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Create a distorted wall of pictures for your desktop background.


In this tutorial we will be creating a distorted wall of 5 pictures. The pictures will be lined up horizontally with 3 pixels space between them. Whatever pictures you decide to use for this tutorial, you'll have to cut a fixed size rectangle out of them because we want them all to look the same in size. And another important thing to note is that the width you chose for your pictures multiplied by 5 must not exceed the size of your document. In more simple words: if you choose a document of 1280x800 like i did, you'll have to use pictures with a maximum width of about 200 pixels, because larger images would not fit in the document when aligned together.

The first thing to do is find yourself 5 images you want to use. If for some reason you're a little lazy, you can use the pictures that i've used from my photogallery. You can download them zipped by clicking the picture below:


Let's begin. Create a new document with the width that's a little larger than the width of your images, multiplied by 5. If you've downloaded my images, use 1280x800. Now set the foreground color to #960000 and background to #650000. Grab a gradient tool img/ps_tool_gradient.jpg from the tools palette and use a foreground-to-background preset:


Drag a line from bottom to top of the document to draw the gradient. Now create a new transparent 4x4 pixel document. We will be using this to create a pattern to fill the background with. Zoom in as much as you can (use CTRL++) and grab a pen tool img/ps_tool_pencil.jpg from the tools palette. With your pencil, draw the pattern as shown below:


The text in the picture shows the value of the color you need to use for each part of the pattern. When you're done, press Edit > Define Pattern ..., enter some name and hit OK. You can now close this document. In the original document create a layer and name it back 2. Press Edit > Fill ... and use these settings:


Change the blending mode for a back 2 layer to overlay. Now create a new layer and name it gradient. Press D for default color values and X to exchange them. Pick the gradient tool img/ps_tool_gradient.jpg from the tools palette and use a foreground-to-transparent present with these settings:


You now need to draw a line from below the document and in the horizontal center to the top. Here's what i mean:


Now change the blending mode of the gradient to color dodge and you should end up with something like that:


Now open your pictures and resize/crop them to have equal widths and heights. To do that, open each picture, grab the crop tool img/ps_tool_crop.jpg from the tools palette and set the width and height in the settings panel:


Now simply draw a rectangle with the crop tool and don't mind the size. It will retain the aspect ratio of the image dimentions you've defined. So just draw a crop rectangle over the place you want to cut and press ENTER. This will crop and resize the image to have the defined dimensions. Then simply select all CTRL+A, copy CTRL+C, open the wallpaper document and paste CTRL+V. This should paste every image on its own layer and that's very good. Now you need to align your images horizontally like this:


Now move the images horizontally so that there was a 3 pixel empty space between them. To do that, select an image next to the one in the middle, grab a move tool img/ps_tool_move.jpg from the tools palette and press the LEFT or RIGHT cursor key on your keyboard 3 times, depending on the direction you need to move the image to. Then select the leftmost/rightmost image and press the arrow key 6 times. Do the same with the images on the other side. You should now have all the images aligned with 3 pixel spaces in between. Next thing to do is add a border. To do this, double-click any of the picture layers and apply a stroke style with these settings:


Now right-click the styled layer and select Copy Layer Style from the popup menu. For every each unstyled picture layer, right-click and choose Paste Layer Style. Now select all the picture layers and press CTRL+E to merge them. Name the resulting layer to pictures:


Press CTRL+SHIFT+U to convert the images to grayscale. Now duplicate the pictures layer move the duplicate below the original and name it reflections. Move the pictures in the reflections layer 1 pixel below the originals:


Flip the reflections vertically (Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical). Before we make the reflected pictures fade, we need to add some guides that we'll need later. To do that, press View > Rulers. We need the following guides defined:


You might need to select both picture and reflection layers and position them in the middle of the document. To create a horizontal guide, click on a top ruler and drag down. Release when you reach the point you want to add the guide to:


The same goes for vertical guides. You need to create the first guide a little above the pictures and the 4th guide - the same distance below the reflections. Guides 2 and 5 should match left and right sides of the pictures and the 3rd guide should be positioned below the part where reflections and pictures connect at the same distance as you've positioned the [b]4th[/i] guide from the bottom of the reflections. When i say the same distance i don't mean exactly the same. If you can do it exact - that's great, but i personally didn't bother: if it looks about the same - it'll be fine.
Next thing we need to do is make the actual reflection. For this we will fade our reflection images. Create a layer mask on the reflections layer by pressing the layer mask button img/ps_btn_mask.jpgimg/ps_tool_gradient.jpg from the tools palette and use these settings: in the layers panel. A layer mask thumbnail should appear next to the layer itself. Select the gradient tool


Now drag a line like this:


This will create our reflection. If you did not understand what just happend, please read about how layer masks work in my non destructive deletion with layer masks tutorial. Select the pictures layer (which should be on top of reflections) and press CTRL+E to merge them together. A dialog box should appear, asking if you'd like to preserve the layer mask - select preserve. You should have an image like the one below by now:


Don't worry about the guides, they're just a helper element, they are not visible on an actual image. And we will dispose them when they will have served their purpose :) Now it's time to apply a 3D transformation to the wall. Go to Edit > Transform > Warp. You need to move some of the points up and some of the points down like shown in the picture below. Use the guides to maintain the same vertical/horizontal distance when moving the points.


In the end, the top handles of the transformation should now be on a top guide, bottom handles - on the bottom guide and the left/right picture-reflection intersection points - on the middle guide:


Press ENTER to complete the transformation and go to View > Clear Guides. Now right-click on the picture layer's layer mask thumbnail and choose Apply Layer Mask. Set the layer's blending mode to luminosity:


The picture above is already aligned in the middle of the document. To do that yourself, select the pictures layer and press CTRL+A, CTRL+X. Now zoom out a lot so that you'd be able to see the entire document and press CTRL+V. And there you have it - a centered wall of pictures. Next we're going to add another wall further from this one. To do that, duplicate your pictures layer (CTRL+J). Now select the lower pictures layer and go to Edit > Transform > Distort. Drag the distort transformation handles to form a shape like this:


Press ENTER to apply distortion and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur .... Add a 3-4 pixel blur. The last thing to do is lower the opacity of this new wall to about 30%. And there you have it:

Guide written by: Marius S.
This guide is an intellectual property of its respective author. All images, used in this tutorial are property of if not stated otherwise.