Simple Heartbeat T Shirt Design with GIMP

Simple Heartbeat T Shirt Design with GIMP 1024 602 Nick Saporito

In today’s tutorial I’ll be demonstrating how to use GIMP to create a simple t shirt design where a subject from a photo is depicted within a heartbeat, or an EKG reading. This would be a great tutorial for beginners to follow as it’s a relatively simple task.

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The following is just a brief overview of the steps taken to create this design. Please watch the video tutorial at the top of the page for complete step-by-step instructions.

Heartbeat Design

Go ahead and open up your subject/photo with GIMP. For the sake of this tutorial I’ll be using a photo of my dog that I took earlier this summer.

Subject photo

If you’d like to follow along then feel free to click the photo above for a full resolution copy, otherwise you can use whatever photo you’d like.

First we will paste our photo into a new document sized at 1,280 x 1,280 pixels, then we’ll add a horizontal guide and use the Paths tool to start tracing an outline around the subject on a new layer.

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Tracing the subject

Use the horizontal guide as a reference point for the baseline of the design. Once you’ve finished tracing your subject, go ahead and turn off the visibility of the subject layer. You should be left with something like this…

Outlined paths

Now we will create a stroke from the path we’ve created. To do this simply go to Edit -> Stroke Path and set the input values to match the screenshot below.

Stroke path menu in GIMP

This should generate a 10 pixel width stroke around the paths you’ve created.

stroked paths

Now we will create a new layer and repeat the process, only creating a single shape that mimics an EKG reading.

Heartbeat design

Simply duplicate this layer a couple of more times and place them to the left and right of the subject tracing.

Combined paths

Now you can turn off the visibility of the background layer and crop the image relative to its contents.

Finished design with a transparent background

The finished design can be exported as a transparent PNG and uploaded to various different t shirt printing sites.

Finished design

And with that, our heartbeat design is complete! If you have any questions simply leave a comment below. As always, thanks for watching!

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Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design. A full portfolio and information regarding services offered can be found at

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