Full Wallpaper Tutorial: You Are My Life NowWelcome to a full wallpaper tutorial for this wallpaper:
This will be a step-by-step process - aka very image heavy - of how I created this wall, along with my long-winded explanations (if I could do footnotes without being obnoxious, I would, and I won't repeat techniques from previous steps, if I can avoid it), in Paint Shop Pro X (it should translate easily enough to other programs). I literally did the wall over again as I wrote this. I should also note that my wallpaper excursions usually take hours, depending on my mood and if I know what I want. Lucky for you, you won't get all of those crazy, pea-brained steps included. This tutorial was created for people with a basic knowledge of their art programs.
Please keep in mind that this is merely a tutorial. The idea behind all fanart is experimentation to find your own style and ideas. Please use this as a guide and credit Primordial Souls.
Special Note: These images are all hosted on my site because hotlinking is of the bad. Please don't do it to me. Thank you!
Step One: Pictures!
Alright, I knew that I wanted to use the beautiful prom stills from the Twilight movie that have recently been released, especially the ones where Edward and Bella are being so human, just enjoying each other instead of worrying about the pesky human/vampire thing; simplicity was also going to be my best friend for this piece, so I settled on these two, from Everglow and petalouda8 @ LiveJournal:
Step Two: Canvas Time!
I open a new image, with a black background. I alway start with a black background because it hides mistakes the best, and you can always add on to it with different color later on. My opening dimension are 1240 pixels by 760 pixels. Why, you ask? Because borders are love and if you want to end in an even 1280x800, you should understand how much borders add to the overall size - which will be explained at the end - hence the beginning 1240x760.
I've already decided that this image is going to be the main focus of the wallpaper, but I want to make sure if fits the canvas size I've chosen, so I minimize it down a bit, to 593x900, and paste it into the canvas on a new layer (Raster 1 - I never name my layers because on a normal day, I usually delete half of the ones I started out with *g*):
Before I think about erasing the edges around the image (henceforth called Bedward1), I want to add in my second image (called Bedward2), so I can blend them together better. Usually when I erase the edges picture by picture, without knowing the ending composition, you end up with small bits of negative space between them, and that - for me - is annoying and tough to cover up later on in the process. Plus, the initial blending just makes the overall piece look seamless aka prettier.
So I'll get Bedward2 and take it through the same process of minimizing it. Since it's going to be smaller, not necessarily the main focus, I'll make it 800x450. I always want to keep in mind the perspective of the image I've chosen, because you don't want to lose the quality nor the picture itself when it's a far-away shot, such as Bedward2 is.
I'll then post it into my canvas in a new layer, Raster 2. If you're asking why am I posting this in a new layer, it's because I want the images to be separate from each other. If they are posted in the same layer, I can't erase each image, I have to erase both, defeating the purpose of blending. Forewarning, I put E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G on its own layer, and hopefully as the tutorial goes on, you'll see why.
Now that just looks silly like that, so we'll take our "lasso" tool (or "Freehand Selection Tool") and get rid of some of those edges and blend them in.
Special Note: There are a ton of ways you can blend images together, whether using the erase tool with your uploaded brushes, or layering, or textures. Just remember experimentation. I'm a simple gal when it comes to my lasso.
I always, always, always keep "Feather" at the highest it can go - 200 for PSPX - because it gives you the widest range to erase, as opposed to the lowest, which is just a straight edge, basically. (Of course, this varies on the size of the image your erasing, which if you play around a bit with the lasso tool, you'll find the mediums - 010-190 - work nicely depending on your image size.) Now, I erase going in, meaning I start with the very outer edges of the image:
Note the red line in there and pretend it's my lasso tool. As you can see, there's still parts of Bedward2 that is dominating Bedward1's face after the initial erasing, which is unacceptable! So I'll take the lasso, set to 200 again, and get in a bit closer:
Not a huge, noticeable difference, but trust me, it's there. Along with that, you'll see that Bedward2 is blended in with Bedward1, while at the same time not losing form. (If you don't get this immediately, don't sweat it. This took me years of practicing and arguing with my screen to perfect... and it's still not perfect. Blending takes time.) Now it's time for Bedward1 to get its closeup.
Using the same technique, I move from the edges in. Now this one is a bit trickier, because there's a lot of the image close to the edges that I want to keep. This is using the lasso set at 200:
Which obviously didn't do the job because there's still quite a bit of edge in there, which again, unacceptable! So I'll lower my lasso setting from anywhere to 150-170, and go back in (again, watch the red line aka my lasso:
Another note about how I use the lasso tool is I always draw completely random circles and if I don't like how it's erased, that's what the 'Undo' button is for; along with that, I usually only erase a few bits here and there before starting again because the lasso tool can leave treadmarks on brighter images, which is yucky.
Now, Bedward1 appears to be much brighter than Bedward2, so I'll go to that layer (Raster 2) and set the blend mode to Lighten. This is another reason I like black backgrounds so much is because it just brightens it, and in our case, makes the blending look that much better:
As you can see, the edges are gone and Bedward1 and (a brighter) Bedward2 are married in blended bliss. :)
Step Three: Clean Those Pictures Up!
So yay! Blended! But the images themselves? Not so pretty. Both are different in image quality, so we'll take a moment to fix that. Bedward1 is the biggest image aka the one people will look at the most (in theory), so I want to start with that one. I already know that I don't want to do anything to heavy to the image, I just want to clean it up, and in Paint Shop Pro X, there is a handy tool called 'One Step Noise Removal' in the Adjust menu. It's the lazy person's secret. Of course, this doesn't work every time, but it does for this image, and it gets rid of the noise. Bedward1 is still a bit flat, so to give it a little more depth, I go to the tool 'Clarify' (the strength set to 10.0) in the Adjust menu, which is a basic contrast tool to bring out more of the shadows in the image. Again, doesn't have the same effect on all images, which is why I'll say again, experiment!
I will do the same exact thing to Bedward2. I like to make sure I do the same basic changes to all of the images, to keep a sort of balance, because you don't want one contrasted so deeply you can't see their eyes while another is too bright to see their lips. Bedward1 and Bedward2 are still large enough that they don't require any sharpening to bring out the edges.
Step Four: Texture Me!
Textures! I believe that textures are a lovely little gods-send from the artist... gods, because they can do so many things, you just have to know how to use them! (I know I'm a broken record, but again, experiment!) They can cover mistakes, they can create a background, they can create a mood, they can color the images, etc.
For this piece, the idea that I have for it is 'magical'. They're at the prom, for heaven's sake! But again, I don't want to overpower the piece, so I chose these textures, from Radiance and Belladonna (formerly known as Misplaced Moments):
I want to use the first texture first, as the base to create the mood. The colors and the exploding nature are just lovely. All I do is make sure the texture is the size of the canvas (most textures resize nicely because the it's quite unnecessary for the creators to make multiple sizes. I usually upsize them to 1300x975 for this canvas size, so it's covering the entire thing, guaranteed) and create a new layer underneath Bedward1 and Bedward2, Raster 3:
Now, considering it's underneath the images and Bedward2's blend mode was set to Lighten, I want to erase some of the texture that is taking over them, as seen with the red line, the lasso tool, set to 200.
Pretty... but not complete. While there's a background, there isn't any structure to really speak of, so I'll add in the second texture, but not the entire thing. One of the endearing thing's about this texture is the shapes, and the sparkly goodness surrounding it. That's what I want.
Instead of resizing this to fit the canvas, I'm going to keep it at the original size and paste it into a new layer (underneath Bedward1 and Bedward2, but above the other texture (Raster 3)), Raster 4. I want the main circle to sort of act as a frame for Bedward2. Now, there will be a lot of excess to be erased, so I'm going to use the same technique as I did in Step Two, using the lasso tool, set to 200:
Now, I erased a lot of that texture, and you can see the general idea here:
This is where keeping each new image/texture/etc on a new layer will come into play, when you have to adjust and erase in order to fit the idea in your head. By keeping this texture on Raster 4 by itself, I'm allowed to erase as much as I want and move it around. Keep in mind, I'm using the same exact technique to erase the textures as I used to erase the images at the beginning.
Alright, textures added in and it's looking quite nice, a little more structure and, well, texture. *g*
Step Five: Colours!
Color! Just as important as texture, if not more! It creates an entire piece unity, it sets the mood, the idea, the message, plus, depending on your preference, just makes it look hot-damn-pretty! Personally, I have moved away from gradients and use solid colors, because I like to keep the coloring even throughout the entire piece, which is most of what will be used in this wallpaper, but that doesn't mean that gradients aren't a beautiful grace from the artist gods, because they are. Tastefully done gradients tell the story so much better than simple, solid colors, but like I said, I'm a simple gal... with my solid colors.
This is another step where experimentation is key. Mostly because you can go hog-wild on the coloring and end up with something so neat looking, but it does nothing for the subject matter of your piece. You must put all these colors on their own layers in order for the coloring to work correctly!
Color #193341 set to blend mode Saturation (Legacy). I personally love the saturation blend modes, they add a great deal of depth. Just make sure you even out the coloring range, because otherwise? You get a raunchy rainbow of epic proportions.
Color #765058 set to blend mode Color:
Color #aec0b8 set to blend mode Burn, opacity 35:
This purple gradient set to Soft Light:
Color #193341 set to blend mode Color (Legacy):
Okay, so at this point, I'm not liking how very... flat it is; how very flat the blue is making it. So I'm going to copy my Bedward1 and Bedward2 layers and bring the copies (leaving the original Raster 1 and Raster 2 in their original spot) to the very top, above the color layers.
Starting with Bedward1, I set the blend mode of the copied Raster 1 layer to Hue (Legacy):
And then we'll move on to Bedward2. Now, because that is a different image from a differnet source (i.e. trailer compared to official movie still), the lighting, the color, the quality is slightly different, so I'll set the blend mode of the copied Raster 2 layer to Luminance (Legacy). This creates a differnet depth for Bedward2:
Okay! So obviously leaving it like that would look strange, so we'll continue adding a few more colors to the batch (remember! Each color gets a new layer!)
Color #193341 set to blend mode Overlay, opacity 65:
Color #bd9aa1 set to blend mode Saturation (Legacy), opacity 45:
And that's the coloring! With the last two color layers, I wanted to create an intimate mood between Bella and Edward, something dark, but warm, precious, hence the dark blue tones, and the rose coloring.
Step Six: Touch Ups!
Before the final touches, I always double check to make sure the overall piece is curtain ready. In my preview sidebar, I zoom in on the wallpaper to its full size (100%), and that shows me exactly what it will look like on my desktop. One thing to keep in mind with coloring is that it may make the piece look pretty, but it can also affect the original image, especially blend modes like 'Overlay' and 'Soft Light', because they change the lighting and contrast, etc.
In this piece for instance, I notice that for Bedward1, there are a few pixel-y looking spots on both Bella and Edward's face, as well as the surrounding space between and around them, from the original image. This is very easily fixed, with a gentle touch. :P You will need the Soften Brush and, setting to Circle, Size 13, Opacity 20, I go back and select the original layer (Raster 1) of Bedward1 and soften up those rough patches. Again, just like the lasso, I do little bits here and there, because there are spots (i.e. her nose and his chin) that I don't want to oversoften because then you lose the edges, or if I do it all in one stroke and make a mistake and hit the back button, I have to do it all over again. Make sure you make full use of your 'Undo' button, it's your best friend.
Along with the original layer, remember that you duplicated it and set that to the blend mode Hue (Legacy). Now, while that's mostly coloring, some of those pixels are still visible, so if you select that layer, repeat the softening of the pixel-y areas and... voila! No more pixels!
This is another tool that can take some experimenting to get used to, so play with the opacity and hardness and see how that changes the image, and what works better for you!
Step Seven: Wordy Words!
Now comes the text. This can be an excellent thing... and it can be the devil's spawn when overdone. A rule of thumb for me is using a general font that is easily readible at small sizes, so if need be, I can fit more text on there. My current favorite font to use is Book Antiqua, Size 6 (and Size 8, depending on the piece) pixels. Love it, because it's small, but when set to a workable blend mode, very pretty without overpowering with piece.
For this piece is particular, I wanted to use the quote "You are my life now." One thing that I hate to use is capitol letters with lowercase. It feels like I'm typing a letter, when I'm writing text to summarize my wallpaper. A personal rule of thumb is I always either use all lowercase or all uppercase, because it creates another sense of balance on top of an already balanced piece. Of course, everyone has different preferences, hence the experimenting! :)
Back to the wallpaper, I put on my Caps Lock and type it out in Book Antiqua, Size 6 pixels on a new layer (Vector 1), set to blend mode Lighten. It's small, subtle, and it fits the overall piece. Now, placement is another huge thing. You don't want text running over their faces because it's a distraction, so I put it towards the bottom of the circle texture, in a light area that isn't intruding on the images. Now it looks like it's framed, like it's meant to be there. Again, this is a matter of preference, so... experiment!
One final touch is to add one more bit of text, an oversized 'L' in the background. This idea was originally used by Wendy @ Black Lagoon, in this sense of a letter of emphasis.
I create a new layer (Vector 2) for this, because it will be set to a different blend mode and I will be putting it under different layers than Vector 1. I angle it as well, to give it a sense of a frame, as well as something interesting to look at. Think of cropping an icon: just cropping the face is boring, as opposed to cropping a part of the person's mouth and their neck. Interesting. Hence, the interesting lettering. Once I have the letter angled the way I want, I select the Vector 2 layer and move it down (just by scrolling), almost to the very bottom. I place it between the two texture layers, and set the blend mode to Difference (I usually do because it's almost like another texture added to the piece). Now, the 'L' is overpowering the images, so I right click on the layer in my Layers sidebar, and select 'Convert to Raster Layer', so I can erase parts of the 'L'. Using my lasso tool, set to 200, I erase the center where it's disrupting Bedward1 and Bedward2 and the other texture, keeping the edges to, again, create a sort of frame.
Step Eight: Borderizers
Yep, borders. Not only do they make the piece look clean and classic and just sophistimicated, it can create a nice little color scheme. Just make sure you are completely content with your piece before you add the border because it merges your layers into one.
As mentioned at the very beginning, it's important to know how borders work with pixels, so you don't end up with lopsided wallpapers (been there, done that, :P). Each border (1 pixel, on each side) that you add to the piece, counts as 2 pixels when you're creating your canvas. So, for example, I wanted to make a 1280x800 wallpaper with a 20 pixel border on each side. So I subtracted 40 from both the width and the height to make room for the border. Does that make sense?
And then... you're done!
A few notes in general:
And that's it! I hope this was helpful to some people, amusing to others, and overall interesting. Please remember that this is a guide, not permission to replicate this and call it your own. Only by experimenting and finding your 'thang' can you really find your groove. If you do use this tutorial, remember to credit Primordial Souls.
I would love to see what you've come up with, if you fancy sending it to me, either on the tagboard or not-so-snail mail. :D
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