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Make wire frames to create one-of-a kind digital masterpieces

Added on Friday 2nd of March 2012 04:59 am EST

by Amy Courtright
Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5
Operating Systems:
Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

Looking for a new idea to spruce up your designs? Wire frames are versatile, easy, unique—not to mention fun!

To create unique wire frames, we’ll:

  • Select a shape to base our frame on.
  • Create a custom brush from that shape, adjusting the brush dynamics so that a framing effect will take place when we paint on our document.
  • Show you how to add gradient blends to the frame and apply a few Layer Styles for more creative results.


Typically, wire frames are associated with 3-D design, however when combined with photographic images or creatively placed on a page these graphics can turn into amazing visual masterpieces. You can use wire frames to enhance both web and print designs to give your final piece technical appeal. Using Photoshop you can create wire frames based on custom shapes, such as logos, letterforms, polygons, or ellipses depending on what works the best with the overall theme of your piece.


Choosing your shape
Before creating your wire frame it’s a good idea to have a comp done showing how you want the final image to look, especially if you want to use the frame as an element in a collage. Also keep in mind that your frame will be a transparent shell, so the shape you use will really only consist of a thin outline. For that reason we don’t recommend using a shape as complex as that shown in Figure A. Although the frame looks clean when creating a straight line it tends to get messy when you try to incorporate any curves into the mix. In this tutorial we’ll focus on creating a frame using a circle, so let’s get started.



Brush making
Open a new 5x5 RGB document in Photoshop that’s 72 ppi. Then, select the Elliptical Marquee tool and while holding the Shift key draw a circle in the center of your canvas, as displayed in Figure B. With your selection active, choose Edit > Stroke. In the resulting dialog box, set the Width to 1 pixel and make the Stroke Color black. Select the Center option button as the Location of your stroke and make sure the Blending Mode is Normal with 100% Opacity. Then click OK. Now, deselect the circle by pressing [command] D ([Ctrl] D in Windows).


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