One Four Challenge – February Week 3 – (A GIMP Tutorial)…



This week I wanted to change out the sky because I felt that although last week’s sky was more interesting, it wasn’t practical… I don’t think that the hot air balloon people would take out their balloons with that kind of forecast.  Last week we had some nice wispy clouds, so I went out about four different times throughout the day taking cloud photos.

I decided on this cloud image because it was bright and cheerful and I thought that would be the kind of day you would go out on a hot air balloon.

Luckily I already did the hard work last week when I changed out the sky, so I could put in any image I wanted and then work from there.  So that’s where we will start in today’s tutorial.  I used a GIMP plug-in called G’MIC for the dreamy filter, you can get it here (G’MIC plug-in for GIMP).

*** I want to remind you that even though it took 12 steps to get to this week’s final image, there may be something within the process that will peak your interests, so please read on. 😀 ***

You will need:

  • A photo editor, I used GIMP*
  • Your imagination


Hot Air Balloon – Dreamy Threshold Tutorial – Quick Glance:


  1. I used my image from last week of the houses and balloon selected out from the sky (the sky is transparent).
  2. Add a new sky (open as layers).
  3. Shade balloon.
  4. Make houses look more in line with new sky with Hue-Saturation layer.
  5. Make roof more red.
  6. Add a gradient to shade/highlight in the direction of the sun.
  7. Add more contrast.
  8. Add another gradient to pull it all together.
  9. Resize to 500x333px so that filters don’t take all day… Dreamy filter.
  10. Edge detect filter.
  11. Threshold layer.
  12. Select by color and add mask to pull threshold layer out and make rest transparent.

*** The order of the layers does matter, keep this in mind as you create the new layers. ***


Detailed Notes:

1. I used my image from last week of the houses and balloon selected out from the sky (the sky is transparent).


2. Add a new sky (open as layers).

I added a new sky.  I did all the adjustments that I wanted to a new image of sky and clouds, then I opened the image into the current image I was working on by File->Open as Layers.


Then I used the move tool and moved the image around until it looked like I wanted it to.


3. Shade balloon.

Then I shaded the balloon with the technique I talked about here.  I opened a new transparent layer, changed the blending mode to overlay,  then painted various shades of grey on the balloon to give it the shadows/highlights for the new sky.



4. Make houses look more in line with new sky with Hue-Saturation layer.

Even though I added more oomph last week to the houses the sky was much different and required a different look.  This week the houses need to be more bright and cheery… so I copied my layer with the houses on it.  Since that layer had a mask and you cannot make those kinds of changes on a masked layer, I right-clicked on the copied layer and chose Apply Layer Mask.  Then I added a Hue-Saturation layer Colors->Hue-Saturation and played around with the colors until I felt they fit the new sky…


5. Make roof more red.

The roof needed some added help… when I played around with the reds in the previous step they changed the adobe walls too, which isn’t what I wanted.  So made a new transparent layer, color picked one of the reds in the roof, then changed it to a darker color.


Then I filled the layer with this new color, added a black mask and painted on the mask white to reveal the new red on the roof.  I changed the blend mode to hard light, it had the best look I was going for (I could have used color blend mode but hard light made it darker.)  I also reduced the opacity to 50%.


6. Add a gradient to shade/highlight in the direction of the sun.

Next I added a square gradient of a light grey and a dark gray (rather than black/white) using the gradient tool on a new transparent layer set to blend mode overlay.  It’s pretty subtle.



7. Add more contrast.

Something seemed off to me, so I added a contrast layer by creating a new layer of all the layers so far Layer->New from Visible.  Then going to Colors->Bright-Contrast I increased the contrast just a bit.

brightness-contrast step7

8. Add another gradient to pull it all together.

The balloon looked to me like it was floating there without really being in the photo, so I added another square grey/grey gradient.  Again it’s subtle…

step8-gradient step8

9. Resize to 500x333px so that filters don't take all day... Dreamy filter.

Honestly, at this point I really wasn’t super stoked about the image… plus it felt like all I had done was change the sky… I wanted something more, so I started playing around with various Artistic filters in the G’MIC plug-in for GIMP.  It didn’t take long before I realized that my image at 5181x3460px was just too big and would take forever to render.  I make my images 500x333px for my blog, so I resized my image and exported it as a .jpg.  Then I opened up the smaller version and then started playing around with filters.

I went to Filters->G’MIC->Artistic->Dream Smoothing… make sure you set the input to Active (default) and the output to New layer(s)

dream-smoothing-filter step9

10. Edge detect filter.

It reminded me of my fingerpaint image and I decided to see if I could do something similar to this image.  Trying the threshold layer from the image didn’t give me the results I wanted, so I used an edge detect filter.  First I duplicated my main image (not the dreamy one) then I went to Filter->Edge Detect->Edge

edge-detect-filter step10

11. Threshold layer.

Next I duplicated the edge-detect layer and then applied a Threshold filter Colors->Threshold… I pulled it far to the right to get as much detail in the image as I could…

threshold-filter step11

12. Select by color and add mask to pull threshold layer out and make rest transparent.

You may have noticed that the areas that we want are currently white… after making a duplicate of the threshold layer, invert the colors Colors->Invert, then select by color the black area using the select-by-color tool.  Then add a mask of the selection Layer->Mask->Add Layer Mask


Then all you need to do is put this layer over the dreamy layer and you have my final image…

Week 3

I hope that you got something out of this tutorial and that you will try it (or parts of it) out.  Please let me know if you do and tell me how it went.

Until next time…

* GIMP is Open Source software that is available for all platforms (Linux, Mac, and Windows), it is a photo editor that does many (if not all) of the things you can do in Photoshop. You can download it for free here. The GIMP online manual can be found here.


Like Wilber? You can get him here.

I have joined a month-long photo post-processing challenge called One Four Challenge, hosted by Robyn at Captivate Me. “This challenge is about processing 1 image in 4 different ways over 4 weeks.” Every Monday Robyn posts a new version of her photo and challenges us to do the same each week.

2 thoughts on “One Four Challenge – February Week 3 – (A GIMP Tutorial)…

Kind thoughts and comments are always welcome...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.