Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork

Completed Under Pressure Compressor Artwork

Here’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

The next step in finishing up the pedal that we’ve modeled, drilled and painted previously, is to prepare the artwork and labels.

In this tutorial, I will demonstrate how to compose your pedal artwork in GIMP, the free GNU Image Manipulation Program.  I’m using GIMP 2.8.2 on Windows, but it also runs on Mac and Linux.

I start with an overview of my Under Pressure compressor and Speed Racer Overdrive artwork, and then show how to compose your own pedal artwork from scratch.

I cover the basics of project setup, layout, working with the rulers and guidelines, the graphics and text editing and selection tools, sourcing artwork and fonts, retouching and removing blemishes, extracting components from a larger image, layer compositing with masks, and more.

Here are some of the resources shown in this video:

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Anatomy of a Logo

I recently unveiled a new planetz logo in the intro of my AC15 Comparison video.  Here’s the story.

In January 1999, when I launched my original website at planetz, I asked a brilliant digital artist friend, John Weir, to make a logo for me.   He used a Mac and an SGI workstation, with programs like Adobe Photoshop and Fractal Design’s Painter, and produced a really interesting and unique piece of artwork for me:

Old PlanetZ Logo

Years later, when I asked him how he had produced it, he couldn’t really remember all the details other than “massive amounts of layers, filtering, distortion, plugins, etc”.  And unfortunately the original file was lost, so he couldn’t give me a higher resolution version of it.

I really liked the rich colors, the cool “bubbles” and raking effects, and low-fi distortion of the characters making up the word “planet”.  But, I always wished I had a larger, higher resolution version of it, especially as I started to get into high definition video.  Also motivated by the shift to high definition video, I needed an image that didn’t crop so closely to the letters.   And I kinda wished the Z was a bit curvier too.

So I recently set out to reproduce the logo from scratch, in a larger high resolution format.  There’s no way I could make it identical, but I wanted to make something new, inspired by the original.

Using the free open source graphics editor GIMP (which has a lot in common with Photoshop), I spent countless hours experimenting and tweaking.  I learned a lot, and made some interesting discoveries along the way.  Here’s the finished result:

New PlanetZ logo

What follows is a detailed step-by-step guide for making this logo.    Read the rest of this entry