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Thread: Background for a Book (gimp)

  1. #1

    Default Background for a Book (gimp)

    This request has not really something to do with Mapmaking, but maybe someone can point me to a tutorial or another forum.

    That said, im currently makin the Campaign Guide for my Broca Campaign map (that I posted earlier), I´m doint it with scribus, but I want it to have the kind of same layout as normal Pathfinder books.
    I tried making a page Background with gimp, but cant really figure out how to do it. i want the pages to have an background like this:

    is there a tutorial for something like it, i dont even know how its called.

  2. #2


    I am somewhat familiar with what you're trying to do as I have do it for my RL job though I only have a couple of years formal experience so there are probably people here who can tell you more. =P I work with indesign though, but I have used scribus on occasion. Couldn't tell you anything about quark.

    It's basically a bit arty. As though you were making an old paper or parchment-like thing as the background for a map. That's pretty much it. There are many tutorials out there for making such nice paper backgrounds so I'd take a look at those. They are a good starting point. HOWEVER, there are some important things to consider.

    If it's for print it will need to convert OK to CMYK. Most things do but you will get a slightly colour variation if you did it in RGB first. In the past I have worked in RGB before converting it to CMYK and doing colour adjustments later. This is because I mostly do drawing and illustrative stuff for my employer and it's just how I work a lot. It's not optimal but we make it work.

    You need to make it at a resolution of at least 300 dpi in either A4 or US Letter. Generally. (you might be doing a different sized book but those are typical) Also you are working on spreads most of the time if it's for print but that just means you'll have a mirrored version of what you're doing. If you don't do it at a high resolution, you will see the pixels when it goes to print. Even if you have a really good printer. Particularly if you do because they will give them more definition.

    If you look at that pathfinder page background, you'll note that most of detail is on the edges. The main bit is quite bright and washed out and you can't see a lot of detail at all. They are basically going for black text on a light background so you need to make sure your page isn't actually that dominant, at least for the main content portion of the page. It actually needs to be very subtle and not draw the eye, just make you go "ooo, that's pretty" when someone opens up the book. So apart from your page margins, you will be working in very light colours. Otherwise it is going to look terrible.

    I can't really link you to a tutorial though. Most of what I've come across is "in the field" so to speak. But I hope some of those principles help.
    Last edited by Larb; 06-08-2012 at 05:21 PM.

  3. #3


    Well, I don't know anything about printing and so on but if you want an image like this I can help.

    It took me about 10 minutes in Gimp and that's cuz I've never tried something like it before. I also didn't take the time to line anything up.

    Basically it's like 4 layers I think with a final layer just to colorize it. I'm sure I can do it in less now but hey, it was my first try. Also, I just ran a generic wave pattern along the edge, you can use whatever you want to rough it up.
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    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

  4. #4


    Yeah something like that. Basically keep your detail to the edges and the main bit mostly very subtle colour and detail. And if you ever intend to print it, make sure the colours turn out mostly how you like when you convert it to CMYK. And work big. You don't want visible pixels. It's really unsightly on paper.

  5. #5


    I figured I should put it down before I forgot what I did.

    1. Create a new image at whatever page size you require.
    2. Load the layer with whatever background design you want.
    3. Create "New Layer", call it 'inner page'.
    4. Use the Rectangle selector to select the size you want for the 'inner page' (the part you will write on).
    5. Use the "Blend tool" and fill it from left to right with whatever colors you like, I used white to black. You can do it a few times until you get the right level of fill going.
    6. Create "New Layer", call it 'tatters' and 'select>grow' (you should already have the previous 'inner page' area selected so it should expand to be a bit larger than the inner page area). Expand by about 75 pixels or whatever you want for the tatters edge.
    7. Change the Mode of this layer to 'Screen' and reduce the Opacity to about 70.
    8. Do whatever you want to do to rough up the edges. I just used filters>Distorts>waves. I did this on both 'inner page' and 'tatters' layers.
    9. I didn't like the color so I created a new layer, loaded it with a cream color and set the mode to overlay.

    I think that's it.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

  6. #6
    Guild Expert Chashio's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Maine, USA


    My approach is more painterly. And I use photoshop, not gimp, but it should all work the same, or nearly so.

    I use a rough brush, or two, (chalk is a good one) and adjust the settings for scatter, size and angle so the strokes don't repeat as much, then size it up to fill the space quickly, and cover the first layer (above a solid background, white or cream or whatever you want) with random strokes. I change the color/value occasionally, just subtle like--a bit lighter, a bit darker than the background color. Sometimes I like to make the corners darker than the interior space, to help keep the eye on the page if you don't want a background border, but that's up to you. Sometimes I'll change the layer style to overlay or multiply, depending on what I want, or soften the opacity if the contrast is too sharp. Can also adjust the levels.

    Once I'm satisfied with the first step, I make a new layer out of it by selecting all and ctrl+shift+c to copy everything visible, then paste to get the new layer. That gives you a solid page so you can play with different filters. Sometimes I'll combine a bunch, set to multiply/overlay/soft light, with opacity lowered. To do multiple filters, I do one at a time, copy that layer, undo the history to before the filter, then paste the filtered layer on top of everything else and adjust the style/opacity and label it with the name of the filter (for sanity's sake, and so I'll know what works the next time), then click back to the solid page and do another filter. If I want the paper to have a distinct weave, I might put a canvas texture filter on it, or a water paper. When that's where I want it, I work on the border.

    Start a new, blank layer on top. Normal style. Rough-brush the edges at 100% opacity to create a sort of mask. If you have a background image to use beneath the paper, paste it as a new layer and select the border layer below (the paper part, with the magic wand tool, set to NOT contiguous). With that selected, go back to the image layer and pick up the eraser tool (soft round, less opacity) if you want the edges to show through somewhat. Or just ctrl+x if you want it crisp.

    If you want a pattern to fade into the page like the pathfinder piece, paste that image on a new layer (style set to multiply/overlay/soft light). Decrease the eraser brush opacity and have at it.

    Finally, select all and ctrl+shift+c to get a flat version without deleting the underlying layers. You can reuse them and make subtle changes if you don't want every single page to look the same. Can be fun to add different types of wear to random pages (torn edges, stains, dog-eared corners), but I wouldn't go overboard with it.

    Hope that's helpful. Let me know if it's confusing in any way. I might make a photo tutorial to go along with it, if I can find time. Doubtful.
    There are lots of ways to get the same result. Just look at a bunch of the tutorials floating around the web and find something that feels comfortable.

    EDIT: Here's an example of what you can get with this technique. Did this one today; it's a wip for a recent request in the forum. You probably won't want yours appearing quite as aged as this, but that's basically a matter of less contrast and color variability. The filters I used for this were water paper and film grain. Oh, and note that this picture is only 25% of the working file size.
    Last edited by Chashio; 06-11-2012 at 02:11 AM.

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