Gimp Tutorial: Composite Images

This is a minimization/galaxy/awesomeness tutorial to my final image : A Whole New World

This tutorial was done through Gimp, a free and powerful image editing software.

Written By: Justin Gilliland Read his interview here

A Whole New World

A Whole New World


First, my inspiration came from a school photography class project, we had to shoot the topic “Looking In”. First, I took a macro lens, my late Vivitar Macro 24 2.8, and shot my old film camera at f/8 for full detail and for the whole thing to be in focus. Then, I took my 18-70 and shot myself in the pose, I knew it would be a silhouette so I shot myself against the lighting in a hallway.

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I did this in GIMP, an awesome free manipulation program, so names/actions may be different as in Photoshop.
1) Cutting out the body
I took the Smart Scissors and cut out my body and pasted as a new layer on my picture of my camera.
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2) Resizing the Body
Take the layer and resize it, holding control so you don’t distort your body, to an appropriate size that matches the camera.

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3) Artificial Light Source

I then Smart Scissored the camera back and went to Select>Invert and applied Filters>Light and Shadow>Lighting Effects, and just applied a light source in the middle of the camera back. This made it look like the light was coming from BEHIND the camera back.


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4) Isolating the Camera

Use smart scissors to cleanly cut out the camera, so that it’s isolated.


5) Silhouette

I copied the layer of my silhouette and reversed is, and used the Transform tool to stretch it out a bit to give the image depth. Gimp Tutorial

6) Star Picture

After this, I found a decent star/galaxy picture and added it as a layer, below the other two so that it is the background and doesn’t appear over the others. Then I just added some nice bluish tones to give a nice deep-space look.

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Boom, you have a compelling, conceptual image.




4 thoughts on “Gimp Tutorial: Composite Images”

  1. Hi, can u be a bit more specific about part 3? After I added the light source on the camera layer itself, i can see the lightsource, my background is still there. How do u change it to the one that is under 5)? where the background is clean and greenish brown.

    1. Hey wc,
      Woo it’s hard to think I did this over a year ago. I’ll try to answer as best I can. What I think you didn’t do was use the smart scissors to cut out the camera back. You select an area, the area being the back, by placing points along the outline of the area where you plan to hide the glow, or have the glow coming from, and then go to select>inverse. From there you will place the glow inside the selected area. This should answer your problem.
      Email me at for any more questions!

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