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Create a Slick Black iMac in Photoshop

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Read Time: 11 min

Some months back before the latest iMacs were released, I was musing as to what a black iMac might look like. Being a Photoshopper, I decided to try making one. After posting it on a blog, the image went viral and started appearing on Mac and technology blogs and my site was inundated with traffic. Today if you look up Black iMac in a Google search you'll see lots of sites using my image. Today I'll show you how I made that picture.

Step 1

The first thing we need to make our black iMac is a regular one to base it off of. I used the previous model because when I originally did this, that was all that was available. Here's an image I found off Google Images of a front facing iMac. It's a pretty standard product shot.

Step 2

Now the first thing to do is create a new layer on top, so grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool (U) and draw a black rectangle with a curve matching the base image. (I believe I used a 20px Radius)

Step 3

Now for the moment we'll leave the screen and focus on the stand. So zoom in and using the Pen Tool (P), draw around the stand like shown. With the Pen Tool, it's a good idea to use as few points as possible as you will get a smoother line. This can take some practice and a few attempts. Also try to mirror where you place the points so that even if the line is a little wonky, at least it's symmetrical.

Step 4

Once you have the path, right-click on it and choose Make Selection.

Step 5

Now before I go any further, I wanted to note that the black that Apple uses is a sort of matte or dull black. In photos it has a slightly blueish cast. Rather than trying to guess what exact colors to use, I just found a picture of a regular black Mac laptop and then using the eye dropper picked out a few shades (shown below).

Step 6

Anyhow, so back to the stand, with the selection still made, I created a new layer and then used the Reflected Gradient and a dark and light black from the previous step and filled in the stand as shown. You can see that the light part of the gradient is in the middle. I did this because when you look at the stand in the white version, it has the same sort of light and shade but inversed.

Actually, in almost all the steps in this tutorial, the idea is to look at how the photo looks and then emulate the effect using dark greys and blacks instead of whites and light greys.

Step 7

Now the gradient wasn't that strong, so I grabbed a large fat Dodge Tool (O) brush, then while holding Shift down to keep my brush exactly horizontal, I went over a couple of times to get that highlight looking stronger.

Step 8

After dodging the curve, I then used the Dodge Tool on the very bottom of the stand so that it gets lighter there too (as shown below). It's already starting to look like a stand now: amazing what a bit of light and shadow can do!

Step 9

Next I again got the Pen Tool out and this time drew a shape that captured the area at the very front of the stand (see below). This part should have a different coloring so that when you look at the image, you can see that this part is at a different angle than the other part of the stand.

Note that the base of my pen selection in the image below shown is all wonky. That's because it doesn't really matter about that part, I just want to get that curve at the top.

Next we right-click with the Pen Tool still selected and choose Make Selection again. Then create a new layer above the stand layer and fill it with a dark grey.

Step 10

So as you can see in the image below, I have my weird shape just on top of the main stand. So now we Ctrl-click the stand layer to select its pixels and then press Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection. Then hit Delete so that all you are left with from our weird shape is the intersection of the two shapes.

Step 11

Now grab the Dodge Tool (O) and again with a soft brush, add a highlight where shown. Then hold down Alt and brush the right-most edge. Holding down Alt with the Dodge Tool changes it to the Burn Tool (and vice versa). So you can quickly brush dark and light without changing tools.

Step 12

Finally, to complete the stand, we duplicate the front part of the stand, hold down Ctrl, click that layer, and then press the down arrow once and hit Delete. This should leave you with a 1px thin line (shown in selection in the image below). Set this layer to Overlay and 30% Opacity, and it'll give a really faint highlight.

Do the same thing again, except this time instead of the down arrow, press the Up arrow so that you are left with a 1px selection at the base. Place this layer below the stand, move it down 1px, and use the Burn Tool to darken it up. This will be a faint shadow beneath the stand.

(Note this step isn't essential and sounds complicated, but is actually quite simple. If you do get lost in there, don't worry it won't drastically affect the final image)

Step 13

Ok, so we have a pretty cool black stand. Here it is on top of the main image, and you can see that it looks about right!

Step 14

Now we start work on the screen area. The first thing we need to do is get rid of the straight black shape and replace it with a gradient. So we switch that layer's visibility off and then holding down Ctrl, we click on it, create a new layer, and then draw a Reflected Gradient from the top-left corner to the bottom-right corner so that it's light in the middle and dark on the corners, as shown.

Step 15

Next, I grabbed a large fat Dodge brush and lightened diagonally across a little more as shown.

Step 16

Now once again Ctrl-click the screen layer to select its pixels, then go to Select > Modify > Contract and use a value of 1px. Then in a new layer fill it with a lighter shade of dark grey as shown.

Without letting go of the selection, again go to Select > Modify > Contract and this time use a value of 2px. When you're done, hit Delete and you should be left with a thin 2px line that goes around the screen.

This thin line will let us give a bit of highlighting and shadow to the screen edges. I did this because if you look carefully at the white iMac, you'll see a similar thin line around the screen, particularly in the top-right where it's quite highlighted.

Step 17

Now grab your large Dodge brush and strategically lighten the top-right corner and a little on the right-hand side and the top. Experiment with where it seems appropriate to highlight.

Step 18

Now switch off the black screen layers for a moment, so you can see the white screen behind. Then, in a new layer, use the Rounded Rectangle Tool with a very slight curve this time (I used 2px) to draw a rectangle where the display area is, as shown.

Step 19

Now you can switch the rest of the screen layers back on. Now Ctrl-click the display layer we just created, then create a new layer on top, go to Selection > Modify > Contract, and use a value of 2px. Fill this new area with straight black.

As you can see, what happens is the first display layer we created is actually a highlight around the main display area. If you look at your screen, chances are you'll be able to see a bit of this. If you wanted to make this very realistic, you could use a bit of Dodge and Burn to darken and lighten it appropriately. But for our purposes this will do!

Step 20

Next I placed an image on the screen. I wanted a nice abstract Mac-type background, and fortunately for us, we have a Psdtuts+ tutorial on this. I basically just used the output of that tutorial, except I modified the coloring to be green. You can use whatever you want. Just place the image and press CTRL+T to transform it down to the right size. You might need to crop the image to make it fit.

Step 21

Now iMacs always have those little cameras at the top, so next I made a circular selection around the camera in the white iMac photo and copied it over and placed it in the same position in a new layer above the other black iMac layers.

Step 22

Now we need a dock! Once again I just went to Google and found a screenshot of someone's desktop, cut out the dock using the rectangular selection tool, and pasted it on top. The only problem is the background is blue! So we need to adjust that to green before we finish placing it.

Step 23

So I used the Magic Wand Tool (W) and clicked in the blue area to select it all. Then hold down Shift and click in any areas that get missed, like inside the Quicktime symbol. Basically make sure you get all the pixels. It's not terribly important for it to be a really nice selection because we'll be shrinking this down--thank goodness, because otherwise we'd have to use the Pen Tool!

Once you have the selection, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and move the Hue slider until it hits a light green color that roughly matches the green background (or matches whatever background you used).

Step 24

Now we place that dock over the wallpaper and press Ctrl+T to transform it down.

Next we need a little Mac logo to stick on the screen. Once again I found an image using a regular Google image search. This one is a nice silver color which should work well.

Step 25

The problem, however, is that there is a shadow behind the logo that we don't want. So grab the Pen Tool and trace out the edges of the logo as shown. When you're done, right-click and choose Make Selection, then press Ctrl+C to copy the logo out of its shadow background.

Step 26

Now to place the logo, switch off all the black layers so you can see your white iMac guide image again, then shrink down the logo so it roughly matches the size and position of the logo on the machine. Then switch back the black layers again!

Step 27

Almost there now!

Next we create a subtle reflection to make it look like the iMac is really standing there. So duplicate the stand layer, press Ctrl+T and rotate it 180'. Then fade the layer out to 20% and add an adjustment layer as shown so that it fades off into nothingness.

Step 28

Next we're going to add a really subtle shadow beneath the iMac as well. So draw an ellipse as shown in dark grey.

Step 29

Now fade the ellipse shadow out to about 20% opacity and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use a value of about 10px to get a good blur. When you've done that, hit Ctrl+T to transform and squeeze the shadow vertically only (so that it's not so tall, but remains the same width). We do this so that the shadow looks like it's on the same plane as the table or whatever the iMac is on.

Step 30

And we're pretty much done! I moved the iMac off to the side and added a bit of text to finish it off. In case you're wondering, the typeface is Myriad Pro Semibold which looks quite similar to the typeface that Apple uses (though not quite the same, unless I'm mistaken).


So there you have it, we have created a new look for the iMac! In the Sample PSD for this tutorial, I've included both the PSD for this tutorial and the original one that I created some months ago which is pretty similar but a lot larger and with some minor variations. Hope you enjoyed the tutorial!

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