This is a tutorial for a minimalistic looking cutout effect.
01. You start with a shape, in my case a star in my usual 50ies gray (#808080)
I made this star in Inkscape, because its quick and easy, but any shape and method will do.
02. Added a Background, so we end up with an image 580x750px, in a light gray: #d6d6d6.
03. For the sake of the tutorial i also added some letters.
04. Merge down your objects, so they end up all on one layer.
05. Alpha select your objects and save to a channel.
06. Create a new transparent layer on top of all and name it 'Inner Shadow'.
07. Invert the selection and fill it with black.
08. Go to your saved channel and switch it on by clicking on the eye.
Doubleclick your channel, so that your channels-dialogue pops up.
Turn up the 'Fill Opacity' to a 100% and change the colour to something that makes a good contrast (i chose red).
09. Activate the 'Inner Shadow' layer again and apply a Gaussian Blur.
I used a value of 10.
This creates the 3D effect we want to achieve.
10. Call up the Move Tool and offset your Inner Shadow according to the direction of light.
I used a value of 3px, hitting the down arrows three times.
11. Turn off the channel, then highlight the Inner Shadow layer again and apply a layermask from channel.
12. Change the mode to 'Multiply' and reduce the Opacity to ca. 50%.
13. Create a new transparent layer on top of all and name it 'Highlight'.
14. Alpha select your objects and call up your Move tool.
Make sure its set to selection !
15. Click on the selection and move it 2px down.
Then fill with white.
16. Alpha select your objects again and initialize layermask from selection.
Make sure 'Invert Mask' is ticked !
17. Reduce the Opacity of the highlight layer to circa 70%.
If necessary, blur the highlight by a value of 1 or 2px (in case it looks jaggy).
18. Reduce the Opacity of your Objects layer to circa 50%.
19. If you feel the smaller text object needs a finer highlight, make a selection around that object and apply and alpha-curve to tighten it (the highlight must have been blurred for this step to work).
20. You can also add a bit of Noise to the objects layer to make it look less "clean" - i used a value of 0,02 RGB Noise.
And this is it. Hope you like !