In this Matrix Photoshop tutorial, you'll learn how to create the Matrix movie poster effect in Photoshop. I'll explain everything in so much detail that everyone can create the effect, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time.
What if you prefer to learn by watching a video? We've got you covered as well. Watch this new video from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel to learn how to do the Matrix effect in Photoshop:
What You Will Learn in This Matrix Photoshop Tutorial
- How to select the subject in Photoshop
- How to do the Matrix effect in photoshop
- How to create the Matrix movie poster waves
- How to add a Matrix Photoshop text effect
- How to crop an image in Photoshop
What You'll Need
To recreate the design above, you will need the following resources:
1. How to Get Started
First, open the photo that you want to work with. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, just check a couple of things:
- Your photo should be in RGB Color mode, 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
- For best results, your photo size should be 4500–6500 px wide/high. To check this, go to Image > Image Size.
- Your photo should be the Background layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
Now we need to expand the canvas on the left, top, and bottom so that we have more space around the subject on these sides. Go to Image > Canvas Size and use the settings below:
2. How to Select the Subject in Photoshop
In this section, we are going to make a selection of our subject and then copy the subject to a separate layer. Go to Select > Subject to make an automatic selection of the subject, choose the Quick Selection Tool (W), and using the Shift-Alt buttons on your keyboard, add or subtract areas from the selection to make a perfect selection.
Now go to Select > Modify > Smooth and set the Sample Radius to 2 px, Select > Modify > Contract and set Contract By to 1 px, and Select > Modify > Feather and set the Feather Radius to 1 px. Then, press Control-J on your keyboard to create a new layer using the selection, and name this new layer Subject.
3. How to Create the Background
In this section, we are going to create the background. Select the Background layer, go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer, name it Background Color, and choose the color
Now Right-click on this layer, choose Blending Options, check Gradient Overlay style, and use the settings below:
4. How to Create the Matrix Movie Poster Waves
In this section, we are going to create the Matrix movie poster waves. Select the Subject layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it Temp.
Now Control-click on the Subject layer to make a selection of this layer. Then, press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches, and go to Filter > Render > Clouds. After that, press Control-D to deselect the selection.
Hide all layers except the Temp layer, go to Select > Color Range, and set Select to Highlights, Fuzziness to 20%, and Range to 190.
Now go to Select > Select and Mask and set Smooth to 50, Feather to 0 px, Contrast to 0%, and Shift Edge to +25%.
Go to Select > Modify > Expand and set Expand By to 50 px. Then, select the Subject layer and press Control-J on your keyboard to create a new layer using the selection. After that, go to Filter > Distort > Wave and enter the settings below:
Now select the Temp layer and press Delete on your keyboard to delete it. Then, press Control-T on your keyboard to transform this new layer, and set the Width to 125%.
Drag this layer just below the Subject layer in the Layers panel. Then, change the Blending Mode of this layer to Vivid Light and name it W_1.
Repeat this process to create as many waves layers as you want. Feel free to use different settings in each step. Then, show all layers in the Layers panel. Here is my result:
5. How to Blend the Subject
In this section, we are going to blend the subject with the effect. Alt-click on the Subject layer and drag it just above the W_1 layer in the Layers panel to duplicate it. Then, go to Filter > Distort > Wave and enter the settings below:
Name this new layer Subject Stretch. Then, Control-click on the Subject layer to make a selection of this layer. After that, select the Subject layer and go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection to add a layer mask that reveals the selected area of the layer.
Go to Filter > Distort > Wave and enter the settings below:
Now choose the Brush Tool (B), pick a soft brush, and brush onto the layer mask of the Subject layer to reveal or hide subject details by switching between
#000000 foreground colors. Then, in the Properties panel, set the Density of the layer mask to 75%.
6. How to Add a Matrix Photoshop Text Effect
In this section, we are going to add a Matrix Photoshop text effect. Choose the Vertical Type Tool (T), and set the font to Glippy, font style to Regular, font size to 35 px, alignment to Center, and color to
#c95500. In the Character panel, set the Leading to 50 px. After that, click and drag to create a text box covering the whole canvas, and type letters, numbers, and symbols randomly.
Now go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All to add a layer mask that hides the whole layer. Then, set the foreground color to
#ffffff, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick a soft brush, and brush where you want to reveal the text. Feel free to use a different brush opacity for different areas.
Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Color Burn and set the Opacity to 70%. Then, name this layer Text.
7. How to Make the Final Adjustments
In this section, we are going to make the final adjustments to the Matrix effect. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves to create a new curves adjustment layer, and name it Color Look. Then, Double-click on this layer thumbnail and in the Properties panel enter the settings below:
Change the Opacity of this layer to 85%.
Press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches, and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer, and name it Overall Contrast. Then, change the Blending Mode of this layer to Luminosity and set the Opacity to 33%.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels to create a new levels adjustment layer, and name it Overall Brightness. Then, Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, in the Properties panel, enter the settings below:
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance to create a new vibrance adjustment layer and name it Overall Vibrance/Saturation. Then, Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, in the Properties panel, set the Vibrance to +40 and Saturation to +20.
Now press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a screenshot, and then press Control-Shift-U to desaturate this layer. Then, go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to 1 px.
Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Hard Light and set the Opacity to 80%. Name this layer Overall Sharpening.
8. How to Crop an Image in Photoshop
In this section, we are going to crop the image. Choose the Crop Tool (C) and transform the Crop Box as shown below:
You Made It!
Congratulations, you've succeeded! You've now learned how to do a Matrix effect in Photoshop. Here is the final result of our Photoshop Matrix effect tutorial, placed into the Glued Poster Mockup:
Create the Matrix Movie Poster Effect With Photoshop Actions From Envato Elements
Want to create this effect in seconds? Check out the Matrix Photoshop Action over on Envato Elements, where you can find thousands of creative Photoshop actions. Here are a few of our favorites to recreate this cool Matrix effect in Photoshop:
Matrix Photoshop Action (ATN, PSD)
Transform your photo into a Matrix Photoshop effect with just a few clicks! This action creates a similar result to the one we've covered in this tutorial, but with much less effort. Try it with your own photo to pay homage to the famous Matrix movie poster.
Glitch Photoshop Action (ABR, ATN)
With this next action, you can create an amazing glitch Photoshop effect just by brushing over your photo and playing the action. The best part is that you’ll get a unique result every time you run the action, even if you use the same brushed area. So you can use one action to create an unlimited number of results!
Or why not add a cyberpunk effect to your Matrix movie poster? It fits well with the sci-fi vibe, and it's an easy way to add more drama to your photos. This action lets you create a beautiful cyberpunk effect in just a few clicks!
Clown Photoshop Action (ABR, ATN, PAT, PSD)
Want to create a scary clown photo effect inspired by the famous Joker and IT movies? You can apply it to your photos just by filling in your subject with a color and playing the action. It's simple, and the action will also create 40 color looks that you can choose from.
Painting Photoshop Action (ABR, ATN, PAT)
Finally, here's a chance to transform your photo into a painting. You don't need to be an artist for this one—the action will do all the work for you, giving you fully layered results that you can then customize as much as you want.
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