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Final Image

This is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Step 1

Open up a new document, 600X600px and fill it with 969696 (medium gray).

Step 2

Create a new layer called ‘polaroid’. Now use your rectangular marquee tool to create a perfect square (do this by dragging outwards and holding shift at the same time). Fill your square selection with white. Then go to select>modify>contract and contract your selection by 10px. Fill this selection with D6D6D6 (light gray). Then select the bottom of your image (the bottom white edge of your polaroid) and use the transform>scale tool to drag it downwards and increase it’s height. You want to ideally make this bottom section about 3 times its original height.

Step 3

Now duplicate your polaroid layer and move the duplicate behind the original. Select the image using the magic wand and fill it with 9C9C9C (medium gray). Then use your cursors to move the shape 1px down and 1px left. Then duplicate this layer and move the duplicate underneath it. Select the shape and fill it with 646464 (dark gray). Move this 1px down and 1px to the left also. The result of this is a subtle drop shadow. Now merge your polaroid layer down with your two shadow layers.

Step 4

Now with your merged polaroid layer selected go to edit>transform>rotate and rotate it -30 degrees. Then go to edit>transform>distort and play around with your image until it looks something like the image below. Then finally go to edit>transform>perspective and squeeze the top/bottom right corners together very slightly to create a subtle perspective.

Step 5

Now go to edit>transform>scale and resize your duplicate layer to 98% width and 98% height of the original. Also rotate it by -4 degrees in the same options bar. Move the image down by about 7px.

Step 6

Now keep repeating this technique, being careful to put each duplicated layer beneath the layer from which it was duplicated. Also remember to resize the new images to 98% of their original height and width. Play with rotations and distance to move each polaroid down until you’re happy with the results. Do this around 10-15 times until you have something that looks good, then merge all of your duplicate polaroid layers together, leaving the original polaroid image untouched.

Step 7

Now duplicate your merged layer and move this below the original. Move it down so that it appears to be a continuation of the multiple polaroids above it. Repeat this several times until you have a stack of polaroids, then merge all of the duplicated layers, again leaving the single, original polaroid in tact.

Step 8

Now with your merged layer selected go to edit>transform>distort and pull together the bottom two corners of your image, just enough to create a subtle perspective. This will leave a slightly peice of the 2nd to top polaroid sticking out at the far corner, so to get rid of this (it’s not physically possible as the opposite corner also extends past the top polaroid), simply grab your lasso tool, select it, and delete it.

Step 9

Paste in an image that you want to use for your top polaroid, making sure that it is square (I cut mine out using the rectangle marquee, whilst holding shift to create a perfect square selection). If you remember for the top polaroid we rotated it to a -30 degree angle and used the distort tool to alter it’s shape. Simply apply these same steps to the photo, taking care to accurate fit each corner of the photo to the inner corner of the polaroid image. If you can’t fit it exactly, then hide your photo layer, use the magic wand tool to select the inner square of the polaroid image, invert the selection, select your photo layer and hit delete. This way you will delete the edges of the photo that overlap the inner area of the polaroid.

Step 10

Use your line tool to apply dark gray lines to the furthers sides of the photo on a new layer called ‘polaroid lines’. This will create a 1px shadow, giving your image subtle depth.

Step 11

Now select your stack of polaroids layer and click somewhere around it using the magic wand tool. Go to select>inverse to invert your selection and select the stack of polaroids. Then create a new layer and fill the selection with a gradient ranging from black at the bottom to transparent at the top. Reduce the opacity of this layer to 40%. You now have a shadow, giving your stack of polaroids slightly more depth.

Step 12

Now repeat this same technique, but drag a gradient across the top polaroid, and reduce it’s opacity to 17%. Use the lasso selection tool to clean up the untidy edge that is left from this technique.

Step 13

Now create a new layer above your polaroid stack layer and use a small, soft, black brush set to 14% opacity to brush in some areas where shadows are needed. Try to look out for areas where polaroids are likely to cast a shadow on those beneath them, possibly from jutting out or covering up others. The images below show the before/after effects of this technique.

Step 14

Paste in an wood texture photo onto a new layer below all of your polaroid layers. Go to edit>transform>skew and skew the image until it has a somewhat similar perspective to the polaroids. Then desaturate the image, up it’s contrast by 70 and reduce the layer opacity to 8%. Then go to edit>transform>scale and widen the image so that it spans all the way across. Finally go to layer>add layer mask>reveal all and drag a black-transparent gradient upwards to fade out the top of your wood texture.

Step 15

Now create a new layer above your wood texture layer and drag a radial gradient outwards, ranging from white to transparent. Then reduce this new layer’s opacity to 50% to create a subtle background gradient. Then create a new layer and create a smaller radial gradient ranging from the center of your larger radial gradient to create a nice looking light spot. Reduce this layer’s opacity to 60%.

Step 16

Now select your top polaroid layer and duplicate it. Resize your duplicate layer and move it to be level with the bottom of your polaroid stack. You will need to use distort to make your polaroid fit the perspective and wood texture surface that you have created. Duplicate this new layer 3 more times to create a variety of polaroids, each which will need to be rotated/distorted to fit nicely together.

Step 17

Now open up some more square photos or images and paste them over your new polaroids, fitting them perfectly using edit>transform>distort.

Step 18

Now use your line tool to draw in some black lines where the polaroids overlap. This will define them better as well as create a shadow where the objects overlap. I reduced the layer opacity to 30% to reduce the harshness of the black.

Step 19

Now I add some text (Helvetica Neue, 25 Ultra Light), and give the text a nice gradient background using my rectangular marquee tool and linear gradient tool.

Step 20

Now use your path tool to make a curved line ranging across your image on a new layer. Then move this layer below your polaroid layers but above your background layer, and with a white, 1px brush selected right click on the path and click stroke path. Delete the path and you are left with a nice right line. Then apply the outer glow settings shown below and duplicate your glowing line layer multiple times, each time moving the duplicate 5px down. Finally, we want to merge all of these glowing line layers, but if we simply merge down then the outer glow effect gets multiplied and becomes too intense. Instead, we must hide the glow effect on all layers but the original, and then merge down, meaning that the line layers will only have the outer glow applied once. Then reduce the layer opacity of this merged layer to 40%. You can see the effect of this below:

And we’re done!

You can see the final image below. I really hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Download Source File for this Tutorial

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. beets says:

    awesome man – when i first glanced at it i thought it was 3d :D

  2. Tom says:

    Thanks beets! I was kinda going for that sort of effect :)

  3. beets says:

    I think one thing I really like about your tutorials is how you’re constantly doing stuff in Photoshop that people usually open Illustrator for – like the lines in the background on this, the background on the soccer field, and the sunburst on the “crazy is back” tutorial. Illustrator definatly has it’s advantages, but I think a lot of people new to the graphics world can’t afford (or aren’t ready to invest in) both packages. I know several people who fall into those categories, and have pointed all of them here as a learning tool.

  4. Tom says:

    Thanks again Beets :) I personally don’t have Illustrator, and think that it’s definitely important to learn how to cope using Photoshop alone. I’d love to get any suggestions for tuts from you that involves this kind of thing.

  5. Lennart says:

    Woah that’s nice. But I don’t like the polaroids on the ground. They are to small.

  6. Tom says:

    Thanks Lennart, I agree with you about the polaroids on the ground. Thanks for pointing that out :)

  7. twopo says:

    Great tutorial as usual. Thanks

  8. Tom says:

    Cheers twopo, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  9. Tom says:

    Thanks Nitos!

  10. Raj says:

    very nice tutorial Tom :) Thanx a lot!

  11. Tom says:

    I’m glad that you enjoyed it :)

  12. only war says:

    thanks Tom

  13. Tom says:

    No problem :) I hope that you’ll check out my other tuts.

  14. Jseen says:

    Really great tutorial. In fact one of the best out there.
    But what I think is different about this tutorial is that, you made it in a really easy way.
    Keep it up. Looking more great post like this in the future.

  15. Tom says:

    Thanks Jseen, I’m realy glad that you enjoyed the tut. I hope that you’ll check out some of my older as well as future tutorials.

  16. manchit says:

    awesome .very neatly done.
    I am considering this for my hoarding outside my minilab studio.

  17. Tom says:

    Thanks Manchit, I’d love to see your outcome :)

  18. rookie artist says:

    Tom, you’ve doing all these? All of the photoshop?
    Can I request?

  19. Tom says:

    Hey Rookie Artist. Yep I currently write all tutorials here.

  20. I honestly liked reading your blog post – thank you for the share!

  21. Tom says:

    Thanks Crystal, I’m glad you enjoyed this one.

  22. Gasst says:

    What I also love is how you reply to all the comments left on your tutorials…
    It shows a big deal of commitment and that’s very good!

    Cheers and keep up the good work,


  23. Tom says:

    Thanks Gasst, I appreciate the support, and the great community here really makes replying to all my comments worthwhile. I hope that you’ll stick around and drop a comment when you feel like it :)

  24. SiFiMan says:

    Great Work Buddy!!!

  25. Asad Raza says:

    great man……………………. keep it up

  26. David says:

    Just what I was looking for! Thanks! :)

  27. emma says:

    what’ the name of the logiciel

  28. danny says:

    wow. an amazing pice of art work

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