The swirly portal effect I used in comic #363 is actually quite easy to make. Following are the steps to reproduce it. I've tried to make them understandable with little prior experience of photoshop. For those with slightly more experience I've added some other hints. If you do not have access to photoshop some other packages probably have similar functions, though under other names.Step 1:
Create a new Document (File->New | Ctrl+N) and put in any size you like (experiment with this). I chose 384 pixels wide by 512 pixels high to have more or less the same proportions as the portal I used.Note:
There's some reason why I use a multiple of 128 in both directions as I'll explain later.Step 2:
Take red as your foreground colour and blue as your background colour (there's many ways to do this, the easiest perhaps is simply clicking the coloured squares in the toolbox).Step 3:
Go to Filter->Render->Clouds
You now have a slightly dull (not too bright) blue-red plasma cloud effect filling your entire background.Step 3:
Go to Filter->Render->Difference cloud
You have now a slightly more complex, darker plasma cloud effect with just purples.
Go to Filter->Difference Clouds (Ctrl+F)
You have now a more complex plasma cloud effect with just Blues, reds and purples.
Press CTrl+F a couple more times until you are pleased. You will keep getting more complex clouds.Note:
When the dimensions of the image are multiples of 128, clouds and difference clouds create seemlessly tiling patterns. That means that if you used such dimensions you could what you have now as a repeating background. However, most likely non-pixies will soon go insane.Step 4:
Go to Filter->Distort->Twirl and give in an amount between 100 and 200 (I used 180) or alternatively between -100 and -200 (the latter produces a counter-clockwise twirl).
You now have a weird whirlpool in your drawing.Step 5:
Copy the layer you're working on (if you followed instructions this is the background layer). The easiest way to do this is through the Layer->Duplicate Layer .. menu (use default settings). Alternatively you can select all (ctrl+A), copy (ctrl+c) and paste (ctrl+v).Step 6:
Here it gets a bit trickier. You should put the new layer's "blending mode" (this is the way it interacts with colours below it)
Presumably the majority of you don't know how to do that so here's one way:
6.1: Open the layers palette (Window->Layers or F7 toggles it)
6.2: Make sure the topmost layer is selected (named Background copy if you followe dinstructions)
6.3: From the drop down that says "Normal" chose either "Hard Light" or "Color Dodge" depending on your taste
Other modes work too, pick whatever you like. I went with Hard LightStep 7:
Focus attention on the center more by blurring out the edges using Radial blur:
I used an amount of 28 and best quality.Step 8:
If your photoshop version supports fade, do Filter->Render->Difference Clouds then Edit->Fade and in the latter set mode to color dodge.
This adds some blops to break up the portal.Step 9:
Time to add in the magic text. In the strip I used the CTS magic font that uhm ... I should put up for download again. You can use any font you like, really. For this exampel I used Wing dings 3 and the word TELEPORT.
I started at the top-center and then wrote one letter per line using a large font size (48 points, settable in the toolbar).Step 10:
We need to turn the text into something we can work with now. this is called rasterizing.
Two ways to do this:
10.1: In the layers palette (see 6) right-click the text layer and chose "rasterize"
10.2: Use the menu: Layer->Rasterize->TypeStep 11:
Add some twirl to the text too now. Filter->Distort->Twirl as before, but use a lower amount. I used 100.Step 12:
Now we just need to give the text some style. Go to Layer->Style->Outer glow and a big complex dialog should appear.
Move this around a bit so it doesn't cover the image and you can see what you're doing.
12.1: Click the little yellow square and chose a red in teh colour picker.
12.2: Increase the spread and size as you see fit, I used a spread of 11% and a size of 46 pixels.
12.3: In the left column click on "stroke"
12.4: In the stroke options, click the colour and set it to something darker: black or dark red.
12.5: Set the stroke width as you see fit, I used 1 pixel
12.6: Click "Gradient overlay"
12.7: Set the Blend Mode to "Hard light", "Luminosity" or anything else you like. I picked Hard Light
12.8: Play around with settings some more here
The end result after 12.7 is for me this: