Making Tattered Paper

A thing I do a lot of in making card faces is making regular shapes look a little irregular, but not too irregular. I could lie to you and tell you this is an artisinal process that involves the most delicate of careful cutting and a modular straightedge device, or I could show you how I do it in GIMP.

Start with your shape. Margins are for another time, but basically remember that you want to make it a bit bigger than the text it’s going to rest under. The background in this image is that grey, so it’s not part of this equation. Heck with that grey.

Next, use the filter NOISE > SPREAD and set that value to something high enough you can eyeball and notice it. Like 2-3 will be visible if you’re dealing with a very small shape, but on a bigger shape like this one (520 pixels by 400 pixels), you want a larger value. I use 35 pixels here.

Next up, set your background colour in the palette to black, and choose the layer, then choose Remove Alpha Channel. This gives you something that looks like this.

Next up, you go to the filter ARTISTIC > OILIFY and play with those sliders. They’ll turn that noise into an edge. Now in this case you’ll notice it’s still got some softness, a bit of blurring, which we don’t want.

Then go to COLOURS > Brightness-Contrast. Adjusting the contrast up gets rid of that greyness and turns it to white or black.

Next up, you go to COLOURS > Colour To Alpha. That lets you turn one of the colour values in your layer to the alpha channel – which is to say, it just strips it out and makes that transparent. Now you just got a whiteness, see?

Next up, filter LIGHT AND SHADOW > Drop Shadow. That filter will put this shadow underneath it, and you can play with those settings.

Then grab a paper texture from the internet – you can find them on google image search while looking for pieces that are Labelled For Reuse. Put it into the document…

Then put that layer over the white image and set it to Multiply.

Now, if you do this by default, that paper texture is also going to lay over this grey background I have here, but I didn’t let it do that because I care about you. The way you keep a multiply layer under control is you put it in a folder, like this:

Anyway, the short list of steps:

  • Draw shape
  • NOISE > Spread
  • Remove Alpha Channel
  • Artistic > Oilify
  • Colours > Brightness/Contrast
  • Colours > Colour to Alpha
  • Light And Shadow > Drop Shadow
  • Add Paper Texture
  • Multiply Texture Layer

Hope this is helpful!

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