photoshop creative

Photoshop Tutorial: Create a blueprint effect

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Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
October 7, 2013

How to create a realistic blueprint effect in this free Photoshop tutorial

Download all you need for this tutorial here

One of the most interesting elements to any construction project is the blueprints. The plans themselves are a physical representation of hopes and dreams. They are a manifestation of the potential. They speak to us because they are the means by which we shape the world around us. Blueprints are the way we conquer the chaos and create, build and develop. Allow us to draw up plans and we can accomplish anything. These drafted plans also contain a fascinating network of technical lines and illustration. We can work with Photoshop to create this interesting effect from scratch, just follow the steps below to find out.


Open the ‘House Image.jpg’ file from the CD. Duplicate the Background layer and begin using the Clone Stamp tool to remove stray details from the image. Target areas like foliage and the harsh shadow on the roof. The clone work doesn’t need to be pretty; it just needs to obliterate the unwanted details.


To tend to the annoying foliage in and around the fence slats, use the Clone Stamp Tool to copy the clean slats from another area of fence. Use a simple brush with black paint to conceal the brushstrokes seen between the slats. The line drawing technique simply needs heavy contrast here.


Use the Polygonal Marquee tool to select the roof areas and the window glass. Go to Edit>Fill and fill the selection with 50% Grey. This ensures that the line-drawing process will generate nice outlines for these areas without filling them with stray marks.


Create a selection around the outline of the house and copy it to a new layer. Then go to Filter>Blur>Smart Blur. Set the quality to High and Mode to Edge Only. The goal is to get nice clean contour lines by adjusting the sliders. A Radius of 52 and Threshold of 34 works well in this case.


Because the line drawing conversion is based on contrast, it renders lines around shadow areas as well as architecture. Take a hard edged black paintbrush and paint out the lines that don’t follow physical shapes as well as any other stray marks that may have been produced.


Set the line drawing layer’s mode to screen. Set the Foreground and Background colours to two similar shades of blue, we used 013ad9 and 0c1189 respectively. Create a new layer beneath the line drawing and add a linear gradient going from one corner to the opposite. Duplicate the line drawing layer and use a Gaussian Blur with a Radius of 4 pixels.


Open the ‘grid.png’ file and drag the grid onto the project. Place the grid layer just above the blue gradient. Set the blending mode to screen and reduce the Opacity to 43%. Add a layer mask and use a radial gradient that goes from black to transparent in order to fade areas of the grid immediately behind the line drawing.


Create a rectangular selection of the grid file roughly the size of the roof area. Copy and paste this onto the line drawing. Go to Edit>Transform>Distort and drag the corners to match the roof perspective. Create a selection around the window area and hold the shift key while pressing the Add layer mask button to mask out that area.


Finish off the blue print effect by adding in lines and text. To get the arrowheads, use the Line tool found under the Shape tool set (with the rectangle and circle shape tools), and then look in the Options bar for a small down pointing arrow that opens the arrowhead options. When finished, save and close this file.


Open the ‘ConstructionSetting.jpg’ file and then go to File>Place to deposit the blueprint file as a Smart Object. Set the blending mode to Linear Burn and reduce the Opacity to 63%. Rotate the blueprint 90% and go to Edit>Transform>Warp. Manipulate the warp points until the blueprint roughly matches the shape of the paper.


To more accurately fit the blueprint to the folds and curves of the paper, go to Edit>Puppet Warp. Create pins on the warp grid and push and pull them gently to form the blueprint into the precise shape you need. Stubborn points can be hidden with a layer mask.


Move a duplicate of the Background layer above the blueprint and use the Pen tool to create a path around all the tools over the blueprint (or go to the Paths panel and select the path already included with the file). Next, go to Layer>Vector Mask>Current Path.


Add a layer mask to the tools layer and gently brush out any halos around the tools. If the masking doesn’t help, use the Burn tool set to Midtones and 15% to darken the edges of the tools. Soft brushes on the mask can give the appearance of a reflection on the chrome areas of the hammer.


Create a composite layer on top of the project by pressing Alt/Opt+Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+E and grab the Blur tool with a small tip and Strength set to 25%. Trace over the edge of the blueprint to soften it. Do the same for any other harsh lines that appear too distracting.