Android design for CafePress tshirts

I spent most of my developer time yesterday futzing with GIMP. GIMP is great, but like every other image editor it seems to be designed to frustrate. I just wanted to take one of the stock android images, blow it up, fiddle with it a bit, and add a “toast” at the bottom with some text – for a tshirt design. Someone with experience could probably do this in a few minutes. Took me hours.

First, turning the Google provides into an image. When I imported it, I could choose the size of the image to produce, but that wasn’t the size it actually produced. I think it had something to do with calculating DPI instead of pixels, but whatever that was about it’s pretty confusing. Once I got it large enough, I wanted to just move the android’s arm. Easy, right? Well, not as easy as I remembered. I  selected the arm, and then went to move it… and the whole picture moved. WTF? There’s a box in the move tool for moving the selection vs the layer, so I clicked that… moved the selection box instead of the contents? Believe it or not, it seemed to be easier to make two separate layers, then delete stuff from each to make one the arm, and one everything else, then move/rotate the arm layer; and even then I had a time of it because the layer boundaries on the arm would clip it when I rotated. Just a nightmare.

Well, of course there had to be a better way, and when I was constructing the toast, I consulted Google and found others complaining about the same feature (evidently this is new in GIMP 2.6 – I recall a simple move doing the job before). I forget where I read it, but the best thing anyone said was to cut (Ctrl-X) then paste (Ctrl-V). This creates a floating layer – you can move/rotate/transform the layer as desired, then anchor it back to the layer it came from. Good thing I have at least an inkling what layers are about. There’s probably some better way to do this, but it’s not too bad.

I had fun fiddling with the color tools. Somewhere along the way I accidentally changed the green of the android (didn’t notice until I’d uploaded to the store and had everything set up – can’t decide now which I like better). I learned that when you export to a PNG, the “Flatten layers” option turns transparency into your background color, while “Merge layers” leaves transparency intact. This is important especially for black CafePress tshirts – evidently black ink on a black shirt is unsightly, so it’s best to leave the background transparent for that medium.

So now I have a store front with my design. I really like the idea of the android plus the toast. And unlike everyone else who’s doing this, I actually put the CC attribution in the tiny text at the bottom (we’ll see if it’s readable on the shirt). I bought myself a black and a white, so we’ll soon see how I like it in the physical world.


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