Two Basic Tips For Using Digital Lighting Effects In “GIMP” (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

Well, it’s been a while since I wrote an art-related article. So, I thought that I’d offer a few tips about using the digital lighting effects in a free, open-source image editing program called “GIMP” (GNU Image Manipulation Program). This free open-source program is also compatible with pretty much every major operating system too.

For this article, I’ll be using version 2.8.22 of GIMP, since I had to re-download GIMP following some technical problems with my computer. However, the process is pretty much the same for slightly older versions of GIMP and is probably similar or identical for newer versions too.

Anyway, I’ve decided to write about digital lighting effects since I seem to have used them in a few of my more recent paintings, like this one:

“1999” By C. A. Brown

So, here are two tips/tutorials for using the digital lighting effects in GIMP.

In both tutorials, I’ll be adding artificial lighting (and then making it look more realistic) to this old “1980s cyberpunk”-style painting of mine from a few months ago.

1) The basics: First of all, open your image in GIMP and then look in the “filters” menu at the top of the screen. Look for the option called “Light and Shadow” and then select “lighting effects”. Like this:

How to get to the lighting effects menu in GIMP 2.8.22

Once you’ve done this, you’ll end up with a menu that shows your image with a blue dot that represents the new light source. Click and drag the dot until the light source is where you want it to be:

Click and drag the blue dot (in the small picture) until the light source is where you want it to be.

Once you’ve done this, then click the tab at the top of the menu called “Light”. From here you can fine tune the light’s position (by altering the X, Y and Z values), alter the type of light, alter the intensity of the light and also change the colour of the light (by clicking on the bar next to the “color” option, like this):

You can change the colour of the light by clicking on the bar next to the “color” option.

After this, you can also select the “Material” tab and alter the properties of the light in more detail (eg: how bright you want it to be, how much you want it to glow, shine etc..).

Messing around with the “Material” settings in order to give the new light source more of a glow.

Although there are a couple of more advanced options (eg: bump mapping, environment mapping etc..) available, we’ll ignore these. So, click “ok” and your new lighting effect should be applied to your image – like this:

Voila! Atmospheric red lighting 🙂 But, we aren’t finished yet….

2) Making it look more realistic: Although the digital lighting effects in GIMP do a good job at simulating how a new light source affects everything else in the picture, they can only apply these effects to the image in a two-dimensional space (since all images are 2D).

The way that the effect works also means that a lot of your image will be darkened too (to make the new light source look brighter by comparison). So, if you want to make your new lighting look more realistic (eg: 3D), then you are going to have to do this manually.

There are two ways to do this. One is to to have a good grasp of realistic lighting and shading, and to add the required shadows etc… to your art before you apply the effects. But, if you haven’t done this, then there is an easier way to do this. So, let’s get started…

Use the “free select” tool (the icon looks like a loop of rope) to select an area of your picture that is facing towards the light source:

Using the free select tool from the menu, I’ve selected part of the picture (one side of the TV aerial and one side of the crow) that is facing towards the light source.

Once you’ve done this, go into the “colors” menu at the top of the screen and select “Brightness – Contrast”, like this:

The brightness & contrast option.

Once you’ve done this, move the sliders until the area you have selected is lighter than it previously was. Like this:

Notice how the side of the TV aerial facing the light source now looks brighter than it used to.

If you are using coloured light (like the red light in this example), then you can make your picture more realistic by going into the “colors” menu again and selecting the option called ‘Colorize’.

Once you’ve done this, increase the saturation level and then keep moving the “hue” slider until the selected colour is the same colour as the light source. Like this:

Adding some colour to the brighter area, by altering the “hue” and “saturation” settings.

After this, just repeat the process where necessary and your picture will look a little bit more “3D”. Like this:

Voila!

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (27th December 2018)

Well, it’s been a while since I last made any “film noir”-style art and this digitally-edited greyscale painting turned out slightly better than I’d initially expected.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Investigation” By C. A. Brown

Review: “Dayhunter” By Jocelynn Drake (Novel)

Well, after reading Jocelynn Drake’s excellent “Nightwalker“, I wanted to read more novels from the “Dark Days” series. And, although I’d only planned to order the next two books, I later ended up ordering second-hand copies of the whole series.

But, although I currently plan to review other novels in between reviewing these vampire novels, I was eager to review the second novel in the series – a novel from 2009 called “Dayhunter”.

Although it is probably theoretically possible to read “Dayhunter” as a stand-alone novel (since it contains recaps of the events of “Nightwalker”), you’ll get a lot more out of the story and characters if you read “Nightwalker” first. This novel is very much a sequel to “Nightwalker” (and part of a larger continuous story), rather than a separate story.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Dayhunter”. Needless to say, this review will contain some SPOILERS.

This is the 2009 Eos (US) paperback edition of “Dayhunter” that I read.

“Dayhunter” begins a few minutes after the ending of “Nightwalker”. Mira, Tristan and Danaus are travelling through the streets of London – battered and bruised from their encounter with the nefarious Naturi. However, once they find shelter in an alleyway, they are mysteriously attacked by a witch, a werewolf and a human. Even in their weakened state, the intrepid trio put up a good fight and soon prevail.

But, before they can work out why they were attacked, they remember that they have been summoned to Venice in order to meet the vampire coven. Of course, as soon as they set foot in that ancient city, they soon realise that they’ve stepped out of the frying pan and into the fire….

One of the first things that I will say about “Dayhunter” is that it is slightly different to “Nightwalker”. If “Nightwalker” was an frenetic feast of fast-paced action, then “Dayhunter” is a little bit more like a cross between a gothic horror novel, a political thriller and a character-based drama.

It’s still really compelling, but it tells a slightly different type of story. It’s more like watching a few episodes of a well-written TV show than watching a spectacular Hollywood movie, if this makes sense.

Still, whilst this novel places slightly less emphasis on action than “Nightwalker” did, it more than makes up for this with suspense, atmosphere and intrigue. The cut-throat politics of the vampire coven are fairly intriguing and they really help to add a lot of tension and horror to the story.

In addition to this, these parts of the novel also allow for a lot of character development too as we see the main characters torn between compromising and upholding their principles when faced with plots, machinations and unforeseen events.

The horror elements in “Dayhunter” work reasonably well too. Whilst the novel contains slightly less in the way of grisly, violent, blood-soaked horror (although it certainly has it’s moments), this is replaced with a more suspenseful, tragic and gothic style of horror. Not only are the main characters in a city filled with those who want them dead or want to use them as tools, but Mira also has to grapple with the tragic pain of her past too. The horror in this novel is a bit more subtle, but it lingers constantly in the background.

Another cool thing about “Dayhunter” is that it fills out a lot of stuff that is only briefly mentioned in “Nightwalker”. We get to meet characters who are only mentioned in “Nightwalker” (eg: Macaire etc..) and we also not only learn more about the world and mythology of the series, but also a bit more about some of the characters (eg: exactly why Danaus has magical powers etc..) too. It’s a very slightly deeper, slower and more contemplative novel that contrasts really well with the high-octane action of “Nightwalker”.

Like with “Nightwalker”, this novel also tells a fairly satisfying story that is also part of a much larger story. Once again, there is some sense of resolution when the story ends but it is also left very clear that there are many more things for the characters to do and much more of the story still to be told.

The writing and narration in “Dayhunter” is pretty good too. Whilst the novel’s first-person narration is fairly similar to the narration in “Nightwalker”, it feels almost subliminally more focused, sharp and efficient (although this could just be because I’ve got used to Drake’s writing style, or because I’d just read “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson and, after grappling with the narration in that novel, even more gothic narration seemed very direct, efficient and fast-paced by contrast).

Still, the narration here works really well and it helps to keep the story moving at a fairly decent pace, whilst also adding to the dangerous, suspenseful atmosphere of the story too.

All in all, “Dayhunter” is a really good horror/fantasy/gothic thriller novel. Whilst it dials back the frenetic action slightly, it more than makes up with this through lots of characterisation, suspense and atmosphere. As I mentioned earlier, reading this novel is like watching a few episodes of a well-written TV show. It’s reasonably gripping, it’s suitably gothic and it also helps to flesh out the mythology of the series too.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a four.

The Complete “Work In Progress” Line Art For My “Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018)” Webcomic Mini Series

Well, I thought that I’d do my usual thing and show off the “work in progress” line art for my recent “Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018)” webcomic mini series. Plus, if you missed the link to the line art for yesterday’s Christmas cartoon, then you can also see it here.

Anyway, due to the slightly rushed/busy production schedule for this mini series, the dialogue/art changes between the line art and the finished comics in this mini series just consist of small mistakes that were corrected in the finished comics.

The most significant change in this mini series happened between the planning and line art stages for the second comic (“Cycle”). Basically, in my original plan, the dialogue/punchline in the final two panels was fairly similar to this old comic – so, I made some last minute changes before I made the line art.

You can click on each piece of line art to see a larger version of it. Enjoy 🙂

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Tradition (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Cycle (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Clogged (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Slow (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Ahead (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Jump (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

Merry Christmas Everyone :)

Merry Christmas everyone 🙂 I hope that you have a wonderful day 🙂 Normal articles will resume tomorrow but, in the meantime, here’s this year’s Christmas comic (and, if anyone’s curious, here’s the “work in progress” line art for it too. Lots of other comics featuring these characters can also be found here too.).

As usual, this cartoon is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Merry Christmas 2018” By C. A. Brown

The Complete “Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018)” – All Six “Episodes” Of The New Webcomic Mini Series By C. A. Brown

Well, in case you missed any of it, here are all six “episodes” of this year’s Christmas webcomic mini series in one easy-to-read post. If you want more Christmas comics, then you can check out the previous two “cynical Christmas” mini series here and here. Likewise, lots of other comics can also be found on this page.

Although, due to being busy with things like the book reviews I’ve been posting here over the past month or so, the art (especially the backgrounds) in this mini series ended up being a little bit simpler than I’d have wanted. Even so, I quite like how the writing, humour etc.. in this mini series turned out 🙂

As usual, all six comic updates are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence. You can also click on each comic to see a larger version of it.

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Tradition” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Cycle” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Clogged” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Slow” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Ahead” By C. A. Brown

“Damania – A Cynical Christmas (2018) – Jump” By C. A. Brown