Illustrations/Digital Models: Making Glowing Eyes with Pride in GIMP

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by Coolhand, Aug 7, 2008.

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  1. Coolhand

    Coolhand Spiff's Stunt Double

    Feb 7, 2008
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    Glowing with pride in GIMP


    Making a Transformers’ eyes glow can add a great deal to the impact and realism of a photo. Some artists choose to give their characters a constant eye-glow; others use the use the glow sparingly to highlight intense emotions such as anger or eeevvil! But either way, a good eye-glow can be very quick and simple to create.

    (This tutorial assumes a basic working knowledge of GIMP. If you have any questions as to things like Layers or brush tools, search this thread index for explanations, or Google “GIMP Layer” or suchlike.)

    Here is our subject: Silverstreak:


    First of all, we create a new layer (Layer/New Layer) and name it 'eyecore'. This enables us to work on the eyes without effecting the rest of the image:


    Next we, we use the zoom tool to get a closer look at the eyes. Then select the path tool and outline the shape of the eye. One thing you’ll notice is that your outline is boxy whereas the area we want to cover is curved. Don’t worry - we’ll sort that out in a second. Just get a rough outline:


    Now, to sort those curves out, click and hold the left mouse button on the line you wish to bend and drag the line. See it curve? You can mess about with the curve feature a bit until you get something like this:


    Now press enter to select the area and the “marching ants” dots will show you your selection. Fill with the color of your choice (you can just drag and drop the color from the palette in GIMP):


    Now, for glows! Keeping the marching ants in place, go to the feather tool (Select/Feather) :


    The feather tool makes an effect or color bleed out into the surrounding area; the greater the feather - the greater the bleed. Basically, this bleeding of color is what makes the object look like it’s glowing. The exact amount will vary on the effect you want and the actual size of the glowing object in the photo. You kinda just have to play with it. Too much and the glow is too defuse. Too little and the glow isn’t “big” enough to look real. As a rough guide for eyes, I find that once you’ve applied a feather, if the marching ants shrink down to about half the size of the original selection, like this:


    . . . . then your glow should look about right. (This glow was done to a feather of 40, because the eye in this image is quite big. Usually, I use about 15-20)

    We need to create another layer and name it 'eyeglow'. Select the glow color of your choice and drag it once into the selection. Do it again. See how every time you fill the selection, the glow becomes a bit more intense? I usually use about 3 or four fills for eyes:


    But the problem is, the glow has obscured the white core . . . ah, not really a problem. Open the layers dialogue box (Dialogues/Layers) and now simply drag the 'eyeglow' layer so that it is beneath the 'eyecore' layer (in other words, make the 'eyecore' sit on top of the eye glow.):


    Now repeat the process for the other eye . . . et voila!


    You can also use this effect for lightsabers, laser beams . . . ANYTHING that needs to glow. Have fun, mess about with the effect, and I’m sure you can improve on it no end.

    Advanced glow tip:
    You might be doing a glow for a character who is a little out of focus, and maybe the eye-glow looks a bit too sharp and out of place. Simply apply a blur effect to the 'eyecore' layer and see how the glow suddenly “fits” with the blurred character.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2010
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