One Four Challenge – February Week 4 – (A GIMP Tutorial and a Poll)…

Usually on week four of the One Four Challenge I like to take what I’ve learned over the course of the month and apply it to the final version, a kind of meshing of the three weeks prior.  This month the image was challenging and I wasn’t able to quite do that, but if I hadn’t done all the work in the prior weeks I wouldn’t have this final image to work on so in a way I guess I did.

Anyway this version is one of the easier versions I’ve made for all the challenges I’ve done so far, it is only 4 layers!   There is a  tutorial at the end of this post.

This week I decided to make my image Black & White.  I tend to like really contrasty Black & White so that is what I set out to do, what do you think?  Kind thoughts and comments are welcome!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Since this is the last week of this month’s challenge, I have a poll so that we can see which image we liked the most.

Check out what the other participants are doing this week 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.

Black & White Tutorial

Using my image from last week (prior to the cartooning filters), I tried a couple of different things to get the houses a lighter shade, I tried adjusting the saturation of the reds and painting on a mask of only the walls of the houses, but ultimately it was a lot of work with not much reward.  The saturation made some weird spots that I had to try to work around and I finally decided to toss out that layer and try something else.  It turns out that by applying a levels layer where I selected a black point and a white point in my image, I got what I was trying to achieve without having to paint at all.  This is a much simpler method with a far better reward.

You will need:


Hot Air Balloon – Black & White Tutorial – Quick Glance:


  1. Add a new transparent layer, create a dk.grey/ lt.grey gradient, change blend mode to Overlay.
  2. Create a new layer from visible Layer->New from Visible.
  3. Using G’MIC plug-in for GIMP, make a Black & White version, Filters->G’MIC->Black & white->Black & white.
  4. Duplicate Black&White layer, open levels adjustment Colors->Levels, select a black point and a white point on the image to create a more contrasty Black & White.

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



Detailed Notes:

Starting with my image from last week (prior to the cartooning filters)…

1. Add a new transparent layer, create a dk.grey/ lt.grey gradient, change blend mode to Overlay.

Since I wanted the houses to be a lighter color once it was turned Black&White, I applied a gradient.  Add a new layer using the new layer tool, make it a transparency layer…


Next select the gradient tool, I used a dark grey and a light grey to make my gradient… you can change the colors used for your gradient by changing the foreground and background colors.


Simply click on the color block and change the color to something you prefer… I tend to stick to the greys along the bottom edge of the color spectrum…


By choosing shades of grey rather than pure black and white you can get a more subtle gradient on your image.  I used a linear gradient.  Drag the tool from the top of the image to the bottom of the image, holding down the ctrl key will make it straight…


Which will give you this…


change the blend mode to Overlay

blendmodeWhich gives you this (basically, I just lightened the bottom portion of the image)…


2. Create a new layer from visible Layer->New from Visible.

Next you will want to create a duplicate of the image, but because it consists of two layers, the image plus the gradient overlay, you will need to create a new layer from the visible layers.  Go to Layer->New from Visible.  It will give you a new layer created from all layers that the eye is ON.  Since I already had a layer named Visible, it automatically named this new layer Visible #1…


3. Using G'MIC plug-in for GIMP, make a Black & White version, Filters->G'MIC->Black & white->Black & white.

After downloading and installing G’MIC plug-in for GIMP, go to Filters->G’MIC->Black & white->Black & white.  Make sure you change the input to Active (default) and the output to New layer(s) so that this filter will only look at the selected layer and then create a new layer with the filter changes.  In this filter you can adjust the Red, Green, and Blue levels which will change depending upon the colors of your image.  There is a reset button if you want to go back to the default settings.

You can also change the preview size, I caution you though if you have a small monitor to not make that preview size bigger than SMALL… otherwise you will not be able to see all the buttons… if you do make the filter window too big for your screen then you can press the Esc button, then go to Filters->Reset all Filters and then the filter window will be back to all its defaults.


Your new layer will look something like this…


It means that I made the following adjustments to the filter:

  • Red Level 0.04
  • Green Level 0.18
  • Blue Level 0
  • Gamma -0.04
  • Contrast 1.12
  • Grain Tone Fading 2 (default setting)
  • Radius 16 (default setting)
  • Contrast Smoothness 4 (default setting)

The beauty of this is that you can try out several different versions and still know which settings you chose. 🙂

My image then looked like this…


4. Duplicate Black & White layer, open levels adjustment Colors->Levels, select a black point and a white point on the image to create a more contrasty Black & White.

It’s nice, but I wanted those houses to be lighter… so I duplicated the Black & White layer by using the duplicate tool.  Then I went to Colors->Levels.  Here I was able to select my black point and white point to create a more contrasy image.

Choosing black point…


Choosing white point…


Which gives me my final image…

I hope this tutorial was informative.  Please let me know if you try any of these adjustments and how it turned out.  I’d love to hear from you. 😀

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.

14 thoughts on “One Four Challenge – February Week 4 – (A GIMP Tutorial and a Poll)…

    • Thanks so much, Lore! Really I’m taking skills I learned in school and applying them to GIMP, and then trying my best to explain it here. 🙂

  1. I really like what you’ve done in this week’s edit. The black and white works really well, especially with that textured sky. I’ve never particularly noticed the moon and stars pattern on the balloon before but it leapt out at me this week. 🙂

    • Thank you, A Fairy Mind! I’m glad you like this week’s edit, the moon and stars were kinda noticeable in the cartoonish edit, but I’m glad that they leapt out at you this time. I thought it was a cute balloon and wanted it to be the focus. 🙂

    • Thanks, Ben! I’m not sure why this photo was so dull since it was taken at sunset, but somehow it was… I tried several things to give a meh photo some life. Thanks for your suggestions this month. 🙂

  2. Hi Nic, I like the simplicity of your B&W version, although reading what you’ve done, it isn’t that simple! I quite liked your stormy skies in full colour in week 2 also… Certainly both more interesting than the original. As always, thanks for the tutorials – helpful reference! Chris

    • Thanks, Chris! Yeah the original kept looking more and more blah as the weeks went on… but it was fun taking a meh photo and trying to give it some life. 🙂

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 )

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.