Design a Vintage Clock With Rusty Mechanics In Photoshop
Follow this step by step guide to create a cool vintage clock design with lots of detail. We’ll be working with textures, patterns and brushes to bring out the rusty mechanics and the distressed imprint. Further, I’ll show you a nifty little trick to make use of custom Photoshop actions to perform repeating tasks.
The Final Vintage Clock Design
Check out the beautiful details in this close up shot.
Preparing The Document
Open a new document in Photoshop and set the dimensions according to you needs. I’ve set mine to 1500px by 1500px. Add some guides aligned to outlines of the artboard and its center, and four more with an inset of 100px.
Fill the current layer with a very bright tone of yellow and name it Background. Lock this layer by clicking the lock icon in the Layers window.
Creating The Clock Face Texture
Grab the Ellipse Tool and make sure, its set up to create shape layers. Draw a circle aligned to the four inner guides and set its filling to a radial gradient from #cdac77 to #eedcc0.
In the layer effects window add a large, black Inner Glow, set the blending mode to Color Burn and the opacity to 30%. To add even more structure give it a subtle pattern overlay.
Create a new layer, hit D to set the current colors to black and white and go to Filter->Render->Clouds. Right-click this layer and click Create Clipping Mask from the menu. This will restrict the visible bounderies of the clouds to basic shape of the clock face.
To bring out that aged vintage look even more, go get yourself a nice concrete texture and paste it in. I used a beautiful free texture from texturezine.com. Open the Histogram Window in the Expanded View and keep an eye on the Mean value. To achieve the best results with overlaying textures, you’ll always want this value to be close to 128, which indicates that the average color of the texture is 50% grey. Adjust the brightness accordingly.
Now we can set the blending mode of this layer to Overlay and create another clipping mask like we’ve done before.
The texturing of the clock’s background is finished for now. Create a new group in the layers window, name it Clock Background, move the three layers into it and hit the lock icon to save yourself from changing anything by accident.
Adding The Imprint
It’s time to print some numbers and other elements on the clock now. Let’s start with adding a new group named Imprint on top of the layers stack and one fresh layer within it. Set the brush to a basic round brush with a size of 30px and a hardness of 90%. Also, make sure the foreground color is still set to black.
Grab the Ellipse Tool, set the Tool Mode to Path and click in the center of the stage. The guides we created will take care of the cursor snapping to the exact center. In the upcoming window set both width and height to 1270px.
Right-click onto the artboard, hit Stroke Path…, set the tool to Brush and click OK. This will leave you with a thick black outline with the same dimensions as the background. We don’t need this path anymore, so just delete it.
The ticks marking the hours and minutes are often placed inside a ring on old clock faces. Of course, those 60 ticks need to have the same distance between them and every fifth tick should be a little thicker as well as it’s indicating a full hour.
There are endless ways how to approach this and you might have developed your personal work flow for situations like this. Anyway, here’s how I did it.
Create a new path using the Ellipse Tool from the center while holding the shift key. Next hold down the alt key. The cursor will change to minus symbol. Draw another, slightly smaller circle. Go to Layer->Vector Mask->Current Path. Fill the layer with black. This will leave you with another black ring.
Set the Fill of this layer to 0% and adjust the settings advanced blending options like this:
Apply a black stroke of 6px in the effects window as well.
On a new layer, draw the first thin tick at 12 o’clock. I used the Pen Tool and a brush size of 6px. No need to be too accurate here.
Now draw 59 more lines like this one while keeping the exact same distances and taking care of the perfectly correct angles. Sounds painful? Right.
I’m kind of lazy in situations like this. And whenever there’s a chance to save myself a few clicks by automating repeating tasks, I’ll go for it! What we actually want to do here, is to duplicate the latest tick and rotate it by 6° with the reference point of the rotation being in the center of the artboard. Why 6 degree, you ask? The whole circle is defined by 360°. We want to draw 60 ticks and since 360°/60 = 6°, six is number to use. It’s all mathematics.
So, open the Actions window, create a new action named Duplicate and Rote by 6 degrees and start recording.
Go to Layer->Duplicate Layer… and click ok. Next, go to Edit->Transform->Rotate. Drag the reference point of the transformation to center of the stage (750px / 750py). In the transformation panel, look for the rotation input and set it to 6. Hit enter to apply the transformation. And that’s it, so stop recording the action.
We can now easily add the remaining ticks by playing the newly created action over and over. But before we start playing it 58 times, let’s rethink our possibilities of being even lazier. We still need every fifth tick to be a little thicker as it’s marking a full hour. Should be automatable too, don’t you think?
Trigger the current action only three times for now to have a total of 5 ticks for now. Merge those tick layers down to a single layer.
Switch back to the Pen Tool and draw a thicker line at 12 o’clock. I’ve used a brush size of 15px this time. Draw it on same merged layer holding the other ticks.
The current layer contains 5 ticks now and we want to duplicate and rotate it in a way, that leaves us with a total of 12 patterns for the 12 hours. So the desired angle per rotation accounts to 360°/12=30°.
Since we won’t need the previuos action any more, we can edit it to use 30° from now on. Double click the last step of the action and change the value for the rotation to 30. Now play this action eleven times to add all the ticks. Merge down all the tick layers to a single layer. Voilà.
Apply a clipping mask to get rid of the spare lines. This is where the advanced blending options of the ring layer comes in.
Pick a beautiful font and write a 12 in the according spot using roman numerals. I started out with Open Baskerville and adjusted the tracking and vertical scale. Set the paragraph style to Center Text.
Duplicate, rotate, move in place… wait, there’s an automation for this. And it’s still set to the correct value of 30°. So just hit the play button within the Actions window 11 times to create the other numbers with the optimal transformation.
Change the numbers to match the corresponding time on the clock face.
Go on adding some more elements to the design using the techniques described above. I’ve drawn two more circles, a few ornaments and added some text layers to the center.
The crisp, pixel-perfect edges of the imprint elements are somewhat conflicting with the old vintage look of the clock’s background. And that’s what we’re going to fix in the next steps.
Distorting The Imprint
Collapse the Imprint group in the Layers window, right-click it and hit Convert to Smart Object. The benefit of working with smart objects (compared to merging down) is that we can always get back and change details if we need to.
Go to Filter->Distort->Ripple… and enter an amount of 15% and set it to large.
Adjust the layer effects like shown below:
You might also need to get back the Clock Background and adjust the gradient to be a little darker. This should leave you with something similar to this:
Apply a layer mask to the imprint object and use your favorite grunge brushes to add some cracks to the design. This will bring us a lot closer to that distressed look we’re trying to achieve.
Creating The Rusty Mechanics
Obviously the clock still lacks in the mechanic parts. We’ll start with building the minute hand. Hit P to switch to the Pen Tool and draw half of the shape. For better orientation, it might help to turn of the other layers. Here’s what I came up with:
Switch to the Path Selection Tool, hold down the alt key and drag out a copy of the path. With the copied path selected, go to Edit->Transform->Flip Horizontal. After moving the mirrored copy in place, selected both paths and click Merge Shape Components from the Path operations menu.
With the path selected, go to Layer->New Fill Layer->Solid Color…, name the layer Minute Hand and set the fill color to #331600. Open the effects window and apply a subtle Inner Glow and a Pattern Overlay. I used the settings shown below.
Add another layer named Rust, fill it with black and apply a clipping mask. Next set its fill to 0% and give it a pattern overlay with a blending mode set to Linear Burn and an opacity of about 20%. I used a pattern named Wax Crayon on Sketch Pad that comes bundled with CS6.
Select both layers and convert them into a new smart object. Turn the visibility of the clock face back on. With the new smart object selected hit cmd+t to enter transform mode and move the reference point to the center of stage again. Rotate the minute hand to some random position.
The hand still looks way too flat and could definitely benefit from a little more texture. Open its effects panel and give it a Bevel & Emoboss effect and a Drop Shadow like so:
The minute hand stands out way better now and the texturing brought up some really nice reflections and structures.
To add the hour hand, I right-clicked the existing smart object and picked New Smart Object via Copy. Next, I simply scaled and moved some vertices, moved it in position and applied a different rotation. Using the same techniques as before, I also added a little button in the center. To finish the mechanical elements of the clock, I also added a black second hand.
When applying the drop shadows to the different hands and the button, vary the distance of the drop shadow as if some elements were closer to the clock face than others. The button obviously needs the biggest distance here. This will add a some more depth to the design and help it pop out.
The Final Vintage Clock Design With Rusty Mechanics
To finalize the design, I added a drop shadow to the basic clock face shape and gave it a subtle bevel effect as well.
I hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial. To me, it’s also been the first time working with the new version of Photoshop that’s bundled in CS6. Coming from CS4 I can tell there’s a hole lot of new great features included and I’m really looking forward to explore all of them in future posts.
Just in case you havn’t heard this: Adobe offers a trial program which allows you to download the complete Creative Suite 6 and test all of its tools for free and without limitations for 30 days. Plus, with the release of Creative Cloud, there’s finally a very affordable alternative to the somewhat pricy one time purchase of CS6.
In an upcoming tutorial I’ll show you, how to bring this aged clock design to life using CSS3 and jQuery. So remember to subscribe or you might miss the best part!