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Use Over 40 Advanced Keyboard Shortcuts to Create a Reflective Timepiece


This tutorial will teach you basic to advanced keyboard shortcuts, all while designing an amazing timepiece! We can't cover all of the keyboard shortcuts in this tutorial, but there are over 40 essentials here to give you a great start! Let's get started on the way to being a super efficient designer!

Final Image Preview

Take a look at the image we'll be creating. 

Step 1

Well, to get things started off right, let's make a new document with the dimensions of 2304 pixels by 1708 pixels, and 300dpi. These dimensions worked great while creating this tutorial, so let's stick with them!

Next we'll set some guides. Be sure your snap feature is turned on View > Snap (Command + Shift + Colon key). Unfortunately there is no visual aid to show that it is turned on. Press Command + R to display your rulers, then use the Selection Tool (V) to drag a guide from the left and top rulers, ensuring they snap to the center of the artboard. Press Command + Colon key to hide any Guides at any time.

Don't worry, if you make a mistake, just press Command + Z to undo. If you make a few mistakes, just press Command + Option + Z to step back to where you were. Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff!

Here's an interesting trick. Change the background of your artboard by selecting your favorite color, grabbing your Paint Bucket Tool (G), then Shift-clicking on the artboard. Cool right?

Step 2

Lets work from the bottom up, kinda like a painting. First lets create a nice blue gradient for the background. Select the Gradient Tool (G), select radial from the gradient choices. When choosing your colors, you can use #3e5198 for the foreground, and #222d53 for the background.

The effect we want is a lighter center, and a slightly darker outside. This creates more visual interest, rather than just a plain solid color. Once you have your colors selected, simply click and drag from the center of the artboard to the right edge and release.

Step 3

For Psd Plus members, Drag in the supplied "concreteTexture.jpg" image that is found in the "source" file in this tut's member download, or grab a texture you prefer off the net. Make sure it is on a layer above the "background." Scale (Command + T) and adjust as needed. Set the color mode to Overlay (V, then Shift + or -), and reduce the Opacity of the layer to 30% (V, then 3). This will give us a nice subtle effect.

Here's a quick note on Opacity and Fill. The number pad (1 = 10%, 2 = 10%......0 = 100%) will change the Opacity or Fill (press Shift and number to change Fill) to whichever tool is selected. If the Selection Tool (V) is active, then it will adjust the layer. If the Brush Tool (B) is selected, then it will adjust the brush. The same goes for the Gradient and Paint Bucket Tool (G).

Step 4

Create a new layer and name it "Main Clock." Select the Circular Marquee Tool (M), and drag from the center of the artboard out towards the edge. The trick is to press Option+Shift while dragging. This will constrain proportions and create a marquee from the center, out.

Leave some free space on the top and bottom. Press (D) to change to the default colors. Next, press Option + Delete to fill the marquee with your foreground color. Deselect the marquee (Command + D). Don't like the color you just filled the circle with? Pick a different color and press Shift + Option+ Delete and see what happens! The transparency is preserved!

Select the Main Clock Layer and the "Background" Layer by Command-clicking each layer (if a marquee appears, that means you clicked on the layers thumbnail. Oops!) Press (V) for your Selection Tool, then align the circle by pressing the Align Vertical Centers, and the Align Horizontal Centers. This is a precautionary measure to make sure everything lines up later down the road.

Filling Note: If you press Command + Delete, the marquee will fill with the background color. An easy way to remember which one does which is to observe on the left side of your keyboard, the Option button is on the left of the Command button (just like the foreground and background colors).

Step 5

Now we get to add some effects. Double-click on the "Main Clock" layer to open up the Layer Style dialog box. Enter the following adjustments (everything else can remain as the default setting):

  • Drop Shadow: Opacity = 65%, Angle = 90 (make sure Global Light is checked), Distance = 49, and Size = 79.
  • Inner Shadow: Opacity = 65%, Distance = 0, Choke = 12, and Size = 38.
  • Inner Glow: Blend Mode = Color Burn, Color = #a32025, Size = 111
    Bevel: Technique = Chisel Hard, Size = 81, Soften = 14, Highlight Mode Opacity = 45, and Shadow Mode Opacity = 45.

Step 6

Here comes the fun part! Let's create the numbers for the face of the clock. Select your Type Tool (T) and click anywhere to make a text field. Type in the number 00 (a nice round number to help us align everything) and make sure the text is center aligned. The size should be approximately 40pt (to increase or decrease the size of the font use Shift + Command + < or >). Helvetica Neue Font was used, but almost any font will work. Click your check mark box to accept the changes.

Now let's align this text to the background, the same way we did in the previous step. Command-click the text layer and the background layer , then use the align tools to ensure we are directly in the center.

Step 7

Next, Shift-drag the text box to the top of the circle, and let it snap into place. It should be half on, half off of the top edge of the "Main Clock." Aligning it this way will give us a nice visual, letting us know that everything aligned properly.

Once in place, press Command + T for the Free Transform Tool. Your anchor will be in the center of the transform box. Shift-drag it down to the center of the circle. Zoom in (Command + Plus key) if you need to be more precise. Change the angle to 30 degrees and click the check box to accept the changes.

Now press Command + Option + Shift + T eleven more times to repeat the transform and make a new layer via copy. Wow, that's amazing!

Step 8

Adjust the number to read correctly by selecting the layer, then pressing Command + T. Grab the bounding box corner and rotate it into place while holding Shift. Edit the text by double-clicking the text layer and entering the appropriate number.

Note: Using the bounding box to rotate the numbers into place is the quickest way, but you have other options as well. Try rotating it 30 degrees, then click the check box to accept the changes. Now press Command + Shift + T to repeat the transform. Keep doing this until the number is in place. Now you can select a different number layer and use the same keyboard shortcut. Neat!

Once all of the numbers are correct and can be read properly, select all of the numbers by Shift-clicking the entire set of numbers. Press Command + G to group all of the numbers together. Name the group "Numbers."

Step 9

Now we want to make a copy of all of the numbers to one layer. Option-click the eye on the "Numbers" group. This will turn all of the other layers off. Press Command + Option + Shift + E to stamp everything visible to a new layer via copy. Name this layer "Merged Numbers."

Now turn on the other layers by clicking on each layer eye. You can keep the group "Numbers" turned off. The reason we made a copy is to keep an editable copy of the numbers, to apply the effects to only one layer which reduces file size, and to learn a great shortcut!

Step 10

Resize the Merged Numbers layer (Command + T), so it fits inside the clock as shown below. Be sure to hold Option + Shift while dragging to constrain the proportions to the center.

Apply effects to the "Merged Numbers" layer. Use the settings indicated below. Don't be afraid to choose your own settings either. Make it your own!

Here are the settings used:

  • Outer Glow: Opacity = 56, Color = #a32025.
  • Bevel: Style = Pillow Emboss, Size = 24, Soften = 8, Highlight Mode Opacity = 30, and Shadow Mode Opacity = 30.
  • Gradient Overlay = #ffffff, #c8c8c8, #ffffff, #c8c8c8, #ffffff (refer to image below) Click New to add this gradient to the presets field because it will be used in Step 13).

Step 11

Create a new layer and name this "Hour Hand." Use your Custom Shape Tool (U) and choose the pencil shape from the drop down menu at the top. This looks most like a clock dial. Drag out a shape to make it look like a short, thin hour hand. Press Command + T, then hold Shift while rotating the hand so it is straight up and down. Position it towards the center to help you measure the next hand.

We need a longer minute hand now. Duplicate the layer by pressing Command + J. Rename this layer "Minute Hand." Select the Square Marquee Tool (M) and drag a square around the upper part of the hand. Now press Command + T and drag the hand so it is a little longer than the other one. Doing this will keep our pointed area proportional between the two hands.

Step 12

Turn off the visibility of the "Minute Hand." Drag the "Hour Hand" up so the end is within the center guides. Press Command + T, rotate it holding Shift, then move the anchor point to the center guides (zoom in if necessary). Rotate the hand to the location of your choice (sometimes the anchor can't be edited until the object is rotated). Now do the same with the "Minute Hand."

Step 13

Use the settings below to style both hands. The "Minute Hand" will have slightly more distance in the drop shadow, so it appears to be above the "Hour Hand." Here are the settings:

  • Drop Shadow: Opacity = 55, Distance = 11 (14 for the "Minute Hand"), Size = 13.
  • Inner Shadow: Opacity = 42.
  • Bevel: Technique = Chisel Hard, Size = 9, Highlight Mode Opacity = 55, Shadow Mode Opacity = 55.
  • Gradient Overlay: Use the same color of gradient that was saved in Step 10, Angle = 96.

Step 14

Adding some light spots to the clock hands will make our effect even more realistic. Create a new layer and name it "Highlights." Press (D) for your default colors, then (X) to switch to white.

Press (B) and from the brush menu (if you are using CS4 you can use the following shortcuts) select a brush diameter of 150 (Control + Option-click-drag), and a hardness of 0% (Control + Option + Command-click-drag). Set the Opacity to 30% (press 3). For earlier versions of PS, use the Bracket keys to adjust the diameter, and Shift + Bracket keys to adjust hardness.

Paint the white spot anywhere you can see it. Now select a Brush Diameter of 50, with 0% Hardness. Set the Opacity to 60% (press 6). Click once in the center of the previous highlight.

Now select your Circular Marquee Tool (M). Drag a circle around your highlight. Press (V), now click inside the marquee to cut it and reposition it. Find a white part on the "Hour Hand" and try to center your highlight to the upper edge of the hand (it depends on where you put your hands, but remember the light source is coming from the top).

Before you deselect, Option-click and drag a new copy to a highlight on the "Minute Hand," and the upper edges of the numbers 7 and 12. Now you can deselect, and pat yourself on the back for making it this far!

Step 15

Add your company logo if you would like. Just drag it into your document, making sure the logo layer is below both hand layers. Position it, then use Command + T to resize it.

Copy the layer style of the numbers by right-clicking and selecting Copy Layer Style, then right-click on your "logo" layer and select Paste Layer Style. Decrease the bevel effect until it looks more realistic (Bevel: Size = 5, Soften = 0).

Step 16

Hold the hands together by creating a center piece. Create a new layer and name it "Center." Command-click on the "Main Clock" layer thumbnail to create a marquee. Fill it with any color (Command + Delete), Deselect the marquee (Command + D), resize to the center (Command + T). Don't forget to hold Shift + Option to constrain the proportions to the center.

Now copy the "Main Clock" layer style, and paste it onto the "Center" layer. Make a few minor adjustments as shown below. The drop shadow distance should be a little more than the "Minute Hand" layer because it is above both hands:

  • Drop Shadow: Distance = 19 and Size = 13.
  • Inner Glow: Uncheck this effect.

Step 17

Let's create the cover now. Create a new layer and name it "Cover." Command-click on the "Main Clock" layer thumbnail to create a marquee. Press (D) for default colors, then press Command + Delete to fill it with white. Deselect the marquee (Command + D). Lower the layer opacity to 20% (V, then 2).

Resize (Command + T, then hold Shift + Option-drag) the "Cover" layer to fit a little inside the beveled edge of the "Main Clock." See the image below.

Create a Layer Mask by clicking on the button at the bottom of the Layer Panel, select your Gradient Tool (G), make sure Linear is selected, then choose the same gradient from Step 10. Now click on the Layer Mask to select it. Zoom out if necessary, and drag a gradient from the upper left corner of the image, down to the lower right corner. This effect will had some variation to the cover and make it appear to be a more reflective surface.

Step 18

Now we need to continue to build up the glare effects to make the "Cover" look more realistic. For those of you who have watched my Glass Ball Tutorial on YouTube, this step will be a breeze.

Create a new layer and name it "Glare." Command-click on the "Cover" layer thumbnail to create a marquee. Press (D) for default colors, then press Command + Delete to fill it with white. Deselect the marquee (Command + D). Lower the layer Opacity to 40% (V, then 4)

Transform the "Glare" layer by pressing Command + T, then Shift-dragging from the bottom and bring it above the center line. Shift + Option-drag from the right side to squeeze the layer, then Shift-drag from the top to squeeze it down into place. Use the image below for reference. Make sure the glare is covering the number 12, as shown.

Step 19

Create a Layer Mask for the "Glare" layer. Select your Gradient Tool (G) and make sure the Linear Gradient is selected from the gradient field above. Choose default colors (D). Select the Layer Mask, then drag a gradient from the bottom of the circle to the top. Instant Glare! We still have some polish to add though.

Default Colors Note: If you are on a layer, the letter D makes black the foreground, and white the background. But, if a Layer Mask is selected, and D is pressed, then the default colors are reversed. Just press X if you need to swap them.

Step 20

Create a new document by pressing Command + N. Let's make this a square document. The size should be 7 inches by 7 inches at 300dpi.

Double-click on the background layer,then press OK to unlock the layer. Fill the layer with black (try to use those shortcuts you learned in the previous steps). Go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare, then select the 105mm Prime option at 110%, and press OK.

Lets Fade the Filter we just applied. Press Command + Shift + F. Lower the Opacity to 90%.

Fade Filter Note: This shortcut is only accessible directly after a filter is applied. It's great for lowering the Opacity or changing the blending mode of a filter without affecting the pixels it is sitting on top of.

Step 21

Go to Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates. Select Polar to Rectangular, and press OK. Whoa, what happened! Don't worry, it's going to look great I promise!

Now flip it vertically. Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Vertically. Now go back to Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates. This time select Rectangular to Polar, and press OK. Wow, now look at that! Did I keep my promises or what!

Step 22

All you have to do now is cut out the fat. Create some quick center guides like we did earlier. Choose your Circular Marquee Tool (M), then drag a circle from the center out to the edge of the glare. Be sure to hold Shift + Option while dragging.

Now press Command + Shift + I to inverse the selection. Press Command + X to cut out the fat.

Step 23

Shift-drag your creation into your clock document so it is centered.

Resize the reflection by pressing Command + T and Shift + Option dragging it to the same size as the "Cover" layer. Rotate the reflection so the beads of light are at the top, and aligned to the center. Accept the changes by pressing the Check Mark.

Rename this layer to "Flare," and make sure it is above the "Glare" layer. Press (V), then hold Shift and press the Plus or Minus keys to cycle through your layer modes. Soft Light works best in our case.

Step 24

We need to add more pop to the glare at the top. Command-click on the "Glare" layer thumbnail to create a marquee. Select the "Flare" layer, then press Shift + F6 to bring up the Feather Selection dialog box. Type 100 pixels and click OK. This will fade our flare and blend it more.

Now make a new layer via cut by pressing Command + Shift + J. Now set the Blending Mode to Screen (V, then Plus or Minus keys). Rename the layer to "Flare2."

Step 25

We better add one more lens flare for good measure. Create a new layer and name it "Flare3." Command-click on the "Cover" layer to get a marquee. Fill it with black and don't deselect the marquee yet. This will confine our lens flare to the pixels inside the marquee.

Go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare. This time choose 50-300mm Zoom, and position the flare crosshair on the left side so all of the reflections are aligned from left to right. Select 110%. Press OK.

Deselect the selection (Command + D) and press Command + T to rotate it so the brightest part is centered at the top. Accept the changes. Now set the layer mode to Soft Light.

Step 26

A few more lighting effects and we are done. Create a new layer above all of the others and name it "Inner Rim." Command-click the "Main Clock" layer thumbnail to create a marquee. Fill the marquee with white (D, then Command + Delete). Deselect the marquee (Command + D). Press Command + T to reduce the size to meet the inner edge of the "Main Clock" Bevel as shown.

Let's cut out the fat. Command-click on the "Cover" layer (make sure the "Inner Rim" layer is still selected). Press Command + X to cut out the center.

Reduce the layer Opacity to 70% (V, then 7). Create a Layer Mask. We need to fade the effect now. Select your Gradient Tool (G), Default Colors (D), (X) to inverse default colors, and Shift-drag a Linear Gradient from the center of the clock down to the bottom of the clock.

Step 27

Create a new layer and name it "Outer Rim." Command-click on the "Main Clock" layer to create a marquee, and fill with white (D, then Command + Delete). Deselect the marquee (Command + D).

Now select the "Inner Rim" layer and Command-click on the layer thumbnail. Press (W) for your Wand Tool, and Shift-click the center of the marquee. This will get rid of the middle part that we don't need. Now click back on the "Outer Rim" layer and cut out the fat (Command + X). Set the layer Opacity to 80% (V, then 8).

Select your Gradient Tool (G), and choose Radial Gradient. If the layer mask is selected, press (D) for your default colors. Shift-drag up from the top of the "Outer Rim." You will have to drag about 3-4 inches above the clock. Zoom out if necessary. This will give us a nice hot spot on the top of the clock, which is closer to the light source.

Step 28

Create a new layer and name it "Shadows." Fill it with black. Set the layer mode to Soft Light (V, then Shift and use the Plus or Minus keys). Now create a Layer Mask, choose your default colors (D), select your Gradient Tool (G), then Shift-drag a Linear Gradient from the bottom of the image to the center of the clock. This will add a little more depth to our image by fading the light.


Wow, you did it! Great Job! Hopefully this tutorial has helped you and will make you a quicker, more efficient Photoshop designer.

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