How to make a Hockney style Photograph in GIMP

David Hockney is known for his unusual panoramas that are made up of differently scaled and angled photos. To produce the ‘Hockney’ effect it is best done with multiple photographs that can be arranged later, but you can have a single photograph that you’d like to make into a multiple imaged panorama – with the use of GIMP!

'Hockney' Style Photography in GIMP ‘Hockney’ Style Photography in GIMP 

1. Creating and/or Downloading

  • To make the individual images we need a rectangular brush (.gbr).
  • Either you can download my version 600 x 400 pixels (3:2), or make your brush with your preferred aspect ratio.
  • Open a New Document with 600 x 400 pixels, 72 resolution and Foreground Colour (Black):
  • Make the square black if not already, then File –> Save As, save as a .gbr with 25 spacing:
Creating Rectangle Brush Creating Rectangle Brush (Click to view larger) 

2. Preparing Image

  • Open your image up in GIMP.
  • On your image layer, Right Click –> Add Alpha Channel.
  • Scale the copy layer larger and crop the excess off with the Crop Tool: Image (Click to view larger) 

3. New Layers (Transparency)

  • Create a New Layer (Transparency) for each photo layer:
  • On the first layer (for the larger photo), grab the Brush Tool and begin selecting over main focal points of the photograph:
  • Brush Tool settings: 50% Opacity, and as shown:
  • REPEAT for second layer (hide above layers):
New Layers - TransparencyNew Layers – Transparency (Click to view larger) 

  • Attempt to select regions with no more than 30% overlap:
New Layers - TransparencyNew Layers – Transparency (Click to view larger) 

4. Selecting by Colour and Deleting

  • Now grab the Select by Color (Shift + O) and select the black rectangles in your transparency layers:
  • Invert the selection (Crtl + I), on the photo layer press delete (Edit –> Clear):
  • REPEAT for the second layer pair of layers (hide above layers):
Selecting by Colour and DelectingSelecting by Colour and Deleting (Click to view larger) 

Selecting by Colour and DeletingSelecting by Colour and Deleting (Click to view larger) 

5. Moving and Drop Shadow

  • Move your photo layers around to fill in the gaps. You can delete/hide the brush transparent layers now.
  • Now to add a drop shadow go, Filters –> Light and Shadow –> Drop Shadow:
  • Drop Shadow settings: 12,12,24,Black, 80%, as shown: (a larger radius might be better)
  • REPEAT for each photo layer:
Moving and Drop ShadowMoving and Drop Shadow (Click to view larger) 

6. Background – White

  • Create a New Layer and fill it with White:
Background - WhiteBackground – White (Click to view larger) 

That’s It! It is not exactly like the real thing, but it can be done better if you do individual layers for each section.

Another example of the ‘Hockney’ Effect: Example! (Click to view larger) 

If you get stuck anywhere just comment below!


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