Design a creative modern menu – Photoshop tutorial

In today’s tutorial we’re going to teach you how to make a modern, sleek and creative navigation menu.
There’s a lot of things going on in here. You will learn how to add depth into text and other small shapes, create a 3D shape the easy way and apply gradients to get a realistic lightning.
The techniques learned throughout this tutorial can be applied in many more ways and are definitely worth learning.

So let’s get started right away.

Result Preview:

Design a creative modern menu - Photoshop tutorial


Create a new file of 1000px wide and 400px wide

Open new document


Select the ellipse tool

Select ellipse tool

And draw a flat ellipse like so:

Flat ellipse

If you’re unsure about what size you’re going with, try making it about 22.5 wide and 3.7 high. You can see this by opening the Info menu located under Window>Info or by pressing F8

Image info


Double click this layer with the shape in order to get the Layer Style window.

Add a Drop Shadow:
Blend mode: Normal
Color: White
Opacity 75%
Angle 90° – Deselect “Use Global Light”
Distance: 0px
Spread: 0px
Size: 5px

apply drop shadow

Add an Inner Shadow:
Blend mode: multiply
Color: black
Opacity: 100%
Angle: 90° – Deselect “Use Global Light”
Distance: 0px
Spread: 0px
Size 61px

apply inner Shadow

And finally add an Inner glow:
Blend mode: normal
Opacity: 75%
Noise: 0%
Color: White
Choke: 9%
Size: 90px

apply Inner glow


To prevent ourselves from any clutter, we’re going to rename the layer we just edited. Double click on the name and rename it to “Top”.


Make sure the layer is selected and press ctrl+J (Windows) or cmd+J if you’re on a Mac.

This will duplicate the layer, now make sure the new layer is selected and press V to access the resize tool.
Hold Alt+Shift and drag one of the corners until you get something like this:

Re size shape

You might want to make the height a little bit smaller by holding Alt and dragging the upper or lower nod up or down, just a few pixels.


Rename this new layer to “Dark Center”


Double click the Dark Center layer and add the following styles:

Drop Shadow:
Blend mode: Normal
Color: white
Opacity: 75%
Angle: 90° – Deselect “Use Global Light”
Distance: 1px
Spread: 0%
Size: 2px

Inner Shadow:
Blend Mode: Multiply
Color: Black
Opacity: 75%
Angle: 90% – deselect “Use Global Light”
Distance: 1px
Choke: 0%
Size: 2px

Gradient Overlay:
Select “Reverse”
Style: Reflected
Angle 96°
Color: from #3d3d3d to #5b5b5a

Gradient overlay


Now we’re going to create the bottom part of the navigation, you could do it with the pen tool, that’s the hard way. But let’s just duplicate the Top layer so often that it becomes the same shape.

So select the Top layer, hold Alt and press the down arrow about 25 to 30 times. (I prefer 26)

Select all these layers that you just produced by clicking the one at the top, scrolling down in the layer menu and hold down shift and then click the first copied one (NOT the original). Then press ctrl+E to merge all those newly created layers.

Now you should have 2 layers, drag the “Top” layer above the copied one.


Now for our own ease, we need to remove the part we don’t see.

To make things less confusing, name the new layer to “Nav Bar”.

Then click Ctrl+click (cmd+click on Mac) the grey image of the “Top” shape layer.

It looks like this:

Nav bar

The ellipse will be selected, now go to the “Nav Bar” layer and hit Delete or Backspace to erase that area on just this layer. You can double check if it worked by hidding the “Top” layer (just click the little eye icon next to it).


On the “Nav Bar” layer we’re going to add a layer style.

Gradient Overlay:
Color: From #414141 (at Location 0%) to
#737474 (at Location 15%) to
#adadad (at Location 50%) to
#737474 (at Location 85%) to
#414141 (at Location 0%) to

Gradient Overlay for shape


Now duplicate the “Top” layer once again, but just 1 time by pressing Ctrl(or cmd for Mac)+J.
Move this layer all the way down, just above your background layer.
Move it down by pressing V for the right tool and then holding Shift and pressing the down arrow 8 to 9 times (I prefer 8).


Remove all the Layer Styles of the copied layer and only add a Color Overlay that’s totally black.

color for shadow

Rename the layer to “Shadow”.


Make sure your Shadow layer is still selected and go to the Filter menu>Blur>Motion Blur.

apply motion blur

A window will pop up asking you if you want to rasterize the layer, press OK.

A new window with the settings will come up, change the Distance to 123 pixels.

blur size

You should have something close to this now:

motion blur result

As you might have noticed, the shadow is till a bit hard, especially at the bottom.
We start making it better by turning the Opacity of the Shadow layer to 75%


Pick the Blur Tool

pick blur tool

and use the following Brush Settings (right click):

blur settings

Make sure the “Shadow” layer is still selected and wipe over the bottom area about 5 times up to 10. The edge should look slightly softer now.


Create a new layer above all the other ones and select the Text Tool (T)
Type in the name you want and place it in the center of the black ellipse.
Avoid lowercase typing, because letters like g p and so on will break the effect.


We’re going to add a few layer styles to the text.

Gradient Overlay:
Angle: 90°
Color: From #afb0ad to #e2e4dd

gradient for text

Size: 1px
Opacity: 82%
Color: White

It should look something like this:

gradient text result


Select the text layer, duplicate it by pressing Ctrl+J (or cmd+J) and drag the new layer below the original one.
Remove all the effects and make sure the text is black.


Move the text down 1 time with Shift+Down Arrow.
Add Filters>Blur>Gaussian Blur with 4pixels radius.

shadow for text

Make the layer’s opacity 75% for a smoother look.


Select the “Top” layer and press V so you see the nobs.
Also make sure your Rulers are visible (View>Rulers or Ctrl+R/cmd+R)
Now drag a Guide from the left ruler right on the middle of the ellipse, you can base yourself on the nobs. In CS4 it might even snap to the right place even if the nobs aren’t 100% below it.

shadow for text result


Duplicate the “Navigation Bar” layer.
Pick the Rectangular Selection tool and drag a random sized rectangle that hits the Guide. Make sure the bottom and top part are selected. Something like this:

rectangle selection

Now go to the Select menu>Modify Selection.

Nobs will show up and you can now position the rectangle to the center. Now hold Alt and drag at the left or right nob to get a selection about twice as big as we just started with.

drag rectangle selection

Hit Enter and make sure the “Selection” layer is selected. Now press Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection and press Delete or Backspace to remove it.

It will look weird and confusing for a second, but just go on and let’s restyle the layer:

Gradient Overlay:
From #87c540 to #c9da2b

gradient for rectangle selection

Apply Stroke
Stroke: 1px
Opacity: 16%
Color: Black

gradient for rectangle selection


Create a new layer above the “Selection” layer.
Pick the Rectangle Tool (U)

pick rectangle tool

And draw a tiny rectangle like this:

small black rectangle

Press V and turn the square 90° by holding Shift and draging from right next to a corner nob.
Also place it right in the middle of the guide and move it to the top of the “Selection” layer so you only see the bottom triangle of the square, like this:

square to triangle


Now let’s add some Layers Styles again:
Drop Shadow:
Blend mode: Multiply
Color: Black
Opacity: 55%
Angle: 90° – deselect “Use Global Light”
Distance: 0px
Spread: 0%
Size: 5px

Gradient Overlay:
From #2f2f2f to #868686

gradient for triangle


Create a new layer on top of the rectangle one and pick the Text tool.
Search a bit what font size you need, many fonts require a different size to fit the “Selection” box.

To this text we’ll add some effects once again.

Drop Shadow:
Blend mode: Normal
Color: White
Opacity: 75%
Angle: 90° – deselect “Use Global Light”
Distance: 1px
Spread 0%
Size: 1px

Color Overlay:
Color: Black

Now the finishing touches. We’re going to add some arrows at each side.
The good thing is that Photoshop has this shape in it’s database!


Create a new layer at the top and preferably call it “Arrow”.
Pick the Custom Shape Tool (U)

select custom shape

At the top navigation menu of Photoshop you can choose the shape, we use “Arrow 2”.

select arrow

It might happen you don’t have all these shapes, just click the small play button at the right and pick “All”


Now draw such arrow at the right side of the “Selection” box.

draw arrow

We’re going to add some effects for the last time now:

Drop Shadow:
Blend Mode: Normal
Color: White
Angle: 90° – deselect “Use Global Light”
Distance: 1px
Spread: 0px
Size: 1px

drop shadow for arrow

Gradient Overlay:
Select Reverse
Color: From #3c3c3c to #2a2a2a

gradient for arrow

With the layer selected press ctrl(or cmd)+J to duplicate.
Press V and then Shift+Right Arrow 3 times.
With the arrow selected go to Edit>Transform>Scale

Select scale

Then at the top navigation of Photoshop you can redefine the width and height. Change both from 100% to 80% and hit Enter.

Settings for scale

Select both the arrow in the layer menu by holding Ctrl or cmd.

Now we need to duplicate them, because it are 2 layers we can’t press ctrl+J.
So just drag the 2 down to the New Layer button.

With these 2 duplicated layers still selected go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal.
Press V and move them to the left with the Shift key and the arrow keys. It wont fit perfectly, so release the Shift key some times.

That’s it!


Finished result