Simulating a Computer Screen in Adobe Photoshop

Learn to create your own custom RGB pattern and reusable Smart Object template to simulate a computer screen effect in Adobe Photoshop.

Step 1
Open Photoshop and go to File > New. In the new window, set the name to “Pattern,” the Width to 3px, the Height to 3px, the resolution to 72 pixels/inch and be sure to have the color mode set to RGB. Click OK.

Step 1

Step 2
Press “D” on your keyboard in order to reset the Foreground and Background colors. Zoom in the image as much you can (3200% is the maximum). Select the Rectangle Tool (U) and draw a 1x1px square in the top left corner.

Step 2

Step 3
Double click in the layer’s thumbnail (this will open the Color Picker window) set the color to #8484FE and click OK.

Step 3

We will need to repeat this process eight more times in order to have the canvas filled with squares to achieve a nice RGB monitor texture. Draw eight more squares and following the steps 2 and 3 set each square color as follows:

Step 3a

Step 4
Once you have made all the nine squares, go to Layer > Flatten Image.

Step 4

Step 5
We will now convert this image to the pattern we will use in our screen. To do so, go to Select > All (this will select the entire content in our canvas). Now go to Edit > Define Pattern. Set the pattern name to “RGB texture” and click OK. Now we have our pattern available to be used in Photoshop, so we can now work on our main image.

Step 5b

Step 6
Close the Pattern window and go to File > New. Set the name of the document to “Screen;” a Width of 1200 px, a Height of 900 px, the Resolution to 72dpi, the Color Mode to RGB and click OK.

Step 6

Step 7
Select the Rectangle Tool (U) and draw a rectangle of the same width and height of the canvas.

Step 7

Go to Layer > Layer Style > Pattern Overlay. In the Layer Style window, click over the pattern thumbnail, and from the dropdown thumbnails list select the “RGB texture.” Click OK.

Step 7b

Go to Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object. We convert this layer to a Smart Object so we can transform it later preserving the texture we just applied. Now go to Layer > Layer Style > Inner Shadow and apply the following settings:

Step 7c

Still in the Layer Style window, click over the Blending Options and set the Fill Opacity to 40%. Click OK.

Step 7d

To work more comfortable, let’s rename the layer. Go to Layer > Rename Layer and set the name to “RGB texture.”

Step 7e

Step 8
Now, we will create our main Smart Object which will contain our screen capture. Click over the Background layer and select the Rectangle Tool (U) (we do this in order to create the new layer under our “RGB Texture” layer). Draw a rectangle of the same width and height of the canvas.

Step 8

Go to Layer > Rename Layer and set the name to “Blue.”

Step 8b

Before transforming our main Smart Object, let’s create eight guides to help us with the distortion. Go to View > New Guide and set the first guide to Horizontal and -60px as showed. Click OK.

Step 8c

Repeat this process seven more times and set the guides to:
Horizontal: -13px
Horizontal: 872px
Horizontal: 1210px
Vertical: -184px
Vertical: 0px
Vertical: 1206px
Vertical: 1360px

Step 8d

Go to Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object. Go to Edit > Transform > Distort and do a distortion by clicking on each corner of the selection and dragging them to the guides intersections we just created to make the same distortion showed. Once you finish, hit the Enter (Return) key on your keyboard.

Step 8e

Note: You will notice that apparently nothing changed, but our Smart Object is already distorted.

In order for you to see better the effects we will apply from now on, let’s put our screen capture in the Smart Object. Double click over the “Blue” layer thumbnail; this will open a new canvas, which is where we will place our screen capture, but before placing it, we need to create 4 guides in this document to help us know the safe limits of the image showed, because our object is already distorted. So, go to View > New Guide and set four guides to:
Horizontal: 35px
Horizontal: 842px
Vertical: 110px
Vertical: 1176px

Step 8f

Open your screen capture. Go to Select > All. Go to Edit > Copy and close the screen capture document. Go back to the recently opened Smart Object canvas and go to Edit > Paste.

Step 8g

As you can see the screen capture has been placed in the Smart Object Canvas. Notice the guides; the rectangle they form is the “safe area” of your screen capture; this will help you later (if you decide to change the capture) to place the image and set the exact portion of the capture you want to see in the final document. Go to File > Save and close your Smart Object Canvas. As you can see, your “Screen” document has been updated with the screen capture we just placed.

Step 8h

In the Layers panel, click on the arrow next to the blending modes, and from the dropdown list select  “Exclusion.”

Step 8i

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 1.5 pixels. Click OK.

Step 8j

Step 9
As we will need three more copies of our smart object, let’s duplicate the one we already have. With the “Blue” layer still selected go to Layer > Duplicate Layer. In the new window set the name to “Green” and click OK.

Step 9

Again, go to Layer > Duplicate Layer and in the new window set the name to “Red” and click OK.

Step 9b

Last time. Go to Layer > Duplicate Layer and in the new window set the name to “Master” and click OK.

Step 9c

Step 10
Be sure to have the “Master” layer selected and go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Set the Blend Mode to Overlay and bring down the Fill Opacity to 40%. Check the Inner Shadow effect, apply the following settings and click OK.

Step 10

In the layers panel, Right-click (Control-click) over the smart filter icon next to the layer’s name and select Clear Smart Filters.

Step 10b

Step 11
In order to see better the effects we will apply, turn off the Background layer by clicking on the eye icon next to the layer’s name.

Step 11

Step 12
Now, we will work with each layer levels to achieve the RGB effect. Select the “Blue” layer by clicking on the layer’s name in the layers panel. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels. Set the name to “Blue Levels” and be sure to check the “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask” option. Click OK. Note: the Levels Properties window will appear.

Step 12

In the Levels Properties window, click on the arrow icon next to the RGB channel name and from the dropdown list select the Red channel.

Step 12b

In the Output Levels, set the highlight level (the one at the right) to 0.

Step 12c

Now, select from the dropdown list the Green channel. Again, set the highlight level (the one at the right) to 0.

Step 12d

Click over the Green layer’s name to select it, and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels. Set the name to “Green Levels” and be sure to check the “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask” option. Click OK.

Step 13

In the Levels Properties window, click on the arrow icon next to the RGB channel name and from the dropdown list select the Red channel.

Step 13b

In the Output Levels, set the highlight level (the one at the right) to 0.

Step 13c

Now, select from the dropdown list the Blue channel. Again, set the highlight level (the one at the right) to 0.

Step 13d

Step 14
Click over the Red layer’s name to select it, and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels. Set the name to “Red Levels” and be sure to check the “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask” option. Click OK.

Step 14

In the Levels Properties window, click on the arrow icon next to the RGB channel name and from the dropdown list select the Green channel.

Step 14b

In the Output Levels, set the highlight level (the one at the right) to 0.

Step 14c

Now, select from the dropdown list the Blue channel. Again, set the highlight level (the one at the right) to 0.

Step 14d

Step 15
As you may see, the screen effect is almost complete, we just need to add a last finishing touch by making some curves adjustments. Click over the “RGB Texture” layer’s name in the layers panel to make it active and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves. Set the name to “Curves Adjustments” and click OK.

Step 15

In the curves properties window, click on the arrow icon next to the RGB curve name and from the dropdown list select “Green.”

Step 15b

Click on the top right point of the curve and set the Input value to 230.

Step 15c

Click on the arrow icon next to the Green curve name and from the dropdown list select “Blue.”

Step 15d

Click on the top right point of the curve and set the Input value to 230.

Step 15e

Step 16
Now that we finish our screen effect, it is easy to edit our screenshot using the Smart Object we created. If you want to change it, simply double-click on the thumbnail of the “Master” layer. In the new document window, place your screenshot, save the file and close it. Your new screen shot is now in the main Screen document.

Step 16

Share & Enjoy


 

  1. Predator (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    Nice tutorial

  2. Ali (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    Very useful tutorial. Thanks for article.

  3. Sandro (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    exciting tutorial. one of the best in recent times.

  4. Geerten (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    Nice and very extensive tutorial. Only comment is that the perspective of the “pixels effect” does not correspond to the angle of the screen. The pixels suggest that you’re looking at the screen from a straight angle, while the page suggest looking at a lower left angle.

  5. Vance Orr (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    Good tutorial, but if you added the pattern over the smart object wouldn’t that fix the perspective of the pixels.

  6. Neil (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    Great tutorial

  7. Hilde T (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    This is really cool! Thanks for a great tutorial :D

  8. Joe Kahler (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    Fantastic tut

  9. Osama (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    You make it like real cathode screen.
    I like it very much …

    Thanks man.

  10. karp (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    Great effect! Thank you.

  11. Joaquin (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    I click the thumbnail but appears the blending modes not the color picker..What can i do?

  12. DiegoJ (Reply) on Monday January 21, 2013

    It would be nice if you could provide the file so it’s not necessary to redo all the works. Thanks anyway, the help is great!



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