Laptops and computers provide an excellent subject for composition and design. They provide several dimensions where elements can be placed, and they naturally have a depth that can be exploited. They can be illustrated to express the performance, the creativity, or the gaming aspects of computing.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to design an out of this world cosmic advertisement for a laptop/tablet style PC. These techniques can easily be applied for stock manipulation and advertising a variety of products, and you’ll learn some great tips for dealing with a variety of stock images and design situations.
Let’s get started!
- Stock Images
Step 1: Creating our background star field
Creating stars using the noise filter is the simplest way around to make stars, however with the ease and quickness comes some downsides primarily there are far too many stars and they appear clustered; using blending modes to reduce the orientation and ‘dispersion’ of your stars is a must.
So to start off go ahead and open up Photoshop and set up your document; the size of your document is up to you and what your creating but something to keep in mind is you can always size your field down but you can never size it up. Since our stock is 1024 * 779 you can go with a multitude of document sizes however I went with something around 1475*2100, that way at the end I could crop it how I saw fit and if you’re unsure about what you want your final size to be I would suggest you go with this size as well.
Once you have your document open fill it with black and create a new layer. Fill the new layer with black just as we did the first layer.
Next we need to add our noise in. To do this go to “Filter”>”Noise”>”Add Noise” and set yours up as mine is in the below screen shot.
Your star field should look something like the below screenshot now.
Our next step is to edit the levels for our star field. Doing this will get rid of the grey stars and help open up some negative space so they don’t look so clustered and awful. So go ahead and press “CTRL L” on your keyboard to open up your level editor and set yours up as mine is in the below screenshot. The three triangles are in order of right to left, black level, gray level and the white level. I have moved the grey level over closer to the black level. This will result in the grays becoming whiter. The white level was then moved to closer to the grey level which means the white spots have become even whiter.
Your star field should now look something like mine in the below screenshot.
So now we have two options
- Create a layer mask to bust the stars orientation up a bit
- Use blending modes to break the stars apart.
We will be doing the first option since it’s simpler and won’t cause us to have an excess of layers. So go ahead and click the layer mask button on your layer tab, it should look like a square with a circle in the middle.
Now we can apply another filter, this time one called “Difference clouds”. Basically it will render some cloud like blobs in black and white causing our stars to only be seen where the white clouds are on the layer mask. To apply this filter click “Filter”>”Render”>”Difference clouds”. Your results should look something like the below screenshot, however keep in mind that the difference cloud filter is randomly generated.
Keep in mind that you can apply this filter as many times as you like to get a result you are satisfied with. You can even apply other filters like the twirl filter or Gaussian blur until you’re satisfied with how your stars turned out. If your stars aren’t bright enough for you though go ahead and duplicate the layer and change the blending mode to screen or linear dodge, depending on how bright you want them.
Step 2: Stock isolation
Ok so now we need a stock image to build upon. For this we will be using a picture of IBM’s ThinkPad which can be found at: http://gadgetophilia.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/lenovo-thinkpad-x200-tablet_4a.jpg
Now just grab the stock and drop it over into your document above the star layers.
Now grab your magic wand tool and click all around the laptop. Make sure your tolerance is at a decent amount (I used 28) and that you get that shadow at the bottom, if you would rather use the pen tool then by all means do.
Now apply a layer mask as we have done before and tada! You have isolated the laptop. But we aren’t done with it yet, I think it looks a little too bright. So go ahead and open up your level editor again and set yours up like mine in the below screen shot.
Step 4: Light effects
Now we need to add in our lighting effects. There are a few ways to do this pen tool, shear filter, use your brush etc… but we will be doing something different, light painting stocks.
Light painting is “Light painting, also known as light drawing or light graffiti is a photographic technique in which exposures are made usually at night or in a darkened room by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera. In many cases the light source itself does not have to appear in the image. The term light painting also encompasses images lit from outside the frame with hand-held light sources. The first known photographer to use this technique was Man Ray in his series “Space Writing”.”
So to start off we will grab the below stock link and drop it into our document. Since it’s quite ‘fuzzy’ apply a diffuse filter (filter >stylize>diffuse>antistrophic) and then free transform it so it fits in the document.
Now since the stocks so dark we can change our blending mode to screen which will cause the black parts of the layer to become transparent. That way isolation wont be an issue.
Now just size this layer down and place it around the side of the laptop. Once you have done that go ahead and grab your marquee tool and select a few of the lines, once you have them selected use your hue adjuster to change the colors so you have different colored strokes. The color choices really don’t matter at this point, however try and vary these lines as much as you can and remember we are trying to create a rainbow colored effect.
Now just continue duplicating the layer and changing the hues until you are satisfied with the lines. If you’re having trouble with them all looking the same try applying a twirl filter. I used the twirl filter on a few of my lines; however there are some things to keep in mind when doing this:
- Twirl them at the larger size before they have been diffused or sized down, this will help any decrease in quality you may have when you apply the twirl filter.
- Try and stray away from twirls above 100 or -100. Anything above 100 can cause a huge decrease in quality and that’s something we just don’t want.
- Experiment! Try applying the filter when the lines are at different angles, the results WILL be different.
At this point mine looks like the below screen shot.
Now we need to create a gradient fill layer. The option to create a fill layer is located at “Layers>New fill layer>Gradient…”. Go ahead and create a new gradient layer, when you do a dialog box should appear asking you to choose your gradient. Set yours up as mine is in the below screen shots.
Once that is done right click the layer and select “Rasterize layer”. This will turn our gradient layer into a normal editable layer. Once you have clicked that apply a Gaussian blur with the same settings as the below screen shot.
After you apply the Gaussian blur position it where our color lines have been and apply it as an overlay layer. If too much of the gradient is going off into other areas of the laptop go ahead and use the soft 300px eraser to clean it up. Mine looks like the below screenshot, however if yours looks slightly different it’s no big issue at this point.
Now repeat these above steps to the bottom and left hand side of the monitor and anywhere else you would like to. Remember to vary your colors as often as possible and that you can manipulate the light streaks if the uniformity is getting to you.
Once you have done the above go ahead and grab a single light streak and place it at the tip of the tablets pen, making sure that your light streak and pen tip are the same color is essential here though!
Step 5: Painting sparks
To paint sparks you need to start off by grabbing your standard 3px hard brush. Once you have done that you need to decide what color your spark is going to be. I will be creating a blue spark so I have selected a dark blue and a light blue; the dark blue will be for the outside of the spark while the light blue is for the inside of the spark.
Regardless of what colors you choose go ahead and start painting with the darker of the two. Start off by making a small ball and then just draw some slightly curved lines coming off it as I have in the below screenshot.
Once you have done that go ahead and switch it over to your brighter color and pain in the inside of your spark. Keep in mind if you overlap your colors a tad it’s not the end of the world and it’s a good idea to have some curved lines in the lighter color as well.
Now we will create another style of spark, this time I will be using red and yellow. Start off by making a spike shape and then just add on additional little spikes as I have done in the below screen shot.
Then just fill it with the lighter color as we did before!
The second spark I didn’t use very much and when I did it was mainly on top of the light streaks, however you can place them wherever you like.
Once you have started drawing up a few it’s time to start placing them, I choose to place them primarily where the light streaks started and ended but you can place them where ever you like. Just keep in mind that if you’re placing them close together the tails should be in a similar direction otherwise it looks odd.
Step 6: Additional stocks
In this section we will be using some other stocks (satellites, spaceships etc…) to act as cohesive filler for the piece. However if you wanted you could easily use some other types of stocks like game renders, personal renders you have made or just other stocks you have seen.
To start off we will go to Sxc and grab a stock of a tie fighter located at: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/163190
Once you have grabbed the stock and dropped it into your document go ahead and isolate it out just as we did the laptop.
Our next step is to free transform it and place it. I placed mine around the top left hand corner of the monitor. But you can place yours were ever you like.
Next we can get a satellite stock image from Sxc, it is located at: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=1263786
However this time we will not need to isolate it out. Just free transform the satellite, set its blending mode to screen and then place it. I placed mine around the top right hand corner of the monitor.
Our next stock will be a mech. We can find the mech on Deviant art, it is located at: http://inadesign-stock.deviantart.com/art/Sci-fi-Prop-4-Stock-156099978
This stock however (when you download it) has no background since it’s a png. So just drop it in, size it down and place. I put mine on the laptop as if it were walking across the laptop.
Next we can duplicate the mech layer and size/place him again. This time I placed him walking towards the USB port on the side of the laptop.
Now if you look closely at the mech you can see a small circle/ring around his right foot. Select two colors as we did with our sparks and trace this circle out. If it doesn’t look perfect don’t worry, we will be applying a Gaussian blur in the next step anyway.
Now we need to apply a Gaussian blur with the settings in the below screen shot.
Once that is done duplicate the layer and set its blending mode to color dodge. Change both of the layers opacities down to about 50%-70%, if you like it brighter you can bump it up though.
Now do the same thing with the red power rectangle on the monitor.
Step 7: Sketching (optional)
I choose to sketch and draw over this piece to bring a little bit more personality to it however this is completely optional. But if you choose to do this step as I have done I will try and describe what I did in the below screenshots. Keep in mind that I will be sketching using my 3px hard brush only and if you intend to do this step I would encourage you to use it as well.
The first thing we can start sketching are some drips. For whatever reason I seemed to have neglected green while making the light streaks and glowing areas up until this point which is why I chose to use green for the drips. But whatever color you choose try and make sure your perspective is right, it can get a little awkward around the bend of the laptop.
Once that is done create some more drips (I used blue this time) around the monitor.
Next choose two (or more) colors and lightly color your tie fighter. I choose blue and red but any two colors would work fine for this. Just make sure you follow the lines of the tie fighter and that you don’t go overboard with the amount your coloring.
Next just color the white spots on the monitor’s buttons. Also if you like color the Lenovo text that appears on the monitor.
Now finally just choose a few colors and color over the two mechs. I did different colors for each one but you can use the same if you like.
Now you’re done!
To finish mine off I threw some asteroids behind everything but you don’t have to, and to be honest looking back I’m not sure if I should have! I then cropped mine to fit an 800*1200 document and applied the sharpen filter.
I’m hoping by now you have created something that you like or you have at least learned something throughout this tutorial. Thanks for reading!