How to Make Things Grungy or Faded with Plasma Cloud Masks in Gimp

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Recently, I've made some artwork with some grunge and faded looks and some people have asked me how I did it. My answer is that I used the plasma clouds rendering filter in Gimp to do most of it. I was surprised that many people do not think to use procedural or rendering tools inside the masks themselves for layers to get some neat effects. It is really easy, so here is a quick how-to on making anything you could possible want appear grungy or faded. First off, here is an example piece of art I did that uses a ton of it:

Too Many Suns Art Piece

Let's start with a basic image of a couple circles I drew. Boring right? Yes, so let's make them look dingy! Here's my fantastic circles:

My Boring Circles

What I am going to do is duplicate a few layers of the circles and make them slightly different colors. This will help give you some different layers and colors to play with how you want things to look. Create a layer mask for the first layer you want to do. With the layer mask selected, navigate to Filters - Render - Clouds - Plasma. You will get a dialog box:

Plasma Dialog

In the dialog, you can adjust the Random Seed and Turbulence. Sliding turbulence to the left smooths out your result where sliding to the right will make things much more rougher. Slide it around to the look you want to achieve. You can click the New Seed button to re-randomize the filter's output to give you different looking clouds. Click Ok when done:

Circles with Some Plasma Cloud Masking

We now have our layer mask a greyscale plasma cloud generated in it. What is going on is the black areas in the mask are transparent and the white areas are not, so the mask with the plasma cloud in it is giving your layer a very rough appearance by showing some here and hiding some there. Let's do it again to another layer of our blue circles, this time a slightly different blue color so some of the different blue shows through:

More Plasma Cloud Masks!

Here is how your layers will appear, notice the plasma cloud outputs in the layer masks:

Plasma Cloud Mask Layer View

Lets add a layer mask with a plasma cloud in it to the background as well! That will spice things up a little bit:

Finished with our Grungy Circles!

There are many other rendering and cloud filters besides plasma, but I think it's my favorite to quickly do things like this. Photoshop has very similar plugin filters, but once again I have chosen Gimp to do this... I will leave you with another piece of art where you can see how heavily I used layers of things with plasma clouded masks:

Spilt Art Piece

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FeeBeeDee's picture

Thank-you for this wonderful

Thank-you for this wonderful tutorial! This is the first time I've ever used a layer mask, and I've been using Gimp for years! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. Here is a link to my first attempt: http://www.flickr.com/photos/phoebe_photo/4938584678/

Bill's picture

You are welcome! You will

You are welcome! You will continue to see how useful masks are to show and hide what you want without erasing the layer itself! I've got some more guides to add soon that use them as well.

FeeBeeDee's picture

Great! I can't wait to see

Great! I can't wait to see them.

Anonymous's picture

one of the best, most

one of the best, most no-nonsense guides I have found on the subject. thanks very much!

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