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Vista Window Effect Photoshop Tutorial

Vista users are quite familiar with “Aero” Theme effects in the new Windows Operating System. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how you can recreate some of the Transparent Window Effects using Adobe Photoshop.

I mentioned this effect in my “Pixel Popping Techniques Tutorial” a few days ago, so I thought it would be a good idea to go into a bit more detail for replicating the same design. You may also be interested in our photoshop tutorial that teaches you how to create the Windows Vista Aurora Look.

The Vista Window at a Glance

Before you try to design something, it’s almost always a good idea to examine the way something should look first. Let’s take a look at a Vista “Window”. Vista Window Example Making note of all the important parts of this design will help us remake the design ourselves. Let’s start with the Main Window


The Main Window

The main window makes up the entire frame of the window, and holds all of the windows smaller components. Therefore, it seems like a good place to start. We’ll begin by creating a new document (Choose the document size based on how large you want your window to be). The background I’ll be using is shown below (You might be familiar with it from our Windows Vista Lighting Effect Tutorial). Background Example We’re going to place the main window in the center of this new document. To create the box, select the Rounded Rectangle Tool from the toolbar, and then set the radius of the rectangle to 5px in the Options Bar. Select a foreground color of Black, and create a nice sized rectangle across your canvas. Window Frame Set the Blending Mode of this shape layer to “Lighten“. Doing this will keep the shape intact, and make blending options 100% visible, while making the black shape invisible. Go into the Blending Options (Right Click Layer > Blending Options) and apply the following: Main Window ShadowMain Window BorderMain Window Inner GlowMain Window White and Blue BevelMain Window ColorMain Window Gradient The Custom Environmental Reflection Gradient Phew… That’s a lot of styles… The Main Windows Vista Frame is Complete It sure does come out looking nice though!

The Light Rays

As we’ve seen in the real Vista Window, there are some nice rays of light that appear to be passing through the main window. We’re going to recreate that effect now. Turn your Main Window Layer into a selection (Ctrl + Left Click Layer Thumbnail). Create a New Layer Set above this layer. While this layer set is selected, create a new layer mask to reveal the selection (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection). Any layers placed inside of this layer set will only be visible now inside of this mask. Layer Mask for the Light Rays Create a new layer, and place it inside of this Layer set. Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool, make a thin selection extending from the top to the bottom of your canvas, and then using the Paint Bucket Tool, fill the selection with White. The beginning of a light ray Deselect everything (Ctrl + D), and then Rotate this layer using Transform (Ctrl + T, or Edit > Transform > Rotate). Try to make it angle out a bit, to about -45*. You can enter in this value in the options bar, or hold shift, and rotate the layer in intervals (default of 15* intervals). Rotate the white rectangle to a 45* angle Apply a Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) with a value somewhere between 2-5. Using the Eraser Tool (Large, Soft default brush 200-250px, 0% hardness), go just slightly over the right edge. Decrease the layer opacity to the 10-30% range. A single completed ray Complete this series of steps several more times to create a few similar light rays. Try to overlap some, and change the blur value & opacity to get a nice collection of rays. Completed Light Rays At long last, the Main Window is completed! Now to move onto the Inner Window.

Creating the Inner Window

Be sure to be working above all other layers & layer sets at this point. To begin, we need to create a shape for the inner window. Draw out a rounded rectangle shape, just as you did to create the shape for the main window. The Inner Window Shape Set this layers Blending Mode to lighten, as you did with the original. Apply the following blending options to this shape layer: Inner Window Outer Glow SettingsInner Window Stroke Settings Create a new Layer Set, and create a layer mask based off the inner window. In this set, you’ll have your Window’s contents. You’re window might look something like shown below: Completed Inner Window That’s a pretty slick lookin’ Vista Window if you ask me!

Final Remarks

This is an excellent design technique for interface & layout design when used in moderation. I’ve seen it used in website designs for blogs, forums, and of course Microsoft new Operating System. There are a few notable “Extras” tacked onto the Windows Vista version of the design (such as the “Minimize”, “Maximize”, and “Exit” buttons, as well as the title), but those probably aren’t quite as practical in everyday design. With your new knowledge in blending options, you could probably replicate the exact look yourself! Vista Window Final

However, for the purposes of this tutorial, we will not cover those in detail. Please feel free to download our Vista Window Photoshop Document yourself if you’d like to see how we did it. If you’d like, you may use the styling effects we’ve setup in the document for your own personal use (Just remember to tell your buddies where they can learn how to do this too!). Be sure to check out our other great Photoshop Tutorial here at Tutorial9 if you enjoyed this one.


  1. Add point Subtract point
    m_cayman94 (1 Point) April 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    You have a good technique in using Photoshop
    But i can’t use it so i decided to make the same way
    by using a little bit easier program like :
    let me say it is Microsoft PowerPoint 2007
    it is very easy ,Take a look :

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  2. Add point Subtract point
    XBLsFinest (1 Point) April 21, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Great tutorial, and very effective.

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  3. Add point Subtract point

    thank you. this was really usefull. Good luck!

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  4. Add point Subtract point
    Chupakabra (0 Points) March 2, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Great tut man!

    Btw, what’s the nice font you used in the window?


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    gaurav takkar (0 Points) February 18, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    its really easy to learn through your imagination

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  6. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (0 Points) February 3, 2010 at 12:35 am

    wow Great article, thanks!166

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  7. Add point Subtract point
    ฟังเพลงใหม่ (0 Points) February 2, 2010 at 1:50 am

    wow Great article, thanks!153

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  8. Add point Subtract point

    wow Great article, thanks!148

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  9. Add point Subtract point

    Great reading! Thanks for sharing

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  10. Add point Subtract point
    drewbeta (0 Points) January 22, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Very nice effect. Thanks for the tut! this can come in handy in the future. I love what you’re doing here, you got yourself a new rss subscriber.

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    lanxiaoxi (0 Points) December 23, 2009 at 1:51 am

    I love the background;-p

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    Mehmet Emin Korkmaz (1 Point) October 21, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Eğer Türkçe dilini anlıyorsanız bunu söylemeliyim. Gerçekten başarılı bir çalışma çoğu Türk Photoshop dersi veren sitede olmayan bir ders… Bravo sizlere… En yakın zamnda yapdığım çalışmamı yollamak isterim…

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  13. Add point Subtract point

    Oh, thats really cool. Thanks for this great tut and PSD file. I think i should follow here..

    kind regards

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  14. Add point Subtract point

    Excellent tutorial! I was looking for it a long time ago.

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  15. Add point Subtract point

    awesome .. ^_^ very helpfull too

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  16. Add point Subtract point
    Daniel Golden (1 Point) August 17, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Wow, way too helpful. Thanks bro.

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  17. Add point Subtract point
    p-diddy (1 Point) June 9, 2009 at 5:44 am

    Yo dis is p diddy very nice nice yes just nice ill make about it.

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  18. Add point Subtract point
    Eprouvez (1 Point) June 6, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Never mind!

    Found the PSD File Lol

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  19. Add point Subtract point
    Eprouvez (1 Point) June 4, 2009 at 6:20 am

    ARGH! Can’t seem to get it right!
    There must be a step I’m missing because it’s not going invisible!
    Any help would be nice,

    But other than that GREAT TUT!!

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    huwaw69 (1 Point) May 8, 2009 at 2:40 am

    Wow this is awesome to my webpage, this will really make a good box to my comment box.. heheh thanks for the tip here man!

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    Mat’ (1 Point) April 26, 2009 at 2:00 pm



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  22. Add point Subtract point

    Year nice Tutorial … You live and learn. :)

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  23. Add point Subtract point
    mkinkie (1 Point) March 13, 2009 at 5:54 am

    fantastic results.! I could also create my own GUI

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  24. Add point Subtract point

    Nice tutorial! What was that grungy – ish font you used?

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  25. Add point Subtract point

    Awesome design! Thanks a lot.

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  26. Add point Subtract point
    Hesam_ZeRo (1 Point) December 24, 2008 at 8:32 am

    That was great.that’s perfect background.thank to you for your help.
    A’m Iranian boy & i cant speake English very well…So good bye…Nice to meet you

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  27. Add point Subtract point

    Simply ………….Thanks…….

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  28. Add point Subtract point
    Jennifer Payne (1 Point) November 9, 2008 at 11:06 am

    I really need to congratz this site owner, what a great tutorials you have here. So long since i’ve seen such good explained tutorials, with easy steps and high quality effects.

    Keep on this way!

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    It’s Me Abhishek (1 Point) October 22, 2008 at 4:05 am

    My heqart is beating . . . Amazing tutorial sir . . .

    I was trying to create in in Corel Draw X3 but was not able to give bevel effect . .

    Again . . Thanx for this tutorial sir . . .

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    Crashproof (1 Point) October 11, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Great tutorial. Only suggestion I would make is when “Creating the Inner Window” I would left click and get the selection from the Main Window layer and then Select -> Modify -> Contract by 7 pixels. Then use the selection tool + ALT to subtract for the window title bar, and then select -> modify -> smooth by 3 pixels. This method guarantees you even border around your inner window without eyeballing it.

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    Froghead (1 Point) August 20, 2008 at 4:18 am

    Great tutorial! Thank you :)

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  32. Add point Subtract point
    Bryan Grajales (1 Point) August 12, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    I love it! Thanks for this beautiful and amazing tutorial!

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  33. Add point Subtract point
    Kiran (1 Point) July 21, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Wow really cool effect… very nice…

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  34. Add point Subtract point
    Mangesh (1 Point) June 30, 2008 at 2:42 am

    Super duper tutorial. Excellent!

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  35. Add point Subtract point
    jofher (1 Point) June 20, 2008 at 10:11 am

    thankz for the tutorial….. it helps alot^_^

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  36. Add point Subtract point
    Nobody but somebody (1 Point) June 18, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I just discovered this tutorial and I have been looking all over for something like this! Thank you so much! I must say that this effect is very beautiful. Just wanted to show my appreciation.

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    RUGRLN (1 Point) June 5, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Once again, great. Well done Leggett, it’s the best looking Tuts for Ps I’ve seen also with good content

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    Banisher (1 Point) May 17, 2008 at 3:06 am

    Not bad for the Vista Window Effect. Respect!

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  39. Add point Subtract point
    Elisabeth (1 Point) May 9, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    what font do you use?
    how do you make that logo?

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  40. Add point Subtract point
    Nathan (1 Point) April 17, 2008 at 8:29 am

    This works like a treat its amaizing :) i finally figured parts out aswell kept going wrong :P

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  41. Add point Subtract point

    Nice tut, I’ll go try this out now :)

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  42. Add point Subtract point
    Big Bright™ (1 Point) January 31, 2008 at 11:12 am

    I’m speechless and I’m gonna try it too.

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  43. Add point Subtract point

    Keeping them grouped is a good way to keep things organized Matthew. You can ungroup them if you wish… It would be much quicker for you to do it yourself than to have me make a new file/upload it/send it/etc.

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  44. Add point Subtract point
    Matthew (1 Point) January 27, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    could you send me a .psd file that dosnt have anything grouped?

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  45. Add point Subtract point

    Great tutorial

    faith x is going to make you an offer you cant refuse

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  46. Add point Subtract point
    faith x (1 Point) January 8, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Hey David,

    First, I like to start off saying what a great tutorial this is. And how happy I am to see tutorial 9 on it’s way. I remember how devastated I was seeing Grey Cobra slowly disappearing.

    Anyways, I have something that I’d like to discuss over the email, I hope you’d be interested :) right me up sometimes when you have time.

    Thank you

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