How to make a Wallpaper Mashup

It has occurred to me that some of you may be interested in how to create your own wallpaper mashups, so I am going to provide an inside look at the process I used to create the Snowy Peak wallpaper mashup. The following instructions are suited for just about any version of Adobe Photoshop released in the 21st century. Because this is a cursory overview of the process, it is assumed that you know basic functions of Photoshop. If not, please search for the appropriate tutorials. In any case, enjoy this glimpse into the process.

Da ‘Structions

We begin, with a goose… Wait, no we don’t.

Snowy Sight AglowHarsh Peak

We begin, with two images. In my case, I used two wallpapers I had created years before. It’s important that both of these images be the same size. You can either crop the larger image to the size of the smaller image, or you can try enlarging the smaller to the size of the larger image. If you have to enlarge more than 150%, it won’t look so good.

Once you have both images the same size, bring both into Photoshop and place each on its own layer. Then, begin to experiment with the blending mode of the top layer. Blending mode is normally set to normal. For Snowy Peak, I used a difference layer.

Snowy Peak alpha version

At this point, the image is too intense for use as daily wallpaper, and is just a little too wacky for my tastes. (Yes, I do have limits.) After playing around with a Curves adjustment layer (available in the Layer menu), I was able to bring down the brightness to a more balanced level. I realize this difference may look minimal in the small images shown here; but at normal size, the effect is quite pronounced.

Snowy Peak beta version

Now, I still had a fantastic amount of magenta hue to deal with. Looks more like ice cream peak. By using a Hue adjustment layer, I brought the color balance to a more calm level. I shifted the Red hue -76 degrees and the Magenta hue -49 degrees. Getting closer.

Snowy Peak gamma version

As you can see the image is now cyan, blue, and indigo based. I very well could have stopped there, but as you know, art is subjective and subject to personal taste. In my personal taste, the image was still too “hot” with magentas. I decided to double the adjustment layer to further shift the hues to the blue end of the spectrum. Again, I realize this difference may look minimal in the small images shown here; but at normal size, the effect is quite pronounced.

Snowy Peak final version

After testing it for a while, I was happy with the result. Now I set out to create Deep version for the night. After some experimentation I realized that putting a solid blue color of 40% opacity over the entire image created a pleasing muted effect. Solid color overlays such as this decrease the contrast while still allowing an image look good.

Snowy Peak Deep

Voilà! As mentioned before, the Deep version is suitable for the night and the normal version, called Aglow, is suited for the day. As you can see, playing around led to small discoveries. Each of these mini-discoveries built upon eachother, and in a short time I created a pleasing new wallpaper by effectively reinventing existing content in a fresh way. Once you expose yourself to Photoshop for a while, the above process is deceptively simple. Experiment with blending modes. They are one of the most overlooked features Photoshop has to offer. By all means, use this example to create new and crazy art.