Tutorial: How to make retro/futuristic curves in 10 Steps

As promised when releasing the December 08 Calendar Wallpaper I’ve written a tutorial on how to make it. This is my first ever tutorial and I hope you’ll like it. If there’s anything which is not clear please ask. I’m here to help. In order to achieve the space like scenery with the glowing lines we will use Illustrator and Photoshop. You’ll learn how to add subtle effects using textures and different blending modes. So here we go.

Step 1: Draw Lines in Illustrator

We’re starting off in Illustrator to draw the lines. Create a new document with the dimensions 1920×1200. The other settings don’t really matter since the vectors will be imported into Photoshop anyway. Draw a nice smooth curve with a 4px black stroke. Draw another curve, this time with a 1px black stroke.



Step 2: Blending the curves

Go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and set the Blending Steps to 12. Now select the two curves and hit Object > Blend > Make.


REPEAT STEP 1 and 2 to make another set of curves. Play with the settings until you’re happy with the outcome.

Step 3: Importing the curves into Photoshop

Create a new document in Photoshop. Make it 1920×1200 large and fill the background with a dark grey (I used #161616). Go to Illustrator and drag-and-drop the curves into your Photoshop document. There’s no need to expand the curves. Photoshop will do it for you.

Step 4: Applying Gradient and Glow Effect

Select one of the layers containing the curves and go to the Layer Style Menu. Start of with setting Fill to 0% (Blending Options: Custom). Apply the settings shown below. Don’t worry too much about the gradient colours at the moment. We will adjust the overall colour scheme of the design at a later step.


Right-Click on the layer in the layers palette and choose “Copy Layer Style”. Select the second curves layer and select “Paste Layer Style”. Your image should look similar to the one below.


Step 5: Copy the Curves + Composition

Select the first curves layer and copy it a couple times. Then move the individual layers like I did in the picture below. Group the layers.


Repeat Step 5 with the second curves layer. As you can see I moved the around a bit to get a nicer composition.


To get a smoother cut-off I decided to use a gradient layer mask (on the whole group). Set the gradient to black-to-white and apply it on the mask.


Step 6: Clouds and Colours

Create a new layer on top of everyting. Make sure that Foreground and Background colours are set to Black and White respectively by pressing “D”. Go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Set the Blending Mode to Hue and enter the Layer Style menu. Go to the gradient option and select a colour scheme you like. Set the angle to 135 degrees and make sure to set the Blend Mode to Overlay.



Step 7: Add Textures

Open 2 concrete texures and place them on top of the Background layer. I used textures from the Free Urban Texture Pack. Set one blending mode to Multiply and the other to Overlay.

Step 8: Add Circles

Create a new layer and draw some different sized circles using the Ellipse Tool. Make sure to use the “Shape Layer” mode and select “Add to shape layer” from the menu. Hold down the Shift-key while drawing to get perfect circles.


Step 9: Make Layer Masks

Cmd-Click on the circle layer  it in the layers palette to make a selection, then hide the layer. Now select the first Texture layer and hit the mask button. With your selection still intact go to Selection > Inverse. Activate the second Texture layer and hit the mask button again.



Step 10: Final Image and Tweaks

That’s all there is to making a wallpaper like the one for December 08. Add a bit of text if you want to. For other colour schemes you can always add a Hue Adjustment layer.



Written by Franz Jeitz

Franz Jeitz is a freelance designer and owner of Fudgegraphics. Originally from Luxembourg he now lives in London. Franz loves design, music and is a tea enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter.

Join the Discussion:

93 Awesome Responses so far
  1. Great tutorial. PS was always problematic for lines and curves. Any more tuts of yours?

  2. Drag and drop the curves from AI to PS CS4 creates a SmartObject, not separate layers. Any clues?

  3. @Tim: You are right, when you drag & drop the curves into Photoshop they will be placed as a smart object. That’s how it is supposed to be. If you want to have each line on a separate layer you have to drag & drop them individually. For this tutorial that is not necessary though.

  4. Great tutorials. Simple and easy to follow. Hope to get more from u in the days to come.

  5. You are awesome !

  6. Finally i’ve found what I have been looking for! I’ve been searching the web for nearly 45 minutes to find thos out.

    You are a lifesaver. Many thanks.

  7. amazing tuto..thanks a lot bro

  8. I’ve worked with Illustrator for a while, but sadly, I seem to have skipped over most blending techniques. This is awesome, Brah’. Thanks!

  9. Not a bad result but the instructions are good.

  10. Great work..thanks…

  11. was really instructive

  12. Thanx nice 1 i m newly 2 know this….

  13. Álvaro Bassó August 17th, 2010

    Muchas gracias! it´s a great tutorial

  14. I cannot figure out how to make the curved lines. I tried the line tool and the pen tool and my lines are coming out straight. How do I manipulate the lines?

  15. @rhandell mitchell

    You can make 3 points with the pen tool and manipulate the anchor points, or use the pencil tool ( especially good with a drawing tablet ). Longtime fan of the Fudge!

  16. gud work…keep it up
    it really helped me 🙂

  17. hey i did dis in photoshop itself instead of illustrator….n it helped me a lot in ma photoshop project… thanx a lot m lookin forward fo many more tut…:)

  18. hey sir, i cant really understand when it get to photoshop, the lines became a full blown box, and not lines. what should i do w/ it?

  19. hey sir, i cant really understand when it get to photoshop, where should i put a gradient the lines became a full blown box, and not lines. what should i do w/ it?

  20. thank you for making an easy-to-understand tutorial.

  21. nice tutorial thans a lot..

  22. Hey im stuck on step 9 i dont get the cmd clicking and inversing and stuff im really confused and stuck, is there any way you could write it more in depth how to do that part?

  23. FABULOUS! Thanks so much! I learned a lot 😉

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  25. This was an excellent tutorial! Thank you for sharing… You are very talented. I’m following you on Twitter now and I look forward to your future posts.

  26. Damian Salinas September 15th, 2013

    Thanks a lot for this tutorial. This rocks!

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