Category Archives: Photography / Illustration

“Piece of the Artic” Pie Chart Photo Manipulation

I saw some beautiful 3D illustration of Madagascar that inspired me to create this illustration. In this tutorial, I’ll share my experience in recreating this illustration. This tutorial will utilize Photoshop 3D features, layer masking, and a lot of selections.

Preview of Final Results


Piece of the Artic Pie Chart Photoshop Tutorial


Step 1

Create a new layer (Ctrl+N) with 1600x1200px wide and resolution is set to 150dpi. Create a new layer, fill it with solid 50% gray color.


Step 2

Create a 3D shape by accessing menu 3D > New Shape From Layer > Cylinder. Use one of the 3D Object tool to reduce the cylinder’s height as seen below.


Step 3

Increase the cylinder size by dragging up the middle square in the 3D Axis, see image below.


Step 4

Still using the 3D Object Rotation tool, adjust the perspective like shown below. Show the 3D panel by going to Window > 3D menu. Inside the 3d panel, click scene button to see option about material and render settings. Click the Edit button to show the 3D Render Settings dialog, we need to see some wire frames for guidelines, so check the second option (wire frame box icon), then adjust Crease Threshold value to 0. Click OK to apply changes.


Step 5

Convert 3d object layer into a raster layer, then create a new layer above it. Using solid round brush, draw a guideline to mark the area we’re going to cut.


Step 6

Create a light blue (RGB: #6dcff6) ellipse using ellipse tool, make sure you create it below the guideline layer. Using Edit > Free Transform Path command to adjust ellipse’s width and height. Don’t forget to hit Enter when you’re done transforming.


Step 7

Create a new ellipse shape below the first one, notice that I rename the layers for easier recognition. Use free transform command to adjust ellipse’s width & height, following the 3d model as guidance. This process will be easier if we can look the 3d model, so reducing the layer’s opacity surely will help us. As for the bottom edge part, use warp command to bend it. Hit Enter when you’re done.


Step 8

Still in the layer bottom, select Pen tool from tool bar. Activate subtract from shape area option, then follow the guidelines to create a triangle-like shape. Because we’re using subtract from selection mode, the triangle will ‘cut’ the ellipse as seen below.


Step 9

Click layer top thumbnail, then repeat the same step as before to cut the ellipse using Pen tool.


Step 10

We don’t need the 3d model layer anymore, so you can hide or delete it now. Still using Pen tool, create the left, inside & right shape (I assume you already know how to use Pen tool). For easier recognition, I suggest using different blue color tone for each shape. Make sure the layers order from top to bottom are like this: layer top, right, inside, left, bottom (see image below for more details).


Step 11

Now you’ve done creating the 3D pie, hide or delete the guideline layer since we no longer need it. The next step is adding texture, but first you have to decide where to put the light source. You don’t have to draw a polygonal shape to do this step, just visualize in your mind that the light source is from the top right corner (as seen below). Knowing the light source will make your work easier, because you know where to draw shadows and highlights globally.


Step 12

Open the water image (File > Open). Press Ctrl+A to select all parts of the image, then press Ctrl+C to copy it to clipboard. Get back to 3D pie image and press Ctrl+V to paste the water image. Make sure you place it above the TOP layer and name it wave.


Step 13

Still on the wave’s layer, reduce its size by pressing Ctrl+T (hold the Shift key while dragging the corner control point, this will keep the aspect ratio of the image so it didn’t look squeezed or stretched). Hit Enter when you’re done transforming. And since we’re agreed the light source is come from the upper right corner, we need to flip the wave by using Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal menu. That’s look better!


Step 14

We need the wave image as a texture for the top shape layer. In order to do that, simply press Ctrl+Alt+G and voila, you’ve got the clipping mask layer.


Step 15

Duplicate the wave layer, then drag it down between left and bottom layer. Create a rectangle-like selection using the Rectangular Marquee tool.


Step 16

Invert the selection by pressing Ctrl+Shift+I then press Delete, this step will erase the selected areas. Now deselect by pressing Ctrl+D. To make sure there is no part of the wave image outside canvas, press Ctrl+A to select all part of the canvas, then go to Image > Crop.


Step 17

Still in the same layer, go to Edit > Transform > Warp then warp the image following the 3D model side curve. See image below for more details.


Step 18

Duplicate the wave copy layer, then place each image on top of left and right layer. After that, make each one of them ( wave copy layer ) as a layer clipping mask. Result of this steps can be seen in the image below.


Step 19

Select the wave copy 2 layer (the one on top of right shape layer) then change the blend mode to Multiply. Make it blur by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur menu, adjust Radius value to 5px then click OK.


Step 20

Repeat previous step for the other wave image placed on top of left shape layer. To apply the same Gaussian Blur filter, simply press Ctrl+F. When you’re done, select the left shape layer’s and reduce the opacity to 70%. This will make the left shape become transparent.


Step 21

Go back to right shape layer’s, we need to tweak this layer so it look transparent as the left shape. Reducing the layer opacity will simply work, but I didn’t want the entire right shape became transparent. So I decide to add a layer mask, then use a black-soft round-Brush tool with low opacity (around 10-20%) to mask some areas so the transparency is applied only on certain parts (i assume you already knew how to do masking with brush tool).


Step 22

Copy-paste the water texture image once again, don’t forget to decrease its size. Make sure you place this new water texture layer on top of inside’s shape layer, then create a selection using Rectangular marquee tool. Now Inverse (press Shift+Ctrl+I) the selection, delete the selected area then deselect ( press Ctrl+D ).

Still in the same layer, make it as clipping mask (press Ctrl+Alt+G) and then go to Edit > Transform > Distort. Distort the water texture until it the perspective’s feel right. Press Enter when you’re done.


Step 23

Same as previous step, change layer blend mode to Multiply then apply Gaussian Blur filter. Later on, reduce the “inside” shape layer opacity to 70%.


Step 24

Open and copy-paste the sand texture image into our working document. Place it on top of ‘bottom’ shape layer then decrease its size using the free transform command.


Step 25

Transform the sand texture using Edit > Transform > Distort command, making the perspective view like shown below. Don’t forget to press Enter when you’re done transforming.


Step 26

Next, make this layer as a clipping mask layer by pressing Alt+Ctrl+G then change the blend mode to Linear Light. This step also finish the ‘adding texture-part’ of this tutorial.


Step 27

Create a new clipping mask layer between sand texture and ‘bottom’ layer, change the blend mode to Overlay then draw shadows using soft round Brush with low opacity. When using Brush tool, remember the light source we mention at the beginning as your reference where to put shadows.


Step 28

Repeat creating shadows for each shape layers. But don’t change the blending mode, leave it normal instead. See image below if you need guidance.


Step 29

Get back to sand texture layer, we need to sharpen it a bit by using Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask menu. Inside the Unsharp Mask dialog, adjust Amount and Radius value as seen below. Click OK to apply the filter.


Step 30

I think we need to sharpen the top most wave layer to make it more convincing as real sea wave. Select the wave layer and repeat the Unsharp Mask filter, by simply pressing Ctrl+F. We need to tweak the wave color balance since I think more darker blue is better. To do that, we’re using Hue/Saturation ( press Ctrl+U ) and Levels ( press Ctrl+L ) command.


Step 31

Select layer shape ‘bottom’, add a layer mask in this layer. Then using soft round Brush tool with low opacity, mask the shape’s edge ( the upper-right parts ). As you can see, the result does imitate ‘depth of field’ when you look something underwater.


Step 32

To keep organize, put related layers inside a group/folder. This will bring out four different group which is named ‘top’, ‘inside’, ‘left’ and ‘bottom’. If you using Photoshop CS3 or the later version, you can do this step easily by Ctrl+Clicking related layers then press Ctrl+G.


Step 33

Open the cruise image. Grab Pen tool from tool bar, then start creating selection path to isolate the cruise.


Step 34

Go to Window > Paths or simply click the Paths tab to show the Paths panel. Now click the Load Path as Selection button to convert those paths into a selection marquee. Copy-paste the selected cruise into our working document.


Step 35

Using free transform command, reduce the cruise’s size. Make sure you place this cruise layer on top of layer group ‘top’.


Step 36

Go to Image > Adjustment > Color Balance or simply hit Ctrl+B to bring the Color Balance dialog. Adjust Color Levels value until the cruise color become more bluish, this will imitate the ambient color from the water texture, making the cruise color blend with the environment. Click OK to apply color balance command.

Water reflect things, right? so we’ll need to create one for the ship, adding realism. First, you need to duplicate the cruise layer (Ctrl+J). Then drag down the cruise copy layer below the original one.


Step 37

Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical to flip the ‘cruise copy’ image. Do some distortion here by using the Edit > Transform > Distort menu, hit Enter when your done. Now add a layer mask in this layer because we’ll going to hide half of the ‘cruise copy’ image using layer mask.


Step 38

Grab the Gradient tool, and draw linear gradient vertically from white to black (make sure the layer mask is active when you did this). There you go, looks like a reflection isn’t? but we’re not finished yet, some shadows is needed for adding realism and depth.


Step 39

Still in the same layer, add Color Overlay layer style. Choose a dark blue color, and reduce the opacity to get the semi-transparent color effect.


Step 40

We need some minor tweak for the ship’s reflection. Click back the layer mask of ‘cruise copy’ layer. Use soft round Brush tool to mask shadow’s front and back edge (marked with red circle in the image below). That’s better!


Step 41

Open the first iceberg stock image. Since the color between iceberg and ocean are contrast enough, you can easily create a selection using Magnetic Lasso tool. Copy-paste the selected iceberg into our working document.


Step 42

Decrease iceberg size using free transform command. Make sure you put iceberg layer on top of cruise layer group (I’ve been grouping those layer before doing this step), name it ‘iceberg01’ since we’re gonna add second iceberg later.


Step 43

This iceberg need reflection, so first thing is to duplicate iceberg01 layer then drag down the iceberg01 copy layer below it. Then go to Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical to flip the ‘iceberg01 copy’ vertically. Use Move tool to drag down iceberg01 copy image, you’ll see it’s rather difficult to create reflection if the image has this kind of perspective.


Step 44

Lets begin with the left part of iceberg reflection, create a simple selection using Lasso tool. Press Ctrl+J to copy selected areas into a new layer, then use free transform command to rotate it clockwise. Try matching the upper edge part with the original iceberg above it, press Enter when done.


Step 45

Go back to ‘iceberg01 copy’ layer and rotate it counter clockwise, it will not perfect but try to align the upper edge with the original iceberg above it. And yes, you probably want to stretch it a bit like I did ( shown in the image below )


Step 46

Erase the excessive iceberg reflection using Eraser tool, see image below for guidance when erasing.


Step 47

To make the reflection color becomes darker, add Color Overlay layer style for each iceberg copy. Pick a dark blue color with low opacity.


Step 48

A reflection usually faded, right? so, add layer mask for each ‘iceberg copy’ layer and then mask it using linear Gradient tool until you get this result ( see image below ).


Step 49

Notice the excessive part from the ‘iceberg copy’ layer, we didn’t want that annoying part. Click the thumbnail of layer ‘iceberg copy’, and then erase the annoying part using Eraser tool. See image below for guidance when erasing.


Step 50

Create a new layer between iceberg01 layer and its reflection layer. Then load a selection by Ctrl+Clicking the thumbnail of iceberg01 layer. Press Shift+F5 to bring the Fill dialog box, select black and reduce Opacity to40%. Click OK to fill the selection with low opacity black.


Step 51

Press Ctrl+D to deselect. Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur menu, adjust Radius value: 5px. Click OK to apply Gaussian Blur filter, now you got shadows surrounding the iceberg. We didn’t need shadows on the upper part of the iceberg, so just delete it using Eraser tool.


Step 52

Create another new layer on top the previous layer, change the blend mode to Soft Light. Ctrl+Click on the iceberg01 layer thumbnail to load selection, then Fill it with 100% black. Using move tool, drag the new iceberg shadow to left like shown in the image below.


Step 53

Still in the same layer, add a layer mask into it. Mask certain parts using Brush tool to hide unwanted shadow areas. See image below for guidance.


Step 54

Open whale image, create selection of the whale using any selection tool you like ( I’m using Magnetic Lasso tool ). As usual, copy-paste the selected whale into our working document. Place it between layer group ‘cruise’ and ‘iceberg01’, lets call this layer ‘whale’.


Step 55

Adjust whale size using free transform command, and then go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal to flip it.Create a new layer, name it ‘splash’ because we’re gonna draw some water splash in this layer. Grab Brush tool from the toolbar, pick a spatter brush and lower the opacity to 50%. Choose white as brush color then click several times ( don’t click and drag, the result will be different ) in certain areas where water splash should appear, use your imagination.


Step 56

Open the second whale image. Select the whale silhouette (I’m using magic wand tool to select it), then copy-paste selected image into our working document.


Step 57

Place whale silhouette layer below whale layer, rename its layer to ‘shadows’. Flip whale silhouette horizontally then resize until it fits the whale body. Erase unwanted shadows parts using hard round Eraser tool, see below image for guidance.


Step 58

Now we need to fake the ‘deep underwater’ blurry effect, using Blur tool with 50% strength (see below image for guidance). Add layer mask, then using the soft round Brush tool with 25% opacity, mask whale’s shadow to create the semi-transparent look.


Step 59

Add a new layer between whale and shadow layer, we’re gonna add more shadows in this layer. Ctrl+Click on the layer whale thumbnail to load a selection, then go to Edit > Fill menu. Inside the Fill dialog, choose 100% Black and then click OK to fill the selection. You won’t see the result since it covered by the whale layer.


Step 60

Rotate whale’s shadow to left, erase unwanted parts using hard round Eraser tool with 100% Opacity.


Step 61

Change the blend mode to Soft Light and reduce the Opacity to 75%. As usual, keep organize by grouping the whale-related layers into one folder.


Step 62

Open shark image, create selection for the shark ( I’m using Pen tool to do it ). As usual, copy-paste the selected shark into our working document.


Step 63

Place shark layer between ‘inside’ and ‘left’ group. Change the blend mode to Luminosity and adjust shark size and position like shown in the below image.


Step 64

Go to Image > Adjustment > Shadows/Hightlights menu, adjust shadows amount to 50% then click OK to apply. Shark image will be much brighter then before.


Step 65

Create a new layer below shark layer, we call it ‘shadows’ because shark’s shadow will be drawn here. Load shark selection by Ctrl+Clicking the shark layer thumbnail. Press Shift+F5 to bring up the Fill dialog and choose50% gray to fill the selection.


Step 66

Change blend mode to Multiply and reduce Opacity to 75%. Use Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur with radius: 5pxto blur the shadows. After that, use Edit > Transform > Distort command to adjust shadow size and distortion.


Step 67

Go back to shark layer, blur certain parts of the shark using Blur tool with 50% strength, faking the depth of field effect.


Step 68

Still in the same layer, press Ctrl+Shift+U to desaturate shark’s color. We also need to fake the lens distortion effect, first thing to do is create a selection in the tail area using Rectangular Marquee tool. Second, activate the Move tool and then nudge the selected area by pressing the Up Arrow several times. Deselect by pressing Ctrl+D.


Step 69

Open the second iceberg stock. As usual, create a selection around the iceberg (Magnetic Lasso tool is quite good enough). Copy-paste the selected iceberg into our working document.


Step 70

Place the second iceberg layer below iceberg01 folder. Using free transform command, adjust its size like shown in the below image. Press Enter when you’re done.


Step 71

Press Ctrl+J to duplicate the current layer. Get back to iceberg2 layer to change its blend mode to Luminosity.


Step 72

Hide layer ‘iceberg2 copy’, then add layer mask for iceberg2 layer. Hide the upper part of iceberg2 using black soft round Brush tool with 100% opacity, the result can be seen in the below image.


Step 73

Show the ‘iceberg2 copy’ layer again then add a layer mask in that layer.This time, use black soft round Brush tool to mask (hide) the lower part of iceberg2 image. As you can see now, the iceberg2 lower part seems submerged under water.


Step 74

Click on the iceberg2 layer thumbnail (this is to make sure you’re the one we’re editing now is the layer’s content, not the layer mask). Use soft round Blur tool with 50% Strength to blur some parts of the iceberg2, see image below for guidance.


Step 75

Create a new layer, name it ‘splash’ because we’re gonna add water splash there. Use white spatter brush with50% opacity to draw some water splash. Click several times until you satisfied with the result (don’t click and drag, because the result will be different). If you unhappy with the water splash result, delete unwanted parts or just transform it like I did.


Step 76

Create a new layer below iceberg2 layer, we call this layer ‘shadows’. Draw a selection using Lasso tool (just a simple silhouette of the iceberg2, no need to imitate the iceberg2 shape precisely). Fill the selection with 100% Black.


Step 77

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur menu to blur the shadows around 25px radius. Click OK to apply blur filter.


Step 78

Add layer mask for the current shadows layer. Mask the shadows using soft round Brush tool with 15% opacity, see image below for guidance. This also ends the ‘adding iceberg’ part in this tutorial.


Step 79

With the same technique when you submerge half of iceberg2, add another submerge object. For example, I’m sinking the cruise (you can use anything, be creative!). Don’t forget to group related layers, keep organized!


Step 80

On the top most of layer groups, add Vibrance layer adjustment (just go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance). Click OK, then increase the value until we get more vibrance blue/teal color for the entire image ( in my experiment, the value for vibrance is +49 while saturation value is +17 ).


Step 81

Add another layer adjustment, which is Color Balance (found in Layer > New Layer Adjustment > Color Balance). Adjust Color balance value until the illustration become a bit greenish (in my experiment, the value for midtones color balance is: -8, +15, +1)


Step 82

Hide background layer and all other layer group except the top, inside, left, bottom and two adjustment layer on top (see below image to be certain). Select the top most layer (color balance layer) and then press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E to merge all visible image into a new layer.


Step 83

Unhide layers we’ve been hide in the previous step, then drag layer 11 ( the merged layer ) below layer group ‘bottom’. Load a selection by Ctrl+Clicking this layer thumbnail, and then save the selection via Select > Save selection menu. You can give any name for the selection (in this example, I name it alpha-1), click OK to save it.


Step 84

Still in the same layer, go to Edit > Transform > Distort and try to align the merged layer so it look like a reflection. Use the Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All, which is will add layer mask filled with black, completely hiding layer 11 content’s.


Step 85

Now grab the soft round Brush tool with low opacity ( 25% ), make sure you choose white for brush color. Slowly using brush tool in the below part to create reflections. See image below for guidance.


Step 86

Make sure we’re still in the layer mask, then go to Select > Load Selection menu. Inside the load selection dialog, choose alpha-1 channel and then click OK to load the selection. Fill this selection with 100% black.Don’t deselect, yet!.


Step 87

Add a new layer on top of current layer, name it ‘shadows’ since here we gonna add shadows for the ocean-pie piece. Fill the selection with 100% black, then deselect it by pressing Ctrl+D.


Step 88

We need to see a bit of the shadows, so nudge it down using the Move tool as seen in the below image. Use Gaussian Blur filter with 10px radius to blur the shadows.


Step 89

We just need shadows for the downside part, so we’ll need to erase unwanted shadows using Eraser tool like shown in the below image. And that’s it, we are done!


Final Results


Download the PSD

Piece of | 14 MB

Jayan Saputra – deviantart page

Making a PhotoshMaking a Photoshop crystal ballop crystal ball

Learn how to deal with shiny surfaces, refractions and curves, with some handy pointers from Photoshop guru Mark Mayers.

Although this image appears pretty simple at first glance, if you look a little closer you’ll see that it’s full of potential graphics stumbling points, such as the refraction of the hand and the buildings that appear upside-down when viewed through the glass ball – and that’s before you’ve even started trying to deal with the reflection of the sky on the curved surface of the ball.

In this tutorial, Mark Mayers guides you step-by-step through some ways to use Adobe Photoshop’s filters, distortion and polar coordinates – along with opacity and blending modes – to pull off this complicated effect.

01. Select some photographs to work with. Here, I’ve used iStock_000002415668Large.jpg, iStock_ 000005423976Large.jpg and iStock_000004222840Large.jpg, which I bought from Alternatively, use your own photography. Open the last of these three images in Photoshop and isolate the buildings with a closed path. Make a path-based selection and then copy to the clipboard.

02. In Photoshop, create a new A3 landscape document in RGB mode with a resolution of 300dpi. Paste the buildings into the document as a new layer and transform as shown. Next, open the two sky images and drag and drop both into your working file beneath the building, with the orange sky uppermost and the blending mode set to Screen. Transform each sky layer and create a dramatic central area of cloud formation.

03. Adjust the orange tones of the uppermost sky layer by selecting Image > Adjust > Replace Colour. Use the colour picker to select the orange tones, and adjust the saturation to -82. Next, hit Cmd/Ctrl + B to access the Color Balance dialog box; reduce the midtone red by -18 and increase the blue by +32.

04. Disable the visibility of the buildings, target the top sky layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl + Alt/Opt + Shift + E (this copies the visible elements to a new layer; see the Tip on the right). This will be refracted into the sphere later; having the original layers intact gives flexibility to redo a merged layer. Open Hand. jpg and Cmd/Ctrl + Click on the existing path thumbnail to generate a selection, then paste this into your working file at the top of the layer stack and re-size, rotate and position as shown. Adjust the midtone levels slider to 0.87.

05. Draw a circle with the Marquee tool, expand or contract the selection and nudge to fit snugly within the hand. Create a new channel and, with your foreground colour set to black, hit Delete, filling with white. Next, with the top composite RGB channel visible, draw a closed path around the little finger, and make a path-based selection. Now target the hand layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to float a new layer; name it accordingly.

06. Target your merged sky layer and draw a square marquee extending just outside the circle area. Use your extra channel as a guide (by double-clicking the Channel icon you’ll be given the option of adjusting the opacity, which will make things easier). Expand or contract the selection as required. When you’re happy with your selection, copy it to the clipboard.

07. Create a new document using the clipboard as the preset. Ensure that the background content is set to transparent and paste in your selection. Now comes the fun part: select Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates and select the option Polar to Rectangular. This much under-used filter converts a selection from its rectangular to polar coordinates, and vice versa, according to the selected option.

08. Choose canvas size and uncheck the Relative option. Set the height to 200 per cent using the drop-down menu and anchor the image placement to top middle. Duplicate the layer, rotate by 180 degrees and flip it horizontally. Now hold down shift and drag to the bottom of the canvas, leaving a pixel or so of transparent canvas at the bottom.

09. Merge the layers and hit Alt/Opt + Cmd/Ctrl + F to access the last filter. Choose the Rectangular to Polar option, which gives you a squashed sphere. To remedy this, select Image > Image Size, uncheck Constrain Proportions and check Resample Image make its height the same as its width. Next, magnify the sphere using the Pinch filter, using a negative percentage to shift pixels away from the centre (I used -86 per cent).

10. You can now drag and drop the ball into your working document, at the transparent canvas area you created in Step 08. Position it between the hand and finger layers; use your Alpha channel again to help position it. Don’t worry about the sphere being slightly oversized – use an inverted Alpha channel selection to trim the overlap. In the real world, objects viewed through a solid glass sphere appear upside down – replicate this by simply rotating the sphere 180 degrees.

11. Polar coordinates work best with images with non-specific details, so use a different technique to distort the buildings. Target the buildings layer and draw a square selection, this time making it approximately 20 per cent larger than you did in Step 06. Float a new layer, rotate 180 degrees and select Edit > Transform > Warp. Use a custom warp to bend the buildings into shape. I also ran the Pinch and Spherize filters.

12. Move the layer above the sphere, set the blending mode to Hard Light and adjust the opacity to 35 per cent. Distort the fingers through the ball by duplicating the hand layer and using the Spherize filter. Use an inversed selection from your channel and hit delete to trim the excess. Invert the selection again, target the original hand layer and go Layer > Layer Mask > Hide Selection.

13. Target the hand layer, make a rectangular marquee selection of the top portion and repeat the Polar functions as detailed in Steps 07 to 09. Drag and drop as a new layer underneath the small finger, position and rotate as shown setting the blending mode to Hard Light and the opacity to 50 per cent. Next, erase unwanted central areas and delete any overlaps as before, then add a layer mask and gently blend the inner edges.

14. Duplicate the original sphere layer, set the blending mode to Multiply and adjust the Opacity to 85 per cent. Add a layer mask and use a radial gradient to erase the central area. Next, add a mask to the warped building layer and mask areas, also using smaller radial gradients. Make the ball semi-transparent by adjusting the opacity of the original sphere layer to 83 per cent.

15. Reintroduce the fingers behind the ball by adding a mask to the original sphere layer, generating a selection from the hand warped layer and gently erasing. Next, with the selection still active, do the same on the warped buildings mask, then add a Gaussian Blur of two pixels to the layer. Finally, add a new layer at the top of the layer stack and add some specular glints using a soft-edged white brush.

16. Continue adding and duplicating layers and experimenting with different blending modes to give the ball a greater sense of depth. Next, add some shadows on the palm of the hand and around the small finger – use several layers in Multiply Mode and vary their opacities, then add layer masks to gently blend them together. Once you’re happy, copy the visible layers (as Step 04) and zoom right in and use the Blur and Smudge tools on this layer to fix any small flaws.

Mark Mayers –

Create cool neon effects

Photoshop expert Tony Ariawan shows you how to use warping, layer masks and simple colour tweaking for a high-tech look that’s out of this world.

Whether it’s the speeded-up glow of car headlights in a night-time city scene, an alien spacecraft or a deep-sea jellyfish you’re recreating, this far-out neon look is a highly useful trick to master. It conveys a sense of movement and energy, and the colours can be tweaked to give a surprising range of effects.

In this tutorial, Tony Ariawan provides a step-by-step guide to creating this look, using simple resources and Photoshop tools. He shows that you don’t need particularly advanced tools to create a high-tech look: sometimes the simpler tools, applied with care and skill, can have far more impact.

01. In Photoshop, open girl_portrait. jpg from the cover CD. Create a new adjustment layer, and select the Levels (Cmd/ Ctrl + L). Set the Output Level white to 130.

02. Open neon lines_1.jpg from the cover CD, and use the Hue/ Saturation controls to make it black and white. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool to select one of the lines.

03. Using the Move tool (V), drag this selection to girl_portrait.jpg. Change the blending options to Screen. Transform the layer using Cmd/Ctrl + T, and start to rotate it. Right-click (Cmd + click) to choose the Warp tool.

04. Now you’ll see a six-section grid section on the layer, which allows you to move every section or every point. Let’s move it so it matches the one seen here. Click Enter when done, and add a layer mask onto the layer. Start brushing the layer mask, by using black to erase. For a smooth effect, try setting the Brush Opacity to 10 per cent.

05. Duplicate the latest layer by hitting Alt+Cmd/Ctrl+J. Start painting the layer mask by using black to erase, again setting the brush opacity very low. Select both layers and merge them (Cmd/Ctrl+E); don’t be surprised by the black areas. Change the blending options to Linear Dodge and repeat this until the girl is entirely outlined.

06. Still using the same selection from neon lines_1.jpg, start warping again, using this image as an example, using the warping position to trace the detail on the ear. Duplicate this layer, place the shading of the ear and start warping again.

07. Now for the hair. Import the selection from neon lines_1.jpg again, change the blending options to Screen and try warping it so that it looks like the above right image. Use the Eraser tool to take out any unwanted lines. Duplicate the layer – we’ll still need this layer for another part of the hair. Start warping around this layer to fill in the hair.

08. Open neon lines_2.jpg and make a new selection (see Step 02) to fill the body section. Don’t forget to set the blending option to Screen, and start warping again around this layer. On this layer, add a layer mask to erase unwanted sections of the image.

09. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and start warping once again. Repeat this process until the black areas have been reduced. Select the layer on the body section and merge the layers. Layer mask to erase unwanted sections, and set the layer’s opacity to 70 per cent.

10. Let’s fill in the face. Return to neon lines_2.jpg and make a different selection. Copy this into the main image over the face and start warping again, starting around the nose. Duplicate the layer, move it to the side slightly and continue warping. Merge the layers.

11. Now it’s time to start adding colour. Merge all of the warp layers together (not forgetting to set the blend mode to Screen). Add an adjustment layer, selecting Gradient. Let’s set the gradient from dark blue to bright blue, set Style to Linear and Angle to 180°. Make another Adjustment Gradient, this time merging from medium green to bright green.

12. Customize the colour by making individual adjustment curves. Adjust the Red, Green and Blue channels individually, rather than adjusting the RGB marker.

13. To create the particle effect, make a selection from neon lines_2.jpg and start warping outside the figure. Open neon lines_3.jpg and make a selection; place this over the girl’s hand. I also added some particle effects on the final images, on a new layer, using the Brush tool. Set the brush’s Tip Shape, check the Shape Dynamics and set the Size Jitter to 100 per cent. Check the Scattering, and set Scatter to 1,000 per cent. Now start brushing the layer in smooth lines, varying the size of the brush. When you’ve finished brushing, add a mask to erase unwanted particles.

Author’s URL: Tony Ariawan –

Abstract poster effects

Make your mark with strong but simple shapes and bold, read-my-lips colours: Danilo Rodrigues shows you how.

It’s hard to pinpoint what makes this image so direct and powerful. Perhaps it’s the symmetry of the piece, and the way all the elements conspire to draw the viewer’s gaze to the centre.

Or it might be the clean, geometric shapes, shaded in an uncluttered, Art Deco style. Maybe the colour palette, with its CMYK simplicity and Nu-Rave overtones, has something to do with it.

Or is it the way it combines a classic 1960s Retro-Futurist feel – complete with space-age images – with a slightly textured backdrop, hinting at the hand-made? In this great tutorial, graphic designer Danilo Rodrigues shares a wealth of techniques that you can use to add some of this graphic’s oomph and impact to your designs.

01. Open Adobe Illustrator and create a new document, sized 600-x-600mm or thereabouts. We’ll start by creating the abstract vectors to use in our composition. For this, create a grey rectangle (we’ll colourize them afterwards in Photoshop) sized 17-x- 385pts. Try to make other forms, such as a star using the Star tool.

02. Now, click Effect > 3D > Extrude Bevel. As in this picture, set the Extrude Depth to 365pt and set the Bevel to Complex 3, with a height of 4pt. Set the angles however you like; on this abstract vector, I set x to -144º, y to 36º and z to –2º.

03. Notice that you can get many different and interesting forms with the Extrude Bevel tool. Try to experiment another Bevel types and other values to get the most of this effect. You can control the lights and the perspective too. Use other primary shapes, such as spheres, triangles and stars, as in this picture.

04. Now that you’ve explored the abstract forms of Extrude Bevel, save the file (you can save to .eps if you prefer). In Photoshop, create a new A4 document at 300dpi resolution and import the Illustrator file. Right-click (Cmd + click) in the layer and choose Rasterize Layer. Now, we will colourize our abstract form. Click Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map, and select a gradient that goes from orange to yellow to orange.

05. Now that you’ve colourized the abstract form, let’s put more contrast in the colours. Click Image > Adjustments > Levels. Try to put more ‘life’ in the oranges, red and yellows. After that, select a soft brush sized around 300 pixels, create a new layer and add shadow underneath the abstract shape: this creates greater depth for the form.

06. Now, duplicate the element and explore all the forms of composition, applying other kinds of size and angles. Flip the form horizontally and vertically to get the desired look. Click Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation, and try other colours with the abstract shapes. You can use other forms (like the star with Extrude Bevel) and repeat the same process that we used before.

07. Let’s create other elements for our composition. In a new layer, create a black diamond in the centre of the canvas. The diamond will be key to integrating all the other elements of the composition. Import sky.jpg from the cover CD and put beside the black diamond; duplicate it to the other side, too.

08. Import texture01.jpg from the cover CD. Click Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map and choose a black-to-white gradient. To put more contrast in the texture, select Image > Adjustments > Levels. Use the Polygonal Lasso tool, to make forms using the texture. Try to integrate those forms with the abstracts that we colourized before.

09. Now we’ll duplicate the ‘blocks’ of forms that we made. Select all the layers of the block and click Edit > Free Transform > Flip Horizontal. Duplicate three times, as in this image (two blocks above and two below). This will make the composition symmetrical.

10. Now let’s add in the composition’s central element. Import moon.jpg from the cover CD and use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to cut out the background. Duplicate the moon and click Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map, choose the Black > White gradient and set the blending mode to Soft Light.

11. To get a feeling of old astronomy images, let’s create some circles around the moon. To do that, create a black circle with the Ellipse Tool. Click Layer > Layer Style > Stroke and set the size to 7 pixels. Set Gradient in the fill type and choose a blackto- magenta gradient. Repeat the process using other stroke colours, like orange and blue.

12. Next, we need to create the adjustment layers. These should be above the other layers in the canvas. Create a new layer, name it Exclusion, and give it a blue background with this hexadecimal number: 263248. Set the blend mode to Soft Light. This treatment will soften the ‘whites’ of the image. Click Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels and check the contrast of the composition.

13. Finally, import texturepaper.jpg from the cover CD. To get a feeling of old paper, click Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map and choose the gradient black-to-white. Use Levels or Brightness/Contrast to get more blacks and whites from the texture. Now set the blend mode to Screen.

14. Now you’re done! I wrote a song lyric in the centre of the moon image using the Avant Garde font. Try using other elements to complement the composition, like fonts and brushes.

Author’s URL:  Danilo Rodrigues

Mad Scientist

The classic depiction of the mad scientist is of a crazed individual working on some kind of high-tech gadgetry in his lab, sparks and electricity flying all around. A good example is Mad Scientist by Roberto Campus, part of a series of fourteen images made by the artist for a trading-card game. Campus decided to go for a cyborg as the subject of the scientist’s experiment, since it put a modern twist on an image reminiscent of 1940s and 1950s pulp magazine covers, as well as adding a touch of gore to the picture. Here the artist talks through how he did it.

artist: Roberto Campus
software used: Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter

Step 1: I made sure to include all the elements planned for the final image during the initial sketching process. I then redrew them on the computer by tracing over the lines using Painter and a Wacom tablet. The CG sketch was a low-resolution 72dpi image created using the Pencil tool with a small brush, and a 100 per cent Opacity setting over a sepia background.

Step 2: I continued using Painter for the main blocking phase. I resized the image to 300dpi, then switched to the Airbrush tool with a medium-sized brush and medium Opacity setting. I picked a few base colours, put them in a corner of the image for later reference, then started filling up all the various areas, right over the original traced sketch (on a single-layer flat image). I don’t add fine details in the blocking process and usually force myself to use the same brush size at all times. Then, by using the colour wheel to pick a lighter or darker colour than the base, I painted highlights and shadows. Throughout this stage, I used the Alt key to pick colours while I moved from area to area.

Step 3: Next up was the main painting stage, when I refined shapes and added details to the foreground elements. Here I concentrated on reshaping all the forms to their final position and dimensions. I switched to the Painter Brushes tool and a medium Opacity setting, then I used varying brush sizes, but with regular, small and more carefully positioned strokes.

Step 4: I soon realized that in order to achieve a higher level of realism for the face and hands of the main character, I had to rely on some reference material. Using a cheap digital camera (an invaluable tool for the digital artist), I snapped a few pictures of my face and hands illuminated by a light source coming from below. I imported the low-res photos into Painter, desaturated them and kept them handy (to the left of the actual illustration) while I was finalizing the face and head elements. Using a photo reference makes it easier and less time-consuming to achieve a higher level of realism.

Step 5: The rest of the elements were created completely from scratch. As they mostly consisted of simple shapes, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine how the light sources would play on them. The background and some of the foreground (the cables coming out of the scientist’s helmet, for example) were to be refined later in Photoshop.

Step 6: I imported the image into Photoshop, copied the canvas layer and cut the foreground elements from the background, using the Eraser tool. Now I had the foreground elements (scientist and gadgets) separated on a layer called FG. I turned off this layer and proceeded to paint over the background on the canvas layer (which I then renamed BG). Using a large, simple, round brush set on Normal mode, I fixed up the background colours, then refined the shape of the Tesla coils.

Step 7: I added a new layer on top of the BG layer and called it Sparks. Here, I painted the electric sparks using a brush with a pink/ bluish colour and 100 per cent Hardness. To add a glow to the sparks, I added an Outer Glow effect in the Blending Options. I then merged the BG and Sparks layers. I turned the FG layer back on and added a new layer on top. I painted the cables coming out of the helmet, then added a soft Outer Glow effect to them.

Step 8: I added sparks coming out of the tools held by the scientist, using the same technique as before – but this time I used a light yellow colour. I flattened the whole image into a new layer. It was at this point that I noticed that the painted highlights were not bright enough.

Step 9: Using the Dodge tool set on Highlights, I went over all the spots that I felt needed to be brightened up and brought to prominence. I flattened the image to a single layer called Art, then duplicated that layer and called the new one Glow. I then applied a Gaussian Blur with a large radius effect to the Glow layer, obtaining a very blurred image. I set the Blending Options on Glow to Lighten and lowered its Opacity to 10 per cent. Now, with the original layer showing through, the image highlights looked softer and more natural. Finally, after flattening the whole image, I applied a few adjustments to its contrast and colour balancing by using the Curves and Color Balance tools.

Roberto Campus

People of the future

Besides genetically modified humans and supermen, a common theme in science fiction is the mechanically augmented human, or cyborg. Such combinations of man and machine are often terrifying but sometimes tragic, as seen in this composition, Being Human, by Ian and Dominic Higgins, a partnership also known as Eon. Here’s how they did it.

Being Human
artists: Ian and Dominic Higgins
software used: Curious Labs Poser, Adobe Photoshop

Step 1: The character was created and rendered in Poser. Our starting point for the cyborg was the Victoria figure from Daz Productions. Using a combination of Morph Dials and Magnets, we reshaped her features. With the modelling work done, we positioned her and selected the camera angle. We then set up the lighting. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on the lighting of your scene, since it determines the whole mood of the piece. We used high-key lighting on the face to soften its features. All shadow maps were increased to their maximum settings.

Step 2: We produced a second render of the character complete with ‘hair’ piece. Next we opened the Figures library, selected the female skeleton from the Additional Figure Library and chose Replace Current Figure. We made sure to click all the options like Replace Figure, Maintain Figure Height and Pose. We now had a skeleton posed in our character’s place. A little adjustment of the camera angle was necessary, however, as the new figure’s height was dramatically less than that of the higher-resolution model we’d used for the character. The skeleton was then rendered out.

Step 3: In Photoshop, we created a new canvas and named it Being Human. We opened up the first render we did and made an alpha channel selection of the figure. We then copied and pasted the figure into our new canvas and named this layer Render 1. Next we opened the skeleton render and again, using the alpha channel as a selection, we copied and pasted the figure into the new canvas. This layer was named Render 2. With Render 1 as the top layer, we carefully began to mask away parts of the image to reveal the skeleton beneath.

Step 4: Next we worked on the figure’s mechanical elements. After searching, we found some interesting images and textures of such things as old circuit boards and rusting metal. Cutting and pasting sections of these images, we began building up the torso area gradually, using the Distort filters and the Liquify tool to shape them. When using Liquify, we chose a light pressure setting so as to not blur the image too much. We also paid attention to the direction of the different elements’ shadows and highlights to make sure they all matched the 3D render.

Step 5: We then opened the second render we produced – the figure complete with hair – and cut around the outline of the hair. This was then added to the Being Human composition. Using the Masking tools, we blended the hair to the skull. We then began to paint in the details, such as the wires and the tearstain. We masked away the area around the ear to expose the metal skull beneath. Using the Burn and Dodge tools, we enhanced the shadows and highlights. Once we were finally happy with everything, we blended all the layers together.

Step 6: We began work on the background, then flattened the image and worked further on lighting and colouring. We used several adjustment layers and experimented with various lighting modes. By using the Masking tool on these layers, we could quite literally paint on lighting effects. When the lighting and colouring work was done, we flattened the image once more. We duplicated the layer and applied the Gaussian Blur filter, set to 40 pixels diameter. We faded this layer to 15 per cent Opacity to soften the shadows and highlights a little. Finally, we flattened the image and saved the composition.

Author’s URL: Ian and Dominic

Turning a figure to stone

Replicate the effects of Medusa’s gaze in this step-by-step Photoshop tutorial on turning an image into a statue – part 1.

It’s the stuff of legend: a witch turns an unsuspecting maiden to stone with a flick of her magic wand. In Photoshop, we can cast a similar spell, taking an ordinary digital image and using powerful layer blending mode features and a few layer masks to transform a figure into a stone statue.

This effect is all about how multiple layers combine and meld together. We can make these layer-blending properties even more sophisticated by controlling the opacity of the various parts of multiple layers with layer masks.

This technique makes extensive use of the extra brush sets, from which we can choose effective brushes that are able to express textures within the stroke.

1. This image, with the praying position of the model, lends itself well to this effect, and is already quite statuesque. Start by duplicating the background layer (Layer > Duplicate Layer), as this preserves a pristine copy of the image at the bottom of the layer stack. Desaturate the duplicate layer by going to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (Ctrl/Cmd+ Shift+U).

2. To increase the contrast, go to Image > Adjustments > Curves and replicate the curve shape in the screenshot. This curve shape lightens the midtones and highlights and darkens the shadows.

3. Open an image of a stone surface, and go to Select > All (Ctrl/Cmd+A), then Edit > Copy (Ctrl/ Cmd+C) to copy the entire image. Return to the main composition and go to Edit > Paste (Ctrl/Cmd+V). Now stretch this stone layer to cover the entire figure, using Edit > Transform > Scale, dragging the corner handles to fit. Set the blending mode for this layer to Hard Light, and the opacity to 42 per cent.

4. Add a layer mask to the Stone layer using Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. Use the Brush tool to paint around the girl’s head and shoulders with black onto the layer mask to hide the stone texture in these areas.

5. Open a second, rougher stone image and copy and paste it into the main composition as above. Resize this layer using Edit > Transform > Scale so it covers just the head and upper arms. Set the blending mode to Hard Light and opacity to 58 per cent. Add a layer mask and paint with black around the head as in step 4.

6. Return to the background copy layer in the Layers palette and choose the Dodge tool from the Toolbar. In the Options bar, set the Range to Shadows and the Exposure to 23 per cent. Click with the tool over the girl’s eyes to lighten the tone of the pupils.

7. Change to the Healing Brush tool and clone out the highlights in the eyes. Set the clone source point by first Alt/Opt-clicking next to the highlight.

8. Choose the Eyedropper tool and click to sample one of the highlights in the hair. Now go to Select > Color Range and move the Fuzziness slider to 53. Hit OK and go to Edit > Copy, then Edit > Paste to paste the highlights onto a separate layer.

9. Blur this layer by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, using a Radius value of 28. This will enable this layer to give the image a softer appearance. Alternatively, a higher Radius value can be used to make the effect more subtle. Reduce the layer opacity to 67 per cent.

10. Click on the background copy layer and duplicate it (Ctrl/Cmd+J). Go to Select > All (Ctrl/Cmd+A), Edit > Copy (Ctrl/Cmd+C), and Ctrl/Cmd+D to deselect. Now click on the Channels palette tab and click the “Create new channel” icon at the bottom of the palette.

Go to Edit > Paste (Ctrl/Cmd+V) to paste the contents of the new duplicate layer into the alpha channel. Blur this channel with Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur using 5.2 Radius. Click on the RGB channel before returning to the Layers palette.

Add special lighting effects and drama to the image turned into a statue in the second part of this Photoshop tutorial.

It’s the stuff of legend: a witch turns an unsuspecting maiden to stone with a flick of her magic wand. In Photoshop, we can cast a similar spell, taking an ordinary digital image and using powerful layer blending mode features and a few layer masks to transform a figure into a stone statue.

Here we’ll show you how to light the figure created in the first part of this tutorial.

1. To light the figure, go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects. Choose Spotlight, and for the Texture Channel, choose Alpha 1. Rotate the light direction pool in the Preview window so the light falls from the top left. Use the settings in the screenshot as a guide for the other values. Hit OK. Set the layer blending mode to Luminosity, opacity to 45 per cent.

2. Click on the foreground colour swatch and select a light blue from the Color Picker. Add a new layer (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+N) and drag it to the top of the layer stack.

Choose the Gradient tool and Foreground to Transparent in the Gradient Picker. Click and drag from the top to the bottom. Set the layer blending mode to Color and opacity to 46 per cent.

3. Click on the layer mask thumbnail attached to the upper stone layer and choose the Brush tool. Click in the Brush Picker and on the small, right-pointing arrow. Load the Dry Media Brush set from the list and choose the Pastel Rough Texture Brush from the thumbnails.

4. If you’re using a graphics tablet, hit F5 to display the Brush Options dialog box and click in the Other Dynamics category. For Opacity Jitter choose Pen Pressure. Ensure that Shape Dynamics is not checked.

5. Paint with black at varying opacities on the layer mask in the darkest areas of the girl’s head and shoulders to obliterate some of the stone texture. Paint with black into the mask around any edges of the stone layer to hide them.

6 Repeat step 15 on the layer mask for the lower stone layer, paying special attention to the edges of the visible layer. Paint around these edges, using black at a very low opacity to carefully blend this layer into the figure. Refer to the Layer Masks box on page 83 for more tips.

7. Now to add some drama to the image. Add a new layer (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+N) and drag it below the blue gradient layer. Choose a very dark blue for the foreground swatch and select the Gradient tool. Drag a gradient over the entire image from top to bottom. Change the blending mode for this layer to Linear Light.

8. Add a layer mask to this layer using Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. Make sure you’re working on the mask for this layer by checking for an outline around the thumbnail.

9. Choose the Brush tool and use the previously selected brush to paint black into the mask at varying opacities over the entire upper half of the figure.

Paint at higher opacity over the left side of the face to give the impression of light falling on that side. Reduce the brush opacity (or use less pressure on your stylus) on the other side of the face to subtly reveal just parts of the face.

10 Add another layer (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+N) and set the layer blending mode to Color. Change the foreground swatch colour to dark green and paint here and there over the head at very low opacity to add just a little colour. Repeat this process using a rich brown colour.

11. Flatten the image (Layer > Flatten Image) and use the Healing Brush tool to clone out the edges of the vest top. Choose the Healing Brush tool, press Alt/Opt on the keyboard, and click at a point next to the edge of the girl’s top to set the Healing Brush source point. Release the Alt/Opt key and click along the edges of the top to hide them.

12. Finally, add one more new layer. Choose the Polygon Lasso tool and draw a wedge shape in the top left-hand corner for the light beam. Using light blue for the foreground colour, drag a gradient diagonally across the selection. Change the layer blending mode to Screen and reduce the layer opacity.

Author’s URL: Tim Shelbourne –