How to make a long shadow, flat icon using Gimp!

Flat icons are everywhere! I can see 15 of them on my desktop alone! And now I’m going to show you how to make one in Linux.

First launch Gimp. If you don’t have it installed already on Ubuntu just type in:

sudo apt-get install gimp

Once you have Gimp installed and have it open we will need the following windows:

  • Layers
  • Toolbox
  • Tool options
  • Colors

To add new windows go to Windows>>>Dockable Dialogs in the menu.

Okay, so now we have our setup like the picture below and we need to make a new document for the icon.

Blank gimp layout

To make a new document go to File>>New.

Make the width and height both 750 pixels – we can scale it down later. And click OK.

Next take the rectangle tool from the toolbox. Then put your mouse on the corner of the white square and drag it diagonally to the opposite corner. Next, in the tool options window click on rounded corners. Then set the radius slider to 100.

Now pick the paint bucket tool from the toolbox.

Next using the colors window, pick a color. For this demonstration, I will use blue. Once you have a color picked, and you have selected the paint bucket tool, just click on the rounded rectangle.

Gimp

The next step is to find a symbol that is free to use. One of my favorite places to look is Google’s material design icon library or materialdesignicons.com and combine a few. I’m going to make an icon of a computer connected to WIFI so I’m going to go the material design library and find a few symbols.

Now that I have my icons, it’s time to put it all together! Go back to Gimp and under File go to ‘Open As Layers’. Then select the symbol you downloaded.

Gimp

Now in the layer window right click on the layer that was just created (it’s called whatever the image name was) and click scale layer. And type in whatever size you feel appropriate. Do the same thing on another layer if you uploaded multiple symbols.

Gimp

Now it’s time for the long shadow! We must take the lasso select tool from the toolbox and make a tracing of part of the image. Refer to the image below.

Gimp

Zoom in onto the picture, there are more lines than you think

To select an area (as shown above) click on the corner of the symbol (in mine it is the yellow mark). But remember to take a look at the ruler on top and remember the position (in mine it is 3 lines past 500). Now move your mouse off of the symbol but keep it inline with the edge of the icon, then click. Next, move your mouse to under the first mark or to the coordinate that we noted earlier and click. Now move your mouse over to the other corner of the icon and click. Then trace the edge of the drawing by making these straight segments by clicking. But remember not to do it fully! Once you reach the first mark, click on it. Now take the paint bucket tool, select black in the color window and in the tool options window and make the opacity slider 35. Next, click on the selected area. And voila! You’ve made a long shadow flat icon!

Bonus

To make the shadow fade into the background, undo the last step and take the blend tool, making sure that the opacity is set to anywhere from 30-35, and press and hold from the bottom right corner of the symbol to the bottom right corner of the icon.

Best office suite for Linux

Office suites are a highly debated topic in Linux and finding the right one for you can be tough. In this article I will be comparing two of the biggest: Libre Office and Calligra.

Lets start out with the apps in the suite. Calligra has many more apps for a more diverse experience, whereas Libre packs the punch in six focused apps plus a hub which puts all of your recent documents and templates together in one app. The apps that Libre come with are:

  • Writer (Word processor)
  • Calc (Spreadsheets)
  • Impress (Linear presentations)
  • Draw (Drawings)
  • Math (Formula)
  • Base (Data Base)
Libre office hub

Libre Office app. All recent files apear on the right

Personally my favorite is Calligra because it is very customizable (Not surprising, it being a KDE app) compared to the only customization feature on Libre, Extensions. But anyway most extensions are very old and not usable on newer versions of Libre. The apps that Calligra come with are:

  • Braindump (Sort of like a drawing app but is meant to “dump and organize the content of your brain [ideas, drawings, images, texts…] to your computer… It works by allowing to create and edit whiteboards, which are infinite canvas on which you can add texts, images, charts, drawings”)
  • Flow (Flow charts)
  • Karbon (Vector art)
  • Kexi (Data base)
  • Krita (Sketching and painting)
  • Plan (Project management)
  • Stage (Linear presentations)
  • Sheets (Spreadsheets)
  • Words (Word proccesor)

What I don’t like about Libre are the toolbars. I feel everything is jumbled up and icons don’t even align!. However in Calligra it uses a vertical arrangement, like a sidebar and a toolbar. Plus you can add panels, icons, toolbar shortcuts and so on.

Calligra Words with its sidebar

Calligra Words with its sidebar

Word processor

One of the main apps in an office suite is the word processor. So lets check ’em out!

One of the first things that you notice when you open the apps up is that Calligra presents me with options of templates. Secondly, Calligra uses system icons and GTK but Libre does not. Another thing is that without the vertical bar the menus where very crowded on Libre whereas in Calligra the menus are very small and more friendly because all of the settings are in the toolbar or the vertical menu. Also I found it very annoying to use Libre, because you are constantly in menus trying to find things. The only major con for Calligra is that you can’t use it very well in half screen mode because of the sidebar using up so much space.

Libre complex menus

Libre with its own icons and complex menus

Spreadsheets

If you are anything like me and are always dealing with spreadsheets, this app is another very important one for you.

The layout of the apps aren’t much different and all the pros and cons carry over. Another thing I noticed was that in Calligra everything was labeled so it was easy to find, whereas in Libre there were only icons, except in the top menu bar.

Presentation

Slide shows apps are a staple of office suites so why not compare them?

When opening up Calligra I find a massive amount of templates to chose from. One thing that is very visible is a sidebar on Libre Impress. It holds layouts, animations and more. Another thing was that with Calligra I could just start making a slide show but in Libre it was quite hard for me to understand what to do.

Drawing

How can I explain how much Calligra wins this. Calligra has 3 drawing apps compared to one app in Libre.

I think by what I have shown you Calligra is a much better office suite.

EDIT: Calligra does have a hub sort of thing called Gemini but it seems to be quite buggy. It only supports presentations and text documents. But instead of launching Words or Stage it launches it in Gemini. From what I can see the Gemini version is identical.