Gimp Tips - Water Damage

Want to make a graphic look aged and distressed? I've got two words for you: water damage. The effect looks best on posters or photos and can be toned down for a really subtle addition or ramped up to be really obvious.

  1. Off-white background color You need to start by aging your "paper" a bit. If you do this on pure white or a solid color it will just look out of place. I started with a slightly off-white color (255,247,232).
  2. Darker off-white color Next add a layer with a darker version of that color (255,221,155). We'll use this to add some texture to the paper.
  3. Textured blend of the two colors Add a layer mask to that darker layer and fill it with Filters|Render|Clouds|Solid Noise. Set both sizes to 16.
  4. A more subtle blend of the two colors I deliberately made this texture a little too strong. You can tone it down to whatever level you like by adjusting the opacity of the upper layer. I set it down to about 25%.
  5. Channel showing water damage area Make a new channel called "Water Area" and paint in the area of the water damage. Actual water damage is found most often in the corners of papers and along the bottom. But it could be along any edge or in spots. The final edge of the water damage will be slightly inside this so don't be afraid to define a large area.
  6. Perlin noise Actual water damage also has a bumpier edge than you want to draw by hand so now we'll do some fanciness to rough up the edge of the water area we just defined. Start by making a new layer and filling it with Filters|Render|Clouds|Solid Noise. This time set both sizes to 16 and the detail up to 3 or 4.
  7. Blurry black outline of water damage area Add a white layer on top of that. Do Channel to Selection on "Water Area". Select|Feather by a value about 10% of your image size (this image is 300 pixels wide so I used 30). Now bucket fill that with black on to your white layer.
  8. Rough edged outline of water damage area Set the layer mode to Hard light and merge down.
  9. Crisper water damage outline Make that rough edge more crisp by ramping the contrast up to at least 100. Edit|Copy this and hide the layer.
  10. New channel with rough water outline Make a new channel. Call it "Water Edge". Paste in the image you just copied.
  11. Border of the water edge area Now to make the actual water damage. Do Channel to Selection on "Water Edge". Then Select|Border by about the same ammount you used for the feather before. In the Border Selection dialog check "Feather border" and "Lock selection to image edges".
  12. Thinner border selection Next do Subtract from Selection on the "Water Edge" channel.
  13. Paper with black where water damage will be Make a new transparent layer on the top of your image and bucket fill this selection on it with black.
  14. Very faint water damage Set the layer mode to Soft light. This looks like water damage now, but it's a little to faint.
  15. Darker water damage Darken it by duplicating the water damage layer. If that is too dark for you lighten it by lowering the opacity of that layer.
  16. Water damaged poster Add the content of you poster beneath the water damage layers so that the print will show damage, too.