A friend of mine recently asked if I could recommend a Linux distro for him to load for one of his family. Of course, there are several mainstream distros that would fit the bill, but I've become rather fond of Linux Mint for new users swapping from Windows.
Although Mint uses gnome as it's desktop, its developers have created a nice menu, that Windows users will feel right at home with and of course, it's based on the Ubuntu family, which in turn uses the very solid Debian core.
I offered to supply him with a CD, so all he had to do, was load it in the drive and install the system.
As Mint has recently released a new version (8 – Helena), as yet, no one has created artwork for the CD, and so this is my feeble attempt at making some sort of CD label.
Please note, this article is focused on the method of creation, not the end result, which would probably make a graphics designer weep for weeks to come. I'll number the stages for clarity and the GIMP version 2.4.7 has been used throughout.
1. Open GIMP in the normal manner.
2. Click on: File → New
3. Set the size of the required image. In my case, I wanted an image size of 1150mm and this is the closest I could get.
4. This is what I got.
The reason for that, is if you look at the first image of the GIMP control panel, I'd already changed the foreground and background colours and black was the selected background colour. The normal default colour is white.
5. Now you need to select: Layer → Transparency → Add Alpha Channel
6. As we need a transparent canvas to work on, now go to: Edit → Clear
which will result in this.
So to recap, we have now created a blank canvas of the correct dimensions. Don't worry about the shape just yet, or the centre hole, which for reasons I'll explain, we'll ignore.
7. Although I've already set my foreground and background colours, I thought it would be beneficial to describe how to do that for people completely new to the GIMP. Simply click on the foreground colour patch in the control panel,
and you will see this:
You can now select whatever colour you want.
8. Do the same for the background.
9. Now we're going to try and create some sort of background for the CD label and I've chosen to do this with the blend tool. Select the tool which looks like a tin of paint.
10. Each time you choose a different tool , the lower part of the control panel changes, to accommodate that tool. You can now see, we have a variety of blend options and I'm going to use the Spiral (acw) option.
It can be somewhat of a mystery just how you use this tool, but you simply start somewhere on the canvas, left click, and drag a line to wherever you want the blend to go. I actually started around the middle of the page and dragged towards the bottom to achieve this effect:
Note: if you don't like the effect you achieved, simply go to Edit → Undo (whatever). You can go back any number of stages and even redo, if you decided it's what you wanted after all.
Keep in your mind at the moment, how much of this is going to appear on your label. Soon, we're going to extract the piece that actually shows, which makes the rest of the job far easier.
11. So go to the Ellipse tool and select it.
12. Carefully position your cross cursor in one of the corners and drag the ellipse across the canvas to just touch each of the sides. As you have a square canvas, this will create a perfect circle. Release the mouse and wait for the circle to form. You should see “crawling ants”, meaning that part of the canvas is active.
13. Now go to: Edit → Cut
and you'll be left with this.
Don't panic, it's safely on the clip board ready to be called back.
14. Now go back to the control panel and select: File → Acquire → Paste as New
and hey presto, your CD background will appear on a new canvas like this:
Now we're ready to add the content to the background.
15. First I'm going to give it a title. To do this, select the Text tool – looks like a capital A. You can see, again the lower half of the control panel has changed and you can now select your font type, size colour and so on.
16. Now click on the background image roughly where you want the text to appear. Type in your text in the pop-up box.
Notice, you can now adjust the font size to suit your purposes in the control panel and it will change in real time on the image. I've bumped mine up to 183 px
and this is the result:
17. It could be at this point, you haven't got the positioning you want quite right and so we can use the move icon on the control panel (looks like a cross with four arrows) to reposition the text box wherever we want it to go.
Here's my final position for the text.
18. Now I want to add a logo.
To do this, I go to: File → Open and select from my files in the pop-up box, which file I want to open. I managed to download a rather nice 3D logo developed by Padster from the Mint artwork collection and this is the file I wanted to use.
and here it is.
20. It was at this point, I struggled to get the image onto the background and move it to where I wanted it. However, the answer turned out to be pretty simple.
With the file still open, go to: Dialogues → Images
and click on it to see this:
You can see the logo, the canvas I'm working on and the original “cut” version.
21. Now simply drag the logo image from that window onto your canvas.
22. Now, using the move tool (as described earlier in item 17) move the logo to wherever you want it to appear.
This wasn't quite the end of that part of the operation. In fact, even though the logo looked perfect in the GIMP, it appeared somewhat smaller on the CD canvas, so I had to resize it to get the size I wanted. Strangely, I needed to double its size from 400px to 800px which you would think would be far too large, but it worked!
23. This is how it's done.
Click on: Image → Scale Image
You'll now see this:
Change to the required size. Note, if you change the width, the GIMP will automatically change the height proportionately and visa-versa.
and click Scale.
Remember, any action you execute, can be undone, so experiment all you like.
24. Finally, we need to “flatten” the image, but not so fast.
So far, the image has been built up in layers in the GIMP, mainly automatically as each operation has been carried out. This is useful if you want to change just one part of (what could be) a complex image. So I always save the image in the GIMPS own format of “xcf”. This means, I can open it up in the future in its constituent parts and make any changes I want. You don't have to save it as such, but it can be useful.
Once that's done, we need to move to the final phase. “Flattening”. This simply means all the layers are merged into one and it can then be saved in almost any format you like.
25. To do this, click on: Image → Flatten Image
and here's the result.
Note, we've now lost our circular shape, as all those layers have been “squashed” into one. So we now need to repeat an earlier part of the exercise and cut out the part we want.
Please follow items 11 to 14.
26. Once completed, click: File → Save As
Type in a file name of your choice (Important) with a suffix of the type of file you want it saved as. I chose jpg
27. Click Save and you'll see a window telling you it can't do what you ask, so you need to click “Export”.
Now select the level of quality you want (I use 100%) and click Save.
Finally, I mentioned earlier about the hole in the middle. It's not necessary and there is an advantage in not having one. Most CD printing programs I've come across, have had the facility to adjust the dimensions you want to print. If you leave the centre of the graphic filled in, the printing program will take the graphic right up to the edge of the inner circle, which looks far better, than leaving a void around the centre.
That's it; job done!