Illustrations/Digital Models: Flaming GIMP - How to Burn Down Your Comics!

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by Coolhand, Jul 22, 2008.

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  1. Coolhand

    Coolhand Spiff's Stunt Double

    Feb 7, 2008
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    Flaming GIMP - How to Burn Down Your Comics!

    So, fire. Perhaps the cast of your comics have been shooting off flame-throwers all willy-nilly, or maybe they just want something to toast marshmallows with, but whatever the reason, you find yourself needing to burn stuff. No problem. Here’s a way to make pretty flames without spending years slaving away at each panel.

    (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.)

    So we have our picture:


    First of all, were going to make the basic shape of the fire. Create a new layer called flame by going to Layer/New Layer and typing “flame” into the layer name:


    Now make sure that this is the layer you’re working on. (Either go to "Dialogues/Layers" and make sure “flame” is the highlighted layer, or hit 'Ctl-tab' until “flame” pops up. Now select the paint tool, and then click on the brush selection button. From here, select the “sparks” brush. (The fuzzy orange circle.) Now build up the basic shape of the flame you want. Remember, fire tends to burn upwards unless there is wind, and to keep things simple we’ll assume it’s a nice windless day:


    Now we’ve got our shape. The next step is to smudge it a bit. Select the smudge tool (the hand with the pointing finger) and select the circle brush. Now start to smudge the flame upwards. See how the sparks all blend and smear together to look like fire, and how the edges sort of fade and flicker like real flame? Now, this is the bit that’s going to have a lot of personal preference to it. Play about with the smudge. Don’t be afraid to 'Ctl-Z' to undo what you’ve just done, because it’s the sort of thing that you just kinda have to mess about with until you’ve got something you like. If you smear the sparks too thin and the background starts to show, just whack some more sparks over the top and get back to smudging. In the end, you’ll have something like this:


    Nice, huh? Now, the thing with fire is that it burns stuff, and we need to make it look like the flames are actually having an effect on the environment, otherwise they look a bit detached from the picture. So . . . .

    Create a new layer called charring. Make certain that it is below the flame layer (Dialogues/Layers, and drag the “charring” layer below “flame”, so that the burns sit UNDER the fire effect and not OVER it, which would look…well...dumb.):


    Now select the airbrush tool, set the foreground color to be black, and select the “galaxy, big” brush (the square black cloud). Now just airbrush over the edges of the base of the fire, just enough so that we can see that it’s burning:


    Groovy, huh? We need smoke too, though.

    Create a new Layer called “Smoke.” Use the airbrush tool and the galaxy brush with a light gray color, and just waft in the basic shape of your smoke. I tend to find that tapping the mouse button repeatedly rather than keeping it held down generates a better looking smoke effect. But, like the fire, play with it:


    Got it? Right. Now for a bit of smudging. I find a nice way to get a good smoke effect is to select smudge tool with the "galaxy,big brush" on quite a large settings and sort of rub it back and forth across the smoke to break it up and spread it out. It’s yet another “play about and undo until you like the way it looks” thing.

    And that’s it.

    Advanced fire!


    Well, not really. But here you can see a second fire effect that I’ve added. Because it’s not on the ground, I’ve added falling embers just to simulate burning and disintegrating material. All they are is the paint tool with the sparks brush, and just a hint of smudge to give them a sense of motion. It’s not much, but it does help sell the illusion a little better.

    Now, you might like to try blurring your fire layer a little bit to soften the flames, or maybe altering the layer opacity to make them a bit more see-through. It’s the kind of effect that you can mess about with no end, and a lot of it is down to personal preference, but you now have all the basic tools you need to indulge in some pyromania.

    So what are you waiting for? Load up GIMP and and start playing with matches . . . .

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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 27, 2010
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