Create a Trendy Music Background Style

By   |  Stashed in Design & Drawing

Music Background Tutorial

It’s quite trendy these days to use bright, vibrant colors with wavy lines and a silhouette of a person. This tutorial will aim to show you how to create this music background look. It’s the most extensive tutorial I’ve written to date. I really hope you can learn from it; I know I did, by creating it!

Here’s a look at what we are trying to accomplish

Music Background Tutorial Final

Step 1

Open up Photoshop and create a new document to the size of your monitor.

Step 2

Create a radial gradient from black (#000000) to dark gray (#555555) with the gray slightly skewed to the right. Like below.

Gradient Background to Music Image

Step 3

Create a new layer above the background, call it ‘Blue Clouds’. Change the foreground color to a vibrant blue, I used #0060ff, and make the background color black. Click Filter->Render->Clouds.

Blue Clouds

Step 4

While still on the ‘Blue Clouds’ layer change the Blend Mode to Overlay, and the Opacity to 90%

Blue Clouds Layer

Step 5

Add a new layer above ‘Blue Clouds’, name this layer ‘Pink Clouds’. Change your foreground color to a vibrant pink (I used #ff4ffd), keep the background color as black. Click Filter->Render->Clouds once again.

Step 6

Keep the Blend Mode as Normal, change the Opacity to 30%.

Pink and Blue Clouds

Step 7

OK, we’ve got some nice color and interest here, but we need to crank it back a few notches. Make a copy of the background layer and place it at the top of the layers. Change the Blend Mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 90%

Clouds Background

Step 8

Let’s add a little more interest with some noise. While on the ‘Background Copy’ layer, click Filter->Noise->Add Noise, change the amount to 2%, the distribution to gaussian, and check monochromatic.

Clouds Noise

Step 9

Now it’s time to create the big blue wavy lines. Create a new layer at the top of the layers palette and name it ‘Wavy Line 1′. Grab the rectangle marquee tool and draw a rectangle like below.


Step 10

Grab the Gradient Tool again, change the Mode to Linear, and set the Gradient Editor to go from that same vibrant blue (#0060ff) to transparent. Click and drag out a gradient within the rectangle marquee you drew out in the previous step.

Wavy Line Gradient

Step 11

Deselect the rectangle by pressing ‘ctrl, d’. Click Filter->Distort->Wave. Change the settings to as follows: Number of Generators 2, Wavelength Min 180, Max 630, Amplitude Min 40, Max 80. Keep the scale at 100% for both, keep the radio button on Repeat Edge Pixels. Click randomize until the preview looks the way you’d like. Click OK.

Distort Settings

Step 12

Let’s add a little style to our wavy line. Double click next to the layer name to bring up the layer style window. Click to add an outer glow. Change the opacity to 38%, the color to white, the spread to 12% and the size to 0px, for the rest of the options keep the defaults. Also add an inner glow. Change the blend mode to overlay, opacity to 32%, color to white and the size to 40. You should end up with something like what you see below.

Background with 1 Wavy Line

Step 13

Rinse, Lather, Repeat. Add another similar wavy lines on a separate layer. Alter the distort settings slightly and remember if you hit randomize within the distort options you can get a different look each time. Brighten up the opacity a bit on both the inner and outer glow. You should end up with something like this.

Backgroung with 2 Lines

Step 14

Now we are going to add some music notes into the background. If you have that type of brush already go ahead and give that a try. If not go to a free brush source and pick up some. I used brushes from deviant art, you can find them here. Click to add a new layer and call it ‘Music Notes’.

Step 15

Choose the same pink color as you used earlier and select a nice music notes brush. Make it stretch the screen, and click to paint it on once. Change the Blend Mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 70%. Use the same wave filter as before. Now add one or two different brushes more. Here’s what my project looks like at this point.

Music Background with notes

Step 16

Next up, create a new layer and title it ‘Splatter’. Grab some splatter brushes and use the same color pink as before. I used splatters that can be downloaded here. Make the brush size pretty large and paint a splatter on the right side. Click to add a layer mask and use a black to white linear gradient on the mask to add a gradual fade. Also change the Blend Mode to Screen.

Splatter Layer

Step 17

Add a group to your layers and call it ‘Lines.’ Now add a layer to that group and call it ‘Line 1′.

Lines Layer and Folder

Step 18

Grab the pen tool, at the properties at the top that appear, click to change it to paths. Now, draw a wavy line that is the width of the canvas.

Pen Tool Options

Step 19

Grab the paint brush tool and change your brush to a pink soft 10px round brush.

Brush Options

Step 20

Click on the direct selection tool and then right click on the path you just created. Choose Stroke Path from the options that appear. Change the path to a brush and keep simulate pressure unchecked.

Stroke Path

Step 21

With the direct selection tool still selected click on the path and hit delete to get rid of it.

Step 22

Double click the ‘Line 1′ layer to bring up the layer style window and add an Outer Glow with the following settings: Blend mode soft light, opacity 75%, color white, keep the other defaults. Also add an Inner Glow, I used these settings for that: Blend mode screen, color white, size 62px.

Step 23

Repeat adding these lines on separate layers within the ‘Lines’ group until you have a nice look. Here’s what mine looks like, thus far.

Music Tutorial Background

Step 24

Add a layer mask to the entire ‘Lines’ group. Make a black to white to black gradient and drag the gradient across the width of the canvas, so that the lines gradually fade at the edges.

Lines Mask

Step 25

It’s time to add the guitarist! You can download the pic here. Once it downloads, open the image in Photoshop and drag it onto a new layer in the music document. Call this layer ‘Guitar’. Hit ‘ctrl, t’ and resize the guitarist to a more reasonable size and move him to the right side of the image.

Place Guitarist

Step 26

Extract the guitarist by using any combination of the lasso tool, the magic wand, pen tool, etc, that gets the job done. The result doesn’t have to be perfect, all we need is the general shape. Note in my example below, I wasn’t too concerned with making the hair extraction perfect.

Guitarist Extracted

Step 27

Now we need to create the silhouette appearance with some awesome glowing effects, we are going to do so by adding some filters. Click Filter->Artistic->Cutout. Change the settings to as follows: Number of Levels 4, Edge Simplicity 6 and Edge Fidelity 3. Then click on the new effect layer icon to add another filter on top of this one.


Step 28

Within the same filter gallery, in the new effects layer you just created, click Stylize->Glowing Edges. Change the settings within this filter to: Edge Width 2, Edge Brightness 6, and Smoothness 5. Click OK.

Glowing Edges

Step 29

Double click on the ‘Guitar’ layer to add a layer effect. Choose Outer Glow and change the opacity to 27% and the size to 92px.

Music Tutorial with Guitarist

Step 30

Make a copy of the ‘Guitar’ layer by dragging it down the the new layer icon at the bottom of the palette. On the ‘Guitar copy’ layer hit ‘ctrl, t’ to bring up the free transform tool. Flip the copy upside-down and drag it to the bottom to act as a reflection. Change the opacity on the layer to 25%.


Step 31

I added the word Music to the background using similar styles we used earlier. The font is called Nasalization and can be found at places like Below is my final result.

Music Background Tutorial Final Result

What do you think?

Let me know what you think of this tutorial. I’d love to see your work, if you come up with an interesting variation! Drop me a comment below.

About the Author

Andrew is a primary contributer for MyInkBlog. He is a full time web developer for Niagara University. When he's not working there, he's a blogger, twitter'er, wordpress'er, silverstripe advocate, blessed father and husband.

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  • Eli

    Slick outcome! :)

  • Fenrus

    Wow, this really comes to life when you put a good pattern overlay with interesting colors and blend modes. Fun stuff.

  • KeithM

    At the Blue Cloud layer I cannot pick “overlay” — it’s gray’d out.
    Any help is appreciated.

  • Andrew Houle

    Hi Keith,

    What version of Photoshop are you using? Try clicking on the move tool to get out of anything that you may be in. Also make sure the layer isn’t locked, that would be indicated by a small lock icon next to the name of the layer. Hopefully this helps, if anyone else has any advice, please drop a comment.

  • KeithM

    Thanks for the reply Andrew,
    I’m using CS3 v10.0.1
    I tried to change to the move tool in that layer but Overlay is still gray’d out…..
    The Background layer is locked, but the Blue Clouds layer is not locked.

  • Andrew Houle
  • Fazil

    Juz Amazing… Never knew photoshop could be so easy for beginners… Thanks a lot and keep continuing the gr8 job….

  • Heather

    That is Awesome! I am going to try it. My only problem will be the pen tool. I am not very good at that yet.

  • Ger

    Well put together, learned so much. Now I can see the power that the pen tool possess.

  • Andrew Houle

    Wow! Thanks for the awesome response to this tutorial. The pen tool is definitely worth learning about, it will open up so many new things for you within Photoshop and Illustrator.

  • Niki

    Wow, great, thanks!
    I made one myself, and altered it a bit:
    Great tutorial. :)

  • Andrew Houle

    Awesome Niki, I love the result! I’m think of making a flickr group for MyInkBlog so we can post these kinds of images that the readers come up with.

  • yasmin

    it is very nice and useful it is the most beatiful tutorial i have ever seen

  • Joe Claessen

    I would like to know how you made the Text At the end Transparent in the middle??? Thankyou

  • Andrew Houle

    @Joe Claessen Change the blend mode to overlay and drop the opacity until you get the transparency you desire. Hope this helps.

  • Joe Claessen

    Yep, when i added the outer glow it worked, thankyou :)

    plus, here is my version :)

  • Sue

    Fantastic tutorial! Thank you, i really had fun creating it

  • Rituraj

    It’s really a great tutorial.I ‘m a vfx student & i love to do these effects….

  • CNP

    im wondering wheter you could help me, i want to get the guitarist picture as the guitarist layer, but every time i open it, it comes up in another photoshop window, how do you drag it to the layer?

    please help id appriciate it very much!

    chloe :)

  • Andrew Houle

    @CNP You can either use File->Place and drop it in that way. Or with both windows open, use the move tool (shortcut ‘v’ on the keyboard) and drag and drop the file into your project window. Hope this helps!

  • CNP

    it did,
    thanks again!

  • Akshay

    dude, there are many a things i’d appreciate in ur tutorial..

    1. English is too gud.. dat means u’ve put ur best efforts for the language too.. :)

    2. i’ve seen many tuts but no one has ever told to make a Path via Pen Tool and actually shown it.. i knew how to make path.. but its gud for beginners too.. :)

    3. if ur thinking of making a blog or a group on Flickr etc.. plz inform me.. i’d appreciate if u take help from me in any case :)

    waiting for ur response on [email protected]


  • brendan

    hey i think my comment didnt work but ill say it again good tutorial keep up the good work
    from brendan

  • DRIN

    wow I really enjoyed your tutorial :) your have good techniques in photoshop. Thanks for sharing every detail in the tutorial :) was gr8 help :)

  • jake

    You have to de-select the blue gradient before you apply the wave filter, it took me about an hour to figure it out, just adding this in case anyone else had the same problem

  • Andrew Houle

    @jake Many thanks for taking the time to comment this, I hope it saves people some time when stepping through this tut.

  • Kimmi

    I think this is a great tutorial! I just don’t know how to make the gradient for the line. I can make the waves – but i dont have the linear mode in my photoshop – i have linear light, linear dodge, and linear burn – i dont know if it’s that that’s preventing me from making the lines have colors rising up instead of across (i dont know the terms) – please help! i really wanna use this tutorial – Thanks!

  • Andrew Houle

    @Kimmi I would like to help, but I’m not exactly sure which part of the tutorial you are referring to. Which step is giving you trouble?

  • Kimmi

    step 10 – creating the blue line look the way it does.

  • Andrew Houle

    @Kimmi Oh, now I understand :) The linear mode written there refers to the type of gradient, not the blend mode on a layer. If you notice in the properties of the gradient tool at the top there are different types of gradients you can choose. The one furthest to the left is linear, the next is radial, and so on. They are just icons, but if you hover over them with the mouse a tool tip will appear telling you what each one is. I hope this helps.

  • Skoolbus

    Thanks for sharing. Love the cutout/glowing edges trick.

  • Kimmi

    that helped lots! thanks!

  • Loli

    Oh god, thank you for posting this.
    even for me, as a first at photoshop it was really simple with a super outcome! thanx again!

  • rahul sahu

    very use full desidn. thanks

  • jaseofbase

    excellent tut m8,

  • Anonymous

    Absoulutley Brilliant, I love PhotoShop, this just embraced me into another dimension of PhotoShop.

    Thank you for your effort in creating this tutorial. Very, Very Helpful.

  • sean

    GREAT TUTORIAL!!! I love it.
    here is my result

  • sean

    that didnt work here is the image link then

  • Andrew Houle

    @sean, cool man, thanks for sharing. I love the variation.

  • Anas

    I am having trouble with the radial gradient i do not have the same outcome you have also when i do the blue and pink clouds they don’t come out the same

  • Anas

    acutally nvm i just forgot to change the background colour to black for the clouds sick tutorial anyways

  • Anas

    I do not have a pen tool because i am using elements 6 is there a replacement

  • CgBaran Tuts

    Nice background


    Sir, I can’t seem to unders tand step 9

  • Mike

    I kind of strayed from the music theme and did my own thing with it. Only like my 5th “project” ive done. Great tutorial. Thanks!

  • Andrew Houle

    @Mike – Nice variation, thanks for sharing!

  • mike

    Andrew, thnks so much for taking the huge effort and ammount of time to produce such a great tutorial on creating some really unique art. Not only have you gotten me over the basic but still very steep learning curve, you’ve just helped me smash through it! I’ve never created 1 thing in photoshop until now, and felt like I wasted my money on cs4, always got very frusterated and closed my junk without saving. I’m super stoked being able to actually creat some of my own really cool stuff based off of what you showed us here. I’ll post a result when i’m happy with it. Thanks so much mate, really appreciate it!

  • elizabeth

    Wicked! awesome tutorial!

  • MAnoz

    I couldn’t get the art of yours in step 13 i worked with outer and inner glow but it doesn’t work.. help me out……

  • Andrew Houle

    @MAonz Which part are you having trouble with? Brightening up the opacity?

  • Music Logo Design

    Truly good Logo, I like the setting of color in background

    Amazing design!

  • jonah

    in step 10 when i try and do the gradient it does not go transparent just block bluw, and yes i only drew it in the rectangle.

  • Avery

    Good job.
    .-= Avery´s last blog ..How To Become A Professional Currency Trader =-.

  • Jonny

    wre i can find music brushes will u pls help me

  • Andrew Houle
  • yash


  • Marie

    Excellent instructions!!! Exactly what I was looking for!!! Keep on posting some of these tutorials for those of us who need that extra help!!! :) Must tell you though that there were no instructions on how to do a wavy line and I know that using the pen tool is not as easy as it looks! Had to go to another tutorial to learn how to do that… but still.. EXCELLENT, I am very very happy with the results I got!!! Thanks sooooo much!!!

  • Marie

    Actually, it was not the Wavy line instruction, those were very well explained, it was the Line using the pen tool that I had problems with. None the less, excellent and was proud to show off my work (thanks to your great help!!) :)

  • SachinS

    So nice I have practiced on it ……………………..

  • Paul

    THE BEST! i hope there more!

  • Rachel

    Thank you for the learning tutorial! I really enjoyed this project!