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Aurora Borealis 
Sky GIMP

 

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Paint Aurora Borealis Skies
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Intermediate Plus

Paint Aurora Borealis Skies GIMP

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This GIMP (GNU) tutorial demonstrates how to paint Aurora Borealis effects. To work along, you are welcome to download the Start Image I am working with HereUnzip the file and open the image onto GIMP’s workspace.

Aurora Borealis is Latin for Northern Dawn, and is otherwise known as the Northern Lights. The phenomena is caused by electrons in the sky effecting the earth’s magnetic field, and the lights emanate from the Polar regions. The “dancing” auroras can be seen in the northern hemisphere between September/October and March/April (around the equinox months). Its southern counterpart, Aurora Australis, has similar properties - Australis being the Latin word for of the south.

Notes
You can quickly Undo a step at any time by pressing Ctrl then Z. Alternatively, click a previous Undo History snapshot - Windows then Dockable Dialogues then click Undo History. In addition, to Zoom in (or Zoom out) of your image; from the top menu choose View then select a Zoom Tool from
the subsequent drop-down list.

Launch GIMP & Organise Its Workspace & Palettes

Change The Aurora Borealis Colours Using GIMP’s Channel Mixer

1/
Open your choice of Start Image onto GIMP’s workspace - File then Open - Ctrl then O.

Note
Ensure the Layers and the Undo History Palettes are visible, and then drag them into position over your workspace - (Windows then Dockable Dialogues - then click Layers and Undo History).



2/
Now, set the Foreground and Background Swatches to two colours you would like your Aurora Borealis to represent. I am going to create a typical green blue sky and have therefore selected the following two colours - Vivid Green and Turquoise.

Foreground Colour Swatch



Background Colour Swatch



3/
Create a New Transparent Layer by clicking the Create a New Layer tab, as illustrated below-left. And from the subsequent New Layer dialogue box, name the Layer something like Aurora - and then click OK - as illustrated below-right.

            

Note
You’ll be painting the Aurora Borealis effect onto the New Transparent Layer.



4/
Now, from the left-side Toolbox, activate the Paintbrush Tool.



Tip
You can quickly resize the Brush by tapping your Keyboard’s Bracket Keys.



And enter the following Hard Round Brush settings into the left-side Options Box.

                       

Then (still working on the Aurora Layer), left-click and sweep your cursor over your image to apply the following brush stroke.

Note
For personal results, apply your paint in the direction you prefer. It’s important to experiment with different paint applications, and find an effect that suits your needs.
 


5/
Now, swap the Foreground and Background Colours by tapping your Keyboard’s
X Key.



Then (still working on the Aurora Layer), paint a second colour application over your sky.

Tip
This type of effect can look better when the paint applications slightly overlap - as illustrated below.



6/
Now, tap the X Key to swap the colours, and reduce the Brush Size a little using the Bracket Keys. Then (still working on the Aurora Layer), and apply a third paint application - as illustrated below.

Undo Tip
If you make an error with your application, then press Ctrl then tap the Z Key to step backwards.

After you have applied your paint, you are ready for the next step.

Tip
It’s a good idea to preserve the Layers by saving your work as a
XCF Image File.

  

Important Note
When working with your paint applications, for personal results, it’s important to experiment with the Ripple, Waves and Motion Blur settings (below), and discover a look that suits your needs.

7/
From the top menu, choose Filters then choose Distorts and then choose Ripple. From the subsequent Ripples dialogue box, enter the following settings, or experiment, and then click OK.
 


    

8/
Now, from the top menu, choose Filters then choose Distorts and then choose Waves. From the subsequent Waves dialogue box, enter the following settings, or experiment, and then click OK.
 




9/
From the top menu, choose Filters and this time choose Blur and then choose Motion Blur. Now, from the subsequent Motion Blur dialogue box, enter the following settings, or experiment, and then click OK.

Angle Note
The Angle tab sets the Motion Blur’s Direction. Therefore, for personal results, it’s important to set an Angle that suits your photographic needs. 
 




10/ Optional
From the top menu, choose Filters and choose Blur and this time choose Gaussian Blur. Now, from the subsequent Gaussian Blur dialogue box, enter the following settings, or experiment, and then click OK.
 




Tip
It’s a good idea to preserve the Layers by saving your work as a
XCF Image File.

11/
Now, right-click over the Aurora Layer, and choose Duplicate Layer from the subsequent drop-down list. Then Duplicate the Layer once again. You will now have three identical Aurora Layers in the Layers Palette - as illustrated below. 



12/
Then from the left-side Toolbox, activate the Move Tool.



Then, working on the Workspace Image, double-left-click over your image, and drag the Top Duplicated Aurora Image slightly downwards. This extends (drags down) the Aurora Borealis effect - as illustrated below.



Layers Note:
Understand Layers - Understand Blend Modes
For personal results, (working on the Aurora Layer), experiment with different Blend Modes to see how they can alter your AB effect. In addition, you can deepen the Aurora’s effect by Duplicating the Aurora’s Layer. If you would like to reduce the Aurora’s coverage, then lower the Aurora Layer’s Opacity.

           

Whirl And Pinch Filter Tip
Still working on the top Aurora Layer: from the top menu, choose Filters then choose Distort and then choose Whirl And Pinch. Now, experiment with different Whirl angle, Pinch amount and Radius values, until you are happy with the results, and then click OK.

        



Further Distortion Notes (
Resize Images Tutorial)
You can further Distort, Resize and Reposition your Aurora Borealis Layers to your liking, using the Scale, Perspective, Move, Shear, Flip and Rotate Tools



Change Colour Note (Channel Mixer)
Prior to Flattening the Layers, if you want to change your AB’s colours, then
right-click over the Top Aurora’s Layer. And from the subsequent drop-down
list, choose Merge Down. If you have a second Aurora Layer, then Merge Down that Layer down also. (It’s important to keep the Aurora and the Background Image on separate Layers).



Now, from the top menu, choose Colours then choose Components and then choose Channel Mixer. And from the subsequent Channel Mixer dialogue box, experiment with different Output Channels; and play with the settings until you like the results, and then click OK.
 




13/
From the top menu, choose Image and then choose Flatten Image.



Sharpen Tip
Your image may benefit from a Sharpening Filter: Filters then Enhance

Sharpen Images Tutorial



14/
Congratulations, your Aurora Borealis Photographic Conversion is complete,
and it is ready to save - top menu, then File then Save As.

Now you are familiar with this technique, you can have lots of fun creating personalised Aurora Borealis Skies.

Paint Aurora Borealis Skies GIMP


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