Create a grungy conceptual wallpaper

This tutorial will show you how to create a grungy design based on the concept of ‘music’ by starting off from a simple picture. The effect is achieved using textures, layer adjustments and several Photoshop tools. The same technique can be used to illustrate other concepts in a similar manner.

The tutorial has been created using Photoshop CS5; however, the same effect can be achieved in any CS version without problems.

Step 1.  Start off with a white canvas, over which you can paste this image. The size of the image doesn’t matter; it is up to you to choose if you want this to be in the form of a wallpaper, music album cover etc.

Step 2. Go to Select -> Color Range… and use the following settings:

A selection will appear; click on the Add vector mask button and the selected parts will be masked away.

                Next, pick a white brush and, on the mask layer, go over the parts of the girl’s body that were masked away, until you get something like this:

I’ve also used a black brush on the lower part of the mask to bring back a bit of the red in the original image.


               Step 3. Create a Selective Color… adjustment layer, with the following settings:

You should get something like this:

Step 4. Create a new Curves… adjustment layer, with the following settings:

The resulting effect should be similar to this:

Step 5. Paste the original image again over the other layers and add a Channel Mixer adjustment layer with the following settings:

Then go to Filter -> Artistic -> Rough Pastels… and use the following settings:

The resulting effect should look something like this:

Then, set the layer blending mode to Lighter Color. If you’re using an older version of Photoshop, you can use Lighten instead. The opacity has been left unchanged at 100%.

Step 6.  Paste this colorful texture over the other layers, and set it to black and white by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Black and White… , leaving the settings at default and clicking on OK.

Then, shrink the texture layer and rotate it slightly clockwise, set its blending mode to Darken and lower the Opacity to 6%.

Step 7. In order to illustrate the ‘music’ concept and truly bring this image to life, type many words related to music, in various sizes and fonts, while keeping the color consistent throughout. I’ve chosen words like ‘music’, ‘sound’, ‘radio’, ‘headphones’, ‘tune’, ‘melody’ etc. The color I’ve used is #ff636e. Rotate, skew and arrange them around the girl in the image in a way you find aesthetically pleasing. Feel free to be as creative as you want!

When you’ve covered the area well, select all the text layers, right click and choose Rasterize Type, then right click again and choose Merge Layers. You should obtain a raster layer with all the text on it.

Then, go to Layer -> Layer Styles… -> Gradient Overlay, and use the following settings:

In my case, this is what I’ve obtained:

Step 8. Choose this dirt texture and paste it over your artwork. Depending on the size of the canvas you’ve chosen, you may need to duplicate the texture layer and mask away the excess, in order to fully cover the image.

When you’re done, set the texture to the blending mode Overlay, leaving the opacity at 100%. With a soft brush, mask away the texture on the girl’s face. This final step is what really gives the image a gritty, grungy effect.

The final result:


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