Creating “Rounded Windows” Op Art from Scratch (and Math) in Photoshop

Greetings, my dekeTical Illusionists. Today, I wanted to share Deke’s technique for creating a “rounded windows” style work of Op Art. Like the “Inflated Checkers” piece Deke created in Deke’s Techniques 105: “Op Art Experiment 1a: Inflated Checkers in Photoshop,” this project requires no stock art, no drawing capability, and no sample file to start with.

(Note if you prefer your instruction in video form, Deke covers this very project in the member exclusive episode Deke’s Techniques 190: “Op art experiment 1b: Rounded Windows,” which you can find here. Not a member? Go to to sign up for a free week trial.)

Nope, armed with just Photoshop’s Pattern Maker and some clever use of the Transform command, you can create this space-bending Bridget Riley-inspired piece of art by simply following these illustrated steps:

1. Create a new file that will become your pattern unit.

Start by creating a new file (File > New) with a Width of 450 pixels and a Height of 400. Set the Color Mode to Grayscale and click OK.

2) Draw a marquee and fill it with black.

Choose the Rectangular Marquee tool and set it to Fixed Size in the options bar. Then set the Width to 400 pixels and the Height to 200. Click just outside the upper left-hand corner of the image to set the rectangle exactly to the corner.

With the foreground set to black (you can always press the D key to ensure default colors), press Option-Delete (or Alt-Backspace on the PC) to fill the marquee with black.

3) Turn the image into a pattern.

Press Command-D (Ctrl-D on the PC) to abandon your selection. Then choose Edit > Define Pattern. In the Pattern Name dialog box that ensues, name your pattern Windows (not Microsoft Windows, just Windows) and click OK.

4) Create a new file and apply the pattern.

Create another new file and set the Width to 4800 pixels and the Height to 3000 pixels. At the bottom of the layers panel click the black/white circle icon to make a new adjustment layer and choose Pattern. In the Pattern Fill dialog box, click the down-pointing arrow next to the current pattern fill and choose the one you just made. Set the Scale to 25 percent and click OK.

5. Bend the “windows” around with the Bulge warp.

Turn the Windows layer into a Smart Object so that you can apply the Transform command nondestructively. To do so, select the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object from the Layers panel flyout menu. Press Command-T (Ctrl-T) to invoke the Transform command. Click the warp icon on the right side of the options bar. Set the Warp to Bulge and the Bend to 90 percent. Then press Return (or Enter) twice to accept the transformation.

6. Use the Offset filter to change the position of the crease.

Choose Filter > Other > Offset and set the Horizontal value to -1275 pixels right. Make sure the Undefined Areas are set to Wrap Around. Click OK.

7. Beef up the crease with a white-filled rectangular marquee.

To make sure the crease stripe hasn’t been duly harmed by the warp, set the Rectangular Marquee back to Fixed Size with a Width of 4 pixels and a Height of 3000. Then draw over that center crease line with the marquee tool and press Command-Delete (Ctrl-Backspace) to fill the selection with the background color.

8. Copy the Windows layer and move it into position to create the next curve.

Drag the Windows layer to the page icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to make a copy. Then press the V key to get the Move tool and position the new layer as shown below.

9. Transform the new “curved wall” to match the shape of the center one.

To make the new bulge of windows match the existing one, press Command-T (Ctrl-T) to enter Transform mode. Set the reference point proxy on the left side of the options bar to the middle left point, the X value to 1366, and the Width and Height to 236 percent each. Press the Return (Enter) key twice to accept the change and exit the Transform command.

Voila, you’ve got your curving walls of windows, courtesy of nothing but a little Photoshop ingenuity. Don’t get lost in there.

Next entry:Creating a Photoshop Composite from Six Separate Sixties-Style Psychedelic Scenes

Previous entry:Deke’s Techniques 198: Aligning Variations to Make a Perfect Composite in Photoshop


  • defining pattern

    Hi, Deke.
    When I go to define the pattern for the windows, photoshop is only defining a sliver of it so that when I apply the pattern I only get black bars all the way across. Im using ps cs5. Do you know how I can fix this?

  • same happens to me, size

    same happens to me, size should be 450 x 400 px instead it is 82 x 400. I am confused, using PS CS6 on a Mac.

  • Works Great!

    I love techniques like this. I also like the fact that is is completely adjustable. Thanks again for a nice tut!

  • Check out Pushwagner

    These incredibly detailed “real-life-patterns” was - and is - used invented and used by the brilliant painter Pushwagner. However; Pushwagner used a pencil to draw everything!  Check out his amazing art - Pushwagner (he’s real name is Terje Brofoss)  is the new Munch:

  • same here, and I’m perplexed (CS5 and CS6 versions, PC)

    I’ve tried it a few times, but don’t know why the when I define pattern, the Pattern Name Box displays it as 82 x 400.

  • changed grayscale to rgb, and that worked

    smile—not sure why, but that defined the pattern dimensions

  • Thanks, Amy. Had the same problem.

    I had the same problem and actually just got lazy and changed computers. Since that’s not a viable solution to share, I wasn’t sure what to say. (Deke had suggested trashing the preferences, but I hadn’t had a chance to try that yet.)

  • Try starting with an RGB file to define your pattern

    I had the same problem when I tried creating the pattern from a grayscale document, but when I went back and followed the first few steps using an RGB for the color mode it worked!


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