This GIMP (GNU) tutorial demonstrates how to recreate Salvador Dali’s Surrealism using a Quick Mask and the IWarp Tool. To work along, you are welcome to download the Start Image I am working with Here. Unzip the file and open the image onto GIMP’s workspace.
Complex masking is for experienced students. However, this type of technique quickly improves with practice. Beginners, you are welcome to download my Transparent Watch (its background has already been removed) Here. Unzip the file; and open the Transparent Watch onto GIMP’s workspace (Ctrl then O). Then Link Here to learn how to warp the transparent watch.
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.
Quick Mask Photographic Borders
Masking For Beginners (Layer Masks)
Launch GIMP & Organise Its Workspace & Palettes
Open your choice of Start Image onto GIMP’s workspace - File then Open - Ctrl then O.
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).
Now, right-click over the Background Layer and select Add Alpha Channel from the subsequent drop-down list.
Then set the Foreground Colour Swatch to Solid White and set the Background Colour Swatch to Solid Black. (Tap the D Key, and then tap the X Key).
And left-click to activate (turn on) GIMPs Quick Mask by clicking the Quick Mask button . (Alternatively, press down the Shift Key, and then tap the Q Key).
Quick Mask Button
The Quick Mask button resembles a dotted rectangle, and it’s situated along the workspace’s bottom-left. Quick Mask turned off - Quick Mask turned on .
Once activated, the Quick Mask button will display a red square.
And your image will display the Quick Mask’s Red Overlay (Rubylith).
For accuracy, Zoom into your image: - top menu, then View then Zoom.
Shift+Plus Key And Minus Key Tip
To quickly zoom in or out of an image - tap your Keyboard’s Shift+Plus Key or the Minus Key, respectively.
I zoomed in twice.
Now, from the left-side Toolbox, activate the Paintbrush Tool.
And enter the following Circle, Fuzzy Brush settings into the Options Box.
You can quickly alter the Paintbrush’s Size by tapping your Keyboard’s Square Bracket Keys.
Complex Masking Notes
By painting with Solid White, you are looking to remove the Red Overlay from the watch’s background, with the aim of leaving the Red Overlay over just the Watch. In this respect, (when utilising the Paintbrush Tool), the Quick Mask Tool works much the same as a Layer Mask. (If you are new to masking, please read my comprehensive Layer Mask notes here before commencing).
Now, left-click and begin painting over the watch’s background, to remove the Red Overlay - remembering to adjust the Brush Size and Opacity as required.
Although you are painting with Solid White, you are not painting a solid white colour over the image. When working in the Quick Mask Mode, painting with white removes the Red Overlay, and Painting with Solid Black brings the Red Overlay back. You can quickly swap the Foreground and Background Colours by tapping the X Key.
Remember, you are looking to remove the background’s Red Overlay: leaving just the watch (and fob) covered by the Red Overlay.
Avoiding the red pixels that are touching the watch, continue to remove the watch’s Red Background (Overlay) - as illustrated below. After you have completed this, you are ready for the next step.
Undo (Step Backwards) Tip
If you remove the Watch’s Red Overlay, then step backwards by tapping Ctrl then Z. Alternatively, Swap the Foreground and Background Swatches (tap the X Key): and Paint with Solid Black to paint back the Red Overlay.
Now, Zoom into your image further, and adjusting the Brush Size and Opacity as necessary - slowly and carefully remove the Red Overlay, right up to the watch’s edge - as illustrated below.
Return your image to its original size using the Zoom Tool: (Shift then Minus Key). Then remove all Red Background Pixels from your image’s edges.
Hard Brush Note
“Mop up” all traces of Red Pixels (from the white background) using a Hard Brush.
Now, carefully inspect your image, and remove/apply the Red Overlay (using the Brush Tool), as necessary. After you have completed this step, just the Watch and Fob will be masked by the Red Overlay - as illustrated below.
Save Image Tip
Now is a good time to save your work as a XCF File.
Now, turn off the Quick Mask by left-clicking over its button - as illustrated below.
Turning off the Quick Mask applies a Selection Marquee around the red masked area, (the watch and fob) - as illustrated below.
From the top menu, choose Select then choose Grow. And from the subsequent Grow Selection dialogue box, set a Grow Selection by setting of 1 or 2 Pixels, and then click OK.
Then again from the top menu, choose Select and this time choose Feather. And from the subsequent Feather Selection dialogue box, set a Feather Selection by setting of 1 or 2 Pixels, and then click OK.
From the top menu, choose Edit and then choose Clear. Alternatively, tap your Delete Key. This deletes the watch’s background - as illustrated below.
From the top menu, choose Select and then choose Select None. This removes the Selection Marquee.
Congratulations, you have successfully extracted the watch from its background using a Quick Mask.
Disable the Brush Tool by activating the Move Tool.
Save Image Tip
Now is a good time to save your work as a XCF File.
12/ Warp Your Transparent Watch
Now, to create your Dali Warp, from the top menu, choose Filters then choose Distorts and then choose IWarp. And from the subsequent IWarp dialogue box, experiment with the settings until you are happy with the result, and then click OK.
For Comprehensive IWarp Information: Click Here.
Left-click over the left-side image, and deform the watch’s pixels to your liking by dragging your cursor around.
Drop Shadow Tip
My Tutorial Here demonstrates how to apply a Drop Shadow - Filters then Light and Shadow then Drop Shadow.
Transparent GIF Tip
Link Here to learn how to save your Transparent Image as a Transparent GIF.
Fill Layer Tip
My Tutorial Here demonstrates how to create a Fill Layer and Fill it with either a Solid Colour, Pattern or a Gradient.
To create extra impact, apply a Sharpening Filter of your choice - Filters then Enhance.
My Tutorial Here demonstrates how to resize object/images.
To finish, from the top menu, choose Image and then choose Flatten Image.
Congratulations, your Dali Surrealism Conversion is complete, and it’s ready to save.
Now you are more familiar with this technique, you can have lots of fun removing backgrounds from your favourite images, objects, or photographs, and warping them using GIMP’s Warp Filter.
Wendi E. M. Scarth. Top of Page.