In this post, a never-ending staircase tutorial, I will help you create that iconic image as realized by M C Escher
Never ending staircase
Photo restorations are my speciality but today I thought I would create a tutorial on making a never-ending staircase from PhotoShop, Textured with wood, stone, grass or whatever you choose. Sometimes when you see photo restorations, you wonder how they were done, its the same for illusions. Here is how to make your own photo montage illusion.
Create a document in photoshop around 4000 x 2000 pixels. File / new / and fill in the pixels width and height.
In order to be able to draw the staircase, we need to show the rulers and change the measurements to centimetres.
To do this view / rulers, then right click on the now visible ruler and select centimetres.
We need to show the gird now. Select view / show grid, this is to enable us to draw accurately and evenly to produce the correct angles for the steps.
To help us do this go to view / snap to / grid, to make sure the lines we draw are all consistent and the cursor locks onto the intersections of the grid.
To check that your screen settings are the same go to edit / preferences / unit and rulers and copy these settings in the image
copy these settings in the above image
Back to the image.
Make a new layer, select layer/ new / layer from the top toolbar. On the new layer, draw a diamond shape with the polygon lasso tool from the tools palette. Use 5×3 squares per quarter to draw your diamond shape. This gives us an angle of just about 30 degrees which is very important for this to work. See image below for help. Draw the two side of the step as well and fill using different coloured greys to give the step some depth.
Now copy the single step and layer as it is shown in the image below. To do this copy the step to a new layer and drag this layer under the previous one in the layers palette to stack the steps. Repeat until you have the image below.
Repeat this process copying the step to a new layer and dragging the layers behind or in front of the previous layer until you create a full set of steps as shown below. Once you are happy it is best to save your work at this point as a .psd file using the save as command from the file menu drop down at the top of the screen.
Now merge the layers by selecting the layers in the layers palette and merge them using layer/merge layers from the top, drop down layer menu.
Now let’s use something to make to the steps look more real.
Find a picture of a stone slab or a piece of wood, plastic, metal or even grass and cut it out into the shape we first drew, (the diamond and its edges). You can do this on a separate layer and change the opacity of the layer in your layers palette so you can see the original diamond step underneath. Using wood this can be achieved fairly easily. You may need to use the warp or scale tools, or liquefy.
On the layer with your piece of wood, select the wood by pressing the Ctrl key and clicking in the wood layer on the layers palette. This should select the wood and display your selection in the main image window.
In the top drop-down menus select edit / transform / warp. You will see the grid on your screen divided into 9 boxes with selection points around the outside. Click and drag these points to warp your wood till you fit it to the shape of our step.
Now repeat the steps 4 and 5 we used to create the staircase and position your steps above the others, copying to new layers as in steps 4 and 5 and you will have your new wooden staircase. Save again as a new file with a new file name just so we have the stairs if we need to use them again. Merge your layers together as in step 5.
You can experiment with the number of steps just by shortening the sides of the staircase using the grid we first set up.
Using an image from pxleyes.com stock and thanks to “mqtrf” for the use of the image, and using a paving slab instead of wood the staircase can be slotted into the scene by opening the two images, Select the staircase image and copy using, select / all from the top selection menu and then edit / copy from the top edit menu. Switch to the image of the beach and then paste in the stairs using the top edit menu, edit/paste.
In the case of this image, the stairs fit better when they have flipped around.
Using the edit menu choose edit / transform / flip horizontal
Duplicate the staircase layer and use from the top menus, image/adjustments/hue and sat sliders to desaturate and darken them till they are black. Slide the saturation slider all the way to the left and the same for the lightness slider, then click ok. Use the opacity slider in the layers menu to reduce the opacity to make the shadow transparent. Then use the warp tool to start to shape our shadow, using the same process as in step 6
To add more to the shadow, paint on the shadow layer with a black brush, and to delete from the shadow, use the delete tool.
When you have finished tweaking your shadow, convert the whole image to black and white by first flattening the image. From the top menus choose, layer / flatten the image. This will help with the blending of textures and make the image more convincing. Now we can clean up any artefact’s with the patch tool, such as the joins between shadows. Select the patch tool from the side tools palette, it’s the one that looks like a plaster. Draw a long shape around the join between the shadows and click and drag the selection to the left to sample the sand texture and tone, then release the mouse button.
Crop and sharpen and you are done! With your version, the stairs could be anywhere at all, on a rock, in a rock, made of grass on a hill, or hovering in the sky!
Here is another one in stone! I created this myself with some stone slabs and some clever cloning and shading.
Or another version on the beach.