Goal of this tutorial
Turn a favorite photo into a kaleidoscopic mandala to use as a personal logo or background image for a web page.
Level: Basic - but assumes you know your way around Photoshop
Software: Adobe Photoshop -- or other photo editing software with Layer Blending Modes.
Choose your image. One with high contrast lights and darks works best. I chose a snapshot from Venice, Italy — the Bridge of Sighs.
Crop your image to a square.
Background. I made the canvas a little large than the photo to add a background color compatible with the photo colors.
Step 1. Duplicate & Flip Photo Layers
Create these layers:
(1) Original photo
(2) Duplicate Original. Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical
(3) Duplicate Original. Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal
(4) Duplicate Layer 3. Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical
Alternative. You can also rotate each layer by 90 degree. This gives you a more pinwheel effect.
Blend Mode. Experiment with Blend Modes for Layers 2,3, and 4 to get the image you like best. I chose Screen.
Create Flattened Layer. When satisfied with blended layers, flatten them into a single new working layer: Turn off background color layer, if visible. Add a blank layer on top. Target the new layer. With ALT key pressed, Layer > Merge > Visible (aka "Stamp Visible"). You can now turn off or discard your initial 4 layers. This is Layer 5 in the window to the right.
Step 2. Create Circles
Guides. View > Rulers. From rulers, pull out guidelines to show vertical and horizontal centers.
Marquee Tool. Activate Elliptical Marquee Tool (M). Using exact center of guidelines, Alt-Drag to create a circle selection slightly smaller than the canvas.
Circular Layers. With focus on Layer 5, Layer > New > Layer Via Copy (Ctl-J) to create Layer 7. Rotate this layer (Ctl-T) 45 degrees to the right.
Go back to Layer 5. Layer > New > Layer Via Copy (Ctl-J) to create Layer 6. Rotate this layer (Ctl-T) 45 degrees to the left.
Blend Circles. Turn off Layer 5. Go to Layer 7. Experiment with Blending Modes to combine the 2 circle layers. I chose Multiply.
Create Flattened Layer. When satisfied with blended circles, flatten them into a single new working layer: Turn off background color layer, if visible. Add a blank layer on top. Target the new layer. With ALT key pressed, Layer > Merge > Visible. You can now turn off or discard Layers 6 & 7. This is Layer 8 in the window to the right.
Your Mandala is complete. You can tinker with it using the optional steps below.
Step 3. Optional Tinkering
Layer 9. I decided to make the Mandala a little smaller (Ctl-T). Then I blurred the edge: Select > Load Selection (loading the layer's transparency). Select > Modify > Border... 10 px (or whatever). Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur... 2 px.
Layers 10a-d. Dissatisfied with the edge "geometry" (image below, left) I duplicated Layer 9 and created 4 tiny mandalas to layer on at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. Setting their transparency to 80% helped them blend in. (Image below, center)
Hue Adjustment Layer. Color can be changed by adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. See image below left.
Web Page Background Image. To turn your mandala into a background image for a web page (see this page), push the Lightness Slider on the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer way up to the right.
A PNG image. As you can see from the large version below, there are lots of secret hints of the original, lots of nooks and crannies to meditate upon and explore.
Alternative. For other fascinating kaleidoscopic effects, try Mehdi's Free Kaleidoscope Plug-In. The mandala on the right was produced from the same Bridge of Sighs photograph.