Create Pop Art Typography With Gimp Part 1


Pop art typography (also known as pop art text, or pop art lettering) has become a popular design element that has lots of impact, so much so that many graphics platforms offer them for sale. For those that would rather create their own pop art typography using Gimp this tutorial will explain the simple techniques used, which can then easily be developed into unique, personal designs.

This tutorial is divided into two parts simply because whilst all the steps are easy to follow there are quite a few of them. For this reason dividing all the information into two sections will hopefully make everything easier to digest. The most complex of these steps involves generating text with dots in the centre, so part one will focus on that, and part two will focus on creating the 3d text, shadows and background.

Using A Colour Palette

In a recent series of tutorials we covered various aspects of how to generate colour palettes, including how to import a colour palette file into Gimp. In this tutorial we'll use a colour palette created specifically for the design created here. You can either download then import the colour palette into Gimp and use it whilst following the tutorial, or you can use your own - although we will be referring to our own colour palette quite often.


Creating The Outline Text Filled With Dots

In this section we're going to delete the centre of some text and replace it with dots. The font used here is called Jagger SF which is nice and chunky. Its also free with no license restrictions. 

Click on each image below to enlarge.

 1/ Open Gimp, and create two layers by hitting the icon to the lower right (highlighted in red). Make sure the correct colour palette is selected, top right. Click the grey from the palette so it becomes the active foreground colour. 
Use the Bucket Fill tool to fill the lower of the two new layers with the grey colour. This is so we can see the light coloured text when we create it.

2/ With the Text tool type a word of your choice. The size used here is 300px, and the spacing has been changed slightly using the Spacing Up/Down arrows (highlighted in green), so the letters are closer together.

3/ Duplicate the text layer three times using the icon highlighted in red, bottom right. 
Hide the grey filled layer by clicking on the eye icon next to it.
Move the transparent layer so its just below the top most text layer. This transparent layer should be the active layer.

With the Rectangle Select tool drag a shape so it fills a large part of the canvas window.

4/ Fill the rectangle selection with the grey from the palette. We're going to use this to create the dots that will fill the text.

5/ Select the top text layer and using the slider highlighted in red reduce its opacity so the grey layer is visible beneath it. This is so we will be able to see how the dots fill the text.

Now make the grey layer beneath the text the active layer.

6/ Select Filters > Distorts > Newsprint.

7/ This window will appear.

8/ In the Channels drop down menu (highlighted in red), select White on Black.


In the Pattern drop down menu (highlighted in green), select Circle.

The Period slider will adjust the spacing and size of the dots. Trying to balance the dots' size with their spacing can be a little limiting but this will be fixed this later.
In the Angle slider, 45 degrees has been selected to give the pattern an even appearance. Double click on the numbers here to type in a precise angle.
Whilst making adjustments to these settings, keep an eye on how the dots appear through the text, and use your judgement to make sure they look well distributed. When you're ready click OK.

9/ Hit Select > None, to deselect the rectangle. 

 10/ Select Color > Invert. The dots need to be black so we can make a selection from them. 

11/  Although a selection could be made using white dots, inverting the colour so the dots are black makes it easier to see what we're doing.
Also, we could have created black dots on a white background using the Newsprint effect, but the resulting dots would have been square, so we had to work around this.

Removing The Background Of The Dots


 1/ The dots need to be on a transparent background so the white needs to be removed. To do this select Colors > Color to Alpha.

 2/ This window will open. Hit OK.

3/ The background has now been removed. The white seen is here is from the default background layer. Hide this layer to see the trsnparency of the dots layer.

Enlarging The Dots

1/ Because the Newsprint effect makes it difficult to balance the size of the dots with the right spacing, the next step is to make a selection from the dots layer then increase their size.

To do this, right click on the dots layer and select Alpha to Selection.

 2/  Make the top text layer visible and add a transparent layer above it. Make sure this transparent layer is the active layer.

Now hit Select > Grow.

3/ In this example the selection has been increased by 1 pixel. When you're ready hit OK.

4/ The size of the dots in the selection will now be 1 pixel larger.

5/ Click the white colour from the palette to make it the active foreground colour. Making sure the topmost transparent layer is active, use the Paint tool to colour the dots that appear over the text.
6/  Hit Select > None.

7/ This has created the pattern of dots needed to fill the text.

Cropping The Dots To The Text

1/ With the top text layer active, right click on it in the Layers panel, and from the drop down menu select Alpha to Selection.

2/  Hide the text layer and make the white dots layer the active layer.

3/ Hit Select > Invert.

4/ Hit Delete on the keyboard, to remove all dots outside of the selection.

Creating An Outline From The Text

1/ Make the top text layer the active layer, then hit Select > Invert again, so the selection returns to the text, rather than everything outside of it.

2/ To create an outline of the text go to Select > Shrink.

3/  Here 8 pixels has been entered. Now hit OK.

4/ The selection has now shrunk by 8 pixels.
5/ Hit Delete on the keyboard again and only an outline of the text will remain.

6/ With the white dots layer active right click and from the drop down menu select Merge Down, so it becomes one layer with the text outline.

 7/ To make this layer easier to work with go to Layer > Crop to Content.

Adding Perspective To The Text Layer

To make the text look a little more dynamic we'll give it some perspective. It doesn't need to be especially accurate, just so long as it doesn't look completely wrong.

1/ Select the Unified Transform tool from the Tools panel to the left, (highlighted in red, above).


 2/ The text will now be boxed in a rectangle with diamond shaped handles on each boundary edge. There will also be a small window.



3/ Grab the right vertical handle and drag it upwards, until you're happy with the appearance of the text.

4/ Now grab the top horizontal handle and drag it to the right. When you're ready hit the Transform button in the small Unified Transform window.

5/ The text now has some perspective of sorts, and will look more natural when its given some 3d depth later in part 2.

Thats pretty much the trickiest part of creating this pop art typography design completed. In part 2 of this turorial we'll create the other text elements, give them some 3d depth, add some shadow and create a background. There's just a few techniques needed to do all these things.