The Apple iPhone was one of the revolutionary devices of the new millennium. Apple’s overall brand recovery and rebuilding process has been stunning, charging back onto the market after losing significant market share to Microsoft, IBM and other technology giants during the 1990’s. Part of the reason for Apple’s success has been excellent advertising and branding.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to design a tropical underwater iPhone advertisement, complete with clownfish, starfish, and bubbles. You’ll learn how to isolate a variety of stock images, using custom brushes, extraction methods, and image manipulations. You’ll also see how to visually compose an image for maximum effect.
Hopefully you enjoy the tutorial, and please, leave feedback so we can provide tutorials that you want to see.
- Stock Images
Final Image Preview:
Step 1: Document Setup and Background
To start off this tutorial we will start by creating a new Photoshop document; If you have Photoshop open already you can press ‘CTRL N’ on the keyboard to do this. We will set our document at 2000*3000 with the settings I have below. If your system is a tad slow you can obviously change the resolution to something that would work better for you. However you will want to keep it in the same height and width ratio.
Now that we have our document set up we can go ahead and start on the background. To start off we will change the white background layer to a darker color, black will work fine but you can play with it and choose a dark blue or violet if you want. So once you have your color selected we will press ‘G’ on the keyboard to bring up our fill tool and fill this layer. Once the layer has been filled we can head over to Sxc to grab a nice stock image which will become our background. The stock image we will use is a underwater shot with some fish swimming around, it can be found here: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=1214466
Once you have the stock we can grab it and drop it into our document.
Now we need to apply a Gaussian blur, this will help out by creating a sense of depth in the image as well as just make it look better then the dark fill layer from before or a phone pasted atop of a bland stock. So to apply a Gaussian blur we will go to the filter drop down menu and choose ‘Blur’ > ‘Gaussian blur’. Once you have done this a new dialog box should appear showing your settings for the Gaussian blur. We will use a semi small radius, something around 20-30 pixels; we are using a smaller blur so we can retain some sense of the forms in the stock, that way we will be able to see the shadows or blurs that look like fish and such.
One you have applied the blur and set the blending mode for the stock image to screen your document should look similar to mine in the below screen shot.
Now we need to darken our stock because it seems too bright for out water stocks to stand out. We can do this by selecting a dark violet and filling it the same way we did in the previous steps. So go to your color platelet and choose the color I have selected in the below screenshot. However this is another area you can play with, you can change the color to a dark blur or a dark green for instance; just keep in mind to keep it dark!
Once we have selected the dark color we can create a new layer above the stock image; to create a new layer we will press ‘CTRL SHIFT N’. Once we have a new layer created we can press ‘G’ on our keyboard to grab the fill tool and just click anywhere on our document to fill this layer. Once the layer has been filled we will set the opacity of our layer to around 45-50% and set the blending mode to overlay.
Our document should now look something like the below screenshot, but remember if you changed the colors around or the opacity your result may look slightly different. That’s okay though just as long as you like where you are at up until this point.
Step 2: Phone Isolation and Placement
Now that we have created the background for our piece we can start to fill the canvas up with various stock images, the first and most important stock image is of course our stock of the Iphone. So we will go to http://www.brosscar.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/iphone.jpg and get the stock of the phone, once you have it just paste it into your document as we did with the background stock image.
Alright so now that we have our phone we need to begin the isolation process. Since our phone is essentially just a rectangle the isolation should be for the most part extremely simple. So to start off we will press ‘W’ on our keyboard to grab the magic wand tool; set your tolerance to 25% and then just click the white that surrounds the phone
Once you have created a selection around the phone we can now apply a layer mask, go to your layer toolbar and click the icon that looks like a square with a circle in it, this is the “Layer Mask” tool. It will remove the selection but unlike deleting it, it will allow you to add it back as you wish. Once you have clicked that you will notice a duplicate view of your layer in the layer toolbar, this one being in black and white. The white represents what you can see and the black what will remain invisible. We will be working on this layer for the majority of the isolation process. Once you have clicked the layer mask our phone should disappear leaving the white around it, we can fix this by pressing ‘CTRL I’ on our keyboards to invert the current selection; inverting the current selection will cause all of our black to become white and vice versa. Your document should look similar to mine in the below screenshot.
You will notice that the shadow at the bottom of our phone has stayed with the phone. Since we have a layer mask we can fix this pretty easily. We will start off by pressing ‘E’ on the keyboard; this will grab the eraser tool. Once you have grabbed the eraser tool we can right click on our document to setup the brush. We want to use a small hard brush so we don’t erase anything we don’t mean to, however if you do erase something by mistake don’t worry you can press ‘X’ on the keyboard and repaint the section that was previously removed. Once the brush dialog comes up just set your brush up as mine is in the below screenshot, but remember if you changed the resolution in the beginning you may want to go with a smaller brush.
Once your brush is setup just zoom in and clear all the ugly white stuff out at the bottom.
Now that the ugly white section is gone at the bottom we can clean up the rest of our edges. To do this we will start off by pressing ‘M’ on the keyboard; this will enable the marquee tool. Make sure your marquee tool is set up to rectangle and has no feather before continuing. With the marquee tool selected we can now make a rectangular selection going down one side of the phone, once you have made that selection hold ‘CTRL’ on the keyboard and make selections around the rest of the sides. Keep in mind that our edges are smooth and not hard edges so we do not want these selected. Also try and make sure your marquee selection just barley goes inside the phone, we are just trying to create straight edges and remove any odd things that might be there from the previous steps.
Once you have a selection going all the way around the phone we can press ‘DEL’ on the keyboard to delete everything we have selected. Your phone should look similar to mine in the below screenshot.
Now that we have our phone isolated it’s time to place it, but it seems way too big for our document so we will be free transforming it. To enable the free transform tool we will press ‘CTRL SHIFT T’ on the keyboard. Once you have pressed ‘CTRL SHIFT T’ a box should appear around our phone, you will notice that this box has smaller boxes on each of the sides as well as the corner. We will ignore all of this and use the free transform toolbar at the top which has a space for us to input the width and height as well as the angle. Set your height, width and angle the same as mine in the below screenshot, but keep in mind this is only if you have kept the original document size of 2000*3000.
Once we have free transformed our phone we are going to need to move it and place it around the center of our document. To do this we will press ‘V’ on the keyboard to grab the move tool and then just simply move the phone until it appears as if it is in the middle of the document.
Step 3: Water Stock Manipulation
So now that we have a phone isolated atop our underwater background we need to place some water stocks around the phone to give the illusion that the phone is underwater. So to start off this process e will head back over to Sxc to grab a nice splash shot. The splash stock can be found at http://www.sxc.hu/pic/l/2/26/26081992/1180590_78315975.jpg
Once we have the stock we will just paste it into our document below the phone layer. But it looks strange since it’s at a different angle than the phone. To fix this we will free transform our splash the same way we did the phone in the previous step, however this time we will just be adjusting the angle of the splash and not the size. So press ‘CTRL SHIFT T’ on your keyboard and change the angle from 0% to -13%. Once you changed the angle you can press ‘ENTER’ on the keyboard to apply the transformation; your document should look similar to mine below.
Now we have a few options with how to deal with our water stock as far as its isolation goes. We will be choosing to apply this layer as a screen since the effect will be identical to if you meticulously isolated it with a layer mask. So we will start off by pressing ‘CTRL SHIFT U’ followed by ‘CTRL SHIFT L’; this will desaturate our image and also auto level it. Once that is done we will change the blending mode to screen, this will cause only the whites of our image to show.
This looks good but we can still see parts of the glass. To remove the glass we will press ‘E’ on the keyboard to grab the eraser tool; with the eraser tool enabled you need to right click on the document and set your brush up as I have mine in the below screenshot.
Now that we have our eraser set up we will start removing all the visible pieces of the glass. All we are trying to keep is the splash at the top as well as the water on the right hand side. So with our new eraser selected we will just clear up all of the stock on the left hand side and any that may have gotten down to the bottom. Your splash stock should look similar to mine in the below screenshot.
To continue our splash look we will head back over to Sxc and grab this stock http://www.sxc.hu/pic/l/d/dj/djeyewater/884260_47915322.jpg
This time we will keep the splash atop the phone layer and position it so the tallest point of the splash is moving up the left side of the phone. We will not free transform this stock but you will need to just move it around so it looks like mine does in the below screenshot. To move the splash around just press ‘V’ on the keyboard to grab the move tool and click and drag the layer.
Despite the fact that our stock is primarily black and white its till best to play it safe, so we will press ‘CTRL SHIFT U’ followed by ‘CTRL SHIFT L’ on the keyboard once again as we have done with the previous water stock. Now we can set the blending layer for this stock as a screen just as before. Once you have done all of this your splash should look similar to mine in the below screenshot.
Now we need to remove all the glass and splashes aside from the splash that is moving up the left hand side and any of the tiny water droplets that are flying off the glass, these will become our ‘Bubbles’. To do this we will press ‘E’ on the keyboard as we have done before and then right click on the document to set up our brush. This time since there is so much of the stock that needs to be removed we will use a larger softer brush rather than in previous steps.
Once you have erased everything but the tall splash on the side of the phone your image should look similar to mine in the below screenshot. However If you want you can leave some of the little bubble shaped splashes that seem to be flying around on this stock, just be sure you have erased all of the glass and the other main splashes that cover the phone.
Now that we have created those two splashes it’s time to place a splash atop the phone to finish this step. However the phone is not as dark as it could be. To fix this we will be creating a new layer and painting some black over the top black bar on the phone.
So to start off we will press ‘CTRL SHIFT N’ on the keyboard to create a new layer, we will leave this layer as a normal blending mode with 100% opacity. Once your new layer has been created and is above the phone layer we will setup our brush. We will be using a medium soft brush with a low opacity setting this time. So press ‘B’ on the keyboard to grab the paint brush tool and set your brush settings as I have done mine in the below screenshot.
Now we need to paint on top of the black bar at the top of the screen, but be careful we don’t want any black fading out onto the chrome around the phone or the screen itself. Once your black has been painted over the phone it should look similar to mine in the below series of screenshots. Keep in mind if you painted yours extremely opaque you may want to bump the opacity of this layer down to around 70%.
Now that we have darkened the phones top bar we will go back to Sxc and grab the previous stock once more. http://www.sxc.hu/pic/l/d/dj/djeyewater/884260_47915322.jpg
Once its pasted into our document we will need to transform it 180 degrees, to do this we will click the edit drop down menu and then ‘Transform’ > ‘Rotate 180 Degrees’. Once your splash has been rotated we can then press ‘CTRL SHIFT U’ followed by ‘CTRL SHIFT L’ just as before. Now that we have flipped and desaturated our splash all that’s left is for it to be placed. So we can now press ‘V’ on the keyboard to grab the move tool. With the move tool enabled we just need to move the stock so it’s placed like the below screenshot.
Now we want to delete everything but the small ‘C’ shaped splash on the top left side of the glass and the splash that is atop of the black bar we darkened in the previous steps. To do this we will press ‘E’ on the keyboard and use the same eraser as in the previous step. Once you have erased everything but the ‘C’ splash and the top piece that covers the black bar, your document should look similar to mine in the below screenshot. If you want you can leave some of the little bubble shaped splashes that seem to be flying around on this stock, just be sure you have erased all of the glass and the other main splashes.
All that’s left to do is set this layer up as a screen layer and we are done with our splashes!
Step 4: Coloring with Photo Filters
Now that we have some plashes around our phone we need to color the scene so it appears as if it is underwater. To do this we will be using photo filters. Photo filters are similar to and of the other adjustment layers you can apply and are very useful when used properly.
So to start off we will go to the ‘Layer’ drop down menu and go to ‘Adjustment layers’ > ‘Photo filters’, once you have clicked this a new dialog box should appear with a few presets we can choose from as well as the opacity or ‘Density’ of the layer. We will click the drop down menu and choose underwater with a density of 34%. Then just press ok!
Now that we have applied the photo filter layer your image should look similar to mine in the below screenshot. If your photo filter layer is not above all your previous layers be sure to click and drag it so it is the top layer that way it affects the water as well as the phone and anything else we add in later.
Now we can apply another photo filter however this time we only want it to affect the phone itself. So to do this we will need a selection around our phone that way when the layer is created only the selected area will be affected. To make a selection you can use the magic wand tool (‘w’ on your keyboard) or hold ‘CRTL’ on the keyboard and click the phone layer mask. Either way your selection should only be around your phone as mine is in the below screen shot.
Once we have the selection we can go back up to the layer drop down and create a new photo filter layer. This time we will choose the ‘Cooling filter (80)’ option and we will leave the density at 25%.
Now that we have applied the second photo filer our color adjustments are done! Now your document should look similar to mine in the below screenshot.
Step 5: Anemones
Now we will be adding sea life into our document, anemones to be exact. We are choosing to drop anemones into our document because the wallpaper for our phone is two clown fish in a patch of anemones. Since the wallpaper contains anemones the addition of them into our document will creating an interesting theme for the rest our piece.
So to start off we will go grab this stock of anemones http://www.seattleyates.com/Bulbous%20anemone%20green.jpg
This stock of anemones will be the only anemone stock we use for the entire piece, but that’s okay because it won’t be a main player in the final composition, just a nice addition.
Much like the water stocks before, the anemones are extremely hard to cut out due to the complexity in shape and the fact that they seem to fade away in the darkness. We can combat this by applying them the same way we manipulated our water stocks. So to begin our manipulation of the anemones we will press ‘CTRL L’ on the keyboard; this will bring up the manual level editor rather than just a simple auto level. Just use the same settings as I have in the below screen shot and press ok. But first ill try and describe what it is. The three triangles are in order of left to right, black level, gray level and the white level. I have moved the black level triangle closer to the grey level triangle. Since the black level was moved to closer to the grey level the black spots have become even blacker, if we had done the opposite the grey sections would become whiter.
Once you have pressed ‘Ok’ your anemones should look similar to mine in the below screenshot.
Now we need to erase some of the anemones, we will only remove the section were the bulb of the anemone is not visible and all that’s visible is the top tube section. To do this we will press ‘E’ on the keyboard and then right click to set our brush up just like in previous steps.
Now we can set this layer to screen mode and drag it beneath the phone layer. Once this layer has been set to screen and placed beneath the phone layer we can press ‘V’ on the keyboard to grab the move tool. With the move tool enabled just move the anemones so they are placed similarly to the below screenshot.
Now we can just duplicate this layer a few times and move them around to other sections of the phone. This part is up to you as to where you want to place them, I placed another set around the top right and bottom right of the phone, but it’s up to you where you think they look the best.
Now we need to darken a few of our anemones, to do this we will just create a new layer beneath them and paint under them with black.
So to start off we will press ‘CTRL SHIFT N’ on the key board to create a new layer and then just drag it beneath all of our anemone layers. Once you have created the new layer we can press ‘B’ on the keyboard and then right click on the screen to set our brush up. Make sure your brush color is set to black! You may want to vary your size if you’re having difficulties staying inside the anemone but this is the brush I used and suggest you use.
Essentially all we are doing now is filling the ‘Bulbs’ of our anemone with the black, this will dramatically increase the way the bulbs look since they are no longer screening to a light surface. Once you have filled a few bulbs your bulbs should look similar to mine in the below screenshot. However keep in mind that by doing this you create the illusion that some of the bulbs are closer than others, so don’t fill every single bulb or you will ruin this illusion.
We are now done with our anemones! However if you want you could try out some different color choices for your anemones or even change the background fill color to something like dark blue or dark green. But let’s say you don’t necessarily like the colors that the anemones are to begin with. We can easily go back and change their color by pressing ‘CTRL SHIFT U’ on the keyboard. This will bring up our hue and saturation adjustment menu. We don’t want to go overboard with our saturation so turn it down a tad depending upon what colors you choose. Try and experiment with different colors and techniques, just because I did it a certain way doesn’t always mean it was the best way to do it or the best color choice for that matter.
Step 6: Adding Fish
Since we are trying to keep with the phone wallpaper theme we will only be using clown fish for this piece. The first of which can be found here
So head over to Sxc again and grab and drop this into your document as I have done.
Now we can use the magic wand tool just like we did with the phone. So to start off we will press ‘W’ on the keyboard to grab the wand tool once again, we will leave its tolerance at 25% as it was with the phone. With the magic wand tool enabled we can start clicking around our fish, if we hold the ‘SHIFT’ key down after the initial click we should be able to keep the current selection and only add to it. Once you have clicked all around the fish your selection should look similar to mine in the below screenshot.
Now we can apply a layer mask as before and then press ‘CTRL I’ just as before to make the fish visible.
Once the fish has become visible we can use the standard hard 19 pixel eraser. To select this eraser brush we will start by pressing ‘E’ on the keyboard and then right clicking on the screen to grab the 19px brush. Once we have the eraser we can erase everything that is left beside’s the fish. Once everything is cleared out we need to fill all those holes in the fish that were created when we applied the layer mask. To do this we will press ‘P’ on the keyboard to enable the brush tool and then right click and set the brush up as mine is below.
Now we will just use this brush to fill all the gaps that are in the fish. You may need to zoom in at times and maybe even size your brush down during the process. It might be easier if you create a new layer filled with blue underneath the fish layer so you can see all the places that need correcting. Once you have filled all your fish’s holes it should look similar to the below screenshot.
Once we have cleaned up the fish you may need to do some additional cleaning. To do this we will press ‘R’ on the keyboard to grab the smudge tool. Once you have the smudge tool selected set your brush and your smudge tool settings up as mine are in the below screenshot.
With the smudge brush we will make small (and I do mean small) smudges from the outside of fish inwards, this will get rid of any strange outlines that may be floating around the fish as well as to smooth out any bumps we may have created during the filling process. After the smudge process your fish should look similar to mine in the below screenshot.
Now all we need to do is size it down and place him! I chose to place one at the bottom of the screen as well as one in the top left corner of the phone. But you can place and duplicate him as many times as you want and where ever you want. It’s up to what you think looks the best!
The next stock fish we will use is located on deviantart which can be found here http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs11/i/2006/248/7/9/Fish_Stock_1_by_Shoofly_Stock.jpg
Once you have copied and pasted the fish’s into your document we will start by pressing ‘M’ on our keyboard to bring the marquee tool back up. With the marquee tool back up we can make a selection around the middle fish. Once you have made a selection around him you can press ‘CTRL C’ and followed by ‘CTRL V’ this will copy what we had selected and then paste it. Once we have pasted the duplicate of our fish we can hide the original layer by selecting the eye icon on the layer toolbar. With the original layer hidden we can begin isolating our fish with the magic wand tool. So press ‘W’ on the keyboard to bring the magic wand tool back up and select the white around the fish, once you have selected the white you can press ‘DEL’ on your keyboard to remove it and now our fish is isolated!
Now we need to free transform our fish, to do this we will press ‘CTRL T’ on the keyboard and adjust the height and width as I have in the below screen shot.
Once we have free transformed our fish we can pres ‘V’ on the keyboard to enable the move tool. With the move tool selected we can move our clown fish over to a cluster of anemone. If your clown fish is not beneath the anemone layer once you have moved him make sure to do this now.
Once we have moved the clown fish over to a cluster of anemone we need to zoom in extremely close. To do this we will press ‘Z’ on the keyboard to enable the zoom tool and then click twice. We are zooming in because as you can see our fish is showing beneath the anemone and this is not a good thing. We want our anemone to have the appearance as if they are 100% opaque, not transparent.
To fix this problem we will simply erase the fish out of our anemone bulbs. So once you have zoomed in go ahead and press ‘E’ on your keyboard to enable the eraser tool once again. Now we can right click and set our brush up with the settings in the below screen shot. However if you are having trouble be sure to size your eraser down or change the hardness.
Once you have erased your fish out of the bulbs your fish should look as if he is swimming out from behind a cluster of anemone. My result looks like the below screen shot.
Now we can unhide our original fish layer from before and get a new fish. This time we will use the top right fish. So we will start by pressing ‘M’ on our keyboard to bring the marquee tool back up. With the marquee tool back up we can make a selection around our fish.
Once you have made a selection around him we can copy and paste him the same way we did last time (‘CTRL C’ CTRL V’).Once we have pasted the duplicate of our fish we can hide the original layer again by selecting the eye icon on the layer toolbar. Now that the layer is hidden again we can isolate our fish with the magic wand tool again. So press ‘W’ on your keyboard to bring the magic wand tool back up and select the white around the fish, once you have selected the white you can press ‘DEL’ on your keyboard to remove it.
Now this time we will do things a little different. We will slightly change the hue of our fish so he is a tad bit redder than the other fishes. To do this we will press ‘CTRL SHIFT U’ on the keyboard to bring up the hue and saturation adjustment tool. Set yours the same as mine with a -8 hue adjustment.
Now we can free transform this fish and place him. So we will press ‘CTRL SHIT T’ on the keyboard and set the height and width to 37% * 37%.
Now we can press ‘V’ on our keyboard to use the move tool once more. I choose to place him around the top left corner of the phone near another fish but it’s up to you were you would like to place him, you don’t have to place him in the exact spot I did. Remember it’s always best to experiment and try new places to put them in!
Now all we need to do is repeat the placement and isolation techniques with a few more fish. I have placed links to all the rest of the clown fish stocks I used in the piece and put them below. Just keep in mind that not all of your fish have to be the same size or color, and try and vary there placement we really aren’t trying to get a school of fish; just a few swimming here and there.
Clown fish links:
Once you have placed a few more fishes your image should look something like mine below, but its doubtful that it will look identical and that’s ok. Just make sure your image is something you’re happy with!
Step 7: Starfish
We will be placing two starfish in this piece and they will be placed directly on top of the phone. We are trying to give the look as if the starfish are clinging to the sides of the phone.
So to start off we will go back to Sxc again and grab this starfish http://www.sxc.hu/photo/204970 and paste him into our document.
Once our starfish is in the document we will begin isolating him out the same way we have isolated our fish. So press ‘W’ on the keyboard to enable the magic wand tool; with the magic wand tool select all the white as well as all the grey shadow areas around our starfish.
Now that we have our selection we can press ‘DEL’ on our keyboard to remove it all. Now we need to free transform the starfish as well as place him. We can start this by going to the drop down menu entitled ‘Edit’ and selecting ‘Transform’>’Flip horizontal’. Once he has been flipped we can free transform him down to his appropriate size. To do this we will press ‘CTRL SHIFT T’ on the keyboard to enable the free transform tool once again. Once the free transform tool has been enabled set your settings the same way I have in the below screen shot.
Once he has been knocked down to a reasonable size we can press ‘CTRL SHIFT L’ on the keyboard to auto level him; we can then press ‘V’ on the keyboard to enable the move tool. With the move tool enabled we will move him to the lower left corner of the phone so it appears as if he is sliding off the edge as I have done in the below screen shot.
Now we can create a new layer beneath the starfish and paint some streaks with our mouse. To do this we will press ‘CTRL SHIFT N’ on the keyboard to create a new layer. Once the new layer is created we can press ‘B’ on the keyboard to enable the brush tool; with the brush tool selected we can right click on the screen and select the standard 3px brush.
Now just paint some curvy white lines coming off of the starfish. Be careful when doing this not to make them too straight or too long. My result came out looking like the below screenshot.
Now we can repeat this process with this stock image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/204974
I choose to place this starfish on the top right underneath the water splash, but you can put him where ever you like.
Step 8: Were done!
Well now we are done! There are a few more things you could do such as:
- Add more fish or different kinds of fish.
- Add new splashes.
- Add small details.
- Add more light with the dodge tool.
- Keep it as is.
It’s up to you! I choose to the standard 3px hard brush to paint some small extra reflections like in the below screenshot but that was just something I wanted to do, you can experiment all you want as long as it looks good to you!
I finalized the piece by merging all of the visible layers (‘CTRL SHIFT E’), applying the sharpen filter twice, sizing it down to 800*1200 and reapplying a 3rd and final sharpen filter. My end result came out looking like the below screenshot.
Hopefully you came out with a result you liked and learned a thing or two along the way. Remember to experiment as much as possible, there’s no right or wrong way to do anything, just so long as you like the final outcome.