The Vman's Incredible Editing Tutorial! (GIMP not Photoshop)


 If you are a good editor, feel free to add your own editing tips and tricks! If I think it is important I will add it to this post for all to see!


Do you feel that you are a good poser, but think that your pictures lack the “punch” of an edited one?
Have you attempted editing a picture, but never really knew where to go once your editing program started up?

Well look no further. In this tutorial, I shall teach you most of the basics of editing your Gmod picture.

-First Off

If you are going to attempt to edit a picture. It will be a futile effort if the pose its self isn’t that good. Allow me to put this into a tasty food metaphor. Lets say that the pose is a cake and the editing is the icing. If you have a nasty tasting cake, you can’t just put good icing on it and expect it to be good. The opposite is true too, if you have a really good cake, bad icing will ruin it. So only edit a picture that is good, and if you find that you are no good at editing, chances are that the unedited picture will be received better than the edited one.

-Getting to know the GIMP


This… is GIMP

GIMP stands for The GNU Image Manipulation Program. GIMP’s interface may not be as straight forward as Photoshop’s, but its good if you want Shop-like results without shelling out ungodly amounts of cash. As you can see you have your basic selection, path, transformation, brush, and stamp tools, and your layer window (if you don’t see the layer window just hit Ctrl+L) The context box that you see under all of the tool icons is where you can change your tool’s parameters like opacity, brush type, scale, etc. This isn’t too complicated, but the thing that confuses most people is when you open a picture.

What? Why are there two file tabs? Where am I supposed to look? The GIMP window or the picture window!?

Those were my first impressions, but don’t worry, GIMP is easy to get used to.
For all of your things like filters, color changes, and image resizes you look at the picture window. The GIMP window is only for the tools. Also, if you are in doubt of which File tab to use, just use the one in the picture window. Only with that one can you do things like save your picture.


Isolation is probably the first thing you are going to want to do when editing your picture. Isolation is the task of outlining a subject in your picture, then pulling them onto a different layer so you can edit them without changing the background. It is a grueling task, but the result will be 100 times better than if you didn’t.

First off, you need to pick your subject. In this case I will be using the gangster with the tommy gun here.

Now, zoom in enough so that you can practically see the pixels. You need to be able to outline the maximum amount of detail.

Beauty is only pixel deep…

Click on the “Paths” Tool, and find a starting point on your picture (I usually begin with the lower left corner, but that’s just me)

Now, begin clicking around the edge of the subject, creating a path around them. BE SURE TO BE AS DETAILED AS POSSIBLE no one likes isolation errors. Remember, you only need to create a path around the outer edge, there is no need to outline things inside your subject.

A long road is ahead…

BE VERY CAREFUL to not accidentally select a different tool while you are isolating. Should you select a different tool, the entire path that you have been creating will disappear, and will be irretrievable. If you wish to do something like zoom in or out while you are isolating, Do Not use the magnifying glass tool. Instead, hold down your Ctrl key, and scroll with the mouse wheel, it will zoom without deleting your path.

As you finish up your outline, to connect the end of your outline to the beginning, select your last point, and click on the first point while holding the Ctrl key, It will connect the two points together with a line.

The Final Product

When you have your outline. Click on the button that says “Selection from Path” in the Path tool’s context box (seen to the left) This will select the area that you have outlined, allowing you to freely manipulate it with the other tools.

Click here…

…To get this!

Now that he is selected, right click on him, select the “Edit” tab, and select “Copy” (You can do the same thing by simply clicking on the Edit tab at the top of the window)

Then, without clicking elsewhere on his body (we don’t want to get rid of the selection path quite yet) create a new layer by clicking on the New Layer button in the layer window. Then, right click again, go to the Edit tab again, select Paste, and click anywhere on your screen with any of the selection tools (This should remove your selection path). Your subject should be pasted in the same place that he originally was, but now he is in a new layer! (You can check this by clicking the eye to the left of your background layer. This will make the background invisible, but your subject should still be there)

“Hey, where did my background go?!”

Congratulations! You have successfully Isolated your subject! Repeat this process for any other subjects that you want to be able to edit. (However, if there is a subject, say, who is very small, or in the background, you can usually get away with not isolating them, as they are not the subject of the picture.)

-Dodge and Burn

Dodging and Burning is the process of adding more realistic light and shadow to your subject. You will be using the Dodge and Burn tool.

Zoom in a bit on your subject (this isn’t necessary but it makes things easier)

Select the Dodge and Burn tool, change the brush to “Circle Fuzzy (19)”, change the scale of the brush to about 3 (depending on how big you want your base shadows to be), select Burn, and change the exposure to about 15-25 (depending on how heavy you want the shadow to be. Generally it is easier to use lower exposure levels)

Your screen should look like this.

Now begin brushing on your subject. Put shadows wherever you think the light isn’t hitting (in this case, where the light from where the muzzle flash will be is the central light source, so I will want shadows around the left edge of his body, on his legs, under his hat, and behind his arms.

As you brush, keep in mind that Dodge and Burn “stacks” If you brush over an area that you darkened, it will become darker, so you need to be careful that you don’t make somewhere too dark or too light, and that you make the progression from light to dark as even as possible.

“Gah! Get this black stuff off me!!”

As you can see, even with some very simply burning, the left half of the gangster already looks hugely improved.

"Whoa! I have lighting!

Now that you have done the basic shadows, set the scale of your brush to something smaller to get the more detailed shadows (set the scale to around 1 to 1.5) Then zoom in some more, and begin on the smaller shadows.

The Final Product

There you go! Your subject now has some impressive shading effects! Now, I didn’t cover Dodging, because I personally find it significantly less useful than burning. But if you would like to experiment you can. Dodging works in the same way as burning, but instead of darkening an area it makes it lighter. You could use this for things like highlights or rim lighting.


Naturally, you are going to want to add effects like muzzle flashes, smoke, fog, tracers, etc. However, while most people attempt to create their own hand drawn effects, those often end up looking like crap (I myself am not that good with hand making effects) So, I take pictures off the internet. I understand that some people may think of this as “cheating”, if you are skilled at making the effect match the atmosphere of the picture, you can make something that looks many times better than any hand drawn effect.

Muzzle Flashes

Gmod poses and violence almost always go hand in hand together. So logically you are going to have some gunfire in your pictures.

The first thing you will need to do is find a picture off the internet. Do Not select a picture that isn’t real. If you search “muzzle flash” in Google images, you will get quite a few pictures that were made in photoshop. These are ugly and look nothing like real muzzle flashes. Some good phrases to search for are “muzzleflash” “muzzle flash” “muzzle blast” “gun firing” etc. You can also go onto sites like Photobucket or Flickr and search there. You will want to find pictures that were taken at night so that the muzzle flash is more apparent and you will only need to remove the black from the background.

Open the picture of the muzzle flash in GIMP, and select what you need from it.

Here is the flash I am going to use. I am only selecting the useful area of the picture, I don’t need the rest.

Then, copy/paste what you selected into your pose in a different layer.

Now, go into the tab at the top of the window that says color, then select “Color to Alpha”

If you have a good night picture, all you will need to do is select the color black in the color to alpha window. This will make any black in the picture invisible (hence why a night picture is the easiest to use).

Now move and rotate your picture into place.

The Final Pro- wait what?! That’s ugly!

Hang on, that doesn’t look right! The glow from the flash has all those unsightly harsh edges! Have no fear!

To fix this simply select the eraser tool, set the brush to “Circle Fuzzy (19)”, and set the scale to around 3-4.

Erase away the sharp edges and erase pretty close to the flash. Then, increase the scale of the eraser (to around 5 or so) and lower the opacity (to around 25-50) Now erase some more around the edges of the flash to smooth out the glow and hide your erased edges.

Looking Better…

Now, to make the muzzle flash glow nice and bright, copy the layer that it is on by pressing the copy layer button in the Layer window.

Then, take the muzzle flash layer that is on the bottom, select the Filters tab, Blur, Gaussian Blur, and blur it about 10. Then, go into the Colors tab, select Colorify, and select a semi dark orange color.

What the new layer should look like without the original muzzle flash layer.

Here it is with both the original muzzle flash layer and the glow layer.

Now, duplicate the bottom muzzle flash layer, and repeat the process, only this time Gaussian blur it around 150. Then instead of going into the Colorify tab and making it more orange, go into the Color tab, select Hue-Saturation, and adjust the hue slightly so it is slightly more red (if you want).

The Final Product


Once again, I usually copy my smoke off the internet. However, if you can find just one good smoke reference picture, you will be set for life, as you can create limitless patterns of smoke with it.

Your job will be easier if your smoke has a solid color background. That’s why clouds and plane trails are good because the sky will be a solid blue.

Lets use this picture

Right now it is difficult to get only the smoke, but with a simple procedure, you can remove the background whilst keeping the smoke intact!

First, click on the Colors tab, then pick Hue-Saturation, and put the saturation down to -100.

Next, go to the Color tab, then pick Color to Alpha. Click on the color selection box and you should see a small eyedropper icon.

Click and hold that button, then drag your cursor (while still holding the mouse button) onto an area that isn’t part of the smoke (the sky in my example) let go of the mouse and hit Okay.

As you can see, the background is removed, leaving only the smoke!

You should now have a good smoke reference to use in your pictures!

However, I will not be using the picture I showed you for my smoke, I will be using a picture that I have used for almost all of my smoke in my pictures (Its higher quality than the one I found. I just wanted to show you how to make your own).

This is my smoke ref. You can use it if you want.

Now we can get back to the picture. I find it easiest if you simply copy your entire smoke reference picture into a new layer of your picture.

Copy an area of your ref that you want, then paste that into a layer specifically for your smoke.

This looks useful…

Move and rotate your smoke into place…

…Then use the eraser to smooth out the harsh edges of the smoke. You can also use the eraser to adjust the opacity of the smoke. Making it thicker and thinner where you need it to be.

Ta Da! Instant smoke!

Repeat this process for wherever else you need smoke!

The Final Product

As you can see, I added some smoke around the muzzle flash, and steam coming out of the manhole behind him. You can go to the Color tab, the go to Colorify in so you can color the smoke more according to the lighting, so I made the smoke around the muzzle flash more orange because they are illuminated by the flash, and the smoke in the background slightly blue because the moon is illuminating it.

Once you are done with your smoke you can delete the layer that you put your smoke reference on.

Motion Blur

Yea I know I said I would do blood next, but you need to know how to do motion blur before you learn about blood…

Motion blur, is actually one of the easier effects to put into your pictures. The only real effort is isolation of what you want blurred, and (in some cases) having to edit some things out of existence with the Clone Stamp tool.

Lets blur these shells, shall we?

Shell casings are probably the easiest things to motion blur. They are quick to isolate, render, and Clone Stamp out of existence.

First, Isolate them, and copy the shell onto a new layer (make a new layer for each individual shell if there is more than one)

Next, simply go into the Filters tab, Blur, Motion blur. (I recommend that before you do this, drag a small selection box around the shell. This way you will have an easier time finding where the shell is in the motion blur preview screen, and GIMP will only have to think about blurring that small section of the page, rather than blurring the entire picture, even if the majority is invisible)

In the Motion Blur menu, move the preview window over to where the shell is (or, if you followed the instructions I just mentioned about the selection box, the preview should already be centered on the shell) Then set the angle of the movement (It is easier to see what angle it is if you increase the blur length a lot, you can put it back down after you have found the right angle) Then set the length of the blur (in case you don’t know, faster=more blur, slower=less blur) After you are happy with your settings, hit Okay.

Well, now it’s blurred, but you can still see the original shell!

To get rid of the original shell, select the Clone Stamp tool.

The Clone Stamp allows you to brush pieces of your picture into new places. You could potentially edit an entire person out of a picture if you had a simple enough background.

Before you remove the shell, It might be easier if you disable the layer with the blurred shell (by clicking on the eye next to the layer’s name) This way you will be able to tell if you have made the original one completely invisible.

To remove the shell, go onto the layer that the original picture is on (this is most likely your Background layer) then Ctrl+Click on an area of the background near the shell. You are going to paint what you select over where the shell is. Making it disappear.

This is what it should look like after you have Ctrl Clicked.

Then, simply paint over the shell. I suggest that you use (as usual) the Circle Fuzzy (19) brush because then where you brush will fade nicely into the background, hiding the fact that you painted there. But you must be careful to keep the continuity of any features behind it. As you can see, the shell I got rid of had a stripe pattern behind it, so I had to make sure that I lined up the stripes when I painted the segment over it.

Ta Da! Its gooonnneee…

Repeat this process for anything else you want with blur on it. However you do not necessarily need to repeat the clone stamp part, you only need to do that if the original object is very prominent behind it.

The Final Product

You can use motion blur for objects (like shell casings), moving body parts (Like punching fists or running legs), or to suggest movement (like a weapon’s recoil if you blur the gun and the arms, although personally I never bother with this one)

Another thing you should keep in mind, is the different types of motion blur. Radial blur is good if you want something spinning or pivoting. And Zoom blur isn’t just for making things look like they are going fast, you can use it if you want something like a splash or splatter that is flying outward from a central point (as I will demonstrate in my upcoming blood tutorial)

Here are a couple of examples of radial blur:

Radial blur on the arm makes it look like is pivoting up.

And here radial blur made the shell look like it is spinning.


You asked for it! Now you finally get it!

The easiest way to do blood is to go on the internet and search in Google “Custom Gimp Brushes” Deviantart has a ton of customized brush shapes that will make things easier. I use a custom blood brush and a splatter brush for blood effects.

I will be demonstrating how to make blood on a blank canvas, then show how to make the blood fit into your scene’s lighting

If you have installed your brushes correctly (there should be a tutorial on Deviantart, if not, Google Installing Custom GIMP brushes) your new brushes should show up in your brush tab for any tool that uses brushes (like the eraser, paint brush, clone stamp, etc.)

Some custom splatter brushes

Select one of your blood brushes that you think would best represent the wound you are making (I will go with a gunshot wound) The blood will need to be a different color every time to match with each pictures lighting, so you will need to take a little bit of artistic license with that, but generally, all you have to do is tint a dark red to whatever the general color scheme of your picture is (at night it would be more blue, in a foggy atmosphere more gray, etc.)

Experiment with your brushes until you find some that look good for the wound. I will layer on a couple brushes that I think look good as blood flying from a gunshot wound.

That looks pretty good! And that was only from one stroke!

Now it is more complete. The black brush is the shape of the blood brush I added

As you can see, with a mere two brush strokes you already have an impressive blood effect. But to make it look more like it is flying through the air, you can put a “Zoom” motion blur filter over it. To use the zoom blur, type in the coordinates of the epicenter of the blur (where everything will blur out from.) You can find the coordinates of a point on your screen by putting your mouse cursor over the point and looking at the bottom left corner of the picture window, you will see two numbers there…

…Then adjust the amount of blur you want, then simply hit okay. It is better to use zoom blur because it will look more like the blood is flying out in all directions, rather than just flying in the same direction.

Now lets add blood in our original picture!

Just like before, simply select your blood brushes, paint in your blood, and blur!

My lua errors are bleeding -.-

Unfortunately, my picture is a bit dark to see what the blood looks like, so here is what it looks like on an empty background, just to show you the design.

The Final Product

Blood will take a bunch of experimentation to get right, so the only way to get better with it (and pretty much any editing technique) is practice.

Rim Lighting

Also known as backlighting, Rim lighting, logically, lights the rims of your character to make it look like something is casting light on his back, giving it a more cinematic feel.

Rim lighting takes a few concepts from the Isolation and muzzle flash tutorials, so It shouldn’t be too difficult. The difficult part is understanding where the light should be, and how much light you should add.

Lets light the left rim of the gangster here, to make it look like the moon is illuminating his back.

First, make a new layer, and begin to isolate where you want light to be hitting him.

Then, double back over the line, creating a thin outline of where the light will be.

How thick the outline you make will be how thick the lighting is. Remember, Thicker = More Light!

Repeat this for anywhere else you want light hitting him, but be careful not to overdo it.

Here are all the places that should be illuminated by the moon.

Like with Isolation, click on the Selection from Path button to select your isolated areas.

Now, select a very very light version of the color of the light hitting him (seeing as it is the moon, I will use a near-white blue) Select your color, then select the paint bucket tool and click on one of the thin selected areas (you may need to zoom in depending on how thin your rim lighting is)

*Hmm, its kinda bright… and sharp… *

You may want to add a tiny bit of Gaussian blur (about 2 to 5) to smooth out the edges and bring out some of the smaller lines.

Next, duplicate the layer, and add some more Gaussian blur to it (10 to 20) Color that layer (either by darkening it in Hue-Saturation or directly coloring it in Colorify) to a darker version of the light’s color (a gray blue in my case). Then duplicate that layer, blur it even more (20 to 30) and perhaps darken it a little bit more.

The Final Product

You will want to adjust the opacity of each layer, just to make sure that it isn’t too bright for the scene. Then repeat the process for anyone else you want rim light!

To be continued…

I sure hope this is in the right section…

Don’t worry it is
Nice Tutorial by the way

Also before anyone asks, this works for photoshop too

Yeah, it’s fine.

I’m surprised you don’t use your very own muzzle flash skins. Or Photoshop. :0

It’s an alright tutorial, But i prefer photoshop.

Good job.

I didn’t use my skins because this is an editing tutorial. Not a “Use my skins” advertisement. And as Fire Kracker said, this works just like photoshop.

All of these tips work in photoshop too, so you can still use the tutorial!

Now do a Photoshop tutorial.

Also- great pose.

doubble pots

you can do it for photoshop too :smiley:

I don’t have photoshop. Why don’t You get GIMP!

Also, Is no one reading Fire Kracker’s post? This works for Photoshop too!

Well gimp users sure will like this.

Nice work on the tutorial.

I’m what my math teacher calls a “visual learner.”

This is like reading some kids lousy handwriting to me.

I’m going “whut” for everything.

Gotta see photshop to know what the hell to do :science:

I can’t afford Photoshop, lol. That’s why I use Gimp.
Thank you so much for this tutorial, too! I was waitin for you to release this tutorial, your editing is epic!

Thanks. I never knew about the dodge and burn technique and the muzzle flash!

Most people use Photoshop but nice tutorial.

For me is better Photoshop but is the same,to do this with photoshop is more or less the same I think…
Cool tutorial^^

So that’s how you do the kickass muzzleflashes.

Simple, decent. Editing is all based on personal taste but at least this gives something GIMP users can work with.

Thanks! That’s what I intended, to help out people who are at a loss for editing. If people are happy with how they edit, they might pick up a thing or two, but I don’t expect them to be blown away by the tips in here.

(In other news, Update soon, will cover things like smoke, motion blur, and rim lighting!)

Douple Bost