Tutorials

How to Create a Cyberpunk Photoshop Effect Action

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a cyberpunk Photoshop effect action to add amazing vaporwave photo effects to your photos. I’ll explain everything in so much detail that everyone can create the effect, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time.

The effect shown above is the one I’ll show you how to create in this tutorial. But would you like to save time and download an action with the cyberpunk look for Photoshop? Then look at the CyberPunk Photoshop Action.

What You’ll Need

To recreate the cyberpunk design above, you’ll need the following resources:

Are you ready to get started with this cyberpunk graphic design tutorial? Then let’s dive in!

1. How to Start Creating an Action

Step 1

First, open the photo that you want to work with. Pick an image with a lot of contrast, which will help create the vaporwave cyberpunk style. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, just check a couple of things:

  1. Your photo should be in RGB Color mode, 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
  2. For best results, your photo size should be 2000–4500 px wide/high. To check this, go to Image > Image Size.
  3. Your photo should be the Background layer. If it isn’t, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
Vaporwave Cyberpunk Graphic Design Tutorial checking image size and mode

Step 2

Now go to Window > Actions, and in the Actions panel, click on the menu icon in the top right-hand corner, choose New Set to create a new set, and name it Cyberpunk. Then, click on the same menu icon again, choose New Action to create a new action, and name it Cyberpunk.

Vaporwave Cyberpunk Graphic Design Tutorial creating new action

2. How to Create the Cyberpunk Color Look

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the cyberpunk color look in the Photoshop layer. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer and name it Color_Look_1.

Cyberpunk Graphic Design Tutorial creating new gradient map adjustment layer

Step 2

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail, and then in the Properties panel, click on the gradient to open up the Gradient Editor panel and enter the settings below:

Vaporwave Cyberpunk Graphic Design Tutorial adjusting cyberpunk colors gradient map
The left color stop has color 0000ff, and the right color stop has color ff00ff.

Step 3

We also need to adjust the cyberpunk lighting. Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 70%. Have a look at the effect that has on the cyberpunk colors.

Cyberpunk Graphic Design Tutorial changing blending mode and opacity

Step 4

Now select the Background layer, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation to create a new hue/saturation adjustment layer, and name it Color_Look_2.

creating new hue and saturation adjustment layer for cyberpunk colors

Step 5

Double-click on this layer thumbnail and enter the settings below in the Properties panel:

Cyberpunk Look Photoshop Tutorial adjusting hue and saturation for cyberpunk lighting

Step 6

Now select the Background layer, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter to create a new photo filter adjustment layer, and name it Color_Look_3.

Cyberpunk Look Photoshop Tutorial creating new photo filter adjustment layer

Step 7

Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, in the Properties panel, set Filter to Cooling Filter (80)Density to 25%, and check the Preserve Luminosity option.

Cyberpunk look Photoshop Tutorial adjusting photo filter for cyberpunk lighting

3. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

In this section, we are going to make some final adjustments to the cyberpunk graphic design. Select the Color_Look_1 layer and press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches. Then, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer and name it Overall Contrast.

Cyberpunk Design Tutorial creating new gradient map adjustment layer

Step 2

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Luminosity and set the Opacity to 80%.

Cyberpunk Design Tutorial changing blending mode and opacity for cyberpunk lighting

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance to create a new vibrance adjustment layer and name it Overall Vibrance/Saturation.

creating new vibrance adjustment layer

Step 4

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, in the Properties panel, set the Vibrance to +25 and Saturation to +10.

adjusting vibrance and saturation

Step 5

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels to create a new levels adjustment layer, and name it Overall Brightness.

creating new levels adjustment layer

Step 6

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, in the Properties panel, enter the settings below:

adjusting levels

Step 7

Press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a screenshot, and then press Control-Shift-U to desaturate this layer. Then, go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to 2 px.

adding high pass filter

Step 8

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Hard Light and set the Opacity to 80%. Name this layer Overall Sharpening.

changing blending mode and opacity

You Made It!

Congratulations, you’ve succeeded! You’ve now learned how to create cool photo effects in Photoshop that have a vaporwave cyberpunk style. It’s an eternally popular look. The cyberpunk colors make pictures look even more eye-catching. Here is our final result:

final result with cyberpunk colors

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