Wallpaper Tutorial

This is a tutorial for my Katherine Heigl/Izzie-piece. A lot of people seemed to have liked it and I even got a request for a tutorial about it, so I made one. I hope it's not too hard to get.

For this piece I wanted to use a stock that I've had for ages, but never really got around to using it. I add it to my canvas (it fills the whole screen).
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However, I think that it's just a bit too light. Therefore, I duplicate the layer (ctrl+J), desaturate the new layer (ctrl+shift+U) and put the new layer to Multiply 100%. I desautrate because I don't like to have contrast in my images in the beginning of the process, makes colouring at the end harder (again, my oppinion).
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Now I add the Katherine Heigl image I'm using in this piece. I resize it so that you see the face and a part of the upper body. Then I start masking out the grey area around her. Now, I'm no expert in masking, but when doing pieces like this I always use a round brush. First I mask very rough with a hard brush to get the basic idea of what to keep and what not.
Like this

Now, I think you'll all agree with me that this looks awful. The hair especially looks unnatural against the light blue background. Therefore, I make the brush less "hard" and deminish the opacity a bit (so that it's around 70%) and softly go around the edges, making it look more natural.
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Now I'm done with the base of the wallpaper. I create a new layer (ctrl+shift+alt+N) and stamp visible (ctrl+shift+alt+E) so that I have my base in one layer. I want to make the base more smooth, so I go to one of my favourite filters, Reduce Noise (Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise). My settings are somewhat like this for this piece:
Strength: 10
Preserve Details: 8
Reduce Color Noise: 20
Sharpen Details: 55
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Now I want to add some effect to the piece. I duplicate my smoothed layer and go Filter>Noise>Median. I set the radius to 4 px. Then I go Edit>Fade Median and put that on 60% opacity. However, the layer is blury now, so I go Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen, twice.
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To add even more effect, I again duplicate my smoothed layer, drag it to the top and go Filter>Stylize>Glowing Edges. My settings are:
Edge Width: 1
Edge Brightness: 9
Smoothness: 5
Of course I can't have the layer black, therefore I Invert it by going ctrl+I. This layer I put on Soft Light. However, it's now all too light. Therefore I lower the opacity to about 50%.
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To add even more effect, I go Filter>Stylize>Find Edges. I find this effect a bit too extreme, and it's very similar to my previous layer and I don't want to make the image compleatly white. Therefore, I go Edit>Fade Find Edges and put the opacity to about 50%. This layer I put on Soft Light. Again, because I don't like to have too much contrast before I start with my gradients and textures, I lower the opacity of the layer to 60%.
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Now, to add some colour after all the white layers I duplicate my "median-layer", drag it to the top and put it on Soft Light, opacity about 50%.
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Finally, we've come to the textures! The first I add is a light-texture of mine, this, which I rotate and place in the lower right corner of the image, like this. I mask out everything exept the "stings" in the corner and put the layer on Screen 100%.
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The next texture I add is also one of my own. I used this, which I put on Soft Light. However, how she has pink plecks all over her face, so I add a layer mask and mask out the texture that covers her face using a round soft brush.
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The final texture I add is another light-texture, this time from Alone With My Pride, here. Since it doesn't cover the whole canvas I mask out the edge, then I put the texture on Screen 100%. Now there's a red fleck, just by her face that bothers me, so I mask out that as well.
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I usually don't have brushes, especiallynot on this kind of pieces, I'm way too lazy to be bothered looking for the right brush. However, on this piece I felt it was necessary. I chose a brush from Oxoniensis Art. The thing about her brushes are that she's already put different settings on the brushes (sush as scattering, color dynimaics etc.). I chose a two colours, a pink (foreground colour) and a yellow (background colour), and "drew" butterflies in the corners of the canvas. Then I changed fore- and background colours (more pink/purple coloured) and drew some more. Finally, I changed brush to a larger-scale butterfly and added some more (these more redish). Show

Finally, I've come to the gradient maps. This is my favourite part of the process. This is also the process that can vary a lot depending on the images you've used, so don't take all the opacity procentages etc., too litteral. The first I add looks like this:

This is one of my own (you can download them here, only slightly changed. I put this on Soft Light, I almost always put gradients on Soft Light, as you'll soon descover. The next looks like this:

Again, this is one of my own. I put this on Soft Light 100% as well. The next gradient I use is this:

One of mine, again, only I put this on Soft Light 52%. Now the image looks very bright, but don't be afraid, my images almost always looks beyond bright somewhere in the gradient-process. The next gradient I add is from Black Lagoon and looks like this:

I put this gradient on Soft Light 56%. I added this to try and bring more spring and summer into the image. The next gradient I use is also from Black Lagoon and looks like this:

This I put on Soft Light 57%. I like this because even though it may look wierd, when you actually use it it works great and it brings out a few of the light things that got lost from the other gradients. Now for my last gradient, I think the piece looks a bit too bright. To darken and soften it I add this one of my gradients:

This I put on Multiply 46%. My piece now looks like this: Show

Now my wallpaper is done, except for the text. This is the part of the process that I like the least, mostly because I'm terrible at it. The thinks I try to think of when I make a piece is the meaning of the words, very important, the font/s you use and the placement. Mostly, I have problems with all three. My tip to you is, lyrics almost always work and don't over do it. Fon'ts like Scriptina, Carpenter and other "fine hand" swirly fonts can look good sometimes, but I find them too much very often. I try to keep with "standard" fonts, my favourite is Times New Roman. Back to this piece, I actually used my own words for this! As I said earlier, I've had the stock image for a very long time and I've always pictured two friends running down the brige screaming, before plunging into the water, that's freezing. So for this perticular piece, I had no trouble making up some text. As for the colour of the text, I always pick a colour-sample from the image, it makes the text fit better, trust me.
Izzie Stevens

I hope I was somewhat helpful. I love to get feedback, so feel free to leave a note on my tag-board.