Making a High Quality Meme.

Not just any meme though! This one will be legendary!


In this blog post we are going to learn how to use some of the tools in photoshop to make an extremely high quality meme. We will use many techniques like masking, blending modes, extending the image by duplicating then clone stamping/masking/warping/blend brushing and finally combining layer effects to create stunning text for your custom made memes. I suggest that if you are not familiar with photoshop and navigating all of it’s powerful tools, you familiarize yourself with it first because I won’t be explaining how to use the tools much here. I will only be explaining how to use certain tools to achieve a quality end product. I am planning on covering some of the tools within photoshop in a later blog post so keep your eyes on this forum!

Finding an Idea.

Something I have learned is that pretty much everything in the art world has already been done before. So a good way to stand out as an artist is to take something someone has already done and re-create it in your own style.

Memes are a perfect example of this. Look at all the different variations out there of any 1 meme in particular. Chances are there will likely be more than 1. In some cases hundreds to thousands of memes all on the same subject. So in order to stand out from the rest of the crowd we are going to learn some valuable techniques you can apply to your memes and much more to make your work stand out from the crowd.  

Since I just finished creating this meme and all the steps are still fresh in my head we are just going to use this one for today’s tutorial. I just pretended his wife left him with the dog to change things up for the tutorial. We will also use a different background to demonstrate just how easy it is to create something entirely different.

A very important thing to take into consideration when gathering content for memes or any project is copyrighting. A good way to avoid running into copyright issues is to use either copyright free content from free stock photography services such as pexels. Or pay for a subscription service such as Adobe stock. The following are 2 links for the assets we will use today. 1st the background: LINK TO BACKGROUND Next the model: LINK TO MODEL

Gathering Content.


Sizing Our Canvas.

Before we even do anything we need to create a project in photoshop. So if you don't already have photoshop open start by doing that. Then click file, new and in the document setup settings set the size to 1080x1080 pixels, the resolution to 72 pixels/inch and the color mode to RGB Color 8 bit. Then click the blue Create button and create the file. The reason behind making a square 1080x1080 image is because Instagram's default image size is 1080x1080 so if we just make it that size we don't need to worry about any re-sizing after. Let's go ahead and save the file as well. I will call mine i-will-find-you-dog you can call yours whatever you want.

Masking the Model.

Layer masking is an extremely useful technique used within photoshop to erase the parts of an image you don't want to show while having full control over the opacity of the portion you are erasing as well as being able to "paint" areas you have removed back in if you accidentally need something back. Start by drag and dropping the image of your model onto the canvas and sizing it vertically to fit the canvas. Layer masking is an extremely useful technique used within photoshop to erase the parts of an image you don't want to show while having full control over the opacity of the portion you are erasing as well as being able to "paint" areas you have removed back in if you accidentally need something back. Start by drag and dropping the image of your model onto the canvas and sizing it vertically to fit the canvas. An important thing to remember is that your brush color must be all black or all white when painting on a mask. If you find it is painting area back in instead of out then switch the color. Typically black is used to paint off the areas we don't want to be visible in the image. Your results should look something like this.

Now we’ll start the masking. Use the Object selection tool and highlight the entire model. It should automatically select the entire person saving us some time. Next in the upper menu bar click select, look for modify, and then select expand from within the available options. Set the value to 3px and press ok. The reason we are expanding the edges is to gain full control over the object we are masking and get a cleaner outline by using the brush tool. With the area selected press the add new layer mask button. If you don’t know where to find this it is at the bottom right of the screen and looks like a rectangle with a circle in the middle. If by chance it reversed the mask and the person dissapeared just press ctrl+i on a PC or cmd+i on a Mac to invert the mask and fix this problem quickly. No need to worry. Finally use the paint brush tool to mask off the small grey area between his phone and his hand holding the phone. We’ll also take care of the thin bits of grey around the outlines and touch up the whole outline while we are at it. Pay close attention to anywhere skin is exposed as the grey background we are getting rid of will really show up there.  To do this click on the mask box next to the image box in the layers panel. Set your paint brush color to black and use a hard round brush with opacity settings of 100% and us the paint brush to “paint” away the areas you don’t want to see. Mine looks like this. Yours will probably look something close.

Let’s get our background in there. We’ll also use the scaling tool to size it to our scene, the blending modes option and duplicating to give it more life, as well as scaling and positioning our model where we want him to be in the scene. Don’t worry if the model appears to be cut off at the bottom we will deal with that in the next step of this tutorial.

Adding a Background.


Setting the Scene.

Start by drag and dropping the image into photoshop. this is going to automatically place a bounding box around the image and allow us to scale it. Let's take advantage of that and for now just drag the top and bottom parts of the bounding box so that they match our canvas size. Since it's on top of our model layer let's fix that by dragging that layer below our model layer or vice versa. That's actually not looking to bad and I am happy with it for now. Let's scale our model and place him where we want now. To do that click on the model layer in the layers panel and press ctrl+T on a PC or cmd+T on a Mac. Adjust the bounding box and positioning of the model to where you want them to be in the scene and press enter. This next step is optional but I am going to do it because it darkens up the background slightly and gives it a more eerie creepy vibe. Duplicate the background layer and set the blending mode to overlay and the opacity to 42%. Alright we're looking like we are starting to get somewhere now. Lets move on.

Fixing the Model.

This section is going to get a little bit more tricky so be prepared to have some fun! Since it's starting to get more complicated I will provide more photographs of the process to ease your frustrations of wondering what I did to get to the end point. The pictures will be ordered in order from 1st step to last and just in case I will place red numbers on them. Lets start by turning off the background layers. Then duplicating our model layer and positioning our model on the lowest layer to reach the bottom of the canvas. This will be picture #1. Don't worry about the upper half we'll be taking care of that next. Create a guide by turning on your rulers if they are off and dragging a guide down to the very bottom of the upper image. Now select the rectangular marquee tool it's the second one down on the tool list and looks like a dotted lined box. Highlight the entire area above the guide with the marquee tool. Doing this will make sure we only effect the selected area in the next step. Take your hard round brush with the mask box selected on the lower model layer and quickly mask off everything in that section we just selected. The results should look like image #2. Let's start by getting rid of the guide because we don't need it anymore. To do that just drag it up into the ruler where it came from. Now let's deselect what we selected with the marquee by pressing ctrl+D on a PC or cmd+D on a Mac. Now for the fun stuff! Select the lower model layer and press ctrl+T on a PC or cmd+T on a Mac. This will bring up the bounding box. We are going to dis-proportionally scale this layer horizontally by selecting the side edges of the bounding box and dragging them outwards while holding shift. You will have to do this 1 side at a time and likely several times per side in order to line things up just right. Try to line up the outer edge of the gun and the edge of his jacket on the right side like in image #3. Be sure to press enter to set the transform options we just created. Now lets mask off everything we don't need from that lower layer and mask back in that small section on his left leg because we will need it. This is demonstrated in image #4. Now let's merge the 2 layers of our model into 1. To do this lick on 1 of the layers and while holding shift click the other 1. Then right click and select merge layers from the options menu. Next we will use the clone stamping tool to get rid of the line between the 2 previous images and blend everything together. Check out image #5 for an example. For the last part of this section we will add 1 last layer mask to our model to make it appear like the light from the background image is wrapping around our model. To do this first turn the background layers back on. Then click the layer mask button and set your brush to soft round with an opacity of 50% and a size around 15px. Go around the edges of the model where there is light visible in the background very carefully not to eliminate too much of the image. We just want to try and make it look like the light from the background is slightly wrapping the image like it would in real life. We can also use this as an opportunity to mask of any small imperfections from the previous step if we have any. Now this isn't perfect because his legs look kind of janky but that's ok because they will be covered with text. Check out image #6 before moving on to the next step. Adding the text for our meme.

Adding Stunning Text.

We could just slap a bold font on there color it white like every other meme and call it a day. But there's no fun in that and we want to create something striking here. We also may scale our model a bit here depending on how things look. Pick a big bold font for your project I will be using Astrolab. It can be found on DaFont. Add your top and bottom text layers for the meme and size it to your liking. This will look like what I have in image 1 with blue. I already went ahead and added some styles to my text so that it shows up but I will explain how to do that. Go to google, search for photoshop layer styles and get yourself some styles and install them if you don't already have any. If you don't know how to install them I will explain how I do it for you now. Go to window in the top menu select styles so that window is visible. I have mine pinned to my sidebar for quick access. Press the hamburger menu (the little menu that looks like 3 bars in the top right of the styles window) & select import styles. This will bring up a pop up window, drag and drop the .asl file from the styles package you just downloaded into this popup window and make sure it is selected. Then press load and you should notice your new styles appear in the styles window. Play around with them for a bit until you get the effect you want. Some styles are built to work together so duplicate your text layers and try adding different styles to each layer until you get something awesome! Mine is shown in image #2. The next section will show us how to add some depth to the image and create a shadow.

Finishing Touches.

To make things pop even more we are going to make it look like the lower text that says I will find you is going behind the gun. It will create a sense of urgency and let everyone know how dire the situation is. To do this duplicate your text layer or layers. If you have multiple layers I suggest putting them into a group like I did this will make the process much easier. By allowing us to duplicate the group instead of having to do this layer by layer. Now that that's done drag 1 of the groups below our model layer in the layers panel. Select the upper layer of text and press the layer mask button. Set your brush opacity back to 100% and mask off the area of text in front of the gun. I found in my image that the gun was intruding on the text so I slightly warped the image to fix that. If you don't know how to use the warp option. Select the model layer press ctrl+T on a PC or cmd+T on a Mac, right click within the bounding box and select warp from the options. The results are in image #1. I didn't add any shadow on the text behind the gun in the last 1 and I feel like it needs some shadow there. It'll also create a slightly more in depth tutorial. We will do this in a non destructive manner using layer masks. To do this select the uppermost text layer in the lower text layers group and press the new adjustment layer button and select curves. Click the little graph looking thing on the curves layer in the layers panel to adjust the settings and drag them down. I will draw an arrow to what I did with mine in image #2. Now click on the adjustment layer and press the layer mask button. Then press ctrl+i on a PC or cmd+i on a Mac to invert the mask and allow us to only paint in the ares we want to add shadowing to. Make sure your brush is set to white for this. Paint in your shadows with whatever brush you like. I used a soft round brush with an opacity of 100%. That's it we're done! Mine looks like image #3 and the big image below. If you followed all the steps correctly you should have something pretty similar. Well done! That was no easy task to complete! I hope you thoroughly enjoyed yourself. I know I sure did! See you next time.


The End...

Thank you for showing interest in my meme tutorial. I hope that you found it useful! If you learned anything new or found it very helpful let me know in the comments. I’d be happy to hear about it! Also if you have any suggestions for improvements you can let me know about that as well. I am striving to produce the best content possible so suggestions for improvement are welcomed.

Take Care…

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