The Creation of Om Mani Padme Hum Tutorial
This tutorial details how I created the Om Mani Padme Hum wallpaper and what techniques were used to get the final result.
Everyone has their own way of getting things done when it comes to Photoshop, so you don’t need to follow this word for word… experiment a little, too!
Step 1: Find the Right Images
I was rummaging through some old photography of mine and came across a few photos from Laos and Thailand. When I took these photos, I had no idea they would end up in a photo-manipulation project… so take photos when you’re out and about. You’ll never know when they can come in handy.
This Buddha from a temple in Thailand really caught my eye so I decided to use it as the base for the design. Some people like to plan things out ahead when building a design like this, but on this particular project, I just dove in not knowing what the end result would look like.
I also used some designs from a piece of pottery and a wall painting that will eventually make up the platform Buddha is sitting on.
The last piece that is necessary is the background. I used a great sun texture from PhatPuppy.
Step 2: Image Extraction
Extraction can be time consuming and can take some patience, but the end result is well worth it. Extraction is the process of separating your image from the background. I used a layer mask technique that allows you to brush over the photo to hide and reveal areas.
I took the Buddha image and used the Crop Tool (C) to chop off everything but the statue itself, eliminating any extra space that will be trimmed off anyway. I created a new layer below it and painted it a solid color. I prefer hot pink because it contrasts with almost anything. Add a layer mask to the Buddha by clicking on the Buddha layer, then click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette.
You’ll see a white box appear to the right of your layer thumbnail. Click on it to make sure it is selected so you don’t paint on your base image. Use a circular black brush and change the hardness to a low percentage. You might want a hard edge depending on what effect you are going for, but for this particular piece I wanted the image to seem subtle and natural with no awkward edges. Use [ to decrease the size of your brush and ] to increase it.
Start tracing around the outer edge of your design with black and you’ll start to see hot pink showing through. Black paint will hide the image and white will reveal it. To get some of those tricky corners, like where the finger tips meet the palm, I’ll roughly hide the outside edge with black, then switch to a small white brush and reveal the fingers from the inside.
Once the entire piece is masked out, open a new window (cmd+n) and make the dimensions for your largest wallpaper. I usually start with 1920×1200 pixels at 72 dpi. Click and drag your element into the new document.
Step 3: Begin Building Your Composition
I will leave the extraction of the platform for a bit later. It’s time to start piecing the extractions together. Hide all of your extracted images and leave the background texture. My own trick to find the center of the canvas is to double click on the base layer, hit ok to unlock it from being a background. Then hit cmd+T to activate the free transform tool. A tiny cross will appear in the center of the canvas. Hold cmd+space bar to trigger the zoom-in tool, and click and drag around the cross to zoom in. Then you can drag out a horizontal and vertical guideline from the edges of the window. Zoom out and you have the exact location of your horizontal and vertical centers.
I re-sized and fitted the texture and Buddha so everything sat nicely in the center of the page.
For the next step, I created the radiating aura around my extracted Buddha friend. The arrows from the clay pot were already in a circular formation, so instead of extracting the entire ring of arrows, I just extracted one and recreated the circular effect with some shortcuts. Let’s focus on the outer ring of arrows first and then it can be duplicated and reduced in size to make the inner circles without losing resolution.
The arrow was a little distorted and off balance, so I placed it at the top/center of the canvas and used the transform tool (T) to skew it slightly into a more vertical shape. With the arrow layer selected, hold down the option (alt) key, and click and drag the arrow downward while holding shift. This creates a duplicate arrow and holding shift will keep it vertically aligned with the original while dragging. I pulled the new arrow down to the bottom of the page and rotated it 180 degrees. I used cmd+T and rotate with my mouse while holding shift for alignment.
I selected both top and bottom layers by right clicking (control+click) on and top arrow, select its layer, then hold down shift and right click on the bottom arrow to select that layer. I used Transform (cmd+T) again to make sure the cross hair in the middle lines up exactly in the center of the canvas. Duplicate the two layers (Shift+cmd+L) or right click on one of the highlighted layers in the Layers Panel and click Duplicate Layers. Hit cmd+T to activate the transform tool again. Hold the Shift key and rotate your duplicated layers so they are on the horizontal alignment guideline and hit enter.
Next I selected all four arrows, duplicated and repeated the rotation. If you do this a few times you’ll get a full circle of arrows that are perfectly aligned with the center of the canvas. Select all of the duplicates in the layers panel, right click on the highlighted layers and select merge layers.
The original color of the pottery design clearly didn’t work with the sun background so I selected the new ring of arrows and went to image > adjustments > desaturate. This sapped all of the color out of the ring. Next I boosted the brightness and contrast by going to image > adjustments > brightness/contrast. I kicked up the brightness to 60 and the contrast to 100 to make sure the arrow was nice and stark.
In the layers panel, I changed the circle layer from Normal to Overlay and change the opacity to 50 percent. The arrows now sink into the background nicely. I repeated this process with a different style arrow from the clay pot and scaled it down a bit to create the second inner ring.
Now there are two rings… One larger and one smaller, both having a 50 percent overlay applied to them. I selected the two ring layers and duplicated them. Then selected the two duplicates and hit cmd+T for the transform tool. While holding the shift key, I scaled down the rings so they sat nicely inside the first two rings. Now there is a third and fourth ring. Repeat this process to get as many rings as you need. For me, four was enough.
Step 4: Tune up Buddha
Bringing back the Buddha! I couldn’t decide whether to make the statue light and bright or a little darker and godlike. I liked the idea of making it seem a little more surreal, divine, and maybe even a bit ominous.
To get that divine touch, I gave Buddha’s eyes a bit of an enlightened all-knowing glow. I zoomed way into the eyes, created a new layer, took a white paintbrush and generally covered the whites and pupils. Then I created a layer mask with the Add Layer Mask icon in the Layers Panel, and began to hide/reveal the edges of the eye with black and white paint. With the soft brushes, you can get a nice, smooth eye shape. I clicked off the right mask thumbnail and back to the left thumbnail on the eye layer. Double click the eye layer and the effects panel will pop up. I gave the eyes an outer glow with a lightened blend mode and 90 percent opacity. I selected a lighter color from the background for the glow. Now we have a pair of eyes fit for a god.
This image looked a little blurry from my original photo, so I sharpened it up with filter > sharpen > unsharpen mask. It is easy to overdue the sharpening filter, so go easy with it. I gave it a 110 percent sharpen with a radius of 1 pixel and a threshold of 2 levels.
To integrate the gold statue into the background better, I desaturated the image with image > adjustments > desaturate. The black and white Buddha looked a bit bland, so I bumped up the brightness and contrast (image > adjustments > brightness/contrast) with a brightness of –10 contrast of 50. This darkened the statue a bit and eliminated some mid-tone grays. Gave the Buddha layer a linear burn blend mode in the layers panel to blend him into the fiery background. The color was still a bit off, so I added a bit of red with image > adjustments > hue/saturation or (cmd+U). Clicked on the colorize check box in the bottom right to give the statue a general color overlay and I dragged the Hue to more of a reddish color. Bumped the saturation down to +12 and the lightness to –5.
I ran into a problem with the arrow circles showing through the blend mode of the statue. To fix this, I duplicated the Buddha statue layer and placed it under the original. Changed the blend mode back to normal on the new layer. I then duplicated the background texture and dragged it above the duplicated Buddha, sandwiching it between the two layers. Now, if you hold down the option key and move your mouse to the thin line between the texture and the bottom Buddha, your cursor will change to two circles that link together. When you click the mouse, it will automatically create a clipping mask with the two layers. You can also get this effect by selecting the texture layer and going to layer > create clipping mask. Now the Buddha is masked off behind the original to prevent anything from showing through.
Step 5: Add a Platform
The statue was looking pretty good at this point, but I needed to give him something to sit on. To add the platform, I had to extract a wall painting from one of my photos. It was distorted and did not look very nice. First off, I needed to align the edges to be more vertical. I dragged out a vertical guideline from the side of my window frame. Select the layer and hit cmd+T to transform it. Right clicked on the image and selected Skew. I dragged the top edge of the image to the right and aligned the paintings right edge to the guideline.
I rotated the image 90 degrees counter clockwise and dragged it into the wallpaper canvas. The image was still smushed horizontally like a squeezed accordion, so I hit cmd+T again and dragged out the right edge to balance it out more. Then I used the same extraction technique as before with layer masks.
Once the platform was extracted, I desaturated it and really bumped up the contrast (image > adjustments > brightness/contrast) to 100 percent. I wanted the highlights to shine and the shadows to dim. There was only one side of the platform at this point, so I duplicated the layer, cmd+T, right clicked on the image and clicked flip horizontal and created the left side. I fit both the right and left side together so they made a nice connection in the middle. Make sure it looks perfect before duplicating two layers and merging them together because you don’t want to have to re-correct an error twice. I duplicated the two sides so I could keep them separate if I needed to come back for an edit. I hid the two halves because I didn’t need them anymore. Now that the platform was merged, I gave it a linear burn blend mode in the layers palette so it matched the color style of the statue. Brought the Buddha layer back again and aligned it so it appeared as if he was resting on top of the platform.
I added a personal touch to the design and placed my BrandleDesign logo with the ancient Tibetan script of Om Mani Padme Om underneath the platform. I wanted it to appear as if they were a part of the platform itself, but hovered nicely at the base. To do this, I used the original image of the wall painting as a resource to grab the wall texture and gold paint. I dragged a two-color version of my logo onto the wall texture and selected one of the logo colors with the magic wand tool (w). I went to select > similar to grab the other green segments. It might help to hide your background so the magic wand doesn’t pick up any similar colors outside of the piece you’re focusing on. Copied and pasted the selection. I repeat this with the second color to make two layers that are segmented out from each other.
Hid the original logo, took the outer color and dragged it over a gold portion of the background image. Held down command (cmd) and clicked on the thumbnail image of that color layer in the Layers Palette to make an exact selection of it on the canvas. Then I hid the color layer so the gold background and the selection was all that was remaining. I selected the background image in the layer palette and copy/pasted (cmd+c, cmd+v) a new layer filled with gold.
I repeated this step with the second color of my logo and the Tibetan script but used the textured wall instead of the gold paint for a background. I re-aligned the two logo segments into a new, colored, textured version of my logo. I dragged it onto my wallpaper canvas and repeated the desaturation and brightness/contrast changes that I used for the platform. I scaled it down and fit the logo and script at the base of the platform.
Step 6: Add a God-like Aura
To get the platform, logo and Tibetan script to show properly, I repeated the technique used to prevent the arrow circles from showing through the Buddha statue. However, this time I duplicated the Buddha layer, the platform layer, the logo and script layer, then merge them all into one. Moved this newly merged layer so it sits above the arrow circle layers and below the original layers that were just duplicated. Duplicate the background sun texture, move it just above the “all-in-one” layer and create a clipping mask (option+click the line between the two layers in the Layer Palette). Now the entire image is floating above the background without the aura arrows showing through. I also added an outer glow effect to this layer to give a little extra god-like aura to Buddha and his platform.
Step 7: Dodge and Burn to Add Dimension
Everything seemed to be looking pretty good, so I began to polish things up and used the burn and dodge tools to give the design some more dimension. When you are applying the burn and dodge tools, make sure you have the layer you want to tweak selected.
I used the dodge tool first, gave it a 6 percent exposure on the highlights and used a very soft brush. I gently and swiftly brushed over highlights on the statue. I lightened areas that I though needed to be brighter, then switched over to the burn tool and did the same with the shadows.
This technique is very noticeable on the platform and can really add dimension to something that started out flat on a wall. I dodged the areas that I wanted to pop forward and burned areas that I wanted to recede into the background. I paid close attention to the area just below where Buddha sat, and heavily burned the platform to create a shadow reflecting over the sphere.
The Final Result
I added a quick artist signature in the bottom-right corner, saved it as a new document and flattened the entire image. Don’t make the mistake of flattening the image and saving over all the hard work you’ve just done. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found these techniques useful. Class is over!
You can download the wallpaper here, and let me know your comments! I would love to hear what you all think.