June 20, 2010


How to make a Hockney style Photograph in GIMP

David Hockney is known for his unusual panoramas that are made up of differently scaled and angled photos. To produce the ‘Hockney’ effect it is best done with multiple photographs that can be arranged later, but you can have a single photograph that you’d like to make into a multiple imaged panorama – with the use of GIMP!

'Hockney' Style Photography in GIMP

'Hockney' Style Photography in GIMP

1. Creating and/or Downloading

  • To make the individual images we need a rectangular brush (.gbr).
  • Either you can download my version 600 x 400 pixels (3:2), or make your brush with your preferred aspect ratio.
  • Open a New Document with 600 x 400 pixels, 72 resolution and Foreground Colour (Black):
  • Make the square black if not already, then File –> Save As, save as a .gbr with 25 spacing:
  • Then you must save it in your ‘brushes’ folder in your GIMP folder:
    C:\Program Files\GIMP-2.0\share\gimp\2.0\brushes (could be different)
Creating Rectangle Brush

Creating Rectangle Brush (Click to view larger)

2. Preparing Image

  • Open your image up in GIMP.
  • On your image layer, Right Click –> Add Alpha Channel.
  • Scale the “Background copy” layer larger than the original “Background layer: using the Scale Tool(Shift +T), or Image –> Scale Image:
  • Then crop the excess off around the edges with the Crop Tool(C):

Preparing Image (Click to view larger)

3. New Layers (Transparency)

  • Create a New Layer (Transparency) for each photo layer:
  • On the first layer (for the larger photo), grab the Brush Tool and begin selecting over main focal points of the photograph:
  • Brush Tool settings: 50% Opacity, and as shown:
  • REPEAT for second layer (hide above layers):
New Layers - Transparency

New Layers - Transparency (Click to view larger)

  • Attempt to select regions with no more than 30% overlap:
New Layers - Transparency

New Layers - Transparency (Click to view larger)

4. Selecting by Colour and Deleting

  • Now grab the Select by Color (Shift + O) and select the black rectangles in your transparency layers:
  • Invert the selection (Crtl + I), on the photo layer press delete (Edit –> Clear):
  • REPEAT for the second layer pair of layers (hide above layers):
Selecting by Colour and Delecting

Selecting by Colour and Deleting (Click to view larger)

Selecting by Colour and Deleting

Selecting by Colour and Deleting (Click to view larger)

5. Moving and Drop Shadow

  • Move your photo layers around to fill in the gaps. You can delete/hide the brush transparent layers now.
  • Now to add a drop shadow go, Filters –> Light and Shadow –> Drop Shadow:
  • Drop Shadow settings: 12,12,24,Black, 80%, as shown: (a larger radius might be better)
  • REPEAT for each photo layer:
Moving and Drop Shadow

Moving and Drop Shadow (Click to view larger)

6. Background – White

  • Create a New Layer and fill it with White:
Background - White

Background - White (Click to view larger)

That’s It! It is not exactly like the real thing, but it can be done better if you do individual layers for each section.

Another example of the ‘Hockney’ Effect:


Another Example! (Click to view larger)

May like to checkout this website too:

If you get stuck anywhere just comment below!

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
21 Comments Post a comment
  1. Trevor
    Jun 4 2013

    Hallo Mike,

    No worries. Thank you for the link. I’ll try it.

    Best Regards,

  2. Jun 3 2013

    Hi Trevor,

    Sorry for the delayed response.

    In short, yes you are correct. You may alternatively use a clipping mask:https://www.neoseeker.com/forums/87/t1316647-how-to-make-clipping-mask-in-gimp/

    You seem to have made quite a bit of progress, please let me know if you have any other issues.


  3. Trevor
    Jun 2 2013

    G’day Mike,

    I am amazed of your creative works and your tutorials. Great stuff, mate.

    I think this “Hockney Style Images Arrangement” tutorial is the toughest one.. and I got stuck on the following:

    From your tutorial,
    “4. Selecting by Colour and Deleting

    Now grab the Select by Color (Shift + O) and select the black rectangles in your transparency layers:
    Invert the selection (Crtl + I), on the photo layer press delete (Edit –> Clear):
    REPEAT for the second layer pair of layers (hide above layers):”

    1) is it Select by Color on the black rectangles in the transparency layers, right?
    2) Invert & Clear on the background photo, right? or?

    Please enlighten.

    Thank you.

    Cheers, Trevor

  4. Feb 8 2013

    Hey, how’s it going – not good?

    What part are you having trouble with, or just everything?


  5. helgard
    Feb 8 2013

    This tutorial is confusing, or perhaps i am stupid. Been trying for hours on GIMP 2.8 and 2.6. It simply does not work out.

  6. Oct 15 2012


    What are you having trouble with exactly?

    In that step, you are increasing the size of the top layer, you may see the subtle change in size in the following step; then crop the layer down to the original frame size.

    Good luck,


  7. johnlaurence
    Oct 15 2012

    I’m sorry but I’m really stuck on step (Then crop the excess off around the edges with the Crop Tool(C):) I can’t crop off the excess around the edges pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee HELP me I’m in big need for my project!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Jul 14 2012

    Man I like this. In fact it makes some of my dull pictures look quite good. Thanks a lot.

    My result is here:


  9. Oct 30 2011

    Hi John,

    You should add the alpha channel to both and copy them, or do them separately.

    I’m not sure which part cropping is needed – sorry, I haven’t used this process for a long time:)

    Yes, China town in Kuala Lumpur, a bustling part of the city!

    Please email me if you have any other problems!

    Good Luck,


  10. John
    Oct 30 2011

    Hey Mike
    I really want to learn this technique but I’m stuck from the ‘alpha channel’ step. Do I add the AC to the original image THEN make a duplicate THEN scale larger?
    Also I don’t get the cropping part. Where do I crop? Sorry but I think I’m missing the picture here. Hope you can help.

    p/s the last image of the Chinese scene – that’s Malaysia where I’m from.

  11. Apr 10 2011

    HI Elliofalcone,

    Firstly, you haven’t paid for the tutorials and do not have to use them – it is a free service for those who are interested!

    I am happy to help you where you are stuck, as I have for others, which then manage to complete the tutorial.

    I will clarify the first step for you, it is only if you would like to know how to make the brush-and possibly make further customisations-rather than the set brushes that gimp offers!

    Apr 7 2011

    As you can rapidly realise from my comments, I have started to use Gimp about 2 months ago.
    I am encountering ALWAYS the same problems with all tutorials, that is there is always one good reason to get stuck somewhere.
    If I need to be as skilful as you probably do, what is the purpose of your tutorials???
    Frustrated? OH YES
    at the beginning of your “HOCKNEY” tut, how many pictures do you open? is the picture of the brush downloaded one of them?
    when dowloading standard gimp, it comes (according to the program with the same brush as yours… then what?????
    Nothing personal, all other tutorials are the same (except for the JIGSAW)

  13. Mar 25 2011

    That looks fantastic, thanks for sharing – its great to see the results!

  14. Lina
    Mar 23 2011
  15. Mar 22 2011

    Hi Lina,

    Sorry about the confusion! For the step you are stuck on, you need to duplicate your original/background layer, which should create a “copy background”, then scale that layer so it is larger than your original. You can do this with the Scale Tool(Shift+S) or go Image–>Scale layer. Then just crop off the edges using the Crop Tool(C)!

    If you have anymore trouble then just comment or email me, I will give you a better description when I have time (maybe this weekend)!



    PS Interesting to hear that I have written a book on something I know vey little about:)

  16. Lina
    Mar 22 2011

    hmmmm…this is a little confusing…i got it all the way until you said “Scale the copy layer larger and crop the excess off with the Crop Tool”
    ok, so what do you mean there…like, i added the alpha channel and all that, but i couldnt understand what you were trying to say…so i skipped it, then you were all like 1st layer and 2nd layer…where did those come from???!!! grrr…please help me! oh yeah…i want to do this with the black eyed peas’ elephunk album cover if that does any good to solve the problem…oh yeah…P.S…I’m reading a book by an author named Micheal Scott hehe…its called The Alchymest. Its a pretty decent story…and its like a huge series theres supposed to be like 8 books!

    THANK YOU!!!!

  17. Feb 5 2011

    Hi Steven,

    You may need to restart gimp as well, but if you have tried that I would recheck the location of your brush:

    You must save it in your ‘brushes’ folder in your GIMP folder:

    C:\Program Files\GIMP-2.0\share\gimp\2.0\brushes (could be different)

    You can download the .gbr file if you like as well at the beginning of the tutorial!

    I am not aware of any plugin that can do this, but you could checkout the Gimp plugin registry.

    Reducing the opacity of your Paint Bucket Tool can be done in the sidebar panel.

    If you need any more help, or I haven’t answered it just comment or email me!



  18. Steven P. McCarthy
    Feb 2 2011

    I tried to create the .gbr file and refresh the brush in gimp and it never show up, i followed the instructions to a T, im kind of new to this program and not very familiar. Is there a place I can download a plug-in which could be used instead of the custom brush, or a way i can fill FG color with low opacity or something, i really love these Hockneys and cant wait to see how mine turns out, -regards

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