Combine 3D Geometric Shapes and Flowing Lines for a Sleek iPhone Ad

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Abstract and geometric 3D shapes are an incredibly useful element when designing.  They create the illusion of motion, add diversity to an artwork, and also provide an excellent splash of color.  When combined with flowing lines, it can create a beautiful cosmic style background that can work well in a variety of situations.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a variety of 3D geometric shapes and combine them with some abstract flowing lines and a splash of color to create a vibrant and exciting sleek iPhone product advertisement.  You’ll walk away with added knowledge of how to use these techniques in your own work.

If you have any questions, let us know in the comments.  Let’s get started!

Tools Used:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • 3DS Max

Final Image Preview:

Step 1: 3DS shape creation

We will begin this tutorial by opening 3DS Max.  These shapes can also be created in other 3D applications such as Cinema4D, Maya and Blender, however if you are familiar in making similar shapes to what we will be making in a different program such as Illustrator; by all means use that program and just skip ahead to the post work sections. If not, well then open up 3DS and let’s get started!

In this section I will show you how to create 3 basic shapes that we can later use to bring life to an otherwise boring piece. Our first shape will be the square. So click the icon that says box and create a square.

Next we will need to create a material; we will be using the same material for all of our shapes so its important to get it right! To begin, we can press ‘M’ on our keyboard; this will open up the material editor. Next we can select the first sphere and then click the large button under the grid that says “Standard”. This will bring up a new window which will show us all the types of materials to choose from, we will select “Architectural” and select ‘ok’.

Next we will set it up as it appears in the below screenshot.

Now click and drag your sphere and drop it directly on top of your square to apply the material. Your square should now look something like the below screenshot.

Now we need to render! So press F10 on your keyboard to open the render settings. We will adjust the output size to about 1850*1850. Then hit render!

Once you have rendered your shape go ahead and save it as a PNG. Then make about 6/7 variations of your cube. Change the perspective and angles to make it appear not so repetitive in the final piece. Once you have done those delete your square and let’s move on to our next shape! Our next shape is a O or a tube if you like. So we can go back over to the section where we originally selected “BOX” and this time select “TUBE”. Once you have created your tube apply the material and tada!



Like the last one, the tube should have about 6 or so variations!
Our last shape will be a plus sign. To create the plus sign we need to go way over to the right and click the icon that looks like a square, a circle and a triangle all arranged behind one another. It should be in the middle of the sphere and light icon. This is the shapes icon. Once that is selected, go ahead and click the text button. Then just put a plus sign in and your screen should look similar to mine in the below screen shot.


With the “+” selected, choose the arc shaped tab on the right hand side entitled “Modify”. It should be the right of the arrow button. This will allow us to change the settings for our text. We won’t be changing any settings, but we will add a “Modifier”, so click the drop down menu entitled “Modifiers” and select “Bevel”. Once you have chosen the bevel option set your screen up as mine is in the below screen shot.


Now your plus should look something like the below screenshot, do note that this is without our material applied!

And now we can render this as well!

This is where we will stop, however it isn’t were you have to stop! You could for instance make some shapes that look like “/’,”?”,”>” or various other characters; you could also create some spheres or triangles! Just be sure to experiment, with 3D, you can make nearly anything.

Step 2: Scene Setup and Postwork of 3D

First off we will open up Photoshop and create a new document; our document size should be 2000*3000. Once that is done invert the background color to black. Now we need to open up all of those shapes we made and bring them into the scene. To make things easier we will be making one giant mess of shapes and then later altering it. So drag one shape in your document at a time, size it down to about 50% and apply a diffuse filter. The diffuse filter is located at Filter>Stylize>Diffuse>Anistropic. When dragging your shapes in be sure to vary the sizes, have some tiny and some large (50% of the original size should be the largest you use). Also vary your shapes colors and placement.
My array of shapes looks like the below screenshot.

You can see in my close up how I duplicated a shape, changed the hue and moved it to the side of the original shape to make a more interesting color scheme. This is a good idea to try but its not the only idea, you could for instance trace your shapes in another color or use blending modes and layer masks to create duo-tone shapes. Again just be sure to experiment!

Once you have made your array, merge all the layers except the background and then duplicate the shape layers about 10 times just to be safe.
Next we need to drop in our phone. The stock of the Iphone we will be using is located at : http://media.obsessable.com/media/2008/09/18/iphone-3g.jpg once you have obtained the stock image go ahead and drop it in your new document. Now we need to isolate the phone out, I would suggest you use whatever isolation method you prefer when doing this. However it is a very simple isolation so I will be using the magic wand tool with a tolerance of 30%.

My isolated phone looks like the below screen shot.

Now duplicate your phone layer and go up to your filter tab; we will be using the high pass filter so go to filter>other>high pass and set the % at 77. Once you have done this change the blending mode to overlay. This will help our phone have a better contrast rather than just a regular overlay layer.
The newly modified phone now looks like:

Step 3: Shape Implementation

To start off incorporating our shapes we will grab one of our layer copies and remove about 90% of the shapes with our eraser. Next we will apply a Gaussian blur. To apply the Gaussian blur go to your Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set it up as it appears in the below screen shot.

Our scene now looks like the below screen shot.

Now we can grab another one of our merged layers and size it down to about 50% and place it beneath the phone. You will want to do this about 5 times, each time slightly adjust the hue by about +5 or -5% and change the angle when free transforming it.


Now we grab your soft 200px eraser, set the opacity to 35% and erase some of the shapes slightly so it appears as if they are drifting away.

Now continue placing more shapes. At this point it’s a good idea to open up your shapes once again and bring in two or three shapes at a decent size to place around the phone. That way everything’s not so tiny.

Once you have placed all of your shapes you want to place and brought in some bigger ones we need to open up one shape and drag it in at its actual size. Once you have done that place it in the corner and apply a Gaussian blur with a radius of 9.

Step 4: Background creation

Now we need to create a new layer beneath all of our existing layers. Once you have done that grab any brush you like (a standard 100px hard brush will work fine) and select two colors. I went with pink and blue as they work very well together. Once you have done this use this brush with these colors and draw all over the canvas as I have done in the below screenshot.

Now we can apply a Gaussian blur with a radius of 250 twice. Then set the layer opacity to 15%. Now we can repeat this step on another layer. Once you have done that your scene should look similar to the below screenshot.

If you zoom in closely you will notice that the blur has caused some strange ripple effects! This is exactly what we want so don’t be upset when you see these!

Now we will repeated the above process again, this time rather than leaving the layer mode as normal we will change it to color dodge with an opacity of 100%. This can be applied as many times as you like, I did mine about 2 more times and also incorporated yellow into the my two colors. Also when doing this be sure that your color dodge layers are above the previously created normal layers otherwise this will not work!

Now we will do the same again, this time however we will do it on a layer that’s above the phone. And once it’s done you will need to delete everything except the colors that are atop of the phone. This layer should be set as overlay at 100%.

Step 5: Light stocks and closing

To finish off our piece we will need to add in something more, something to help bring everything together. That will be light stocks! So we will head over to SXC and grab this stock and drop it into our document.
http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1114780

If you don’t want to use stock images for this part, you can easily create your own flowing lines:


Once you have dropped the above stock into your document you will need to drag it beneath the phone, free transform it to about 50% its normal size and set the blending mode to screen. Now just move it about so that it barley sticks out.

Now do the above process again, this time on the opposite side.

Now drag a copy of both of these layers above the phone and remove about 80% of the stock that’s on the phone. This will leave the impression as if it were barley creeping onto the phone.

Now we will grab our final stock, it is located at:
http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=1111541

This stock we will make a screen layer with opacity of about 10%. Now just leave it at its original size and angle it and we are done!

My finished piece looks like the below screen shot.

I hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial and maybe learned a thing or two! If you have any questions regarding a technique don’t be afraid to post a message and ask!

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