Articles, Blog

Photoshop: How to Create a VAPORWAVE Graphic.

December 29, 2019

Hi. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV.
“Vaporwave” is a microgenre of electronic music and its visual counterpart that emerged
in the early 2010s. The visual aesthetic often styled as, ” A E S T H E T I C S ” with full
width, uppercase characters is a mashup of early internet imagery, late 1990s web design,
glitch art, cyberpunk tropes, Japanese anime, Greco-Roman statues and 3-D rendered objects.
I created this one and will show you how to recreate it. I provided this image of NTSC
video color bars that you can use for the background. Its link is in my video’s description
below or in my project files. I also included this image of the ancient, Greek statue “Venus
de Milo”. We’ll also incorporate a generic image that connotes the visual equivalency
of elevator music. I downloaded this one from Shutterstock. Feel free to use your own graphic
elements for your vaporwave image. As long as you incorporate the subjects that I mentioned
in the intro, your finished Vaporwave image is limited only by your imagination. Because
Vaporwave images have a satirical or mocking view of cutting edge graphics, they live and
flourish in a low-tech world of visual imagery. All this to say, there’s no right or wrong
– just have fun creating it. First, we’ll create a simple, low-tech grid and place it in perspective. This type of grid is a common theme seen in Vaporwave images. Notice, that
the thickness of the grid remains consistent throughout. Click the New Layer icon to make
a new layer. We’ll fill it with white, but before we do, check your foreground and background
colors. If they’re not black and white respectively, press “D” on your keyboard. Since white is
our background color, press Ctrl or Cmd + Delete. Go to Filter and “Vanishing Point”.
Adobe added this feature starting in CS2. Click the Zoom tool icon and Alt-click or
Option-click three times to zoom out this much. Click the “Create Plane Tool” and place
it just outside the left side halfway between the top and bottom. Click and release your
cursor and place your tool just outside the right side of your image. Position it near
the edge of the right edge of your canvas just below the bottom of the white background.
Position your cursor near the left edge of the canvas. If you see red or yellow lines,
move the tool until they become blue. Open the Zoom Tool again and click on your image
twice. We’ll take a screenshot of it. To do this on Windows, press the “PrtSc” key located
at the top row of your keyboard. On a Mac, press Shift + Cmd + 5 and pause this video
to follow these instructions. Once you have a screenshot, click OK. Press Ctrl or Cmd
+ “v” to paste the screenshot onto your document. We’ll enlarge the screenshot by pressing Ctrl
or Cmd + T to open our Transform Tool. If you’re using a version earlier than CC 2019,
go to a corner and press and hold Alt or Option + Shift as you drag it out. If you’re using
CC 2019 or later, just press Alt or Option as you drag it. To reposition it, just drag
it. Then, press Enter or Return. We’ll merge the two top layers by pressing Ctrl or Cmd
+ E. Change its Blend Mode to “Divide”. We’ll increase its visibility by pressing Ctrl or
Cmd + J twice. Let’s group the grid images into a folder to save space in the Layers
panel. Shift-click the bottom grid layer to make all of the grid layers active and press
Ctrl or Cmd + G. Name the folder, “Grid”. Open the statue I provided. We’ll separate
the statue from the background by making a selection around the statue. To do this, open
your “Quick Selection Tool” and make its “Tolerance” anywhere from 10 to 20 pixels. Drag your tool
over the statue to select it. To remove unwanted selections outside the statue, press and hold
Alt or Option as you drag over them. To check it, press “Q” on your keyboard. Revert it
back into a selection by pressing “Q” again. Press Ctrl or Cmd + J to cut and copy it onto
its own layer. To place the statue onto the video color bars, press “v” to open your Move
Tool and drag it onto the tab of the color bars. Without releasing your mouse or pen,
drag it down and release. To resize and position it, open your Transform Tool and drag the
width or the height to the right until its approximately this size. Then, drag it down
so you can see the head. If you want to rotate the head, go to a corner and when you see
a curved, double arrow, drag it clockwise. Continue to finesse its size and position.
Then press Enter or Return. We’ll convert the statue into a Smart Object, so we can
modify it non-destructively. To do this, click the icon at the upper, right of the Layers
panel and click “Convert to Smart Object”. Double-click an empty area of the layer to
open its Layer Style window. Under “Advanced Blending”, you’ll see that the red, green and blue channels are checked. Uncheck the red channel and click OK. Make a copy of the
layer and double-click this Advanced Blending icon to open it in the Layer Style window.
Check the red channel to make it visible again and uncheck the green channel. At this point, your statue will look normal. Press and hold the Shift key as you press the Right Bracket key four times. This moves the statue copy to the right 40 pixels. We’ll group the statue
layers into a folder by Shift-clicking the bottom statue and pressing Ctrl or Cmd + G. Name it, “Statue”. Open your Horizontal Type Tool and pick a font. We’ll adjust its size after we type the text. The aliasing is Sharp and center alignment. Type out your text and
highlight it. Drag the size icon to the left or right to adjust its size. Open your Move
Tool and drag it to approximately here. You can always reposition it later if you want.
Convert it into a Smart Object, so we can modify it non-destructively. Make a copy of it and hide the original. Double- click an empty area of the copy to open its Layer Style window. Click “Color Overlay” and the color box. Pick a color for your text. Since I already
know the color I want, I’ll type it into the hexadecimal field: 58FFD8. Then, click OK
on both windows. Open your Transform Tool and click the “Warp Transform” icon. Open
the “Custom” warp list. I’ll click “Bulge”, but feel free to experiment with the others.
For the Bend, I’ll type in: minus 5. Then, click the check-mark at the top. Make the
original text layer visible and active. Go to Filter, Distort and Wave. This filter will
create an interesting wave distortion behind your text. Before we adjust the settings,
feel free to experiment with them. For mine, I’ll type in 40 for the Number of Generators.
For the Wavelength, I’ll type in 1 and 29 and for the Amplitude, it’ll be 1 and 25.
The Horizontal and Vertical scales are both 100%, the Type is Sine and “Repeat Edge Pixels”. Double-click an empty area of the text layer to open its Layer Style window. Click “Color
Overlay” and the color box. Pick a color for your text’s wave distortion. ll type in FF08FC. Then, click OK on both windows. Shift-click the top text layer to make it active, as well,
and press Ctrl or Cmd + G to group them into a folder. I’ll name it, “Text”. If you want
to adjust the size of your text with its wave distortion behind it, open your Transform
Tool. If you see this message, it’s just letting us know that the Smart Filters will be temporarily
turned off while we use the Transform Tool. Just click OK. Then, adjust its size and position. We’ll type in Japanese, since Japanese words and images are a common theme in Vaporwave
graphics. I recommend using Google’s translation web page to do this. Open your Browser and
type in “”. Click this arrow to open the list of languages and click
on your native language. In this empty area, type in a word or words that you’d like to
appear on your final image. Click this arrow and click “Japanese”. Highlight the word and
press Ctrl or Cmd + C to copy it. Then, minimize your Browser and make a New Layer. Press “t”
on your keyboard to open back your Type Tool, click on your document and press Ctrl or Cmd
+ v to paste the Japanese text onto it. To enlarge it, highlight it and drag the text’s
size icon to the right. Position to an area you like. Remember, you can always adjust the size and position of any of the elements on your Vaporwave image. Open your generic,
idealized landscape or another image of your choice and drag it onto the tab of your Vaporwave
image. Without releasing your mouse or pen, drag it down and release. Open your Transform
Tool and adjust its size and position to your liking. Double-click the layer to open its
Layer Style window and uncheck the channel that has the best effect for your image. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. Thanks for watching!


  • Reply Rudolph Eisenbach September 10, 2019 at 5:28 am

    why is the comment gone?

  • Reply Fathur Sofyan September 10, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Sir, can u please make tutorial how to make mock up for T-Shirt front and back side,, thanks

  • Reply Fernando Vázquez Dj Manitas September 10, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Simply fantastic!!! Thanks a lot my grandmaster Marty, grettings from Galicia – Spain.

  • Reply IRG - Ricardo Galvão September 10, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    My dear friend There is a tool to export (open) from vanishing filter to PS (top left corner). Cheers from Brazil

  • Reply R Garlin September 11, 2019 at 4:33 am

    Ha ha! This is a brilliantly 'bad' effect – or as I once heard at a late 1990's Microsoft conference – this is so hot, its cool!

  • Reply IIIlllBravo September 11, 2019 at 5:57 am

    That was a weird one Marty.. what have you been smoking

  • Reply Laura Blues September 11, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Amazing as always, thank you!

  • Reply K. R. E. September 12, 2019 at 3:25 am

    This tutorial just changed my life.

  • Reply Luis Donado September 30, 2019 at 4:25 am

    I could've sworn I've seen a way to do this grid within Photoshop without having to take a screenshot but I can't recall where or how.

  • Reply The Decent Stranger October 17, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    0:38 who else heard the high pitched voice in the background say "open 24 apples"

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