Photoshop Abstract Texture Tutorial

Getting our 1980s and VHS tape on with Dustin Schmieding’s cosmic fractal storm texture pack!

Introducing the cosmic fractal storm texture pack

Hello everyone! It’s Simon again on this end of the keyboard. I’m returning for another tutorial, and boy, do we have a treat this week. Dustin Schmieding gifted us with yet another fantastic texture pack, the cosmic fractal storm texture collection.

1

The set is composed of three-dimensional scenes, resembling cloud formations, or landscapes. Each texture is 4,000×2,700 pixels @ 150 ppi. This gives us plenty of pixels to work with, even for big size print applications (posters, flyers, and more).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

DOWNLOAD THE COSMIC FRACTAL STORM TEXTURE COLLECTION

Arsenal Members, you get this pack at no extra charge! (Feels like your birthday, doesn’t it?)

Using the pack: let’s play!

These assets are at home in a variety of contexts. They can be used as stand-alone assets, as background elements, as textures… We will explore some of these uses while we embark on the creation of a poster for a (fake) EDM event called Magnetic Fields.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The tutorial will have us explore tips and tricks to recreate a “VHS-like” effect, for all that analog glitch goodness.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

We’ll use primarily Photoshop for this tutorial, as manipulating textures is easier with it, and because we won’t engage in complex type manipulation.

How to create a cute robot children book cover with Justin Will's hand drawn Sci-Fi vectors!

We are going to work extensively with textures. It’s a good time to remind you guys of a few base rules, and processes:

  1. Don’t know what a clipped layer is? Glad you asked! This means that the layer is only visible/applies to the layer directly below it. You can very quickly do this by holding ALT down on your keyboard and clicking between the two layers. Here’s a quick demonstration.
  2. Every time we’ll work with textures, we’ll follow this simple process: place as smart object, sharpen1, desaturate, enhance contrast with levels, and modify the blending mode.
  3. Placing the textures as smart objects, and using adjustment layers to tweak them, allows us to stick to a non-destructive workflow. We’ve explored in depth the numerous pros and few cons of such a workflow in this past tutorial: “How to Use Textures The Right Way.”

Notes: 1 – accessed through the Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen menu.

With this in place, it’s time to get started!

The concept

As hinted at during our walk-through of the product, these textures feature digital “landscapes” that make no mysteries about how they have been generated. In order to stick to the theme, we are going to give this poster a “Lo-Fi,” CRT-like screen effect. Think of VHS artifacts: scan lines, slight warps, etc.

The concert is being branded as Magnetic Fields, and will take place at the Tate Modern gallery in London, and more specifically in the Turbine Hall. It’s a beautiful industrial space, and hosted a Kraftwerk performance in the past. It’s perfectly fitting.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

(Images via Tate.org/Marcus Leith/Tate Photography – © all rights reserved)

We’ll split our document in two columns to fit all the text (one side main event announcements, one side for the band names). The copy will read “Magnetic Field – 02.06.16 – Tate Modern – Turbine Hall – London, UK,” “Performances by chp_tnes – nu_drds – cbalt – qwerty – & lw_ram,” and “Tickets & information at www.magneticfields.com.”

The two typefaces we’ll use for the poster are League Gothic, and Droid Serif. They are both free for commercial use, so grabbing them is a no-brainer. They even feature an extended set of weights, for even more flexibility.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

All of our band names are inspired by electronics/robotics/computer science jargon:

  • chp_tnes (chiptunes)
  • nu_drds (new droids)
  • cbalt (cobalt)
  • qwerty (look at your keyboard)
  • lw_ram (low RAM)

The event is to take place on February 06th, 2016.

Photoshop Abstract Texture Tutorial

Document setup

Even though our event will take place in the United Kingdom, we will use an 18″x24″ canvas. Designers in the UK would typically use ISO paper sizes, like pretty much the rest of the world. Let’s just say that the performing acts all come from the USA, and that the poster is put together by an American concert promoter.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

As mentioned before, we’ll split our canvas in columns, three to be exact. We’ll also mark a one inch security margin around the edges of our poster. Photoshop CC’s New Guide Layout feature is priceless to generate these rapidly (View > New guide layout).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Note: if you don’t have the CC version of Photoshop, you can leverage the power of GuideGuide to accomplish the grid-related tasks quickly. The current version isn’t free, but older versions are.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

With the preparation work done, we can finally start to tackle the real thing.

The background

The background will be the base for our VHS effect. The first asset we need is GoMediaArsenal-CosmicFractalStorm-03.jpg, from Dustin’s texture pack.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

It needs to be placed as a smart object at X: 0.5″, and Y:12″, scaled up to 135%, and sharpened (Filters > Sharpen > Sharpen).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Once in place, it looks like this.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Starting the magic

The VHS-like effect that we will create in a few steps rests on the power of levels, and of blending modes. First, we need three copies of our texture smart object.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Using clipped levels adjustment layers, we are going to “kill” the output of selective color ranges for each of the copies. Let’s start with GoMediaArsenal-CosmicFractalStorm-03 copy. Using the clipped levels adjustment layer, we are going to change the output of blue hues to zero. This will result in a layer turning to yellow hues. Pro tip: note that the additional copies have been hidden for clarity each time.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Using the same technique, the second copy GoMediaArsenal-CosmicFractalStorm-03 copy 2 will see its greens disappear, leaving us with a set of saturated purples.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Finally, we’ll get rid of the reds on GoMediaArsenal-CosmicFractalStorm-03 copy 3.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

With that done, here’s our layer stack so far.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Next, we are going to create a few layer groups: one is for the copies and their adjustment layers, the other one for the background elements in general.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Now, we are going to change the blending mode of each copies to exclusion @ 100% opacity (the copies only – not their adjustment layers!).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The result is slightly underwhelming at the moment, but we are going to address that shortly.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Out-of-synchronization frames, part one

Next, we need to carefully offset each of the copies from the original smart object. For instance, instead of GoMediaArsenal-CosmicFractalStorm-03 copy being positioned at X: 0.5″, and Y:12″, it should be positioned at X: 0.55″, and Y:12.1″.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

GoMediaArsenal-CosmicFractalStorm-03 copy 2 can go from its original spot to X: 0.495″, and Y:11.95″.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Finally, GoMediaArsenal-CosmicFractalStorm-03 copy 3 can migrate to X: 0.485″, and Y:11.97″.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The effect is taking shape: we just established the basis for out-of-synchronization frames, or tape damage. To make things more legible, we are going to lower the opacity of the copies to 50%.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Out-of-synchronization frames, part two

To make the effect more believable, we are going to alter a portion of it. Let’s start by creating a merged copy of everything so far (CTRL/CMD+ALT/OPTION+SHIFT+E), at the top of our layer stack. The generated layer should be called Shear.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

We are now going to apply a shear filter to it (Filter > Distort > Shear). The effect is controlled through the small curve in the effect window. Clicking on the grid adds controls points (but no handles). Holding ALT/OPTIONS allows you to reset the manipulation. Wrap around loops disappearing image parts on the opposite side of the canvas. Repeat edge pixels stretches the pixels at the limit of the canvas to the image’s edges.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

After creating a curve directed to the bottom right corner of the canvas, our result is pretty dramatic.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Using our guides, we are going to create selections that we’ll use to mask parts of the sheared layer.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

With the selections active, we can head to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal selection.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

With that done, we can change the blending mode of the Shear layer to color dodge @ 35% opacity.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Additional touches

To complement the effect, we are going to add some thin horizontal lines at the edges of our selections. These lines will each be 1 point thick, run the full width of the poster, be colored in 50% gray (#808080), and perfectly aligned with the edges of the visible parts of the Shear layer. These lines should be created with either the pen tool (P), or with the line tool (U).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The settings options offered by Photoshop CC 2016 allows to customize the stroke. It should be noted that aligning the stroke to the outside produces the best result.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Once one of the lines is created, it can be duplicated and positioned to the appropriate locations.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Once in place, the lines’ blending mode can be changed to screen @ 25% opacity.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

And after some layer organization, our background layers start resembling something.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Icing on the cake

Because our background needs to not compete with our type elements later, we are going to darken it. We’ll use a levels adjustment layer for that.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

After one last look at the layer stack, we’re ready to move onto type!

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Type

The foundations

Now that our background is in place, we can start shaping our text blocks. The first one is the main one: “MAGNETIC FIELDS / 02.06.16 / TATE MODERN / TURBINE HALL / LONDON, UK.”

The type is set in League Gothic Condensed, that is 300 points tall, with a line spacing of 272 points, colored in white, and with kerning set to optical. These settings make the copy fit the two left columns of the grid, leaving the right column for the additional information blocks.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The next block is “Performances by // chp_tnes / nu_drds / cbalt / qwerty / & lw_ram.” The type is set in Droid Serif Bold, that is 54 points tall, aligned to the right, colored in white, and with kerning set to metric. These settings make the text block fit snugly in the top right corner of the poster.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The third and last text block is for the miscellaneous information: “Tickets & information at www.magneticfields.com.” It is set in Droid Serif Bold, that is 30 points tall, aligned to the right, colored in white, and with kerning set to metric. These settings make the text block fit snugly in the bottom right corner of the poster.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The result is interesting, but it lacks depth.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

In order to address that, we are going to replicate the VHS effect we gave the background to the main type block. Let’s start by creating three copies of the type element.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Instead of using levels adjustment layers, we are going to assign hues directly to each type elements. This works because the type is a solid color object, as opposed to the visually complex texture we applied the effect to earlier.

The bottom copy, MAGNETIC FIELDS 02.06.16 TATE MODERN TURBINE HALL LONDON, UK copy 3, should be assigned the base blue color #0000ff.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The middle copy, MAGNETIC FIELDS 02.06.16 TATE MODERN TURBINE HALL LONDON, UK copy 2, should be assigned the base red color #ff0000.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The top copy, MAGNETIC FIELDS 02.06.16 TATE MODERN TURBINE HALL LONDON, UK copy, should be assigned the base green color #00ff00.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The top text element (the original one) should stay white.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

From there, we can change the blending mode of the three copies to exclusion @ 100% opacity, and of the original element to overlay @ 100% opacity.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Now, in order to complete the effect, we simply have to offset the three copies in separate directions, using the arrow keys on our keyboard.Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

And with that done, we can move on to the last step: textures. Below is a look at our layer stack so far.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Textures!

Things to grab

Before we get moving, here are three assets to grab. They are all free. The first one is photocopy by clarisaponcedeleon, via DeviantArt.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The second is Film texture – grain explosion by JakezDaniel, on DeviantArt.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The third texture is vintage-paper-textures-volume-01-sbh-005, from the Vintage Paper Textures, Volume 1 set. It was made available through the “cute robot” book cover tutorial freebies.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

DOWNLOAD THE CUTE ROBOT TUTORIAL FREEBIE ARCHIVE

The last asset is this pattern tile, that we’ll use for scan lines. You should download it by right-clicking on it, and using the Save image at menu.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Putting things in place

The first texture we’ll use is the film noise texture, film_texture___grain_explosion_by_jakezdaniel-d37pwfa.jpg.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

It needs to be placed centered in the canvas, rotated of 90° clockwise, and scaled down to 80% so it covers the whole piece.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

From there, we can change its blending mode to color dodge @ 15% opacity.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The next texture is the scanline pattern. Let’s open the file.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

With the file open, we need to head to Edit > Define pattern. This will ask us to name it, and to validate. Once that is done, our pattern will be ready to use in our piece. Let’s close the pattern, and head back to our main file.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Back in the main file, let’s create a new, empty layer at the top of our layer stack.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

We are going to apply the pattern using a layer style. First, we need to fill our layer with a solid color. Which one won’t matter, it is just to make sure the effect shows up. 50% gray is a good default choice in these cases (#808080).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Next, we can open up our layer style palette by double-clicking on the layer thumbnail in the layer panel.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Let’s navigate to the pattern overlay section. It’s a simple interface. We can control the pattern tile roughly the same way we can control a layer: blending mode, opacity, scale, etc.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Let’s use the drop-down menu to select our scanline pattern.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Finally, we can dramatically scale the pattern up to make sure the lines are visible (900%).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Our pattern is applied, but we need to give it an additional touch for more veracity. Let’s convert the layer to a smart object (Filters > Convert to smart filters).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Next, let’s assign a 2 pixels gaussian blur to the pattern layer/smart object (Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Finally, let’s change the blending mode to overlay @ 10% opacity.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

With the scanlines in place, we can move to a slight color alteration. We are going to use a gradient overlay for it. Just like before, we’ll need a layer filled with 50% gray (#808080).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Next, we are going to change the layer’s fill to 0%. This allows to hide the layer’s pixels (the gray), but to let any effects applied through the layer style panel to shine through.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Let’s open the gradient overlay side of the panel.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

In the gradient drop down menu, let’s select the spectrum gradient.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Let’s change the blending mode of the gradient to overlay @ 15% opacity, and change the angle to -50°.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

This gives us a nice added depth to the colors of the piece.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The next to last texture is vintage-paper-textures-volume-01-sbh-005.jpg, from the cute robot tutorial freebie archive.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

It needs to be placed centered in the canvas, rotated of 90°, and scaled up to 440%.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Blending mode: soft light @ 25% opacity.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

The last texture is photocopy_by_clarisaponcedeleon.jpg.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

This one needs to be centered in the canvas, and slightly distorted (width: 212%, and height: 208%).

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Levels adjustments.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Blending mode: soft light @ 75% opacity.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

And with that, our piece is complete! After a last go at organizing our layers, here’s the full layer stack.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Wrapping things up!

Phew, that was a long one! I hope that you enjoyed following along with the tutorial as much as I enjoyed creating it, and that your outcome matches the goals you set for yourself before diving in.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Did I leave anything unclear? Any suggestions? Don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below! I’ll be happy to help out.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

We’d love to see your tutorial outcomes! Please share them with us on the Go Media Facebook page, or on Twitter at @go_media.

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

And finally, I hope that this gave you a preview of the cool things you can achieve with the cosmic fractal storm texture pack, by Dustin Schmieding. The pack is available for download now!

Cosmic Fractal Storm Textures Exploration Tutorial

On that note, that’s all for me today. Until next time, cheers!

Illustrator and Photoshop Tutorial: Create a cool occult LP jacket with the occult symbols collection!Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection

Illustrator and Photoshop Tutorial: Create a cool occult LP jacket with the occult symbols vector collection!

A dive in the deep end

Hello Zine readers! Simon from The Shop here.

It’s been a while, and I hope you all have had cool things happen since we spoke last. I’m excited to be back here today, and to share my latest Illustrator / Photoshop tutorial with you. We’re going to create a cool album cover with Jeff’s Occult vector collection found on the Go Media Arsenal.

Illustrator and Photoshop Tutorial: Create a cool occult LP jacket with the occult symbols collection!

Illustrator and Photoshop Tutorial: Create a cool occult LP jacket with the occult symbols collection!

Illustrator and Photoshop Tutorial: Create a cool occult LP jacket with the occult symbols collection!

Illustrator and Photoshop Tutorial: Create a cool occult LP jacket with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

You should get the complete thing. For less than $40, you get a really nice set of assets, that you can re-use in so many projects.

BUY THE OCCULT SYMBOLS COMPLETE COLLECTION

The brief is alas fake, but let me introduce you to the band: they’re called Fiat Lux, and have just released their album Æterna. Imagine a band at the crossroads between Xploding Plastic’s Kissed by a kisser:

This Will Destroy You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KStWfDdOYlM

And Slipknot’s Vermilion Part II

With these references, we could define the band’s universe as dark, strange, occult, mysterious, and “out there.” From there, it’s time to look at our resources, and to start sketching.

Step 0: conceptualizing

Like I said earlier, our primary resource will be the sweet collection of occult symbols and esoteric elements Jeff designed and recently released on the Arsenal. Let’s have a closer look at the various packs composing the full collection.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection! Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

As you can, the 500+ elements give us quite a range of options to choose from, and of directions to explore. It’s time to break out the pencil and paper, and to find arrangements that fit the band’s universe. After a few hours of playing with combinations, these are the ones I came up with that I liked the most and that I felt were presentable to “the client.”

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

After chatting a bit with Heather, who agreed to play the role of the band, we agreed on the top right design. It looks like a complex design, but is accomplished with only a few elements. It speaks of time (the hourglass), of control and/or the divine and spiritual (the all seeing eye), of mysteries (the keys), of power (the lightning bolts, the crown, and the diamond), of death (the skulls)…

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Now that we have a design, we should execute it, don’t you think?

Step 1: vectors

The design will be assembled and colored in Illustrator, and then textured in Photoshop. This will allow us to get the best of both worlds, when we need it. We need Illustrator’s flexibility and vector manipulation tools to quickly build our layout, while we need Photoshop’s unparalleled abilities to manipulate textures.

File setup

Obviously, that’s where we start. It’s like putting the foundation for our final piece in place. Start by creating a new 15″x15″ document in Illustrator. Most record art is usually delivered at 12.5″x12.5″, so why 15″x15″? The reason why is easy: even though we’re working in vectors, working at size 1:1 (or slightly bigger) helps when you’ll place all of that in Photoshop. Working at 15″x15″ could also help you/your client to quickly re-purpose the art as a print of some kind.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Assets gathering

Next, we need to go through the various packs in the occult collection, and to get all of the assets we’ll need in our Illustrator document. From gma_all-seeing-eyes.ai, we need the bottom left element (all seeing eye with small burst).

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

From gma_esoteric_spiritual_symbols.ai, we need the thin diamond asset.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

From gma_esoteric-misc.ai, we need quite a few: globe, masonic symbol, crown, and hourglass.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

The triangular element comes from gma_hand-drawn-shapes.ai

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

The key asset comes from gma_keys-anchors.ai.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

The skulls are from gma_skulls-crossbones.ai

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

And the lightning bolts are from gma_wings_laurels_lightning.ai

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

And here are all of our assets

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Layout building

Building the layout itself is simple: we’re just sticking to the sketch. Start by organizing the elements as the sketch as them. I also placed guides in place to assist in the process: a series at 1″ of the canvas’ edges, and some to indicate its center. Don’t worry about proportions, or orientations just yet.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

From there, having your sketch in front of you, it’s easy to place and resize elements appropriately. Let’s start with the corner elements. I have them all placed within the guides at 1″ of the piece’s edges. I have up-sized the hourglass slightly, increasing its width to 1″, and also flipped the orientation of the globe (Transform > Reflect > Vertical).

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Next is the “center piece” of our design: the crown/all seeing eye/triangular element combo. I started by increasing the width of the all seeing eye to 5″, and adjusted both the crown and triangular element’s sizes from there. The logic I followed was to give both elements a line thickness comparable to the all seeing eye, which makes them elements of a same ensemble. The crown ended up being 3.5″ wide, and the triangular element 3″ wide.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

In order to make the visual flow of the piece more dynamic, I also turned the triangular element upside-down.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

The top of the crown is aligned with the top horizontal guide. The all seeing eye is aligned so the top of the eye lines up with the horizontal center guide.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Our center piece is ready.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Let’s put the lightning bolts in place next, as they’ll be our cue to align both the skull pair and the key pair. I’m using them to create a visual link from the crown to the triangular element. Each bolt is aligned to its respective guide close to the frame’s edge, as well as roughly vertically centered in the piece. That combination of constrains place the new dimensions of one of the bolts at roughly 4.5″ wide.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

I like the result, but the bolts are too thick and overpowering compared to the rest of the elements. A quick trick is to give them a stroke (aligned to the inside of their shape), and to subtract it using the pathfinder. Let me show you how.

Start by assigning a stroke to both bolts, in order to make their thickness visually more satisfying. I’m using a white stroke, in order to right away get a sense of the results. I’m using 5 points for the stroke thickness.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Once we’re happy with the amount of lightning hidden by the stroke, it’s time to actually delete it. Start by expanding the stroke to make it a vector element (Object > Expand appearance).

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Proceed then to use the Pathfinder’s Merge functionality to effectively fuse the white outline and the black bolt together.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

What the Pathfinder will do is merge the various shapes, and “clean out” the hidden paths.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Once you have done that, you can delete the white shape after selecting it with your direct selection tool (A).

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Apply the same process to the second bolt.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

From there, you can rearrange the bolts to fit the layout better visually. Here’s the before:

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

And here’s the after (with guides). The bolts have been lowered, in order to line up with the triangular element.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

From there, it’s time to finalize the placement of the skulls. I’ve located them between the bolt and the crown. I’ve also flipped the skulls appropriately so they are directed towards the outside of the piece.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

The last piece of our layout puzzle is the pair of skeleton keys. These are rotated 45°, and aligned with the edge of the bolts, as well as with the first “module” of each bolt.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Step 2: colors!

The color palette I chose comes from COLOURlovers, and is called Kabbalah ², which fits right in with our theme.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

The palette features 5 colors, but we’ll only use 4 of them. From left to right:

  • Off white (Yesod), #CCD0BB
  • Tan (kether), #BDBA85
  • Blood red (Kabbalah), #903024
  • Dark purple (gothik kabbalah), #14061D
  • Purple (Kabbalah), #221847

There are quite a few ways to apply a color palette to a piece, and I’ve selected two of them that I sent to my “client.” One features a light background, and the other one a dark one. Both already have an unsettling feel to them, that we’ll further emphasize with textures.

In the first one, the background is our off white, the corner elements are dark purple, the skulls and keys are purple, the lightning bolts are tan, and the center piece elements are blood red.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

In the dark version, the background is dark purple, the corner elements are purple, the skulls and keys are red, the crown, bolts, and triangular element are tan, and the all seeing eye is off white. This helps to give it a bit more prominence in the composition.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

The “band” – Heather – preferred the dark one. The only change we made was to make the corner elements  off white, because they were getting lost on the dark purple background. The resulting composition is below.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Finally, before moving forward in any way, it’s time for some file cleanup. Organizing and labeling your layers properly will save you (and anybody else that has to work with your file) a lot of time in the next stages.

I gave the center piece elements their own layer, then moved on to the secondary elements, followed by the corner elements, and finishing with the background and the guides. I also labeled all of these for what they are.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Step 3: textures!

This is going to be the step where we’ll bring our carefully constructed layout to life, by adding substance and depth to it. All but one of the textures we’ll be using here are free.

Assembling the textures

Start by making sure you have the resources handy, which will be helpful and speed up the execution. Let’s assemble them.

Valleys in the Vinyl’s antique envelope texture

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

I’m gifting you a texture from my personal vault, because it felt so right to use with the piece. It was generated from one of these sheets of very heavy paper, that got slightly creased. Save it by following this link.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

We’ll use photocopy-noise-textures-sbh-005.jpg for some subtle masking.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Lost and Taken’s remixed chalk and pastel textures, #7

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

StarNet blog’s painter’s effect texture pack, #4

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

This brush stroke effect texture, by Chank Diesel

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

This photocopy texture by clarisaponcedeleon

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

This film texture by JakezDaniel

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Finally, this tough to find record wear pattern texture (see link in video description), from whichever dark corner of the internet I found it at. I suspect it’s a scan of an old copy of the Beatles’ White album.

Please note: This record texture was originally found on the web here, but since then has been removed. We are providing this file here. If you are the original creator of the file and would like to see yourself credited in another way, or removed, please get in touch.

Preparing the Photoshop document

Before we start adding textures everywhere, you need to create a new Photoshop document, and to transfer all of the vector elements into it. Because we’re going to independently affect the elements from the background, you need to at least have the background and the elements as separate smart objects into it. I actually transfered everything as independent elements, as you’ll see below.

First, we create that 15″x15″ canvas in Photoshop.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Putting the same guides in place.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Placing the corner elements.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Placing the center piece.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Adding the skulls and the keys.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

And organizing and labeling the layer mess.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Quick notes

Quick note #1: in this tutorial, the term “clipping” or “clipped layer” is used a few times. This means that the layer is only visible/applies to the layer directly below it. You can very quickly do this by holding ‘Alt’ down on your keyboard and clicking between the two layers. Photoshop secrets created an handy animated gif demonstration.

Quick note #2: every time we’ll work with textures, we’ll follow this simple process: place as smart object, sharpen, desaturate, enhance contrast with levels, and modify the blending mode.

Placing the textures as smart objects, and using adjustment layers to tweak them, allows us to stick to a non destructive workflow. I’ve explored in depth the numerous pros and few cons of such a workflow in a past tutorial for the good peeps at Design Cuts: “How to Use Textures The Right Way.”

Actual texture work, part I

We’re going to start by texturing the background. We’re going to give it some coarse paper grain. Place BB_AntiqueEnvelope_04.jpg in your document, right above the background layer. Sharpen it (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen).

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Desaturate it with a clipped hue/saturation adjustment layer.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Emphasize the texture’s unique features with a clipped levels adjustment layer.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Change the texture’s blending mode to Soft light @ 100% opacity.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

From there on, and I’ve said in my Quick notes, the process will be the same for most textures: place as a smart object, sharpen, desaturate, adjust the levels, and change the blending mode.

The next texture is the creased heavy paper texture I’ve passed on to you as a freebie.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Levels

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Blending mode: Soft light @ 75% opacity.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Adding type!

Now that the background is textured, we can turn the other elements back on. And we can notice something rather embarrassing: I haven’t added the type elements for the artist and album name! Since we’re just about to texture the various vector elements, it’s just the good time to add them in. We’ll be using League Spartan, a free and beautiful typeface by The League of Movable Type.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

As stated at the beginning, the band is called Fiat Lux, and the album’s name is Æterna. I’ve set my type 36 points tall, and set the kerning to Optical. I’ve simply placed the band’s name at the top of the crown, and the album name below the triangular element.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Before we can proceed with the aging/texturing of the type, we need to do some layer organization. Start by giving the type elements their own layer group.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Proceed then to group all of the various vector elements layer groups and the type elements into a master layer group.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Next, add a layer mask to the master layer group. Make sure it’s unlinked from its content. This will allow us to edit the layer mask content independently from the layers themselves.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Proceed to open photocopy-noise-textures-sbh-005.jpg.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Copy its content, and paste it into the layer mask. You can do so by clicking and pressing the ALT/OPTION key on the layer mask’s thumbnail.  This will give you access to the layer mask’s content, in which you can copy, paste, resize, paint, erase, etc, just like the rest of the time. You’ll just be limited to black, white, and gray hues when doing so.

This is what you’ll see once you’ve pasted the texture in the layer mask.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Place the comet at your taste. I’m trying to bring as much of its white artifacts in the frame.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

After sharpening the texture, proceed to invert it.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Simply click back on one of the layers to see the result.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Should you be unsatisfied, you can use levels (CTRL/CMD+L) to tweak the texture’s impact on your piece.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

The result wasn’t as intense as I wanted to the first time.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

This below is much better.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

And here’s the result.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Actual texture work, part II

We can now move on to the rest of the texture work. We’ll follow the same process as when texturing the background.

Let’s start with LT_RemixedChalkPastel_07.jpg.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Levels

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Blending mode: Soft light @ 50% opacity.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Next in the texture stack is StarNet blog’s painter’s effect texture pack, #4.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Blending mode: Soft light @ 35% opacity.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

The following texture in our piece is the brush stroke texture.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Blending mode: Soft light @ 65% opacity.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Next is the photocopy texture. It’ll help us to create a nice, organic vignette effect. Place it without fear of distorting it, so it cover precisely our canvas.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Note how we’re using levels to reduce how light overall the texture is in this case.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Blending mode: Overlay @ 100% opacity.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

It’s time to add some dust speckles and artifacts with JakezDaniel film texture.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Other than sharpening, that texture doesn’t need any desaturation or levels tweaking. We can simply change its blending mode to Screen @ 35% opacity, and we’re done.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Next up is the texture that’s going to emulate the wear pattern you’d find on an old record sleeve. While we’re using the same technique to display its artifacts as the film texture (Screen only lets white pixels show, while black ones are shown as transparent), we’ll use levels to tweak its intensity.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Blending mode: Screen @ 50% opacity.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Here’s a look at my layers:

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Step 4: finishing touches

We’re going to add a halftone effect to our record sleeve art. It will emulate the cheap print job that this band had to rely on to be able to afford publishing their record. Start by creating a merged copy of all the visible layers (CTRL/CMD+ALT/OPTION+SHIFT+E). It’ll create a new layer at the top of your layer stack. I renamed it “Halftones.”

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Convert the layer to a smart object (Filter > Convert for smart filters on Photoshop CC).

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Go to Filter > Pixelate > Color halftone. The value that matters here is the Max. radius of 12 pixels. It determines how big my halftones dots will be.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Since the effect is quite strong, simply lower the layer’s opacity to 35%.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Our piece is finished!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

We can now quickly head to MockupEverything to create a photo-realistic preview of what the record will look like, and land that art approval much better than with simply a “flat” JPG would.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

You have to admit that, being able to get a realistic preview of what could be is quite appealing!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

And that concludes our tutorial. I hope you had as much fun following it as I had writing it.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

We’d love to see your own outcomes! Please share them with us, either in the Go Media Flickr pool, the Go Media Pinterest guest pinner board, the Go Media Facebook page, or even our Twitter feed.

Create a cool occult LP design with the occult symbols collection!

And that’s all I have for today. Until next time, cheers!