I want to make images with the cool retro chrome text, like the image below. cool text, see? How do I go about doing this in GIMP 2.8?

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This will be long.

Once you pick up the techniques you should be able to follow most of the bolded steps without reading the additional instructions.

Here's what the result will look like:

enter image description here

Setup:

  1. Make a new document [File>New]. I used 1024x640 resolution (pretty close to the reference image).
  2. Fill the background layer with black using Edit>Fill with FG Color.
  3. Create and name some layer groups and arrange them (Windows>Dockable Dialogs>Layers to show the layers list, click the Folder icon in the Layers dialog to create layer groups, drag them with the mouse to nest them). We'll use these to hold the different parts of the image: enter image description here

Text Creation:

  1. Create text layers for the three pieces of text (using the Text tool–click and drag to define a bounding box, then type the text you want, then set the typeface, size, color and alignment in the tool options). You'll want to use some nice fonts–I've used Heavy Data and Pacifico.
  2. Position the text layers horizontally. You can use a grid (Image>Configure Grid and View>Snap to Grid) or just use the Align tool from the toolbar.
  3. Position the text layers vertically. You can use a grid or just move them by eye (use the move tool, and hold ctrl to align the movement to the vertical axis).
  4. Put the layers in the groups if you haven't already, by dragging each text layer in the layers list onto the appropriate group.

enter image description here

Text Shading:

  1. Create 2 new transparent value layers (Layer>New Layer or button in layers list) above each of the main text layers. Change the layer mode from "Normal" to "Value" for each.
  2. Create a bilinear, black-to-transparent gradient on each layer using the Blend tool from the toolbar (icon looks like a gradient; set mode to bilinear, gradient to FG to Transparent, click and drag from the middle of the text to the edge while holding ctrl for vertical snap).
    enter image description here
  3. Create 2 new transparent value layers for the highlights. Change the layer mode from "Normal" to "Value" for each.
  4. Create white bilinear gradients like before. Hit "x" to swap foreground/background colors, and then draw the gradients using the blend tool.
  5. Mask the highlight. Use the Rectangle Select tool to select the top part of each gradient, right click on the corresponding highlight layer and choose Add Layer Mask>From Selection.
  6. Rough up the masks. Click on each layer mask in the list (not the layer itself) to select it. Use Filters>Noise>Spread 16px, Filters>Blur>Gaussian Blur 8px, Colors>Brightness-Contrast 100 to go from a sharp border to a wavy one.

enter image description here

Text Colors:

  1. Create a new transparent color layer and put it above your shaded text groups in the layer stack. We'll use this to color-tint the text. Change the layer mode from "Normal" to "Color".
  2. Draw the color gradients you want on this layer. Start by clicking on the White/Black squares below the tool grid to pick your color, then use the gradient tool (same settings as before) to draw them.

enter image description here

Text 3D Effect:

  1. Make a new layer group above the background to hold the 3D extrusion layers.
  2. Create a selection from the shapes of the main shaded text. To do this, option+click on the layer group containing the first text block in the layers list, then option+shift+click on the group containing the second block. You should see an animated dashed border around the edge of the text.
  3. Make a new layer in your 3D extrusion layer group.
  4. With the empty layer selected and your extrusion color chosen, fill the selection with blue (choose your blue and use Edit>Fill with FG Color like before).
  5. Create the extruded shape. GIMP doesn't have 3D tools, but we can easily fake it–use Filters>Blur>Motion Blur with blur type "Zoom" and length ~32px, then Layer>Scale Layer to about 903x564. To make the edge a bit sharper, open Colors>Curves, set channel to "Alpha" (transparency), and drag the dot at the top right leftwards a bit.
    1. Do the same thing with a black value layer, but don't sharpen the edge as much.

enter image description here

Text Bevel:

  1. Create two new value layers below your color tint layer in the text group. These will hold the text beveling.
  2. Create a selection from the shapes of the main shaded text. To do this, option+click on the layer group containing the first text block in the layers list, then option+shift+click on the group containing the second block. You should see an animated dashed border around the edge of the text.
  3. Shrink and invert, then fill with a medium grey on your lower shading layer. Use Select>Shrink 2px and Select>Invert to adjust the selection, then choose a medium gray FG color and use Edit>Fill with FG Color to fill.
  4. Invert and move downward, then fill with white on your upper shading layer. Use Select>Invert to invert the selection, then pick the move tool from the tools list, click the Selection icon (2nd icon) in the tool options panel, and drag down 1-2px (holding ctrl to move along the vertical axis).

enter image description here

Secondary Text Shading:

  1. Find and select the secondary text layer in the layers list (in mine it's the "2016" text layer).
  2. Duplicate and blur it 32px. Layer>Duplicate Layer, then Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur 32px. This is our glow.
  3. Create the highlights using the selection tools. This part is similar to the beveling on the earlier text. Create a new transparent layer within the 2016 group above the main text and glow, alt-click on the main text to get the selection, Select>Shrink 2px, choose white as your FG color (press "dx" to do this quickly) and Edit>Fill with FG Color, then pick the move tool from the tools list, click the Selection icon (2nd icon) in the tool options panel, and drag down 1-2px (holding ctrl to move along the vertical axis). Finally, use Edit>Cut to remove this part of the selection, leaving only the highlights at the top.

    enter image description here

Background:

You asked about the text, so I'm basically going to skip over this part. Abbreviated version: Use Filters>Render>Grid and the Perspective transform tool for the grid, and Filters>Noise>HSV Noise, Gaussian Blur, and Curves (set to value) to make the stars. Repeat the glow effect for the main text if you want. You can look at the source file.

enter image description here

Post Processing and FX:

  1. Create a noise layer on top of the whole image in Soft Light mode. Create a new transparent layer, choose a medium gray FG color, set the layer mode from "Normal" to "Soft Light" in the layers list, use Edit>Fill with FG Color, then Filters>Noise>HSV Noise.
  2. Use Layer>New From Visible to create a flattened image layer at the top of the stack.
  3. Use Filters>Enhance>Sharpen set to ~20 to sharpen the texture.
  4. Use Colors>Color Balance to tint the image. Make the highlights slightly yellow and the shadows slightly red.

This gets us to the result we're looking for.

enter image description here

Feel free to comment with questions. Here's the source file for reference. I hope that helps!

  • 1
    Just wanted to say this is an amazing answer, thank you for writing it! – polm23 Mar 30 at 14:02

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