Deke’s Techniques 099: Creating a Shimmering Round Jewel in Photoshop

Today, three things: First, I’m newly back from Ireland, which was nothing short of astonishingly crazy awesome. Second, as I write this, we have exactly 50,000 members of dekeOnline. (I know, what are the chances of such a round number? But there it is on the big Member-O-Meter.) And third, I greet you this Tuesday as I do every Tuesday with a new episode of Deke’s Techniques.

What is it about? I’d love to tell you, but I wasted my introductory paragraph on that other garbage. But just so you’re not left hanging, here’s the official description from my video publisher,

This week’s free episode of Deke’s Techniques documents one of those delightful projects in which Deke manages to create something precious, in this case a rounded shimmering jewel, completely from scratch inside Photoshop.  He starts with nothing more than the plain black ellipse you see on the left (below) and builds the glowing amber cabochon on the right using little more than a collection of layer effects, not to mention a suitable background of marble and a gold chain.

First, he applies a red fill with a subtle gradient to the ellipse.

Photoshop ellipse with gradient

Then the layer effects begin. The first, a Stroke effect, creates a 20-pixel-thick brownish stroke that will eventually serve as the gold ridge around the jewel:

Next, Deke applies a substantial Inner Shadow effect, which uses the Cone Inverted contour setting to establish the rich, round glow.

Applying a dark red Inner Glow effect adds volume:

Then Deke shapes the edges of his gemstone with a Bevel & Emboss effect. The settings include a Pillow Emboss style and a Depth value of 400% that employs a very pale orange as the Highlight Mode and a dark reddish brown for the Shadow Mode. (If you’re following along, note at this point how much the preview swatch in the dialog box looks like a faceted gem itself!)

Before he closes the Layer Style dialog box, Deke applies one more effect: a Drop Shadow where the jewel would naturally shade the marble behind it.

The final polishing comes from a few crescent-shaped shape layers made with the Ellipse tool. With the right blend modes and an unorthodox use of the Drop Shadow effect, those elliptical shapes become glossy highlights. Voila, Deke has created a precious jewel from nothing but pixels!

For members of, Deke has another video this week that further refines this effect with a technique that he calls “Cutting and brushing light on a gem.” Here’s what that means in beautiful picture form:

Why is my follow-up movie called “Cutting and brushing light on a gem”? Because if you compare the image above to the one above that, you’ll see how I’ve managed to “cut” the light into separate facets across the jewel’s face, as well as “brush” the surface of the object.

Next week, we turn the jewel into a highly polished holiday button. If this text were a button (the very text within your eyes this very moment), it would read Please Return Soon.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 100: Creating a Shiny Button with Inset Text in Photoshop

Previous entry:Irish Inspirations, Day 7: Castle Hunting around Clare


  • Fill and gradient?

    I’m having some trouble with this tutorial. You say that to fill the ellipse you press the A key to change to the arrow tool and then you go up to the fill swatch in the control panel and select gradient. Here’s where I run into a problem, because when I press the A key and switch to the arrow tool, my control panel has no fill swatch or gradient selection, it just says “No options for the Direct Selection Tool.” I’m using Photoshop CS5, is this a feature only available in 6?

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