In this tutorial we will create a 3D grid effect as seen in the new movie trailers for TRON Legacy. You will learn how to fake a 3D environment using perspective, and create all sorts of shiny glass type effects, not to mention a nifty text effect that can be used for a variety of projects.

TRON Grid Photoshop Tutorial

Preview of Final Results


Stock Photos

Here is the stock photo used for this tutorial. You can download the image through Dreamstime by clicking on the image below. We used the highest resolution (unscaled) images available to write this tutorial. If you would like to follow this tutorial using the same settings we used, download the highest resolution (unscaled) images available.
IMPORTANT: When working with any image in Photoshop, always play things on the cautious side and make new layers for everything. This way, if you make a mistake, you won't have to start all over, but you might just have to re-do one layer, possibly saving you hours of work. Everything in this tutorial should be done on separate layers.

Step 1 - Create a new Document

Create a new document. 1920px in width and 1200px in height. This is a standard large wallpaper size.
Picture 1[6]

Step 2 - Invert it to black

Press (control/command + I) to invert the white to black.
Picture 2[6]

Step 3 - Open the image of the Mountain

Load the image of the mountain into Photoshop. To do this, choose File > Open, browse for the file, then click OK. Before you do any selecting, scale down the image (Image > Image Size...) to a 1920px width, and let the height auto adjust to match. For this tutorial, I didn't want to use the whole image, but instead, about only half of it (600px in height). So, in the picture below, you can see that I selected a portion of the mountain that I wanted using the marquee tool.
Picture 3[6]

Step 4 - Put the mountains in the new document

Alright, so with that portion of the mountains selected, copy it (control/command + C) and paste it into your new document. You're going to want it in the upper half of the document, so this is super easy if you turn on your photoshop grid, and you can let Photoshop snap the mountains above the 600px mark for height.
Picture 4[6]

Step 5 - Turn off Grid / Name Layer

Turn off the grid. Name this layer "mountain".
Picture 5[6]

Step 6 - Darken Mountains

Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and put the brightness to the lowest setting, and the contrast to the highest setting.
Picture 6[6]

Step 7 - Duplicate Layer

The quickest way to do this is to type (control/command + J). The new layer will be called mountain copy.
Picture 7[6]

Step 8 - Flip the Mountains upside down

Press (control/command + T). This will allow you to left click (with your mouse) and select "Flip Vertical". The following images are a before and after.
Picture 8[6]
Picture 9[6]

Step 9 - Move the Mountains to the bottom

If you are still in the control/command + T view, then you will be able to click and drag the flipped mountains to the bottom of the document, and they should snap when you get it to the right spot. Click enter to exit this mode when you're done moving it.
Picture 10[6]

Step 10 - Create a Mask

In your layers menu, select the 3rd button to the right (the white circle inside a gray rectangle icon) to create a mask, and using your gradient tool, create a black to transparent gradient from the bottom of the document to about 600px (the midline where the two mountain halves mirror each other.)

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5 comments on “TRON Grid”

    1. Thanks for your correction! You're right - it is Ctrl+H. I'll update the tutorial with the proper hotkey.

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