main - art - tutorials - misc - links

Tutorial: Wax Symbol
This the wax symbol tutorial. This is my second tutorial, I hope you like it. I will assume that you have a moderate amount of knowledge in the way of Photoshop. I will use alpha channels, lighting effects and multiple layers to create this text.

Click on any image to make larger
Ah just a little note. I have revised this a little especially since this was created about 5 versions of photoshop ago. And thank you for all the kind comments and good ideas o how to make things clearer with this tutorial. I hope this version is better but if you still run into trouble feel free to e-mail me.

    Okay, first create a new file that is 432x432 pixels. Of course bigger files are nice since you can get lots of details before shrinking it down. This one i just chose because its easy to divided with guides.    
    Create a new layer named Wax Back above the basic background layer.    
    This is the point where i will divide the canvas with the guides so that i have a constant center point to base the circles off of. You don't have to this but it is a small step so things go faster later. I chose a nice deep red color since that is what the classic symbol is. I will put some different colored examples at the bottom so that you can see what the variations look like.    
    Now just draw a circle using the elliptical marquee. If you hold shift it will create a perfect circle. If you use alt it will drag it from the center point of your mouse. this is where the guides come in handy. Any size of circle is okay just make sure that it doesn't go directly to the edge of the canvas as we will be adding more around the base circle later.    
    Easy part, just choose a color of your particular liking. For me its often this deep tuscan red, but most colors work out fine.    
    Now create another layer above the WAX BACK layer. Name it BORDER.    
    Select the BORDER layer you just created. From this point use the selection tool to draw a random bumpy edge around the circle. This will be the outside edge of your wax seal so make it a little random and also decide if you want the wax to drip down or just bulge at the edges. In my version i went for a little larger collection of wax at the bottom. Make sure the edges aren't too close to the edge of the original circle. Maybe about 1/16 of an inch is as close as I would get. i actually added a bit more on the right side later because it was a little too thin to bevel just right.    
    After you complete the selection just fill it with the same color as the back.    
    This is how your layer palate should look at this point.    
    This is the slightly tricky part. First load the selection from the WAX BACK layer. To do this on PC just hold CTR and click on the picture part of the layer, with a Mac use the CMD key.    
    After that go to Select/Modify/Contract and contract the selection by 1 pixel. If you are doing a much larger version you might need to contract it more of course. As long as you don't end up with white space between the two layers. Gold Example    
    Gold Examplenow just hit clear to delete the selected are of the BORDER layer. Your history at this point should look similar to this. The BORDER layer should also now look like this when you hide the WAX BACK layer.

Gold Example
 Now load the selection of the BORDER layer.
 Now move to your channels palate and save the selection. It is the button that is gray with a white circle in the middle. Make sure not to deselect anything. If you do go back to the BORDER layer and load the selection. After you hit the button a new layer called ALPHA 1 will appear.
 Now that we have our ALPHA layer and the selection loaded we can begin to make this guy 3D. Go to Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur.
 To attain a smooth 3D effect we have to do this in 3-4 steps depending on the resolution of your file. If you only blur it once it will be choppy and pixilated. For the first step we go for a blur of around 7. When you do this you want to get reasonably dark edges but still a bright highlight in the center so as to add depth. Repeat the gaussian blur stepping down 2-3 pixels each time to achieve a smooth gradient. Mine went 7,5,3,1. You can of course go lower than one but its not really needed.
 With all of the blurs applied this is how the ALPHA 1 layer should now look.
 Now just deselect.
 Onto the lighting effects. This is where the ALPHA layer we just worked on will come into play. Go to Filter/Render/lighting effects and just copy the settings in the picture. If you plan on repeating this type of effect I would suggest saving your light as it will make things much faster the next time you do it.
After the lighting effects have been applied this is about how it should look. Now this is just okay, it still doesn't quite have the pop or depth that makes it look good though.
 Now to give it the clean edges and highlights we desire to try and give it that wax feeling we will apply various layer styles. The first of these is a Drop Shadow. This is really the subjective portion of the tutorial. Feel free to copy the settings I have applied here but there are numerous options you can play with to get a different feeling from each. I actually did change mine near the end but for the tutorials sake we will keep them as is right now.
Now the all important bevel and emboss that really gives life to this piece. Once again copy the settings I have in the picture or play with your own till you are happy. The nice thing is that these aren't set in stone and can be changed at any time.
Now the WAX BACK is still a little too light at this point. So apply the same lighting effects you did on the BORDER layer, but make sure not to use any alpha channels. After all the layer styles and lighitng effects have been completed this is about how it should look.
onto page 2
This site and its contents are copyright of Nik Shepherd unless otherwise specified. If you have any questions please e-mail me. Please respect me and the others who might contribute to this site and don't use anything on this site without express consent from the faculty of ghost graphics