Turn Photos Into Logos with GIMP

Turn Photos Into Logos with GIMP 1024 602 Nick Saporito

In today’s tutorial I’ll be demonstrating how you can take a photo and trace it into a whimsical-style hand drawn logo using GIMP version 2.10. The following is just a brief outline of the steps taken. For complete step-by-step instructions and voice narration, watch the video tutorial at the top of the page.

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Tracing Photos with GIMP

The first thing we’ll need is a photo of a subject you’d like to trace. For this tutorial, I’ll be using a photo of my hand that I took using my phone. Download the photo below if you’d like to follow along with what I’m doing, otherwise feel free to grab your phone and take a picture of your own hand (or anything else for that matter.)

Hand photo

Click to download

The first thing we’re going to do is remove the saturation from the photo then use the Curves function to deepen the shadows a bit.

Saturation removed

Next, we’ll create a new partially-transparent layer on top of the photo and use the paintbrush to trace around the outline of the subject. Don’t worry about the lines seeming whimsical and not precise — that’s actually the look we’re going for.

Traced outline

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Now reduce the size of the brush and start tracing the inner shadows of the subject.

Inner shadows traced

To fill in the shadow areas we’ll use the Bucket Fill tool.

Bucket filled areas

Now we can bring the opacity back up to 100% and use the Threshold function to make the sketch entirely black.

Finished tracing

Creating The Logo

Now that the tracing is complete, it’s time to make it into a logo. Open a new document sized at 1,280 x 1,280 pixels and place horizontal and vertical guides at 50%, then use those guides as a reference to create a black circle in the center of the canvas.

New document with a black circle

Next, we’ll drop the opacity of the circle to 50%, then paste the hand tracing as a new layer and place it within the circle, but with the fingers protruding from the circle.

Imported tracing

Grab the Eraser tool and start erasing the portions of the circle within the hand.

Erased segment of inner hand

Now we can bring the opacity of the circle back up to 100% and add a white outline to the entire design.

Finished logo design

And with that, our logo is complete! You can now export it as a PNG with a transparent background and use it however you’d like.


Get Started with GIMP!

Want to learn more about how GIMP works? Check out The GIMP Series – a comprehensive collection of over 60 videos where I go over all of the major tools, features and function in GIMP and explain what they do, how they work, and why they’re useful.


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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 LogosByNick.com.

All stories by: Nick Saporito
  • DRE

    I am trying to follow the tutorial 4 the hand logo and I am not seeing how to change the size of the brush. I am completely stuck because my layout on my screen using gimp looks different from your horse. The bottom left side of the screen on gimp is empty on my screen

  • Chris Worthington

    What’s super awesome about this (aside from the finished product) is that you have both a video AND the instructions on site. Videos are nice but they’re hard to follow step by step sometimes. Having such a beautifully laid out instruction set is nice for people like me who have to keep pausing videos.


  • Doug Cooke

    Hey Nick,

    Huge fan of yours. You seem to be my only reliable resource for helping to turn my creative passion in to a lucrative career (without having to pay for Adobe Illustrator 😂). Inkscape has been my main tool for creating logos, but GIMP has proven to be an invaluable option for doing mockups to use on my website or to share on social media.
    Just from following your tutorials, both of these programs have become a lot more intuitive for me. Another option on this specific “zombie hand” tutorial would have been to merge down the layer you created to add the white outline around the fingers with the original white circle. That way, you wouldn’t have needed to create the layer mask. Just a thought.
    Anyways, keep up the great work. You are extremely talented and I will continue to learn from you on a regular basis. Thank you for being a wealth of knowledge and sharing it with the world.

    Best Regards,

    P.S. I downloaded your eBook about logo design and that has helped me tremendously! Thanks again.

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