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Christmas Night Effects


Tips about how I made the Christmas Night wallpaper (see wallpaper).


Christmas Night - making of - Step 1

Before you start reading this tutorial, I recommend making a big cup of coffee – it will be quite long :-)

So, to start, create new document (I made it 3200×2000 pixels) and fill background with solid black color.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 2

To fill our sky with stars, we’ll need some help of ContextFree. You can get it at www.contextfreeart.org.
I downloaded one of fractals and manipulated it so that it fits my needs. You can download my fractal file here: xmasnight.cfdg. Using this file, create several similar fractals (in ContextFree, hit Ctrl-R to refresh and get new variation) and saved them as PNG images (right-click and save as image).


Christmas Night - making of - Step 3

Open all PNG fractals in Photoshop, copy and paste them into one document, so that each fractal is a layer. For each layer, set Blend mode to “screen”. It will make stars blend together.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 4

Repeat as many times as you like, until you get enough stars. (I used about 20 fractals). If your stars are wrong color, you can colorize them – hit Ctrl-U and adjust hue and lightness as necessary.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 5

I wanted that the stars do not only fill entire image, but also create subtle “paths”, or roads. For that, I used another fractal-generated image from ContextFree. Sorry I deleted the source file! But if you open ContextFree and open “cillasun” or “demo1″ from examples menu, that might be OK too.

Christmas Night - making of - Step 6

ContextFree generates black fractals on white background. I need only black fractal, with transparent background. Here’s how: open PNG image in Photoshop, select all (Ctrl-A), copy (Ctrl-C), close (Ctrl-W), create new file (Ctrl-N), paste (Ctrl-V), switch to mask mode (Q), paste (Ctrl-V), sqitch back (Q), delete (Del).


Christmas Night - making of - Step 7


Instead of black fractal, you need white. The fastest way is Ctrl-U, then set lightness = 100%.



Christmas Night - making of - Step 8

Copy resulted fractal image and paste it into top-right corner of our artwork.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 9

Then, simply set its layer opacity mode to “overlay”. Result: in this corner stars are now grouped into nice “roads”. If you need to make result more visible, simply duplicate the layer with fractal.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 10

 

For top-left corner, repeat teh same steps: generate similar fractal with contextfree, remove white background, paste into wallpaper…


Christmas Night - making of - Step 11

…and set its blend mode to “overlay” (and probably duplicate the layer).


Christmas Night - making of - Step 12

For more fun and excitement, we’ll need a bit of bigger stars. To create them, switch to Shape tool, choose Polygon, set number of sides to 4, and in Polygon options, check Star, and set indent to about 80%.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 13

Then, when you draw a shape you will get a star you need (hold Shift while dragging mouse to align diagonally). You can also open Blending options (effects) and add a bit of Outer Glow.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 14

Repeat several times to add stars here and there.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 15

The next part of our artwork is..s constellations. Use google image search to get the idea of what constellations are there and their layout. Then, use Shape tool (first Line tool, then Ellipse tool) to create a constellation. For each shape in constellation, open blending options and add 2-px black stroke.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 16

Here’s how our constellation looks when pasted into wallpaper. Repeat these steps for each constellation you want to add.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 17

Now the most exciting part – the earth. Create new layer (or better, create new layer set, and inside it, new layer; it will keep your file well organized),set color to blueish purple, use Shape tool (ellipse) to create VERY big circle (hold Shift to make sure you make circle, not ellipse). Then make sure only very top of circle is visible.

Duplicate this layer – you will need a copy of it a bit later. (hide duplicated layer for now).
Rasterize original layer.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 18

Open this layer’s blending options (layer style) and add small outer glow and big inner glow. Add a bit of noise (Filter – Noise – Add noise).


Christmas Night - making of - Step 19

future steps will show that the planet needs to be darker :-). So using Hue/Saturation (Ctrl-U), make planet darker and more saturated (you can always adjust it later as well).


Christmas Night - making of - Step 20

To add some nice light reflection, take a copy of planet shape (circle), switch to Path selection tool (A), select circle shape, copy-paste (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V), move copied circle a bit down and change its mode to “substract”. Then, change layer’s blend mode to “overlay”.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 21

Now, we need much more outer glow from our planet! To add it, select layer with planet and duplicate it again. Clear layer style, so that it has not outer and inner glows.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 22

To go filter – blur – gaussian blur and use very lagre number (such as 50-80). For stronger blur, duplicate layer (Ctrl-J) and merge it back (Ctrl-E).


Christmas Night - making of - Step 23

We only need glow outside the planet. To remove unnecessary glow, select layer with planet, set selection to layer transparency (you can hold Ctrl and click layer, or go to Select – Load selection – OK), then select layer with glow and hit Del to delete selected image.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 24

The final touch is to set its lend mode to Color dodge.

Christmas Night - making of - Step 25

To add a bit more 3D to our planet, create new layer, choose Brush tool, set brush size to very large (f.e. 700-800 pixels), set color o black, and add some black strokes on very bottom of image.
 


Christmas Night - making of - Step 26

Now the tricky part! The continents shining in the night. The inspiration came from famous photo from NASA – see http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap001127.html.

But simply copy and paste would be too.. well, simple! Let us be inspired by the photo but not rip it. So, in new document, select Freeform Pen tool, and with rough mouse movements draw a shape that resembles our continents. Remember to distort them, as they are located in a sphere.

Christmas Night - making of - Step 27

Take all fractals that you used in the very first steps (to create stars in background) and paste them here again. As previously, set blend more to “screen” so that all fractals are seen through each other. Then, merge all fractal layers (Ctrl-E), and desaturate (Ctrl-U).


Christmas Night - making of - Step 28

Now, delete all parts of fractals layer that are outside “continents shape” layer. There are 2 ways to do that. A) simply group these 2 layers (Ctrl-G) and then merge (Ctrl-E), or select continents shape, set selection to layer transparency (see above how to do it), switch back to fractals layer, invert selection (Ctrl-Shift-I) and Delete.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 29

Now all you need to to is insert the result into our artwork, and set its blend mode to “color dodge”! Woo-hoo!

Christmas Night - making of - Step 30

Now let’s make the lines going from the earth with congratulation messages. Creating smooth line is a bit tricky but result is quite good. As always, create a new layer. Open Paths palette. On bottom of it, click New button to create new path (empty so far). Make sure this path is selected.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 31

Switch to Pen tool (not freeform pen!). Draw a line with curved point in the middle (if unsure, here’s how to do it: first point: click; second point: click, drag a bit, release; third point: click).


Christmas Night - making of - Step 32

 

Switch to brush tool, set brush size to 1-2 pixels, set color to white, and on bottom of path palette, click Stroke button. The white line should appear (if it is not strong enough, click Stroke button again).


Christmas Night - making of - Step 33

Using same steps, draw as many lines as you like (remember to delete a path as soon as you clicked “stroke” button). Then, set layer blend mode to “overlay”.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 34

We’re almost done! Using font of your choice, write your messages. Move and rotate so that the messages align with the lines.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 35

Voila! :-)

Christmas Night - making of - Step 36

The last secret is how to create a fish that sends its congratulations too. Using Shape tool (U), draw a circle. Switch to path selection tool (A).



Christmas Night - making of - Step 37

select path, copy-paste (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V), resize (Ctrl-T, then hold Shift to preserve proportions), then change shape mode to Substract.

Christmas Night - making of - Step 38

copy and paste the circle again, move a bit to top, change shape mode to intersect.


Christmas Night - making of - Step 39

click “combine” button to merge shapes into one shape, copy-paste it, flip vertically, move down to create fish body, then select all shapes, copy-paste, move to the right to create fish tail…
 


Christmas Night - making of - Step 40

then add another circle, set its mode to Intersect, and combine all paths into one. Almost done!


Christmas Night - making of - Step 41

(you can give your fish an eye if you want :-)


Christmas Night - making of - Step 42

That’s all! Thanks for reading!

Christmas Night wallpaper (see wallpaper).

Author: Vlad Gerasimov
URL:    http://www.vladstudio.com

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