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Photoshop Tutorial - Stunning Background

Sometimes when you've created a really good piece of artwork in Photoshop, it doesn't seem 'finished' until you've applied a suitable backdrop to highlight your work.  We think this tutorial might just fit the bill...

There are several stages and techniques involved.  You don't have to exactly go along with each step, just experiment with layers and settings you like.

In Photoshop, FILE...New and create a new document at 1000px square, filled with black.

Create a new layer above this Background Layer and name it ground. Ground Layer

Make sure your Rulers are visible (Ctrl. + R) and their units are in pixels.

Tip: Double-click on either ruler to bring up the Preferences dialogue box and change the Units there. Also, if the colour of your Guides make it difficult to see them on this (or any other) image, change their colour in this dialogue box under Guides, Grids & Slices. Drag down a horizontal guide and position it 600 px from the top of your image. With your Foreground Color = Black, change the Background Color to a medium-grey (we used #898989).

Color Picker



Switch to the Gradient Tool Gradient Tool, start with your cursor anywhere on this guide and, with Shift pressed dow, drag to the bottom of the image.

(Holding down Shift means your selection will be exactly vertical).

Ground 2
Now select and paste some suitable artwork.  Here we've used the Pepsi Soda Can from this tutorial. Can 3

Create an new layer directly below the layer with the can on it, use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to draw an elongated 'shadow' beneath the can.  Fill with black and go to FILTER...Blur... Gaussian.

With the 'Preview' box ticked, blur until you have a subtle shadow.


Can 4

Create a new layer below the can and shadow layers and call it 'white spot', switch to the Brush Tool Brush Tool, select a soft-edged brush and increase the Size to 700px.

Brush Size

Change the Foreground Color to a light gray (we used #D6D6D6) and click once in the centre of the black part of the canvas.

The image to the right is a roll-over.  The second image shows we have cleared the Guide (VIEW...Clear Guides) and slightly elongated this 'white spot' by going to EDIT...Transform...Scale and slightly pulling both middle handles outwards.

background brush


Turn off the visibility of both the 'can' and 'shadow' layers and create a new layer directly above the 'white spot' layer.  Call this new layer 'smoke'.

Smoke Layer

For this next step, we need a special 'Cloud Brush'. 

Download this Cloud Brush one or make your own!  Tutorial here.

Choose this brush, increase the size to 300px by using the ] key, change your Foreground Color to #D6D6D6 and drag away from the centre of the canvas.

Try to be subtle with this as we have already lowered the opacity of this layer to 40%.

Can 6

Create a new layer directly above your Background layer and call it 'Ground'. Your 'can' and 'shadow' layers should still have their visibility turned off.

With your Rectangular Marquee Tool Rectangular Marquee Tool drag out a selection covering the lower-third of your canvas and fill with #D6D6D6

Ground Layer Ground
Deselect this area and draw another marquee like that to the right.  Make sure you are still on the 'Ground' layer. Ground
Go to FILTER...Blur...Gaussian Blur and, with the 'Preview' box ticked, apply a blur as in the image to the right - a nice blur between your 'Ground' and the 'Background' layer. Ground Blur
When you are happy with this blur, turn the visibility of the 'can' and 'shadow' layers back on and create a new layer directly above your 'Ground' layer.  Call this new layer 'reflect' Reflect Layer

Ground Brush

Select your Brush Tool Brush Tool and make it 90 px radius and 0% Hardness.  Make the Foreground colour White and 'dab' just below the can to create a subtle high spot.  Go to EDIT...Transform...Perspective and drag one of the  bottom-corner 'handles' outwards.

Ground Reflect

Photo Filter

Select your topmost layer (can) and click on the 'Create new fill or adjustment layer' icon as shown in red above.  From the list, choose Photo Filter.

Photo Filter settings

Change the Color to a medium blue with a density of 40%

This will impart a nice, blue tone to your image. Blue Filter
In this final image, we've merged the 'can', 'shadow' and 'reflect' layers and duplicated the resultant layer.  By copying this layer, making the cans towards the rear smaller (EDIT...Transform...Scale) and added a drop shadow to the layer showing the largest can, we have a pleasing result. Finished Image