In this tutorial, I will explain how to make a vinyl graphic. This tutorial will outline techniques to avoid choppy edges and create proper texturing and lighting.
Let's start out by creating a new file. I used a 300x300 pixel canvas set at 72dpi (regular settings), and I filled my background with a soft gradient. You can fill it with whatever you want.
Create a layer set and call it "vinyl." Create a new layer within the layer set, also called "vinyl," and fill it with a dark grey (almost black) color like #111111. Fill this layer with noise by going to Filter > Noise > Add noise and use the settings shown below in the screenshot.
The noise we just added will be used to create the circular texture that is typical for a vinyl record. Go to Filter > Blur > Radial blur, and use the settings shown below. After this, duplicate the layer and set the "vinyl copy" layer to Overlay. To bring out the texture a little more, I went ahead and navigated to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and applied the settings seen below to the "vinyl copy" layer.
Time to cut out our circular shape. I will be using the Ellipse Tool (U) for this job.
Now I've set my Ellipse Tool to Shape Layers instead of Paths because this way I can easily center my shape once I draw it out. Place your crosshairs (cursor) more or less in the middle and while holding down Shift+Alt, draw a circle. Holding down Shift+Alt ensures that you make a perfect circle and that it is created from the middle outwards.
Switch to the Move tool (V) and hit Ctrl+A so that you select the entire canvas. Using the alignment controls at the top, press Align Vertical Centers and Align Horizontal Centers. This moves the circular shape to the center of the canvas.
Next we will cut out our actual shape. Ctrl-click on the Shape 1 layer and hide it by clicking on the eye icon next to it. Now select the "vinyl" layer set and hit the Mask button. This masks out the selection.
Duplicate the "Shape 1" layer and resize it to about 5% (hit Ctrl+T, and then enter 5% in the size boxes). Ctrl-click the new "Shape 1 copy" layer, and with a black brush, paint the selection black in the mask we made for our "vinyl" layer set. This will create a hole in the middle, which is typical for a vinyl. When I did this, I noticed that I had to nudge my "Shape 1 copy" layer a bit to the left and up so that it looked right.
Now that we have our basic shape and texture done, it's time to bring this baby to life. First we need to add some shine. We're going to do this in two steps. In this step, we will apply subtle contrast lighting across the object and in Step 2, we are going to make it pop. Create a new layer above the (hidden) "Shape 1 copy" layer and name it "contrast." Reset your colors to black and white by hitting D on your keyboard, and go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Next go to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds and hit Ctrl+F a few times (this re-applies the filter). Go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and use the settings shown below in the screenshot.
Then set the layer to Soft Light and experiment with Brightness/Contrast. In my case I moved the Contrast down to around -20 and raised the Brightness to about +50. I also used a Mask and a 50% black brush to remove the black areas. I just want to keep the highlights. Eventually I decided to lower the Opacity of the layer to 75%, and then I was satisfied. Play around and see what looks right to you.
Now it's time to make it really pop. Create a gradient as shown below:
Create a new layer and name it "highlights." Drag the gradient out in the middle as shown in 1 (below), then go to Edit > Transform > Perspective and select the top-left corner, hold Shift and drag down. Drag until the handles overlap as in 2 (below) and then hit Enter. Hit Ctrl+T and stretch the gradient out a bit vertically. Set this layer to Soft Light, duplicate it twice, and spin the top layer around a bit until you get something similar to 3 (below).
Highlights can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, it just depends on the light source and its direction. Personally, I like to vary the type of highlights I use depending on the project.
For this vinyl I created a sticker for the center. I made a circle with the Ellipse Tool, then added some text and a random graphic I brushed on. You can do whatever you like with the sticker design. I also added another layer of extra bright highlights and a Color Balance layer on top to fine tune my coloring. All of this is optional depending on the project or aesthetic you're looking for. Finally, I added a layer that looked like clear plastic over the sticker, as real vinyls have. I did this by creating a circle below the sticker and highlights layers and filling it with a dark grey color.
So there you go, a nice little graphic that can be used in a variety of ways. What I like most about this technique is that even though not all of the layers are vector layers, you can still resize the image without loss of quality. Apart from the layers which are used for the sticker (which could be vector too), the rest is either text (which is stretchable) or masked layers, and masks are also stretchable. In fact, we have a safety here. If you stretch out the mask and it becomes blurry, then just unhide your shape layer, stretch that out and mask again. Even though you can scale this, keep in mind that if you try to scale it up dramatically you will lose the fine texture lines on the vinyl.
Thank you for viewing this tutorial, and make sure you have fun while making yours!
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