Here’s how to make a realistic newspaper clipping from scratch in GIMP 2.8.  You can use this for classfied ads, Pinterest images, presentations, or anything else where the text should look like it was cut out of an old newspaper ages ago.

Check out the embedded video for a demonstration, or scroll down for a step-by-step guide.  I’ve provided links to GIMP 2.8 support pages to identify most tools and processes; all these open in a new tab.

Start with a new image. The clipping will end up irregularly shaped within the canvas, so give yourself plenty of room.  Here I’m using an image size of 700×490 so that my clipping is wider than it is tall.  It doesn’t have to be; just think about how your last newspaper clipping looked.  Or use your imagination, if you never read newspapers.

Add Folds and Creases

Start with this step for the clipping so that you can adapt its shape to the (somewhat) randomly-generated creases.  This makes the final product look much more three-dimensional than the method in the previous tutorial.

Add a new transparent layer (the folded paper icon at the bottom left of the layers window is a shortcut for this) and name it “Crinkles” – just like your uncle’s pet pug.  Grab the gradient or “blend” tool with the Bi-linear pattern and drag it over the image once. Now set the Blend mode to “Difference” (be sure to set this back before the next time you use the tool) and drag the gradient over the layer around 15 to 20 more times, using the Bi-linear and Radial patterns.

Go to Filters > Distorts > Emboss; set the Depth > 2; defaults are fine for “Azimuth” and “Elevation.”  Looks a bit more like paper now, doesn’t it?

Go to Colors > Curves and set the curves to follow the left side of the color profile on the graph. That will smooth out some of the wrinkles and make the folds more pronounced.

Clipping to Shape

This step is different than the distorted selection used in the previous tutorial.  Using the lasso tool, sketch a roughly rectangular, irregular, two-columned shape that follows the shape of the more pronounced crinkles.  You can draw parallel and perpendicular lines by holding ctrl while you draw the lasso across.  Make one column longer than the other, and leave a small triangle of space between them (where the scissors might have gone a little too far).  Invert the selection (ctrl+i) to trim the paper down to size; invert the selection again to grab the clipping shape.  You’ve just clipped a newspaper without ever picking up a pair of scissors!

Background Color

Create a new layer above the background and name it “Background Color.” Use the bucket tool to fill the selection with a brownish yellow or sepia tone. I dragged the hue slider to the redder region of yellow, then dropped the coordinates in the lower right where it begins to turn gray. The html notation I used is cbbd85.  Drag this layer underneath the “Crinkles” layer, just above the “Background” layer.

Set the Crinkles layer mode to overlay.

Naturalize the Colors

No aged paper has the exact same color by hexcode throughout. To create natural irregularities in the color, create a new layer and name it “Plasma.”  Go to Filters > Render > Clouds > Plasma, and the default settings are fine. Now go to Colors > Desaturate, and the default settings are fine.  Now set that layer mode to overlay.

Blots and stains

No newspaper clipping is going to get this old without a few character marks, so let’s spill some stuff on it!

Add a new layer and name it “Stains.” Reset your foreground color and go to Edit > Stroke Selection, using a width of about 9 pixels. Then go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and set the blur radius to at least 75 pixels, depending on your original image size. Notice that the blur only applies to the color inside the selection.

Now go to the paintbrush tool and add some spots and smudges with some of the brushes. You can download a variety of different brush patters for GIMP 2.8 for this purpose, but if you want to stick with the ones available by default, I recommend Texture Hose and Oils.

The key with any brush you use for this purpose is to only click it on the page once – the human brain is really good at spotting patterns. Set the brush size pretty large relative to your image size, several hundred pixels in this case.

Set the layer mode to overlay. Notice that the black border outside of the selection disappears as it overlays with the white background layer. If the stains don’t show up well, duplicate the layer with the shortcut button below the layers.

Write the Article

Now to add the actual article.  Your graphic might be an old police report, a classified ad, or something from The Onion.  I’ve used the “lorem ipsum” text and a catchy headline as an example.

Don’t use true black for the text; sharp colors like that show up harshly in the final composition.  Besides, by this time the ink would have faded from the clipping.  Change the text color to a darker version of your background color that’s almost black, but not quite; do this by dragging only the value slider in the color picker menu.

Your columns of text will likely not fit the clipping exactly, so you’ll need to trim off the excess. First, duplicate each of the text layers and discard the text information. Invert the selection so that you’ve selected everything outside the clipping.   Click on the rasterized text layers one by one in the layer menu and hit the “delete” key.  This won’t work if the layers still contain the text information.

Move those rasterized layers below the Crinkles, Stains, and Plasma layers so that the color and pattern in the paper also applies to the text.

How to Make a Newspaper Clipping in GIMP 2.8

And that’s it!

If this tutorial was helpful, let us know!  Tell us in the comments where you used an old newspaper clipping in your graphic designs.

Check out our previous GIMP 2.8 tutorial, “How to Make Old Paper,” for other techniques and tricks.

Our YouTube subscribers are the first to see video content from The Spare Room Project; subscribe to get ahead of the curve!

Spare Room on Facebook
Spare Room
The Spare Room Project is a community of artists dedicated to helping people realize their creative potential with the resources and space they already have. Some have found their voice again as we collaborate on music and audio production. Many have benefited from honest and practical articles about how to live a more creative life. All it takes to pursue your passions is to carve out a physical space for them – a bedroom, a corner, even a card table.

Pin It on Pinterest