The following images were each created using a canvas of 32×32 pixels, a notable step up from the 8×8 dimensions of the first set:


This first image is a geometric pattern created using GIMP’s pencil tool. Its main feature and the focus behind its design is the incorporation of straight lines. I started with the X-shape (six lines), modified how they intersected, then worked outward one quadrant at a time.

These four images are the result of an exercise in using layers. The first image is the base layer, and the other three are modifications created in separate layers of the same file. When exporting the images, I toggled the visibility of the layers so that only two were visible at a time, i.e. the base layer and one of the others.

These four images mark a departure from the pencil tool in favor of the paintbrush and airbrush tools. Unlike the pencil’s “hard edge,” these tools have “soft edges.” Their colors are a mix of two or three hues, and areas of color painted with them blend together rather than appear visually distinct. You can understand, then, how useful they are for creating something like fire, the theme of these images.

The hardest part of the first, second, and fourth images was capturing the shape of fire. Even after studying several reference images, it took me a number of attempts before I was satisfied. The left-most image was made using the brush and was the first of these I created. It was also the most frustrating as a result. Beginning with the second image (my favorite), I learned my lesson and used more than one tool. It was not only easier, but the final results looked objectively better. In this image, a candle, I used the airbrush to create the flame and the brush to create the base. That the result ended up looking semi-photo-realistic was a happy accident.

For the third image, I decided to take a more abstract approach. I knew I wanted to create lava, but I wasn’t sure how well I’d actually be able to do that, so I opted instead to use the brush to create streaks over the background to simulate rock, and then I changed the color to create rivulets of lava, thus dividing the rock into “plates.” To make them look more like lava, I added small amounts of yellow in some areas before going over it all with white using the airbrush, which I thought would help simulate a glow.

The last image is somewhat macabre, but at this point, I was out of ideas for fire-related imagery. I used the brush to create a “stake,” used the pencil to create a stick figure “victim” and a rudimentary restraint (I couldn’t add detail without compromising the appearance of the figure), then switched the airbrush and painted fire over them, starting with red and moving to yellow before finishing with white. The effect, I hope, emulates looking through the flames to the stake and victim within.

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