3D Pixel Stretch Effect

Posted by kasrak
Created Aug 7, 2008
Category Other
Views 55,404
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Learn how to stretch lines of pixels into amazing graphics that pop out of the screen!

Note: This tutorial was adapted from this Photoshop tutorial.

Step 1: Background

After you've created your blank image (I used 640x480), you need to give a radial gradient background. Set your foreground color to something dark (#080808) and background color to something a little lighter (#252525).

Select the Gradient tool and make sure Shape is set to Radial:

Now drag from the center of your canvas to a corner:

Step 2: The Image

Alright, now you need an image with lots of vibrant colors to work with. Here are some I found at Flickr Creative Commons:

I'm only going to demonstrate Photo 1. Just repeat the following steps for any other photos you wish you use.

Alright, so once you've saved the image you want to use to your computer, go back to the GIMP and click File > Open as Layers...

Choose your image file to open it as a layer.

Once you've made your selection, click Layer > Crop to Selection.

Now select the Scale tool. In the tool options, make sure Interpolation is set to "None"*.

Using the scale tool, increase only the height of your cropped layer:

Time to add depth. Select the Perspective tool. Drag the corners of your layer until it looks something like this:

Apply the transformation by pressing Enter.

Notice that the bottom edge of the layer is now "soft". We need a hard edge. So choose the Rectangular Selection tool, select the faded out bit and delete it:

To add the front of the shape, zoom in on the bottom of your layer. Make sure the Rectangular Selection tool is selected and draw a selection that is exactly 1px high over the lowest row of pixels in your layer:

Copy your selection (Edit > Copy) and then paste it (Edit > Paste) to give it its own layer. Click the new layer button to create the layer.

Now, having selected the new layer, choose the Scale tool and grow the layer's height.

Duplicate your new layer and set the copy's Mode to "Dodge" to make it vibrant. Adjust the Opacity as needed.

Select the old depth layer. Colors > Brightness-Contrast. Turn down the brightness to make it look more realistic.

Now merge all three of the layers that contain the shape's parts. Right click on the merged layer and select "Add Layer Mask..."

Set your foreground color to black and background to white (just press the "D" key on your keyboard). Select the Gradient tool and set the shape to linear.

Make sure the layer mask is select and drag a gradient from the end of the shape toward the front to make it fade out at the back.

And your first shape is done! Just repeat these steps to create as many shapes as you need.

Step 3: Texture

Alright, so after three photos, here is what I had:

Just to finish it off and give it that extra oomph, let's add a texture. Here is a great paper texture that I will use (via BittBox).

Once you've saved the texture, go to File > Open as Layers... and select the paper image file. If it's not the top most layer, move it to the top.

Now Colors > Desaturate.

Set the Mode to Overlay and you're done!



  1. Aug 12, 2009, GreekGimpGeek said:


  2. Nov 15, 2010, GronHatchat said:

    Spaceballs...they've gone to plaid! =D

  3. Jul 16, 2012, Teebs said:

    I'd really like to do this tutorial but I feel like it's missing a step (or I'm just a tard) I can't seem to get past the Scale step. Even if I click no interpolation, the fish doesn't turn into lines like that. Could you please e-mail me? tcheath1@gmail.com. Shankkkks :)

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