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Design a Cool Music Wallpaper

Final Image:

This is what the final image looks like. You can download the full-sized wallpaper for free here.

Step 1:

Open a new document, I chose the dimensions 1280X800px. Paste in your photo of musical notation onto a new layer to use as the basis for your background. Use the transform tool to resize the photo to fit nicely on your canvas.

Step 2:

Now go to image > adjustments > desaturate to grayscale your image. Go to brightness/contrast settings and reduce the layers brightness to -40, and increase the contrast to +50.

Step 3:

Select the radial gradient tool and specify a gradient going from 100% black to 0% light gray. Then drag the gradient from the bottom left of your image to achieve the effect below:

Step 4:

Next paste your abstract image of musical notes onto a new layer. Use the transform tool to resize the image until it looks good. Then change this layers blending mode to ‘multiply’. The parts of your original background image not concealed by the radial gradient should show through and create an eerie lighting effect.

Step 5:

Open your photo of the man with headphones.

Step 6:

Copy this image onto a new layer in your original document and then use the lasso tool to select around the head and delete the parts of the photo around your selection by going to the menu: select > inverse then hit backspace.

Step 7:

Now we want to dark the man’s face to try and create a bit more depth to this high angle shot. To do this select the magic wand tool and click somewhere outside of your photo. This will select all parts of the document apart from your photo. Then go to select > inverse to invert the selection, making the head selected. Now select your brush tool (set to around 30px in dimension), and in brush settings select ‘color burn’. Set the brush’s opacity to around 20% and brush over the face a few times, paying particular attention to the most shadowed areas, to really emphasis them.

Step 8:

Now with your photo layer selected and bounding box in place, hold shift and drag inwards to resize your head image and make it smaller. Then select a 2px white brush and make a mark roughly 100px below the bottom of your photo.

Step 9:

Now duplicate this layer and rotate it 72 degrees by going to edit > transform > rotate. With the rotate option selected in your tool options go to the box where you can input your own custom rotation, and set it to 72. This input box is highlighted in the diagram below:

Step 10:

Now with your duplicated image selected move it so that the 2px dot beneath it is overlapping the dot in the first image. Can you see where this is going yet? By marking that 2px dot we can easily duplicate our images and rotate them around a set point, easy as that!

Step 11:

Now, to save you some time repeating this rotation process you can actually go to edit > transform > again, and it will repeat the exact transform effect that you’ve last done.

Step 12:

To complete your circle of heads simply keep duplicating, transforming, and lining up that middle 2px dot! As you can see from the image below the 5 heads create a perfect circle. To achieve this I simply divided up the 360 degrees that make up a circle. 360 divided by 5 = 72. If I’d wanted 10 heads instead of 5 I could have specified a 36 degree rotation, but then the heads would have overlapped due to their size.

Step 13:

Now open up your image of the record. Select the white outer part of the image using the magic wand tool and then invert your selection so that the record itself is selected. Paste this image into your original document and resize it to fit nicely inside the circle of heads. To centralize the record image perfectly, select the inner white circle of the record using the magic wand tool and delete it so that you can see through to the layers beneath this one. Then just align the hole with the 2px dot from the head image layers. Finally desaturate this image layer.

Step 14:

Now open up your photo of the row of speakers.

Step 15:

Select around the part of the image that you want and paste this into your original document. Desaturate this image layer and rotate/resize the speakers so that the fit nicely with the rest of your image. Be sure to put this image layer beneath your record/heads layers. Finally hide your top ‘record’ layer so that you can clearly see the middle 2px white dot, and then select your brush tool and make this white dot again for your speakers layer.

Step 16:

Now if we look at our speakers image it looks good, but lacks any 3d depth, as the side of the speaker was not in our original photo. To fix this we’re going to create a very simple side to the speaker to add a little more depth to the image. Use the lasso selection tool to create a selection that gets more narrow as it gets further away from the speaker photo. Fill this selection with a linear gradient going from light gray (C4C4C4) to 0% opacity black. Finally, to give the joining point at the edge of the speaker more definition create a line roughly 3-4px wide using the lasso tool and fill this with dark gray. The result should look something like the image below:

Step 17:

Then reduce your speaker image layer’s opacity to 60%. Edit the brightness/contrast settings to brightness -15 and contrast +20.

Step 18:

Now simply repeat the rotation technique that I showed you earlier for the speaker image until you have 5 speakers in a circle around the head images.

Then make the record image layer visible again.

Step 19:

Now create a new layer above all of the current layers called ‘light circles’. Select the circle selection tool and then place your cursor in the center of the record (on the 2px white dot). Drag outwards holding alt+shift to create a perfect circular selection around this central point. Then go to select > modify > contract by 1px. Delete this new selection to leave a 1px thick white ring.

Step 20:

Now select a 50px sized eraser brush set at 20% opacity. You want to start erasing the areas of the white circle that overlap the speakers. But very importantly – try to leave some of the ‘light ring’ in tact where it comes into contact with the speaker, and only erase the light ring entirely in the center of each speaker. This way you achieve the effect that the light ring is actually going into each speaker. Check out the effect below:

Step 21:

Now go to the ‘light circles’ layer’s blending options and use an ‘outer glow’ with the following settings. You can see the result below:

Step 22:

Now duplicate this layer, and resize it to make a smaller ‘light circle’ within the original circle. To keep a perfect circle remember to hold shift and alt as you resize your image.

Step 23:

This looks pretty good, but due to the original circle being cut off by the bottom of the document the smaller circle isn’t complete (see the bottom). We could take the time to complete the circle, but it will look just as good if we use the erased brush to simply fade away the harsh edges that are there. Then reduce this layers opacity to 50% to achieve something like this:

Step 24:

Duplicate and shrink this layer as just demonstrated before to achieve a 3rd smaller circle, and reduce this layer’s opacity to around 30%.

Step 25:

Select the top ‘head image’ layer, and merge the layer down. Keep doing this until all of the ‘head layers’ are merged into a single layer. Then use the selection tool to select the 2px white dot in the center and delete it. Do the same for the speaker layers. This should leave a nice black center to the record.

Step 26:

Now add some text to the bottom right of the document. I chose our logo’s font, Tahoma. To give it a little depth add a gradient overlay and inner shadow using the settings show below:


And we’re done! The beauty of this technique is that it can be done with any theme in mind using virtually any images. The concept was originally based off of an advert I saw for fruit yoghurt, where the rotation/circle technique was used on little pieces of fruit. Play around with it and let me know what you come up with!

I hope that you found this tutorial useful and learned some useful new techniques!

Download Source File for this Tutorial

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About the Author:

Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.

Leave a comment


  1. Ross says:

    Nice I like your writing style, I just started a site similar to this so if you wanted to exchange links or anything. Anyway great tutorial.

  2. Karl says:

    Hey Tom, congrats on the first tutorial.

    I like it ;)

  3. Tom says:

    Thanks Ross and Karl! It was definitely fun to write.

    @Ross: Sure I’d be happy to exchange links. Your website looks really great so far! I’ll add your link in my sidebar tomorrow.

  4. Ross says:

    couldn’t find your email address Tom but anyway I added your link and how about we keep it for minimum a month, thanks.

  5. Tom says:

    Thanks Ross, I’ll add your link tomorrow. A month sounds good, but hopefully we can work something out for longer.

  6. Andrew says:

    Really nice tut, love the site! I added you to my feed, I look forward to more good tutorials in the future!

  7. Tom says:

    Thanks a lot Andrew. I’ll work hard to write some more good tutorials :)

  8. Simon says:

    This is pretty awesome. Taking such simple things and making it in to something so complex.,

  9. Tom says:

    Cheers Simon, I’m glad that you found the tutorial so easy to follow but the outcome nice :)

  10. jamie says:

    This site is amazing :) some very good tutorials you should provide psd files with them aswell

  11. Tom says:

    Thanks Jamie :) .psd files will be available soon enough, but I’m planning on integrating a membership system for them to help cover hosting costs (the site’s using up quite a bit of bandwidth already).

  12. jamie says:

    well aslong as its not a complete rip off i will be willing pay :)

  13. Tom says:

    Nope of course not! :) Trust me, I’ve got all sorts of cool ideas up my sleeve for this site and am DEDICATED to providing the best tutorial I can, the coolest content/competitions and most affordable stuff for members :)

  14. [...] Design a Cool Music Wallpaper [...]

  15. siyad says:


  16. Tom says:

    Thanks siyad!

  17. Azzy says:

    my jaw just dropped…thix swibe is awesobd!! thanks alot

  18. May says:

    Tq for the tip, it’s inspired me..

  19. tim says:

    Just saying thanks for the great tutorial.

    I like how you made use of the people heads. haha

  20. Cassandra says:

    amazing tutorial. came out exactly how yours is :) the details & simplicity of how you explain how to do it makes it easy for newbies to follow. MAKE MORE tuts. they’re the best.

  21. oes tsetnoc says:

    Huh, you are a genius. Your 1st tutorial is amazing. What you did with the head of the DJ :)

  22. This is great tutorial. I will give it a try to create a music wallpaper for me. Thanks a lot…

  23. Ginger6 says:

    Awesome images…..shows me I need to up the quality of images we use!!!

  24. top themes says:

    Cheers Simon, I’m glad that you found the tutorial so easy to follow but the outcome nice

  25. Popartgal says:

    Awesome graphics! maybe you can upload more tutorials similar to this :) Cheers!

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