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Gimp Tutorial: Cyanotype effect

How to use Gimp to simulate a blueprint, this effect consists in the simulation of an old printing process that gives cyan-blue prints.

Italian Web master: Bad English, but good tutorials.

Cyanotype (also known as blueprint) is one of the first printing processes that were massively used. That process were low cost and simple, so it were used for produce large scale copies. The chemical products used for cyanotype printing had blue tones, so it were also called blueprint. Using Gimp for cyanotype effect simulation is quite easy, let's see how to proceed:

normal photo

Without Cyanotype effect


With Cyanotype effect

Choose the right photo, but remember that not all of your pictures will look nice in cyan tones, then open it. Now you have to convert it in black and white with Mono Mixer.
Open Colors 🠞 components 🠞 Mono Mixer and set all parameters as below, then press Ok, the result must be a black and white photo.

first step of cyanotipe is desaturate

Now open Colors 🠞 Brightness-Contrast then increase Brightness to +20, and reduce Contrast to -20. We need to reduce contrast in order to simulate low contrast of the old print.

reduce contrast

Create a new blank layer: put your cursor on the layer window (Ctrl+L if hidden) then click Right Mouse button and choose New Layer. Default settings are ok, so simply press Ok when you have to choose new layer properties.

new layer

Select the Bucket Fill Tool, then click on the active foreground color to change it, and set 00aeef in the HTML notation, press Ok and click anywhere in the image to fill the New Layer with a plane cyano color.

fill cyanotype

On the layers window select Overlay as Blend mode of the cyano layer, set opacity to 80%, then right mouse click on the new layer and choose merge down.

merge layer

Open Colors 🠞 Curves and set a curve as you like. You should increase contrast, take inspiration from the following one.

increase contrast to simulate blueprint

Last step is optional, but will give a better looking to your cyanotype effect. You should apply an aged texture: click here to download the texture I used. This aged texture has 24 megapixels, that should be more than enough for any photo you want to edit. Open the aged texture, scale it into the size you need (Image 🠞 Scale Image), then copy it (Ctrl+C or Edit 🠞 Copy).

Come back to your cyanotype and paste the old paper texture (Edit 🠞 Past as 🠞 New Layer), then choose Divide as blend mode, opacity 100%, then Right mouse click on the Pasted Layer Merge Down.

normal photo

Without Cyanotype effect


With Cyanotype effect

If you liked this tutorial, you can press the back button down there, and you will find all the many other guides we wrote about photo editing with Gimp, or you can go there to take a look to our photography tutorials.

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