I seem to be one the more advanced PhotoShop users around here so i thought i would share a few helpfull hints for thoes who have just started using the program. I'm going to explain some common mistakes people make while trying to figure out how to make abstract wallpapers and signatures. Everything i will cover is not set in stone and you should try diffrent things and diffrent settings. By just playing around with the options, you can get a totaly diffrent look to your image.

The most common problem people make is not using layers or using them poorly. My images have a minimum of 10 layers and can have as many 50 or more for more complicated designs.

#1 Never use the background layer! Most of the layer options are not available for it.
#2 Make lots of layers. You should be making a new layer at regular intervols. It is far easier to edit a layer than it is to recreate your image.
#3 If you have a lot of layers for for an object or background, make a Layer Set and place the layers inside. This helps you easily find, identify, edit, and move an object with sevral layers.
#4 There are blending options! You can achieve many great effects with thies. You can blend a mostly white image onto a mostly black image and keep the objects on both images. (i wont get into much detail, just play around)

Another common problem i see is bare backgrounds. Unless you know that you want a bare color for your background, you should never have one.

#1 Render Clouds! This is the best filter in all of PS. From the menu, Filters > Render> Clouds. This will use your forground/background colors to render the clouds. Some filters wont do anything on a solid color so this helps to enable the effect visually.
#2 Patterns! To access your patterns, click the paint bucket tool and on the left side of the menu bar will be a drop down box. Select pattern and beside the first drop down box will be another with a small picture in it. Click the pic and a small box will open. On this box in the upper right corner you will see what appears to be a play button (circle with an arrow in it), when you click that, a list will pop up with even more patterns. (i cant take a screen shot of this so i explained it as best as i could)
#3 Filters. You can do so many great things with the filters included in PS and i sugjest you download more.

Layout is another problem i notice in a lot of designs. Some people dont recognize potential problems. Here are some tips for thoes making wallpapers.

#1 Icons go on the left of the screen! Keep this area clear of images (renders, logo's, text, ect) or high contrasting colors.
#2 Dont forget that your wallpaper extends behind the taskbar. If you have text or a logo neer the bottom of your image, check it to make sure the taskbar isnt cutting halfway through it.
#2.1 You can use the taskbar as a design element. If you have a render of a charactor, you can position it so it looks as if it is standing on the taskbar. It looks bad if the feet are cut off or if there is a space in between.
#3 The basic elements of a standard wallpaper are a background such as some abstract art. An object like a charactor or a logo in the forground. And accents such as text or small logo's and ofcourse your name.

I personally like to hide my name under the taskbar.

I hope this helps to get you pointed in the right direction and clears up some problems you might be having.

If you would like me to make a more indepth tutorial on filters, coloring, design, ect, ect. Please bring it to my attention and i'll do my best to explain.

-J-Roc aka Cana-Balistic