Using GIMP to create library posters

Posted: 12/19/2011 by judgeduke1912 in Books, Thoughts

Ever wonder how Calvert Library creates its unique flyers and posters? The answer is GIMP, the free Photoshop analogue, plus some good ol’ librarian creativity.

Today I thought we could look under the hood and find out how we transform photographs into something really eye-catching.

First, we need a concept. We have events going on all the time, so it’s not hard to find inspiration. For today, I needed to create a poster for our upcoming book sale. Since the Library could really use the extra money this year, I really want our poster to stand out.

So, not this:

Instead, I thought I’d try something different. Something with some kick. I need to find a girl. But not just any girl…

This girl:

I searched Flickr and used the advanced search feature to filter the search for only Creative Commons works that allow commercial use and modification. (Calvert Library isn’t really a commercial enterprise, but I don’t like to take liberties with other people’s work).

Next, I needed her to be at a book sale. This book sale:

 It’s not our book sale, but it looks like it could be. Next I removed the backgrounds of both images using the paths tool in GIMP and layered them one on top of the other:

Next, a little threshold action to make a nice black and white image:

Note : these are still 2 layers, the girl and the books

Looks great, but now what? Well, the girl should stand out a little from the books, so let’s add in some color with the gradient tool to the background layer:


I like the way the books look here, and notice how I added a copy of the book she’s holding to that same layer? Ahh, those tricky clever librarians. 🙂

Now let’s jazz her up with her own color gradient:

Nice! Looks like we might be done with the graphics. Let’s go ahead and put it in our poster.

And there you have it – a brand new poster to entice everyone to come to our next book sale. It’s a fundraiser for Calvert Library, so we hope to see you there!

Until next time!

  1. Alex says:

    That’s not half bad! I like the result. How exactly did you add the color gradient? I think I would have turned the threshold images into layer masks and applied a gradient over the entire layer.

    • Thanks – and you’re right, that’s exactly what I did. My life became so much better when I discovered the awesome power of layer masks.

      For this project, it was a bigger challenge to get the text in an appealing layout than it was to create the image.

  2. […] Using GIMP to create library posters « Calvert Library Teens […]

  3. […] Using GIMP to create library posters « Calvert Library Teens […]

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