April 18, 2010


How to make an ‘Obama’ HOPE Poster in GIMP

There are a few tutorials for this in Photoshop and Illustrator, but I haven’t found any for the GIMP, so I attempted it myself! It is a fairly simple method and easily done with great results!


My Hope Poster :)

1. Starting

  • Firstly choose your portrait – the less detail in the photograph the better the results!
  • Open in GIMP
  • Duplicate Original 4 times
  • Then Add Alpha Channel to all layers

Add Alpha Channel

2. Threshold (~ = APPROX.)

  • On First layer – Go, Colors –> Threshold
  • Set to ~25 as shown:
  • REPEAT for each layer:
  • Second Layer: set to ~50
  • Third Layer: set to ~100
  • Fourth Layer: set to ~130


3. Blur (This will make it smoother) (~ = APPROX.)

  • Now, for all layers again:
  • Go, Filters –> Blur –> Gaussian Blur
  • Set to ~2.00, ~2.00 (any more and they’ll be large white outlines later)
  • (Speed up the process by selecting your layer –>go, Filters –> Repeat ‘Guassian Blur’ , Ctrl F)


4. Remove Background

  • Grab the Selection Tool
  • Select the parts you don’t want to include:
  • Delete them from all layers (keep selection, then select layer – Press Delete)
  • The most detail will be on the Fourth Layer:

Remove Background

5. Delete the rest

  • Grab the Color Selection Tool
  • Select the white parts of each layer
  • Press Delete (You need to select the white parts for each layer, otherwise you’ll delete other things)

Delete the rest

6. Adding Colour

  • Select Layer – Right Click –> Alpha to Selection
  • First layer: Strip Pattern (download my version here) (goes in Pattern Folder of GIMP Folder)
  • For the Strips to fit nicely you may need to scale down the image(~350) or edit the .pat file!
  • Apply a little blur if you like!

Strip Pattern

  • Select Layer – Right Click –> Alpha to Selection
  • Second Layer: Creamy Colour: fbde90 (or you could use a Light Blue: 0087a1)
  • Settings as shown: (remember Fill Whole Selection)

Creamy Colour

  • Select Layer – Right Click –> Alpha to Selection
  • Third Layer: Red Colour: 820606 (or for a brighter red e7000a)
  • Settings as shown: (remember Fill Whole Selection)

Red Colour

  • Select Layer – Right Click –> Alpha to Selection
  • Fourth Layer: Blue Colour: 004754
  • Settings as shown: (remember Fill Whole Selection)

Blue Colour

7. Background Part 1

  • Create a new Layer:
  • Grab the Selection Tool
  • Go round the edges just slightly in off the edge, as shown:
  • Now, Fill the selection with the Blue Colour: 004754
  • Then use the Selection Tool again, but select one half (right), fill with Red Colour: 820606 (or for a brighter red e7000a)

Just inside the edge - Fill with Blue Colour


Fill the other half with Red Colour

7b. Background Part 2

  • Now, go Image –> Canvas Size
  • Adjust so it is slightly wider and the length is increased to fit some text (‘HOPE’)

Enlarge Canvas

8. Move

  • Now, go Right Click (on a layer) –> Merge Visible Layers
  • Then centre the layer in the middle-top, as shown:
  • Now create a new Layer and fill with a Creamy Colour: fcdf91


9. Add Text ‘HOPE’

  • Use the Text Tool
  • Whatever word you’d like underneath? (‘HOPE’)
  • Use Text: Franklin Gothic Demi
  • Size: ~180
  • If there is excess length or width just crop away!

Insert 'HOPE'

10. Adjusting Colours

  • If you’d like to experiment with colours, just Right Click (on a layer) –> Merge Visible Layerd
  • Then, go Colors –> Hue-Saturation

That’s it! Some parts are tricky so feel free to ask if you need clarification!

If you’d like to use these photographs please Contact Me!

Please comment below if you have any questions and I’ll answer them ASAP!

All images on this site are copyrighted© – All Rights Reserved.

Written by Mike

Michael Scott is the publisher and photographer behind Scott Photographics! He is very passionate about his photography and enjoys sharing the best of his experiences for others to enjoy too! Contact Mike via email!
Read more from Featured, Gimp, Tutorials
23 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 8 2020

    Hi Logan,

    Thank you for leaving a comment, could you please screen-cap the step you are up to or alternatively email me (including your file) via the contact page and I will investigate further for you:)

    Kind regards,

  2. Logan Eaton
    Jun 2 2020

    I’m having troubles at the threshold step. The values only let me range from 0 to 1. I’m using the 2.10.18 version if that’s why. I’m new to GIMP, so that may also be a reason why I’m confused.

  3. Christina
    Feb 16 2014

    Thanks for your tutorial. As someone mentioned above, I used much higher thresholds. Also instead of the gaussian blur I used the artistic filter “oil painting” to get a smoother and more simplified style.

  4. Jul 17 2012

    Haha, thanks:) Fantastic result, its great that you’re getting so much out of the tutorials!

  5. Jul 17 2012

    At school, we learned a bit of photoshop, but I decided to try out the Gimp, because I have loads of respect for the freeware community, and of course also because Photoshop is out of my financial league.

    Anyway, your tutorials convince me that the Gimp is outstanding, once you get the hang of it!! Thanks a lot man.

    My result is here:


    Mar 2 2011

    hey again,

    I actually used a “Tileable Blur” with a value of 2 to get a cleaner image (maybe you can’t tell). I did this after watching a photoshop tutorial for the same image, and he used something called a “Palette Knife” to really clean up the image. Well, the palette knife in my GIMP gives me an error every time I try, so I went through some different blurs and found Tileable Blur gave a rather nice result. At the very end I blurred the whole image with a gaussien blur of 2.

    A quick note for people who use your tutorial, it’s a good idea to trace your original image with the pen tool. This way you can remove the Background before going forward with the Threshhold, because some of us need to use really high values, and if you have a background most of it turns to black, just my 2 cents.

    Thanks again for the great tutorial :)

  7. Feb 28 2011

    Looks great. You can try blurring or trimmig the edges with the selection tool for better results – but that looks very nice!

    Great to hear and see the results



    Feb 28 2011

    Hey Mike,

    I tried it again, but this time it wasn’t 3am,

    Again, great tutorial and thanks for showing me this awesomess!! :D

  9. Feb 27 2011

    Nice job!

    Yeah, it is hard to have one set of values for all, but with some experimentation it works out nicely, as you have proven!

    Thanks for sharing:)



    Feb 27 2011

    Hey man great tutorial!

    You are right, it was a bit tricky. I had to use totally different values when doing the color threshold, but you laid the foundation and eventually I figured it out!

    Not nearly as good as yours, but heres mine: https://i906.photobucket.com/albums/ac261/SYAWEDIS/OBAMA-me.jpg

  11. Jan 21 2011

    Thanks for the very detailed response! I agree it is not as professional as the original, however it comes with using not the specific program used for the production of the original and a generalist approach from my side. You could go around each line and make perfect selections, but that would take alot of tweaking and a steady hand!

    Thanks for letting me know that it is more difficult for images at a much lower resolution and the values that I show are more suitable for larger images. I’ll recheck those and update some things – thanks for your brilliant feedback!


    Michael Scott

  12. The Mikeness
    Jan 17 2011

    Thanks for the general guide, as I’m not a GIMP pro I would not have known how to pull this off. I saw a guide that suggested using the posterize option in the Colours menu, but I gave up after finding out just how much more fine tuning it would have needed than your method.

    However, anyone trying to make their image look as close to the official “Hope” poster as possible should note that your colour values and layer order are WAY out in left field. The threshold values will actually vary based on your photo, in my case I started with a full colour photograph, fairly low res, different lighting, and a cheaper camera most likely (hint: use preview when picking values, and try to make each layer cause about the same amount of black to appear as the corresponding layer on the “Hope” poster). In my case, I had to use threshold values like 93, 147, 176, 203 or something like that.

    Here are the most “correct” colour values I could find, listed in corresponding layer order from top to bottom.

    dark blue 0c2d4c
    red d91a22
    light blue 71969f
    (then use scott’s cream+light blue pattern)
    cream fae3ad

    Also note that the image will look blurry as hell if you apply all the blurs that are suggested in the guide, UNLESS you are perhaps using an image larger than, say 1000×1500.

  13. Hunter
    Nov 23 2010

    thanks im glad someone made this i have been looking for it for a while :)

  14. Sep 5 2010

    Hi Jackie,

    I haven’t had that trouble before? Unfortunately I’m unsure of what to do, I’d recommend checking your layers, the size of your image and that they match the tutorial – may need to scale down your image for the pattern to show, or checkout the size of the .pat and whether it is working.

    If you are still stuck just email me or comment below.



  15. Jackie
    Sep 5 2010

    For whatever reason when i get to the step that requires me to download the pattern, it wont work when i got to fill the picture in. Any solution for this?

  16. Michael
    Jun 28 2010

    Yes, however this is better for making fine adjustments and fine tuning.

  17. Agent_Smith
    Jun 28 2010

    There’s a plugin for this. Way simpler than all this laborious task…

  18. Rod
    Jun 1 2010

    here is an older video of the tutorial by Meet The Gimp
    its a big file 46 mb dl

  19. Scott
    Apr 20 2010

    Nice work. Easy to follow and the finished product is very classy.

  20. Michael
    Apr 19 2010

    I use a Sony a350 :)

  21. Colin
    Apr 19 2010

    Cool, thanks a lot!
    I’ve wondered about how to make a logo like this…
    Which Sony do you have?

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