The making of ‘Beam me up Scotty’.

NOTE: I have used Adobe Photoshop Elements to make this image. If you’re using a proper version of Photoshop, things will be slightly different.

In this tutorial you will use displacement mapping similar to the Matrix tutorial (even using the same texture). You’ll also see some of the things you need to think about to amke an image look more realistic.

The first thing to do is to get a photo of someone in an appropriate pose (I used a picture of me :)).

Beam me up 1

Do a Google image search for Star Trek’s transporter, to get a feel for what it looks like when someone is beaming up. In this image you can see there is something that looks like writing scrolling up them, as well as some vertical lines. From the show, I also seem to remember a blue beam, so I’ll add that in as well.

First, we want to define where our beam will go. Use the rectangular selection tool (also called the ‘marquee’ or ‘rectangular marquee’ tool) to select a box like so:

Beam me up 2

Then, use the elliptical marquee tool in ‘add’ mode (if you don’t know what that is, press F1) to add a round bottom to the rectangle as shown.

Beam me up 3

Make a new layer and fill the selection with a blue colour. I used #00CCFF (HSB: 192, 100, 100; RGB: 0, 204, 255). Set the layer opacity to 35%.

Beam me up 4

You’ll notice that this doesn’t look very good. For things that are supposed to look like lights, the ‘screen’ and ‘dodge’ blend modes tend to work quite well. I used ‘screen’.

Beam me up 5

Now for the wierd blobs/text. This part is similar to the Matrix tutorial I made earlier. First, get an image to use. I used the same image as I did before. To make it the right colour, go Enhance>Adjust Color>Hue/Saturation (I think this is different in a proper version of Photoshop). Check the box marked ‘Colorize’ (damned crazy American spelling) and use the same hue and saturation values as you did with the beam (I used Hue: 192 and Sat: 100).

Beam me up 6

Make sure your .psd file is saved. Then, paste the image of code into your photoshop document on a new layer and position over the person. DON’T SAVE.

Beam me up 7

Go Filter>Distort>Displace and use the default settings. When it asks what image to use as the displacement map, use your previously saved document (I think there is a bug in Elements. This only seems to work when the documentis saved in the ‘My Pictures’ folder.)

Beam me up 8

Here I must emphasise the importance of PLAYING AROUND. I found the distort filter didn’t give the result I wanted. However, I found that if I inverted the colours of the background image, applyed the filter, and re-inverted them I got a better effect.

Also, you’ll need to play around with scale of the displacment depending on the contrast of the image.

Next, set the blend mode to ‘screen’. This makes all of the black parts transparent.

Beam me up 9

Use the polygonal lasso tool to cut out the unwanted portions so that you are left with this:

Beam me up 10

Almost done! Next is the vertical lines. Make a new layer, fill with black and go Noise>Add Noise. Check ‘Monochromatic’ and ‘Gaussian’ and drag the slider to about 50. Click OK and go Filter>Blur>Motion Blur. Set the distance to 900 and the angle to 90°.

Beam me up 11

Hmmmm. Kinda faint. To increase the contrast go Enhance>Brightness/Contrast>Levels. Drag the two outside sliders inwards until you are happy. You might also want to sharpen it (Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen).

Beam me up 12

Set the blend mode to ‘screen’. Erase everywhere you don’t want lines. Colourise it (just like before) and you should be left with this (I’ve made all other layers invisible):

Beam me up 13

And with all other layers visible:

Beam me up 14

You could leave it at this, but people might not ‘get’ what’s going on in the picture. To make sure people ‘get’ the Star Trek connection, I’m going to add the Starship Enterprise to the picture, in the deliberately empty patch of sky.

First, find an image of the Enterprise. Paste it on a new layer into your image and position it how you like. Use the polygonal lasso tool to cut it out.

Beam me up 15

However, it doesn’t look right. Why? Well, when you look at, say, a distant mountain, you’ll notice that the shadows are not quite black (or even dark grey), but pale blue. This is because of atmospheric scattering. It’s also the reaseon the moon in the daytime is not half white, half black. To make it look real, we will have to lighten up the shadows. This can easily be achieved with the levels editor (Enhance>Adjust Brightness/Contrast>Levels, and drag the left slider inward).

Done! 😀

Beam me up


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * John (also Dave) says:

    wrong enterprise, steve… only the Original Series transporters had a beam. the Next Generation just had a “pool”
    otherwise nice.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 4 months ago
    • * Jaylen says:

      Ya learn sohmneitg new everyday. It’s true I guess!

      | Reply Posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago
    • Good day! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice data you could have here on this post. I might be coming again to your weblog for extra soon.

      | Reply Posted 6 months, 2 weeks ago
    • hd:ditto!!!how can obama really care about school kids and simultaneously ensure that their parents are jobless and homeless?how can he really care about schools and break all of his promises to eradicate the academic genocides of NCLB?how can he publicly ignore all of those babies gunned down in his own adopted city of chicago and feign that any child can remain focused in such war zones?keep the work of his speech writers..i remain unimpressed by obama's reading skillsgive me some real hope and change!

      | Reply Posted 6 months, 2 weeks ago
  2. * Boy George says:

    Oh wait. Yes, I have. I’m sorry, but I just don’t have it in me right now to type it all out again. Besides, it was just ramblings anyway. You didn’t want to hear me go on and on about this, right?

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 7 months ago
  3. * Estie Schirge says:

    Hi Steve (I assume?)
    Your picture/artwork is awesome!…I used it for a picture on a blog of my cousin an myself:
    I sited this page as the source, but if you’d rather have me remove it, please let me know!

    | Reply Posted 7 years ago
  4. * Chris S. says:

    Good job! Definitely given me insight into future custom still effects!
    (modified your photo for fun use!) 🙂

    | Reply Posted 2 years ago

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: