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index « tutorials « photoshop : Free Transform Fractals

posted : 2006.Feb.26 @ 7.22pm
I am super stoked to share this knowledge.
This one is a Jedi level trick. It is a secret, until now, known only to a few.
After you bust the learning curve on a few simple steps you will be able to turn something like this...

into something like this........... in about one minute using only the Free Transform Tool.

Crazy, huh? Very Happy

1 - Open a new document.

2 - Create/Import an element you would like to fractalize on a new layer. For this
tutorial I am using a Xavi designed symbol that Phong built in 3D Studio Max for
the pod site. Place the element in the upper left hand corner so that it has room to spiral.

3 - Learning the hot keys for the Free Transform tool is the only way to make this technique flow properly.
So, on the layer that contains the element Free Transform Copy (Control/Alt T or Command/Option T for Mac).
Once the Transform square appears around your element hold Alt/Shift or Option/Shift and scale it down a hair.
Holding those keys maintains the aspect ratio of the element during scaling.

After that step grab the center crosshairs in the middle of the square and move it
down and to the right. Then rotate the element as shown in the image below. Now hit Return.

This will give you a new layer with the changes you have made. Now for the fun part!

4 - Hold down Control/AltShift or Command/Option/Shift and hit T.
Continue to hold down those three keys and hit T as fast as you can.
Why fast? Cause it's more fun! The gif below shows what will happen.

The tool remembers the math and continues to do the same
scaling and rotation to each successive layer. Muy powerful!

5 - Turn off the background layer by clicking the eye and merge visible (Control/Shift E or Command/Shift E).

6 - Turn background back on.

7 - Click on your spiral layer and duplicate it (Control J or Command J)
Then turn off the bottom one so you can use it some other time... could come in handy.
I usually save every step in this way so that I can go back and re do anything that doesn't
work to my liking. The same holds true for the steps that are coming up.

8 - Highlight top spiral layer, and scale it down. You may rotate it or flip it horizontally if desired.

9 - Now use the spiral you have created to make another spiral. Do this by using steps 3-6.

10 - Once you have the new hybrid spiral as one layer set the layer property to Lighten.
Most hot keys work best when the Lasso tool is active. So to avoid menu hunting hit L to
choose the Lasso tool then Alt/Shift G or Option/Shift G to change the layer Property to Lighten.

11 - Put your spiral in the upper lefthand corner of the canvas and Free Transform Copy (Control/Alt T
or Command/Option T). When tool appears right click and select Flip Horizontal, then hit return and slide the
copied, flipped spiral to the right until the shape pleases your eye or fills the horizontal space of the canvas.
Hold down the SHIFT key as you do this to keep both pieces level on the same horizontal plane.

12 - Merge layer down (Contol E or Command E).

13 - Free Transform Copy, right click, Flip Vertically, slide new layer down to desired spot and Merge down.

14 - Free Transform Copy, right click, Rotate 90 dregrees either direction and Merge Down.

After darkening the new fractal:ness with Curves (Control M or Command M) and hitting it
with a little Glamour Layer action it looks like this.

This is just a scratch on the surface of the magical Free Transform Tool.
Using different layer properties, opacities and generally experimenting like crazy
yields infinite results and can make hours of your day/night disappear in the blink of your third eye.

posted : 2006.Feb.28 @ 3.41am
hah! that's one hell of a tip/secret to share!, thanks air Very Happy

posted : 2006.Mar.02 @ 1.00pm
sweetness.... you've inspired me! i'm going to put the technique in motion.... do the same thing in after effects with an animated/video image.... ooh my yes.... indeed... fractal bodies
i'll post it when it get it flowin Wink

thanks for sharing....

posted : 2006.Mar.10 @ 8.23pm
Completly freakin fantastic !
Super Super


posted : 2006.Mar.13 @ 9.53pm

I'd used the "Transform Again" feature before, but this is amazing! What a cool use.

Beer Toast

Hey. Can you get Phong to share his modeling secrets? That's a very cool little jewel.


posted : 2006.Mar.13 @ 10.22pm
I'm going to try this tomorrow when I'm supposed to be working!

posted : 2006.Mar.15 @ 3.42pm
free transform has become one of my most well loved tools in photoshop. soooo much potential. i am so lucky air showed me this - thanks air!!!


posted : 2006.Mar.18 @ 1.54pm
Thanks... I have used a similar technique before but did not know about the ability to repeat into new layers!

Here is a design utilizing this in a subtle way...

posted : 2006.Mar.19 @ 3.57am
This is a very cool technique and with little experimenting, one can figure out some cosmic truth in spiraling it or just pasting transformed elements in on line rotating them and scaling them down. However, I wanted to add a small tip:
When using this technique, you will transform into new layer every time and some times the result you may look for will require serious amount of these transformations. Thus up to 20-40 layers may appear in front of you and if what you do is a part of another work file and you already have quite a few layers, you may end up rather confused looking at the mess created before you. Well, no worries - in case you know what you want to do, before hitting "secret" code shortcut - Ctr+Alt+T or Apple+opt+T, make sure you select layer visibility (Do it by pointing cursor at layer thumb and Ctr+click(Apple+click) on it - you will see your image selected with cursive line). Then, not to look at the blinking line when performing magic transform, hide the selection (Ctr+H...Apple+H) and continue to follow steps described in Air's tutorial. Suddenly instead of making layers Smile , the entire process will be taking place on one layer until you are done pressing Control/AltShift+T or Command/Option/Shift+T... Go crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanx Air, for sharing this Wizardy tool - many will have sleepless nights and non-productive work days Laughing playing with this great technique.
Hello from Penang, Malaysia.
Always yours!!! Dmaniac. Cool


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