Category Archives: Photoshop Tutorials

“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


Transforming run-of-the-mill stock photos into dreamy, fantastical compositions is easy when you know how.

In this brilliant tutorial, Photoshop wizard Fabio Sasso puts layer masks and Photoshop’s built-in filters to good use to create a beautiful, enchanting image that wouldn’t be out of place in a children’s book.

Before you start you’ll need to download your stock images – Sasso has bought images from Shutterstock (, although you can also use similar images of your own.

The girl image is at; the moon is at; some of the clouds are at You’ll also need a star flare; NASA ( is a good source for these.

Step 1
Open Photoshop and create a new A4 document. Fill the background layer with a very dark grey (#0d0e10). Import the image of a girl on a ladder you downloaded from Shutterstock ( Extract the backround using the Lasso Tool (L) or any other method. Then remove the back strut of the ladder as shown here.

Step 4
In a new layer, place the photo of the moon that you dowloaded at the start. Change the layer’s blending mode to Screen. Go to Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation, select Colorize, and make the moon bluer. Also go to Image > Adjustment > Brightness/Contrast. Increase the brightness to 54 and the contrast to 51.

Step 5
Fill a new layer with pink (ff80b6), then with a big soft brush, paint a light blur (61a5fb) where the moon will be. Change the layer’s blending mode to Soft Light. This layer will be on top of the others.

Step 6
Duplicate the moon layer and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, setting the radius to 10 – this will give the moon a nice glow. Now import the star flare. Change the blending mode to Screen and go to Image > Adjustment > Levels. Increase the black input to 15. With the Eraser Tool (E) delete all of the image except the flare.

Step 7
Open IMG_1466.jpg from the cover CD or the zip file linked opposite – this is a cloud photo taken by Fabio Sasso. Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. Reduce the Brightness to -5 and increase the contrast to 80. Also go to Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation. Select Colorize, then move the Hue to 270, reduce the saturation to 4 and the lightness to -12.

Step 8
Add more clouds to your composition: the idea is to create a fluffy horizon. You can use the cloud image you downloaded from Shutterstock at the start or any similar ones of your own – just be careful to make sure the colours fit in. Import the image and place in the document. Then with the Eraser tool (E) delete the edges of the image until it’s well blended with the other clouds.

Step 9
Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Select Colorize, then increase the hue to 220, reduce the Saturation to 12, and keep the lightness at 0. The idea is to match the colour of the clouds.

Step 10
Open stars.tif from the cover CD, import the image and place it beneath the other layers but in front of the background. Change the blending mode to Color Dodge and the opacity to 80%. Also select the lens flare layer and go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Reduce the saturation to -60.

Step 11
Now let’s add a glow effect. Select all the layers and duplicate them, then merge the duplicated layers. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, setting a radius of 20 pixels. Change the blending mode to Screen. With the Eraser tool (E) delete most of the image, leaving only the areas that are illuminated by the moon.

Step 12
Add a layer at the top of the layer stack and use a large, soft black brush to paint the edges of the image. The idea is to create a subtle framing effect for the image.

Step 13
You can even add your own logo or pattern on top of the image. A nice tip for pattern overlay is to apply the Liquify filter and distort the pattern according to the image beneath – this creates a great effect.

Fabio Sasso –

Create vintage poster art using Photoshop and Daz Studio

The bewildering variety of 3D software can be intimidating for Photoshop artists. One free, intuitive option is Daz Studio. Daz offers an extensive range of readymade 3D content through its site, including human figures, clothing, accessories and scenes. All this makes it possible to create 3D imagery without having to learn complex 3D modelling.

In this tutorial we’ll cover some of the basics of Daz Studio, such as how to load a figure, apply injection morphs and adds art props. You’ll then discover some great Photoshop techniques to recreate a stylised poster from a bygone era.

On the CD you’ll find Photoshop files, and the Max Muscles add-on. You’ll need to download and install the free Daz Studio 3 ( and Michael 4 Base model ( You’ll also need the following free fonts: and

Step 1
Open Daz Studio, check you’ve got the Content palette visible (View > Tabs > Content), then click the triangle to the right of the Content tab and choose View Folders As Tree. You’ll find Michael within the second content folder (Figures > DAZ People). Double-click Michael’s thumbnail (1). Select Perspective View, then use the Pan and Zoom tools to fit the figure to the main Viewport (2).

Step 2
Load the Max Muscles Pose library, found under the second content folder (Poses > P3DA_MaxMuscles). Ensure Michael is selected by clicking on any of his body parts in the main Viewport, then double-click the MaxMusclesBulk_INJ thumbnail to apply the morph.

Step 3
Navigate to Figures > P3DA_MaxMuscles; apply the leotard to Michael by double-clicking its thumbnail, then apply the wristbands and waistband too. These items are smart props, so load to the figure’s default position and also conform to the figure when posed. Next, revisit the P3DA_MaxMuscles Pose library and drag the MAT_Leotard_TX3 over Michael’s body and select Apply to Leotard. Apply the MAT_Wristband_2 and MAT_Waistband_2 in the same way.

Step 4
With Michael still selected, go to Content > Figures > Hair > PD3A_MaxMuscles. Double-click the MM_Hair thumbnail to apply it. Go to Content > Props > P3DA_MaxMuscles and apply the Moustache and Barbell props by double-clicking their thumbnails too. The hair and moustache are smart objects – whereas the Barbell loads to the default 3D space.

Step 5
Go to View > Viewport Layout > Four Views. To make your screen redraws quicker, select Smooth Shaded (1). Select the Barbell, then highlight the Rotation yrot Parameter dial field and enter 90.00. Now drag the Translation xtran, ytran and ztran dials to position under Michael’s right hand (2).

Select the hand from the Scene Tab (3), then hit the Camera Frame button (4). Continue to tweak the Parameter dials on the Barbell, then Control-click and select Change Parent. In the next window choose the right hand (5).

Step 6
Add the BlockWeight prop and set its ring to 90.00 Rotation, then repeat the technique as in step 5 to parent it to the left hand. Select all the finger joints by Shift + clicking their names in the Scene Tab (1), then drag the Bend slider (2) in the Parameters tab so they grasp the shaft.

Use the same technique on the thumb joints, then double-click the Twist and Side-Side names to uncheck the Respect Limits to make subtle adjustments. Now select all the left-hand names, including the thumb from the Content Tab and double-click all four Rotation dials in turn and tick Locked (4).

Step 7
Apply the POSE_01 preset to Michael – if your props are correctly parented, they’ll all follow his pose. As the right hand is not locked, you can now adjust the grip as required. Now select the Barbell and bend the shaft by setting its Lift Morph to -100.00. Finally, add the Ring prop to your scene.

Step 8
Now let’s add some lights; 3D lighting is a fairly complex subject. As a general rule it’s best to add a distant light first (from the Create drop-down menu), then add your Spotlights. Again, use the Viewport layout option to best position your lights using the Translation sliders.

There are numerous options such as Shadow Type, Shadow Softness and Illumination, so it’s best to experiment here. Next, hit Cmd/Ctrl + R to do a test render. When you’re happy go to Render > Render Settings and select the Letter preset (1) and save as a .png (2).

Step 9
Select and delete the Ring and other props, unlock the right hand and go to File > Save As. Repose using the M4_012 preset (Poses > DAZ’s Michael 4 > General Poses) (1). Now adjust the camera settings for a more dramatic angle (2), select Michael’s head and adjust the Expression Parameter dials (3). You can also select his moustache and set the dials to follow his expression. Now render to 3,000×3,522 pixels (4).

Step 10
Launch Photoshop, set your foreground and background to black and #192e55 respectively. Create a new canvas measuring 23×31.7cm at 300dpi, in RGB mode, with the background set to Background Color.

Add a central guide, then a new layer named ‘Grad’. Shift + drag a linear gradient down using the Foreground to Transparent preset, set its opacity to 85% and change the blending mode to Multiply. Next, open Frame.psd and Shift + drag its layer thumbnail as a new layer. Name it ‘Border’.

Step 11
Add your initial render as a new layer placed in a group folder called ‘ALBERTO’. Select Layer > Matting > Defringe by 1 pixel. Transform and position it in the top right corner as shown, and label it ‘Lifting’. Hold Alt/Opt while selecting a Curves Adjustment (1), then the Clipping Mask option (2). Now choose the Strong Contrast Preset (3). You can now drop the opacity of the adjustment layer to taste.

Repeat this step for your second render and label it ‘Posing’.

Step 12
Add a mask to your ‘ALBERTO’ folder, then drop in a new layer called ‘Circle’ below ‘Lifting’. Fill a circular selection using a white to #ffff9a radial gradient, then give it a layer style using an 18-pixel stroke in #981417, set to Outside.

Go to Layer Style > Create Layer. Now Cmd/Ctrl + click your ‘Border’ layer to generate a selection, target the mask and use a black brush to hide the overlaps. Now make a layer-based selection from the ‘Lifting’ layer to reinstate the block weight using a white brush. Mask the ‘Grad’ layer.

Step 13
Add a new group folder at the top of the stack and label it accordingly. Add text on separate layers. Keep your design authentic-looking and choose fonts that are reminiscent of Edwardian posters and broadsides. Add Stroked Layer Styles, then apply the Transform > Warp presets on the bolder bits of text.

Step 14
Add a new layer above your text folder and go to Image > Apply Image. Next, set your foreground and background to black and white respectively, then select Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. Go to Filter > Sketch > Photocopy, set the detail to 6 and the darkness to 7. Now set the ‘Merged’ layer’s blending mode to Linear Burn at 70% opacity.

Step 15
Now to rough it up a bit. Create a new folder at the top of the stack called ‘DISTRESS’ and Shift + drag Grunge_1.jpg from the cover CD across as a new layer, setting its blending mode to Soft Light. Add Grunge_2.jpg in the same way, and set it to 80% opacity.

Step 16
Add a #fff000 Solid Colour adjustment layer above the ‘DISTRESS’ folder, set to Multiply and 25% opacity. Finally, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and use the following: master saturation: -16, red saturation: -20, yellow saturation: -19. These adjustment layers desaturate and tone down the harsh whites.

Mark Mayers –

Create mile-high type art

Fantasy images don’t need to include cheesy damsels, dragons and generously proportioned elves. What they do need, however, is carefully considered, painterly colours, moody lighting and detailed texturing.

In this tutorial, Fabio Sasso shows you how to achieve that glossy, detailed fantasy look through careful compositing, and control of layers and blending modes. You’ll extrude type in Illustrator and then composite on textures and other details in Photoshop.

Finally, you’ll add the stranded princess figure and a couple of details so that she fits seamlessly into the image.

Step 1
Open a new document in Illustrator and type ‘DA’. Helvetica Black is a good font to use. Go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Set the axis to 23º, 25º, and -45º respectively, set the perspective to 145º and the extrusion to 865 points.

Play with the lights until the sides of the extrusion have good clear light and dark areas.

Step 2
Copy the 3D text from Illustrator and paste it into a new Photoshop document. Position it so that the DA is in the middle of the document. Next, import a brick texture; this one is from Shutterstock (, but you can download free versions from and You’ll need to duplicate it to make it tileable and fit the height of the 3D.

Step 3
Go to Edit > Transform > Distort, and move the points to fit the perspective of the 3D object. Change the opacity of the texture so you can see the 3D object and use it as reference for the perspective. Use the same process on all the straight sides – we’ll tackle the curved edges in step 4.

Step 4
Sorting out the curved sides is very simple: first match the perspective with the Distort transformation (Edit > Transform > Distort), then go to Edit > Transform > Warp. You can make the curved sides by moving the mesh. Add textures to all the sides that are visible.

Step 5
Duplicate the 3D object with the textures and go to Layer > Merge Layers. Next, select Filter > Other > High Pass. Set the radius to five pixels. Change the blending mode to Hard Light, and change the colour of the DA to white.

Step 6
Duplicate just the 3D object and place it at the top of the layer stack. Now change the blending mode to Multiply. Select the brick texture layer and go to Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation.

Reduce the Saturation to -40 and the Lightness to -2. We want to increase the contrast between the light areas and the shadows.

Step 7
Select all the layers used to create the 3D with bricks and go to Layer > Merge Layers. Now create a new layer on top of the merged layer and go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask. Next go to Filter > Render > Clouds, making sure that your background and foreground colours are set to black and white respectively. Finally, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, setting the radius to 10 pixels. Change the blending mode to Multiply.

Step 8
Select the DA and duplicate the layer. Fill it with a radial gradient, from dark grey to light grey in the middle. Duplicate the layer again and fill it with a Pattern Overlay by using the Paint Bucket (G) with the source set to Pattern. Use an asphalt or concrete texture with the blending mode set to Multiply. I used one from Shutterstock (; free ones are at and

Duplicate the DA again and go to Layer > Layer Styles > Stroke. Set the size to five pixels, and fill type to Gradient, selecting black and white for colours. Set the angle to -85º. Also select Pattern Overlay and use an asphalt pattern. This layer will be beneath the other DA layers.

Step 9
Now add an image of a sky with clouds. (This one is included on the cover CD and in the Zip file attached, named Clouds.jpg.) Once you’ve placed the picture, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation. Change the values to -8 for the hue, -50 for the saturation, and 10 for the lightness. Then go to Image > Adjustments > Photo Filter. Set the colour to orange and the density to 50%.

Step 10
Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient Fill, setting the colours to dark grey and black, and setting the style to Radial. Change the blending mode to Color Dodge, then double-click on the thumbnail of the Gradient Fill layer so you can edit again. We need to move the centre of the gradient to create a sunset effect.

Step 11
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map. Set the colour to black and white, and tick the Dither box. Now change the blending mode to Soft Light.

Step 12
To create more clouds we need to modify a brush. Go to Window > Brushes and choose a regular brush. Apply the following presets: in Shape Dynamics, set pen pressure to 100%; minimum diameter to 21%, roundness jitter to 30%, and minimum roundness to 34%. Tick Flip X Jitter and Flip Y Jitter.

In Scattering, tick Both Axes, set the scatter to 67%, and count jitter to 20%.

In Texture, tick Invert, set the scale to 677%, tick Texture Each Tip, set the mode to Multiply, and depth and minimum depth to 100%.

In Other Dynamics, turn opacity jitter and flow jitter to 100%, with control set to Off.

Now you can start painting the clouds, using white, with some grey at the bottom of the clouds to add depth.

Step 13
Now it’s time to place a photo of a waiting girl. This one is from Shutterstock (, but you can get a free one from Extract the background of the photo, and place the girl in your image. Add another layer beneath the girl image, grab a black brush (B), and start painting on this new layer to create a shadow beneath the girl.

Step 14
Now add details, such as the birds, and select all layers and duplicate them (Cmd/Ctrl + Alt/Opt + Shift + E). With the duplicated layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, setting the radius to 20 pixels. Change the blending mode to Screen and reduce the opacity to 80%. This will give the image a nice glow, and make the effect more realistic.

Fabio Sasso –

Master grid-based web design in Photoshop

Grid-based design has long been a staple of print design, but web layout tends to be more haphazard, largely driven by gut instinct and restrictions imposed by specifically defined pieces of content such as adverts.

With technology evolving rapidly, screens are larger and web technologies more powerful, which means designers can now successfully bring much of their grid-based knowledge to the internet, resulting in more balanced, versatile, and pleasing online layouts.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a grid-based layout for a website. As most Digital Arts readers are comfortable using Photoshop, we’ll be working in that program.

Since the process of creating a website depends largely on the content and format dictated by your client, this is less step-by-step than many of our tutorials – instead, it’s a point-by-point introduction to adapting the principles of grid-based designs for online projects.

Still, by the time you’ve finished the task, you should have created a grid-based project. On the CD is a blank grid for you to use, the Photoshop document from step 10, and a completed web version of the design.

Step 1
Web units are pixel-based, so forget about points and millimetres. In Photoshop, go to Photoshop > Preferences > Guides, Grid & Slices, and set a gridline to appear every 20 pixels, with two subdivisions. Goto Window > Info, open the Options menu and set the ruler units to Pixels. Also set one of the colour readouts to Web Color.

Step 2
Create a new document, 1,100 pixels wide and at screen resolution. Initially, make the grid visible (View > Show > Grid), drag a marquee 940 pixels wide, and drag the guides to the vertical edges. This area is the site container or ‘wrapper’.

Step 3
Create a layer group, and name it ‘grid overlay’. Within this, create a new layer, ‘columns’. Create a selection 60 pixels wide and the height of your canvas, and fill it with a vivid colour, such as red (Shift + F5). Move the marquee 20 pixels to the right of the coloured area and add another column. Repeat a few more times.

Step 4
Create another layer, naming it ‘gutters’, and fill the 20-pixel gaps with yellow. Drag a ruler to each gutter edge. If you like, add gutters to each side of the wrapper. You now have a flexible vertical grid, visible through guides or by using the ‘grid overlay’ layer set as a semi-transparent overlay. This starting point is on your CD, saved as grid-template.psd.

Step 5
A 12-column web page layout such as the one we’ve created here is flexible. It can be divided into quarters, thirds, and halves, and those splits can be divided again. For many websites you’ll design, an 8:4 split is suitable for the main content area and sidebar; four columns and three gutters are 300 pixels wide – the perfect fit for a standard 300×250 pixel ad slot.

Step 6
When placing elements, stick to the grid. Here, the logo spans three columns, as does the search field. In the design shown, the first column is blank, which draws attention to the ‘indented’ content. The main content area is six columns wide, with a column’s gap prior to the four-column sidebar.

Step 7
Always use web-safe fonts for body copy and headings. You can find overviews of safe fonts at and at Remember that fonts never look the same in Photoshop and browsers.

To get a more accurate reflection of how words are rendered in browers, go to the Paragraph panel and disable hyphenation. Now set your leading to your grid height (or a multiple thereof, if you prefer) throughout.

Step 8
When building vertically, use multiples of your grid size for component sizes and page sections, and align things using guides. Don’t get too hung up on trying to align objects from different major page components (such as main content and sidebar), perfectly.

Maintaining a vertical grid in web design is actually pretty difficult unless you’re extremely fastidious regarding vertical image heights and apply restrictions to every single one of the content boxes.

Step 9
When adding simple borders to images, use internal single-colour strokes. If sticking to the vertical grid, image heights must be a multiple of your grid size. Differentiate captions from body copy with italics or visual indicators. Placing an indicator on the other side of the nearest gutter draws a user’s attention.

Step 10
Save layouts as PSDs and make copies for exporting. (Exports often need you to flatten an image, and it’s easy to accidentally overwrite a layered file.) When exporting, think modular – don’t just slice a design into rectangles. For semi-transparent components, copy them to a new document and use File > Save for Web & Devices to save them as PNG-24 files.

Step 11
For a horizontally tiling section, such as the background gradient, flatten the image, copy a narrow section (here, down to the point where the gradient becomes a solid colour) and in the Save for Web & Devices dialog save it as a lossless GIF or PNG. Note the hex value (in the Info panel) of the solid background colour, since that will be used in CSS.

Step 12
For images with a border in the layout document, export the images as JPEGs, and without their borders. (If you keep the borders on while making the JPEGs, they’ll look muddy. Adding the borders later in CSS means you’ll get crisp, solid results.) One other tip, to balance file size and quality, a quality setting of 60 is a good starting point.

Step 13
This step’s a doosie: build the web page! To help you along, the web page based on this layout is on the CD, so you can play around with it. Use web standards (divs for structure, CSS for styles), and don’t be precious about replicating the layout exactly, nor in getting identical results across browsers and platforms – be happy with similar.

Step 14
To retain a tight vertical grid, temporarily replace your site’s background in CSS with a grid tile, as shown. This will show whether things are lining up and any adjustments that need to be made. In grids.css from the CD files, uncomment the second ‘background’ property within the ‘body’ rule to see the grid.

Craig Grannell – /

Create dynamic backdrop lighting

A small character can tell abig story – but traditional character art can be rather flat and one-dimensional, tending towards a cartoonish feel.

The principle of this tutorial is to create a complex background with a focal point that hints at a story behind a character. Once you’ve mastered it, it’s a highly versatile technique.

Light effects are very trendy these days but you can avoid clichés by mixing them with something different and interesting; the result will always be an amazing image that gets everybody’s attention.

Step 1
Create a Photoshop document measuring 934 x 1,280 pixels and fill the background layer with a greenish grey (#bec7bb). Paint this with a large yellowish grey brush (#c9c3ad), then create a new layer.

Set the blending mode to Soft Light and paint with a black brush around the top right corner, and white brush for the middle and bottom.

Step 2
Download the cloud brushes created by JavierZhX on deviantArt at then load them. Create a new layer and use the brushes to start creating some clouds in white and various tones of grey.

Step 3
Create a new layer, and download the nebula brushes created by Matkraken from deviantArt at Load the brushes as shown on the palette and use the different settings to make some stars in the sky. Next create sofog around the central area where we’ll be placing the character.

Step 4
Go to and download the lightning brushes created by *Adaae-stock. Load the brushes and paint lighting forks around the area where you are going to set your character. Double-click on the layer in the Layers Palette to open the Layer Styles dialog box. In the Drop Shadow menu, set the blending mode’s opacity to 65%, the angle to 120º, and tick both the Use Global Light and the Layer Knocks Out Drop Shadow boxes. In the Outer Glow menu, set the blending mode to Screen, the opacity to 75%, the colour to solid, and the range to 50%. The drop shadow should be #ff7814, and the outer glow should be #fffecc.

Step 5
Create a new layer and set the blending mode to Soft Light, then use a round brush to add some black in the corners. In a new layer, use an off-white brush to add some dots around the lightning, then copy the layer styles you applied in step 4.

Step 6
Create a new layer and, using the polygonal lasso tool (L), make a selection like the one you see here – with one side straight at 45º. To do this, hold Shift and move the cursor to create a perfectly angled line. Now pick a round white brush and brush a little around the straight line.

Step 7
Repeat Step 6 until you have a number of striking diagonal lines going across the image like the example shown above.

Open the Layer Style dialog and in the Outer Glow menu, set the blending mode to Screen, the opacity to 77%, the colour to solid, the technique to Softer, and the range to 30%. The glow’s colour should be #ff0000.

Step 8
Create a new layer and, using the Polygon tool (U) set to three-sided shapes, create a triangle. Set the layer fill to 0% and its blending mode to Overlay. In the Layer Styles palette set the values to those shown in the screengrab. Repeat this three times to get three triangles in separate layers.

Step 9
Open abstract lines.psd from the cover CD or the Zip file attached, and copy-and-paste these into the area where the figure will be. Set the layer’s opacity to 17%.

Step 10
Create a new layer and make some white lines at a 45º angle, using the Line tool (U) set to two pixels wide. As in step 6, hold Shift to make a straight line. Now the background is completed.

Step 11
Now open the Rise of Sumo character from the cover CD, copy it and place it where the abstract lines are so that it’s above all the previous layers. With the Magic Wand tool (W) make a selection around the character and invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I), create a new layer and fill the selection with black.

Step 12
Set the layer fill to 0% and open the Layer Style dialog. In the Outer Glow menu, set the blending mode to Screen, the opacity to 75%, the colour to solid, the technique to Softer, the size to 16 pixels, and the range to 50%. The colour should be #c6faff. Set the Inner Glow palette’s settings as shown immediately above, in #fefecc.

Step 13
Create a new layer and use the Matraken Nebula brushes to add some stars and fog around the character and the top. Add the layer styles shown in these screengrabs (drop shadow #ff570d, outer glow #fffecc).

Step 14
Create a new layer and set the blending mode to Color. Add some red and blue around the character’s head and the top lightning with a round brush. In a new layer, set the blending mode to Soft Light, and paint a little around the top right corner with black. Create another layer and do the same, this time adding more black around all the corners and some around the character.

Step 15
Create a new layer and fill it with black. Add some noise (Filter > Noise > Add Noise) and set its opacity to 40%, then erase small areas around the character and the top and bottom lightning. Now go to File and save your image as a JPEG document.

Step 16
Now open the JPEG file you created and download the free Actions set 50 Photoshop Postwork Actions by Manicho from Experiment with these to get different colour results: when you’ve found one you like, you’ve finished.

Design a custom Twitter page

Twitter offers a number of basic backgrounds, but let’s face it: they’re mostly generic and boring. In order to get noticed for both your tweets and your style, you’ll want to create your own custom background.

In this first of a two-part series, we’ll show you how to create a simple, single-image background. In the second part.

Designing for Twitter

Creating a compelling background design can be a challenge. Your followers will come to associate you with this image and color scheme, so you’ll want to craft a background that has character, that says something about you. If you’re a long-time gamer, you might want to brand your page with an image of an old-school gamepad; if you’re an avid toy-collector, maybe you’d like to decorate your page with your most prized collectible, for example.

Once you’ve come up with an idea, you’ll need to adapt it to the page layout. Twitter has two visible areas you can design for–the top margin and the left margin. The top margin is smaller and more restrictive due to the masthead and navigation menu, and if you start to scroll down, the image disappears. The left margin is a better choice for most designs. It varies in size depending on the width of the browser window, but there is significantly more viewable area than the top margin.

A top-left background image should blend seamlessly into the page’s background colour. In my example, I’ve taken a photo of a toy and then knocked out (or masked) the background. All areas around the toy are transparent, and as a result, the toy image can now be placed on a background of any colour. This is a somewhat cumbersome step that is beyond the scope of this article, but have a look at Masking 101 to get you started with Photoshop masking techniques.

Launch Photoshop CS4 (or any recent version of Photoshop) and the file that contains your masked image. In the layers palette (Window>Layers) you should see two icons on one layer: one will show a thumbnail of the image itself, and the other will show a black and white thumbnail of the mask. Right-click on the mask icon and choose Apply Layer Mask, and then copy the contents of the layer (Cmd/Ctrl-A and then Cmd/Ctrl-C).

Now choose File>New. Set a width and height appropriate for the design you have in mind; for the toy example, I’ve chosen a width of 350 and a height of 500 pixels. Ensure that Background Contents is set to Transparent and then click OK to create the file. You can certainly make your design taller or wider; just keep in mind that the focal point of the design is at the top left, adjacent to your most recent tweet.

Now paste the masked image into the document (Cmd/Ctrl-P). Resize, rotate, and position the image as you wish. Avoid centring the object within the document; instead, offset it to the left so that part of it is out of view. Once the object is in place, you can incorporate text or graphic elements to give the background a bit more flair.

When you’re done, follow these steps to export your image:

* Choose File>Save for Web & Devices.
* Choose PNG-24 from the Preset pop-up menu.
* Ensure that Transparency and Convert to sRGB are both checked.
* Ensure that the projected file size (seen in the bottom right) is less than 800k.
* Click Save and save the file to your Desktop.

Getting your design online

Go to your Twitter home page and, from the top right menu, click Settings. Twitter will present you with a series of tabs; to continue, click Design. In this section, you’ll find Twitter’s selection of ho-hum themes. Right below that, you’ll find two important links: Change background image and Change design colors.

Start by clicking Change background image. Click Choose File and find the picture you just saved to your Desktop; once you’ve selected it, click Choose. (Don’t check the option to tile the background.) Click Save Changes to confirm the change.

Now you’ll need to tweak the page colours. Click Change design colours and then click the colour block under Background. Twitter’s colour picker will appear. Choose any colour and you’ll see that the background of your page is instantly updated. As long as you’ve masked your image well, you should be able to choose any colour background; experiment with different hues until you find one that really complements your image. Once you’ve found the right color, click Done. You can then set custom colours for your text, links, sidebar and sidebar border; to finish up, click Save Changes.

And that’s it. The new design is locked in — now it’s time to tweet about it!

Chris McVeigh –