Photoshop tutorial: Create sci-fi art in Photoshop

Learn how to create abstract Sci Fi imagery inspired by futuristic movies, geometric patterns and modern design.

Intro


In this tutorial, we’ll be creating abstract, science fiction imagery inspired by futuristic movies, geometric patterns and modern design.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Though you’ll be mainly working in Photoshop, you’ll also use a couple of other tools you get with your Creative Cloud subscription – After Effects and Illustrator – plus the Trapcode Form plug-in

Creating complex, mesmerizing visuals with Trapcode Form is surprisingly quick and simple to begin using and implementing into your projects. Just by importing a simple OBJ file, you can create complex, gorgeous visuals.

Although After Effects and Trapcode are typically used for motion design and animation, they also provide robust functionality to use with still imagery. You’ll learn how to integrate After Effects and Trapcode Form into your workflow, combine different file formats, and use simple textures to add a stunning finish to the overall image.

In addition, you'll learn how to use create quick geometric patterns with Illustrator, leverage  Photoshop’s new Blur Gallery to achieve faster results, and get the most out of colour correction.

Software needed

Adobe After Effects CC 2014, Trapcode Form 2.0 Adobe Illustrator CC 2015, Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

Time to complete

3 hours

Downloads

The female head model can be obtained from Turbo Squid. The vintage textures are from Lost and Found here and here.

Step 1

STEP 1

Begin by creating a new composition in After Effects at 1920 by 1920 pixels. Import the female_head1 OBJ file - or one of your own - into Adobe After Effects. Place the OBJ file into your timeline.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Search for Trapcode Form in your After Effects presets. Drag and drop this onto your OBJ file. Under the Trapcode settings, change the Base Form from Square to .OBJ.


Step 2

STEP 2

Under OBJ Settings, ensure 3D Model is switched to ‘female head OBJ’ – or whatever your model is called. Hit Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + Alt + C to create a new camera. Use this to rotate around your object.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Save out a PNG of your image by going to Composition > Save Frame As > File. Enter the Render Queue and change the output setting from Photoshop to PNG. Save out your file.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 3

STEP 3

Open Adobe Illustrator and hit the L key to bring up the Ellipse tool. Holding Shift, click and drag out a circle in the centre of your canvas. This will be the start of our abstract, geometric pattern.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Step 4

STEP 4

Create a second smaller circle. Hit M and drag out a rectangle. Shift-select both the rectangle and smaller circle. Then click Shift + M to bring up the Shape Builder tool.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Merge the small circle and rectangle. Shift-select the merged shape and the large circle. Use the Minus Front function in the Pathfinder panel to extract the centre.


Step 5

STEP 5

Hit A then select the edges of the circle. Select and drag the smoothing handles until the edges are round, so the final shape is smooth.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 6

STEP 6

Copy and paste this shape as needed to add more detail and shapes. Feel free to experiment here – the idea is to add as much random detail as you see necessary.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Step 7

STEP 7

Select all of your final shapes and convert them to an outline by editing its Stroke and Color properties. Make sure the stroke width is set to 2 and the colour is changed to pure white, so we can overlay it later in Photoshop.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Step 8

STEP 8

Create a new document in Photoshop set to 1920 by 1920 pixels. Hit G to bring up the Gradient tool and create a dark blue gradient across your canvas.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Drag in the PNG you created in After Effects, and copy and paste the shapes from Illustrator as a Smart Object. 

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 9

STEP 9

Hit E on your keyboard to bring up the Eraser tool. Set the brush preset to something soft and erase away some of the circle details, so the head is easier to see.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

When you’re done, Shift-select both the layer with the head on and the circles. Combine the two layers by hitting Cmd/Ctrl + E.


Step 10

STEP 10

Duplicate this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J).

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Select the lower of the two layers and go to Layer > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to 5px. This creates an Outer Glow effect.


Step 11

Step 12

STEP 12

Change this texture’s blending mode to Screen by pressing Shift + Alt + S.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Apply a Levels adjustment layer and play with its settings until the blacks are less visible, making your image easier to see.


Step 13

Step 14

STEP 14

Apply a Levels adjustment layer to this texture and push the contrast as far as possible. This will allow the tiny details to come through and speckle the image with imperfections.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 15

STEP 15

Add more contrast by creating a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) and create a gradient from deep cyan to black.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Set its blending mode to Soft Light (Shift + Option + F). This will unify all of our assets into a similar colour temperature.


Step 16

STEP 16

Create a new merged layer (Cmd + Shift + Alt + E).

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Go to Layer > Blur Gallery > Iris Blur. Expand the blur out closer to the edge and turn down the blur strength so the image is still clearly visible.  


Tip 1

STEP 17

Be sure to check out TurboSquid.com for more royalty - free models to download and use in your projects.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Trapcode Form offers a wide range of options and looks: be sure to experiment with the settings to explore what’s possible.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Tip 2

STEP 18

If you’re handling multiple file types, it’s easiest to break a project into folders with format names such as PNG, PSD, OBJ, etc.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Tip 3

STEP 19

When designing geometric shapes and patterns, use the blend tool to easily duplicate objects along a path.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials