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How To Make Digitally Mixed Media Visual Art In Gimp

Making crafts or painting is not my only passion and hobby.

Abstract Digital Artwork in Gimp

It was in April 2014 when searching for art courses on the web, I found a free online course about computational visual arts with coursera.org. It looked appealing and I signed up. The experience was an amazing, unexpected journey. In the 5-week course (taught by State University of New York teachers) we were walked through the basic skills both in Photoshop and GIMP (which is an open source counterpart program to Photoshop). For me, as an absolute beginner, it was thrilling, very enjoyable and I learnt a lot especially about image editing, which I knew nothing about. Unfortunately, they discontinued the course.

But the point of this post is not to lament about the course and all this digression is not the reason I started writing this post. So, let me go back to the point…

Actually, as the title says, what I want to talk about is that I was using GIMP for quite a while to edit my photos and only after a few years I ‘discovered’ – here, on my computer 🙂 – some other of its features and possibilities I completely neglected. And to my surprise I found out they were fascinating, endless and immense.

GIMP Can Be Used Not Only For Technical Matters, But Also To Make Mixed Media Visual Art Digitally

Although I’m not any kind of an expert in the field, I start with some of my paintings, or a part of it, or even a piece of a scrap paper I use to wipe out the excess paint from brush while painting. Then I take a photo or two of the ‘model’, open it in GIMP and just play around with colours and filters. And before long the colours and shapes mesmerise you so you get totally ‘lost’ in them for hours, forgetting everything else around you, even what were the steps you applied – it leads you on its own accord :).

For example, the starting point of the above image was my very first trial in pastel (modeled after a Cezanne’s painting):

painting in pastel

And I only remember my very first step was to enhance the levels and change the hue (under the colour tab) but now I can’t tell what exactly I did to get this:

first step of the experiment

Nevertheless, Here Is Where The Real Show Begins

I cut out several geometric shapes using the ‘Select tools’:

(this way you can work on the same image: for example, you make a desired shape with rectangle tool, copy it and paste it to a new image or layer, then make another shape with the next tool – ellipse, copy/paste it into new image or layer and then use the free select tool and do the same).

Doing so, I got the following three geometric figures:

3 cut-outs

Whenever You Decide To End It You’ll Have An Unrepeatable, Unique Digital Artwork

Pasting the above shapes in several different layers and in various sizes, rotating and changing the orientation, order and opacity of the layers, you can get umpteen variations and each of them is unique – one of a kind image.

Besides the very first picture in this post, I created about half a dozen more and three of them are shown in the following two triptychs bordered with black, which further emphasises the colours and shapes.

digital poster


triptych - digital artwork

The downside of this work is that I didn’t keep the exact track of the whole procedure, but on the one hand it spoils the journey and on the other it takes your attention away from the work…

Also, you’ll find it’s difficult to finish and say “I’m done” as it’s an infinite experimentation, but you can decide to stop whenever you want and you’ll have an unrepeatable, unique artwork.

In the next couple of posts I am going to show you some other of my experiments (one of the same painting and one that I’m working on right now taking notes) and if you don’t want to miss them, please fill the form in the sidebar to subscribe.