Create a Skeuomorphic Wedding CD Cover Using Only Nondestructive Layers

Learn how to create a wedding frame layout using only nondestructive editing techniques! You will learn how to create a subtle textured background, apply picture frames as Smart Objects, and create hanging strings. This tutorial is written for beginners and to follow it, you will need Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Preview of Final Results

Download the PSD

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Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new 3000×3000 pixels document. Fill it with black. If your background is white, you can just press Ctrl/Cmd+I to invert your layer.

Step 2

To start everything off, let’s create a black background with a subtle gradient. There are several ways to do this from using the Gradient tool to adding a nondestructive Gradient fill layer. The best way though is to add a gradient overlay layer style. You should use layer styles whenever you can because, unlike creating adjustment layers, they don’t add to the number of layers you have.

As with any PSD, the background layer is always locked. To add layer styles, you will need to unlock it by right-clicking and choosing “Layer from Background”.

Now go to Layer > Layer Style > Gradient Overlay. Use the settings from the image below. The Dither setting is new in Photoshop and it adds speckles to your gradient to make it look smoother.

Step 3

If you look closely at the gradient, you can still see banding even though we enabled dithering. This is completely normal and to fix it, we’ll use a trick web and interface designers use – adding noise. The noise we add will hide the banding and give it a nice texture.

First, create a new Solid Color Fill Layer (Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color). Set the hue & saturation to 0 and brightness to 50%. This will give you 50% gray.

Step 4

Now we’re going to add some noise with the Noise filter. Photoshop has a small problem where you can’t apply filters to Fill Layers. To overcome this, you can either rasterize the layer or convert it to a Smart Object. It’s better to convert it to a Smart Object because it lets you apply filters nondestructively.

Convert your layer to a Smart Object by going to Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object. Next, go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Set the amount to 8%, distribution to Gaussian, and enable the Monochromatic option.

Step 5

Change the blending mode to Soft Light. Now you can see the grainy texture mixed in with the gradient.

Step 6

We’re done with the background and to keep things organized, we will rename and group the layers. Start by renaming the bottom layer to “Gradient” and top layer to “Noise”. Next, select both layers (hold Ctrl/Cmd to select multiple layers) then group them (Ctrl/Cmd+G). Rename this group to Background.

Step 7

Next, we’re going to place some picture frames. From the Picture Frames packages, place any picture frame you’d like to use. I recommend sticking with the rectangular picture frames. My favorites are the Brushed Aluminum and Smooth Aluminum picture frames because they stand out from the dark background.

To place the picture frames, go to File > Place, browse for the picture frame image, then click OK. Resize the picture frame so that it fits in the center. Hold the Alt and Shift key while resizing – the Alt key lets you resize the image towards or away from the center and the Shift key maintains the aspect-ratio of your image. Press Enter to apply the transformation.

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