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Uploaded: January 16, 2010
Artist: XXMedicGirlXx
Difficulty: Novice  Novice Skill Level
Steps: 11
Updated: January 16, 2010
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Here's my first computer-based program tutorial on how to make lightning in GIMP. If you don't already have GIMP on your computer, you should know that this program is very similar to Photoshop in many aspects and is totally 100% free! They have a website at www.gimp.org where you can visit and download this program! This tutorial is made using GIMP Version 2.6 which is the newest version of the software available. I hope you all enjoy this tutorial on how to make some wicked cool lightning effects in GIMP! :)

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how to make lightning in gimp

How To Make Lightning in GIMP

how to make lightning in gimp step 1

STEP 1.

Here is your basic GIMP screen. On the right is the layers/paths/channels window and on the left is your toolbox with all those handy tools at your fingertips. Since we will only be using the toolbox, you can focus on that for now. if you do not see the toolbox (shown on the left) just press "CTRL" and "B" and it should pop up. All you need for the first step is to open a new blank file. You can do that by going to "File" > "New."
 
how to make lightning in gimp step 2

STEP 2.

Go to the toolbox on the left and click on the Paintbrush tool. (It is currently selected as shown in the screenshot.) Using the two little boxes of color underneath, change the brush color to black and color in about half of the canvas in black as shown here. The line where the black and white touch is where your lightning will be made. Move on to the next step!
 
how to make lightning in gimp step 3

STEP 3.

Now here's where you have to pay close attention. Go to the "Filters" menu located on the top bar. Then select "Blur" > "Gaussian Blur". Set both the horizontal and vertical radii to "100.0" as seen here. Then click OK.
 
how to make lightning in gimp step 4

STEP 4.

At this point, it should look like the black spilled over on the white like it is shown here. If your drawing looks like this, you're set for the next step!
 
how to make lightning in gimp step 5

STEP 5.

Here's another slightly tricky step! Go to the "Filters" menu again. This time go down to "Render" > "Clouds" > "Difference Clouds". You should get a pop-up window that looks like the one shown here. Set the detail to its maximum (15) and change both the X and Y size to "9.5". Then click OK.
 
how to make lightning in gimp step 6

STEP 6.

When you select OK, this is what you picture should now look like. Move on to the next step!
 
how to make lightning in gimp step 7

STEP 7.

The lightning from the last step is black and isn't lightning normally a shade of white? Well, we can fix this by going up to the top bar, selecting "Colors" and then scroll down to "Invert" and selecting that. This simply switched the hue of black and white, making the once black lightning white and the background black. It should look like this now. Now doesn't that look much more like real lightning?
 
how to make lightning in gimp step 8

STEP 8.

Alright, now we want to get rid of all that grayish noise surrounding the white lightning in the middle. We do this by going to the top bar "Colors" and going down to "Levels". A pop-up window similar to this one will show. You see the top part of the window, with the sliders and the blackish looking mountain that's labeled "Input Levels"? That's what we're interested in. There are three sliders below that 'black mountain'. Click on the black slider all the way on the left and drag it to the right until your lightning looks similar to this one. Here you can see that all three of the sliders below the 'black mountain' are towards the right, circled in red. When you have it perfectly the way you want it, click OK.
 
how to make lightning in gimp step 9

STEP 9.

Now, we are nearing the end of this tutorial! For this ninth and final step, go to the top bar once again and go to "Colors" and then scroll down to "Colorize". Selecting that will show a pop-up window similar to this one here. Leave the lightness at ZERO! Using the hue and saturation bars by dragging them left and right, experiment to make your lightning any color you would like. I used a basic blue color where the hue is "242" and the saturation is "89." Be creative with the colors, just be sure not to touch the lightness bar or the black background will change color as well!
 
how to make lightning in gimp step 10

STEP 10.

When you finished coloring the lightning any color you want, you are finally done!
 
how to make lightning in gimp step 11

STEP 11.

Here is a close-up of the finished lightning bolt! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Comments, tips and ratings are happily welcomed! ^__^