First off I would like to thank the kind people at 3DTotal for giving me this opportunity to write a short tutorial on how I designed the wallpaper for my finished entry to the Dominance War 2 competition. I hardly consider myself a brilliant artist but I believe I can explain some concepts behind graphical design for wallpapers and other types of similar assets such as interfaces and so forth.
For this tutorial I will be using Photoshop and 3ds Max to create the finished result.
Create a new image in Photoshop at the highest resolution you want your wallpaper to be, so later we don't lose any detail with other sizes, in my case, I chose 1280x1024.
The first thing to start with is to create a base layer for your wallpaper, what will appear in empty areas, for my design I was going along the same style as my character, with a deep feel of darkness and 'grunge'.
As the character will be the main part of the wallpaper, I keep background colours dark and de-saturated, so the eye focuses on the character. I also find that if you are going to have an image that someone will stare at every time they turn on their computer, your probably not going to want to make it very vibrant and too hurtful on the eyes, of course, this is just my opinion, some people like very colourful wallpapers.
I also applied a photographic grime overlay to the background to give it a nice texture which will suit the character, depending on certain characteristics you could go with certain patterns but it best to stay simple and keep this effect subtle.
So right now we are left with a pretty basic background.
The reason I made a large bright spot in the middle was to both give the whole plane a 'lit up' 3 dimensional feel, whilst also diverting attention to the center of the screen, otherwise it will just look like a tiling texture.
Now set some borders, this is also just a little style thing I like to include but it has a simple purpose also, just to cut off the end of the image, and contain the important items within it.
For example, when a person does that cheesy L-shape finger thing where they pretend to be picturing a photograph.
I kept mine very simple and just created some faded lines with the gradient and box selection tool, not the hardest or most amazing feature but it's a chance to be creative.
Right, enough gibberish, now we are going to want to position our character or main feature of the wallpaper into the canvas.
Before rendering anything you'll want to think about posing and positioning, remember that on an average PC desktop, most icons are all the way on the left, so you don't really want those covering up your character or any important text, even stuff like the start menu popping up, you may want to think about how to keep your main feature un-obscured from sight.
Ok, so you've posed your character and got an idea how you want it overall, so render your image with any fancy techniques if you must then go to save it and choose the .TGA format. I use this because we can export the render with an alpha mask which keeps only the rendered objects and not the default background.