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November 7th, 2010 / 8pm
Large Piece Tutorials

Retro Large Piece Tutorial

Hey everyone, it’s time for a new photoshop large piece tutorial. We’re going to create this wallpaper called Ideas of the Retro Mind, using some old retro pictures of newspapers, people, and so forth. We will be using some techniques like layer masks, pen tooling and layer adjustments. The Original piece can be found here, including links to all of the retro stock images. Enjoy this tutorial, you can download the large piece PSD files in the premium section.

Outcome of the large piece tutorial:

large piece tutorial

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Create a new file (File > New), and select your favourite settings. We’ve picked 800 pixels by 447 pixels:

Create a new Photoshop File

Add a background texture, we’ve picked this photo of a stoney and grassy texture (Try This DeviantArt for stock photos for large pieces):

Add Background texture

Reduce the fill of this texture to 17%, you do this by setting it down on your layer panel which is in the bottom right corner of your screen by default:

Reduce the fill

By reducing the fill a lot, your background should be similar to this:

Reduce the fill

We’re going to use a picture of this old newspaper. We’re going to resize it, and flip it over vertically. First, grab an old retro picture (Download one of these retro stock papers), and paste it on your canvas:

add a retro picture

Then, select Edit > Transform > 90 degrees ClockWise or CounterClockWise:

Edit Rotate

Now Flip it vertically, by selecting Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical:

Flip Vertically

We’re going to chop a part out of the newspaper, make a selection with the rectangular marquee tool and press delete:

Make a selection

Change the layers blending mode to Multiply in the layer panel, and reduce the fill a little bit:

Multiplay blending mode

This is what our current large piece looks like:

Large piece Photoshop

Now find a good looking render that you’d like to use, we’ve used the skeleton model that is going to be the center piece of our artwork. You can find skeleton stock pieces here, or elsewhere on deviantart. Place it into your large piece, and resize it properly. You can do this by pressing CTRL + T.

add a retro stock

We’re going to put three skeletons on top of eachother, and change the color of each skeleton with the use of Color Overlay. First, select Layer > Duplicate Layer:

Duplicate the layer

Then, select Color Overlay by pressing the fx button on your layer panel, or by going Layer > Layer Style > Color Overlay:

Color Overlay settings

The following settings were used to give the skeleton a white color:

Photoshop overlay settings

Outcome of the skeleton:

White retro skeleton

Duplicate this white skeleton layer:

Go back to the color overlay, and change the white color to another bright color, we’ve used a greenish blue:

Blue Overlay Settings

Now with the blue skeleton layer selected, tap the arrow keys on your keyboard. It’s up to you to pick a direction, we’ve set it 2 pixels down, and 2 pixels to the left:

Blue retro skeleton

Place the original skeleton model on top (like shown below in the picture), and with the arrow keys once again move it a little to the same direction that you moved the blue skeleton to:

Layer Order

This is what the three skeleton layers now look like:

retro skeleton

Duplicate the original skeleton layer (Layer > Duplicate Layer):

Duplicate the layer

Then Press CTRL + T (or select Edit > Free Transform) to change its size, and rotate it forward a little bit:

Duplicate the retro piece

This is the outcome after rotating the skeleton:

result after rotating the render

We’re going to repeat the previous process, except we’re going to put the blue one at the bottom this time. Duplicate the skeletons, use the Color Overlay function, and nudge them a few pixels to the right and bottom:

Blue Overlay Settings

White color overlay settings:

Photoshop overlay settings

This is what your result should look like in the following order;

Blue Color Overlay:

color overlay instructions

White Color Overlay:

retro picture creation step 20

Outcome after putting the third skeleton back on top without a color overlay:

Retro large piece tutorial step 22

Repeat this same process with a third model, rotated and decreased in size once again, placed a little more to the right overlapping the second skeleton like shown in the large piece below:

Skeleton models placed on the canvas

We’re going to use a picture of this old television to cover up their heads, and to give it an awesome retro look. We will then cut out the screen, and put an old image on top. You can copy this image, or use a model of your own. Remember, you’re not limited to a television, you can use basicly anything. A fish bowl perhaps, or the face of some celebrity. Be creative!

retro television stock image

Try being creative with the objects you’re using. Ours was placed as followed:

Cover the face with the stock image

We’re going to use a retro picture to fill up the television screen. Find a nice picture, this 50′s stock images pack has a nice compilation of retro images. Place it on top of the television screen. By using layer masks, we will carefully place the retro poster inside in the next few steps:

retro poster image

Select Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All:

Create a layer mask

Now grab the pen tool, and select the following settings:

Pen tool

Toolbar settings:

Pen tool settings

Create anchor points, and create a section that covers the television screen. however, using the pen tool may require some practise, don’t give up if you don’t get it the first time.

Pen tooling the television

We’re going to create a selection from the anchor points we created with the pen tool. We can do this by going to Paths on the layer window, and creating a selection from the work path. Select Paths, then right click the Work Path and press Make Selection:

Make a selection in the paths window

We have to fill the selection with white, it will turn our selected area in our layer mask visible again. Select the Paint Bucket Tool, and fill the selection with White:

use the bucket tool to fill the layer mask

This is what it should look like on your layer window:

Layer panel mask

This is what our result looks like. If you dont like the position, you can select the layer and move it around underneath the layer mask.

Result after filling the layer mask

Now Select your television layer, and duplicate it. We’re going to cover the other skeletons with television screens as well, duplicate the previous steps, and use the Free Transform tool (by pressing CTRL + T or by going to Edit > Transform> Free Transform):

Transform tool on the retro television

Our result after duplicating the television:

Use the pen tool to cut out the television

By clicking on the layer next to the layer mask on the layer window, we can move the retro picture on the television to show the different characters:

You can move the render underneath

Duplicate the proces on the other skeleton until you are satisfied, try to variate the sizes, angles and maybe even use different images instead of the television, be creative.

Transform the third television

Cut out with the pen tool, create a selection in the Paths window again, and place your character inside the screen.

Outcome pen tooling the retro picture

We’re nearly done with the large piece, all that’s left now is adjusting levels and textures and add finishing touches. If you’ve created your own artwork with different retro pictures, the following layer adjustment settings might not work out. You should use settings that will make your images blend in together a little. To create a Levels Adjustment layer, you can click the little black and white circle on the layer panel and pick Levels, or select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels.

Levels adjustment layer

Here’s an animation showing our settings of the Levels adjustment layer.

Levels adjustment layer settings

This is the result of the adjustment layer. As you can see, the retro pictures now blend in together properly. Don’t be afraid to use multiple adjustment layers to make the images blend.

Levels adjustment layer retro result

To create final texture, we add a starry space stock image on top of the picture. You can find plenty of nice sky imagery on DeviantArt stock pages, here’s a stock image of a sky space you can use. Place it on top of your image, and use the eraser tool to remove some parts that are too bright or detailed. Our outcome:

Starry sky wallpaper

Now set this layer to lighten on the layer panel. If this setting doesn’t look good on your piece, experiment with the layer settings:

Set the layer to lighten on the layer panel

Our outcome after setting the layer to Lighten:

Retro sky thumbnail

We’re going to finish the piece by adding details and extra imagery on the large piece, try to make it look good. We’ve made it appear as if the birds were flying out of his hands. The birds were made by the use of bird brushes, but anything works:

Photoshop bird brushes

We’re adding a light bulb stock inside his hand, and with the use of the Free Transform tool (Edit > Transform > Free Transform or CTRL + T) we can rotate and change the size to match the size of the hand.

Retro lamp edit

We’re going to use a soft brush to create a light spot on top of the light bulb. Select a light yellowish color (We picked #FFFDC6), and tap once on top of the light bulb. This is the brush shown on a black background:

Adding light to the Lightbulb

If you want a more transparant lightbulb you can experiment with the layer style, set it to Lighten perhaps. This is our result, with the layer style kept on normal:

Lightbulb photoshopped

We need some more detail in the light grey area, and are going to fill this up with a fractal render. Find a good fractal render (Try these, however make sure you have the right to use them), and place it on top of the picture. Resize it, and place it somewhere nice.

Fractal Render large piece

Now set the fractals layer style to exclusion. If this doesn’t look good on your large piece, experiment with the settings.

Layer style set to exclusion

our result after placing the fractal:

Fractal layer style

The right side is still a bit empty, so we’re going to duplicate the fractal and put it on the right side:

fractal rander duplicated

Set to exclusion again:

set the fractal to exclusion

We’re adding another render effect on top of the lightbulb to enhance the lighting effect. Use your eraser tool properly, and change the layer styles to whatever looks best. Ours was set to Lighten:

Lightbulb Radiance

The result:

set the fractal to lighten

This brings us to our final result, we’ve sharpened some areas. This is easily done by applying the image on a new layer (Image > Apply Image), then using the sharpen tool. Alternately, you could just select Filter > Sharpen, however this will sharpen the entire large piece and might not be the best option. Our outcome:

Sharpen the image

We hope you enjoyed this tutorial. You can download the PSD File, and much more in our Premium section!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Base. I've been developing and designing websites and graphics since 2004, and I love sharing my knowledge with the rest of the world!

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