Minimate Decal Design Using Photoshop

This tutorial will cover the basics of creating a Minimate decal using Adobe Photoshop. There is a free 30-day trial of this software available at The software is not cheap, so I would recommend making good use of the 30-day trial. The current version of Photoshop is CS6. I used CS3 in this tutorial, so my menu and tools might look slightly different from yours, but the tools we will be using are found in every version of Photoshop. These tools might also be available in Photoshop Elements, but I don’t have a copy of that program. There is also a free graphics editing software available online with many of the same tools called The Gimp.

Some of you may know some more advanced methods than we will be using here, and that is perfectly fine. I am trying to make this tutorial friendly for beginner users.

I chose Doom 2099 as the subject of this tutorial. You can download the Photoshop template for this tutorial here. It is scaled at the twice the normal size for printing, but we will scale it down at the end of this tutorial. Once you have the software installed and the template open you can follow along with these instructions:

This is what my workspace looks like when I begin. I have my reference artwork in the background, and my main file open in the foreground. I am basing the decal on a combination of the reference images, my own experiences with the character, and my knowledge of where the facial features will sit on a minimate head. The main toolbar is on the left. Lets take a look at a few of these tools before we begin.
Any tools that have a tiny arrow in the corner can be expanded by holding your mouse button down on it. We will only be using a small percentage of the tools in this tutorial, but I will provide links at the end to other Photoshop tutorials if you would like to learn more.The top tool that looks like an arrow is the Move tool, and it is used to move layers around, Below that is the rectangular marquee tool. This is used to select square-shaped areas that can be filled with solid colors. If you hold down this tool you will get the circle marquee tool which we will also use.Below that you will see an angular lasso that is called the polygonal lasso tool. This is what we will be using to outline most of our shapes. If you hold down this button you can choose a more normal looking lasso that allows you to draw in a more freehand style.
The top tool in this image is the eraser tool, which can obviously erase mistakes you make, but only on the current layer. Below that is the paint bucket tool, which is used to fill in areas with a solid color. At the bottom you will see your foreground and background colors. You will only need to worry about the foreground color for now. To change colors, simply click the foreground color and select a new color.
There is also a toolbar on the right side of the screen that holds your pallets. The only pallet here that we will be focusing on is the Layers Pallet. When using Photoshop, it is best to work in layers. By having different parts of your artwork on different layers, it is easier to change or delete these parts without hurting the rest of the artwork.
At the bottom of the layers pallet you will see these buttons. The far right button deletes a layer. The next one creates a new layer. And the next one creates a new group. These are the three buttons we will use in this tutorial.
The first thing we need to do is make a new layer. Click on the new layer button mentioned above. Now click on the layer to select it. If you are an organized person you can right-click this new layer and rename it to something more memorable than Layer 3.Now click the foreground color and pick a nice blue color for the background of Doom’s mask. Then click the rectangular marquee tool and draw a box on top of the existing white box. Use the paint bucket tool and click inside this box to fill it with blue. De-select the area by clicking Ctrl+D.Next we are going to start drawing the eyes, but we want this on a new layer in case we have to change it later, so click the new layer button again. Click on the layer to select it.
Time to start drawing! Choose the polygonal lasso tool and pick a red foreground color. In the approximate location of the eye (you can move it later with the move tool if needed) click once to set a point. Now as you move your mouse around you will see a line extending from this point. Click again at another corner of where his eye should be to set the next point. Continue around in a shape similar to the image at right until you click your starting point again. This will make a fence around the shape.Use the paint bucket tool to fill this area in with red. De-select the area by clicking Ctrl+D.
Now we need to make the black outline around his eye. Right click on the layer and click on Blending Options. Then click the box on the bottom option on the left called Stroke. The stroke will be set to red by default. Click this color and change it to black. Then change the size of the stroke from 3 to 5. Then click OK.Now this stroke will stay around this layer no matter what changes you make to it. If you wanted to turn it off you would open the Blending Options again, and uncheck the Stroke box.
We are going to do one side of the face first, and then mirror it to the other side. So now we need to add more features to this side of his face.Add a new layer and select it. Change your color to black. Use the polygonal lasso tool to draw these three shapes around his eye. After drawing each individual shape, fill it in with the paint bucket tool.
Continue drawing shapes and adding details. We are going to stop the mouth halfway across his face, since we will be mirroring the entire face later. To get the straight lines around his mouth, hold the Shift key while you are extending a line. You might want to draw these new shapes on a different layer from the eye shapes.Now is the time to move things around with the move tool until they look correct. You might need to erase and redraw shapes as well.
On a new layer, use the rectangular marquee tool to make a thin box extending from his cheek to the edge of his decal. Fill in this shape with black with the paint bucket tool.
Now we are going to add the circular piece that fits around his ear. Create a new layer and hold down the rectangular marquee tool until you can choose the circle marquee tool. Click on the line you just made and hold down the mouse button. Now hold both the Shift key and the Alt key. This will allow you to create a perfect circle that stretches out from the center. Release the mouse button and keys when the circle looks the correct size.We want this circle to be in front of the line we just drew, so we are going to fill it in with blue. Use your eyedropper tool to pick the same blue you used for the mask background and use the paint bucket tool to fill in this circle.
On your layers pallet, find the eye layer that you added a Stroke to earlier. Right click this layer and choose Copy Layer Style. Now right click on the layer that you drew this circle in and choose Paste Layer Style. Now your circle will have a nice outline and it will stand out above the line you drew.
I forgot about another line that needs to go underneath the circle we just drew. In your layers pallet create a new layer. Now grab it and drag it underneath the circle layer. Now anything you draw here will show up underneath the circle.Use your rectangular marquee tool to draw another thin box and fill it in with the paint bucket.
I want to make another horizontal line, similar to the one that went through the circle. Find this line in your layers pallet and select that layer. Now click Ctrl+J to make a copy of this layer.
Use the move tool to drag this layer down to where you see it in the image at right. It will probably be a little too short on one side. If this is the case, hit Ctrl+T. Now you will see little boxes around your shape. You can drag these boxes to stretch your shape. You want to stretch it out horizontally until it hits Doom’s cheek.
I added a few more details using the polygonal lasso tool and the paint bucket. I didn’t do into too much detail past his “ear”, since you won’t see that area on the custom.
Now go to your layers pallet. Click the topmost layer. Hold the Shift key and click the layer directly above your blue decal background, which is probably the layer your eye is on (this is where it helps to name your layers…). Now all of your layers should be selected. Hit Ctrl+G to group them all together.Now we want to copy this group so we can mirror it. Click the group and drag it down on top of the New Layer button at the bottom of the pallet and release it there. This will copy the entire group (Ctrl+J does this for layers, but that shortcut doesn’t work for groups).
Now click on this Group 1 copy. At the top menu of Photoshop go to Edit -> Transform -> Flip Horizontal. Now select your move tool. Hold down the Shift key and move everything horizontally to the right until it looks like the image. By holding the shift key, everythign moves in a straight line, so you can line up the mouth perfectly.
The last detail that is needed is the white highlight on Doom’s shiny face. On your layers pallet, click on your blue decal background. Now create a new layer. We want this layer to be in this spot, above the blue but underneath all of the details.
Use your polygonal lasso tool to draw this white shape, being careful to note how it follows the contours of his mask. Choose the color white and fill it in with your paint bucket. Hit Ctrl+D to deselect and admire your finished face!Right now this image is scaled at 600dpi to make it easier to design. If you want it to blend in with the other decals on this site, go to the top menu to Image -> Image Size, and change the resolution from 600 down to 300.

If you followed my Illustrator tutorial before you will see that these are two different software packages. It is possible to use some of the path tools in Photoshop that we used in Illustrator, but I felt that was too advanced for an introductory tutorial. If you want to branch out into other areas of design using Photoshop, there are tons of other tutorials available online. Why don’t you try using the methods outlined above to draw Doom’s chest now?

I hope this tutorial was helpful to you!

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