Free Transform Fractals Photoshop Tutorial
March 10th, 2009 by Administrator    

I am super stoked to share this knowledge.

This one is a Jedi level trick. It is a secret, until now, known only to a few.

After you bust the learning curve on a few simple steps you will be able to turn something like this…

into something like this……….. in about one minute using only the Free Transform Tool.

Crazy, huh?

1 – Open a new document.

2 – Create/Import an element you would like to fractalize on a new layer. For this

tutorial I am using a Xavi designed symbol that Phong built in 3D Studio Max for

the pod site. Place the element in the upper left hand corner so that it has room to spiral.

3 – Learning the hot keys for the Free Transform tool is the only way to make this technique flow properly.

So, on the layer that contains the element Free Transform Copy (Control/Alt T or Command/Option T for Mac).

Once the Transform square appears around your element hold Alt/Shift or Option/Shift and scale it down a hair.

Holding those keys maintains the aspect ratio of the element during scaling.

After that step grab the center crosshairs in the middle of the square and move it

down and to the right. Then rotate the element as shown in the image below. Now hit Return.

This will give you a new layer with the changes you have made. Now for the fun part!

4 – Hold down Control/AltShift or Command/Option/Shift and hit T.

Continue to hold down those three keys and hit T as fast as you can.

Why fast? Cause it’s more fun! The gif below shows what will happen.

The tool remembers the math and continues to do the same

scaling and rotation to each successive layer. Muy powerful!

5 – Turn off the background layer by clicking the eye and merge visible (Control/Shift E or Command/Shift E).

6 – Turn background back on.

7 – Click on your spiral layer and duplicate it (Control J or Command J)

Then turn off the bottom one so you can use it some other time… could come in handy.

I usually save every step in this way so that I can go back and re do anything that doesn’t

work to my liking. The same holds true for the steps that are coming up.

8 – Highlight top spiral layer, and scale it down. You may rotate it or flip it horizontally if desired.

9 – Now use the spiral you have created to make another spiral. Do this by using steps 3-6.

10 – Once you have the new hybrid spiral as one layer set the layer property to Lighten.

Most hot keys work best when the Lasso tool is active. So to avoid menu hunting hit L to

choose the Lasso tool then Alt/Shift G or Option/Shift G to change the layer Property to Lighten.

11 РPut your spiral in the upper lefthand corner of the canvas and Free Transform Copy (Control/Alt T or Command/Option T). When tool appears right click and select Flip Horizontal, then hit return and slide the copied, flipped spiral to the right until the shape pleases your eye or fills the horizontal space of the canvas. Hold down the SHIFT key as you do this to keep both pieces level on the same horizontal plane.

12 – Merge layer down (Contol E or Command E).

13 – Free Transform Copy, right click, Flip Vertically, slide new layer down to desired spot and Merge down.

14 – Free Transform Copy, right click, Rotate 90 dregrees either direction and Merge Down.

After darkening the new fractal:ness with Curves (Control M or Command M) and hitting it

with a little Glamour Layer action it looks like this.

This is just a scratch on the surface of the magical Free Transform Tool.

Using different layer properties, opacities and generally experimenting like crazy

yields infinite results and can make hours of your day/night disappear in the blink of your third eye.


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