Easter Sunday is drawing near very quickly, so why not celebrate it with some festive wallpaper? What are we going to create? How about a simple background, some subtle texture, and a few chicks—no, not that sort of chicks, the other sort! Let’s get started …
What we’ll be making…
Here’s the wallpaper we’re going to be illustrating from scratch. Click the image to see a large version.
Editor’s Note: This tutorial was originally published in the Czech language at Grafika Online. Grafika have kindly given permission for Vaclav to republish here on Psdtuts+ for those of us who haven’t quite mastered Czech…
Create a new Photoshop document (Ctrl + N). Size isnÂ´t important for
now. Set a white background, select the Ellipse Tool (U), and
draw two ellipses—the base of our chick. While drawing, press the Shift
key to have both ellipses in one layer. Also, donÂ´t forget to draw the shapes
as a Shape
Layer (first icon in the menu bar), so we can modify them later.
After that, select the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the two side
points of the second ellipse and move them up a little…
…and at the same time, adjust the anchor points to make them less round. As
shown on the next picture, you can also rotate the top point.
When youÂ´re satisfied, click the Combine button. This function
merges the two shapes into one.
Next, adjust the connection between the shapes (sure, thereÂ´s only one shape
now, but the connection is too sharp). The method is quite easy. Select the
Pen Tool (P), add two new points around the old one (new points are
highlighted on the picture), and than delete the old point (marked with an x on the
picture). If the connection is still not round enough, repeat this process few
If you want, you can also add the tail. With the Pen Tool (P), add a new point
and move it upward. Then recolor the layer into the final color—light yellow #FDED95.
The base is finished, so now you can continue with other parts. The eye
is just another black ellipse, or circle if you want, so press the Shift
key while youÂ´re drawing. However, press the Shift after you start
drawing, otherwise youÂ´ll set the addition drawing mode instead.
The chickÂ´s beak can be drawn with a polygon. Therefore, use the Pen Tool (P) and draw a
shape similar to the one on the screenshot. DonÂ´t forget to move this layer
under the base layer. The color of this shape is
#F7BF86. You can easily change the shape color when you double-click the
preview icon in the Layers palette, or set the background color and then press Alt + Backspace.
Draw the legs the same way, itÂ´s just few more points and
mouse clicks. ItÂ´s not necessary to have both legs in one layer. If you want,
you can draw only one leg and duplicate it (Ctrl + J). But this time
the regularity is not important—in fact, it’s better if they aren’t too regular, as that will fit the style of the illustration a lot better.
Here is the chick in 100% view … pretty cute!
The only thing missing is the wing. We want a very simple chick, but missing wings is perhaps a bit too simplistic :-) As a base, use again the ellipse…
…and again transform it like the body by moving the side points upward…
…and rotate them clockwise a little (Ctrl + T).
Recolor it into the darker yellow color (#FBE56E) and – whoa! The wing
is too strong. Maybe we could make only an outline. So, why not? Select the Path Selection Tool (A),
select the shape, copy it (Ctrl + C), paste it (Ctrl + V),
resize it to 90 % (Ctrl + T)…
…and set the Subtract from shape area mode. As you can see on the
picture, resizing is not the same thing as expanding, therefore the
outline is wider on the sides and narrower on the top and bottom.
Unfortunately, Photoshop doesn’t have more functions to work with vectors (like
Illustrator), so if you want an accurate outline, you need to switch for a
moment into Illustrator.
This leads us to an important question which I’ll answer before I get flamed in the comments for it… Why not just create this in Illustrator?
The answer is that when
youÂ´re creating graphics for screen (in our case a wallpaper), and not for print
(for example a poster), it doesn’t make that much difference whether it’s Photoshop or
Illustrator. Both have functions to work with vector layers, but in
Photoshop you can also easily add effects and modify the graphics. Besides, this
site is about Photoshop, and I really like it :)
But letÂ´s get back to the chick. In the 100% size, it looks like this. The wing is
looking nice, what about adding an outline around the body too?
Why not? Just use the same method. Duplicate the base layer (Ctrl + J),
select the shape, copy it, paste it, resize it, and set the mode to subtract.
Here you can very clearly see that the resizing is really not the same thing
as expanding the shape…
…so you need to select the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move every point
where it belongs…
This gives you opportunity to play with the shape and emphasize
something and foreshadow the shape of the chick’s body with the jags.
Soon, you will realize that outline created as a shape gives you many
possibilities; for example, to make the wing even more irregular and wider
on the sides. Just be sure to make the irregular appearance look like your aim,
not a failing.
Again here’s our 100% size view. You can see the irregular outline has added a lot of character to the illustration.
So, whatÂ´s missing? How about some stylized feathers! For
this, use a very simple duplication method. First, draw one "feather";for example, with the
Pen Tool (P), a simple quadrangle should be enough.
And when youÂ´re satisfied with the size, move the shape sideways, select the
area with Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), and define this as new brush: Edit
> Define Brush. The selection can be bigger than the shape. The important thing is
to keep the background white and the shape black.
If you see the brush preview on the gray background when youÂ´re entering the
new name, itÂ´s OK (white from the background changes into transparent).
Then you need to adjust the brush to be ready to contour the chick’s body.
Therefore, open the Brushes Palette and start by adjusting the
Spacing. The arrow on the next picture shows the sample stroke which you
can try on the new temporary layer to see the result. The Spacing is
ideal somewhere between 150 – 200 %.
To have the feather coat more varied, set the Size Jitter to about
40 % on the Shape Dynamics tab. Again, you can see the brush
preview in the lower part of the palette (and on the left in the document).
The last thing you need to do is to adjust the brush to rotate around so that we can apply it to the
chick’s body. This will be done with the Angle Control property,
where you set the value to Direction. Now you canÂ´t see any
difference in the lower part of the palette, but try to draw with this brush
in the new layer. The brush rotates to the direction which youÂ´re moving. This
is exactly what we want!
Now you can draw the feather coat around the chick with mouse, but itÂ´s not
a very comfortable way of doing things, especially when Photoshop itself can do the job. All
you need is a path and because the body of the chick is shape layer (or in other words a path), we
have half the work already done.
The only thing needed is to "move" the path from the shape layer into the Path
Palette. Select the layer, and with the Path
Selection Tool (A), select the path. Then show the Paths Palette, where
you can see the working path (the name is in italics). This means that after
selecting another layer, this path will disappear, which isn’t what you want!
Therefore, click the little black arrow in the palette and select Save Path.
Next create a new layer (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + N) and again click the
little black arrow but this time select the Stroke
For the tool, select Brush (the brush will be the last used), turn off
Pressure and confirm OK.
For better visibility of result, you can recolor the layer to black for a while,
and if everything looks ok…
Change the color to yellow (#FBE56E). Because the color is very light
and the feather coat not very visible, you can duplicate the layer (Ctrl +
J). Or repeat the procedure once more with slightly different brush.
Here is another 100% size view.
We canÂ´t leave our chick alone, therefore, we will create some more, smaller and in
Move all chicks layers into the new folder, duplicate that folder, move
sideways, and resize it to 50% (Ctrl + T).
But after the resizing, the feathers are missing the details. Therefore, delete
the two feather layers and repeat the procedure that we used to feather the bigger chick. As you
can see on the next picture, for better visibility the feather coat is again
black, but of course change the color to yellow, when youÂ´re satisfied with it.
And now we want another few chicks in different colors. Duplicate the folder and
load the selection of all layers except the beak and legs. ItÂ´s easy, just
click on the layer’s thumbnails with Ctrl and Shift keys.
Then in Layers Palette add a new adjustment layer for Hue/Saturation…
Which will have the previous selection as a mask, and therefore, all changes
will be done only over the chick’s body. Move the first slider, Hue,
until you are satisfied with the color.
Then duplicate the folder again and change the Hue until you will have
enough chicks :), just like in this picture.
But – whoa! Whereas the yellow chick is nice and pale, the others are shiny
and very, very strong. We really need to do something with this.
So again, load the corresponding selection. This time, you can load the
selection from the Hue/Saturation layer. Just click with Ctrl key on
the mask thumbnail. Then create a new adjustment layer for Brightness/Contrast
under this layer. Than move with the Brightness slider until the chick
is almost the same brightness as the original yellow chick. As you can see on this
picture, the orange chick needs just a little adjustment…
…while to adjust the pink one you need to move the slider a lot more…
…and even more for the blue one. The green one is already about right.
Now we have everything ready for the background—the wallpaper.
Therefore, create a new document in whatever size your desktop requires (for example 1280×1024
Fill the background with a light yellow (#FFF6CC) and move all the
layers from the previous document into this. Just use the drag and drop
method, and then distribute the chicks somehow. For example, as I’ve shown below:
Because we want to have very simple and pale background, we
will add just some splashes of watercolor shapes. For this, we need some
watercolor brushes, which you can download, for example, from the excellent DeviantArt. Just
And after a bit of searching, select the brushes that are big enough. These look good enough for our purposes.
Then jump back to Photoshop, select the Brush Tool (B), and from the context
menu, select the Load Brushes option.
Select the .abr file, and your new brushes should directly appear on the
Next, create a new layer and start testing the brushes with the Brush Tool (B).
The color of the brush is again yellow (#FFF6CC), but the interaction
of the layers should be Multiply! This way, you can achieve a real
watercolor look over all the chicks. After a while, your document could look like this. Still a very
abstract and bright background, but with nice texture and looking a lot more
Next, adjust the small chicks to make each little different. All you need to do
is move/rotate the beak, eye, and legs.
…eventually move the chicks more to the sides to make them look a little more random.
We want to focus our user’s attention to the center, where the big chick is and
where we’ll be placing our text. So add a new Levels adjustment layer and
move the black slider to the right. The whole picture will darken…
…then draw a Radial gradient with the Gradient Tool from black
to white (the gradient is visible on the next picture in layers palette). This
way, the darkening will be only around the corners.
Then just add some nice text with a fancy font, for example, 42
(which I downloaded from free font site
dafont.com), in the color #F5B06A…
And the wallpaper is done! Click on the next picture to see it full
size (1280 x 1024).
What? You donÂ´t want to finish yet? OK, OK. Just few more optional steps. Let’s see how we can
focus the user’s attention a little more towards the middle? How about by blurring the side chicks!
Duplicate all the folders of small chicks and merge them into one layer (Ctrl
+ E) and use Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur filter.
Set the radius according to the distance from the center. For example, from 0.5px (for
the first chick) to about 4px (for the last chick).
And that really is the end this time! Click on the next picture to see the result, and good
luck with your work … and of course – Happy Easter!