THE UNITED STATES OF GEEKDOM
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Adding a Lightsaber blade into an image.

My friend Alex Ray wrote this tutorial last year and I used it for plenty of things. Its a great tutorial and it works amazingly. You'll need the program GIMP, which is free.

How to make Icons in GIMP Part 2: Lightsabers

Ok, as before this will be a very simple how to. I do things simply myself and I wouldn’t want to confuse you with any other form of Icon making. That aside, here is Kahn Iceay’s “How to make JC Icons with GNU Image Manipulation Program

Part 2: Lightsabers

Overview: Lightsabers are arguably the most recognizable aspect of star wars and in regards to making Icons one of the key methods of submitting a non-star wars icon for regular use outside special events such as Christmas or Pirate Day. Making lightsabers in GIMP is actually very easy it just seems confusing and is difficult to explain correctly so please bear with me as I attempt this.

Step 1: Again, the first step in any image editing process is acquiring the proper image to edit. The image has to be clean, and clear, blurry or badly rendered images don’t tend to mix well with the lightsaber effects. In the case of this tutorial we’ll be using this image of my Half-Elf Cleric Findecáno Sindanárië. Now, a little disclaimer information. This image is the work of Wen-M of Deviant Art, specifically “Anima: Nerelas and Sylvia” and all credit goes to him for his work. This image is simply an edit done to represent a D&D character and due to it being perfectly suited for the task, I’m using it for this tutorial. So Wen, in the off chance you’re reading this, don’t sue me or anything :p

Step 2: Now we must establish the work space. Creating Lightsabers actually requires a few layers to be worked with so you will need to bring out your layer dialog box. To do this you click Dialogs>layers. Depending on the version you have windows, linux, and so on the dialog box will appear. In versions like mine you will need to then arrange the windows in a manner that is comfortable for you to work with. In my experience this is best preformed by a three column set up. Column 1 is the main GIMP window, Column 3 is your Dialog box, and Column 2 is your image window filling the space between the two. This particular lay out lets you access all the tools you need to make the lightsaber effect much more easier.

Step 3: Now that you have your works space established you’re going to need to set up the picture to make the lightsaber. First you need to go to Layers>New Layer and you’ll see a small box pop up like this. The new layer you’re going to make needs to be the same size as the original image and it needs to be black (foreground colour if default colours are selected). Once you make the layer its going to cover up the original image, so you’ll need to set the layer to ‘screen’ this is done in the Layer dialog box. Select the new layer by clicking it, and then in the mode menu at the top of the box select screen. once you do that your work space should look like this.

Step 4: The next step is to make your selection. My prefered tool for this if there is a pre-existing object to which a lightsaber blade is being grafted is the Path Tool. If you are crafting a lightsaber from off screen you can use a simply rectangle selection tool. I personally prefer to use the Parth Tool because you can creat uniqe lightsaber shapes and it gives you more control on the width and tip of the blade as you work. Once you have your selection (image of mine to the right) you want to use your Fill tool to fill the area with pure white like so.

Step 5: Once you do this go to Select>none. This should remove the ‘crawling ants’ from around your selection and you’ll see a simple white block where your selection was. Now you will need to duplicate the lightsaber layer three times. This is done by clicking the duplicate button on the bottom of the dialog box three times. When you have done this you’re work space will look like this.

Step 6: Now you will need to start applying the visual effects to the lightsaber blade. First select your original new layer, the one simply title New Layer, and then go to Filters>Blur>Gaussian Blur. When you do this a window will pop up that looks like this. You will want to set the increments to both options at 5.0 with the method being RLE. Then click ok. You then need to repeat this for the first second and third copies of the layer. For each layer you will in crease the blure level, 20, 40, 60. If you choose to make additional layers continue the increase by 20 points. When you are done it should look like the image to the left. Now its just a simple task of merging the lightsaber layers into a single layer. To do this simply right click the top most layer and select “Merge Down”. once you do this you’ll notice the layer blacking out the image. You will again have to set the layer to screen. You will need to repeat the process until you only have the original and new layer remaining.

Step 7: The end result of your work should resemble the image to the right. Now you can very well leave the image as it is. Lightsabers do come in pure white/silver, however, most people prefer coloured sabers, and there is no end to the variety of colours you can get. To colour your lightsaber simply go to Colors>Colorize. From here, you can adjust the hue, and saturation of your lightsaber. While you can adjust the ‘lightness’ i don’t suggest it as it may very well result in artifacts that detract from the over all quality of your image. For the sake of reference I will be making Finde’s Lightsaber blue, blue is the colour of Erathis’ cog on her emblem. So, adjust the Hue to 215 and the Saturation to 100 then select ok. Then you simply need to merge the last layer down and save your image. And there you have it. you’ve created a lightsaber effect! The Effect is very simple, if somewhat confusing at first. And it can easily be applied to icons. Simply work to step 4 in my last tutorial, and complete the steps in this tutorial, and then pick up at step 5 of the first. If you require advice, or have questions, feel free to PM me or leave a comment! I hope you have fun and happy editing!


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Examples of my own work using GIMP and the Heromachine:
Osiran


Nostran


Personal Security Combat Droid Mark I - Epsilon


Sith

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