C’mon, admit it. MSN people graphics are pretty cool – we all secretly like them … even if we would happily spout on about the corporate monopoly Microsoft has created and “officially” want nothing to do with them.

Well … you don’t have to show off your neat little people graphic if you don’t want to. But I promise, you’ll want to.

This tutorial will guide you through the creation of a much cooler MSN-Style people graphic than you’ve seen before. It’s very easy to do, requires no special plug-ins, and can be done in any recent version of Adobe Photoshop without problems.

Creating Cool MSN People

1. Start with a new canvas: It needs to be in RGB mode and sizes at least 500 x 500 pixels. If you’re going to show off your graphic, you might want to go with a larger sized canvas – the larger the size you create at, the better. Working at a higher resolution means being able to size the graphic down for as many purposes as you like without any loss of quality.

2. Draw 3 Shapes: Start with a lighter version of the color scheme you want to end up with, and use ONLY shape tools (there’s a good reason for this, I promise). Draw a circle for the head and rasterize the layer (right-click the layer and choose “Rasterize Layer”), then draw a raindrop for the body but don’t rasterize this layer. Drag the body layer below the head layer. Then, draw an oval shadow and rasterize its layer. Drag the shadow layer below the body layer.

3. Transform the Body: The reason we didn’t rasterize the raindrop was so that we could transform it in this step without getting jaggedy-pixel edges on our shape. Select the raindrop layer, and click “Edit”, choose “Transform”, and pick “Warp”. This transform tool let’s you do some crazy things – what you’re going to want right now are the four “circle” handles. Drag them out so that the raindrop becomes more egg-shaped. (Reference Illustration 01). Click OK when you’re satisfied, and then rasterize this layer.

4. Blur the Shadow: The only thing left for us to do with the shadow layer is make it look more shadowy. We’re going to do that quick and easy by going to “Filter”, choosing “Blur”, and clicking “Gaussian Blur”. Set the radius of the blur to 5.0 pixels, and click OK.

5. Apply Head Layer Styles: We’re only going to mess with layer styles once, and we’re going to do that right now. Select your head layer and head into your layer styles window (click the small “f” icon in your layers palette, or go to “Layer” and choose “Layer Styles”). We want to apply a 1-pixel, Inside Stroke first. It should be the same color as your head, but darker. Then, go to the Gradient Overlay tab, tick the box, and set the default gradient to “Screen” Blend Mode. Finally, tick the Inner Glow box and change the size of the Inner Glow to 21. Click OK.

6. Apply Body Layer Styles: No, I didn’t trick you. We’re not going to mess with the layer styles again – we just want the body layer to match the head layer in styling. The easiest way to do this is to right-click your head layer, choose “Copy Layer Style”, then right-click your body layer and click “Paste Layer Style”. All done with that!

7. 3 Head Accents: Now to make the head look more interesting. First, draw a dark circle on the upper portion of the head. Gaussian blur it (Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur) at 2.0 pixels radius. Next, draw a lighter circle on top of the darker one. Gaussian blur this circle at 5.0 pixels radius. Finally, use a dark color and your circle shape tool to draw an oval down the right side of the head. Set this layer’s mode to “Screen”, grab your circle marquee tool, and cut out most of the circle so it becomes a crescent.

8. 4 Body Accents: Our last step – make the body as cool as the head. We’re going to make a nifty little tie for our cool msn guy. Grab your raindrop shape tool and draw a white raindrop first, and well above the bottom of it a darker raindrop, and right above that a dark raindrop. Don’t blur any of these, and make sure you rasterize each of them. Finally, repeat the steps to create a crescent down the side of the body.

Gorgeous msn guy, made quick and easy in Photoshop! So … you’re gonna go show it off, right?

Graphic Fashion Photo