Create An Rubber Stamp Look in GIMP

This tutorial will show you how to achieve an over-inked rubber stamp look in GIMP. There are already several tutorials out there for getting a kind of rubber stamp look, but they all seem to focus on making the stamp look grungy and under-inked. They don’t look the way I want, so I did my own.

Here’s what I was aiming for (image courtesy of Dr James Kneale):


I like the institutional look of it, and I have a thing for recreating artificially aged/photocopied/stamped imagery. (It aligns with my love of stonewashed jeans JKJKJKJKJKJK). An Artificial Wabi-Sabi? It’s Worn By Sandpaper Instead Of Time? Actually, I hate fake weathered stuff, but I do like this institutional imagery.

The institutional look made me think about the graphics I create for my podcast, The Coiled Spring. I like the idea of a organization generating this content, and it has a lot to do with the kind of harmonised look of 1960’s Pelican textbooks, or the unreal but creepily realistic (but hopefully not plausible) Scarfolk Council.

Here’s what I ended up with:

cs blurred stamp


So how did I do it? Here are the steps, using the FOSS graphics software GIMP.

  1. Create your logo and text as usual. Obviously it has to be a single color. Make sure the logo and text is all on one layer.
  2. Make the color a bold blue to resemble the stamp ink. Alternatively, choose whatever color you damn well like.
  3. With the layer of your logo selected, select Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
  4. Set both H and V to 5px. Click OK.
  5. Click Filters > Enhance > Unsharp Mask.
  6. With the live preview switched on, play with the Radius and Amount settings, while watching the results in the preview window.
  7. Once you see results that look right, click OK. Maybe repeat the blur/unsharp mask steps.
  8. You now have an inky stamp. But there’s some more things you can do to make it not look too uniform.
  9. Copy the layer with your inky logo in it, just for safety.
  10. With the new layer selected, fiddle with the Transform tools. Use the following as much or as little as you think necessary.
  11. Using the Rotate Tool, rotate the layer 1 or two degrees.
  12. Using the Shear Tool, shear the layer a magnitude of 4 or 5.
  13. Using the Perspective Tool, distort the perspective of the layer a little bit.
  14. The purpose of the above tweaks is to give the effect of a rubber stamp that distorts and smears a little when pressed onto paper.
  15. One more thing you could do is to make it look like not all the stamp came in contact with the paper. Here’s how you do that.
  16. With another copy of your inky logo layer selected, click Layer > Mask > Add Layer Mask.
  17. In the Mask dialog, Initialize Layer Mask to be White (full opacity).
  18. Select the mask in the Layers palette.
  19. Using the Blend Tool with the default black to white gradient selected, click and drag from the one of the corners into the layer a little bit. This will have the effect of making the corner of the inky stamp fade in from the corner, as if the stamp wasn’t pushed hard enough.
  20. You can copy the layer as many times as you like, but make sure that each time, you repeat steps 10 through 19, to make each example different.

Here endeth the tutorial.

I do like creating these graphics for the podcast. I just need to get back to making the podcast itself. Luckily there are some rumblings, partly due to the improv stuff I’ve been doing. More on that later!