Okay, lets make a fake CRT look on some pixel art. This is all Photoshop based! Procreate just isn’t as robust and hates single pixel action.
It’s not a perfect tutorial, but it is a good jumping-off point to play around. I half wrote this out so I remember what I did, because I like how it looks. Whether it’s super accurate is up for debate, but the vibe is there.
The source here helped a lot in figuring out how to offset the various colour channels: https://www.reddit.com/r/photoshop/comments/yw32o/comment/c5zkkqy/
Open your image – now you gotta make a choice here at the start:
Do you want a more big-pixel, video game look?
- Make no change in size to your file at this time.
Do you want a smoother, computer monitor look?
- Increase your file size by 3x. So, if you have a 640×480 image, set it to 1920×1440, using Nearest Neighbour (preserve hard edges).
In a new, 1×3 pixel document, I made the alternating patterns described in the first source link. One each in a horizontal layout for red, green, and blue channels, and one in vertical for all channels. I defined each as a pattern in Photoshop, naming them for the channels.
I then duplicated my image, and for each channel on the duplicated layer I then would:
- Make sure you’re on default colours (white background, black foreground).
- Pour the pattern in a fresh layer.
- Select that layer.
- Go to the appropriate channel.
- Delete the selection.
You end up with a very bright and blown-out thing. Then!
- Apply Gaussian Blur to taste. I did 3.0 on a 640×480 canvas.
- Set to Linear Dodge (add).
oOH, aesthetic! If it’s too much, don’t worry we tone it down later.
Now for the scanlines. For this part I used this guide: https://www.reddit.com/r/photoshop/comments/yw32o/comment/c5zdd0a/
You have to make a “kernel” that you will define as a pattern. What you want is basically a white centre or dot that gradiates out. You’ll probably have to muck with this some! But you’re going to use it as a mask and bless masks, they’re very adjustable too.
Underneath the untouched layer of your original image, make a layer in black or dark blue or purple. You’ll want to play around a bit. I like using using hex #0a0049.
Then, add a mask to your untouched original image layer and pour the “kernel” pattern. It’ll look a bit crap!
From here it is all sort of fudging and messing about. To get the final image here I:
- Added a mask to the glowy layer in a radial gradient of white-to-black, so the centre of the image had a brighter look.
- Reduced the density of the mask to 77% and feathered it to 0.8% (you get to mask options by double-clicking on the mask).
To show you how the scanline pattern you pour makes a difference, the image on the left has the more gentle gradient I showed above and the one on the right has a harder line from white to more actual black.
And here’s a zoomed-in.
Anyway, it’s a game of messing around and personal taste. Here’s the difference between the chunkier and the smoother looks on a different test:
Because you’re deleting pixels from colour channels, the size and the hue of colours makes a big difference in the final piece!
Anyway, have fun, keep playing around (I know I will) and enjoy playing with some very specific nostalgia.
Also published on Medium.