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Cyber animal

distorting images

by JuliannaKunstler.com

Cyber animal. Advanced Photoshop tutorial for Computer Graphics course.

Part animal, part mechanical.

It's up to you now to see what you can come up with.

Here is what you do:

  • You are to take any animal (no humans) and give it some machine-like parts.
  • The background of the image can be original or your own.
  • More details and parts you have - more interesting it will look.


cyber owl
cyber cat
cyber wolf
cyber bird

helpful tips:

carbon textures skin

Start with creating a displacement map.

Think of it like taking a piece of cloth and wrapping it around and object.

The cloth being the texture/pattern (carbon fiber) and the object being the map (the animal). We are going to take a carbon fiber pattern and wrap it around the body.

You need to experiment with your settings in this section

parrotcarbon texture
image size

Find a picture of an animal. Make sure it's a good quality!!!.

Image > Image size ..... write down the exact dimensions.

copy layer

Duplicate the background layer (just in case).


Select (mask out) the animal body or a body part. Be sure to subtract the eyes and nose from the selection…

Copy the selection.

Save the selection:save selection

Select > save Selection

new document

Create a New document with exactly the same dimensions and resolution.

paste selection

Paste the selection into the new file.


Desaturate the animal (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate)

Save as: desaturated.psd

displacement map

We now have the start of our displacement map.

Now imagine animal is a marble statue.

It will have no spots, feathers, or fur, just the contour with light and dark shades.

This is what we need. So in order to do this we need to get rid of the texture.

adjust levels

Increase the contrast to a maximum

Image > Adjustments > Levels

File > Save

load selection

Load the selection from your main file:

Select > Load Selection

Document - choose your main file

Channel - choose the selection that you have previously saved

smudge tool

Use Smudge tool at 75% strength blend your lights and darks.….

smudge selectionsmudge selection

Try imagining where light and shadows will fall.

Your selection now looks like a smeared painting...

burn selection

Use Burn tool to emphasize the shadows if the selection is not contrasted enough.

gaussian blur

COOL! But it needs to be smooth.

Go to your Gaussian blur and set it high till the image looks smooth (mine was almost 17 pixels).

And there you have it.

We now have our Displacement map…

Save as: displacement map.psd

photoshop files

You should have 3 files in your folder (including the main one).

carbon fiber texture

carbon fiber texture

We are to create the carbon fiber texture using the displacement map.

To create a new texture - start with a new document

carbon fiber texture

Step 1.

Using Rectangular Marquee tool:

Select the first 2 pixels (selection lines will snap to the pixel grid).

carbon fiber texture

Step 2.

Fill it in with the color: B7B7B7

carbon fiber texture

carbon fiber textureMove the selection as shown and fill it in with the same color.

carbon fiber texture

The next 2 sets of pixels are filled in with color: 131313

carbon fiber texture
carbon fiber texture

Continue filling in the pixel sets.

There are two of each color.

carbon fiber texture

Now that is done we can define the pattern.

Go to Edit > Define pattern.

Name as you wish then hit OK.

You can save it and close now.

carbon fiber texture

Step 3.

Back to your main file.

carbon fiber texture

Create a new layer.

carbon fiber texture

Now using the “paint bucket tool” set on pattern - choose the carbon fiber pattern/texture.

carbon fiber texture

Fill the whole picture to create a carbon fiber “wall”.

carbon fiber texture

Now click Filter/Distort/Displace.

I used the default settings here, but experiment with them so you can see what they do. It will ask you to choose a displacement map.

This will be the displacement map.psd file we created earlier.

Your carbon fiber texture should have distorted slightly and reveal your animal part contours (its very subtle).

carbon fiber texture

Load the selection onto the carbon texture layer.

Select > Load selection

carbon fiber texture

Reposition it if needed to match the displaced image.

(use any selection tool)

carbon fiber texture

To remove the pattern outside the selection:

Select > Inverse

Edit > Clear (or Delete key).



carbon fiber texture

Align the carbon shape with the animal.

carbon fiber texture

Open Displacement-Map file and drag it onto the main file.

carbon fiber texture

Position it over the animal and align.

carbon fiber texture

Change the blending mode to add dimension to the texture.

I used Multiply mode.

shut lines, pins & screws

shut lines, pins, and screws

All robots have to be taken apart, right? If they are to be repaired and all. The lines in-between the different panels are called shut lines.

To create them we need to use the path tool.

Work path will appear in Paths palette. You can save it by double-clicking and renaming it.

shut lines, pins, and screws
shut lines, pins, and screws

Before applying stroke to the path - set the Brush tool options.

You can use my settings to adjust them to your image.

Hardness 100%

Size - depends on your image size.

shut lines, pins, and screws

Create a new layer for the wires.

shut lines, pins, and screws

Choose a color.

Then apply stroke to the path.

shut lines, pins, and screws

You can deselect the path now.

To apply 3-D effect - use Layer Style.

Layer > Layer Style > Bevel & Emboss

Choose Pillow Emboss and experiment with settings.

shut lines, pins, and screws
shut lines, pins, and screws

Move an image that you want to use for the pins.

Save a copy of it as a backup.

Resize the image to fit your plan.

shut lines, pins, and screws

Apply Pillow Emboss Layer style to the pin.

shut lines, pins, and screws

If the initial image of the pin does not fit your color scheme - you can adjust the color or color saturation:

Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation

shut lines, pins, and screws

This is what my Layers palette looks like now.

shut lines, pins, and screws

Duplicate the pin by choosing Move tool.

Hold Alt (Option) key and drag.

Continue duplicating the pins.

Each pin will be on its own layer. Layer style will be also duplicated.

shut lines, pins, and screws

Continue further.

You can distort certain pins as the surface curves.

You can also change layer opacity or values (levels) in the areas that are in a shade.

shut lines, pins, and screws
shut lines, pins, and screws

Merge all pin layers together:

Shift-select the layers in the palette, right-click, Merge Layers.

Continue adding parts

Add Drop shadow Layer style to the parts when needed.

cyber body parts

modifying selections

When you quick-select a part - the selection edge will most likely need some modifying.

You can reduce or expand the selection edge to get rid of background leftovers:

Select > Modify > Expand or Contract

cyber body parts

You will see how the selection edge moved.

cyber body parts

You can also smooth the selection edge to get rid of pixelated edge:

Select > Modify > Smooth

cyber body parts
cyber body parts

Do not forget that you can use Warp or Distort commands to reshape the selection:

Edit > Transform > Warp

cyber body parts

A good idea is to use Groups (folders) in your Layers palette.

cyber body parts
cyber body parts


cyber body partsThere are few ways to add wires to the project.

Option 1 - for smooth curves - use paths with Pen tool, then apply a stroke.

Option 2 - use Brush tool with hard edges to draw the lines freehand.

Now - the fun part:

Apply Layer styles:

Bevel & Emboss (Inner Bevel)

Drop Shadow ( change Distance setting to move the shadow away from the wire)

cyber body parts

You can draw multiple wires on the same layer - they all will have the same 3-D effect.

cyber body parts

Continue to have fun!

cyber animal example
cyber animal examplecyber animal examplecyber animal example