Interweaving Strokes


This is a quick tutorial on creating interweaving effect with paths generated by Vector Path and SpiroGraph plug-ins.

You’ll need a rotating brush to follow along, here is mine –  spirograph_brushes , or you can make your own, whatever…

Here is an example of the effect we’re after:

Interweaving Ornament

The below steps are there to just demonstrate an idea, you do not need to follow precisely.

Basic concept

Step 1

Create a new image, open Filters > > Vector Path. Select “Reverse Path” option in the plug-in dialog.


You will have generated two paths.


Step 2

Stroke each path with an animated brush on a separate layer.  In Gimp 2.8 brush doesn’t follow path correctly by default ( stroke is skewed).


The workaround for this is to set brush dynamics to “Dynamics Off” and select the “Emulate Brush Dynamics” option in the “Stroke Path” dialog.

interweave_tutorial_004 interweave_tutorial_005

This should make the brush follow the path correctly.

Now, you would have 2 layers with the path stroked from the opposite ends.

Layer 1:


Layer 2:


Step 3

Duplicate layer 2 and hide the original (for backup, in case you make a mistake and want to go back).


Now, delete parts of the superimposed layer to create interweaving effect.




Extending the idea

Building on this concept, another example.
Here is a path that has a spiral-like (i.e. telephone wire) progression in one direction.

To build more complex patterns, I like to make the base stroke more symmetrical. By following the steps outlined above,


my stroke now looks like this.


Next, I will  merge the two layers and call it Layer 1, duplicate it twice (duplicated copies flipped vertically). I will also move them on Y axis until I see pattern I like.
Place one of the duplicates below and one above Layer 1, like a sandwich 😉


Delete parts of the top layer again, to create interweaving effect.


You can repeat these steps as many times as needed and produce really complex designs. I will stop here though… 😉

With the SpiroGraph plug-in, process is the same.
Run the plug-in with Reverse option selected. Stroke the paths on separate layers. Delete parts of the top layer.


To add more complexity, merge the result, create another path, stroke it on a new layer, duplicate that layer, place one copy above and below the original.


Delete parts of the top layer.


Again you can go as complex as you want. Just keep track of all the layers and give them descriptive names. It can get messy!

You need a copy of a layer above and below each other layer you want it to interweave with. Then delete parts of those copies depending on “depth” you are in. Hope this makes sense.

Let me illustrate.


Here are the XCF Files I used for this demo.

If you have any questions or feedback, I’d be glad to hear from you. Use the comments below.




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4 Responses to Interweaving Strokes

  1. Cool stuff B&P; this is how I interleave things too but still wish there would be a more automated way to do this (that’s the lazy filter guy in my talking; lol). Thanks again for the update. :)

    • Believe me, I walked an extra mile on this – I even did a version of Vector Path with intersection detection algorithm! 😉 This is the only way to get consistent results so far.
      ..Again, as I said before, this would be a breeze if we had a 3D depth (i.e. Z axis) in Gimp.

  2. Command/Ctrl H is another method of toggling the vector path outlines. However it also toggles the visibility of other onscreen visual aids like Guides, Slices, and Color Samplers etc.

  3. d. Click the Stroke Path button at the bottom of the Paths palette. This will stroke your path with the brush settings you have. It will also use either the foreground color, foreground-background, or other colors, depending upon how you have set your color dynamics. And it will put this stroke onto the layer you have chosen for it.

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