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Quality tutorials for Inkscape and GIMP
This tutorial will teach you how to take advantage of both Inkscape and GIMP to create a distressed-effect ticket complete with a detailed base and imprinted text. We'll be making the most of Inkscape's flexibility when it comes to combining vector and raster elements, and getting a feel for the kind of image that works well when applying a worn effect to illustrations.
As always, let's take a look at what we'll be aiming for at the end of this tutorial.
Skills you'll be developing in this tutorial
- Using vector elements to give a bevelled look to your Inkscape illustrations
- Working efficiently with layers
- How to use GIMP to create black/white raster images for texture masking
- How to use Masks to apply textures to drawings in Inkscape
Mixed Grunge Texture one from Design Instruct's free texture resources
Step 1 - Create the ticket base shape
Create a new Inkscape document and open up the Document Properties options box with Ctrl, Shift and D or File --> Document Properties. Set the canvas size to 600 pixels square, which will give us plenty of space to work in, and on the Grids tab, click the New button for a new rectangular grid with the default settings.
Start by pressing R to activate the Rectangle tool, and use it to draw a rectangle which has a width of 380 pixels and a height of 160. Using the Fill and Stroke dialog box (Ctrl, Shift and F) fill it with any colour as we'll be making changes to it later anyway.
Switch to the Ellipse tool using the E key and, with the grid as your guide, draw a series of seven circles above each other which are 20px in diameter. Hold the Ctrl key to keep the shapes circular as you draw them. Use copy (Ctrl and C) and paste (Ctrl and V) to speed things up, and let the circles snap to the grid so they're sized and aligned how we want them. You can move objects easily with the Select tool (F1).
With the Select tool still active, draw a selction area around all these cirlces and combine them into one shape by choosing Path --> Combine from the menus, or using keyboard shortcut Ctrl & K.
Copy this combined shape but don't paste it yet. Move the stack of circles into position so that they very slightly overlap the edge of the base rectangle. It's helpful to zoom in slightly so that the grid redraws and you can be more precise.
Holding the Shift key, click on the rectangle to select that as well, then press Ctrl and - or use Path --> Difference in the menus to create a ridged edge to our shape.
Now paste the stack of circles onto the canvas and repeat the process on the right-hand edge of the ticket shape so both sides have that perforated appearance. Toggle the grid off when you're done by pressing the # key again.
Good work. That should leave you with something resembling a basic ticket shape on which to work.
Time to fix that fill colour. Make sure your shape is selected and, if you haven't already, show the Fill and Stroke panel (Ctrl, Shift and F). Click the Linear Gradient button, then click the Edit button to go into the Gradient Editor.
Using the dropdown box, set the first gradient stop to #f75356ff and the second to #bc392bff. The last two "ff"s make sure that the opacity is set to its maximum value for the second stop, too.
This gradient will run horizontally across our shape, which isn't what we want, so use the Gradient Tool (Ctrl and F1 to activate it) to click and drag the gradient fill from the top to the bottom of the ticket to make it a vertical blend instead.
Make a copy of this shape using Copy (Ctrl C) and Paste in Place (Ctrl, Alt and V). Both these commands can be found in the Edit menu. The copy will sit directly on top of the original. Apply a Stroke to this shape which is white in colour. Then, in the Stroke Styles tab, set its width to 2 pixels.
If you're working against a white background, you'll have to have a bit of faith in that step, but you should be able to see the selection area has enlarged slightly. Now, from the Path menu, select Path --> Stroke to Path to convert the outline to a path; this also has the effect of removing the central fill from the shape.
With this new path selected, apply a Stroke which is 1 pixel wide, and give this stroke a colour of #bc392bff - the same as our second gradient stop earlier.
You'll also see the inside stroke that appears, so press the End key or select Object --> Lower to Bottom in the menus to send it behind everything else on the page and get everything neatened up.
Copy and Paste in Place the main ticket shape once again - this duplicate will appear on top of all the other shapes and, in the Fill and Stroke panel, click the button for Pattern fill. In the dropdown box that appears, scroll to the bottom until you can see Cloth, and select it.
Use the slider to lower this shape's opacity to 8%. It'll leave a subtle, but visible texturing effect on the ticket stub. Don't worry about it not covering the pixel outlines, this won't be noticeable when you zoom back out. (NB. There is another technique involving Linked Offsets which can fix this issue, but it's a little more involved and what we're doing works nicely for this project.)
Good work, that's the first bit sorted. Bring up the Layers panel (Ctrl, Shift and L) and click the padlock next to this layer to lock it and make the next few steps a bit easier by preventing any changes from being made.
Step 2 - Create imprinted details on the ticket
Let's move on and add some details to the ticket itself. We'll start by making a new layer for this content, which you can do by clicking the + icon in the Layers panel, and giving the new layer a name. Make sure this new layer is selected so we're putting our stuff in the right place.
It might help you to have the grid back on for the first part of this next step, so make that visible again with the # key and activate your Rectangle tool. Create a tall rectangle 3 pixels wide and 140 tall, that sits about a fifth of the way across the front of our ticket from the left. Zooming in may help here too as it will allow you to use the 1-pixel wide gridlines as your guide. Fill it with #63d5f6ff - a mid-blue colour.
Copy and Paste the blue rectangle in Place, and change the fill to black (#000000). Move it with the keyboard left arrow key so that it sits alongside the original to its left. Zoom in very far so that the gridlines represent one-pixel widths. Use either the Node tool (F2) or Rectangle tool on the top-left handle (the square-shaped one) to narrow the black rectangle and make it one pixel wide.
Reduce this shape's opacity to 20%, then repeat these steps to create a white rectangle which is on the right of the blue one. Resize the copy using the bottom-right handle (again, it's the square-shaped on). Set this copy's opacity to 30%.
Flick the grid off again for a moment, zoom back out to 100% size a-a-a-and...
Clever, isn't it? We know it's just three shapes of different colours next to each other, but your brain tells you that it's a blue line that's grooved into the surface of the ticket. Now use the Select Tool (F1) to drag a rubberband selection area around these shapes, then press Ctrl and G or Object --> Group to create a group from these rectangles.
Copy and paste this group in place and, holding down the Ctrl key to lock movement to the horizontal axis, move the copy to the other side of the ticket. Use the grid to check your copied group is the same distance in from the edge of the ticket as the first.
Paste another copy of this line, and click on the new group once to switch on the rotation handles. Use these corner arrows to rotate this line so that it's horizontal - hold the Ctrl key to make the rotation points snap to 45 degree increments.
Click on it again to revert to the sizing handles and drag one of the centre handles outwards to make the line longer. Then position it just above the centre of the ticket, in between our first two vertical lines.
Step 3 - Create imprinted text details on the ticket
We're going to use this bevelling effect again on some text. Working on the same layer, go for the Text tool (T on the keyboard), click and drag out a rectangle to place your text into. Type in a line of text in a suitable font, the colour of which should match our lines from earlier: #63d5f6ff. I would suggest a large sans-serif font like League Gothic at a size of 50 pts.
Look up at the text toolbar and experiment with settings in the letter and word-spacing options boxes until you get your text to fill the same horizontal space as your middle bar.
Copy this text and paste two copies using Paste in Place. With your top copy selected (which will happen by default), open the Transform dialog box with Ctrl, Shift and M, or under the Object --> Transform menu option. On the Move tab, enter figures of -1 in the horizontal box (1 pixel to the left), and 1 in the Vertical box (1 pixel upwards). Make sure the Relative Move option is ticked, and click Apply.
The Transform tool is useful because it helps us to keep to precise measurements when we're altering the position or dimensions of shapes on the canvas; which in turn helps to keep your image razor-sharp when you export them later on.
Hold Shift and select the blue text (our second copy of the original) so that it's highlighted as well as the top copy. This isn't as fiddly as it sounds if you zoom in and just click somewhere near the bottom shape - Inkscape is clever and will know what you're trying to do. Press Ctrl and - or use Path --> Difference to 'subtract' the two shapes and leave behind the edges in between them.
Change this shape's fill to white and reduce the opacity to about 50% using the slider.
Starting by copying the text, then pasting two copies of it in place, repeat this procedure but reverse the numbers in the Move panel, and fill the resulting shape with black. This will give us the other half of a shadow which will produce a subtle, but clear, stamped effect to our ticket's text.
Reduce the black shape's opacity to about 30% to finish the effect off.
Can you see where we're going with this? Each time we add another detail element to the ticket we repeat the first steps to reproduce that imprinted effect on the ticket's surface. The more we add, the more effective it becomes, so go ahead and add some more details, performing this white-and-black-copy shadow effect for each shape until you've got a composition you're happy with.
For each detail you add, repeat the steps to create the punched effect so that you've got a complete set of details on your ticket. Experiment with using different fonts on the same ticket, and adding geometric shapes to the design as well. You'll soon get into the pattern of Copy, Paste, Paste, Offset one copy, perform Difference operation, change the fill, reduce opacity for each element. It actually doesn't take that long to finish quite a lot of elements this way.
Step 4 - Create and apply a texture for a distressed effect
OK, what we've created looks good and you can leave it there if you want to, but let's take advantage of one of Inkscape's more powerful features and use a texture image to achieve that imperfect, distressed look to our printed ticket which will really make it stand out.
I've used a simple grunge texture downloaded from Design Instruct's Free Resources area. We'll download this image, shrink it to keep things running quickly while we work, make some colour adjustments and apply it to our design over in Inkscape.
Save the image to a location on your computer that you can easily navigate to again. Open it up in your favourite image editor. I'll show you the steps using GIMP. Scale it down to 400 pixels wide and 200 pixels high using Image --> Scale Image. Click the icon to the right of the measurements box to allow us to set non-proportional dimensions for the height and width of the resulting image.
In order to make best use of this texture, we need to convert it to a black and white image, and boost the contrast significantly. I won't go into the 'wheres and why fors' here but suffice to say we want a result that's mostly white, with plenty of black flecks on it, and a few greyish midtones too.
The easiest way to do this is to convert the image to greyscale using Colors --> Desaturate.
Then use Colors --> Levels and squeeze the black, grey and white point indicators so they're tightly packed around the centre of the Input Levels graph. This isn't an exact science, but follow something close to these settings and it should work.
This may not look particularly appealing as an image, but it will work well when we apply it in the context of a layer mask in Inkscape. So, export the image to a JPG image using Ctrl, Shift and E or File --> Export, and save it ready for importing to our project.
Back in Inkscape, make sure your text details layer is still activated, and choose File --> Import from the menus or press Ctrl and I. Select the JPG you've just saved, and click OK. Inkscape will ask whether you want to embed the image or link to it. Choose link, as this will allow us to update the JPG outside of Inkscape and see the impact of those changes straight away if we need to adjust anything.
Move the cropped texture image into position over the top of your ticket. Make sure it's at the top of your stack of items on that level by pressing the 'Home' key. And here's where the beauty of using separate layers for our content really comes in: press Ctrl & A to select everything on that layer (note that this won't select everything in the document, which is where the advantage of using layers comes into its own), then go to Object --> Mask --> Set, and watch the magic unfold.
Wow, look at that! Working with layer masks in Inkscape opens up all sorts of possibilities to create stunning effects that will make your drawings really stand out. Drag a selection area around your ticket, and group everything together like before.
To finish the image, copy and paste the ticket, rotating the duplicate, and make a stack of lovely, worn ticket stubs. You could also try adding a background as well, if you like.
You could even try unlocking the base ticket layer and applying a mask so that it has a worn effect, too. Or change the colours of your gradient or text for different outcomes.
And there we go. Hope you've enjoyed this tutorial, we've covered several really sophisticated - and quite difficult - techniques here, so well done and I hope I've explained it clearly enough for you. Did you get a good result? Did you enjoy this tutorial? Learn anything new? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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