Adobe Photoshop Tutorial - How to Make a Coin
Tutorial Overview - How to Make Money in Photoshop ;-)
This tutorial is one of the most in depth how to's on the site so far. It presents us with a great way to create our own coin in Adobe Photoshop, no, you won't be able to spend it, sorry folks. The first part of the tutorial covers the creation of the basic shapes step by step including an awesome way to get a metallic texture on the surface. We then delve into the more advanced aspects of utilizing the often underused Photoshop displacement filter. This nifty feature is great for imprinting an image on a surface and can even be used to create your own statue! Finally we put it all together and complete the exercise. If you want to it's pretty easy to modify this tutorial into other coins by changing colors and/or typing arrangements. Well, that's enough about the tutorial. Now on with the show!
Step 1 - Create and Texture a Circle
First, in Adobe Photoshop create a new document 500 by 500 pixels in dimension with a white background, feel free to use a larger size if you plan on printing your artwork, but for now 500 pixels is all we need for this tutorial. Create a new layer. Now select a shade of gray, I went with 194, 194, 194 rgb values for this one. Go to the shapes tool and select an ellipse and drag a circle from one corner of the image to the other, you may want to turn on the grid if you want to get a perfect circle. You should now have a gray circle in the middle of the screen. Now its time to add some texture. On your circle layer select filter -> noise -> add noise with the following settings: amount - 3.96%, gaussian - selected and monochromatic - checked. Duplicate the circle layer so now we have 2, this is important for the wind effect we are about to add (we need the background circle or else the wind will create transparent pixels on the right. Select the top circle layer and click on the icon in the layers palette for "lock transparent pixels" (this keeps the pixels from going outside the circle with our next effect). Now with the top circle selected, choose filter -> stylize -> wind. The wind setting to use are "blast" - checked and "from the right" - checked. Now merge the 2 circle layers together and you have the image to the right.
Step 2 - Create the Ridges
The next part is a little tricky but still easy to pull off. Using the magic wand tool with tolerance set to 1, select the white background area, now choose select -> modify -> expand and enter a value of 10 pixels. This effectively selects the outer 10 pixels of our circle. We want to bevel just the outer ridge so go to edit -> cut, create a new layer and choose edit -> paste. We now have our outer ridge in a workable layer. Now add a bevel and emboss layer style, the default settings work for this example. We now have the basic beginnings of our quarter!
Step 3 - Preparing your Embossed Image in Photoshop
First a word about displacement maps. Displacement maps are the thing you use to, you guessed it, displace texture! They aren't used very often in day to day Photoshop work but they really fit well in this tutorial. The way a displacement map works is simple, lighter shades of gray are peaks and darker shades are valleys, remember that as we continue. Here comes the fun part. Open your favorite self portrait or any image you want to use for that matter and crop out everything that you don't want in the quarter, then size it down to roughly twice the size of your final quarter, in this case 1000 pixels (we want to work with a larger image so that any mistakes don't show up in the final image). Double click the background layer of your portrait to turn it into a layer, now create a layer underneath your portrait and fill it with neutral gray (128, 128, 128 rgb). Now add a layer mask to your portrait layer and paint out anything that you don't want on the quarter. Finally add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to the masked portrait image and move the saturation slider to 0. Depending on the image you may want to add a curves adjustment layer to brighten or darken the photo so it stands out against the neutral gray. Your image should now look like the one on the right. Save it as portrait.psd.
Step 4 - More Photoshop Work With the Displacement Map
If you've made it this far, congratulations, we're almost there! Size down you're gray portrait to 500 pixels, choose select -> all and edit -> copy merged. Take the merged copy and paste it into a new layer in you're quarter image. Now drag the layer opacity down to about 50%. Select edit -> transform -> scale. What you want to do is scale the image down to fit inside the quarter. Make note of the scale percentage as you will need it later. Once you have it positioned take the paint bucket and fill the remaining white space with the neutral gray we used earlier. Next take a medium to large soft brush with a low flow setting using the neutral gray and paint out the areas around the edges of the quarter being careful to leave a smooth gradient from the image you want to keep to the edges of the quarter. Be sure to leave enough room for text.
Step 5 - Finalizing the Coin
It's time to take the displacement template we just made out of the quarter image and into a new file. Choose select -> all, edit -> copy and finally paste the layer into its own image. Save this file as map.psd or whatever you prefer. Go ahead and duplicate the inner circle, you may want to have a clean layer for more images later. Now delete the template layer from the quarter image to get it out of the way. Select the layer that contains the top inner circle for your quarter and choose filter -> distort -> displace. Use the following settings: horizontal/vertical scale - 10, "stretch to fit" and "repeat edge pixels". The next screen lets you select the displacement map file, load in map.psd. Now you have a nice displacement effect in the texture for your image. The next part is a little repetitive but bear with me, we're almost done. Open portrait.psd (the file you saved earlier), hide the gray background, copy (edit -> copy merged) and paste it into the quarter image as a new layer. Scale it down to the percentage that you wrote down earlier (see the bold text above). Now turn the opacity of the layer way down to about 25% and position it directly over the displaced area so it lines up nicely. Create a layer mask and fill it in using black in generally the same area you did when we created the displacement mask in order to blend it in. Now on the same layer, choose filter -> stylize -> emboss with the following settings: angle - 135, height - 6 pixels and amount - 50%. Now select the photo layer and change the blending mode to "hard light". You will now have the image on your right.
Step 6 - Finishing Touches (Adding Text and Effects)
We are almost done. No really, I mean it this time. Save your current work and then save it again as a new file (this way you have a good backup for future coins). Select your outer circle layer and merge it down (Ctrl-E) to the inner circle layer. Now select a the font tool and pick a font (ariel-black is a good choice), color doesn't matter much as you'll see later, set the point size to 24 for this example. Start entering text at the top where you would normally see "United States of America". When you've got the text entered go ahead and position it at about center top of the quarter. Select the warped text icon, choose horizontal arc and adjust the bend until it looks right. Select the fill slider for the text layer in the layers palette and slide it to 0, now add a bevel and emboss layer style with the following settings: all default except size which we set to 3 pixels. Repeat the process for the bottom text. You can also add some non arced text at the side if you wish. Finally select the merged inner/outer circles and add a drop shadow.
I hope you've enjoyed this Adobe Photoshop tutorial on how to create you're own unique coin. Don't forget to browse the other tutorial selections on the site. New tutorials are being added all the time so check back often.
Article by Emmett Lollis Jr. February 11th 2005
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