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Create a Kaleidoscope Retro Book Cover Effect

I really like the old retro look that are sometimes used on book covers – using Photoshop we can create a simple kaleidoscope effect to mimic the retro look.

Step 1.



Download the stock photo from http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/661571

Step 2.


Open the photo in Photoshop and duplicate the background Layer by pressing Control & J. Next we select the Cutout Filter – Filter>Artistic>Cutout. We use this to simplify the image. Change the sliders so they read – Number of levels 2, Edges of simplicity 0, Edge of Fidelity 2. On a different Image these settings maybe need to be altered.

Step 3.


We only want the bird on the branch so we will simply paint out the bits we don’t want. Sample the background colour and using the Brush tool remove all the bits around the edge of the picture that we don’t need.

Step 4.


Create a new Layer above the bird Layer, this will be the start of our kaleidoscope. Select the Brush Tool and choose a hard edge brush from the brush dialogue. Select a bright colours and lay down a number of coloured dots.

Step 5.


Duplicate the Layer we just created and flip it horizontally, Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontally.

Step 6.


Duplicate both of the colour dots Layers and flip these new Layers Vertically, Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontally. Using the Free Transform Tool move the new layers down so the new Layers are a mirror image of the original Layers.

Step 7.


Move the Layers into a group. We now want to duplicate the Group by dragging it to the New Layer icon in the Layer palette. Using the Free Transform Tool rotate the new Group 45°. You can do this by entering 45 in the angle option in the option bar.

Step 8.


Duplicate the Layers again and rotate the -45°.

Step 9 .


Duplicate the bird Layer and move it above our Kaleidoscope Groups, change the Blending Mode to Lighten.

Step 10.


On a New Layer under the bird Layer add a few bright spots of colour to the body of the bird. We can now add some text to the “cover”.

As with anything with Photoshop, you can build upon this tutorial and create your own image. Experiment, play and show what you create 😀

About Simon Rudd (51 Articles)
Simon Rudd is a freelance writer and artist specialising in Photoshop tutorials as well as Horror, the Macabre and Fantasy themed pictures. He frequently writes for magazines and websites.

1 Comment on Create a Kaleidoscope Retro Book Cover Effect

  1. This is great, I’m excited to try this technique on a new project!
    -Hannah , PlasticPrinters.com

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