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Thread: Creating a roll of parchment in GIMP

  1. #1

    Post Creating a roll of parchment in GIMP

    As promised, here's my tutorial for designing a scroll graphic like this one:

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    The instructions will be for GIMP, but the steps should be repeatable in any advanced raster editing software. Following these steps, you should end up with a scroll very similar to the one I posted, with wooden handles and discs to the ends of the tubes around which the parchment is rolled. It should be easy enough to deviate from this form and go for a different look, such as having only a single tube, having no discs between the handles and the parchment, etc.

    STEP 1: Discs and Handles

    We start with a blank new image. Using basic drawing tools such as elliptic and rectangular seletions, magic wand, (de)selections by color, etc, we'll create three flat colored shapes that represent the handle, the edge of the disc, and the inner side of the disc. These will be used for quick and easy selections later on.

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    Copy & mirror the handle and disc to the other side of the image, so that you get left and right sides facing each other.

    (Note that there are other, more sophisticated ways to store selections - but I like using this method, especially for a tutorial, as it is easy to grasp and easier to explain.)

  2. #2


    STEP 2: The roll

    Now that we have the shapes of handles at an appropiate distance from each other, we'll need another flat colored shape to represent the parchment that will be rolled between them. For this I recommend creating a new layer - not really necessary, but it will make it much easier to tweak and adjust things if needed.

    Select the inner sides of the discs and shrink the selection a bit, then add a rectangular selection between the ellipses.

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    Now color the selection. You can also add a bit of roughness to the underside (or both sides) of the roll with the freehand selection tool, if you don't want it to look perfectly straight.

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  3. #3


    STEP 3: Parchment

    Copy both the handles & discs and the roll between them and position these copies a desired distance down from the originals. Skip this step if you want only a single roll.

    Now the obvious thing missing is the length of parchment between the rolls. This is easily accomplished with a rectangular selection. You should intentionally extend the selection too much in the vertical direction, so that it overlaps with the rolls. Before filling with color, apply a distort effect (available as a scrip-fu script in GIMP), Sharpen, and use the wand tool to deselect any remaining overlap with the rolls.

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    The distort effect makes the edges of the parchment rough-looking. Tweak the input values until you get something that looks good. Finally, color the selection. Now we have all the shapes that will be needed.

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  4. #4


    STEP 4: Texturing

    Time to cover those ugly flat colored shapes with something better! Create a new layer called Handles and give it a black mask. Select the handle shapes and Feather the selection.

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    Make sure that you're editing the mask of the Handle layer and color the selection white.

    Repeat this process with the edges and sides of the discs, making new layers for them.

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    Once the masks are finished, edit the layers themselves by filling them with wooden textures. You can either use different textures for each layer, or use the same texture and then manipulate the brightness and/or hue to make them distinct. See the Mapping Elements section of this forum for links to some good textures.

    The handles and discs should be looking fairly good by now.

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  5. #5


    STEP 5: Highlight

    While a good texture works wonders on it's own, it still leaves the elements looking rather two-dimensional. We'll fix this shortly. Create a new layer called Discs highlight, and select the shapes of the UPPER disc edges. Apply Feather.

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    Pick a good gradient for the purpose or make one using the gradient editor. Make sure you're editing the Discs highlight layer, and fill the selection with the gradient in vertical direction.

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    Do the same thing with the LOWER disc edges. You can use the same layer for this.

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    Set the layer's blend mode to Overlay and tweak the opacity for a good effect.

  6. #6


    STEP 6: Bump map

    Gradient took care of the disc edges, but what about the handles? We'll use a different technique for them. Make a layer called Handles bumpmap, fill it with black, select all the handle shapes, and fill this selection with white on the new layer. Keep the selection and apply Gaussian Blur using radii that give nice results.

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    Unselect all and hit the layer with ordinary Blur once or twice.

    Go back to the Handles layer and make sure you're editing the textured layer, rather than the mask. Apply the Bump Map filter using the Handles bumpmap layer. Tweak the input parameters to get a rounded 3D look.

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    Now both the handles and the discs should look fairly finished.

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  7. #7


    STEP 7: What about the parchment?

    The final step in the process is to texture and highlight the parchment using the same techniques as we did with the wooden discs. Create a Rolls highlight layer and apply gradient to the upper and lower rolls, one at a time. Set the blend mode to Overlay.

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    Create a new layer called Paper and make sure it's below the Rolls highlight layer. Add a black mask to this layer, select both the rolls and the connecting parchment shapes, feather the selection and white-fill the mask with it. Then fill the layer itself with a paper or parchment texture.

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    Hiding all the unneeded layers and displaying only the highlights and textured layers should result in a complete scroll. For final tweaks, you can make copies of the highlight layers and modify their blend modes and opacities. You can also experiment with filters and scripts. I used the Clothify effect on the parchment texture.

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    Advanced users can undoubtedly think of many ways to do things more efficiently and add more bells and whistles. This tutorial ends here though, as it is meant as a simple guide for those who know the basics of GIMP or some other image editing software. I hope it has been useful to fellow forumers here.

    Feel free to point out typos and grammatical errors and the like.

  8. #8


    I fancy this tutorial! Best for beginners in computer graphics. I'm using Paint.NET and effects are the same and even better! Either very useful!

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