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Creative Uses for the GIMP Jigsaw Pattern

Creative Uses for the GIMP Jigsaw Pattern

Are you looking for a fun way to display your photos? With the GIMP Jigsaw pattern, you can make your photos look like a puzzle in a single step. But why stop there? Take out some pieces or make a grid with it. Keep reading to learn how to use this filter and some creative applications for it.

Example of GIMPs Jigsaw Pattern

Make a puzzle

It may look like elaborate work, but actually turning your image into a puzzle is extremely easy. The GIMP Jigsaw Pattern is a tool that allows you to control the way you want your puzzle to look, then applies it to your image.

Let’s get started.

With your image opened, go to the menu and select Filters > Render > Pattern > Jigsaw.

GIMPs Jigsaw Pattern Menu

This will open a window where you can choose the number of pieces that will form the puzzle. You can also choose whether you want the shapes to have rounded corners or straight lines.

GIMPs Jigsaw pattern settings

You’ll also see a section called Bevel Edges with two sliders in it. This is like a carving effect, giving the illusion of tridimensionality.

There are no right or wrong values – it’s a matter of taste.

Here’s a comparison for you to get an idea of what it looks like.

GIMPs Jigsaw Patter Bevel Values Comparison
On the left, I had the values at the minimum: Bevel width: 1 and Highlight : 0.10
On the right I pushed them to the highest, so 10 and 1.0 respectively.

That’s all there is to it.

Choose the values you want in the pop-up window, and the GIMP Jigsaw Pattern does the rest.

Now, let’s see how you can break the puzzle into pieces.

Separating the pieces of the Gimp Jigsaw Puzzle

Make a template

Taking out a piece of the puzzle makes the image more dynamic – like you’re actually building it. However, unlike a real puzzle, we’re not just going to take it out from the puzzle we just made.

To make things easier, open a new white document. Here, in the blank canvas, you’ll apply the GIMP Jigsaw Pattern as you did on the previous exercise.

GIMPs Jigsaw Pattern canvas

This will serve as a template to select the pieces, hassle-free.

Now you can put in the photograph.

Go to the menu and select File > Open as Layers, and choose the file of your image. It will get placed as a layer on top of the jigsaw template.

Open As Layer in GIMP

Next, copy the layer with the template. You can do this by going to the menu and selecting Edit > Copy. While it’s there on your clipboard, select the image layer and create a Layer Mask. Do this by clicking on the button at the bottom. Then paste the template that you copied by going to Edit > Paste.

To set it onto the mask you created, you just need to click on the anchor button.

Then right-click on the layer and choose Apply Layer Mask. The mask and the layer will then merge together.

GIMPs Jigsaw Pattern into a Layer Mask

I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s actually very easy. And this way, you have everything ready to ‘cut-out’ all the pieces you want very quickly. Let’s try one.

Cut-out piece by piece

Select the piece you want to cut-out using the Fuzzy selection tool. Make sure to click on it while the template layer is selected. That way, you’ll get it with just one click.

To perfect the selection, go to the menu Select > Grow Selection and give it 1 or 2 pixels.

Select a piece from the Jigsaw

Cut out the piece in Edit > Cut and then paste it with Edit > Paste. To finalize the pasting, click on the New Layer button so that the piece remains independent.

With the Move and Rotate tool, you can position the piece. Then go to the menu Filters > Light and Shadow > Drop shadow. You decide the values depending on whether you want it dark and defined or blurred and lighter. Use the X and Y sliders to make it appear closer or further away.

Drop Shadow to the separate piece

You can repeat the process for all the pieces you want out of place. Just go back to your template every time you need to select a new one.

Create a jigsaw grid

Open a new document and create a new jigsaw as you did before. The number of pieces depends on the number of images you want to add. I don’t recommend too many because it could look messy. But, it’s entirely up to you.

GIMPs Jigsaw Pattern used as grid template

Add all the images you’re going to use by opening them as layers.

Then resize them with the Scale Tool and move them to fit each of the pieces of the puzzle. Don’t worry if they overlap in some places, you’ll fix that next.

Lay out the images for the grid on top of GIMPs Jigsaw Pattern

In the template layer, click on the piece you want with the Fuzzy Selection Tool. Then go to the corresponding image and click on the Add Layer Mask button. A pop-up menu will appear. Choose Selection from it, and click Add.

Mask the selected piece from the jigsaw pattern

That’s it.

Repeat the same for every image-piece combo until you complete your puzzle.

Have fun finding new and creative ways to use GIMP’s Jigsaw Pattern!

Example of GIMPs jigsaw pattern as grid

Supplementary Reading

  • If you’re not familiar with GIMP, check out this brief introduction.
  • If you want to edit your photograph before you turn it into a puzzle, learn here how to make them sparkle.
  • If you’re loving GIMP and want to take it with you, learn how to install it on a portable device.

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Ana Mireles
Ana Mireles

is a photographer and artistic researcher. She has been awarded and exhibited in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands. Through theory and practice, she explores the cultural aspect of photography, how it helps us relate to each other, the world, and ourselves. She has also a passion for teaching, communication, and social media. You can find more about her and her work at her website or acquire some of her works here.

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