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sophie: A cartoon-like representation of a girl standing on a hill, with brown hair, blue eyes, a flowery top, and blue skirt. ☀ (Default)
[personal profile] sophie posting in [community profile] gimp_gate
Today, it's fairly easy to make LOLcat macros with online tools such as roflbot or the ICHC LolBuilder, but they both leave a somewhat unsightly looking watermark to the picture advertising how it was made.

Fortunately, it's easy to recreate the effect in the GIMP! Today I'll be showing you how to make this image:

A cat macro created in the GIMP showing a cat's tail naturally lying in a spiral. Text in the lower-right corner reads 'DREAMWIDTH'.

This howto is aimed at beginners to the GIMP, so a lot of steps will be explained that may not otherwise be.

(I apologise in advance that the PNG images in this tutorial have JPEG artifacts; that's due to the way I'm using the GIMP, not due to any lack of knowledge of how to take clean shots on my part.)

  1. The first step is to load the image you want to add a macro to. In this case, I started with this image, which I found on Flickr when I was searching for this sort of image:

    A photo of a cat's tail, naturally lying in a spiral.

    I loaded this into the GIMP by right-clicking the image in my Internet browser, choosing "Copy Image Location", then going back to the GIMP and pasting it into the text box in the Open Location... option in the File menu:

    The Open Location dialog, in which the URL of the original image has been loaded.

    This alleviates the need to download it separately and then open it; GIMP will automatically download it for you and load it up.

  2. Next, we need to use the Text tool:

    The Toolbox, with the Text tool selected.

    I like to set my text options before typing the actual text, so I double-click the Text tool to open the options, and set the font to Impact Condensed, and the text color to white. (The normal font used in macros is actually just "Impact", but I don't have that font on my system, so I use Impact Condensed instead.) I don't know what font size I want yet, so I leave that as-is.

    Now I click on the image in the approximate position that I want the text to be in, and enter "DREAMWIDTH":

    A screenshot showing me using the Text tool to write 'DREAMWIDTH', which shows up in a small font near the bottom-right of the photo that's loaded.

  3. The font is very small, so now it's time to click back to the Tool Options window and increase the size. 64px looks like a good size to use:

    The result of having upped the font size to 64px - now the text cuts off at the edge of the image.

  4. The text "DREAMWIDTH" is now too big to fit in the image completely where it is, so we need to move it back into the image. Use the Move tool:

    The Toolbox, with the Move tool selected.

    And use it to drag the text into place:

    The result of me moving the text into the right position, in the bottom-right.

  5. We have the text; now we need to create the black outline common on LOLcat macros. The best way I've found to do this is by using layers. Bring up the Layers window by right-clicking on the image, selecting the Windows menu, and then selecting Layers (or press Ctrl-L, which does the same thing):

    The Windows->Layers menu option.

    ...and in the resulting window that comes up (which may be attached to one of your existing windows; I tend to tear them all off myself), make sure the "DREAMWIDTH" text layer you just made is selected, then click the New Layer button, which is at the bottom of the window; it's the first one on the left and looks like a blank page:

    The Layers window, with the New Layer button highlighted.

    In the New Layer box, make sure the Layer Fill Type is set to Transparency, then click OK. A new layer will be created called, appropriately enough, "New Layer". We're going to use this layer to store the black outline.

  6. Still in the Layers window, right-click on the "DREAMWIDTH" layer, and choose "Text to Selection":

    The context menu of the Layers window, with 'Text to Selection' highlighted.

    Looking at the image, our text should now be selected around the outline of the text itself. We want to fill this on the new layer, so click on the new layer in the Layers window. Notice that even though we're now on another layer, the selection outline remains; this is a useful trick to learn.

    We can now grow this selection by right-clicking on the image, choosing the Select menu, and clicking on Grow:

    The Select->Grow menu option.

    In the resulting dialog, type the size of the border you want, in pixels, then click OK. I normally use 3 here.

    This will result in the selection being expanded, and you'll see that the selection has merged with itself at points. That's okay.

  7. Our next step is to fill the selection with black. Double-click on the Fill tool to bring up the Options window for the tool:

    The Toolbox, with the Fill tool selected, and the Tool Options window next to it.

    Make sure that the "FG colour fill" and "Fill whole selection" options are selected in the Tool Options window. Then, in the Toolbox, reset the foreground and background colors to black and white by clicking the little black-and-white squares next to the colour squares at the bottom, shown here:

    The bottom half of the Toolbox, with the Reset Colors option circled in red.

    Then, click anywhere within the selection on the image to fill it with black:

    The cat macro image so far; the selection on the bottom-right is now completely filled with black.

  8. Finally, bring up the Layers window again and drag the "DREAMWIDTH" layer above the "New Layer" layer to bring it to the top.

    The cat macro image again, this time with the white text layer on top of the enlarged black one.

  9. You're done! Save the image and upload to your favourite host:

    The finished macro; a cat's tail naturally lying in a spiral. Text in the lower-right corner reads 'DREAMWIDTH'.

Hopefully this helps somebody :D Take care!

(no subject)

Date: 28 March 2010 17:50 (UTC)
happydork: A graph-theoretic tree in the shape of a dog, with the caption "Tree (with bark)" (Default)
From: [personal profile] happydork
I am a total GIMP beginner, and I think this tutorial is awesome! Thank you!

(no subject)

Date: 28 March 2010 18:52 (UTC)
facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
From: [personal profile] facetofcathy
Seconding the awesomeness of the this. I learn so much better from real examples, and as a total beginner, this was really helpful.

(no subject)

Date: 14 November 2010 18:49 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] j-b.livejournal.com
[personal profile] sophie, thanks for the tutorial, it's exactly what I was looking for! Nice work!

Thank you

Date: 27 May 2011 07:42 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I d'led this the other day just to make lolcats and I googled multiple times on how to do this and didn't find anything helpful. Today, I googled 'macro lolcat editor' and found this. Weird, huh? Anyways, this was very helpful and clear. I was getting really frustrated because I'm not usually so out of my depth with computer things.

Thank you!

Date: 2 March 2012 21:38 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hi! Thanks to your "how to" I learned to make macros, and it's fun! ^^ Thank you so much for the thought and effort. Otherwise I'd have no idea how to! http://tiredposting.tumblr.com/

(no subject)

Date: 18 January 2013 23:14 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You should really be converting text to path, then stroking it with a black pen in your layer for the outline. This ends up looking a lot cleaner, and you can adjust aspects of the outline more easily.

Thank you

Date: 6 July 2013 03:48 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I feel so empowered now!

Text to selection missing

Date: 1 September 2013 13:44 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
If your Layer window misses "text to selection", use "alpha to selection".