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 –

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How screen-printing works

Gerv Harvill and Rik Cooper of Mission Print explain he process of creating this screen printing poster.

The artwork shown here was supplied as full-colour art. Rik Cooper explains how he prepared the original image for screen-printing.

“Firstly I had to pick the Black using Photoshop’s Color Range,” says Cooper. “I then used a greyscale image, imported it into Illustrator and used the Live Paint Bucket to create a vector version of the main black artwork. I then redrew the other colours, placing the photo in the background.”

He continues: “With the print process going from light colours to dark as I layered up the artwork, using a 0.25mm trap where needed. Finally, I used overprint preview to check my layers properly before sending to print.”

1. Artwork Separation

After receiving the raw artwork, Mission Print separates it into spot colours. They discuss options with the client for paper, print size and borders, watermark postion and ink finish. The separated file is then sent to the client for sign-off.

2. Film Output

Gerv Harvill says: “Once the file has been processed and approved by our print manager it’s ready to run to film. Our designer checks the film before taking it to the screen room.”

3. Preparing the stencil

“Our screenmaker tapes the film positive into position on the reverse of the screen,” explains Harvill. “The screen is exposed to light in one of our exposure units, the film is then removed and the screen washed in warm water.”

The areas of screen emulsion exposed to light through the clear areas of the film remain intact, while the areas where the black areas of the film prevented light reaching the emulsion are washed away.

“The screen is then dried and any imperfections in the stencil are corrected.”

4. Mixing the inks

Meanwhile the printer mixes the inks. They will choose between water-based, solvent or UV inks depending on the piece.

“Colours will be matched to Pantone references chosen by the client,” adds Harvill. “Colours can vary through different screen meshes and onto different substrates and also on drying. The printer will sometimes spend longer matching a colour than printing the edition.”

5. Printing the job

The printer sticks the film onto the paper in the right position. The paper is then laid on the print table and the screen aligned to print where the film is on the paper. The printer references two edges of the paper with lay stops to maintain consistent registration throughout the edition.

“During the edition the printer will overprint previous test sheets to ensure there’s no movement and that the print position is consistent,” says Harvill. “Additional colours are printed in sequence – usually from light to dark – until the edition is complete. In most cases we prefer to produce a sample for approval after which adjustments can be easily made before printing.”

6. Drying and packing

Solvent and water-based inks are left to dry for a couple of hours; UV inks are cured under UV light.

“Once dry the edition will be trimmed to size, checked for quality and then carefully packed for shipping or collection,” says Gerv Harvill.

Alice Ross –

Create realistic glass surfaces

Create a wine glass from scratch in Illustrator using transparency and translucency settings, with tips from Rare Design’s James Arnott.

Illustrator allows you to create art of all varieties, from the highly stylized to the photorealistic. Here, digital design expert James Arnott shows how to make an impressively realistic and convincing wine glass using the software.

The tutorial gives you the tools to master transparency and translucency in Illustrator, including a step-by-step guide on using the transparency palette, blending modes and black-and-white gradients.

Pair this with some smart use of the Gaussian blur and you’ve got the tools to add some touches of realism to any image.

Step 1
Create a new document measuring 500-x-800 pixels. Create a box that covers 75% of the artboard from top down. Apply a circular background gradient to this box with three colours in it, ensuring the centre of the radial gradient starts at the base of the box and ends at the top of the box. The colours should be the following: at position 35%, C = 0, M = 0, Y = 0, K = 0; at position 80%, C = 15, M = 10, Y = 23, K = 0; and at position 100%, C = 25, M = 20, Y = 40, K = 0.

Step 2
We need to create a glass shape. I would recommend drawing half the glass using the Pen tool, then copy-and-pasting and flipping this to create the other half. This way it’s guaranteed to be symmetrical. Put the two sides together and join using the Pathfinder palette button ‘Add to Shape Area’, which unifies the objects.

Step 3
Next, we’ll colour the glass with a vertical four-colour gradient. Set the colours to the following: at position 35%, C = 18, M = 10, Y = 22, K = 0; at position 47%, C = 0, M = 0, Y = 0, K = 0; at position 80%, C = 13, M = 14, Y = 22, K = 0; at position 97%, C = 6, M = 3, Y = 7, K = 0. This gives us the basis of the glass colour. Add an inner glow to give the effect of a curved surface: select Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow, set the Mode to Screen, Opacity to 100%, Blur to 68 pixels and ensure that Center is ticked. I used the colour C = 5, M = 2, Y = 10, K = 0, experiment to get the best soft shape to the glass.

Step 4
Now we’ll get started on the transparency. The Transparency palette has a great dropdown that controls the blending mode of all shapes in a similar way to in Photoshop. The options we will be concentrating on are Screen Multiply and Overlay, which when used with black-and-white gradients and a little blur can create some excellent effects.

Step 5
Let’s create the glass’ top. Create an oval at the top of the glass. Fill it with a horizontal white-to-black linear gradient. Keep it selected and change the blending mode from Normal to Screen – this will get rid of the black. Set the transparency to 45% and put a Gaussian blur of three pixels on it to soften the effect.

Step 6
Create an ellipse over the top of the glass so it sits just inside the bowl. Use the Pen tool to remove the point at the top of the ellipse then use the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow) to pull the top two Beziers towards their nodes. We should now have a shape that looks like half a glass of liquid. Create a radial gradient from bottom of the shape to the top, use these three colours: at position 0%, C = 0, M = 0, Y = 0, K = 0; at position 13%, C = 55, M = 90, Y = 60, K = 70; at position 100%, C = 20, M = 100, Y = 75, K = 18.

Step 7
Next, add an inner glow to the wine to give it a translucent edge. Select Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow, setting the Mode to Screen, the Opacity to 100%, the Blur to around ten pixels and making sure that Edge is selected. Again using the Transparency palette, make sure your wine shape is selected and change the blending mode to Multiply. This will make anything white transparent, and in this instance the wine’s edges will become transparent.

Step 8
The glass needs some reflections to make it more realistic. Create a shape on the left side of the glass about five pixels in from the edge of the glass. Fill with a linear gradient that goes from a 100% black to a 40% black (light grey) then back to 100% black again. Using the blending mode dropdown again, set the mode to Screen and reduce the transparency slightly to around 80% so the reflection isn’t too overpowering. Try adding a little Gaussian blur to the reflection of around three pixels to soften it a little. Repeat this process again for another two softer reflections.

Step 9
Repeat the process from Step 08 to create two highlights around the rim of the glass. Add two small areas of light to the top rim highlight by blurring two small white circles, as shown here.

Step 10
Now we’re going to add in a light source. Create a layer below the wine layer but above the wineglass layer. Draw two white rectangles side by side with a small gap in between. Select both shapes, using the Free Transform tool, skew it to the right, then skew the right side up a little. Add Gaussian blur to both the shapes of around seven pixels and set the opacity to 30%. Position them over to the right, then duplicate them, reduce the size and place the duplicates over to the left. These shapes represent light from a window to the left falling on a wall in the background. Now we have a recognizable source of light, we can improvise how it will react on the glass and how the wine in the glass will affect the glass itself.

Step 11
Add some more reflections to the left-hand side of the glass to simulate the light source, using the same process as before: create a shape, add a gradient, change the blending mode to Screen, reduce the opacity, and add a small Gaussian blur to soften the effect.

Step 12
Now we’ve introduced light reflections, we should add shadows and wine reflections. At the base of the wine create the shape in shown here. Add a five colour gradient to it, then add an inner glow and some Gaussian blur. Finally change the blending mode to Multiply and set the opacity to 75%. Try adding some more shadows to the stem of the glass.

Step 13
Finally let’s add more depth to the translucent wine. Add a new layer below the glass highlights. Create a black round-edged shape near the top of the wine. Add some inner glow to it. Then change the opacity to 20% and change the blending mode to Multiply. Add some highlights to the wine using white shapes with the blending mode set to Overlay. Don’t forget to add some Gaussian blur to soften the effect.

Step 14
In the final image you can see how I’ve used these techniques to add further reflections, light glows and shadows to the image to add more realism. If you get stuck working out where to add more life to your illustration I find a search through the images the search engines have to offer is great for getting inspired.

James Arnott – www.wearerare.com

Master skin tones

One of the keys to great painting in Photoshop is knowing how to combine very loose, freehand techniques with more precise attention to detail. In this tutorial, Sam Gilbey shows how to create an appealing, realistic face that draws the eye.

Central to this is understanding how Photoshop’s Brush tools work, and learning to adjust them to our needs for different stages of the piece. Brushes offer a great deal of flexibility, but the trick is knowing when to apply something dramatic, and when to be more subtle.

In general, it’s about making a few simple choices in terms of texture, colour and detail – this can turn an average-looking portrait into something mesmerising.

We won’t be aiming for photorealism, but it’s important to understand how the skin both reflects and absorbs light. This means that the application of light and shadow is absolutely crucial when it comes to painting faces.

Step 1
To create a good textured background, open the Brushes menu as shown above and select a large, soft round brush. In Shape Dynamics, set the Control drop-down to Fade. In the Texture menu, load Artist Surfaces, pick one, and then set the scale to 50%.

Step 2
Experiment with different-sized soft circles in similar tones and build up a loose, textured backdrop for your piece. This is a good way to try out how the brush settings work before you use them on the portrait itself. Sketch a face and scan it in, or open outlinesketch.jpg from the cover CD or the Zip file below. Import it into your document and set the layer blending mode to Multiply.

Step 3
Turn off the brush settings, then paint a flat area of colour for the face. Press Cmd/Ctrl and click over the layer thumbnail, then select Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection. Set this mask on a layer group so you can’t paint over the edges. Use your textured brush to add subtle light and shadow.

Step 4
When painting a face, keep the brush’s opacity low. Rather than blocking colour in, you’re subtly building the details up, using a variety of tones and strokes. Always paint with the largest brush you can, gradually decreasing as you need more accuracy.

Step 5
Paint the hair in a flat colour, and as with the face, select the layer’s contents and make a layer mask. Build a variety of coloured and contrasting streaks into the hair over a few layers. Use a large soft brush on the layer mask itself so that you can give some translucency and softness to the edges of the hair.

Step 6
We’re aiming for an illustrative look rather than a photoreal one, but getting the balance of light and shadow right is vital. Start working on increasing the contrast and the range of the shadows and highlights.

Step 7
Go back to the Brushes menu and tweak the scattering setting. This is perfect for creating a few freckles quickly without having to place them all individually.

Step 8
Once you’re happy with the level of detail in the eyes, cheeks and other key areas, the final step is to adjust the overall colour balance and levels. Try adding a warm Photo Filter to unite your colour palette. Add subtle orange highlights to the right side of the nose and cheeks.

Sam Gilbey – sam-gilbey.com

DESIGN A TWITTER PAGE WITH A TILED BACKGROUND

Twitter opens up a huge opportunity for self-expression, and part of that is undoubtedly visual. While the Twitter interface gives you some basic backgrounds, let’s face it: they’re mostly pretty dull and it’s hard to make a unique splash when hundreds of thousands of other people are using the same elements.
To get noticed not just for your tweets, but also for your style, try creating your own custom background. In this second of a two-part part series, I’ll discuss how to create a tiled (or patterned) background.

In Part 1 of this tutorial, I talked about how to create top-left graphics that used image masks to blend seamlessly into the background. This time, I’ll explore tiled (or patterned) backgrounds. And although this tutorial is crafted for Twitter, you can use the pattern you create here just about anywhere, including your personal blog or your studio website.

A simple, stylish pattern can add polish to your page, and people tend to associate you with the imagery you choose. Coming up with a killer pattern is your goal. Make your pattern moderately large (300-by-300 pixels or more) to help curb the obviousness of the repetition. Avoid gradients because they will not blend from tile to tile. And you’ll want to keep the color and contrast of your pattern in check; after all, people are there to read your tweets, not go blind.

Open Adobe Photoshop CS3 or CS4 and choose File -> New. Enter a width and height for your pattern; for this example, I’ll choose 400-by-400 at 72 pixels per inch. There is no requirement to construct a square pattern; if you think your concept will work better with a wide or tall pattern, enter a resolution like 600-by-300 or 200-by-800. (Twitter’s only requirement is that the overall image file size be less than 800k.) Click OK to continue.

Create a moderately sized pattern of at least 300-by-300 pixels or larger.

Locate the Layers palette (Window -> Layers) and keep it handy, as you’ll be using it often. The first task is to set the pattern background colour. Choose Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color. Enter a name for the colour layer (i.e., Background Color) and click OK. Now choose a colour from the Color Picker and click OK; a new layer will then appear in the Layers palette.(Remember that you can change your background color at any time by double-clicking the colour layer thumbnail.)

It’s time to add graphic elements to your pattern. Choose Layer -> New -> Layer. You can add anything you want, from text to paint strokes to paths. The only requirement for this tutorial is that your graphic element fits within the document. When you’re happy with this first graphic element, toggle off the visibility of the layer using the eye icon next to it. Repeat this process — adding a new layer and a new graphic element, and then toggling off the visibility of the layer — until you have created all the graphic elements for your pattern.

Now you’ll need to position your graphic elements on the tile. Toggle on the layer visibility for the first element you created and then choose Filter -> Other -> Offset. (If you’ve created any vector objects, you’ll be warned that the vector mask will be rasterized before continuing.) Once the Offset window appears, check the preview option (if it’s not already checked). Immediately below, you’ll see a set of options for Undefined Areas; click the Wrap Around radio button.

Now move the horizontal and vertical sliders to position your graphic element; as you’ll notice, you can push the graphic off any edge of the document and it’ll simply wrap around to the other side. Position the graphic element and then click OK. Simply repeat this procedure for each element, and you’ll construct an interesting pattern in no time.

Offset lets you move images and have them wrap around to the other side of the canvas.

Follow these steps to export your pattern:

* Choose File -> Save for Web & Devices.
* Choose PNG-24 from the Preset pop-up menu.
* Make sure that Transparency is not checked.
* Make sure that Convert to sRGB is checked.
* Make that the projected file size (seen in the bottom right) is less than 800k.
* Click Save and save the file to your Desktop.

You can export as GIF, JPEG or PNG, but PNG will give you the best quality output.
Putting your pattern on Twitter

Uploading your pattern is straightforward. Go to your Twitter home page and click Settings; once the page loads, click Design. Immediately below the default themes, you’ll see an option Change background image. Click this link and then click Choose File. Find the pattern you saved to your Desktop and then click Choose. Check the option to tile background and then click Save Changes. Your new look is locked in — now tweak the design colours (text, links, sidebar, etc) to match.

Chris McVeigh

Creating surreal landscapes

 

If you ever had a poster of Salvador Dalí’s melting clocks or spindle-legged camels on your student bedroom wall, you’ll recognise this picture’s influences immediately.

The blank, open landscape, the juxtaposition of semi-random elements, and even the colour palette can be traced to surrealism. Another thing that the image has inherited from Dalí is close attention to detail and a high level of polish: while the images are random, the craftsmanship is meticulous.

In this tutorial, Justin Maller guides you step-by-step through the often painstaking process of compositing a convincing surreal landscape. While some of the images, such as the girl and the abstract ribbons, are provided on the disc, there are also tips for sourcing good background and texture images yourself.

 

 

01. The first task for a composite scene is selecting a workable background. Surfing stock sites is an inevitability when it comes to this kind of work; patience is everything. The key ingredients are width of shot and depth of focus – you want an image that offers a large plane to work within. I have selected a beach scene, but you can use anything that suits your style. Try and find something attractive, but uncluttered. Alternatively, open similair.jpg from the cover CD.

 

 

02. Remember that you never have to ‘make do’ when it comes to a piece’s environment. This particular shot lacks a memorable sky, so I’ve searched for one I find more attractive and pasted it in. Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T) the ‘Sky’ layer so that it covers the area neatly, and add a layer mask. Drag out a black to white gradient that begins at the horizon, and use a soft, large brush (100 pixels, 100% Opacity, 25% Flow) to neaten the edges.

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 istockphoto.com. 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 – www.markmayers.co.uk