Tagged: GIMP Techniques

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!

Working In Layers

Making card games in print-on-demand is mostly the task of making a large .pdf which shows every individual card, back-and-face, like a book. When I first started out – well, when I first started out, I let Fox do it, because it was super hard and I was embarassingly bothered by Scribus.

Scribus does suck, but I was more afraid of it than I should have been and that meant that I did as much work as I possibly could in some games like Murder Most Fowl, where while the card had a variable face, each was a whole image, crafted for each version of the card, then put manually into a file. This meant that that game’s file is very large and I was using graphical arts to handle layout stuff.

What’s that mean? Look, if you haven’t experienced it’s hard to explain, but it’s the difference between being able to easily move around bits of a design and replacing them quickly.

My first proper experiment in using Scribus to layer the components of a game was Good Cop, Bear Cop. Here’s an example card:

And here are the five layers that go into that card’s face.

What’s this mean? It means that if I do something redundant to a card I don’t need to edit twenty files in the .pdf – I can just replace the file showing that component and it works. This happened in Good Cop, Bear Cop: I was originally using these icons for two of the game elements:

Which I replaced with these:

Replacing these icons meant I edited three images that were otherwise transparent, then reloading Scribus.