3D Photo Effect with #GIMP

Hey gals and guys! 

I have been meaning to post this but I just did not have the time to do it.  So far, this is the most fun project I ever did. 

Let’s begin the fun! 

Start by selecting the photograph that you want to work on.  If it is your first time to do this,  it is best to pick a photo where the main subject that will be popping out of the background has good, clean lines.  It would be easier as well if the background is solid or fairly uncluttered just like the picture that I chose below. Then take note of the dimensions of your selected photograph. 

I chose this photo


Now, let’s set up the layers. Create a new blank image of the same size as the photo you plan to work with.  On top of that, open your original photograph as a new layer in your new blank image. You’ll now have two layers. Then add another new layer with transparency. This layer will hold the frame for your 3D photo. You’ll now have three layers (Figure 2): 

  • Background (bottom layer)
  • Photograph (middle layer)
  • Frame (transparent top layer)

Your layers should look like this


Once the layers are set, it’s time to make the frame.  On the most top transparent layer, create the frame for your new 3D photograph. This frame will be the like a white border around a printed photograph. 

How to: 

  • Select your main subject and as much background as you wish to include.


  • Fill the selection with white (with the use of paintbucket tool).


  • Reduce the selection (Select > Shrink) by 20-50 pixels or any frame width that you prefer.


  • Then cut out the center of the frame (Ctrl-X in Windows).

you now have a frame


If you are already satisfied with your frame, you can now change its perspective to obtain the angle that you desire. 

With the frame layer still selected, press Ctrl+ I to invert the selection. Then use the perspective tool (Tools > Transform Tools > Perspective) (Figure 7) to make your frame stand up behind and to the side of your subject or towards any direction you want.

Figure 7



Just push and pull the corners of the bounding box around until you get the desired angle (Figure 8). In the GIMP, you’ll see both the original and the new perspective until you click on the Transform button in the Perspective Toolbox.  You may also change the color of your frame just like what I did.

Figure 8: Changing the Perspective of the Frame


Now it’s time to remove the rest of the background that you don’t need by adding a mask. Select the middle layer (your original photo).  Right-click on it and select Add layer mask.  Select White (full opacity).

When you draw or paint on your mask you’ll want to draw or paint with the foreground color set to black.  At this point, your background is white.  You may find it helpful to switch to the background layer and fill the background with another solid color that contrasts with both your frame and the main subject of your photo to avoid confusion. You can choose any color as long as it is solid. When you begin the next step, the background color is going to show through and it’s helpful if it is not a color that blends with your frame and photo subject. 

After which, select the mask added on your middle layer (original image) then start removing the unwanted background with the use of the paintbrush tool (make sure your foreground color is black).  You may zoom in to get a closer look on the fine details that you want to remove. Once you have the mask like you want it, right-click on the photograph layer and choose Apply layer mask.  Your output should now look like the one below. 

No more unwanted background


You probably noticed that a part of your frame is cutting across a part of your main subject.  We’ll have to put that part behind the image by erasing it. 

Select the frame layer. Set the opacity 50%-60% or so to make it easier to see exactly where to edit the edges of the frame as it crosses in front of the subject of your photo.  You can also zoom in if it will be easier. 

With the use of the eraser tool, simply erase the part of the frame that is cutting across your subject (Figure 10) .  Reset the opacity of the layer back to 100% when you’re done. 

Figure 10: Erasing a part of the frame


Once you’re done, your image should like this: 


You now have your subject coming out of a picture! 

You can now play with it by adding a background that you like or add another image. You can make a story out of it as well by adding some text. See my finished product below. 

my finished product

My Source 


9 Responses to “3D Photo Effect with #GIMP”

  1. Mercia Says:

    My first impression was it works like photoshop and it works like photoshop(might even be better). What a lousy me.

    Great Share!

    • itsmeela Says:

      Mercia! thanks for visiting! yup! GIMP is very similar to Photoshop. I’m not sure if it’s better when it comes to functions because I haven’t explored photoshop as much as GIMP. However, it’s much better coz it’s free! 🙂

      Musta na?

  2. hey Ela! this is cool, your screen shots are always so helpful for visual learners like me =)

    • itsmeela Says:

      hey jayme! glad u like it! yes, screen shots are always helpful. i really try to provide as many screen shots as i can especially for beginners. it’s kinda hard to learn without them. are you trying them?

  3. Yes, I try to practice new stuff in between paintings. =)
    Do you think you will ever put one on scribd or somewhere so we can download?

  4. yes, that would be cool, if it was possible =)

  5. […] 3D Photo Effect with #GIMP March 2010 8 comments 5 […]

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