The cost of having a wedding can get out of hand nowadays (especially here in the US) with the need to pay for a venue, videographer, photographer, caterer, florist, DJ, etc. Hiring a graphic designer to design your wedding invitations, or paying for an online design service, shouldn’t add to your costs. This is especially true with free design programs like GIMP at your disposal.
In today’s tutorial, I’ll show you how you can easily design elegant, gorgeous, and simple wedding invitations that you can print yourself at home or take to a printer before sending them out to your friends and family members! I’ll be using GIMP 2.10 – more specifically the latest version at the time of this tutorial: GIMP 2.10.8.
Quick note: I have a video tutorial on this same wedding invitations GIMP tutorial on my YouTube channel which I recommend you check out!
Step 1: Create and Set Up Your New Composition
For starters, you’ll need to open GIMP and create a new composition. To do this, go to File>New, which will bring up the “New Image” dialogue box. Here, you can choose what size composition you want to create.
The size of your composition may depend on a few things. You’ll want your composition size to be the same size of the cards or paper you are printing them on. Additionally, if your printer requires any bleed or safe area, you’ll want to add these measurements to the file size. Finally, you’ll want to make sure you set the proper unit of measurement for your composition.
I’ll change the unit of my width and height to “in” – or inches – and will set my width to 4.5 in. and height to 6.25 in.
Next, I’ll click the “Additional Options” dropdown option (denoted by the red arrow in the image above) and will set the X and Y resolutions to 300 (making sure this unit is set to pixels/in). This is the best setting for print as it ensures that there are more pixels contained within each inch of the final printed composition – which means it will produce a higher overall quality.
I’ll then click on my “Fill with” dropdown box and will select “White” (shown in the image above). I’ll click OK to create the new Composition.
Now that I have my new composition, I want to make sure the colors I am viewing while working on my composition will look the same or at least very similar to the final colors when I print. To do this, I’ll go to View>Color Management>Proof Colors (shown in the image above). By clicking “Proof Colors,” you should now have that option checked, which means it is actively proofing your colors in the same or a similar color profile as your printer’s colors.
This will only work if you have CMYK soft proofing set up in your GIMP, which I show you how to do in this GIMP soft-proofing video tutorial.
The last things I want to set up before adding my design elements are the guides that will help me easily align objects in my composition while I work. I will just add some center guides by going to Image>Guides>New Guides by Percent.
Under “Direction:” I’ll choose “Horizontal,” and I’ll make sure the “Position (in %)” is set to 50. This will create a horizontally-centered guide on my composition. I’ll repeat this step, except I will change the Direction from “Horizontal” to “Vertical.” This will create a vertically-centered guide.
Step 2: Add Graphics to Your Invitation
You’ll want to add some sort of graphics to your invitation, and in my case I chose to use a free stock image of a branch that was painted using watercolors. I chose this graphic because it looked similar to the laurel branches that are often used in premium wedding invitations. You can download the watercolor graphic for free on Pixabay here (I downloaded the 512 x 1920 size). Don’t worry about the color of it for now – we will fix it shortly.
Once you have downloaded the graphic, find it in the folder location where you saved it (for windows users, you can click on the arrow next to your downloaded file at the bottom of your web browser and go to “Open File Location.”).
Click and drag the watercolor image from your file folder into your GIMP composition (drag and drop it into your GIMP composition). You will then be prompted with a message (shown in the image above) asking if you would like to convert the image from the color space embedded within the image to the native color space found within GIMP. To do this, just click the “Convert” button.
The watercolor composition should now be opened up into GIMP, though it will be a bit larger than what we want it and is orientated the wrong way. To fix this, grab the “Unified Transform Tool” (denoted by the red arrow in the image above) from your toolbox and click on the image. This tool allow us to perform multiple transformations all within one tool (it was introduced in GIMP 2.10). We want to scale, rotate, and move this image. By doing it all with one tool and in one action, we are preserving the quality of the image since each transformation reduces the image’s quality.
When you click on your image with the Unified Transform Tool, you’ll notice a series of boxes, diamonds, and circles that appear throughout the corners and midpoints of your image layer’s boundary box. When you hover your mouse over each of these icons, they will change your mouse pointer to represent the transform tool you are about to use. For example, if you hover your mouse over the large square in the top right corner of your image layer (denoted by the blue arrow in the image above), your mouse pointer will change to that of the Scale tool. If you hover just outside this large square, it will transform your mouse pointer to the rotate tool.
I will start by using the Rotate Tool feature (by hovering the mouse just outside the large square in the upper right of the image, as mentioned above), and will click and drag to begin rotating my object. If I hold the ctrl key, I can rotate the object in 15 degree increments. I will rotate the object 90 degrees so that it is now horizontal.
Then, with the Unified Transform Tool still selected, I’ll hover the mouse over the middle of the object to activate the move tool. I’ll then move the object up a little bit so that it is towards the top of our composition.
Finally, I’ll hover my mouse over the large square in the corner to activate the scale tool, and will click and drag my mouse inward to scale the object down. Make sure you hold the shift key while you are dragging your mouse to make sure you maintain the original aspect ratio of the object (this will ensure the object doesn’t look squished or fat).
Use the move tool feature one last time to vertically center the object on your image, then hit the button labeled “Transform” in your Unified Transform window (denoted by the green arrow in the image above). You can always go back and apply more transformations to the object if you need to, but keep in mind that each additional transformation will cause quality loss to the object.
Now, duplicate this object using the duplicate icon in the layers panel (denoted by the red arrow in the image above) and use the move tool (press “m” on your keyboard or grab the tool from your toolbox) to move the duplicated object towards the bottom of your invitation.
Next, use the scale tool to scale the object down further (click and drag using the scale tool to scale the object down). Remember to make sure the original aspect ratio is being maintained during the scale (you may need to hold shift or make sure the chain icon, denoted by the red arrow in the image above, is linked)! Click the “Scale” button when you are ready to apply the Scale transformation.
Then, grab the Flip tool (denoted by the red arrow above), make sure the Direction is set to “Horizontal” under the Tool Options, and click on the object once to flip it.
Step 3: Customize Your Graphics
Now that we have our graphics imported and orientated, we can now style them according to how we want the overall aesthetics of the invitations to look. I went with a gold foil for my graphics as I thought it looked elegant and it was easy to accomplish. To do this, I downloaded a free gold foil stock photo from Pixabay (I downloaded the 1280 x 853 photo) and imported it into GIMP the same way I did our other graphics (by dragging and dropping it into the GIMP composition).
To make the photo easier to keep track of, double click on the layer name in the layers panel and change it to “Gold Foil.”
Next, grab the move tool and move the Gold Foil layer up to about the center of the top object we created earlier.
To make this part simpler, I will also change the name of the object layers to “Top Branch” for the top object, and “Small Branch” for the object that we moved to the bottom of the composition (you can tell which is which by toggling the Show/Hide icon – which looks like an eye – next to each layer).
Now that we have our two object layers distinguished from one another, hold the alt key and click on the layer labeled “Large Branch.” This will create a selection area that outlines the object. Hit ctrl+i on your keyboard to invert the selection area or go to Select>Invert. This will now select everything outside the large branch object.
Right click on your Gold Foil layer and go to “Add Alpha Channel.” This ensures that when we erase any part of the Gold Foil layer, it will produce transparency rather than a background color.
Now, with your Gold Foil layer still selected, hit the “Delete” key on your keyboard. This will delete everything outside of the large branch object. Go to Select>None to deselect the selection area. Your large branch object should now have a gold foil color and texture to it!
Any part of the Gold Foil layer that goes off of the composition will not be erased, so you’ll want to grab your eraser tool and manually erase the area above the top of the composition (as demonstrated in the image above).
Then, go to Layer>Crop to Content to crop the overall layer size down to just the large branch gold foil object. If the layer doesn’t crop all the way down to the size of the object, it means you probably missed part of the gold foil and will need to go back over that area with the eraser.
Repeat these steps for the small branch object, though you’ll want to name the second Gold Foil layer “Gold Foil 2.”
Step 4: Add Your Text
Grab your text tool from the Toolbox and click towards the top of your composition to create a text box. For my first line of text, I typed, in all caps, “You are cordially invited | to the marriage of” with the line | representing where I hit enter to put the text on two lines (check for typos as I didn’t realize I had a typo here until a bit later in the tutorial). Change the color of the text to black using the Color option in the tool options, and select all of the text (click and drag your mouse from the start of the line of text to the end). You will know all of your text is selected as each letter will have a yellow box around it.
Change the font to any font you’d like. I went with Perpetua Titling MT Light for this text. I also changed the font size to 35 and added a line spacing of 29.
With my text tool still active, I’ll hold the alt key and will click and drag the text box so that it is center aligned and close to the top of the composition. We’ll go back once we have more items in our composition and adjust the exact placement of everything.
Click with the text tool lower in your composition to create a new text box. Now, in all caps again, type the name of your bride or groom (whichever you want at the top) – in my case I went with Jane Quincy (a fictitious name in my case). Now, select all of your text again and change the font to Quicksand (which you can download for free here from Fontsquirrel) and set the font size to 100.
Then, move the text into place again by holding the alt key and dragging it until it snaps to the center guide.
Click below this text box and repeat the above steps for the groom or bride (depending on which one you want to be on the bottom). I went with “Robert Smith,” another fictitious name, as my groom’s name.
After I added the bride’s and groom’s names, I then created an ampersand (“&”) symbol and placed it between their names. I used the font Windsong for this (which is another free font you can download from Fontsquirrel here) and set the size to 150.
Next, I created a new text box and added the time and location of the wedding, including the city and state at the very bottom (I used all caps for this text). I used the same font as the top bit of text – Perpetua Titling MT Light with a font size of 40 and line spacing of 29.
At the very bottom, I added a line of text that says “reception to follow” in all lowercase lettering. For this text, I used the font Windsong again, this time with a font size of 100.
Step 5: Add the Wedding Date
I saved this piece of text for last as there are a few extra steps to get everything properly in place. I’ll start by creating a text box with just the month (I used July) in all caps, using Quicksand Bold as the font with font size 50. Using the same font and font size, I clicked to create a new text box and added just the year (2019). Then, I clicked to create a third text box and added just the day (I used 20 for this example) – making the font size a little larger at 100 (shown in the photo above).
Once I had all three of these text boxes, I then grabbed my move tool and moved everything into place so that the 20 was in the middle of my image and the July and 2019 were on either side. Tip: hold ctrl and use your mouse wheel to zoom in on this part of the image while you align everything.
To make sure everything’s lined up correctly, grab a guide by clicking on the rulers at the top of your GIMP image window and drag down (denoted by the red arrow – the guide will be attached to your mouse until you release the click) until the guide is aligned with the top part of the “July” text. Add another guide and align it with the bottom part of the text (see the blue arrows in the photo above for an example of where to place the guides).
Once you have horizontally aligned your text, we’ll work on vertically aligning the text. Click on the “July” text layer in your layers panel. Then, grab the Alignment tool and click on the July text box. Under the “X offset” option under the tool options, add the value “-125” (denoted by the red arrow in the photo above). Then, click the “Distribute horizontal centers of target” button to align the July text (denoted by the blue arrow). It should now be 125 pixels to the left of the exact center of the image.
Repeat this step with the “2019” text, except you’ll want to change the “X offset” to “125” (i.e. make sure it is a positive number this time – denoted by the red arrow).
Step 6: Add Extra Detail Using the Paths Tool
Create a new layer and name it “Gold Path.”
Now that we have all of our text, we’ll want to add a bit of extra detail to our invitation to really impress our guests. I’ll do this using the Paths Tool (which is called the Ken Brewer paths tool on my channel thanks to our Diamond Member Patreon Supporter Ken Brewer).
Move the guide you placed just above the JULY text up a bit, and click and drag a new guide down to add it to the bottom part of the JULY text (so, you now have 2 guides, one above and one below the text).
Now, create two points with the paths tool (click for each point – denoted by the red arrow in the photo above), which will create a line above the text. Each point you created should have snapped to the guide to ensure it was a straight line. If not, go to View>Snap to Guides to make sure this option is checked.
Next, change your foreground color to whatever color you want the line to be (I went with gold).
Once you have your color, click “Stroke path” in the Tool Options. I set my Stroke line width to 3 – then clicked “stroke.” You should now have a gold line running just above your text.
Hold the alt key and click and drag the path so that it snaps to the bottom guide below the text. Stroke the path again using the same settings.
Go to Layer>Crop to Content to crop the Gold Path layer down to the size of the paths you created.
Hit the Duplicate icon in your layers panel to duplicate the Gold Paths layer (denoted by the red arrow in the image above).
Then, using your move tool, move the duplicated layer to the right side of your composition so that the paths are now hovering over the 2019 text. Tip: hold ctrl while you drag to keep your object in straight line mode. You may also need to move your guides out of the way by clicking on them and dragging them off the composition.
I repeated these steps to create a single path on either side of the ampersand (“&”) symbol. However, instead of using gold again, I changed the color to black (you can see the final result in the image below).
Once you have your stroked paths in place, you can right click on the copy layers and go to “Merge Down.” This will merge your copy layers with the originals, which will help to clean up your layers panel.
Go to View>Show Guides to uncheck this option, which will hide your guides. You can then re-position your text if need be using the move tool. Once you are ready to save, go to File>Save As to save the image as the native .XCF filetype (which will retain all the layers), or go to File>Export As to export it as any other file type like a JPEG, PSD, PDF, etc.
That’s it for this tutorial!
We have tons of other GIMP video tutorials and how-to articles like this one on our tutorials page – check it out!