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Glass Ball - viewed 827,175 times

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During the course of this Photoshop tutorial we're going through 9 major steps to create a glass ball. The main goal of this tutorial is that you get an idea how to approach this. It's not that important to remember all settings, but it's more important that you understand what's exactly happening.

The tutorial is divided into 5 main areas:

  • Preparing the background and drawing the basic shape (step 1 and 2)
  • Filling the shape with gradients and layer styles (step 3 to 6)
  • Adding a highlight (step 7)
  • Adding a shadow (step 8)
  • Adding distortions (step 9)

Note: Photoshop tutorial is spread over two pages. Click on 2 (top or bottom) to go to the second page.

Some important things you need to know about this tutorial:

  • The tutorial is only recommended for people with intermediate and advanced Photoshop experience
  • The tutorial was tested many times by us and many other people and we're pretty sure that it doesn't contain any bugs
  • It's important that you read very carefully and copy everything what is shown in the screenshots
  • Doing this tutorial too fast will most likely result in failure
  • This is a hollow glass ball, reason why the background inside the ball is not upside down as with a solid glass ball

1. Prepare the document

Save the following file called Newspaper on your computer (right click on the link and select in Windows Save Target As...).

For this tutorial I've chosen to go for a rather small file (640x480 pixels), just to make it easier for you to see what you're doing.

Open the file in Photoshop. Add a new layer by clicking on the Create a new layer icon New layer.
Grab the Elliptical Marquee tool Ellipitical Marquee Tool from your toolbar and make a selection (hold down the shift key before you make the selection to make the selection a perfect circle) somewhere in the area and with the size that I'm showing here:

Circular selection

2. Fill the selection with the base color of the glass ball

Click on the foreground color in the tool bar marked with red in this screenshot:

Foreground Color

In the Color Picker window that opens you enter the value D6D3C0 in the area marked with A:

Color picker - selecting foreground color

Grab the Paint Bucket Tool Paint Bucket Tooland fill the selection with this color.
Press Ctrl +D (Command + D on the Mac) to get rid of the selection. You can also use the menu to do this: Select/Deselect.

3. Add a layer style

Go to the layers palette and click on the Add a Layer Style icon Add Layer Styleand select Inner Shadow and use the settings shown here (watch out: the color white is selected):

Inner Shadow layer style


The result should look like this:

Inner Shadow added

4. Add a gradient

Add a new layer by clicking on the Create a new layer icon Add Layer.

Clip this layer with the layer underneath by pressing Ctrl + G (Command + G on the Mac) or Ctrl + Alt + G (Command + Option + G on the Mac) if you use Photoshop CS2.

A clipping layer only affects the layer underneath. You'll see soon what I mean.

Change the background color in the tool bar and use the following color: 65645F. We're now going to draw a gradient using the current fore- and background colors. Select the Gradient Tool in the toolbar Gradient Tool (if it's not visible, then look under the Paint Bucket tool Paint Bucket Tool).

Take a short look at the next screenshot. Make sure that a linear gradient Linear Gradient (B) is selected in the options bar at the top and that the option Reverse (C) is selected. (mode should be normal, opacity 100%, dither and transparency should be both selected, but in most cases they're probably already having the right values)

 Option bar for linear gradient  

If you don't see a gradient that uses your colors at A which should look like this Gradient Colors , then double click on the gradient in the options bar (A) and select the gradient from the list (most likely the first one) and click OK.

Start in the middle where you see the red dot and end where you see the blue dot (Just before the area where the main color is getting lighter).

Filling the shape


The result should look like this:

Linear Gradient

Press the letter D on your keyboard, which makes the foreground color black, the background color white:Black & White by pressing D

Add a Layer Mask to this layer by clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon Add Mask. Don't you worry if it switches the fore- and background color when you do this, this is normal behavior. Note: If the fore- and background colors look like this Foreground Color White, Background Color Black after you added the mask, then everything is ok. If they are switched, then just click on the double arrow points icon Color Swapper to correct this.

The Gradient Tool is still active, but this time we need a Radial Gradient. Select the Radial Gradient Radial Gradient in the options bar (the one beside the linear gradient (marked B in our previous screenshot of the options bar))

With the layer mask still active (It will have a double border), create a radial gradient by starting in the middle and stopping at the outher edge of our circular shape.

By this time we should you have something like this:

Shape after applying gradients

5. Add more layer styles

Duplicating shape layerWe're now going to duplicate our Layer 1.
Click on its icon in the layers palette, hold down the mouse button and drag (A) the layer to the Create a new layer icon New Layer and release the mouse button.

The next step is to move this duplicate (that has now become the layer with name Layer 1) to the top of our layers palette; click on Layer 1 and drag (B) it all the way up until you notice a dark black line appearing above the top layer. At that moment release the mouse button.






Warning for users of Photoshop CS2 or later : it turns out that Photoshop CS2 changes Layer 2 back to a normal layer, one that is not clipped, when we duplicate Layer 1. To correct that make sure Layer 2 is active and press Ctrl + Alt + G (Command + Option + G on the Mac). Again, this should only be done in Photoshop CS2.

Moving shape layer


Make sure that Layer on (our new top layer) is active (you will notice the Brushin front of it).

Set the Fill of this layer to 0% (A) and then double click on the Layer Style icon Add Layer Style(B) to modify the Layer Style of this layer:

Layers palette

Use the following effects settings for the layer style. Make sure that all settings are exactly the same, including color or blending mode settings.

Inner Shadow
(pay special attention to the option Use Global Light, because it's not selected! Also notice that we have a black rectangle beside the Blend Mode; double click it if yours is not black, to change its color!)

Inner Shadow layer style

Inner Glow

Inner Glow layer style

After this our image should look something like this:

Result after adding 2 layer styles

6. Add more volume

Add a new layer by clicking on the Create a new layer icon New Layer.

Select the Brush Tool Brush Tool in the tool bar.
Click on the area of the options bar that I've marked in red and select a 150px brush, with a hardness of 0%, which is the softest brush you can use.

Brush size 150


Set the foreground color to white.
Click once with this brush exactly in the middle of this new layer (Layer 3). Now go to the menu and select Filter/Effects/Gaussian Blur... and select a radius of 25 and click OK.

Note: because we've blurred the white dot, white pixels might appear outside the area that we have defined as our glass ball, so we have to get rid of it. It's quite simple and we're going to use a little 'trick' for that.

With the top layer (Layer 3) still active we Ctrl + click (Command + click on the Mac) on the thumbnail of the layer underneath this layer (Layer 1) which will load it's shape (the ball) as a selection and all we have to do now is to click on the Add Layer Mask icon Add Maskand we've got rid of all white pixels outside our glass ball.

Now change the opacity of this layer to 30%. This screenshot also shows how your layer palette should look like at this moment:

Layers palette before adding a highlight

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