Deke’s Techniques 244: Creating Psychedelic Fabric in Photoshop

This week’s Deke’s Techniques episode falls into my favorite category of “Deke makes something from nothing, except Photoshop.” I love these projects for three reasons (or at least I had three reasons as I was falling asleep writing this post in my head last night, let’s see if I can remember.)

First, you get to watch the magical transformation of a boring white screen turn into a groovy psychedelic fabric pattern right before your very eyes. Second, you don’t need a sample file to follow along and create the same magic yourself. And third, uh, maybe I was just happy to have mastered the spelling of psychedelic? No matter, two reasons are enough to follow along with this fun fabulous fabrication.

Here’s a visual review of the basic steps you’ll see in the video:

1. Create a new document.

You can use Deke’s dimensions or not, but you’ll want a transparent background and an RGB color mode.

2. Fill with a Gradient adjustment layer.

The key elements here are using black and an 85 percent opaque white as your color stops, and making sure the Angle is set to 9 degrees and the Style is Reflective. To match Deke’s pattern, turn on the Reverse check box to put the white section in the center.

3. Add another Gradient adjustment layer.

This time, Deke used the built-in Spectrum gradient with an Angle of degrees and again setting the Style to Reflective.

4. Adjust the colors of the Rainbow gradient.

After creating the Rainbow fill, Deke decided on some slightly less garish colors, garish being relative here. So he changed each stop in the Spectrum gradient to its CMYK equivalent. To do this, double-click the Rainbow layer in the Layers panel, then double-click the Gradient bar in the Gradient Fill dialog box.

When the Gradient Editor dialog box opens, choose each color stop and change its color cocktail to CMYK by basically making sure it’s made of 1 percent of its component colors with no extraneous color ingredients. For example, for the red stop, remove any Cyan Photoshop might have added by setting the C to percent. Then set the Magenta (M) and Yellow (Y) to 1 percent each.

(Speaking of color, this is the graphic in which I discover that there is no color you can truly effectively use for a virtual highlighter when your graphics contain spectrums.)

After you’ve adjusted each of the colors (you can check out Deke’s adjustments for each of the other colors in the video), click OK once to close the Gradient Editor and again to close the Gradient Fill dialog box. Change the Blend Mode of the Rainbow layer to Multiply to see the two gradient layers interact.

5. Add a dose of Wave filter.

The final part of the effect is created with the seldom used Wave filter, after turning the gradient combo into a single Smart Object. Here are the settings Deke uses for quick reference. Each application of the filter is going to be slightly different due to its random nature. 

And here is my follow-along version of Deke’s project.

If you’re a member of, you can watch an exclusive movie in which Deke transforms this pattern into something totally other:

Rock letters created in Photoshop

Don’t have a subscription? You can get a free week’s trial at, which will temporarily unlock the entire Deke’s Techniques collection for you.

Next entry:Friday Fundamentals: Making Great Selections with Color Range in Photoshop

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