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2012 Year of The Water Dragon Wallpaper in Photoshop
Tutorials Drawing 37174 Views January 2nd, 2012

We are welcoming the new 2012 year with a cartoon wallpaper plus a tutorial on how it was made. We hope 2012 will be a good year from all points of view.

As you probably already know the 2012 is the year of the Water Dragon in the Chinese horoscope. So starting from this point we'll create a Photoshop illustration with 2012 made out of two cute water dragons. This idea is not unique but I hope you'll find the tutorial interesting enough to share it with your friends. Let's start!


This tutorial is a mixture of vector drawing, digital painting, filters, brushes and textures to obtain a book illustration effect. Actually there are just a few tutorials that creates that kind of effect.

Create a Wallpaper Size PSD

As I have mentioned in my previous tutorials, when I make a wallpaper, I usually create it at 1920x1200 px size. That way, since most people's resolutions are that size or smaller, the wallpaper comes out looking good. So open a new PSD file with this size.

Create the Water Dragon

First we have to download this Lobster font. Unzip the file. Then go to Control Panel, Fonts and click on the File menu and choose Add new font.

When you open Photoshop next time the new Lobster font is added in your list like all the other fonts. It will also be available on other software programs that you have installed on your computer.

Pick the Loster Font from the Set the Font Family dropdown list. Set the Size to 500px, color #3b91a4 and write "2". This will be the Body Layer.

Because I want to further modify the 2 number shape I have to convert the text into shape. There are many methods on how to convert a text into shape but the easiest one is to Right Click on the text and choose Convert to Shape (make sure you have the Type Tool selected).

Now we can use the vector family tools like Pen Tool, Freeform Pen Tool, Ellipse Tool and so on, to change the shape as we wish. I will start with the Ellipse Tool like in the image. Make sure the Add to Shape Area button is selected. And also select the Vector Mask Thumbnail otherwise the Ellipse Tool option buttons will not be available.

To merge the two shapes that are in the same layer make sure you have the Vector Mask Thumbnail selected and pick the Path Selection Tool. Press Combine button.

Now all you have to do is to change the Anchor Points position so that you obtain a tail shape. Use Convert Point Tool to select an Anchor Point and move it. You can also add/delete Anchor Points to obtain the shape you want.

Open the Layer Style window of this layer and add Inner Shadow, color black.

Add Inner Glow, color #beeaff.

Adding Dragon's Face and Body Features

To make the number 2 look like a dragon I will now add some dragon scales. Use the Pen Tool and draw them like in the image. Make sure they are in another layer. Add also an Inner Shadow similar to the one you used for the Body Layer.

Our dragon looks like this:

Using the Ellipse Tool add the following shapes for the eye and nose. For the Nose and Eye White layers use an Inner Shadow as for the Eye Color Layer use a radial Gradient Overlay.

Create the Second Water Dragon

Part 1Part 2Part 3

If you're looking for amazing textures and backgrounds for Photoshop, explore Textures4Photoshop where you can find 1000+ unique images. You can download all these textures and backgrounds for free to use in personal or commercial projects!

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21 comment(s) for "2012 Year of The Water Dragon Wallpaper in Photoshop"

9:38 AM Tuesday, January 03, 2012
thanks Andrei, glad you like my new tutorial :) reply
8:34 AM Wednesday, January 04, 2012
:) I am glad you like it! reply
Kavin Petersen
2:20 PM Sunday, January 08, 2012
Great read here! If you need any Hot Wallpapers , Free Wallpapers , Desktop Wallpapers , Windows Wallpapers , Iphone Wallpapers let me know. reply
2:21 PM Sunday, January 08, 2012
Loving your tutorials !! reply
2:42 PM Sunday, January 08, 2012
Thank u :) reply
7:45 AM Monday, January 09, 2012
I like this tutorial but... Unfortunatelly I can't create the dragon scale. Why? How can I do it? Please help me! Thanx!
8:20 AM Monday, January 09, 2012
Simply draw the scales with the Pen Tool and add Anchor Points to make the shape you want.

8:08 AM Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Hi! Very nice! Thanks for tutorial!:) reply
1:00 PM Sunday, January 29, 2012
thank you! reply
2:24 PM Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Fantastic tutorial! Where can I find your Wave Pattern?

Many thanks reply
6:28 AM Friday, February 03, 2012
Hi Ash,

you will find all the patterns used in the ZIP file, there is a link to it inside the tutorial :) reply
6:42 AM Friday, February 03, 2012
ha sido un placer hacerlo!!! reply
6:45 AM Friday, February 03, 2012
gracias ninaelch,
me gusta mucho tu trabajo :) reply
11:28 PM Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I made this nice wallpaper in January, thanx a lot for sharing :)
I would like to ask, will you make a newer wallpaper for 2013?
Because I'm 'Snake' in chinese horoscope and I so think 2013 is the Snake's year.
Sorry for my English... reply
11:44 PM Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Hi Agota,

For 2013 I will not make a wallpaper with the Chinese Snake Year, sorry :( But you can try making one yourself using the same drawing techniques and some inspiration; so take a look at these amazing snake vectors

Inspiration: Snake Vector

9:42 AM Saturday, December 01, 2012
Thank you for the idea, this snake is very cute. I will try making it. reply
9:43 AM Saturday, December 01, 2012
Great, upload your result when it is done :) reply
12:20 AM Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Awesome! reply
Abdul Hafeez
1:30 AM Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Very nice. Great tutorial specially use of brushes to give details in the scene. I really appreciate. Please keep it up. reply
1:30 AM Tuesday, December 23, 2014
I have been reading your blog for the last 3 days and find so much interesting topics here. It really proves that your tutorial was helpful for creating scales. Thank you so much for sharing and also for the great tutorial! :) reply
Andrei Oprinca
Andrei Oprinca
10:37 AM Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Hehe, really nice looking. I like the vintage effect and how th number 2 turned into an "evil dragon" :) reply

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