Carving Effect

This example was using Gimp 1.2

This was gotten using the "Making Carved Text With Levels" example in the Gimp Manual (in the section about the Image menu).

Most people are familiar with the good old bump-map effect, where one takes and image and makes it look as if it's pushing up in a 3D-effect, as if it were carved in bas-relief. This one starts off in the same way, but it ends up being much more useful because it's more flexible.

Here's some examples of the effect:
Stargate Logo Stargate Logo as Button

  1. First, make yourself a black-and-white image, or maybe a black-and-white-and-shades-of-grey image. In the above case, it was a black-and-white version of the Earth Stargate symbol. With the "button" style, there was a black border around the edge of the image, and then the whole thing was inverted.
  2. If you want your bump to have smooth curved edges, then apply a Gaussian Blur (Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian-Blur) to the layer. If you want the edges to be sharp, don't.
  3. Make a new white layer above this layer. (Call it "bump")
  4. Apply a bump-map to this layer, using the B/W image layer below. (Filters -> Map -> Bump-Map) You may want to play around with the parameters.
  5. Duplicate the bump layer. Call one "highlights" and the other "shadows".
  6. With the "highlights" layer, use the Image -> Colors -> Levels tool to darken the image so that there's nothing there but the light parts of the bump. I find it useful to look at one of the shadow parts of the bump-image which is next to one of the flat parts, and when the image is so dark that the flat part is the same colour as the shadow part, then it's dark enough. Temporarily hide this while you work on the other bump layer.
  7. With the "shadows" layer, you do the opposite: use the Image -> Colors -> Levels tool to lighten the image so that there's nothing there but the dark parts of the bump. This time, look at one of the highlight parts of the bump, and when the flat part is the same colour (white), then it is light enough.
  8. Change the mode of the highlight layer to Screen (in the Layers window).
  9. Change the mode of the shadows layer to Multiply (in the Layers window).
  10. Make yourself a new white layer below the highlight and shadows layers. Fill it with whatever pattern or colour you like, apply filters etc. Note that the highlights and shadows layers combine to give the "carved" effect to whatever it is that you've done with this layer. This is the fun part, you can mess around with lots of variations, without having to re-do the bump-map. As I said, it's more flexible.
    In the above cases, the "button" version was filled with the burlwood pattern. With the non-button version I did a lot of messing around with filters to try to get the sort of blowing-sand effect.