Photoshop Tutorial Inspired By Quantum Of Solace

Wdd Logo.
February 12, 2009

A few weeks ago I went to the movies to see the new James Bond movie: Quantum of Solace. The movie was nice, even though I’m not a really big fan of the series, however one thing that really caught my eye was the opening credits. I really liked the effects and the style.

The studio that did that animation was MK12 and I love the way they mixed sand and some sort of vector elements, it reminded me a bit of Apple’s Viva la Vida ad.

In this tutorial, I will show you how I created the image inspired by the James Bond movie, in Photoshop.

Here’s a preview of the final image:

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop, I used 1920×1200 pixels. Then place a photo of dunes. You can download the one I used here. With the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), delete the horizon and leave just the dunes in the front.

Step 2

Go to Image>Adjustment>Brightness/Contrast. Reduce the Brightness to -150 and increase the contrast to 85. The idea is to make the darks really dark while preserving the highlights.

Step 3

Next go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation. Reduce the saturation to ‑80 and the lightness to ‑20 in order to make the image less colorful.

Step 4

Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels. Reduce the Output Levels. I used 0 and 150.

Step 5

Create a new layer for the background. Then fill it with a gradient. Use a light beige such as #FCF7EA and blue #2A3E64 for the colors. Use the image below for reference, and make the horizon line much lighter.

Step 6

Now add another gradient, this time from black to transparent. The dark area will be at the top. Use the image below for reference.

Step 7

Create a new folder in the layer palette, rename it Sun. After that, create a new layer inside the folder and select the brush tool (B). Use a very soft brush (a rounded one with 0% hardness). Use white for the color and a large brush to create the sun.

Step 8

Change the blend mode of the Sun folder to color dodge and this should give you a nice light effect.

Step 9

Create another layer in the Sun folder, use the same brush but this time change the white color to an orange. Paint a bit on top of the other layer (1), in order to create an orange highlight. Also, add a new layer and once again let’s use the brush tool, but with white. Reduce the size of the brush and paint a bit of the ground area (2).

Step 10

Select the first layer created in the Sun folder, the one we created in step 6. Go to Layer>Layer Style>Gradient Overlay. Use white and orange #F7AA33 for the colors and 90º for the Angle. This layer style will add a bit of color to the sun.

Step 11

Now lets add a photo of a woman to the design. I used one from iStockphoto. Cut out the woman from the background use the Eraser Tool(E) with a very soft brush and 0% hardness to delete the feet and a bit of the legs of the woman, just enough to make it blend with the dune photo.

Step 12

With the woman layer selected go to Image>Adjustments>Hue Saturation. Reduce the Saturation to ‑40 and the Lightness to ‑80.

Step 13

Now go to Layer>Layer Style>Inner Shadow. Use color dodge for the Blend Mode, 100% Opacity, 162º for the Angle, 38 pixels for the Distance, 0 for Choke, 68 pixels for Size. With this layer style, the idea is to illuminate the edges of the woman.

Step 14

Create a new layer on top of the Dunes photo layer and fill it with black. Select the brush tool (B), use white for the color and a 0% hardness brush. Change the blend mode of the layer to color dodge and start painting some areas to make them really bright. Try different opacities for the brush using the number keys (1 is 10%, 2 is 20%…). If you change the blend mode of the layer to normal, you would have something like the first image in this step.

Step 15

Create a new layer and go to Filter>Render>Clouds. Make sure you have black and white for the background and foreground colors. Then change the blend mode of the layer to color dodge.

Step 16

Go to Filter>Distort>Wave. Use the image below for reference.

Step 17

To create more sand like a sand storm, without being too strong I used the noise filter. Go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Use 12% for the amount and uniform for distribution. After that, with the eraser tool (E) and a very soft brush, delete some areas to make the sand effect less strong. Use the image below for reference. Also repeat the steps 14 and 15 in another layer and use screen for the Blend Mode. That will make the sand look more real.


You can add some stars and create some lines using the brush tool like the image below however, the whole idea was to show how we can create sand using the clouds and noise filters. This showed me how important is for a designer to get out of the office and get some inspiration offline.

Written exclusively for WDD by Fabio Sasso. He is a Brazilian designer living in Porto Alegre. He produces an excellent design blog called Abduzeedo.

Have you followed the tutorial? Please feel free to show us your version below…

WDD Staff

WDD staff are proud to be able to bring you this daily blog about web design and development. If there’s something you think we should be talking about let us know @DesignerDepot.

Read Next

Apple Opts for AR over VR at WWDC

An Apple VR headset has been one of the most widely-rumored devices of the last few years, and it was finally settled a…

Exciting New Tools for Designers, June 2023

We’re halfway through 2023 already, and the number of incredible apps, tools, and resources for designers is mounting.

3 Essential Design Trends, June 2023

This month we are focusing on three trends within a bigger website design trend – different navigation menu styles and …

15 Best New Fonts, May 2023

The choices you make when selecting a typeface have more impact on your design than almost any other decision, so it’s …

10+ Best Tools & Resources for Web Designers and Agencies (2023 updated)

Having the ability to envision a tastefully designed website (i.e., the role creativity plays) is important. But being …

20 Best New Websites, May 2023

This month, there are tons of great new agency websites to get excited about. 3D animated prisms are a popular theme, a…

How to Find the Right White Label Website Builder for Your Agency

Web design agencies face a lot of obstacles in closing the deal with new clients. One of the most common ones is the ar…

Exciting New Tools For Designers, May 2023

There are hundreds of new tools for designers and developers released each month. We sift through them all to bring you…

3 Essential Design Trends, May 2023

All three of the website design trends here mimic something bigger going on in the tech space, from a desire to have mo…

10 Best AI Tools for Web Designers (2023)

It’s time to stop worrying if AI is going to take your job and instead start using AI to expand the services you can of…

10 Best Marketing Agency Websites (Examples, Inspo, and Templates!)

Marketers are skilled in developing strategies, producing visual assets, writing text with high impact, and optimizing …

15 Best New Fonts, April 2023

Fonts are a designer’s best friend. They add personality to our designs and enable fine typography to elevate the quali…