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Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - L6

gimp pattern making video tutorial


Welcome back, everybody. This lesson should be an interesting one. Many of you will find the lesson frustrating, but the process exciting. Why frustrating? Well, because I'm not really going to be teaching you how to do anything! What!? What kind of class is this? One thing about creating scroll saw portrait patterns is that it relies heavily on your own interpretation. You'll have to make a lot of judgment calls about what you want to include in the pattern and what you do not. So there really is no right or wrong way to do this. So instead, I'll be showing you how to use the brush tool, and we'll be discussing elements of what make up a scroll saw portrait pattern. Lets begin!

Working With Brushes
We're only going to be using only one tool to finish off our portrait pattern. We'll be using the brush tool to paint in the dark areas, and white-out everything else. Start by selecting the brush tool from your toolbox. You'll notice you have brush options that show up below (if not, dock your Tool Options dialog box covered in lesson 3). We have several options, most of which we won't use. The only option we may be interested in is the brush palette flyout window. This is where you choose your brush size. What I prefer to do is open up a Brushes dockable dialog, and dock it next to the tool options. So go to Windows>Dockable Dialogs>Brushes. This gives you easy access to all of the brushes.

We'll be using two colors to create our pattern; black and white. Black will indicate the areas that need to be cut out. White indicates the remaining wood. We'll be going through our base pattern and using the paint brush to color in the areas we wish to cut with black, and using white to paint out everything else. If you have other colors selected in the foreground/background area, you can reset them to black and white by clicking the tiny icon below the foreground/background selector. The foreground color will always be the color you're painting with. To switch between the foreground and background color, click the arrow above the foreground/background selector to swap the colors. While you are painting your pattern, this is the perfect opportunity to use shortcut keys. Pressing the 'x' button will switch your foreground color with the background color. This way you can work on an area and quickly switch colors without going back to your tool palette.

Custom Brushes
You can create your own custom brushes. Although we already have the two brush sizes we need already installed, it is beneficial to look at custom brushes so you can understand them a bit better.

Make sure your Brushes dialog box is open, then click the flyout menu (triangle to the top right of the dialog box), choose Brushes Menu>New Brush. This will open a Brush Editor dialog box. You'll find an area to name your brush near the top. Below that is a preview pane where you can preview the size and shape of your brush. Below the preview pane, we can choose a brush shape. You can choose circle, square, or diamond. We'll be using the circle shape.

Then we have a bunch of slider options. Radius indicates the size of the brush. Remember back in math class that radius is the distance from the center to the edge. So a radius of 5 pixels is 10 pixels wide. A radius of 2.5 pixels is 5 pixels wide. I wish they'd measure brush size by overall width, but they don't. So, keep this in mind when choosing your brush size.

Spikes only refers to the square and diamond shaped brushes. These basically turns the brush into a polygon or a star. I doubt you'd use them in pattern making, but the option is there.

Hardness refers to the edges of the brush. A soft brush will be solid color in the center, but fade out toward the edge of the brush. These brushes are handy in working with photographs or illustrations. But as pattern makers, we prefer hard edged brushes to create nice crisp lines. So max that out to 1.0.

Aspect Ratio will squash your brush and Angle will rotate your brush. A squashed circle with an angle will create a really nice calligraphy-style brush.

Lastly, we have Spacing. I don't really know what this is. I think it refers to the space between the jitters when using the jitter option in the tool options dialog box. We don't need it at any rate. Posted Image

So what can we take from this window? Three things, really. We want a circular brush so we get consistent brushstrokes throughout the pattern. We want to be working with the correct brush size. We can determine the brush size by looking at the radius and doubling the value. So a brush radius of 1.5 will give us a brush width of 3 pixels. Lastly, look at the hardness of the brush. We want crisp lines, so the brush hardness should be set at 1.0. Keep these three things in mind and you'll do just fine.

Brush Size
In lesson 4, I mentioned I like working at 150 pixels per inch when creating my document. The reason I like this size is because I know that a 3 pixel wide brush is about the same size as the kerf of a scroll saw blade. A 5 pixel wide brush is about the size of the kerf of a spiral scroll saw blade (#5 size spiral). Knowing this makes a really nice reference. I prefer using my 5 pixel brush for doing the majority of my work because I know the detail won't be too small for my cutting skills. This will be something you'll have to play around with yourself. An experienced cutter may be comfortable with details made with a 3 pixel brush, whereas a newer scroller may be comfortable with details made with a 7 pixel brush. I'd recommend working with a 5 pixel brush to start out with. You can change later if it doesn't meet your needs. Since the default brush palette already has these brush sizes preset, there is no need to create a custom brush (unless you really want to!).

If you feel like you don't have the necessary mouse control to do this kind of painting, you can use the dot-to-dot method instead. First, place a dot somewhere on your canvas. Hold down the Shift key and you'll see a straight line that appears from the first dot to your cursor . Click once again and it will create a straight line from the first dot to the second one you just placed. Move your mouse somewhere else while holding down the Shift key and place another dot. Again, another straight line. To make curved lines, just keep your dots closer and they'll appear curved. This is a great way to keep control over your paint brush. I often use freehand painting inc ombination with the dot-to-dot technique.

Elements of a Pattern
Patterns rely on basic elements to create a scroll saw portrait. By using a land/water analogy, we can break down the elements into lakes, peninsulas, islands, and bridges. These elements are conceptional and will happen naturally as you develop your pattern. But it is nice to recognize these elements for what they are, especially when you're looking at other artist's patterns. Look how different artists approach these elements. By looking at their approach, you can learn a lot about how to create your own patterns.

The first thing most people will notice is the lakes, or cut out sections. Because of the extreme contrast between the cut out areas and the wood, this is where most people will look at first. Often lakes will indicate shadow of your subject and where the large majority of your detail resides. Lakes help define the shapes of peninsulas which reinforce the details you're trying to convey. Lakes can be as large or as small as you'd like. If you prefer a pointillism approach to patterns, your lakes will be small. If you prefer the deep shadow look, large lakes are in order. If you like line-art, long and thin lakes is what you need.

To me, peninsulas are what makes patterns interesting. Just like the landmass, these are the areas that jut out into cut-out voids. I work hard to make these shapes interesting. Long and thin peninsulas are delicate and will certainly impress all of your friends. Unusual shapes add interest. Curved and flowing lines can add energy to the pattern. While lakes are what most gravitate toward, I find peninsulas the most interesting and most subtle of the details.

The exact opposite of lakes are islands. These are sections of wood surrounded by lakes. This can be a very bad thing when working with scroll saw patterns. If you cut around the island, there is nothing there to hold the island in place and will only fall to your shop floor in a random mess. What makes scroll saw patterns unique is the fact it is completely cut from a single piece of wood. All of the details are magically supported by the surrounding wood. This is not to say you can't use islands in your design. There has been times when I chose to include and island in my pattern (see below). But I would say that 99% of the time, islands are a bad thing to have in your pattern.

Lastly, bridges are the savior of scroll saw patterns. These are the elements that connect the islands to the motherland and turn them into peninsulas. They can also be used to support delicate areas. If you have a very long peninsula that is at risk of breaking during cutting or handling, you can add a bridge to reinforce that area.


Starting Your Pattern
Now that you have a basic understanding of how brushes work, and we understand the elements of a scroll saw pattern, go ahead and start working on your portrait pattern. Be sure to duplicate your photocopy layer first and rename the new layer to 'pattern.' Start by using the 5 pixel paint brush to darken the areas you wish to cut out and white-out the areas you want to remain as wood. Remember that we only want black and white. The gray tones left by our photocopy filter must be converted to black or white by painting. It'll be a little frustrating at first, but the more you do, the easier it becomes. Soon, you'll see your pattern coming to life, and that's where it gets exciting. If you feel that in you're over your head or a bit overwhelmed, don't worry about it. Just play with it right now. Next lesson we'll be talking about the facial features (eyes, nose, mouth, and hair). You'll be able to pick up a few tips with working with these parts. I'll also put together a bonus video demonstrating how I'd go about creating this portrait pattern. This way you can pick up a few tips as I work this pattern from beginning to end. This supplemental demonstration will probably published on Wednesday. But until then, I want you to tackle the pattern on your own. If you have any questions, I'd be glad to help.

If you want to upload your picture for feedback or questions, choose File>Save As, then save your file with the extension .jpg. It will pop up a message saying that it wants to flatten the image. Click Export, then you'll get a new window about quality. Keep the default at 85 and click Save. You can now attach the .jpg to your post using the attach function in your compose window (blue box below your compose window).

Important Note: If you save your project as a .jpg so you can upload it, your project settings will change. So before you close down your program, be sure to save your document again with the .xcf extension. Hopefully GIMP will fix this for future releases so we won't risk losing our work. But until then, we have to be extra careful.

Have fun with it and experiment! That's what pattern making is all about.

-Start making your pattern. Go as far as you can and really get a feel for it. Your pattern will start taking shape right before your eyes.
-Ask questions if you get stuck, or ask for feedback. We're here to help.
-Look through the Pattern Library or pattern archives from other scroll saw communities and look how the artists deal with these pattern elements.


Bridges, pennisulas, lakes...Oh my :???: Great video :thumbs: Now I have a better understanding of the different elements used in creating a pattern. I also went into my mouse settings and slowed it down a bit. This helped in reducing the jitters when trying to fill in the pattern.

... I also went into my mouse settings and slowed it down a bit. This helped in reducing the jitters when trying to fill in the pattern.

Great tip! That would help a lot.
Hmmm...started to watch the video the other day, and now it's gone...just a red X. Anyone else having this problem? :shock:
Hrmmm...Seems to be working fine for me. Try rebooting your computer and see if that helps. These videos are flash based, so maybe you're having trouble with that. You can also find the videos at Scroll Saw Goodies as well as our video screening room.

If all else fails, you can do a direct download of the MP4 here. Or you can download the MOV file, which is probably a huge file (250 megs or so).

I hope this helps.
Thanks Travis...I had to reinstall Adobe flash player...we seem to have lots of issues with that on our computer.
Working ok now! :thumbs:
I am new to the forum and came here for the lessons. I love doing the portraits but have always had trouble with making the patterns. This is great, I think I might actually be able to do it. My question is what do I do if I have a background in a photo that isn't white. How do I get rid of all the background items for the portrait?

Hi Joe. Welcome to the Village. We're glad to have you!

The easiest way to get rid of the background is to use the Free Select tool in the toolbox. Basically, you'll create a selection around the area you want to remove, then fill it with white. Zoom in at about 200% or so, the click on the edge of the portrait with your Free select tool. Then click another point a little further down. Continue tracing around the area you want to remove until you come full circle to your beginning point. Click the beginning point and it will close your selection (or press Return). Now you have the area you want to remove selected, go to Edit>Fill With BG Color (if its white). This will white out all of the background for ya.

Let me know if you run into any problems. Enjoy! :cool:
Thanks Travis!! I will give it a try this weekend.

Hi Travis: Well new problem: I have the picture completed thru lesson 5 Now I open the picture and have the paint brush and can move it around the picture. Nothing changes -- It is docked to the toolbox and if I click the b & w arrow it recognizes that. but I get no action on the picture itself. That is the simplest explaniation I have. Hope someone has a simple solution. Thanks

So you're trying to paint with the paint brush but nothing is showing up? One thing to check is to see what layer you are painting on and make sure there are no layers above that layer that are visible. The layer you're painting on should be visible.

If that is not the problem, you might have a small selection selected. Hold down the Ctrl+Shift+A to deselect anything, then try the paint brush again.

Hopefully this will fix it.
Ok I'm on the right layer;;;Thanks again
Hello Again Travis: Mail service is working well today received Pkg of DVD's --- haven't taken them out of the pkg. Sure I'll be pleased.

Thanks for your help and hope I get thru so I can work on pictures I have here. Probably need more help soon.

Thanks again- pleasure doing business

Bruce :D :lol: :)

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