In this Photoshop tutorial, we’ll take a look at how to use the existing Apple Wallpapers to create a vibrant colorful effect that is sure to make your desktop pop. Even if you don’t have access to the Apple wallpapers (I wish I could share a download with you!), you can run a quick Google search and find one of the thousands of amazing and free wallpapers available to you with a mere click of your mouse. We will cover finding the wallpaper files in Mac OS X, creating a custom brush to layer on the color effect, using a few filters and blurs to really bring it out, and then some adjustment layer magic to really cap this effect and create a sweet wallpaper that you can share with all of your friends. Hope you enjoy it!
Finding the Default Apple Wallpaper
Open your Finder on the Mac and go Go>Go To Folder and type in “/Library” to get to your Library folder and choose the “Desktop Wallpaper” folder. Copy an image from this folder to your desktop. Not using a Mac? Jump onto Google and search through the many beautiful and amazing free wallpapers that are at your fingertips.
Reducing contrast with Curves Adjustment Layer
Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and drag the black point (bottom left corner) upward a little and also drag the white point (top right corner) downward a little. This will reduce the contrast of the image.
Choosing the CMY colors
I created three new color swatches. A cyan color (00aeef), a magenta color (ec008c), and a yellow color (fff200). I’ll be using them in the next step when we set up the Brush tool to create the colored dots.
Set up the Brush tool
Grab the Brush tool and set the tool’s blend mode to Color Dodge and reduce the brush opacity to 30%. Also open the Brush panel and tick on Shape Dynamics and increase size jitter to 100% and tick on Color Dynamics and increase Foreground/Background to 100% as well. We have now set up our brush to randomize the size and the color being laid down as we click to add dots.
Adding the colored dots
Set your foreground color to the cyan and the background to the magenta. Create a new layer and name it “colored-dots” and then paint a bunch of dots. Change the foreground color to yellow and paint some more dots. Duplicate this layer by hitting Cmd/Ctrl + J.
Create a cell/mosaic/box effect
Shut off one of the color dots layers and select the visible one and go Filter>Pixelate>Mosaic and choose a small-ish cell size. For the size of my image 70px worked really well.
Create the colored streak effect
With this mosaic colored dot layer, go Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and set the motion blur to 90 degrees in its direction and set the amount to 1600px.
Intensify the color streaks effect
Set this blurred layer to the blend mode Screen and then hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to duplicate it. Set the new layer to the blend mode Hard Light. Duplicate the layer again and set this layer to Overlay. Duplicate the layer once more and leave it at the blend mode Overlay and reduce the opacity until you like the way it looks.
Add more color dots
Turn that original duplicated color dots layer on again and drag it to the top of this layer stack. Reduce the opacity of the dots until you like the look.
Adding global lighting to complete the effect
To complete the effect, I added a Color Balance adjustment layer as well as some contrast adjustments and a Gradient Map effect to add more color and contrast as well. Check out the video to see all this and more! Thanks for checking out the tutorial!