in GIMP, part 2

This tutorials designed to give you the basics of making postwork energy effects using GIMP. Some of the techniques can be applied to other programs as well. GIMP is a free image editing program you can download here


This next section is a set of assorted tricks to add a little extra "pop" to the image. It uses some of the techniques we used in the previous section. If you missed that one, go back now

Let's continue...

Lightning and electricity are always popular effects, but can be a bit of a pain unless you have some decent "lightning" shaped brushes. Here's one way around that. We're going to put a few electrical crackles around our guy's eyes.

Start by zooming in real close and making a new layer. Take the brush tool with a small brush tip and draw a few rough arcs.

Now, take the eraser and a slightly larger brush tip and start erasing bits of your arcs. The object here is to get a jaggy shape with edges that taper into sharp points. For the record: I made these a little thicker than normal since they were going to be very small in the finished image and I wanted them to show up. Sometimes in graphics it's okay to cheat.

This next step is optional but for this image, I found the results more satisfying. I added a small (no more than 3) Gausian blur to the energy crackles.

You know the next part, copy layer, move under original, hide original, lock copy's transparency, add bright color.

Add some Gausian blur here. Due to size, you probably won't have to add as much as you did while making the eye laser glow, but I went about 10 in this case.

We have lasers and electricity, now let's pump up the aura on his eyes for added effect. Make a new layer (notice a pattern here?) Grab your brush, pick a nice soft airbrush tip, grab some white and pop some glow over each eye.

On this layer. we're going to change the blend effect, this time to "Overlay" instead of screen. We don't want to hide the eyes behind the glow, but we do want to make that area "pop" just a little more. Remember, the blend effect I suggest here aren't a 100% solution - in a light image, screen may make your auras invisible for example. Always be ready to adapt and experiment.

You know, laser-eye boy here is pretty much full of energy so let's make him radiate it from his entire body and make him glow. First off, we're going to kinda repeat what we just did with the aura on his eyes a moment ago.

Select the layer with your character on it. Duplicate the layer, but his time don't move it underneath the source layer. Lock the transparency and paint him that pink we were using earlier.

Set this layer's blend mode to "overlay" to make him really pop like we did with the eyes earlier.

Duplicate this layer, move it under the source layer with our character on it. Turn off the transparency lock and Gausian blur that sucker and then set the blend mode to "screen". Instead of the one glow color we had before, we're going to have two colors this time since we don't have our white hot spot like we did before. This will make his aura look less flat when we're done.

Duplicate the previous layer and move it behind. Lock the transparency, paint it all red, unlock transparency, give it some more Gausian blur... you know the drill.

Almost done. The uniform intensity of the glow around his body looks a little strange but you can fix that pretty easily. I'm taking the first glow layer (the pink one) and painting over parts of it in a light black. Not much, just enough to make the intensity less... intense.

And voila, the finished character.

The basic thing to remember about making glows in GIMP is copy source, lock transparency, give it color, unlock, blur, change blend mode. While there may be glow filters and scripts, this simple process gives you a lot of control over your glows, even tweaking their shape for added effects. I hope this has helped you in some way to learn the basics of energy effects in post.

Good luck and happy rendering.