May 2, 2016

Stunning Abstract Wallpaper Design

In this tutorial I am going to show you some simple ways using the pen and brush tools to create a really cool abstract background. These techniques can used for
many different projects. In this particular tutorial I thought it would be cool to show you how to make a wallpaper using these techniques.

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First, just start off with whatever size your screen is, in my case I am using a widescreen monitor at 1680X1050 but that is so large I am just going to use the size 800X600.

So start a new file with whatever size you are going to use and make the background black.

Now we need to grab our brush tool and choose some settings for it so go to your main tools and pick your brush:

Now in my version of photoshop to choose my brush settings I am going to go to the brushes tab that is on my main top bar of photoshop:

If you don’t see it there click this little icon beside those tabs:

In brush tip shape key in a 4px regular brush or just use a 5px:

Then check “Shape Dynamics” and use these settings:

Ok that is it for the brush settings for now. Also, pick white as your brush color on your regular tools palette.

Next get your pen tool:

On your canvas within your new layer click a little below the actual canvas with your pen tool:

*This is the bottom left corner of my canvas

Next click in your canvas, while holding down your mouse button drag your line to the top left like this:

Then just click somewhere else and you should get a curved shape:

Now right click (still using your pen tool) on your line and click stroke path:

Then hit OK and you should get something like this:

Actually after you click ok your pen line will still be there so right click on it and click “delete path”.

That simple way of using your brushes and pen tool is pretty much the basis for this whole tutorial. We are now going to stay in the same layer and create multiple curved lines with different sizes like this:

Then pick a 2 or 3px brush and do the same thing in a new layer until you get something
your like. Here is my result:

Ok one more time pick a larger brush size like 6px and make some a few longer curves
that extend past the other ones. Also you need to change your fade setting to a larger
number so the longer curves won’t fade out too soon. I put my fade level on 425. Here
is my result of that step:

Now those 3 different layers you have, duplicate the mid sized lines you made and move
them around so you have more lines on your canvas:

After that step we want to add a glow to the curves so just pick any layer and add
these blending options to it:

outer glow:

After you are done right click on that layer and click copy layer style:

Now paste that layer style on all the other layers by right clicking on each
later and clicking “paste layer style”:

My result:

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Ok Now to add another touch to make this really stand out… Just pick the layer
you have at the very top and grab a 200px soft brush with the color white. Click
with it a few time in the bottom left corner until you get this result:

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I think this is turning out really well but there are a few more touches I would
like to add to make this even better.

Get your pen tool again and in a new layer make a shape on your canvas like this:

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Just do a random shape similar or whatever you feel like experimenting with. After
that right click with your pen tool on your shape and click “make selection”.

Now pick your gradient tool and drag random gradients all through the shape. I
used the same color blue as with the glow and made it have transparency. Here
is my result:

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Now I am going to add a motion blur to this shape to give it a cool effect:

In my version of photoshop I just go to filter>>blur>>motion blur on my main menu…

Motion blur:

My result:

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That is about it, I am going to add a few more touches with my brush and changing
its brush settings to scatter. If anyone would like me to add on to this tutorial for
this part let me know.

Thanks for reading!

Final Result:

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Here’s the wallpaper for other sizes:


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Click Here to View Large Image

About John Overbee 40 Articles
John Overbee is a graphic designer for the iEntry Network.

35 Comments on Stunning Abstract Wallpaper Design

  1. Good tut. For your question bertil; with the pen tool still selected, right click and click “stroke path.” It should be somewhere towards the bottom. Make sure brush is selected and the box that says “Pressure” is checked.

  2. Okay, instead of using the pen tool at all just set the brush the way he says then use that. It seems to create the lines correctly.

  3. Thanks for tutorial. Just a few Questions. The only way I could select Stroke Path is if I clicked the “Edit in Quick Mask mode” is this correct? My second question is the lines dont seem to get drawn on any of my layers. If I click the eye icons on my layers (ie. make them all invisible) I can still see the lines?? And my last question is I cant seem to change the color of the lines. They are always red?? As you can probably tell I am a beginner but would apreciate it if you could shed some light on these issues. Thanks.

  4. I can’t make the random gradients, whenever I make a gradient, a huge gradient fills the selection and I can’t seem to make one than more gradient cuz when I try to make another one it just erases the last gradient I made and makes a new gradient filling the selection : (

  5. For the gradient try pulling the gradient barely on the edges of the shape and see if you get something. If you just pull the gradient down the whole shape it will just fill it entirely

  6. Okay so through a bit of research i’ve found out. you have to look at your layers and make sure your background layer is chosen. you can’t use stroke path when a mask layer is active.

  7. I did some other research as well and for Xipe if you don’t have transparency chosen when you are trying to use the gradient it will fill the entire shape. So make sure that transparency is checked on your gradient tool

  8. I didn’t have the background layer activated when I made my strokes because all three of my different size lines were on different layers. I just made sure that I would only right-click once I saw the “/” symbol next to my pen. The scenario’s in which I saw that symbol were when my pen was on one of the anchor points. If Devin’s solution doesn’t help you, perhaps mine will!

  9. Hokay. I had the same problem. when I was making a path it would connect the endpoints and fill it in, and I could not select the stroke path option. I solved this by going to the top-left of my screen and selecting “Paths” instead of “Shape layers”. IE the pen inside the box with the four node corners, instead of the empty box with the four node corners. Hope that helps some people.

  10. When i select background and use the pen tool, it creates a new layer, then i cant stroke the pen tool. What should should i do?

  11. Wow! The best thing i have ever seen!…….now from now i dun have to search for a good wallpaper matching my theme…….gr8!!!

  12. ok after messing around with it a little i have figurwed out that you dont have to use the pen tool you can just make a striaght line with the brush that he showed you how to make by clicking on your canvas with the brush tool then holding shift and draging down a line then go to filter>distort>wave and add the settings you would like and there you go. From there you can duplicate the layer or just make new ones with different settings and just place them where you need them……….hope this helps = )

  13. Wow how many clueless people are there here… you can’t stroke a path when you don’t HAVE a path. You are obviously creating a shape with the pen – click Paths instead of Shape Layers on the top toolbar to define paths. Then create your path and brush it… you people were so lazy you couldn’t check the toolbar settings? Christ.

  14. great tuts man.
    those getting problem in PEN tool & stroke path. May be using wrong setting. Pls select PEn (P) then select Paths in toolbar of PEN. Look at the toolbar below MENU line.
    Select middle one (PATHS) below IMAGE word. Hope you may get the correct results.

  15. Hi I want to add this image as a sidebar image to a site im creating. Its a pretty standard site and im not really getting a income for it.

    Just wanted to know If I can get the okay from you to place it there.

    Please mail me.

    (Awesome tutorial btw)

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