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Super Retro Game Cartridge Design

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Last week, I did an interview with an amazing designer named James White. One thing that I really like in his work is his use of retro style, so I decided I should explore that more. Following that idea, in this tutorial I will show you how to create a very easy, but really cool, 3D and geometric effect in Photoshop. After that, we will go a bit further and create our own retro Atari-style video game cartridge.

Step 1

Create a new document. I used 600x600. Add a new layer and fill it with white, naming it "Blocks." After that, go to Filter>Stylize>Extrude.

Select Blocks for the type, Size use 50 pixels, Depth 255 and Random, and select the “Solid Front Faces” option.

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Step 2

Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels, use the image below for reference

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Step 3

Go Image>Adjustments>Invert. Now we will have a dark image.

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Step 4

Here we will give the real 3D effect. Go to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur. Use the maximum amount, 100. For the Blur Method use Zoom and Quality Best.

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Step 5

Now go to Layer>New Fill Layer>Gradient. Then for the colors, use Red, Green, and Cyan. That will give the 1980s feeling to the image. Change the Blend Mode to Overlay.

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Step 6

Create a new folder now above the Gradient Layer, naming it “Lights." Then select the Line Tool (U) and white for the color. After that, create some lines on the edge of some elements like the image below.

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Step 7

Merge all lines in one layer and go to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur. Use 40 for the Amount, Zoom for the method, and Best quality. After that, change the “Lights” blend mode to Color Dodge.

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Step 8

With the Magic Wand Tool(W), select the black area of the “blocks” layer. Then with the Rectangular Marquee Tool(M), deselect some areas. To do that, just select the areas you want to deselect holding the Alt key. There will be a minus symbol (-) next to the cursor icon.

After that, create a new layer above all of the other layers and go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection.

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Step 9

Fill the new layer with black. Go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Use 20% for the Amount, Gaussian Distribution, and Monochromatic. Then go to Image>Adjustments>Levels and increase the amount of black. This will create some stars in our design.

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Step 10

Group all layers and folders and name the the folder “design.” Then select the Rounded Rectangle Tool(U) and create a rounded path.

After that, go to the Path’s Palette and click on the icon “Load Path as a Selection.” Then we will have a selection. So just go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection.

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Step 11

First, go to Image>Canvas Size. Make the document 600x900 pixels. With the Rounded Rectangle Tool (U), create a new Shape Layer like the image below. Then go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Use 8% for the Amount, Gaussian Distribution, and Monochromatic.

Now lets change the Layer Style. First, add a Gradient Overlay and then a Bevel and Emboss, like the image below.

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Step 12

Create a new rounded rectangle, this time smaller than the previous one. This will be our label. Apply a Layer Style: use black for the Color Overlay, black for the stroke, and set Bevel and Emboss. Reference the settings below.

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Step 13

Reduce the size of our “Design” folder, like the image below. Then create a new layer; Fill it with a Gradient using black and a dark grey.

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Step 14

Create a new rounded rectangle at the bottom of the cartridge, making it slightly bigger. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Use 3.5 for the Radius. Now we have the shadow for the cartridge.

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Step 15

Now we add the text. The typeface most used for the Atari cartridges was Bauhaus; so, we will follow the rule. Create some text. The colors are very important here too. You might use red, yellow, blue, or green. The image below uses orange. A neutral color will work well for secondary text, like white or a light gray.

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It’s amazing what we can do combining filters in Photoshop; In this case, we created an abstract 3D design using the Extrude and the Radial Blur filters. You can add more elements and lights to make the design even better, but that is up to you. The idea is to show you that playing in Photoshop is important. You never know what you will discover.

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