lemme learn ya a thing or two.

all sorts of potential here.

Today, I'm going to show you how to essentially turn a 2D image into a 3D one in GIMP, without much effort on your part.


what is gimp?

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free [as in air] graphics editing program, made nearly entirely out of scripts. Users can program their own scripts and implement them, too! Unlike Photoshop, GIMP is:


  • Free to use & modify.
  • Open-source.
  • Not spyware.
  • Not resource-demanding.
  • Customizable.
  • Extremely feature-rich.


The sort of "ugly duckling" of the GFX tool world, GIMP is one of the most powerful tools one can use to create & edit images, PDFs, and (with certain plugins) 3D modeling. In this tutorial, we'll be using a built-in filter script that allows us to cast an image to an artificial 3D model. The image itself won't be 3D, but it'll take the form of a 3D model.



stuff needed

  • GIMP
  • An image
  • Your imagination


making art

Once you have GIMP downloaded & installed, open it up. Go to File > Open, and select the image you'd like to use. In my case, I'll be using an image of Peter Griffin from Family Guy where I removed his chin.



Now, go to Filters > Map > Map Object. You should have a menu appear. Go ahead and click the "Update preview live" option, so you can see your changes before you pull the trigger on them. Also, under the "Map to:" option, go ahead and select "Box", or whatever shape you'd like to map to as.



Perfect. Now, select the "Light" tab. Under "Lightsource type:" we're going to select the "Directional light" option. This'll add a more realistic light. To change the lightsource direction, feel free to experiment with the coordinate options. You can also change what color the light is!



Click "OK", and you'll generate your map!



Pretty cool, right?


there's a catch.

While you can do map casting like we just did, GIMP isn't designed to be an all-in-one replacement for something like AutoCAD or Blender. There are alternatives to those programs that I'd be happy to walkthrough later, but it should be noted that you shouldn't rely on GIMP for 3D modeling.


use your imagination!

As with anything, please experiment with this feature! There are plenty of options to map to 3D objects in GIMP, use different colors/effects, etc. so please don't feel limited! GIMP is also designed to be programmed to how you'd like it, so explore making your own scripts, too.



tutorials on whatever, daily. doesn't have to be tech-related, but it mostly is.