Fun with Filters: G’MIC for GIMP

03b_blackcrayonPostworking can be a great opportunity to make a render or even a photo come to life. All you need is some image processing software and you can fix flaws and make a dull image shine. Add some filters and effects and you have even more ways to work on your digital art to get the look you want.

I love filters, and as a GIMP user I was thrilled to discover G’MIC. This amazing package of filters and effects can be downloaded free and installed as a GIMP plug-in. Since GIMP is also open-source and free of charge, there’s no catch. Just a whole lot of fun and potentially some impressive results.

G’MIC stands for GREYC’s Magic for Image Computing, and if you follow the link in that text you’ll arrive at the home page for this project, from which you can get your free download, say hi to the cute G’MIC mascot Gmicky, and find some documentation and screenshots. You’ll also find out about other G’MIC interfaces. Since I’m such a GIMP devotee, I haven’t explored these, but the web-based interface looks pretty nifty and is a great way to try the software out.

David Tschumperlé is the man we have to thank for bringing this creative project to life, and he has supplied plenty of examples on the G’MIC website of what the various filters do, shown applied to his own photos. Many GIMP users will use the plug-in for photo editing, so this does make sense. I think though that this is where G’MIC fails to grab the interest of us digital artists, who can see it as not relevant to our needs.

That’s a pity, because once you do download G’MIC (which you can do without having to sign up or give any details), you begin to see all the possibilities open up for creatively enhancing your 3D renders.

The Image Without Filters

No Filters Applied

Close Up Without Filters

Close Up Without Filters

I’ve had so much fun with G’MIC and have come to rely on it as part of my own workflow, so I wanted to give something back and share just a few of the many exciting filters and what they can do for you. I’m going to demonstrate them applied to a render which I made in DAZ Studio 4.7 (also free). It’s a fairly simple image, with the point being to show off the filters and the difference they make.

So let’s get started! Once you have installed G’MIC, you’ll find it located under Filters > G’MIC. Clicking on that brings up the menu from which you can preview different filters. When you find one you know you’ll use again and again, click the yellow star and it will be pinned to the Faves filter category right at the top.

Today I’m going to look at the Artistic subset of filters. These in my opinion are the most fun for digital artists looking for some cool postwork effects. There are other subsets that are useful too, both for postwork and texturing. But I have to start somewhere and these ones are always interesting to play with.

A quick confession before we jump in… for me much of the enjoyment is in the experimentation and I haven’t read the documentation. The image you work on will be different from mine so it would be pointless in any case to tell you where to set any particular dial. I like to start from the defaults and then see what happens. For the most part, the default settings are what you’ll see here. (You could spend hours trying all the different combinations even for a single filter.)


Anguish
You can adjust the amount of light, dark, and how ‘splotchy’ this one looks to achieve a variety of effects.

Anguish

Anguish

Anguish (Close)

Anguish (Close)


Aurora
This can add a magical glow. Remember, you don’t have to use an effect at full strength but can use it as a semi-transparent layer.

Aurora

Aurora

Aurora (Close)

Aurora (Close)


Black Crayon Graffiti
At lower values this looks almost like coloured constellation charts. I think this is one of my favourites.

Black Crayon Graffiti

Black Crayon Graffiti

Black Crayon Graffiti (Close)

Black Crayon Graffiti (Close)


Blockism
Despite playing with the settings, Blockism did not work so well on these tiny images although it looked good in the previews. It is better suited to full-size images.

Blockism

Blockism

Blockism (Close)

Blockism (Close)


Bokeh
As photographers know, bokeh is the effect you get from a camera lens in out of focus areas. It makes for a pretty background and is sought after in photography.

Bokeh

Bokeh

Bokeh

Bokeh (Close)


Cartoon
Because my images are so small, I played with the settings here to get a more pleasing result.

Cartoon

Cartoon

Cartoon (Close)

Cartoon (Close)


Well, as you see, I’m only at C so far on this one subset of G’MIC filters. As this post will get image-heavy and I’ll need time to work through the rest of this category alone (with maybe a selection from some other categories later on) it makes sense to save the next set of examples for another post.

I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen so far of G’MIC and the magic it can work on your renders from 3D software. View more of the artistic filters and their effects in part two.

A quick tip to leave you with: you can get even more interesting results layering one filter over another, or applying a second filter to an already altered image!


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About Indigo

As a digital artist on a budget, I'm fascinated by what happens when art and technology meet, and love discovering affordable ways to make that happen.
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