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How to Make an Explosion Effect in GIMP

This tutorial will show you how to create a explosion effect in the free software image-manipulation software GIMP. Even though this is done in GIMP, the principles outlined here can be applied to any other photo-editing software.

1. Start up GIMP and new 500x500 image and fill it with black.

2. Click on the Create New Layer button on the "Layers, Channels, Paths, Undo - Brushes . . " window (or go to Layer-->New Layer), make sure the radio button next to "Transparency" is chosen in the New Layer dialog box, and click OK.

3. On the Toolbox window, click on the foreground color swatch and in the Change Foreground Color dialog box, enter "70138e" in the HTML notation text box and click OK. This will select a dark purple color.

4. In the Toolbox window, select the Paintbrush Tool.

5. Paint a dark purple blob on the transparent layer and click on the Duplicate button to create a copy of the layer..

Dark purple blob

6. Select the original purple blob layer and go to Colors-->Brightness and Contrast and in the Brightness and Contrast dialog box, enter "107" for Brightness and "127" for Contrast and click OK.

7. Now select the top layer and, in the Toolbox window, select the Eraser tool.

8. Begin erasing within the dark purple blob and make sure to stay within the purple area. You should get something like this:

9. Now click on the purple color swatch in the Toolbox window and type in "ffffff" in the HTML notation box and click OK. This will select white for the color.

10. Switch back to the Paintbrush Tool and paint some white within the light purple area so you have something like this:

11. Right-click on the top layer and choose "Merge Down" so you only have one transparency layer and a black background layer.

12. Now, in the Toolbox window, switch to the Smudge tool. The next step is where the magic happens. :)

13. Make sure that the transparency layer is still selected and start smearing the white out into the light purple. Click on the white area and drag outward all around until you something like the image below:

Voila! You have something with a explosion-like effect. Now you can superimpose it onto an image of your choice. This looks something like an explosion in space. For this tutorial, I will use an image of a moon. You can right-click and save the picture to your computer to follow along.

14. Drag and drop the image from your save location to the "Layers, Channels, Paths, Undo . . " window and make sure that the image is immediately above the background layer. Then select the transparent layer that has the explosion and change the Mode to screen.

You should end up with something like the image below:

You can change the color of the explosion by selecting the explosion layer and then go to Colors-->Hue and Saturation and adjust the Hue slider.

Your image could look better than this. I have only outlined the basic steps you need to take to get the effect. So play around with it and see what improvements you can make and have fun!

Well, that wraps up the tutorial. If you find this tutorial helpful to you, please show me some love by making a donation.

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