Perspective Distortion

Perspective distortion. Huh. What is it good for? It sounds complicated, but it’s really just big words describing a basic concept.

  1. Introduction
  2. Step 1: Have art
  3. Step 2: Acquire More Art
  4. Step 3: Scale
  5. Step 4: Distort
  6. TV Glow – Step 1: Create selection
  7. TV Glow – Step 2: Create glow layer
  8. TV Glow – Step 3: Deselect and blur


Consider the following: you want to insert an image that’s being displayed on a page in your artwork. Maybe your characters are watching television or are on the computer. Maybe you’re trying to display a screenshot on a blank laptop for marketing reasons. It’s ok; I won’t judge.

I love this game.

Well, this is the tutorial for you, then. I’ll try to keep it less verbose than usual (especially since I took tons of screenshots this time, and actually remembered to do so!). Edit: Just finished writing, and it’s wordy. Sorry!

Step 1: Have art

I didn’t have any artwork immediately handy, and asking other artists to borrow their work for something you’re doing is an exercise in patience. So, not today. We will assume that your comic looks better than my example.

Here’s a flat panel television upon which my characters would be playing Street Fighter 4. Please forgive the crudity of this model; I didn’t have time to build it to scale or paint it.

Seriously, it's only for demonstration.

Step 2: Acquire More Art

Alright, now I need a screenshot of Street Fighter 4. Time to hit the internets…

Ah, fanart.

Once you locate a suitable image, copy and paste that bad boy into your document. Hopefully, it will be large enough to cover the item you are trying to map. If you’re working on a comic or print document at 300dpi or higher, you’ll want the largest image possible. Using a smaller image will result in scaling artifacts when it is enlarged.

Step 3: Scale

In the following, I had to scale the image down since it was approximately 50 times larger than my test image. When you scale the image (down or up), make sure it is completely covering the surface you want to map it to.

Scaled down, but still covers the TV.

Once it’s scaled, accept the changes (click the checkmark at the top, or hit the Numpad Enter key). Now we begin distortion!

Step 4: Distort

Make sure your pasted layer is selected, and select Edit > Transform > Distort. Transformation handles should appear around the layer that resemble the scaling box.

Move the cursor to the top-left handle and drag it to the top-left corner of your destination plane (flat surface).

Drag the first handle.

Do the same with the bottom-left…

Make sure the anchor points line up.


Where the Distortion tool gets its name.

And when you do the last, you’ll magically see your image corrected for perspective. Before you accept the changes, make sure everything’s lined up properly. If you zoom in, you can move the handles at a sub-pixel level. Try to keep the vertical lines as straight as possible.


Now, accept the changes (click the checkmark at the top, or hit the Numpad Enter key).

You can use this technique to map any image onto a flat surface easily: pictures in frames, posters on the wall, or even wall textures.

For the television, you could leave it at this point, but it’ll look pretty flat as-is. As a bonus, I’ll show you how to make it glow quickly and easily.

TV Glow – Step 1: Create selection

First we want to create a selection from our object, which is easy as holding Ctrl ( on Mac) and clicking the layer icon. Photoshop will create a selection from the layer’s pixel opacity. Note the “marching ants” surround the TV image.

Only the image is selected.

TV Glow – Step 2: Create glow layer

Create a new layer above the current, and fill this layer with white. It should completely obscure the layer underneath.


TV Glow – Step 3: Deselect and blur

Deselect the layer by pressing Ctrl+D (+D on Mac). The “marching ants” should now be gone.

Next, apply a Gaussian Blur filter by selecting Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. In my case, I just cranked it up until the blur made the white semi-transparent. Don’t overdo it though, or this glow will be too large. In this image, the glow would come just to the outside border of the television.

"NobodycangetthejobdonefasterthanIcan. Nobodynobodynobody!" Oops, I meant blur, not Blurr.

That’s it! You can’t really see it with just lineart; the white tends to wash out the glow. Here’s what my test image looks like with darker colors:


If the glow is too intense, you can simply adjust the glow layer opacity to suit your taste.

You can use this glow technique for any irregular object, and it’ll roughly match the underlying shape it’s drawn from.