How to Bring Digital Photo Strips to Life with Easy 3D Image Effects

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An Easy Guide To Understand Layers in Adobe Photoshop

I love using Adobe Photoshop for restoration work on old photos, and am now experimenting with “layers” to create fun and easy 3D image effects on digital photo strips.

Here is my simple guide to bringing digital photo strips to life with easy 3D image effects. I am using a digital photo booth photo strip in this example.

Now if, like me, the word “layers” immediately makes you nervous, and you’re under the impression that is something just for the experts, you may be surprised to find out that working with layers to create amazing photographic effects is so much easier than you might think.

Once you’ve come to terms with that first obstacle, and then take the first step towards trying it out for yourself, you will find that working with layers is fun, creative and interesting.

I even challenged my husband (who has never even used Adobe Photoshop) to follow this simple guide. He coped! Furthermore, he was successful in creating a very professional-looking digital photo strip image.

Transferring a digital image on to a background image is your first step in producing a new layer; this creates a great feeling of accomplishment!

Follow these easy steps and we will turn a digital photo strip into a sensational 3D image with additional shadow and highlight effects as well.

If you don’t have Adobe Photoshop software, Adobe Photoshop 'Elements' is a much cheaper version and you may find that this contains all you need for creating your own digital photo strip with 3D image effects. Have Fun!

Step 1 - Set the Background

Choose a size for your background image. I have chosen A4 size in this example to produce a good sized print of my photo strip.

The background will be the base layer for your photo strip image, and can be as basic or as elaborate as you like. I have chosen a simple gradient effect from black to white which is simplistic and yet very effective. To produce this background image:-

  • Select File, New
  • Set your size: 8 inches for the width and 12 inches for the height, with 300 pixels/inch.
  • Select a colour in the colour window.
  • In the layers window on the right hand side of the screen, click new fill or adjustment layer (which is the 3rd icon from the bottom of the screen)
  • Choose Gradient.

Step 2 - Layer the Photo Strip on the Background

Drag your photo onto the new background image by using the “Move” tool.

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Here, the layered image is too large to fit onto the background. We will use the “Transform” tool to resize the picture and position the photo strip correctly.

  • Select “Edit” from the top menu
  • Choose the ‘Free Transform’ tool
  • Hold SHIFT to keep everything proportionate and grab the corner of your image with the transform tool.
  • Move the photo strip to fit nicely onto the background.
  • Click once again on the “Move” tool to apply the transformation.

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Step 3 - Create a Bendy Effect

To create a bendy effect:-

  • Select “Filter” from the top menu
  • Choose “Distort”, and then select “Shear”

The small diagram shows a line with two dots; click on these dots one at a time and move slightly to achieve the effect you’d like and then click OK.

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Step 4 - Create a Twist Effect

To create a twist effect:-

  • Select “Edit” from the top menu
  • Choose the ‘Free Transform’ tool
  • Click the mouse up in the top right hand corner of your background next to your photo strip and move your cursor up; this will move your image to your required position.
  • Click back onto the “Move” tool to apply the transformation.

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Step 5 - Add Some Shadow and Lighting

To make some shadow:-

  • Go to the “Layers” window on the right hand side of your screen and click on the “New Layer” icon. This will be the top layer; drag it down to the 2nd layer.
  • Select a paintbrush and colour black as the foreground colour, size approximately 250.
  • Click on the left hand side of the top photo, on the edge of your image, about a quarter of the way down.
  • Hold down the SHIFT key, click on the lower edge of the bottom photo.
  • You should see a straight line drawn from one point to the other.
  • Drop the opacity down in your layers window and it will now produce a nice shadow effect.

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To achieve a highlight effect:-

  • Make another layer in the “Layers” window
  • Move this layer to the top.
  • Change the foreground colour to white
  • Still using the paintbrush, apply to the raised positions in your image, for example at the top of the 1st photo and on the centre of the 3rd photo.

Step 6 – Give your Image a Professional Finish

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To clean up the image of your photo strip and give it an amazing “professional” look:-

  • Drop the opacity down in your layers window, so that the highlighting effect is more subtle.

Note that this highlight has spilled over onto your background image; to remove this:-

  • Go to your layers window
  • Put your cursor on the line between the 2 layers
  • Hold the ALT button and click
  • The overspill disappears!

Finally, save your image. Congratulations! You have successfully created your very own modern digital photo strip with easy 3D effects.

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Comments 24 comments

TajSingh 5 years ago from United Kingdom

I love this effect. It looks really great. Voted up! Thanks for sharing your step by step guide. I'm gonna give it a try.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi Taj

This works well with any size photo.

Have fun, many thanks.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

The detail in your Hub is awesome. Thanks for the great tutorial.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi Hypenbird,glad you found the tutorial interesting, thanks for dropping by.


stars439 profile image

stars439 4 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Wonderful instructions you have shared. Beautiful pictures . Thank You, and God Bless You.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hello stars, thank you for visiting and your comments, they are much appreciated, my best wishes to you and your family, Lesley


iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

Lesley, I love photography and have yet to master photoshop! Your hub will indeed be helpful! Voted up and shared!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Fantastic instructions and photos! Thank you Lesley for the lesson in digital photo strips!:)


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi audra, thank you for reading, I'm so pleased you found this useful, experimenting in photoshop is great fun!

Many thanks for your votes and sharing, it's much appreciated.

Have a good weekend, best wishes Lesley


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi Linda, thank you for reading, glad you found it useful, many thanks for your comments, have a wonderful weekend, take care Lesley


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Lesley, great instructions and very well illustrated. I am using GIMP at the moment and just learning about layers but once you get your head around it, the sky is the limit. I will try this with GIMP if I can suss it out.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi Jools, I found 'layers' a bit scary initially - but they open up a whole lot of new things to experiment with, have fun!

Take care, Lesley


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India

Movie Master,

Interesting and useful Hub for everybody, specially for those who want to do experiments with photographs.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

What a great how-to Hub. Voted up and shared!


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Very cool idea. Must give it a try. Photography has changed so much. This was a great hub with useful information. Must get my GIMP on lol


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Lesley like your hub, good information. I don't have Adobe Photoshop but maybe I could do this on PSP.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi jainismus, experimenting with photos and effects is great fun - glad you found this useful!

Many thanks, Lesley


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi rebecca, thank you for reading and your comments, votes and sharing, it's much appreciated!

Best wishes Lesley


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi molometer, many thanks for reading, hope you give it a try - have fun!

Best wishes Lesley


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi moonlake, I am not familiar with PSP software - hopefully you'll have some success!

Many thanks for your comments, have a great day!

Best wishes Lesley


sradie profile image

sradie 4 years ago from Palm Coast FL

Cool, made a filmstrip from several images first then applied the technique. For my first one, I am happy with the results. A little refinement for my personal tastes and this will be great. Thanks.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi sradie, I have made a filmstrip in Photoshop and wondered whether to use it in this tutuorial - it's a great effect and quite easy to do, maybe that's a hub for another day!!

Thank you for your comments, enjoy your day, best wishes Lesley


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

This is a tremendous piece. I am not familiar with Photoshop at all. I bought it, installed it, and that's about it. I've always used Microsoft's Picture It, which doesn't provide the effects, but is easier to use.... at least for now. I may experiment as I've bookmarked this hub for reference. Wonderful Hub!


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Hi rcrumple, I am still learning and experimenting in Photoshop, I was surprised how easy this effect was to do, I hope you enjoy giving it a go!

Many thanks for your comments, they are much appreciated, best wishes Lesley

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