How do I... Create a 3D logo in GIMP?

One thing the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) does very simply is create 3D logos. The application does this with the help of what is called "Script-Fu," which is GIMP's scripting extension. One of the default extensions is Logos. Jack Wallen shows you how to use Logos to create various 3D logos.

The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is the open source answer to Photoshop. There are many who would disagree with that statement, but when you really get into it, GIMP can do pretty much everything Photoshop can do and do it just as easily.

One thing GIMP does very simply is create 3D logos. The application does this with the help of what is called "Script-Fu," which is GIMP's scripting extension. One of the default extensions is Logos. We are going use Logs to create various 3D logos. For this TechRepublic blog post, our logos are going to be limited to text and/or dingbats in order to keep things simple.

This blog post is also available in PDF form as a TechRepublic Download.

A note on fonts

One of the first things you are going to want to do is find yourself some good fonts to use. The default fonts installed in Linux are not the greatest (especially if you are trying to create a groovy logo for yourself or a company.) The fonts need to be .ttf (or .TTF) format. After you have rounded up enough fonts to satisfy your creative needs, place them in the ~/.fonts directory and restart. Once you have logged back in, GIMP will see all of the new fonts and be able to use them. You are ready to start creating.


If you are not terribly familiar with the GIMP UI fear not, most everything you are going to do can be done via menus. The first menu you will be looking at is the Xtns menu (Figure A)

Figure A

The Logo menu is found quickly in the Script-Fu submenu in the Xtns menu. Xtns = externals.

Once you are in the Logo menu you will see 29 possible choices. Each of these choices will render a very different type of logo. The choices range from an Alien Glow to a Web-Title Header. There are some very fun choices and some very standard choices. Let's take a look at something fun.

From the Logo menu let's choose Bovination. This type of menu, as you can probably guess, is all about Cows. This will create a logo that has a nice bovine print in the lettering. So click Bovination to bring up the options window (Figure B).

Figure B

The text "Fear The Cow" is the default text. You'll want to change that.

So the first thing to do is to change the text to suit your needs. Once you have done that edit the pixel size. This can be tricky because you'll need to make adjustments up or down depending upon your needs. Obviously a smaller font size is going to render a smaller image. Get too small and the clarity is sacrificed.

Now with many of the Logo Scripts the choice in font will have a drastic impact on the quality of the logo. For instance, with Bovination you will need a fatter font to render the pattern. Figure C shows a Bovinated logo with a too-skinny font whereas Figure D shows a Bovinated logo with a font better suited for the pattern.

Figure C

Not enough beef to this font.

Figure D

Now that's a side of beef!
Before saving the image, there are some interesting tricks to play. Let's say, for example, you want to use the second bovinated logo but you want to place it on another image where the background is not white. This is most certainly possible by extracting layers. Take a look at Figure E. This is a screen shot of the layers that make up the image from Figure D. What we want to do is remove the background layer so the text and the text effects are the only thing remaining.

Figure E

Of the three layers, the top two make up the text and the text effects.
Once you remove the background, what you have left is the text (and text effects) on a transparent background (Figure F).

Figure F

Now your cow logo is almost ready to copy and paste as a new layer on an image.

Before you can actually copy and paste this image you have to merge the two remaining layers together. You can merge two ways: The first is to hit [Ctrl]-[M] and the second is to right click the image, go to the Image menu, and then select Merge Visible Layers.

When you merge layers there are three options:

  1. Expanded as necessary
  2. Clipped to image, and
  3. Clipped to bottom layer

The first option works in most cases. Once the layers are merged you can copy and paste that logo to your hearts content.

Another logo

Let's take a look at another type of logo that gives you an even more 3D appearance. The "Glossy" logo is one of my favorites. I use it all the time. Once you start the Glossy logo Script-Fu you will have a number of options to play with. There are only a few that are really necessary. Take a look at Figure G which illustrates the options for Glossy.

Figure G

I have no idea why the text "Galaxy" was chosen, but there you have the default text.

The two most important options in Glossy are the Font and the Blend gradient.

There are two different types of blend gradients: Text and Outline. I generally make them the same gradient. You can choose different gradients but it will most often muddy up your work. I am going to work with a fun font and work with the Abstract 1 gradient. Other than the font and the gradient, I am leaving everything else set to default. Take a look at Figure H for the final results.

Figure H

Pretty groovy for such quick work

The various types of logos have plenty of different options. You can spend the better part of a day playing around with the options tweaking your logo to perfection by changing fonts, altering gradients, and adding or removing patterns. With The GIMP, the sky is the limit.

Final thoughts

As you have seen, creating a 3D logo in The GIMP is simple. But don't stop yourself short of creating the perfect logo. Remember, once you have created the logo with the help of Script-Fu, you can always take that logo two or three steps higher using the standard GIMP tools.

I have used this GIMP technique many times in creating logos for companies. It's fast, easy to tweak, and the results are always impressive.