What's the best way to achieve an effect like this cover? enter image description here

I was thinking to basically start with random grayscale rectangles, a layer of thinner rectangles set to multiply, and then somehow warp it? Does anybody have a way to warp it and have it not look stupid and/or simply a more efficient way?


I'd just go with the classic move-picture-around-on-a-photocopier trick. Google "photocopier distort" as that's basically what this is. I don't think it's really worth the effort of trying to fudge it in Photoshop when it's so fun and easy to do it properly. A computer scanner would also work but it'll never give the rough quality that an old black and white photocopier will though.

If you really want a Photoshop only method then Filter > Distort > Shear... is probably your best friend. You have to rotate the image to do it different directions.

I took my image from the newspaper photo thing yesterday (How to make scanned newspaper effect?) and messed around with the Shear tool and a little bit of the other distort options to make the following image. I also found Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask... was nice to finish it off.

Here are a couple random variations:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Still no where near as good (or as fun) as doing it properly! I don't have a photocopier within reach of my bed though sorry!

  • Interesting solution, in that case he would have to print some rectangles to create the pattern, right? – Rosenthal Sep 10 '14 at 0:52
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    Just start with a random photo... Or an object. Or your face and hands even. Move it while it photocopies and then you can always photocopy the photocopy too. – marcusdoesstuff Sep 10 '14 at 0:55

Stock Footage

This is my third attempt:

enter image description here

I applied Wave, Shear, Gaussian Noise, Polar Coordinates, to three rectangles and the results (after 15 minutes) are unrealistic.

I highly recommend that you use Stock Footage. Even in professional compositing packages like After Effects or Nuke realistic noise is very complex to implement.

I googled TV signal noise and in less than 30 seconds I found many images and videos similar to your cover.

  • You should work in a much higher res before scaling down here. – marcusdoesstuff Sep 10 '14 at 0:32
  • @marcusdoesstuff, what you are seeing is the result of cropping multiple times, when you displace the image, Photoshop warps around the content making the result tileable, repetitive. Cropping is the only way to make the result "unique". – Rosenthal Sep 10 '14 at 0:37

tried my hand using just rectangle shapes. applied shear, then massaged two layers (one noise, one halftone copy of shapes). its about subtle mixing of these layers and levels. also 'wind' is your friend in this, too. my process is just warping the heck out of things. enter image description here

  • Welcome to GD! Do you mind editing your answer with what you did do because at this time your answer doesn't help the OP's question since he asked how to achieve "this" effect and you post "I forget" – DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ Sep 10 '14 at 18:39
  • ok then, i tried – sparetime Sep 10 '14 at 18:45

I would probably just start with columns and use the smudge tool.

enter image description here

quick and dirty

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    smudge tends to look blurry and just too photoshoppy – cervidae Sep 10 '14 at 0:03

You can check my illustrator add-on here for the vector object: http://graphicriver.net/item/distorted-vectoreffect/10916541

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    Hi, welcome to the site! Sharing your own self made proprietary software solution is acceptable with disclosure as you have done, but if you could show us an example output that matches what the question asks for then your answer would be greatly improved. – JohnB Mar 27 '15 at 15:26

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