If This is Your First Night of Fight Club…

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Here we’re going to learn some techniques to make a gritty fight wallpaper. I made one in honor of Manny Pacquiao’s victory over Oscar De La Hoya.


First cut away the background of the figures. You can do this with masks or simply select and cut. I just went in with the Polygonal Lasso tool and went around the edges and traced the patches of background and pressed Delete after each selection. We now have our boxers.

Now we are going to place them in a starburst background. A quick way to make one is by choosing 2 colors, a foreground and a background. Press Shift+F5 then enter to fill the canvas. Then go to Filter>Sketch>Halftone Pattern. This should make our stripe pattern.

Before our next step be sure to Image>Rotate Canvas>90 Degrees. This is critical for the correct pinching of the bars. Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates. Be sure the Rectangle to Polar option is selected.

This is a pretty bright starburst. We’re pretty much going for more Urban Street and less Tokyo Pop so saturation and grunge are going to play some key factors in the next steps. Not to mention some treatment techniques to really give the background some texture and personality.

Image>Adjustments>Hue Saturation. On my starburst, I pulled down the Saturation and tweaked the Hue setting to make it a bit more on the red side.

The next treatment we’re going to do for the background will use this dust picture.

There are some great scratches and imperfections we can use here that will enhance our image. Just pop it onto the layer right above the starburst and set the Blending Mode to Difference. The black will become negative and the scratches and dust will pop on.

The photo below was placed on a layer on top and the Blending Mode on the Layers Panel was set to Color Burn. Now all the interesting grit, spots and cracks have burned onto the starburst pattern beneath it.

To add some more custom grunge there is a wide assortment available at this resource. When you found some patterns you like you can burn and grunge up the corners a bit to add to the texture. I painted with black and set this grunge layer to Overlay.

Now to drop in the fighters. The first thing we’re going to do is make a duplicate. So right click and Duplicate Layer. Choose the one on the bottom and pull the fill down to 30% in the Layers Panel.

Choose the fighters on top and pull down the Saturation like we did the starburst. I went down by about 60. Click the Move Tool in the toolbox. Hold down shift while tapping the arrow key once left and once down. This should move the image 10 pixels in each direction. The lightly transparent image in the back should give them a stylish sense of movement.

For some gritty contrast duplicate this layer and set the blending mode to Hard Light. I repeated this step once more to really kick in some contrast for personal taste.

Last up is some bold n’ gritty typography. Once I typed it out I double-clicked the layer and applied a black stroke. After that I right-clicked and selected Rasterize. Ctrl+T to transform and rotated the corner while holding shift to pop it on a diagonal.

Couple things we’re going to do to the type. To make a cool stamp effect first open a texture file. The one we used earlier for the background should do fine. With the texture file open, pres ctrl+A to select all, then go up to the top menu and go to Edit>Define pattern.

Now go back into out main art file and duplicate the type layer and double click the layer to open the Layer Styles. Click the Pattern Overlay checkbox and in the upload section you should be able to find the pattern you defines just a little bit ago. Select that and your type should look like a cutout of the defined image. I created a new layer above this and selected both layers and hit ctrl+E to combine the two so that the layer style would bake in so we could apply a Multiply blending mode to it. Offset the position by a few pixels to reveal the “stamp” beneath.

After playing around with some of the techniques used in this tutorial and a few more final touches you can end up with something like this.

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About the Author:
Mark is an animator and ad designer for WebProNews. He has a passion for illustration and 3D art.