photoshop creative
May
11

Build a 2D city with the Pen tool!

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
May 11, 2016

Bask in the bight lights of the city without ever leaving your desk

final

1. Choose a colour palette

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Pick a zesty colour palette. This image uses cream (#FFF7D9), jade (#09EAB3), electric blue (#00F1FF), lavender (#9F7BFF), shocking pink (#FF008C) and indigo (#1F0956). From this palette, we can also establish our highlights and darker tones used for shading.

2. Set the background

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The secret to getting the neon colours to really explode off the page is to use navy as a background colour, rather than black. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) to draw the ground plane and fill it with the midnight indigo colour by using the Paint Bucket tool (G).

3. Create the sky

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Use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) to create the area of sky. Left-click and hold the Paint Bucket tool icon to select the Gradient tool. Change the Foreground and Background colour to the colours you want. Drag the cursor upwards while holding the left mouse button to create a gradient.

4. Add background buildings

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Create a new layer and use the Marquee tool (M) and Paint Bucket tool (G) to create silhouettes of buildings. Use the indigo colour for the buildings and a light purple for highlights. Lower the Opacity of the layer to 75%. On a new layer, create windows using the same technique.

5. Make the River Thames

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Select the Pen tool (P). Set the Fill to none, the Stroke Color to Gradient and the Stroke Weight to 40pt. On a new layer, left-click inside the canvas area to create lines. To create curves, click and hold down the left mouse button.

6. Edit the river

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To edit the river, select the Pen tool (P), hold down Cmd/Ctrl and click on the anchor points. For the lines inside the river, make copies of the river layer, change the stroke colour and weight (approximately 2.5pt) and edit the lines to fit.

7. Build Big Ben

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Use a combination of the Marquee tool (M), Pen tool (P) and Polygonal Lasso (L) to create the elements of Big Ben. This will take time! To make your life easier, draw half of Big Ben on a layer, make a copy of it and reflect it horizontally (Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal).

8. Construct the London Eye

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Use the Ellipse tool (U), the Elliptical Marquee tool (M), Polygonal Lasso (L) and the Line tool (U) to create the structure and carriages. To help you with the placement, create a radial grid by drawing a line in the middle of the circle and rotating it (Edit>Transform>Rotate).

9. Create the Shard

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Use the Polygonal Lasso (L) to create the shards and fill it using the Gradient tool (G). On a new layer, use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) to create the dark bands, trimming where necessary with the Polygonal Lasso (L). Change the blending mode of this layer to Soft Light.

10. Add Canary Wharf

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Create the blocks of Canary Wharf using a combination of the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and Polygonal Lasso (L). Fill them using the Gradient tool (G). On a new layer, create windows using the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and Paint Bucket tool (G).

11. Form the O2 Arena

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On a new layer, create circles that increase in size. Create a small Elliptical Marquee (M) and cut out divots around the edge of the largest circle. You can rotate the marquee by selecting Select>Transform Selection. Use the Elliptical Marquee (M) and Gradient tool (G) to create the poles.

12. Draw the Gherkin

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Create the shape of the Gherkin with the Pen tool (Stroke on None and Fill on Gradient). Draw the lines with the Pen tool (P). With the Polygonal Lasso (L), make some of the windows darker/ lighter by filling them in with a colour and lowering the opacity level.

13. Add houses

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We’re on the home stretch! On a new layer, create a house by using the Polygonal Lasso (L) and Paint Bucket tool (G). Make copies of the house and scatter them across the image, changing the colour-way and size where appropriate so that they don’t look too regimented.

14. Now add mansion blocks

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Using the houses in step 13 as a template, create taller mansion blocks by extending the bottom portion using the Polygonal Lasso (L) and Paint Bucket tool (G). Create more windows by using the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and Paint Bucket tool (G).

15. Build London Row houses

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It wouldn’t be London without the classic London Row house! Use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and Paint Bucket tool (G) to create the elements, making sure that you get the proportions just right; the ground and first floor should be the tallest levels with the roof being the shortest.

16. Construct office buildings

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On a new layer, create the office building by using the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and Gradient tool (G). Keep these buildings as blocky as you can, and don’t forget to include blocks on the roof to represent the mechanical infrastructure, which will help to make it look more convincing.

17. Place more offices

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In a similar way to step 16, use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and Paint Bucket tool (G) to create the elements for these office buildings. However, unlike the previous step, make these buildings more squat with longer windows. Again, don’t forget the mechanical infrastructure on the roof.

18. Inject some nature

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Use the Elliptical Marquee (M) and Paint Bucket (G) to draw a circle for the tree. Delete one half with the Rectangular Marquee (M). Make a copy of the remainder, fill with a different colour and reflect it (Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal). Use the Polygonal Lasso (L) and Paint Bucket (G) for the trunk.

19. Let there be lights

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For the string of lights between the trees, select the Pen tool (P) and change the Stroke Options to Dots and the Stroke Weight to 3.5pt. Set the colour to electric blue and click and hold down the left mouse button to create a curve.

20. Plant some bushes

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On a new layer, create three different sized circles that slightly touch each other using the Elliptical Marquee (M) tool and the Paint Bucket (G) tool. Now draw a boundary that splits the circles in half horizontally and press Delete. Scatter the bushes in any empty areas that you have left.

21. Zoom out

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Zoom out using Cmd/Ctrl+0 so that the entire image fits onto your screen and check that you are happy with the overall composition of the image. The image should look balanced and the elements and colours should be evenly distributed throughout.