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Basic Wallpaper Tutorial

Spanky

Scooby
Joined
Aug 12, 2008
Messages
22,961
Black Thorn
I've included links to the stock images I've used but would also encourage anyone to sign up for a free account at textures.com as well as freeimages.com. You can always search Google images, but just remember, unless you search specifically for images labeled for reuse, then you are using someone else's copy written images and displaying on the internet- where photographers/artists have programs designed to crawl the web looking for copy written images. Odds are low that you would face repercussions but as someone that had to hire a lawyer to argue why I used copyrighted images in a piece I did, and ended up settling out of court for five grand (on top of my lawyer bill!), so it does sometimes happen. Make sure the juice is worth the squeeze if you steal an online image.

Alright so let's get tut it. (tut it.. tutorial, see what I did there.. damn right) I consider this to be a basic tutorial as we are working with layers and masks but no custom-made brushes nor special filters or anything other than 'stock' Photoshop CS5 and above functions. I am not using shortcut keys either. So if you know what the shortcut is and you wish to use that then be my guest. I don't know what Windows shortcuts are so I am not saying any! Deal with it.

You should download the Toolbar cheatsheet so you can easily find the tools if you don't know where it is. I will also be posting screencaps during the tutorial, but the cheatsheets may be beneficial for you in the long run.
1-First, you will need to create a blank document by selecting New under the "File" category in the top toolbar. You should create it as 1440 x 900, with a transparent background.

2- Use the "paint bucket" tool to fill in the workspace with a dark red color. You can, when selecting a color, input the HEX number of 430000. So that it matches my background color. To do so, after clicking the paint bucket, click the foreground color near the bottom of the toolbar. It will open up a dialog box where you can input the hex # (in the # box) and click OK. Then fill (left click) the blank layer with that color.

3- You should now lock the layer as your background layer by clicking "Layer" on the top toolbar, selecting "New" and clicking "Background from Layer" as seen in this screencap


4- Download and then open the Sarah_Michelle_Gellar.jpg file.
At the top toolbar click "Select" and "All" then click "Edit" and "Copy" go back into your wallpaper file and "Paste" Now SMG's face should be over the red background. You should call Sarah's face SMG. To name a layer, go to the Layer Palette on the right hand side and double click the name of the layer. We should rename this SMG.

Once you do this you can now resize the image. You should see a 'bounding box' around the SMG layer. Simply hold down the SHIFT key, and hold down a left click on top left corner boxes move your cursor up, down, left or right and it will be resized however you want.

Once you are happy, click the "Move" button (the top button on the left toolbar) and click the Apply button when asked to apply the transformation. You should have something that looks like this:


5- Now you need to remove the grey background from the SMG layer. We will use the "Magic Wand" to do this. Select the Magic Wand on the left toolbar and left-click to select the grey background. Hold down the SHIFT key when you use the wand to select multiple portions of the background, as illustrated here:


Now from the top toolbar you can click "Edit" and "Cut" to cut the background. When you do this it will not be a precise cut and there will be rough edges. The first cut is indeed the deepest but we will need to clean that up with a LAYER MASK. The layer mask is your best friggin friend. Seriously. Like Beyonce says.. put a ring it on. You will be married to the layer mask.

6- To create a Layer Mask you need to go to the layer palette. At the bottom of the palette is a button that has a square with a white circle inside it (1). That is the layer mask button. When you click this it will add the masking layer (2) to the SMG layer as seen in this screencap.

What the all-white layer mask does is enables anything black on the mask to mask that section on the original image. So anything black on the white background will in essence 'delete' the corresponding space for the original image.

You want to be sure to click the white layer mask with your pointer before doing anything else. Now you need to select a brush to 'paint' black anything you want to remove. Select a soft brush from the Tool bar at the left and make sure you have a pure black (not dark grey!) color selected. Now.. dig it… Watch what happens:

I took my black brush and made a mark on Sarah's face- but because we were working from the Layer Mask, it put the black spot on the layer mask, thus 'masking' part of Sarah's head from our view. Any part of the workspace we 'paint black' will be masked over. (as long as you are on the layer mask)

Remember, if it's white you see it, black you don’t. You can 'erase' part of the image without actually erasing it! And if you want to get the picture whole again and fill in Sarah's hole? Just change from a black brush to a white brush and paint the hole over.

If you ever get confused if you are on the masking layer or the main image, you can look at the layers tab and see which one the bounding box is on. That will tell you if your edits are 'live' or if they are being made to the layer mask. See the screencap.

PLAY AROUND!! Start masking and unmasking parts of her face. Change the brush sizes, change it from a soft to a hard brush and see how masking works. It's an amazing tool that you can not live without.

Once you get done playing make sure the image is 'whole' again so we can remove those rough edges.

7- Go back to a soft black brush and gingerly trace over the rough edges so that it looks something like this.
If you made a mistake and mask something by accident, just change the brush from black to white and undo your mistake.

8- We are going to stay working on the layer mask as now we are going to fade-out the bottom. You still want the black color selected but now you need to select the "Gradient Fill" from the toolbar. Click and hown down the paint bucket and select Gradient Fill like in this screencap

9- Now you should see the gradient fill options bar. From there you can select what type of gradient you want to use and what gradient mix you want. Check out this screencap to see.
If you click the gradient dropdown it will brink up a list of all of your gradients. Select the Foreground to Transparent gradient.

This will create a smooth transition from black to colorless, enabling us to mask a large section off at one time.

Be sure you have the gradient fill selected and are working on the layer mask. Position your mouse at the bottom of the screen. Hold down the SHIFT key (this makes your mouse move in a straight line no matter how much coffee you've had) and now hold down the LEFT CLICK on the mouse and move the cursor up to her eye line. It should look something like this:
Right on. That's the first step down. Twasn't too hard was it? Now we begin the fun stuff. We get to doll her up.

10- Go over to the Layers Palette and select the main SMG image. So we are now making live changes, and not changes to the layer mask. Once you click on the SMG layer, the bounding box should show you've changed from the layer mask to the live image.

Select the "Burn Tool" from the toolbar. Set the range for Shadows and 100% exposure. Change the size of your brush so that it matches SMG's eye size. See the screencap.

Now zoom in (with magnifying glass) and get a good look at her peepers and position the cursor just above her eye but below those well-plucked brows. Like this:

hold down the left click and follow the outline of the top of her eye. This should give her some 'natural' eye shadow like so:

Adjust the size of the brush and repeat for the other eye. Careful to only do it once otherwise she will look like Rocky Raccoon. Unless.. that’s what you want.

Remember: Burn will make things darker. Dodge will make things lighter.

11- Select the "Dodge tool". Set the range for HIGHLIGHTS and 100% exposure. Adjust the brush so small but not tiny. About 7px. The dodge is all about being subtle. Hold down the left click and go back and forth over the bottom lip until its dodged. It should look something like this. You can do the top lip if you want.. just remember, only one pass otherwise it will be too light and look artificial (or too burnt if using the burn tool) Here's an example of both lips dodged if you want to do so:


A tangent: as I spent many years in a darkroom working with real exposures and burning and dodging techniques, the dodge is called that as you have a little cardboard piece that you would dart (or dodge) back and forth over the paper to prevent light from hitting it, so it would be lighter than the rest. To burn an image it would be reverse.. you would have pieces that you would cover the rest of the paper while the light shown longer on the section you wanted burnt.

12- Now that we made some minor cosmetic changes; let's make a little more wholesale alteration. Now we are going to work on exposures. Select from the top bar Image, Adjustment, Exposure to bring up the exposure box like this.

Adjust the Exposure slider by moving it back and forth so that you can see how it work. Over-exposure lightens the image; under-exposure darkens it. You can also play with the Offset and Gamma Correction sliders to see how they all work. Any changes you make will not take effect until you hit OK. But don’t hit it yet!

For the sake of the exercise let's go with an exposure of +2.20, offset -0.25 and gamma of .50. With those settings it should look like this:

13- One thing I don't like is the eyes look mismatched. If you want to correct that, go back into your burn tool, and burn the 'colored' eye to match the black.. like this.

14- Now we want to adjust the layer settings. Go over to the Layer Palette and click on Normal blending option. This will open the Layer Blending Options box like this. Go through one at a time and see what the different settings do to the image. This time though you need to select Lighten. So it should look something like this:

Having fun yet? We are half of the way done!
15- It's time to add some texture. For this lesson I have included a ROYALTY-FREE image from textures.com. Download GrungeBG-Pole1.jpg and open it in a new window. At the top toolbar Select, All, Copy. Now go back to the wallpaper lesson and paste. If the Grunge BG is position ontop on the main layer, like this click Layer on the top toolbar (as shown in the above cap), select Arrange and Send Backward and it will move the Grunge layer behind the SMG layer. Now it should look like this:

16- We need to separate some of the background and remove it, so that it highlights Sarah but does not drown her out. To do this we need to click the SMG layer again. Select the "magic wand" and left click anywhere outside of SMG's body, so that it looks like this. Now, on the toolbar at the top, click on Select then click on Refine Edge and it should have a light red mask with a refine edge dialog box.

If it is not masked with a slight red hue like that click the View button on the dialog box, and select Overlay- like this.

Now we want to Feather the mask so it's a smoother transition. To do this, set the Feather to 27.5px and the Shift Edge to -42px. You will see the red masking layer will feather and shift out like this. Click OK, the red mask should have vanished and SMG should have a little halo effect around her. Now you have to go back to the Grunge layer (by clicking it with you pointer- but make sure the halo around SMG stays) and from the top toolbar select Edit, and Cut. This should cut everything that was not red, but still leave a nice little halo effect for SMG. Like so:

17- While still on the background layer we want to change the blending options for it. We want to select Darken, so that it looks like this.

18- This is where the SMG layer mask will really pay off. Go back to the layer mask. Remember to click on the Layer Mask part. Now zoom in so you get a really good look at her hair. Then select a brush, and using white (as we want to bring the hair back) start 'coloring' in the hair so that it looks like its swirling with the circles.. like so:

19- From FreeImages.com I downloaded an image we are going to use for some Texture. You should download this image now. Open it up in a new window. Do the Select, All, Copy and paste it into your wallpaper. Adjust the positioning to where you like it. Then left click on the layer in the palate box, hold down the let click and drag the texture layer so that it is below the background layer. Like so and it should look like this:​

20- Now it's time we rename the layers as we will start to add more and more and having 100 layers all called "layer" can be confusing! So let's call them SMG, highlight, texture and background. Like so.

21- In the Layers Palette select the "texture" layer, and change it from normal in the Blend Option to Color Burn with an opacity of 50%. Like this. Now we want to make a Layer Mask on the texture layer. Do you remember how to do that? If you need a refresher. Now we are pretty much going to repeat what he did before. Gradient fill, black to transparent, but this time we are going to go sideways. First left to right, then right to left to create a pseudo-border. Stop the fill at about her image. So it should look something like this:

22- We want to create a blank layer atop of all of them. At the top toolbar click Layer, click New Layer, rename the layer NOISE and click ok. Then click Layer, Arrange and Bring to Front. So NOISE should now be the top layer.

Now select the Paint Bucket and the color black. Fill in the NOISE layer with all black. On the top toolbar click Filter, Noise, Add Noise. Select the amount as 17.5%, Gaussian and do not select Monochromatic. Like so.

Now on the layers palette, change the NOISE layer from Normal Blend Option to Color Dodge. So it should look like this:

Lock the NOISE layer by pressing the little lock button above it. Once it's locked, it should show its locked on the palette. You should also lock the highlight and texture layers now.

23- Now we need to add another stock image, the win-bg image should be downloaded and opened in a new window. Do another Select, All, Copy and then go back and paste it into the wallpaper workspace. Move and position it about here so that it almost engulfs Sarah. Now rename that layer Window, and drag the layer so that it is below the texture layer. Change the Window layer Blend Option to Lighten, with an opacity of 50%, so it looks something like this:

24- Okay. We are getting somewhere. But that window doesn't quite look right. Let's make a mask (I told you at the start we were going to be using a lot of masks, I weren't lying) and see what we can touch up.

So, after we've made the mask let's get rid of all of the parts of the window that are in SMG's face. I'll show you a lazy man's trick for it right now.

Go back to the SMG layer, and use the magic wand to select the 'empty' area outside of her body. Then click Select and Inverse and it should look something like this. Now we want to refine the edge like we did before, so Select, Refine Edge and adjust the settings to feather 9.2 and shift edge -65 like this. Go back to the window layer mask in the Palette menu, clicking on the white layer mask, and then click the Paint Bucket tool and fill in the area with black. So it creates a SMG-shaped mask like this so that blots out all of the remain bits of the window from her face.

But now part of the highlight layer is giving an odd color to the window. So lets unlock the highlight, by clicking the lock, make a layer mask. Select a soft, round brush, and- using black color, mask out the parts of the highlight that bled through into the window like this. Now lock the highlight layer again.

25- I think it's time we drown in SMG's greenish eyes. To do so create a new layer, on the top toolbar click Layer, New Layer. Name the layer eyes. Position the layer so that it is just below the NOISE layer. Select the Eyedropper from the left toolbar. Click the Foreground color at the bottom of the bar, and using the color picker, type in 0df408 in the # space at the bottom, as you see here.

On the eyes layer, select a soft round brush, size it approx 41 px, 100% opacity. With a few click, cover over the black eyes with green so it looks like this. Remember, you should be on the eyes layer and not actually painting over her eyes on the SMG layer.

Now click on the eraser. Again, you want a round soft eraser, this time approx 20px. Create the 'pupils' in the green eyes with some eraser clicks in each eye. Like so. Use the eraser to 'trim' the green so that it's not 'outside' of the eye. Then change the layer to Screen 67% opacity. So it looks like so. Now lock down the eye layer.

26- Time for some birdies! Download and open up the Bird.jpg file in a new window. Take the magic wand, set the tolerance to 20, and click inside the bird until the entire bird is selected. Then copy. Go into the wallpaper file; create a new layer called Bird1 and paste.

Paste a few more birds in there so you've got four of them. Rename the other bird layers Bird2, Bird3, Bird4.
Select all of the bird layers and they should all be joined in a bounding box. Click Edit, Transform, Scale and type in 50% for the width and 50% for the height, like this.

Position the Bird layers in a pattern like this near the window
Now change all of the Bird layers from Normal Blend to Pin Light like so.
Now take all of the Bird layers and drag them below the texture layer and lock them.

27- Time to add some text I think. First, download the fonts that I used in this wallpaper and install them. The fonts are: CaviarDreams_Bold.ttf and Dry Brush.ttf

How to install:
Windows 10/8/7/Vista:Right-click on the font files > "Install"
Windows XP:Put the font files into C:\Windows\Fonts
Mac OS X:Double-click the font file > "Install font" button


You will probably have to save your work and quit photoshop for the new fonts to be installed.

I am going to use part of a quote from Terry Tempest Williams' When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice.

The quote we will be using is: A shadow is never created in darkness. It is born of light.

28- Select the Horizontal Tool Tab and click anywhere on the workspace to add text. Select the Dry Brush font, a size of 48 and then select the color. Type 0df408 (which is what we gave her eye color) in the box like so. Now type:

It is born of light.
In the Horizontal Type line on the workspace. Move the text towards the bottom of the screen and move the text layer beneath the texture layer on the layer palette. Change the opacity of the text layer to 50% so that it more closely matches the color of the eyes. It should look something like this.​
Now lock that layer.

29- Create a new layer- call this one quote. Click the horizontal text button, select the Caviar Dreams font change the font size to 30 and change the color to 2c2725 and type:

a shadow is never created in darkness….​

Move the text towards the bottom of the wallpaper resting atop the 'it is born of light' text. Position the quote layer beneath the "it is born" layer so that it looks like:

It may be hard to read now but it is supposed to be. We will now rectify that. On the top toolbar click on Layer, Layer Style, Inner Shadow. Make the color white, blend mode lighten, opacity 24%, 30 degree angle, 5 px distance like this. Click ok. Now lock that layer.

30- Create a new layer; call it darkness and pretend you are Mick Jagger and paint it black (use the paint bucket or a brush if you want to have fun with it.. just make sure the whole thing is black) Now change the layer blending option from Normal to Overlay via the palette box.

Create another mask on the darkness layer. Go with the gradient fill again, black to transparent. Position the cursor near the bottom right side of SMGs hair, click and hold the left button and move the cursor up toward the top left, like this.

The workspace should look something like this now:

Now. You are done except for TWO things.

31- I personally like adding the noise, but if you click the little eye icon to the left of the NOISE layer you can turn it off and see what it looks like without the noise. Once you decide if you want it to have noise or not (or you can make another masking layer on the noise and mask out part of the noise and other parts remain!) then

32- If you are done, and do not want to make any more changes, go to the top toolbar click Layer then click Flatten Image.
Also, be sure to save the file!

So that's it. A basic tutorial on how to make wallpapers. Many of the tools you learned you can expand on yourself to do more unique layouts. I feel like I went fast through some of it, so if you have any questions feel free to PM me or ask below. I look forward to seeing what you've done!







 
Last edited:

GwenRaiden

AKA Apology Girl
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Now you need to remove the grey background from the SMG layer. We will use the "Magic Wand" to do this.
I can never use the magic wand without making a mess. Quick selection tool is amazing though.

Nice tutorial. I'll play later~!
 
Spanky
Spanky
Magic wand is quicker and easier that quick selection tool.. play with it.. you will see.

GwenRaiden

AKA Apology Girl
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My attempt. I did change a few things, most obvious one would be the actual SMG photo. I didn't want to follow it exactly, but I did learn lots of new tricks, so thanks! It was really helpful and really easy to follow.

 

Spanky

Scooby
Joined
Aug 12, 2008
Messages
22,961
Black Thorn
Excellent!! did you use the magic wand !!!! and I was going to say throughout to experiment with settings, but I also wanted to have alot of screencaps so kinda had to say follow this.. but I think any of them are made to 'make it your way'

You did a great job. It looks better than mine. I thought the lesson was too long and it might have been confusing how I wrote it.

Do you want that Eliza one as a tutorial? It is really intense.
 

GwenRaiden

AKA Apology Girl
Joined
Aug 26, 2008
Messages
6,939
Age
33
Location
Ecosse
Black Thorn
Excellent!! did you use the magic wand !!!! and I was going to say throughout to experiment with settings, but I also wanted to have alot of screencaps so kinda had to say follow this.. but I think any of them are made to 'make it your way'

You did a great job. It looks better than mine. I thought the lesson was too long and it might have been confusing how I wrote it.

Do you want that Eliza one as a tutorial? It is really intense.
The magic wand is better than I thought... I'm a quick selection tool snob! Or, just a tool.

I made her eyes blue because the green eyes scared me. But yeah, it was really helpful, loads to learn and good fun to follow. The only problem I had was that my building kept having power surges when I was doing the tutorial, lost my work twice!

Which Eliza one? Sure, why not!
 
Spanky
Spanky
The 'sin city' looking Eliza one. It might be awhile, I am going to be busy for a bit, but I'll work on it.

Spanky

Scooby
Joined
Aug 12, 2008
Messages
22,961
Black Thorn
The magic wand and then refine edge is great two step.. that and masking layers.
 
GwenRaiden
GwenRaiden
Aye, more please! They're fun.
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