Gimp Tips - Worn Text

Worn out things seem to be popular these days. People spend absurd amounts of money to buy clothes that look old and worn out. My clothes look old and worn out. Does that make me cool? No. Because my clothes actually are old and worn out and not purchased that way.

Anyway, the worn out look has even made its way into graphic design. Sometimes it does look kind of cool. So here is a way I figured out to make something look like a worn out print on an old t-shirt. Or maybe something else that's worn out. Worn out, in any case.

  1. Simple green background for my image First, make a background for your image. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. A solid color works just fine.
  2. Some text and a simple graphic on a transparent layer Add a transparent layer on top of that and create your foreground image on that. Add a layer mask to this layer, but leave it white for now.
  3. White layer with some noise added to it We're now going to construct a fancy layer mask to apply to that foreground image. We'll begin by adding a little faint texture so that the image doesn't look too perfectly uniform. Add a new white layer on top of everything else (I'll assume you add new layers on the top for the rest of these instructions). Add some noise to it with Filters|Noise|RGB Noise. Set red, green, and blue to 0.3 and alpha to 0. Uncheck Independent RGB.
  4. White layer with some blurry noise Soften it up with Filters|Blur|Blur.
  5. Noisy layer, like TV static (for those of you with out cable) Now we'll add some vertical scratches. Add a new layer and fill it with a medium gray (128,128,128). Do Filters|Noise|RGB Noise again, this time with red, green, and blue at 0.5 (still 0 alpha).
  6. Vertically stretched noise Smear that noise out vertically with Filters|Blur|Motion Blur. Choose linear mode, length 40, angle 90.
  7. Sharp vertical line in the curves tool We'll reduce this to just a few random scratches with the curves tool (Colors|Curves). Move lower point to (90,0) and the upper point to (115,255).
  8. Mostly white, with a few random vertical dark lines This is the result.
  9. Vertical scratches combined with the slight noise layer Set the layer's mode to Multiply. That will superimpose the scratches on the noisy texture we made previously. Merge the two layers together. We're going to do this a couple more times, adding new effects and merging them down until we have an elaborate grayscale to apply as a layer mask.
  10. Cloudy looking Perlin noise Next we'll add some blotches that are slightly discolored. Add a new layer on top. Fill it using Filters|Render|Clouds|Solid Noise. Set both sizes to 2, and the detail level to 2.
  11. Funny flat S shape in the curves tool Adjust the result with Colors|Curves. Move the lower point to (0,224) and add points at (110,227) and (138,255). It should look more or less like this.
  12. White space with blotchy gray discolored areas The layer will end up looking like this.
  13. Noise, vertical scratches, and blotches combined Set the layer mode to Multiply and merge it down.
  14. Random noise (TV static again) Now for the fancy part. We're going to add clusters of speckles. Add a new layer and fill it with medium gray (128,128,128). Do Filters|Noise|RGB Noise with red, green, and blue at 0.5 again.
  15. Blurred noise Spread it out with Filters|Blur|Blur.
  16. More cloudy Perlin noise, more dense this time Add a new layer and fill it with Filters|Render|Clouds|Solid Noise. This time set the sizes 8 and the detail level to 1.
  17. Slightly adjusted curve Colors|Curves, move the lower point to (0,32).
  18. Speckled in some regions, white in others Set the layer mode to addition and merge it down.
  19. Sharp vertical curves slant over to the right This gives us clumps of speckles, but they're too light to use. Colors|Curves again and move the lower point to (160,0).
  20. Nice dark speckles in clumps This looks more useable.
  21. Our final layer mask: speckled, scratched, and blotched Set the layer mode to Multiply and merge it down. Now that's a nice scuffed up layer mask. Copy this layer and then hide it.
  22. Our final layer mask: speckled, scratched, and blotched Select the foreground layer's layer mask (that we added ages ago) and paste.

Not too shabby. Or, actually very shabby. But in a good way.