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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Design-Inspired Photo Manipulation for Twitter/Facebook Banners

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Are you an aspiring designer with a special gift? Show off your levitation skills with a photo manipulation. Make a creative banner you can apply to all your social accounts.

In this tutorial, we'll learn how to build a designer-inspired photo manipulation using a few stocks and 3D objects in Adobe Photoshop.

Get inspired! Find more amazing design resources on Envato Market. Or check out this ultimate list of the 40 best social media banner templates.

See a larger view of this banner.

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used in the production of this tutorial:

1. How to Use 3D Objects

You can make any object levitate easily in Photoshop. And the best way to do it is to take advantage of 3D objects.

3D objects generate still images of the angle you desire. I can make the office plant, for instance, fall off the table in this manipulation (for more dimension) by choosing a good angle.

So before you get started, take a good look at the stocks we'll be using. In order to make this scene work, I'll need a few 3D assets from Envato Elements.

For a more in-depth look at how I use 3D objects, check out this tutorial:

Once you're ready to get started, download all the angles you'll need for each 3D object.

Here are the specific views I'll be using in this tutorial.

3D angles
  1. Camera
  2. Molecule
  3. Laptop
  4. Cue Ball
  5. Plant

Hit View 360 Render for each object and try your best to match these angles. Then download them with your subscription.

Now that we have all the resources, let's get started!

2. How to Build the Manipulation

Social media banners, especially the ones on Twitter, are stretched wide. If you use a normal photo for the banner, it gets compressed pretty badly and cropped even worse.

Here are some possible scenarios I'd hate to go with in headers #1 and #2.

Twitter Header options

Normal photos just won't crop well.

For this manipulation, I'll be warping the scene to make something similar to a panorama shot like in #3.

This will allow me to bypass some of the cropping problems by creating an entire composition from scratch that stretches, or pans from one side of the banner to the other.

To do this, I'll need to take the original Designer Stock and break it apart. Then I'll rebuild the scene with the main character and other elements using a few new stocks for filler.

Step 1

Create a New Document in Photoshop at 1500 x 500 px.

Copy and Paste Designer Stock #1 onto a New Layer towards the middle of the banner. Make ample room for the other details.

Place the stock

See how much space we have to fill?

Step 2

Let's break the image apart. Remove the designer first.

Select the stock and use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to make a selection. Then hit Control-J to Paste the selection onto a New Layer above it. Add a Layer Mask and refine the edges of the designer with a Hard Round Brush.

Remove the designer

Step 3

Next, I'll remove the main computer. We'll create an entirely new background with just these two pieces from the original stock.

Follow the same steps as before to remove the computer. Add a Layer Mask and refine the edges.

Remove the computer
  1. Use the Polygonal Tool (L) to select the computer.
  2. Control-J to Paste it onto its own New Layer.
  3. The stand might get awkwardly cut here. Use the Polygonal Tool (L) again to select it, and then switch to the Move Tool (V) to center the stand more. In future shots, you'll see that I painted over the hand and pen with colors from the computer using the Brush Tool (B).

Step 4

Let's start building the composition again with the new pieces. Hide the computer layer.

Since the model gets cut off, we'll rebuild him using a different photo from this stock series.

Make a selection of the designer from Designer Stock #2 and Copy and Paste it onto a New Layer beneath the designer layer. Add a Layer Mask to refine the edges and position him to match up with the old photo.

Add the second designer stock

Step 5

Create a simple wooden desk.

Create the wooden desk
  1. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and make a selection of the wood from this Wood Table stock. Copy and Paste it onto a New Layer below the designer layer. Hold Control-T to Free Transform and Skew the perspective of the wood for a much longer desk.
  2. Position the desk as shown. Continue to adjust the perspective if necessary.

Note: This desk will be skewed to help the panorama vibe. But feel free to create your own desk setup.

Step 6

Unhide the computer layer.

Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to make it smaller. Position the computer in the center of the desk. Don't worry about any rough edges—we'll clean them up later.

Add the computer

Step 7

Let's add a background. Copy and Paste the Gray Background onto a New Layer.

Flip it by going to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal.

Flip the background

Then resize it and position it behind the computer.

Add a slight blur. Select the layer and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, adding a Radius of 2.5 px.

Blur the gray background

3. How to Make 3D Objects Levitate

Step 1

Now that the majority of our scene is built, we need to add the levitating objects.

First, add the Molecule.

Copy and Paste the molecule angle you've downloaded onto a New Layer above the rest. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to rotate the angle and place it floating next to the designer.

Add a Layer Mask to remove the parts of the molecule that would be covered by his arm. This will help create more depth of field.

Add the molecule

Step 2

Move on to the other 3D objects.

Next, we'll add the Camera, Laptop, and Cue Ball.

Follow the same steps as before. This time, position the camera below the designer's eye level. Then add the laptop on the right.

Balance everything out with the cue ball on the far left. Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and add a Radius of 4 px.

Add the next three objects

Step 3

The last 3D object we'll add is the Office Plant.

Extract the plant and Paste it onto a New Layer above the rest. Free Transform (Control-T) to Rotate the angle so that the plant appears to be falling off the desk.

Add a slight Gaussian Blur of 2 px.

Add the office plant

Looking great so far!

4. How to Adjust the Lighting and Colors

Now that the majority of our objects are set in place, we can add Adjustment Layers and more to fix the colors, light, and shadows.

Here is our composition so far.

Composition so far

Step 1

Let's begin with the lighting.

Create a New Adjustment Layer of Curves above all the others.

Adjust the curve for the RGB Channel as shown. Make the overall scene darker.

Curves adjustment layer

Step 2

Next, add a New Adjustment Layer of Color Lookup.

Set the 3D LUTFile to 2Strip.look and the Layer Blend Mode to Hue. Lower the Opacity to 60% for a much warmer tone.

Add color lookup

Step 3

Now add a New Adjustment Layer of Selective Color.

Add the following adjustments for the Greens, Reds, Whites, and Neutral colors.

Add selective color

Here's the result so far.

Result after selective color

Step 4

The entire lighting of the scene has been adjusted for a more sunset appearance, so now we have to tweak the lighting of some objects individually—starting with the man.

Select the designer 2 layer. Set a new Curves Adjustment Layer as a Clipping Mask to the designer. Adjust the curves for the RGB, Green and Blue Channels as shown.

Try to match the lighting of his body from the original photo.

Add a curves adjustment to the man

Step 5

Next, set a New Adjustment Layer of Hue and Saturation as a Clipping Mask to the molecule.

Adjust the values as shown for a darker molecule. This will create a slight silhouette appearance.

Adjust the molecule lighting

Step 6

Do the same for the camera.

Set a new Adjustment Layer of Hue and Saturation as a Clipping Mask to the camera. Adjust the values as shown for a darker look.

Adjust the camera lighting

Step 7

Now darken the laptop.

Set a New Adjustment Layer of Curves as a Clipping Mask to the laptop. Adjust the curves for the RGB, Blue and Green Channels as shown below.

Adjust the laptop lighting

5. How to Finish the Manipulation

Great job so far!

To finish up this manipulation, we'll continue to tweak the lighting while adding smart brand elements for your website.

By changing the screen, you can switch out the photo for your website screenshot for better marketing appeal.

Step 1

Let's customize the screen!

We need to trace over the grass photo so we can swap it out for different websites.

Select the Pen Tool (P) and set it to Shape. Trace over the grass field photo with a white sold Fill. Then Right-click and go to Define Custom Shape. Name the new shape Screen.

By creating a new custom shape of the computer screen, you'll have it in your preset shape settings for the future, whenever you want to switch the photo.

Create a custom shape

Then Right-click the screen shape layer and go to Convert to Smart Object.

Turning this shape into a smart object means we can update the website screenshot at any time.

Double-click the smart object and Paste a screenshot of your website onto a New Layer. It will appear at the wrong angle at first, so make sure to use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to adjust the perspective.

Here, I used the Envato Tuts+ main website.

Then use a Layer Mask to mask out the bottom right window from your screenshot.

Create a smart object for the website

Step 2

Next, customize the laptop screen.

Here I'll use the Envato Elements website. Follow the same steps as before. First, create a new custom shape, and then Convert it to a Smart Object. Update the smart object with a website screenshot at the right perspective. If necessary, apply a blur.

This one is a little tricky, so keep playing with the perspective until it works.

Add the laptop smart object

Here is the composition with both screens replaced.

Composition with new screens

Step 3


Once you've replaced the screens, we can concentrate on cleaning up these details.

Create a New Layer above the rest.

Clean up the line that separates the designer's pictures. Set the Foreground Color to various parts of his skin, shirt, and outfit using the Eyedropper Tool (E). Then paint over those areas to blend the photos together with a Soft Round Brush (B).

Blend the skin

Step 4

On that same layer, paint some shadows around the office environment.

Try not to over-complicate the shadows. Just choose a tone that is a shade darker than the colors in that area.

Use a mixture of Hard and Soft Brushes to paint shadows behind the computer behind the laptop, and on the desk.

Add shadows

Step 5

Brighten up the main computer screen.

Select the Custom Shape Tool (U) and select the screen shape you created earlier. Create a new shape that covers the website with a bright yellow color #e9efde. Then set the Layer Blend Mode to Overlay.

Brighten screen

That should do the trick!

Continue working on the light.

Step 6

Create a New Layer above the rest. Set the Layer Blend Mode to Overlay. Use a Soft Round Brush with 30% Opacity to paint bright yellow #f6f9f2 around the screens, objects, and designer. Adjust the Layer Opacity as needed.

Paint yellow glow

Step 7

Let's start to wrap things up with a few more color adjustments. Give the scene a blueish tone.

Add a New Adjustment Layer of Selective Color above the rest.

Adjust the values for the Reds, Neutrals, and Whites as shown below.

Add selective color adjustment

For a slightly faded effect, add a New Adjustment Layer of Color Lookup.

Set the 3DLUT File to FoggyNight.3DL.

Then set the Layer Blend Mode to Lighten and the Opacity to 25%.

Add a color lookup layer

Step 8

Darken the table for a richer tone.

Add a New Adjustment Layer of Curves, and Right-click to set it as a Clipping Mask to the table layer. Lower the curve for the RGB Channel for a darker wood.

Curves adjustment layer

Step 9

Take this opportunity to make one last New Layer.

Use this layer to paint over any mistakes and add highlights or any remaining details. I mostly needed to fix the computer stand since it was originally cut off by the man's hand.

A closer look

Check out the final variations below!

6. How to Make Banner Variations

Now that you've got your Twitter/Facebook banner, how does it look?


Here's the final result below. I applied it to my Twitter background (at a compressed size of 1252x417 pixels) to see it in action.

For Facebook covers, feel free to resize to 851x315 pixels. Crop if necessary.

Twitter background

Without Websites

Don't want to change the screens? Here is the how the banner will look without the screen changes.

Banner without screens

More Branding

Another variation you can take is to add additional branding. Here I added more Envato Tuts+ branding elements by using one of the PSD templates from this Facebook Charity Cover Set.

Branded banner

See a Larger Version

If you haven't already, check out this larger version.

All Done! Great Job!

Social media banners are a fantastic way to show off your skills as a designer. Personalize any account with an intriguing banner to gain more influence.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial! Share your comments and results below.

For more photo manipulation tutorials like this one, check out these links:

Twitter Facebook Banner Photo Manipulation Tutorial
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