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Playing around with Dingbats and The Gimp
In this article I give some examples how you can easily create
nice pictures using dingbats and The Gimp. The version of Gimp
that was used for this article is Gimp-1.2.2.
What are Dingbats?
Probably you have already come across dingbats when you used
the text tool of Gimp. Dingbats are fonts. When you were trying
out several fonts you probably came across some fonts called
e.g. dingbats, davysdingbats or davysotherdingbats that weren't
normal letters but small sketches of flowers, a piano, animals
etc. Perhaps you have wondered then what you could do with
them. But usually when you are using the text tool you want to
include some text and later when you are looking for cool
motives you have already forgotten about them. But think again.
They can really help you create very nice looking pictures in a
short time and you also don't need to be very talented in
drawing for this.
Where do I get them?
In this article I will mainly use dingbats that are included
in the sharefonts package (davysdingbats, davysotherdingbats..)
as I think that many of you will already have them installed on
their computer but I will also show you a few icons of other
dingbats that I found exciting. There are really tons of cool
and exciting dingbats out there that you might want to
You can download the sharefonts from http://ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/X11/fonts/
and you find a collection of other dingbats at http://www.fontguy.com.
Read André Pascual's article on Freefont, TrueType and
patterns with The Gimp to find out how to install them.
How can I use them?
Of course you can use the normal text tool but there is a
special tool called GDyntext which is preferrable here. You
will find GDyntext when you right click in an image
Filter --> Render --> DynamicText
By using it you can preview the icons and then select the
one(s) you want with the mouse (in the same way as you copy
& paste something) or if you know the key you can also type
it in directly.
In the default setting the tool already shows you the letters
of the alphabet with small as well as with capital letters. But
sometimes there are a few more icons available that you e.g.
get if you press some special characters.
Another way to insert your icons (and the one I prefer when I
am looking for new icons) is to use the CharMap window which
you get by pressing on the button that is the most right in the
top row in the GDyntext window. In the charmap you can see all
available characters of a font and can insert them in your
image. Left at the bottom there is also a small field where you
can see which key it is.
With GDyntext you can also scale the size of the icon which can
be much bigger here than the available size in the text tool.
So you may also want to use GDyntext if you need some text in a
very big size.
You can also set the color you want your dingbats to have as
well as rotate it or determine where in the image it shall be
positioned. At first the color is the same as the foreground
color in the main menu of The Gimp but when you change it
afterwards it doesn't have any effect and you can also choose a
color in the tool itself.
The only disadvantage that you have with this tool is - at
least at my computer (I am using Gimp1.2.2 on a Mandrake8.0) -
that it sometimes manages to crash Gimp when I have loaded all
the tons of special fonts.
What can I do with them?
Perhaps you have taken a look at the dingbats by now. Of
course there are a few icons like e.g. the grand piano you may
want to use just as they are without any changes:
grandpiano = davysotherdingbats: D, dolphin = critters by
darrian: v, penguin = critters by darrian: u
or for some like e.g. the rose you just want to add some
rose = davysdingbats: k, violins = davysotherdingbats:5 ,easter =
critters by darrian:Q, smurf = Smurf:c
But perhaps you are not really convinced yet that you could
easily create some very nice looking pictures out of them. But
it really is very easy! Already with a few simple mouse clicks
you can create very nice little pictures:
Often an icon will already look very good if you fill it
with a gradient or if you use a gradient as background.
Creating your own gradients
To use gradients in Gimp is very easy. To get a gradient with
just two colors choose the two colors that you want as
background and foreground colors. Now doubleclick on the
gradient button (in the main window, see screenshot on the
right). The option under Blend should say: FG to BG (RGB). Now
draw a line with the mouse from the right to the left side of
your picture and the image is filled with a gradient. The
options under "gradient" determine how the colors of the
gradient will run (e.g. linear). By varying the direction or
the length of the line you draw with the mouse you also
influence how the gradient will look on your image. Of course
you can also use gradients with more than two colors. Click on
File (in the main menu of Gimp)-->Dialogs-->Gradients and
you can see a big selection of gradients. If you want to use
one of them just click on it to select it. Then go back to the
gradient button and again double click on it. The Blend option
must now be "Custom Gradient". Then do as before and draw a
line with your mouse over the image and it is filled with the
Of course you can also define your own gradients. To do so
click again on File-->Dialogs-->Gradients and choose a
gradient that comes closest to the one you want to design. Then
click "Edit". A new window opens. Click here "Copy Gradient"
and name it as you like. Now you can see it in the list of
gradients but it still looks identical to the other one. We are
now going to edit it. Remain in the window "Gradient Editor".
At the bottom you see a big band with the colors of the
gradient. Below is a line where you can see some triangles.
Between two black triangles is a section and you will always
change one section in one go. To make a section bigger you can
just drag the triangles to the point where you want them to be.
The colors of the area that has a darker gray can be changed.
Click in the band with a right mouse click and hold it. There
are several options you can choose now: You can see "Left
endpoint's color" and "Right endpoints' color". If you go to
them with the mouse you will get a color circle and can choose
a new color. The endpoint of one section should have the same
color as the starting point of the adjacent section if you want
a smooth picture. Of course this is not true if you want to
have clear borders of color changes. By clicking on "Blending
function for section" you can say whether the color should run
linear, in a circle etc. By clicking "Split segments at
midpoint" you can split the section into smaller parts.
Let's have a look at some nice pictures now:
The trompet is from davysotherdingbats, character r. I gave it a gradient
of a yellow and orange tone. (Make sure that the trompet is
selected because otherwise the whole image is filled with the
The rabbit on a hat is from the font critters by darrian, character b,
and I gave it a gray color. On a new layer I chose a violet and
a gray tone as my gradient (gray=foreground color and
violet=background color. In the middle of the picture I drew a
diagonal line from a higher to a lower point (vertical to the
line that you can see) of the length of the darker violet tone.
The sunflower consists of two icons, both from davysdingbats, characters
j and e. I gave the stalk a green colour. For the blossom I
used a gradient of a yellow and an orange tone.
Let's now look at a picture with a gradient I made myself:
First I created the text in a circle. For it I went to the
main menu and clicked Xtns (right to File)--> Script Fu
--> Logo --> Text in a circle. Here I typed the text
"Come and join the fun" but let a space as a first sign.
Otherwise the first and last word are very close to each other.
I chose a radius of 80, start Angle 0 and Fill Angle 360. For
the Font Size I chose 25 and as Font Jayne Print. The text
color is the foreground color from the menu. You get a separate
picture now. I deleted the background, opened a new layer and
pasted the penguins inside. The penguins are from critters by
darrian,I. Then I opened again a new layer, moved it to the
bottom and filled it with my created gradient.
How about a button ?
I chose a light and a dark blue as my foreground and
background colors. Then I opened a new image with a white
background. In a new layer I selected a big circle with the
selection tool and filled it with this blue gradient by drawing
a line with the mouse from left to right. I copied this layer
and scaled the size of the circle in the new layer down a bit.
Then I filled it again with the gradient but this time I drew a
line from right to left. I did the same for a third layer on
top of the two. I pasted the circle inside and scaled it down
and then filled it with the gradient, this time again drawing a
line from left to right. Now in another layer on top of them I
pasted the icon with the mouse and the flowers (from critters
by darrian,A). Then right click in the layer Script
Script Fus are scripts so that you can get an effect in one
click for which you usually would need several steps. You can
get the Script Fus either by right clicking in an image or a
click on Xtns (next to File on top in the main window of the
Gimp). It is said that you should use the right click in the
image to work with already created images while by clicking on
Script-fu over Xtns you can create a new image and determine
which text font and color to use and which text to write.
Let's look at some pictures:
Choose the rose from davysdingbats, character k, and then right click
Script fu --> Alpha to Logo--> Chrome.
Choose the grandpiano from davysotherdingbats, character D. I used a size
of 140 here. Then right click in the image
Script-Fu-->AlphatoLogo--> gradient bevel.
Choose the cat from davysotherdingbats, character 0 (zero), and then right
I took the grand piano from davysotherdingbats, D, the second
(right) hand from davysotherdingbats, 2, ( You take both hands
and then just erase the first (the left one) and take the right
hand twice) and the head from davysotherdingbats, 3 as well and
then placed them as you can see in the image. I flipped
(mirrored) the hands horizontally and erased the upper fingers.
Then right click Script-Fu-->AlphatoLogo--> Textured.
Here I used the following settings:
Border Size (pixels):20
Pattern: here I used a wood pattern
Mosaic Tile Type: Squares
Background Color: white (Hue: -1, Saturation:0, Value, Red,
Green and Blue = 1)
Starting Blend: orange: here the color that is set as foregound
color in Gimp is used, here it is: H=29, S=73, V=91, R=234,
G=147, B=61, HexTriplet:#ea933d
Ending Blend: yellow: Hue: 43.76, Saturation: 0.77, Value:
0.92, Red: 0.92, Green: 0.73, Blue: 0.21)
Adding some other effects...
I placed everything as you can see in the picture. The dancers
and the piano player are from davysdingbats, L. I erased the
flag from the head and gave them their color, making their
hands white. For their eyes I took a big brush and drew two
points. The stars are both the same (dingbats, U) just having
different sizes. I pasted the star on a layer and gave it its
color. Then I opened a new layer, copied & pasted it,
flipped it horizontally and filled it with the second color.
The grand piano is from davysotherdingbats,D. The text font is
amaze. The piano keyboard is from davysotherdingbats, e. On a
layer below the keyboard I filled the space in between the
keyboard with a white color. I then merged this two layers. You
can do this by making the eyes in the layers box of the other
non-piano layers invisible (by clicking on them). Now only the
piano keyboard is visible. Right click in the image
Layers-->Merge visible layers and the piano is merged. Then
right mouse click Filters-->Distorts-->IWarp. Here I
deformed it with the options move and grow. I just went over
the keyboard and deformed it until I was satisfied. Now make
the other layers visible again and right click Layer-->Merge
visible layers. Then right click Script Fu-->Alpha to
Logo-->Blended (with the default values).
I took an empty image and then right click
ScriptFu-->Decor-->Add Border (default values). Then
again right click in the image ScriptFu-->Alpha to
Logo-->Glossy. Then I just added the group of penguins from
critters by darrian, z.
I pasted the piano keyboard (davysotherdingbats, e) and filled
the space with white in a new layer and merged the two as
described above. Then right click in the layer with the piano
keyboard Filters-->Distorts-->CurveBend. Here you can
"design" a curve along which the piano keyboard should bend.
Then I took a new layer and plasted two cats
(davysotherdingbats, 0) in it, rotated them so that they look as
in the picture, choose a green tone and added the eyes. I took
a new layer and filled it with many of the already above
described sunflowers in the way you can see in the image. As
background I chose a gradient of blue and green.
I filled a layer with sunflowers as in the previous picture.
Then I added another layer below and filled it with sunflowers
where the blossoms were filled with a red gradient. Again a new
layer below and filled with sunflowers of a violet gradient and
once again this time with sunflowers of a blue gradient. For
the yellow/orange and violet sunflowers I filled the middle of
the blossom with yellow. The sunflowers have this form so just
add a new layer below and fill the space below the blossom with
yellow and you will get that effect. For the blue and red
sunflowers I just filled the whole middle of the blossom with
yellow (I painted over the other color). As background I took a
green gradient fill.
This picture is similar to the previous one. So take the
previous picture and just replace the background gradient fill
with a pattern background choosing the pattern with the leaves.
Then click on the layer with the blue sunflowers. Right click
on the layer Filter-->Map-->Fractal Trace (Warp and
default settings). Finally I erased some of the stalks that I
found disturbing. That's all.
I guess you already have lots of ideas now to create far
greater pictures than mine.
Have fun and enjoy! :-)
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2002-03-07, generated by lfparser version 2.27