How to create a Futuristic Flying Orb in Photoshop

Minimalism is closely related to futurism. Typical charesteristics are the color white, smooth surfaces, complex technology that looks sleek, LED lights and so on.

For those who played games such as Portal, or know the music video of Björk – All is full of love, wil know what I’m talking about.

result

It is important to keep the following in mind when following this tutorial. You need to try to understand what is happening and why techniques are used. That way you’ll be able to implement these in your own style of working in Photoshop and thus grow.

Step1

Create a 800×600 px document on 72dpi.

1_settings

Fill the background with a black color, this will be temporary so we can easily see what we’re doing.
Also place 2 guides in the center by going to View > New Guide and entering 50%, do this again for the other Orientation.

Step2

Set the primary color to White and pick the Ellipse Tool (U) and at the options bar on the top you can set the size to 235×235 px. Now simply place the circle by clicking somewhere in the document and adjust the position so it’s perfectly in the middle, use the guides for this. Also name the layer “base”

Now duplicate this circle (Ctrl/CMD+J) and move it to the right by holding Shift and pressing the right arrow twice. Name the layer “right half”.
Ctrl/CMD+click on the thumbnail of the “base” layer and press Ctrl/CMD+Shift+I to invert the selection. Make sure you’re working on the “right half” layer and pick the Eraser tool, then click somewhere in the document and a popup message appears, just press OK. Now press backspace to delete the remainings we won’t need anymore.

The result will look like the base circle, but you can move the shapes around to see what happened (don’t forget to place them back).

Step3

Duplicate the “right half” layer and move it 3px to the left (press left arrow 3 times).
Ctrl/CMD+click on the thumbnail of “right half” and make sure you’re on the newest layer, then erase the content with the Eraser tool (or backspace).
Call the layer “light wheel”. Also you might want to double click the layer and apply a color overlay to see what the content of the layer is, do the same for the “right half” layer.

Step4

Duplicate the “right half” layer and press Ctrl/CMD+T. At the options bar at the top you can now set a new height (H), set it to 102% and hit Enter. Then move it by holding Shift and pressing the right arrow twice.
Ctrl/CMD+Click on the thumbnail of the “base” layer, press Ctrl/CMD+I to invert the selection and delete the remainings on the newest layer.

Duplicate the “Right half” layer and then Ctrl/CMD+click the thumbnail of the “Right half copy” Layer. Make sure you’re on the “Right half copy 2″ layer and delete the content in the selection. Set it to some color to see the difference with the other parts. Call the layer “wheel”.

Step5

Pick the Ellipse Tool and set the size to 117×136 px and place it anywhere in the document. Now press Ctrl/CMD+A to select all the content and pick the Transform Tool (V), then you can center the content to the canvas with the button like this:

Now Ctrl+CMD+D to deselect and move the circle so it is alligned with the orb itself like so:

Now just move it to the left by holding Shift and pressing the Left Arrow once. Name the layer “hole” and make sure it’s on top of the others.

Duplicate the “hole” layer and move it 9 times to the left while holding Shift. Press Ctrl/CMD+T and increase the height with 110%.
Now duplicate the original “hole” layer again and Ctrl/CMD+click the thumbnail of the “hole copy” layer (the one that has been moved to the left), invert the selection with Ctrl/CMD+Shift+I and erase the remainings on “hole copy 2″.
You can now make the “hole copy” layer invisible and give the “hole copy 2″ a new name: “temp”. Also give it another color to see what’s going on.
We’re not going to keep this layer shown, it’s just a reference layer to erase parts on other layers.

Step6

Ctrl/CMD+click the thumbnail of the “temp” layer and now simple erase that selected area on every other layer. After that you can turn the “temp” layer to invisible.
Now double click the “base” layer to get the Layer Styles window and apply a Gradient Overlay going from #d3d3d3 to #e8e8e8 (90° angle)
Right click the layer and choose Copy Layer Style, then paste the layer style on the “right half copy” layer. You can turn the “right half” layer to invisible, since it’s hidden below.

Create a new layer on top of the others but right below the “hole” layer and pick the Brush Tool, make sure it’s a default round one and set the size to 100px and the hardness to 0%. Set the color to White and click to add soft touches on the orb like so:

On a new layer, draw a black line like this:

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set it to 30 px, do the same for the white layer. Now Ctrl/CMD+Click the thumbnails of the other layers while holding Shift and press Ctrl/CMD+Shift+I to invert the selection, erase all the remainings on the black and white layer. You can call them “shade” and “highlight”.
Set the opacity of the “highlight” layer to about 65% and the “shade” layer to 55%.

Step7

Double click the “hole” layer and apply the following layer styles to it:



The gradient goes from #00000 to #45494d.
Create a new layer on top of the “hole” layer and call it “hole shadow”

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 10 px on it and Ctrl/CMD+Click the thumbnail of the “hole” layer. Ctrl/CMD+Shift+I to invert the selection and delete the remainings.

Step8

Ctrl/CMD+Shift+Click the thumbnails of “temp” and “hole”. Create a new layer on top of all the others and fill it with any color.
Select the Transform tool and move the anchor point to the right center like so:

While holding Shift+Alt enlarge the shape about 5 pixels, confirm that by hitting Enter and then press the Right Arrow twice to get it in position.
Apply a Color Overlay of #6ed9e2, also add an Outer Glow with the same color and these settings:

Now Ctrl/CMD+Click the “temp” and “hole” layer their thumbnails again and remove that selection from our latest blue layer. Also call the layer “hole light”

Step9

Apply a Gradient Overlay on the “wheel” layer going from #00000 to #45494d.
Duplicate the “wheel light” layer and move it 12px to the right. Add a white Color Overlay and then apply a Gaussian Blur of 2px and change the opacity to 25%. Call the layer “wheel highlight”.
Copy the Layer Style of the “hole light” and paste it on “wheel light”, then move the layer above the “shade” & “highlight” layers. You’ll see the glow isn’t strong enough, so turn the Outer Glow its opacity to 35%, reduce the size to 9px.

Add an Inner Glow on the “wheel” layer in the same blue color and these settings


Step10

Create a new layer on top of the others, call it “little hole”. Pick the Ellipse Tool and set the size to 17×20 px and place one circle in the document like so:

Duplicate the layer and reduce the size with 90%, place it to the right top of the previous one and duplicate it again to place it on the bottom of the circle. Create a pattern with these same steps to get something like this (you can be creative with this):

Now apply these layer styles on all of those holes (Shift select them all and paste the layer style of the first one):




Step11

Duplicate the first dot we made in the previous step, move it to the left closer to the wheel. Then apply these Layer Styles:



The gradient goes from #71dae2 to #97e4ea.

Call the layer “led” and duplicate it. Move it to the left so it’s on the edge of the orb and size it down a little proportionally (holding Shift+Alt) and also squeeze it a bit so it becomes thinner. Finally move it 2px down.

The orb itself is now finished! Time to finetune some things.

Step12

First of all change the background color from black to #d7d7d7.
Pick the Rectangular Marquee Tool and select the part starting from the bottom of the “hole” layer to the top of the document:

Create a new layer on top of the background layer and fill the selection with #e4e4e4. Deselect with Ctrl/CMD+D and apply a Gaussian Blur of 15%

Now we’re going to draw some black ellipses, make sure you set the sizing options to “unconstrained” and then place them like this, each on a new layer:

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 20px on each and set the opacity to somewhere around 50%.
Rotate the big ellipse a little counter-clockwise to get the perspective working.

Step13

Duplicate the big shadow ellipse and set the color to the same blue we used before, then reduce the opacity to 25%.

Create a new layer and draw a shape like this with the brush tool (same blue again):

Erase the center of it and apply a Gaussian Blur of 50px, also set the opacity to 50%
Finally pick the Brush Tool once again and add a blue highlight on the bottom of the orb. Do that by drawing a line just below the actual orb and then apply a Gaussian Blur of 5px. Make sure the layer is on top of the others and then Ctrl/CMD+Shift+Click all the other layers and invert the selection (Ctrl/CMD+Shift+I) and erase the remainings.

Step14

It’s now finished, but we can always tweak colors, contrasts and so on like we would do with real life pictures. Place all your layers in a Layer Group and duplicate that group, then merge it. On this one you can play with contrasts and hues to make it look stronger.