Gimp Pop: Art Tutorial

Some may have seen my pop art work on Picable. Here is an article on how to create your own Pop Art.

Most of you are familiar, or at least heard of the photo manipulation program called Photoshop.  Sure it has a lot of great qualities and can do a lot of artistic things for your photographs, but I would like to introduce you to Gimp.  Unlike Photoshop, you can download Gimp for free.  Coming soon will be an article on all the things Gimp can do, and an article comparing and contrasting it with Photoshop. 

However, this is a tutorial on creating Pop – Art with Gimp.  The steps are not complicated, but they must be done in order or the photo will not turn out correctly. 

  1. First, and foremost you must download Gimp.  This is a simple task, just can be time consuming depending on your internet connection and how proficient your computer is.  I downloaded the program in a few minutes.
  • To dowload Gimp, go to
  • On the first page you will see the download button, click on that and you will be directed to another page
  • On the second page there will be a link that says download gimp 2.6, click on that and a box will come up
  • On some computurs it will block the downloading box, if so go to where the blocking bar is and right click and click on download
  • Save gimp to your computer
  • Now you are downloaded, just click on open and wait for it to load.  The first time it will take a few minutes to open because it is loading all the files and add-ons to it

         – If you need any help with this, feel free to ask me about it.

    2. The next step would be to open up the file you want to use.  This is done by going to file and then open.

    3. Once you have the photo you want to use, you will want to duplicate the layer twice.

  • If you cannot see the layers box, go to windows, and then dockable dialogs and you will see layers there.  
  • Once you are in the layers dialog, you will find the duplicate button on the bottom by the down arrow
  • If you hover your mouse over the button it will say duplicate
  • Remember to click it twice

    4. You will want to make both of the duplicated layers visible, and the original copy (which will be at the bottom of the list) invisble. 

   -You can do this by clicking on the eye in the box in front of the layer.

   5. Now you must invert and blur the picture.

  • Make sure you are on the top layer (which will say background copy # 1)
  • right click on the photo
  • Go to colors
  • click on Invert
  • Stay on the top layer
  • Right click again
  • Go to filters
  • Then to blur
  • and then click on gaussian blur
  • Set the horizontal and vertical blur radius to 7.0

    6. Set the layer mode for the top layer to dodge.

      – You change this on the layers dialog, just make sure you are on the top layer still.

     7. Next, merge the duplicated layers together. 

       – To do this, press ctrl + m, then in the box that comes up click on merge

       - Now you will see only two layers instead of three, make sure the bottom one is still invisible

     8. Now you make the black and white image that you will color over.

  • Right click on the image
  • Go to colors, then threshold
  • move the up arrow to the right until it has the amount of detail you want, then press OK

     9. This step will be to create a new layer.

  • Go to the layout dialog box and click on the new layer button
  • Title it matte color
  • Make sure it is set on transparency
  • Also, make sure the mode on this new layer is set to multiply

     10.  Now you will start to paint on the matte color layer

  • When you are painting the color on, make sure you are always working on the matte color layer or it won’t work right
  • First pick a color you would think would be good for a skin tone and just paint over the parts of the skin
  • Pick other colors for the main objects and paint over them
  • Then pick one color for the background of the picture and color it
  • Fix any coloring mistakes while you are on this step
  • To make the brush size smaller put the scale on a smaller number

        – If you make the matte layer invisible after coloring it you can see what you colored without the detail, but make sure to put it back to visible after looking.

        11. Now that you are finished with coloring the whole picture the way you want to, you want to merge the top two layers just like you did earlier by pressing ctrl + m

        12. The next step has three things involved with it -

  • Make the bottom layer visible
  • Drag the bottom layer to the top by clicking and dragging it
  • Set the new top layer to overlay

       13.  The final step would be to give it the official pop – art look, which can be done in two ways

  •   # 1 Newprint
  •  Right click on the picture
  • Go to filter
  • Then to distorts
  • Finally click on newsprint
  • Set the cell size to around 15, whichever looks best in the preview box


  • #2 Mosaic
  • Instead of clicking on newsprint in the distorts list, go to mosaic
  • Set the tile size to a number that looks good in the preview box

Note: You don’t have to necessarily use overlay when you make the invsible layer visible, you can look at the other modes until you find one you like. 

        14. More accurately, the final step would be to save your work that you have created.

  • Make sure you put  .jpg at the end
  • If it asks you to export it, do just that
  • and put the opacity to 100 in the final saving window

Hope you give this a try and have some fun with your photographs!  If you do decide to give it a try, let me see your finished product :)

To see some of my  Pop – Art work visit these links:

Hue Version

Overlay Version

cPop – Art # 1


Wow, thanks a lot for sharing this with us, that’s really cool. ^_^


Lots of great info, thanks.


thank you for the instructions.

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