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If you’ve been using Photoshop since before layers were introduced, you’ll appreciate just how incredible they are. Some might say life changing! In this issue’s feature we’re going to show you how they’re capable of completely transforming your photos, paintings, illustrations, typography and more. Turn to p.16 and get ready to unleash your artwork! This issue is also packed full of practical tutorials from designing a poster to enhancing sports shots, and from making a mixed-media masterpiece to adding depth to illustrations. There is also professional advice from industry experts on retouching photos, as well as beginner guides to essential Elements tools. If that wasn’t enough, there are more than $200 worth of free resources on this issue’s FileSilo, so make sure you download them today and start creating.

© Imagine Publishing Ltd 2016 ISSN 1747-7816

Sarah Bankes Editor



Contents Co



gallery 06 Trending Check out some of the most

with layers 24 Composite and masks

popular artwork that’s trending

gallery 08 Readers’ Take a look at what your fellow

readers have been up to this issue

challenge 10 Readers’ Enter our competition for a chance to win a Canon camera and more!

the studio 12 Inside We chat to the brainchild behind

Aussie-based TGFX Design Studio

Unleash your art 16 Feature: with layers

Improve your typography, photo edits and more thanks to layers

I Made 48 How London-based James Gilleard

discusses Cartoon Background

project 54 Resource Make marble swirls and patterns

Subscribe today and you’ll

SAVE 30% Turn to page 106 to get this amazing deal. US page 78

Create an out-of-bounds piece of art with masks and adjustments

up your portraits 30 Fire Master lighting when compositing fire effects and a portrait image

a vintage-style 34 Design poster

Combine the Pen and Brush tools, and create your own texture

layer masks and 40 Mix adjustments

YOUR FREE PHOTOSHOP RESOURCES ARE HERE! ✔ This issue: brushes, stock images, textures,

actions, a font, a plug-in and more

Create a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and turn a day scene to night

your own retro text 44 Design Build a typeface from scratch and

✔ Plus files to follow the tutorials ✔ Free and ready for you to download today!

create a glowing disco effect

photos and brushes 50 Mix Make a mixed-media illustration with a single photo and brushes

for use in a variety of projects

focus 58 Project How 55 artists came together to

create rather special playing cards

98 Reviews JixiPix Pastello and Flame Painter 3 Pro by Escape Motions

102 Advertorial Unifying the Dell Precision 15 5000 series, Windows 10 and Adobe CC

interview 108 Portfolio Distorting reality in Photoshop with



Budapest-based Flora Borsi

111 Reader interview

Advanced Photoshop

How does colour impact on Shivam Thapliyal’s Photoshop projects?


tips for retouching 62 10 Professional retouchers share their advice for perfect retouching

depth to inked artwork 68 Add Enliven black-and-white sketches


This issue there are hundreds of free resources worth over $200!

by adding colour and shadows

your sports shots 72 Enhance Create an advertising-style image © Konstantin Kryukovski




by compositing multiple photos

Take a look at our fantastic online shop at


for back issues, books and merchandise


50 Take one of the most simple Photoshop features to new levels, and create exciting projects with layers





Elements creative focus: Master the 80 Tool Refine Edge tool

Leave outlines smooth and realistic with this powerful tool

art: Get creative 88 Surreal with layer masks Build a unique composition using masks and more

project: Build a 92 Digital art: Sketch with 82 Creative the Pen and Ink filter web banner Create a cohesive design for the web and social media

Turn your favourite photos into digital sketches

edit: Face paint 86 Photo with the Displace filter

Common problems 96 Q&A: in Elements

Apply digital face paint to add interest to any portrait

We answer your questions and find solutions to your problems



TRENDING IMAGES Check out some of the most popular artwork that’s been rocking the internet over the last few weeks, and take inspiration from what’s currently trending There’s nothing more inspiring than surfing the internet and seeing what other artists are creating, and we encourage you to do so. Here are some of our favourite pictures that caught our attention recently, from some of the world’s most exciting artists and designers.

Johnny’s style is subtly colourful, busy and bursting with life. Lots of artists use Photoshop as a means to build on their hand-drawn illustrations, and Johnny’s work is a fantastic example of this, that has trended on Behance.

Johnny Kotze

This is an illustration inspired by daily swims and hikes by the seaside in South Africa. It was created on paper with a pencil before it was worked on in Illustrator and then Photoshop, where all the colours came in.

Gerone has had thousands of views for his unique painting style. Experimenting with hue and saturation is one reason artists choose Photoshop over traditional paints, and this is a wonderful example of how to get creative with colour.

Gerone Perez GeronePerez

This was originally a painting with natural skin tone. I then decided to desaturate the entire image and through layer masking, I picked which areas should be le with colour until I was satisfied with the image as a whole.


Filip Hodas Filip has achieved an icy, cool feel with this image. It has been viewed thousands of times online, and uses Photoshop to bring out the best of its render.

This image was created in Cinema 4D and Photoshop. In Photoshop I created the fog, then I used Color Balance to enhance blue and pink tones, and I added a little bit of contrast and sharpened it to make it pop.

Mark Lindner

This image is a frame from an animation, A Guide to Happy, a project focusing on what makes people happy, and how to find happiness. It was created with Photoshop and Premiere Pro, but also Maxon Cinema 4D and Adobe Aer Effects.

Rohit is one of Behance’s most celebrated advertising experts, having been featured by the site for their original and exciting ad campaigns. This piece feels both epic in scale yet nuanced with subtle details.

This has trended on Behance and featured on its ‘Motion Graphics Served’ sister site. Photoshop users turn to Cinema 4D to enhance their work, but this kind of playfulness is rare in 3D.

We love the classic travel-poster feel of this piece. There are loads of great examples out on the web at the moment, and Russ’s in particular have been popular; he’s been featured on Illustration Served, a Behance site featuring curated work in this style.

Russ Gray

This poster was created in both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I used Photoshop to add texture with a custom-created brush. The colours were then refined by playing with the Channel Mixer as well as the Hue/ Saturation adjustments.

Rohit Sawant

The artwork for this campaign was designed to communicate the core brand idea: ‘Tougher than you think’. I went about creating this image with multiple stock images, including the primary one. This was created with just Photoshop and a Wacom tablet.


READERS’ IMAGES Welcome to an inspirational round-up of great Photoshop artwork created by none other than your fellow readers


Send us your images now for the chance to appear in future galleries Create your own gallery online Upload your images to Facebook Search PhotoshopCreative Tweet us your creative artwork @PshopCreative

Alternatively, you can email:

Patrizia Burra


Image of the issue I adjusted the perspective and shape of each object with the Warp tool. I added a lot of adjustment layers, switched blend modes and finished everything off with the High Pass filter. The important thing is to keep everything looking realistic.

Adam Pike


This picture was created using a photograph I took myself. I used the ordinary image of terrace houses and some stock photos, such as the fire and spaceship to create the scenario of an alien invasion.


Vanessa Pádua user/Vanessa%20Padua

I always start images by thinking of a scenario and fitting stock images together. Here, I placed the child and then the horse. I turned the horse into a unicorn by adding the horn.

Nishant Jagtap Expendable%20Nishant

Tarek Hakeem tarek%20hakeem

First I sketched the composition, then I started placing stock images on the sketch. I matched their colour to the mood that I wanted, then I blended the sky with the boy’s skin by using double-exposure techniques.

This is an image I named Surfing Beauty: it’s nothing but the combination of three different images. I just imagined the girl’s hair as a silky wave, and placed all the other elements around it.

William Ramos

www.photoshopcreative. Ramos

This image is about loneliness and finding a friend. Colours, adjustments and compositing were key in bringing it to life. The dark circle around the image acts almost as a vignette.


READERS’ CHALLENGE Upload your images to

Challenge entries The best entries and


overall challenge winner

Readers’e Challeng WINNER

1 JJ Jordan

Bruegel Cake This picture was influenced by Pieter Bruegel, a man with a great sense of humour. The iPad, cupcake and main subject have all been created in a painted style.

2 Rory Henderson

In Light All four images were used for this picture. Blend modes were experimented with, and there’s a light painted finish to the overall composition.

3 Patrizia Burra

Blow I cut the cupcake image out and placed the girl behind. I added some plumes to create an unusual atmosphere around her. I added some layers in a Soft Light and Multiply mode.

4 Jack Struss

Feet In The Water I used only the four images supplied for this. I distorted perspectives of all the elements to make this surreal scene. The iPad is mirrored across the screen.

2 We challenged you with these In Issue 136, we challenged you to get creative with these four images. You were allowed to use any or all of the pictures, and whatever other resources you chose. Here’s what you created.






Canon PowerShot SX610 camera

This issue, one lucky winner will receive a Canon PowerShot SX610 camera. This slim, pocket-sized camera is perfect for taking shots on the go; it comes equipped with 18x zoom, is capable of taking sharp shots and HD films, and is perfect for easily sharing to social media. Check out the PowerShot range at



This issue’s challenge Think you can do better? Prove it!

AKVIS NatureArt 8.0 The winner, plus three runners-up will receive AKVIS’s NatureArt software! NatureArt enables you to add amazing weather and atmosphere effects to your pictures – we gave it an 8/10 when we reviewed it in issue 137.

Get creative with the supplied images and you could win a fantastic prize! Use as many of the images as you like (from previous issues too!) and include your own photos if you wish. Head to and simply hit the Challenge link. Good luck!

WORTH $72! 11

Inside the studio

TGFX Design Studio Jae Tan has big plans for the studio he started way back when he was a student. We find out more


GFX Design Studio is the brainchild of its creative director and founder, Jae Tan. The studio has worked for big-name clients like BMW and Subway, but has always worked steadily on smaller, often local projects. Over the years it has expanded its services through branding and print design into web development. Recently Tan also added video production to the list of skills TGFX can offer its clients. “Our success is that we do all these things at above average quality with fast turnarounds,” says Tan. “A smart business move is that the more diverse you are, the more opportunities can come into your business.” The company started simply enough, back when Tan was studying his craft at Melbourne’s RMIT University (which is now another client). He explains: “I started TGFX Design Studio back when I was in RMIT University at the age of 18. I was in a logo design class when I had that light bulb moment. I said to myself: ‘I could make money doing this’, so I started doing free designs for a local church I attended. I mainly focused on improving my skills in design and customer service.” After university, Tan had various jobs in the corporate world, doing graphic design and providing marketing materials. He learnt plenty, including how to manage a team on a challenging project. So, in 2012, he set up TGFX Design Studio properly. But he decided not to do it in the traditional way. There’s an office in Melbourne that he works from, but of the six other designers and developers that work for TGFX Design Studio, a number of them work from where they’re based in Europe, Asia and the rest of Australia. Tan doesn’t consider the distance a problem. “Most of my team work through an online collaborating system that makes our turnarounds fast,” says Tan. “The environment we have at TGFX Design Studio is somewhat casual, which allows a decent amount of freedom. My team can do anything they like as long as they complete the project and milestones. By allowing freedom it gives people more of a responsibility and commitment to get things done at their own time. Some people perform better at night than day, and others are the opposite.”


The right space: Although TGFX has a beautiful space, many of its designers work remotely

ABOUT THE STUDIO TGFX DESIGN STUDIO TGFX Design Studio has been busy creating in its current form since 2012, and creative director Jae Tan currently has six designers and developers working for him, though not all of them work out from the company’s Melbourne base.

Jae Tan Creative director

Daniel Sun Senior web developer

Arya Mojgani Web developer

A day in the life of Daniel Sun How a senior web developer works

Get caught up


I start off the day seeing what projects are on our cloud collaborating system and see who was working on what. Once I’ve read the notes from the other team members, I write down my goals for the day for what I need to achieve.

Take action


Once written down, I take action by doing mostly web development work. If there are any issues I ask Jae, our creative director, for a possible solution to the situation.

Research and implementation


If I am working on a website I would follow the mock-ups Jae has given for that particular client and do a lot of research to implement certain functionalities on websites.

Time to check in


By lunch time I check my emails and reply to people so that they are communicated with effectively. Our prime focus is on communication and providing that quality level of service to our clients.

Playing catch-up In the afternoon, I will catch up with Jae regarding the progress of all the projects, and also get clarity on a number of things.

That’s a wrap


At the end of the day, I take down my notes on the cloud collaborating system and wrap things up with the projects that I’m working on.

All images © TGFX Design Studio



Inside the studio TOP 5 PRODUCTION TIPS


Bubble Planets: Tan says he “just made this for fun” and it was “a nice image to look at with planets being bubbles”

1. Practise self discipline “You need to carve yourself out enough time to be creative. So always write a checklist, as it will help you work out what you need to achieve by the end of the day. Then check emails only at certain parts of the day so you can be productive.” Daniel Sun 2. Embrace the art “With your day structured, you can dive into the good stuff. So, always start by being inspired with designs. However experienced you are, researching and collecting amazing designs will always further develop your technique and style.” Daniel Sun 3. Smash that box “Don’t worry about other people understanding what you do; if you think outside the box and come up with great work, they’ll come to it. It’s better to be world class in one skill than mediocre in many.” Jae Tan 4. Work hard “When you love what you do, hard work isn’t really hard work, so always put in the most you can. Go the extra mile and have the motivation to always learn something new each day.” Jae Tan 5. Different hats, same attitude “Web developers usually can’t do both design and coding, so it’s always great to work with someone who really does understand design. Also, whatever the project, it’s always best to start it as early as possible to avoid missing the deadline.” Arya Mojgani

Design and development: Web development is a core bedrock of TGFX’s workload

Over the last few years, he has worked with many designers and developers who have come and gone. But he believes that “by letting go of the wrong people, the right people will come into your business. We’ve always kept our location and creative direction the same because it is working for us really well. One of my previous bosses said: ‘Keep your successful actions, and remove actions that don’t work’.” So that is exactly what Tan has been doing since TGFX launched. Essentially, his ethos is that the work and the craft come before the business, or the chasing work part of it. He says: “I believe that if you chase after money then money will always run out of your pocket. But as you develop on working on yourself and success, the money will chase you!” That said, Tan has big plans for the company. It’s just that the ambition is based on creative effort and impact rather than financial successes. He says: “I believe I see TGFX Design Studio to be a globally


recognised brand that will have offices across the globe. We want to help many businesses look highly professional.” And Tan and his team certainly have the self discipline and commitment to achieve this. Tan says that when he finished high school he had the choice to “travel, party and have fun but I chose the total opposite. The day after graduation, I took a pen and journal and started off with learning Photoshop off YouTube. I would watch various tutorials and write step-by-step on what to do to achieve that end result. At first it was difficult to learn Photoshop but over the years you get so used to it that you can look at a design with Photoshop in your mind.” Now, of course, TGFX works in a variety of media, but the whole team uses the Adobe Creative Suite to achieve what they need, with Photoshop at the fore. Tan remembers what a challenge one of their biggest projects was – a tram wrap – and how Photoshop enabled him to achieve it. He says: “It was the night before the deadline and I was up with the client till 3am finalising adjustments. With my knowledge of Photoshop, I managed to swiftly do the adjustments on the spot from colour correction to layout to compositing. This type of massive project needed to be very organised by using layers and groups and the right mindset to believe that you can you do it. It’s definitely given me and the studio a lot of strength.” Like most other designers, Tan has

an enormous amount of affection for Photoshop, but wishes “it had the capability to make things vector so it would not pixelate. Sometimes it’s a hassle using two programs.” Since Tan launched TGFX as a proper design studio in 2012, he’s had to work pretty hard to deal with all the work coming in his direction. But, as he says: “When you love what you do, you don’t see hard work as work. You just do the job. I never thought I would have lasted this long, but now I realise that this is my purpose and calling: to transform businesses and make a difference in people’s lives with my designs.”

Shine a light: Tan’s goal is to “transform businesses” with great design

All images © TGFX Design Studio

Stand out from the crowd

Jae Tan lets us in on his design process

Crack the chest


This piece uses stock images downloaded from Duplicate the figure layer, then hide the original. With the Pen, make a cut shape and use a Shape Vector Mask layer. Select the duplicated layer of the figure, Delete and you should see a cut through the chest. Open blending options. Tick Inner Shadow, Angle: 120, Distance: 21px, Choke: 0px, Size: 21px. Use Color Overlay and choose a dark colour to place under the figure.

Cut lip


Make a crescent shape with the Pen tool then open Blending Options. Tick Inner Shadow, Angle: 120, Distance: 21px, Choke: 0px, Size: 21px. Tick Bevel and Emboss, Depth: 100%, Size: 21px, Soften: 0px, Angle: 120, Altitude: 30. Go to Gradient Overlay and choose a dark grey on one side and light grey on the other, place this cut lip under the figure layer.

Exploding head

The third dimension


Use Illustrator to make some 3D shapes and then bring them into Photoshop. You can also make circles and add radial blending gradients if you like. Be creative! As long as it’s diagonally heading out in one direction, than you have done it!


Once tweaked, place other stock images in the composition. Adjust Levels and use a dark shade to blend. Place the feathers at different points of the splash as if it’s writing with the ink. Use the Marquee tool to cut a jagged edge on the right of the person’s head. Place the vector object underneath the figure layer.

Finishing up


Using the same technique as the creative splash, adjust Levels and take it into Photoshop to blend with a black brush. Now it’s time to add the background. Resize it to your preference and add a radial gradient (black to transparent) to finish.



Take one of the most simple Photoshop features to new levels, and create exciting projects with layers


ayers often get taken for granted. There is no doubt that they are an excellent way to keep organised, but the really exciting thing about layers is discovering how you can harness them to create amazing, ambitious artwork of any kind. We often associate layers with photomanipulation. The idea of building a project with dozens of stock images means that layers are central in crafting, but managing them in groups and using clipping masks, is just as important. However, even simple photo editing can become a densely layered project if you’re adding more and more to your picture; remember too that you can create a merged layer in your work at the top of the stack by hitting Cmd/

Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E, and you might want to create a new layer for every single subtle edit you make on one photo. Also consider digital painting; the blending and blurring of brush strokes and how important layers can be for weaving the facets of your art together, and by adding photos and illustrations to paintings, you can build cool mixed-media pieces. Layers can also help to transform boring text. Download your free When it comes to layers, the resources at www.filesilo. possibilities are endless, and that’s why they’re such an exciting tool.

On the FileSilo


Discover how layers can be used to organise your images when compositing artwork.



Learn how to add a tilt-shift effect and selectively colour your favourite images.


Master essential techniques for creating stunning mixed-media pieces of art.


Find out how to design 2D and 3D typography, and even add a scene inside your text.


See how layers are fundamental to digital art, such as paintings and illustrations.



One eye was selected and the layer duplicated. It was enlarged by pressing Alt/Option+Shi. A layer mask was added, and the edges cleaned with a so Eraser. This was repeated for the second eye.

The tendrils layer was duplicated twice. One was placed on the upper-le side of the model’s body; the other to the right; and the third to the lower le. Unwanted areas were then erased.

Photomanipulations made easy


Five layers of vines were added around the model. They had to be above the model and tendrils layers. Two smaller vines were placed below the model’s body in order to create some depth.

Creating a photomanipulation is not a straightforward task – it requires patience and lots of organisation. That’s why having each element or image on its own layer is hugely important. This way you can go back to any layer and edit its preferences, positioning, transparency and blending mode, and duplicate your layers as well as resize them. In other words, layers help you to have more control over your .psd file. It’s also important to name and group your layers, so you can easily go back to them. This image had 51 layers arranged in 10 groups.



LAYERS Make creative photo edits When you are busy piling up the layers, it’s easy to get carried away. But in the realms of photo editing it’s always a good idea to keep everything as simple as possible. When we mask and apply adjustments, we want to be doing that using layers; when we retouch with some clever brushwork, or dodge and burn details in, we want to be doing all that with layers so we are not destroying the original pixels. The best way to fully appreciate layers is by doing the opposite. Try applying all your edits to just one layer. This may sound like the worst idea ever, but it’s a great way to see just how layers make a difference. It’s possible to achieve great effects with only a few layers, and best of all you don’t need to be a Photoshop wizard to get there.

Duplicate and blur


Duplicate the Background layer (Cmd/ Ctrl+J), go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set Radius to 7 pixels. Add a layer mask to this layer. Locate the Gradient tool (G) and set the Foreground colour to black. In the Options bar, set it to Reflected and tick Transparency.



Add a tilt-shift effect

Without layers, photo editing would be a disaster, so we need layers to help us undo and re-edit effects whenever we need to. When it comes to creating the tilt-shift effect, layers help us to apply varying amounts of blur to different parts of the image. This helps to create a depth of focusing that is required for the tilt-shift effect to work. By blurring the image significantly, the tilt-shift effect also helps us to rid the image of ugly, unwanted parts without cropping the image down. Also known as a toy-town effect, the resulting image looks very similar to a model village.

Apply a gradient


Click and drag a short gradient outward from the subject you want to keep sharp. As the gradient is a reflected one, it will affect both sides from the point you click and drag. The edges of the image should blur, leaving just the centre clear.


Tweak adjustment layers


Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate this layer and effectively double the intensity of the effect. Add a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer) and boost the Saturation up to +25 to give the effect a good injection of colour.

Create selectivecolour pieces


Go to Select>Color Range and pick the colour you want to keep from the Select drop-down menu, for example Yellows. Add a new Black & White adjustment layer, invert the layer mask (Cmd/ Ctrl+I) and tweak the adjustment layer’s colour channels to bring in some more contrast.

It’s difficult to get the tilt-shi right first time round. By applying non-destructive layers we can make sure nothing is permanent.


This effect relies on using layers to divide the colour area from the black-and-white area. Making use of selection techniques such as Color Range (or the Magic Wand if you are using Elements) and layer masks is vital when creating a selective-colour effect. Use a Black & White adjustment layer to instantly remove all the colour from the image. Adjustments like this also come with layer masks, which lets us brush over subjects to reveal their original colours, or use selection tools to pick out an area of colour.


Blend modes offer a wide range of blending options for layers. Use them to mix in texture, paint and more. Change as needed.


Use layer masks to hide and fade parts of layers. Texture was masked away from the facial features and other areas.

Mixed-media art

Layering a mixed-media portrait offers numerous advantages. If you hit a compositional dead end, shuffle layers around or bring in new assets. Layer masks let you hide parts of layers using soft-edged or artistic brushes with black and shades of grey. You can restore hidden areas by painting back with white. Mix layers effortlessly with blend modes, and change modes without penalty at any time.


Prepare the model


Color Fill layers set to blend modes like Overlay or Color enable you to add extra colour to your compositions. Invert the mask (Cmd/Ctrl+I), then paint with white to apply.


Open ‘Skater.jpg’. Use the Quick Selection tool to create a selection. Go to Select> Refine Edge. Paint on the hair. Set Output To to Layer Mask. Use Brush tool to fine-tune the layer mask (black to hide, white to reveal). Save as PSD.

Arrange the model and shapes


Open ‘Fractal.jpg’. Go to File>Place (in CC, Place Linked), grab the skater PSD. Position and scale. Across multiple layers below the skater, create colourful shape layers using the Pen tool set to Shape (Elements: use shape tools).

Add grunge and adjustments


At top, place ‘Scratched.jpg’, scale up, confirm. Set to Linear Light. Lower layer opacity. Click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers palette. Paint black to reduce further in areas. Finalise with adjustments such as Levels.



LAYERS Design eye-catching 3D typography There are so many elements to consider when making creative typography, but one thing that soon becomes apparent is that layers will become your best friend. The big secret to creating a scene in a 3D letter is to carefully employ layers. By doing this, you’ll find that you have far more control. In this project, each part of each letter will be carried out on a different layer; independent layers will represent independent scenes. So it’s important to have a good level of organisation. Group layers in folders (Cmd/Ctrl+G) and even assign a colour to each folder. The 3D function in Photoshop is very practical; with just a few clicks you can

determine the rotation and depth that you want for the letter. Note that as the letter is rotated some important elements will be added in the scene, such as light and shadows. These elements are fundamental to set the colour and tone of the images that will be added in the letter. It can help to look at some reference images before you start, especially lighting references. Remember that the result should be as realistic as possible, so do not skimp on details. Each letter should be different in terms of composition, lighting and perspective, but the overall scene should visually connect in the end. Thankfully, layers make all of this much easier.

Make it 3D

Paint the layers



Introduce the front scene

Add the side scene

Duplicate the letter layer. Pick one, right-click and select Rasterize Type option. Go to the 3D menu and choose the option ‘3D extrusion from current selection’. Move the letter and return to the Layers panel, select the copy of the letter layer and merge.


Use the ‘Divers.jpg’ and ‘Shark.jpg’ pictures to create the scene. To merge the images make a mask and with the Brush tool, delete the unnecessary parts. Use the ‘Water top. jpg’ for the water surface and delete the unnecessary parts with the same procedure.


With the Magic Wand tool, select the white part of the letter, create a new layer and a new folder (Cmd/Ctrl+G), then press the Add Layer Mask button. Paint the layers that are inside the folder with white and change the opacity. Repeat the procedure on the word’s side.


Use ‘Divers.jpg’ and ‘Water top.jpg’ to create the side of the letter. Remember that you must follow the perspective of the letter, so press Cmd/Ctrl+T and adjust it. To give more depth to the scene, create a blue (#6f91e4) shadow with the Brush tool in Multiply.

Create the letter


Create a new file (Cmd/Ctrl+N) 230x310mm and paint it blue (#7292e5). Type the letter L in Helvetica Bold and at 852pt. Create a white circle, put it below the letter and apply the Gaussian Blur at 110px.

Add outlines


Inside the folder, make a layer and paint it white, select the letter shape and go to Select>Modify>Contract (10px) and press delete. Change the blend mode to Soft Light and apply the Gaussian Blur with 5px.

Bring in some sunlight


Make a yellow circle (#ffe26), and with the Brush tool add some white highlights and clouds. These brushes are already in the Brushes menu. Remember to always make separate layers. Make some highlights on the background to give more depth.


To add a surprise element, insert the ‘Dolphins.jpg’ and ‘Water.jpg’ pictures. To delete the background of the splash image, just change the blend mode to Lighten.

Create 2D typography Whenever you add text in your Photoshop project, you’re using layers: a textbox becomes a new layer to rasterize, use styles with or just add other elements to. While sometimes you might just leave text as it is in Photoshop, it’s a good habit to practise using layers to brighten it up a little. It can be a fun challenge to add some text to a background and try to bring it to life, especially if you’re playing with the theme of that word. Many Photoshop users employ 3D text these days, but why not try something two-dimensional, and see how far you can take some ordinary letters, just by adding clipping mask layers, stock pictures and layer styles?


Duplicate the letter layers and merge. Place it underneath and flip horizontally. Reduce the opacity, make a mask and erase it smoothly.


Another way to create highlights is using the Pen tool. Select the tool, and draw in the highlight shape. Then apply the Gaussian Blur filter.

Perfect your scene Working with layers is absolutely fundamental to creating any image that you want, because they enable you to add details that are important for the final composition. Besides creating a scene inside a 3D letter, the layers are important for adding other details, such as highlights in the background or shadows

underneath the letters. These details are essential for making the whole scene work in harmony. To compose the background, test some light options, use the Brush tool with a white colour, change the blend mode and then create the scene as you wish. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes.



LAYERS Create stunning illustrations

EXPERT TIP Never too many layers

Layers are a fundamental tool for digital illustrating and work like invisible stacks of paper that give you the power to keep sections of your work separate, so you can easily change, rearrange and experiment before committing to a final draft. Creating a new layer for important areas gives you the space to change colours, import textures, erase and add outlines, add text, change visibility and add gradients, as well as using opacity options to blend and obscure imagery in isolated areas. You can also use the Layers panel to turn the visibility on and off using the eye icon and drag and drop the individual layers to rearrange the stacking order.

Don’t be afraid to add layers. When drawing a black outline, trace the picture on its own layer, then create new layers for the head, body, legs and so on. You can then paint colour on these individual layers without brushing over the outline. Be sure to name them accordingly.


Click on the individual layers and go to Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast and use the levels to make the area cut out lighter.


In this illustration, each house is on a separate layer, and the houses are grouped together by rows. This gives control of each house should it need repositioning, and also means the colour of each row can be adjusted so that they slowly fade into the distance.

Add a texture layer


Open the new image in Photoshop, click Cmd/Ctrl+A to select the image then Cmd/ Ctrl+C to copy on to the clipboard. Go back to your previous file and press Cmd/Ctrl+V to paste. You can now drag the image in to the desired place or resize using Cmd/Ctrl+T.


Delete unwanted areas


If the area you want to fill is fully joined and a solid shape in the outline layer, you can select it by clicking the Magic Wand inside the area, then inverse it – Select>Inverse. Select the texture layer in the Layers panel and use the Eraser to delete the unwanted areas.

Add a gradient


Select the background layer. Choose a blue, switch Foreground/Background colours (X) and choose a different shade. With the Gradient tool selected, click the top of the image and drag down. When you unclick, the gradient will appear, keeping it on its own layer.

Paint incredible artwork For a digital painter’s workflow, layers are important in many ways. This portrait was created with the Mixer Brush tool and has over 100 layers. Its layers were named and colour coded to make correcting or changing elements of it later on much easier and quicker.


When beginning this piece, the lock icon of the Background layer was clicked in order to unlock it. Next, by right-clicking on the layer, a colour could be applied. In this example, blue was applied to the layer, so it could be easily identified later as the original layer.


An empty layer was added above the Background image. A green colour was applied to this layer’s label, and it was renamed to Eyes. Once this was in place, painting with the Mixer Brush tool could begin. Very small strokes were used and followed a natural lines flow.

EXPERT TIP The Layers panel

Isolating areas

Traditional painting is almost always completed on a single surface. That one stretched canvas holds every speck of paint that comprises the final work. So traditional painters must be very careful about the way they approach the painting. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to paint in the base tones for a subject after painting the details. Thankfully, digital painting in Photoshop does not hold that same restriction. The use of layers gives great freedom to isolate different elements into separate layers. This enables a digital painter to focus on any portion of the painting at any time. While most still adhere to the classic order for other reasons, it’s not due to the limitations of the medium.


Layers can be used to isolate the painting’s various elements like the background, focal areas, facial features and fine details. This makes the further development of each element much easier.

Naming and colour coding layers means you don’t have to memorise your layers. This is important when working on complex paintings with many layers. The Layers panel has all the options to make your workflow more enjoyable, productive and less stressful.


Tutorial Composite with layers and masks

Essentials Works with Elements



What you’ll learn

Improve your workflow with Smart Objects and adjustment layers

Time taken 2 hours

Expert Daniel Sinoca

“With Smart Objects, you can edit as many times as you want without touching the pixels in the original image. “I started to get involved in the digital world more than 10 years ago and have been working as a freelance artist ever since, creating all kinds of multimedia projects and tutorial guides.”


Composite with layers & masks Create an astonishing composition using masks and adjustments


earn how to design an eye-catching photo composition using a variety of lighting effects, blend modes and colour adjustments. We’ll show you how to speed up your workflow using Smart Objects, adjustment layers and simple techniques to improve your design skills. You’ll learn how to use the gradient fill, blend modes and filters to create a vibrant background. Then you’ll go a step further and transform the images into

Smart Objects and employ adjustment layers, masks, filters and other powerful techniques. Smart Objects and adjustment layers are incredibly versatile tools. They can speed up work and also maintain the quality of your image, reduce size and turn filters into non-destructive Smart Filters. This means the original image continues intact, enabling you to edit the effects and make adjustments any time you want.

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On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Create a gradient background


Go to File>New (Cmd/Ctrl+N). Name it ‘Out of bounds’. Set the Width: 460mm, Height: 190mm, Resolution: 300 and click OK. Now go to Layer>New Fill Layer>Gradient. Click OK and then open the Gradient Editor. Choose Linear, set the colours to #061c42, #01b1fa and #061c42, click OK and then apply the gradient.

Apply filters


Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N). Name it Clouds. Grab the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and select half of the canvas. Set the default Foreground/Background colour (D). Now go to Filter>Render>Clouds. Click Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect it. Change the blend mode to Soft Light.


Tutorial Composite with layers and masks

Expert tip Use Camera Raw filter

Use the Camera Raw filter to make colour adjustments, reduce noise, apply photo effects and much more. Navigate each menu and try different tools to enhance your work. Create a snapshot of your final work and then open the Camera Raw filter. Use the Basic sliders to make simple adjustments. Use the HSL/Grayscale to adjust colours. Apply the Lens Correction to straighten your image. The Camera Raw filter is ideal for photo retouching and colour corrections.

Add highlights


Stretch the image


Open the Free Transform tool (Cmd/ Ctrl+T). In Options, set Width to 900% and hit Return/Enter. Click Cmd/Ctrl+A to select the canvas, then go to Image>Crop. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect. Transform the image into a Smart Object using Layer> Smart Objects>Convert to Smart Object.

Duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J). Go to Layer>Rasterize>Smart Object. Change the blend mode to Screen. Open the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) and change the Inputs to 115, 0.50 and 255. Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. Grab a large, soft brush and paint around the mask.

Make colour corrections


Place the gamer



Go to Filter>Blur Gallery>Field Blur. Set Blur to 220 pixels, Light Bokeh: 30%, Bokeh Colour: 0%, Light Range: 140, 255 and click OK. Now go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Choose Brightness: 120%, Lens Type: 105mm and click OK. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+L and set the Inputs Levels to 110, 1.00 and 255.

Go to File>Place ‘Gamer.jpg’. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W) and select the gamer. In Options click Refine Edge. Check Smart Radius and set it to 3 pixels. Adjust the Edges. Check Decontaminate Colours, Amount: 100%. Choose Output to: New Layer with Layer Mask and click OK.

First adjust the tones. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer> Levels. Check ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’ and click OK. Set the Input Levels to 10, 0.80 and 200. Now make the colours more vibrant. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Vibrance. Clip the layers and set the Vibrance to +30.


Apply more filters

Use the Puppet Warp


Let’s straighten the gamer. Go to Layer>Rasterize>Smart Object, then Layer>Layer Mask>Apply. Go to Edit>Puppet Warp. Place the control pins over the head, neck, shoulder and hands. Drag the head and push the hands down. Hit Return/Enter.

Create some shadows


Create shadows using adjustment layers. Go to Layer> New Adjustment Layer>Color Lookup. Check 3DLUT File and choose Moonlight.3DL. Clip the layers (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/ Alt+G). Now grab a soft brush. Click on the Color Lookup mask and hide the areas over the highlights to create the shadows.

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Enhance the shadows/highlights


Go to Layer>New Layer. Name it Shadows/Highlights, check ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’, change the mode to Overlay, check ‘Fill with 50% gray’ and click OK. Grab the Dodge tool, set the Exposure to 50% and paint over the highlights. Grab the Burn tool and paint the shadows.

Add the laptop


Go to File>Place ‘Laptop.jpg’. Set the Width and Height to 60% and click Return/Enter. Grab the Quick Selection tool and select the laptop. In the Options, click Refine Edge, adjust the settings and then click OK.

Place some more images


Place ‘Car1.jpg’. Grab the Free Selection tool and select the car. Create a layer mask and use Refine Edge to enhance the mask. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T and resize the image. Place over the screen. Create a new layer and then paint some shadows under the car.

Place the desk


Go to File>Place ‘Desk.png’. In Options, set the Width/ Height to 170% and click Return/Enter. Drag the Desk layer below the Gamer layer. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer> Levels. Check ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’ and click OK. Set the Input Levels to 3, 0.55 and 220.

Create a shadow


Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N). Grab the Polygonal Lasso (L) and select the laptop area. Fill it with black. Go to Filter and apply a 25% Gaussian Blur. Now apply a Motion Blur. Set the Angle to 0º, Distance to 500 pixels and click OK. Reduce the Opacity to 80%.

Add even more images


Place ‘Car2.jpg’. Grab the Pen tool (P) and create an outline path around the car. In Options, click Selection and create a layer mask. Refine the edges. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+T and scale the image. Create a new layer and paint shadows underneath the car.

Bring in the screensaver


Go to File>Place ‘Screensaver.jpg’. Grab the Polygonal Lasso (L) and select the screen. Create a layer mask and unlink the mask (Layer>Layer Mask>Unlink). Click on the Screensaver layer thumbnail and press Cmd/Ctrl+T. Hold the Cmd/Ctrl key and drag the handles to adjust the perspective.

Insert extra elements


Place the petrol station, helicopter and tyres around the laptop. Create a layer mask and hide the hard edges. Apply a Levels adjustment layer to correct the tones, then apply the Vibrance to enhance the colours. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G to clip the layers. Paint the shadows when necessary.


Tutorial Composite with layers and masks Expert edit Create 3D characters

Open Adobe Fuse


Open Adobe Fuse (CC users only). Choose your characters from the presets and then customise your model by adding textures, clothes and props. Save to your CC Library.

Bring in 3D characters


Place the male and female characters around the image. Resize and use the layer styles for shadows. Go to Layer>Layer Style>Drop Shadows. Adjust the settings and click OK. Now place the shadow in its own layer. Go to Layer>Layer Style>Create Layer. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T to adjust the perspective.

Render filters


After you place all of the PNG files, go to Filter>Render>Trees. Select the Palm Tree, adjust the settings and click OK. Place the images around the petrol station to complete the scene.

Broken screen


Go to File>Place ‘Broken Glass.png’ on top of the Screensaver layer. Drag the handles to adjust the perspective. You can create a layer mask as in step 14 or simply hold Opt/Alt and click and drag the Screensaver layer mask onto the Broken Glass layer.

Open in Photoshop


Go to Windows>Library. Doubleclick to open your model and then go to Window>3D. Double-click over the _Skeleton feature and choose a pose from hundreds of animated presets.

Find new poses


After you apply the pose, go to Window>Timeline. Scrub the frames in the timeline to find new poses. Rotate the image if necessary and adjust the lighting.

Create shattered glass

Render and save


Go to 3D>Render 3D layer. Render your 3D model and save it. You can apply adjustment layers and mask just as you would with any other layers and incorporate it in your projects.



Place ‘Shattered glass_1.jpg’ and ‘Shattered glass_2.jpg’ over the monitor and drag to the top of the layer stack. Resize and rotate if necessary. Change the blend mode to Screen. Go to Filter>Blur> Motion Blur. Adjust the Angle and change the Distance to 20 pixels.

Add a visual effect


Go to File>Place ‘Bokeh.jpg’. Drag the layer and place it under the Gamer layer. Adjust the size and change the blend mode to Screen. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+L and adjust the Levels to enhance the tones.

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Use the Camera Raw filter

Add more images


Go to File>Place ‘Colour line.jpg’. Compress and stretch the image. Drag and place on top of the Laptop layer, and change the blend mode to Screen. Adjust the Levels to increase the contrast. Add a layer mask and hide unwanted areas. Duplicate the layer to add more lines.

Add finishing touches


Create a snapshot


Time for final adjustments. Click on top of the layer stack and then press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+E to create a snapshot. Go to Layer>Smart Objects> Convert to Smart Objects.

Duplicate the Colour Line layer and place it over the Gamer layer. Create a layer mask and paint over the image, leaving only the lines over the gamer visible. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Set the Inputs to 0, 0.90 and 255. Add a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the colours.

Closer look Powerful features


Go to Filter>Camera Raw. Set the Exposure: -0.50, Contrast: +5, Highlights: +35, Shadows: -35, Whites: +35, Blacks: +5 and Clarity: +10. Click in Effects and change the Post Crop Vignetting Amount to -100, Midpoint: 75, Roundness: 50, Feather: 100 and Highlights: 20, then click OK.

Apply a lens flare


Create a new layer at the top of the layer stack. Fill it with black. Go to Filter Render>Lens Flare, choose 105mm and set the Brightness to 100%. Press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+U to desaturate the image. Change the blend mode to Color Dodge. Set Fill at 90% and then position it over the monitor.


When you apply an adjustment layer, Photoshop automatically creates a layer mask for you. Edit this mask as any other mask to hide or show the effects.


Go to Filter>Blur Gallery for neat effects. You can create a Tilt-Shi effect, a Bokeh background, or even spin objects using the Spin Blur filter.


Place similar layers into groups. This will speed up your work and keep the Layers palette organised. Hold Shi and select the layers, then press Cmd/Ctrl+G.


Use the layer masks wherever you think is necessary. This is the best way to get rid of unwanted areas, keeping the original layer intact.


Tutorial Fire up your portraits Start image

On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Works with Elements



What you’ll learn Lighting techniques and how to composite a person into a fire scenario

Time taken

4 hours

Expert Rodrigo Marinelli “I love comic books and superhero movies, so try to mix fantasy and reality in my images, using lighting and photorealism techniques. This tutorial is an excellent exercise for creativity, as you can learn and also have fun. “I’m an art director and have more than 11 years of experience in advertising agencies. I learned and am still learning to use Photoshop through following tutorials.”

Set the background


Fire up your portraits

It’s always fun to use Photoshop to convert an image into something surprising, so let’s make a fire portrait!


o create stunning portraits in Photoshop, you need discipline, you must practise lots, and you should always be aware of new art styles that are trending. One of the most popular techniques at the moment is to mix fantasy with realism; this style opens up multiple possibilities to be creative, and encourages the learning of new photomanipulation skills. Photoshop is the ultimate tool for turning a simple photo into a unique composition. In this tutorial you will discover how to transform a portrait of a woman into a fiery masterpiece. To do this you’ll use selection techniques with blend

Create a new document (Cmd/Ctrl+N) measuring 230x310mm. Paint the background with a red colour (#591919), then add ‘Background.jpg’ from the FileSilo. Create a mask and with the Brush tool, gently erase the lightest part at the bottom.


modes, distortion filters, lighting techniques and a few more tricks. The inspiration for this piece came from images of superheroes. Try and check out some reference images from movie posters, for example, and pay attention to the contrast of colours and sharpness, then imagine your own character. This should stimulate your creativity and help you go beyond the realms of reality. Once you’ve followed this tutorial using the start images provided on the FileSilo, create your own scene with your own images and practise what you’ve learned.

Draw shadows


Create a new layer and with the Pen tool, draw the shape of the shadow that will be on top of the background. Paint it black. After that, apply the Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur), with a setting of 225px and finally change the Opacity to 40%.

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Tutorial Fire up your portraits Expert tip Break things down a bit

Remember that fire is something that doesn’t have a definitive shape; its form is constantly changing, so make everything in parts. For example, when adding fire to the woman’s clothes, use different layers for different parts of the ‘Fire.jpg’, changing its blend mode to Screen. Don’t forget to make a mask and erase unnecessary parts. This way you will have far more control over the effect and make the scene more realistic.

Start the fire


We’ll kick off by adding some fire using ‘Fire.jpg’ from the FileSilo. To delete the black background, simply change the blend mode to Screen. Then, to give a touch more intensity to the fire, duplicate the layer and apply a Levels adjustment layer using a 12, 1, 233 configuration.

Place the woman

Adjust the background


To leave the background with the same colour tone, apply a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer with the configuration 5/20. Once you’ve done that, add a Photo Filter adjustment layer using Warming Filter (Option 85) set to 25% Density.

Change the tone



Open ‘Woman.jpg’ from the FileSilo, and duplicate the layer. Select the woman, then go to Select>Inverse to pick the background. Delete. Add to the scene. Go to the original ‘woman.jpg’ layer, change the blend mode to Multiply. Make a mask on the layer with the deleted background and erase the white edges of the hair.

Make a new layer. Select the Brush tool and set the blend mode to Color. Choose #920b07 for your Foreground colour and paint on the jacket. On another layer, use the Brush tool to paint the woman’s face with yellow (#dcb71f). Change the blend mode to Color, 10% Opacity.


Dye her hair


Add some sparks


It’s important to keep an eye on details if you want to achieve realism, so insert ‘Sparks.jpg’. Cut out only the part with the sparks and change the blend mode to Screen. To make the effect more evident, duplicate the layer.

Retouch the face


Use the Burn tool to highlight the shadows of the face, and the Dodge tool to enhance the lights. Use 50% Exposure in both cases. Duplicate the woman layer and apply the High Pass filter (Filter>Other>High Pass) with 3px Radius and change the blend mode to Overlay.

To give the impression that the fire is behind the woman, you need to add a bit of red to her hair. Make a new layer and with the Brush tool, paint the hair with red (#6d211b) and change the blend mode to Color.

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Add some details


It’s time to add some details to the scene. Remember that some sparks will be in front of the woman, so use ‘Sparks.jpg’ again, cut out the part with the sparks and change the blend mode to Screen. Add ‘Smoke.jpg’ to the bottom and change the blend mode to Screen.

Light the fire up


Add fire to the woman’s clothing; use ‘Fire.jpg’, cut out the part with the top of the flame and change its blend mode to Screen. Place it on the sides of the jacket and with the Warp tool (Edit>Transform>Warp), adjust the picture to follow the contours of the woman’s arms.

Adjust the lighting


Remember, fire is extremely bright, so create a new group for some highlight layers and with the Brush tool, paint yellow (#ffe68f) on the central parts. Change the blend mode to Color. Make another group and paint white on the same area, set to Overlay.

Set the jacket alight


Using ‘Fire.jpg’ again, add fire to the woman’s jacket. Take care to not overdo it. Change the blend mode of the photo to Screen, make a mask and with the Brush tool at 30% Opacity, slightly erase parts that cover the texture of the jacket.

Add a filter


Finally, apply a Distort filter to give the idea that the scene is very hot. To do this, duplicate all the layers and merge (Cmd/ Ctrl+E). Go to Filters>Distort and select the Glass option, with Distortion set to 9 and Softness set to 15.

Expert tip Make quick adjustments Nowadays, it is very important to be fast and practical when working, without losing any creative quality. It is therefore crucial to be aware of all the tools that Photoshop offers and know when you can make some adjustments in a different way. For the construction of this image, lighting is very important for the final result, so you need to use commands that allow full control of the scene. Here’s a summary of some practical commands to adjust the colour and the tone of the image, such as the Quick Mask and the adjustment layers.



Adjust only part of the image using the Quick Mask. Select the layer, press Q, use the Brush tool to paint on the area you want and press Q again.

The adjustment layers are fundamental during the creation process because they enable you to use all the colour adjustment tools like a mask, so none of the edits affect the original photo.


Tutorial Design a vintage-style poster On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Works with Elements



What you’ll learn

How to use the Pen and Brush tools, paint digitally and create texture

Time taken 5 hours

Expert Rebekka Hearl “Photoshop is my chosen program for poster design, due to its excellent Brush and Pen tools and the coveted Undo command. “Comics and cartoons are my favourite things to draw, my favourite Photoshop tool is definitely the Brush tool, and I illustrate stories in my spare time. I’m a designer, illustrator and animator, and have been using Photoshop since I was young.”

Prepare your palette


Design a vintage-style poster Texture

Create your own textures and use Photoshop’s Pen and Brush tools to make your own vintage-style poster


he vintage style has received a resurgence in popularity over the past few years, in fashion, design and even digital art. We’ll be taking heavy inspiration from vintage landmark artwork for this tutorial, where we will be applying vectors, digital-painting techniques, and our own homemade textures to create a vintage poster with a famous landmark as the subject. Photoshop is a very precise art program, one that prevents mistakes from happening on the canvas. We’ll be taking advantage of Photoshop’s cleanliness using the Pen tool to draw our

Vintage posters typically use limited colour palettes, so refrain from using the colours the landmark has in real life. We’ll be working with a bichrome palette of red and green. To create a nice balance in your palette, select three light-mid greens, and two deep reds.


landmark with vectors, which will mimic the clean illustrative style used in vintage posters. Then, we’ll use the Brush tool and our own textures to give the piece its quintessential aged look. If you already have your own paper/grunge textures that you can apply to this piece, feel free, but you’ll be missing out on an easy and fun technique to make your own textures: using coffee to stain crinkled paper! It’s a simple but effective technique that produces different results every time – so by the time you’re done with this tutorial, you’ll have a finished piece and textures you can use in future works.

Draw an initial sketch


Use the Brush tool to draw your palette colours on a separate layer, and keep it above all others. Create a new layer below and, using a Default Brush at 10px, sketch your landmark. If you find drawing freehand difficult, feel free to trace over a photo; this sketch won’t show in the final piece.

Download free resources here


Tutorial Design a vintage-style poster Expert edit Make a texture

Prepare the paper and surface


Scrunch up a piece of A4 paper as tight as possible, until the paper is soft. Be careful not to tear it! Place it on a tea towel on a clear, flat surface.

Block in colour


Use the pipette to select the darkest red in the palette, and create a new layer. First use the Rectangle tool to draw a big red rectangle for the background. Then immediately turn off the layer’s visibility, so you can see the sketch again, and create a new layer above it.

Draw with the Pen


Select the lighter red, and draw over your tower sketch using the Pen tool. This will ensure your drawing has straight lines, and you can easily edit any part of the vector you’re unhappy with. Adjust the points using the Direct Selection tool.

Shade in apartment buildings


Reduce the opacity on your sketch layer if it helps while drawing. Create a new layer for all three apartment buildings; we’ll be using a separate green for each. Select the lightest green and the Pen tool, and draw in the silhouette of the closest building. Draw the others on the layers below.

Pour the coffee


Prepare a strong cup of coffee (hold the milk), and spread it across the paper with a spoon. Sprinkle extra grains on top for detail; make sure they melt into the coffee – but just a little!

Dry the coffee


Once the paper is covered, use a hairdryer (on low strength and heat) to dry the coffee. Try placing a mug on top of the wet paper and dry around it to create a coffee mug stain.

Add the road and river

Take it into Photoshop


Leave to dry for a couple of hours, and it will be ready to scan! Set to scan at 300dpi in full colour. Use Levels and Contrast in Photoshop to make the texture look less flat.



Create a new layer above the apartment buildings and the tower, and use a grey-green to draw a road. Go back to the background layer, and hit the Lock Transparency button. Select the lightest blue in your palette, and fill in the background rectangle below the road.

Give details to the apartments


Add a new layer above your lightest building silhouette, and select the near-white green. Hide the silhouette layer, so you can see the details of the building in your sketch below. Trace in the details in order to bring out the shape and perspective of each building.

Download free resources here

Expert tip Master the Pen tool

Apply final details


Use slightly lighter shades of each silhouette until you have filled in all the building details. Then repeat the process, and use even lighter shades to fill in the windows. These should only be small, fine additions to your drawing – don’t overdo it!

Add tower details


Do much the same as you did for the apartment buildings for the tower, using a lighter red instead. The tower is very detailed, so for now, draw long rectangles from the top to the bottom of the tower, to block in all of the windows.

Finalise the tower details

Draw tower windows


Select the layer(s) you used to block in the windows, and lower the opacity until you can see the sketch below. Use the Pen tool to draw over the vertical lines between the windows, right-click, and select Make Selection. Then hit Delete.

Shade the background


Since the background is coloured red in this palette, we’ll be painting it like a sunset sky. Use the default brush with low Opacity and Flow (10-20% each) to gently and gradually paint in the sunset. Try not to make the reds blend into each other too much – that would ruin the vintage look!

The Pen tool is oen the enemy of budding digital artists, especially those who prefer to draw freehand. It can take a lot of getting used to, but it’s useful for much more than creating vectors. It’s a great tool to use for drawing selections, which you can correct at any point using the Direct Selection tool. Click and drag a point to make it curved. Be sure to experiment with and practise using this tool – you never know when it might come in handy!


Use a similar technique as before to finish up the windows. Use the Pen tool to draw curved horizontal lines across the tower, make a selection and delete the line. For the very small windows, don’t worry about using the Pen tool: the Eraser set to 10px will do just fine for erasing those lines.

Enhance the road and river


Using the same technique we used to create the apartment details, draw a path across the road and set the layer to Multiply to create a shadow. On the river, use a blue palette and the same brush you used on the sky to roughly paint in dark streaks first, then light streaks. Then use Filter>Blur> Motion Blur set to 5 to create reflections.

Light up apartment windows


Create a new layer above the first apartment windows layer, set to Overlay, right-click and then select Create Clipping Mask. Pick a white-turquoise colour, create a new layer, and select an airbrush at 40% Opacity. Lightly brush in a large area of the top-right of the tower to paint in light. Repeat for all.


Tutorial Design a vintage-style poster

Light up the tower windows


Repeat the same technique in the previous step on the tower, but using a white-yellow. After that, select the tower windows layer, hit Lock Transparency, and pick a light yellow (not too white). Colour in individual windows (using the Default Brush at 20px+) at random.

Add vintage flair


Beneath your tower, buildings and road layers, create a new layer. Use the Pen tool to draw in white-yellow stroke lines behind apartment buildings and below the road. This emulates the imperfections of vintage-style print, which will really aid the style of your poster.

Apply textures


Have fun with your texture – don’t just slap it on the top! Put the buildings, tower and road into separate folders and duplicate them. Merge each folder separately. Create new layers above each merged layer, create clipping mask, set to Soft Light, and paste your texture there. Adjust each layer’s opacity separately until you’re happy.

Make final colour adjustments


Create a copy of your Photoshop file, and merge all the layers into one. Go to Image>Brightness/Contrast, and adjust the sliders to improve your piece’s colours. Then go to Filter>Filter Gallery>Posterize, and use the following settings: Edge Thickness: 4, Edge Intensity: 4, Posterization: 3.

Insert some text


A poster wouldn’t feel the same without text. Using the font Broadway, write the landmark’s name in white at the top, and a description at the bottom. Then duplicate all these layers and change the colour: dark red for the title and dark blue for the description. Position them below the white text, slightly below and to one side.

What you can do with it Frame your poster This is an excellent project for artistic sightseers. And if you find yourself constantly disappointed with your photography, you can use this project to draw over any dodgy images and spruce up your holiday photos. Artists looking to push their skills could apply the same techniques to drawing portraits – just be sure to hold back a little when texturing the skin! Whatever your inspiration, these pieces make for excellent prints, as framed pictures or mousemats – your family members may appreciate it as a gift!



Surprise a loved one with a vintage portrait of themselves! If you’re not confident drawing faces, trace over a photo of your subject using the Pen tool. Try experimenting with the look by using realistic colours.


Be sure to set your Photoshop file to 300ppi (under Image Size) and CMYK colour mode (under Image>Mode) before sending it to print. Your print will look very low quality if you don’t.

Her Network

Tutorial Mix layer masks and adjustments


Want to quickly change brush size? Use the [ and ] keys On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Works with

Mix layer masks and adjustments

Start images




What you’ll learn

Use adjustment layers, Transform and Distort, and the Liquify filter

Time taken 2 hours

Expert Sarah Cousens “I love artwork that is atmospheric, and enjoy experimenting to get the right effect. I tried out several combinations of adjustment layers before settling on the final mood of this piece. “I am a freelance illustrator, designer and writer, and have been using Photoshop extensively since forming my own illustration and design company, Cool Surface, eight years ago.”

Paste in the sheep


Use layer masks and adjustment layers to create this sinister image, and turn the scene from day to night


he old saying ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ is a famous one. Aesop’s fable tells the story of a wolf dressed in sheep’s skin, warning of the dangers that can come to us disguised as something harmless. Of course this concept is not to be taken literally – but then Aesop didn’t have a copy of Photoshop at his disposal. All we need to get going are photos of a sheep and a wolf, and then with the aid of some layer masks, airbrushing and adjustment layers we can bring this old fable to life. We will take you through the process of compositing the photos together

Open Photoshop and create a new file that’s 240mm wide by 320mm high and 300ppi. Open ‘Sheep.jpg’ and copy and paste it onto your canvas. Rename the layer Sheep Photo. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T, drag the sides inwards slightly to make it narrower, and reposition it as shown.

Extend the sky


using layer masks and different types of transformations. To help further combine the images, we will be turning the scene into night using adjustment layers, gradients and layer blending modes. If you have access to a graphics tablet, then we recommend using it for this tutorial as we will be using the airbrush frequently throughout. But don’t worry if you don’t have one; it’s certainly not essential. All of the start photos needed to complete this tutorial are available on the FileSilo, so once you have them ready, open up Photoshop and get creating.

Add a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N) named Extra Sky below the sheep photo. Use the Brush tool with R:187 G:190 B:205 to paint in the top white section. Add a layer mask to the Sheep Photo layer and use a black airbrush in order to blend in the top edge of the photo.

Duplicate the head


Use the Lasso tool to select the sheep’s head, including the neck and some of the chest, and some sky around it. Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate the selection, name the new layer Sheep Head and then click the eyeball icon in the Layers palette to hide it for now.


Tutorial Mix layer masks and adjustments

Add the wolf


Copy and paste in ‘Wolf.jpg’ above the Sheep Photo layer and rename the layer Wolf. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T and make the wolf smaller. Right-click and choose Flip Horizontal from the fly-out menu. Add a layer mask.

Mask the wolf


Use a black airbrush to mask out all but the wolf’s head, ears and chest. Use a small airbrush to create a defined edge around the ears, and a large airbrush for areas with longer fur, such as around the face and on the chest.

Distort the head


Press Cmd/Ctrl+T, right-click and choose Distort. Drag the bottom corner outwards and manipulate the sheep’s head so that it appears as if it is resting on top of the wolf’s head with the chin between the wolf’s ears. Press enter, then hide the Sheep Head layer.

Add a shadow layer


Click on the Wolf layer, then press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N to add a new layer. Name it Shadows and tick the ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’ box. Change the layer’s blending mode to Multiply and Opacity to 60%.


Paint in shadows


Reveal the sheep head


Make the Sheep Head layer visible. Add a layer mask to it. Use a small, black airbrush to create a defined edge under the chin and along the jawline, and a larger airbrush to blend the area above and around the sheep’s head with the background.

Use the Clone Stamp tool


Go to the Sheep Photo layer and select the Clone Stamp tool. Hold Alt and click to sample areas of sky around the sheep’s head, and paint over the head and ears to remove them. Make the Sheep Head layer visible again.

Use an airbrush with a colour of R:45 G:44 B:53 to add a shadow under the sheep’s chin and on the wolf’s chest, as well as a narrow shadow down the sides of the wolf’s head and neck.

Liquify it


On the Wolf layer, go to Filter>Liquify (Elements users go to Filter>Distort> Liquify). Use the Forward Push tool with a size of 500 to click drag downwards slightly on the wolf’s muzzle. Click OK.

Want to quickly change brush size? Use the [ and ] keys

Paste in the moon

Add a Photo Filter adjustment



Add a gradient layer

Apply gradients

Copy and paste ‘Moon.jpg’ into your artwork at the top of the layer stack. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T and change the size, angle and position as shown. Change the layer’s blending mode to Screen to help it merge with the sky.


Add a new layer below the Moon layer, name it Gradients and set the blending mode to Color Burn and Opacity to 50%. Select the Gradient tool (G) set to Foreground to Transparent and Linear Gradient with a colour of R:2 G:8 B:39.

Add a Photo Filter adjustment layer, choose the Cooling Filter (LBB) and increase the Density to 55%. Right-click the Photo Filter layer in the Layers palette and then click the Create Clipping Mask option in the fly-out menu.

Make night adjustments


Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer below the Moon layer. Change Hue: +22, Saturation: -45. Add a Photo Filter adjustment layer, choose Cooling Filter (82), Density: 40%. Add an Exposure adjustment layer, change Exposure: -0.39, Offset: -0.0124. If you use Elements, see the box below.

Paste in the button


Click and drag from the top to about halfway down and release. Add another new layer, named Gradients 2 set to Overlay and 60% Opacity. Change to Spot Gradient and R:216 G:221 B:243. Apply a small gradient over the wolf to brighten him.


Copy and paste in ‘Button.png’ directly above the Sheep Head layer. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T and resize and position it as necessary. Right-click and choose Distort. Drag the top corners of the bounding box outwards and drag the bottom upwards to make it shorter.


Elements users

The adjustment layers used for the night effect should be in this order, from top to bottom: Photo Filter, Hue/Saturation then Brightness/Contrast.

Create the night scene Elements users will be pleased to hear that the methods in this tutorial are fully compatible apart from one step: the Exposure adjustment layer used in step 14. Luckily there is a simple alternative to create a similar outcome. Instead of adding an Exposure adjustment layer, choose Brightness/Contrast. Change the Brightness to -52 and the Contrast to -15. The Brightness/ Contrast adjustment layer will need to be added below the night Photo Filter and Hue/ Saturation adjustment layers in the layer stack; placing it above will give drastically different results!


The adjustment layers in Elements may not be as extensive as in Photoshop, however with some experimentation similar effects can still be achieved.



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Essentials Works with Elements



What you’ll learn How to create fonts and use them in bright, exciting projects

Time taken 4 hours

Expert Mark White “I love working with typefaces, whether it’s existing ones or creating my own. You can really have fun in this tutorial; projecting your own handwriting onto each character, and if you’ve never created a font, this is a good way to start. “As senior staff writer on Photoshop Creative, I’ve learned all kinds of quick tips to help with even the most impressive-looking pictures.”

Design your own retro text

Build your own typeface from scratch, fill it with gradients and then create a glowing disco effect


onts are so much more important than you might think, especially if you have a clear message worth sharing. An exciting text effect can help to capture the viewer’s attention, and conjure art out of a simple sentence. No one really wants to read black Comic Sans on a white background, after all. Creating your own font can not only be a fun exercise for anyone who’s passionate about type, but it can also give you far more control. By designing every letter of an alphabet, you can create something clear, readable and ready to drop

Take inspiration and sketch


With hundreds of great fonts on sites like Behance and Dafont, check out some of your favourites and start sketching a font that has cohesive elements. Decide on what should stay similar from one letter to the next, and what quirks you want to introduce on specific letters.

Make a template


in to any project: it’s your font, totally original, and by designing it in Photoshop, you can add all kinds of colour and layer style effects to it. Of course with this tutorial, creating a font is just half the battle. Making it bright, colourful and exciting can be just as fun, and there are all kinds of ways that you can brighten up a retro font in particular. Remember to check out the supplied resources for this tutorial; we’ve given you the starting template for this style and the text with gradients applied. Otherwise, just be creative yourself and get designing.

Once you’ve designed your font, create a 6000x6000 Photoshop document and hit Cmd/Ctrl+’ to bring up the grid. Use Marquee selections to create either straight lines or curves – use a perfect circle and mask out the centre for this – so that you can just connect these points to form letters.

Create some letters


Simply mask in either the straight lines or curves you’ve created to form letters. Remember to group all the different selections you make and name the group with the letter you’re creating. Start at A and carry on through the alphabet, referring back to your original sketches.


Tutorial Design your own retro text

Expert tip Creating the typeface

A retro typeface like the one we created is perfect for embellishing, because it consists of outlined letters as opposed to being block characters. The hollow letters mean we can fill gradients in the spaces, but you don’t have to create a font in this style; if you want to make a thick, strong typeface, create one in the same way as the tutorial describes, and just use the gradients as clipping masks, rather than placing them below the letters.

Give the text shape


Use gradients


As you can see, the characters of this font are hollow and built with different sections. To flesh out a letter, create a new layer beneath the letter layer and add the supplied gradient. Mask using the Polygonal Lasso; we’re creating a gradient for every section of each letter.

Let’s add a bevel to the text now to lift it from the page slightly. You can create your own by Ctrl/right-clicking a layer and going to Layer Styles, then Bevel & Emboss. Otherwise, run our supplied Bevels action to give it a subtle 3D feel.

Bring in the background



Now in a new document, paste the letters you want and arrange them to spell something out. On the FileSilo, we’ve provided the template to build letters of your own in this style, as well as the letters with the gradients added; you may wish to just use an existing font, though.

Insert the disco ball


Place the supplied disco ball over the O of DISCO. Select the O with the Elliptical Marquee and mask the disco ball layer. Mask out the O. Add a Soft Light layer, clip to the disco ball layer and brush subtle yellows and pinks (Eyedrop by Alt/Optclicking) to blend.

At this point, group your lens flares and add a clipped Curves layer over the text layer to brighten it up. Now, add your supplied background image in front of the black background, transform, position and set the Opacity to 30%.


Place your letters

Lay the disco floor


Add some lens flares


Create a new black layer. Go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare and hit OK, turn the layer to Screen and place it over one of the letters. Repeat to build up the flashy effect of the text. Mask out some of the rays and change colours by using Hue/ Saturation (Cmd/Ctrl+U).

Insert the supplied disco floor, Ctrl/right-click and pick Perspective Transform to give the effect of it sitting beneath the text; set to Soft Light. Make your own disco floor by creating a new document and filling selected squares in different colours, leaving space between them.

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Make the floor glow


Duplicate your floor layer and set to Screen, 80% Opacity. Group these layers and mask the top of them. Add a Curves layer to brighten them up a bit. Then add an Exposure adjustment, set to 4.00, invert the mask and brush in with 20% opaque, soft white.

Add a spotlight


Blur and sharpen


Go to the top layer and hit Cmd/ Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E to merge into one layer. Go to Filter>Other>High Pass, 5px, and change Overlay to Sharpen. Merge all again and go to Filter>Blur Gallery>Field Blur. Leave a little bokeh, and mask this layer in on some of the flashes and edges.

Merge everything into one layer, go to Filter>Render> Lighting Effects and use a spotlight to focus the reader’s eyes on the bright text in the centre. This effect also fits in with the disco theme; use a light yellow to bring out the text.

Closer look Creating a font

Adjust everything


Sometimes a project like this only comes together when you begin adjusting everything. Experiment with adjustments like Vibrance, Curves and Gradient Maps, and alter blend modes and opacities. You can use our supplied Adjustments action, before grouping them all and reducing Opacity to 60%.

Touch up your picture


Now you’ve created your image, tweak the colours and lighting slightly if need be, using a couple more adjustments or Camera Raw. Add a neutral grey layer set to Overlay and brush black or white where you need extra light and shade. FILL WITH COLOUR

The advantage to creating a font on Photoshop is that you’re not bound by black and white. Go crazy with gradients and add colours to your letters.


Creating consistencies in your font, such as the curves of the P and the H, is what makes it recognisable. Consider this when sketching.


Letters such as O, W or M will naturally be wider than the rest of your letters. Allow for extra width for these characters.


V and Z will need to connect lines at different angles. Make sure you keep the font simple and readable when creating these letters.


How I made Cartoon Background

Essentials Time taken 12 hours

The artist James Gilleard “I’m an illustrator and animator based in London. I work with Illustrator and Photoshop mainly, and create artwork for clients, as well as selling my art on Society6. Check out more of my work @thepixelprosites at and follow me on Behance at jamesgilleard.


Cartoon Background

Follow the process from sketches to a final coloured illustration


he client came to me with a pitch for a cartoon, which contained images the creator had sketched and someone else had coloured. They wanted me to remake it as a single image,” says James Gilleard, explaining the early steps of Cartoon Background, which has been viewed over 50,000 times on Behance. Photoshop can be an illustrator’s best friend, and James uses it to add texture and colour to his line

drawings. “I use Photoshop to arrange the scene and composition of my pieces. When all these elements are in place I add texture with splatter brushes to give it a more painterly look.” James also used Photoshop to refine the overall look of this image. “I flattened the image and played with the colours, altering the brightness and contrast of certain areas, and lastly added overlays of colour to soften the image.”

Check out the latest blog

Final ‘paint’

Line art and toning


To start with, I sketched the elements and thumbnails in a sketchbook before taking them into Illustrator and Photoshop. I drew the line art and on a separate level, added some tonal strokes to the line art. The aim was to make the big house really stand out, so I put it in some direct sunlight.

Colour studies


Next, I played around with various colour schemes using simple shapes. By simplifying the image first, I was able to try out a few colour-scheme options quickly, and decide upon one that I wanted to use on the final picture.


I coloured the vector elements and then coloured them all individually in Photoshop, to add a hand-drawn feeling with various brushes. I then tweaked the composition and added overlays of film grain and old paper. Finally, I flattened the image and altered colour, contrast and gammer until I was happy.



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Essentials Works with Elements


Start image CC

What you’ll learn How to combine photos and illustrations using brush techniques

Time taken 1 hour

Expert Jenni Sanders “Using blend modes is a great way to achieve a realistic traditional painting effect in Photoshop; colours get darker and lighter, and tones change. And if you use custom brushes, you have a really creative environment! “From the moment I saw my dad manipulate photos as a child, I was hooked and have since worked entirely within the industry of photography and Photoshop.”

Prepare your canvas


Use the Brush tool in creative ways to create a mixed-media illustration, starting with a single photograph


f you want to paint but don’t want the mess, Photoshop can come to the rescue! This tutorial explains how to use blend modes to mix colours and tones together, as if they were real paints mixing with each other on a canvas. The image starts with a cutout of a peacock and, taking inspiration from a peacocks’ awesome feather detail and vibrant colours, an illustration is drawn using the Pen tool. Then the fun part – painting. Switching between Multiply, Linear Burn and Color Burn (to darken) and Screen, Linear Dodge and Color Dodge (to brighten), you can

Create a new canvas by going to File>New, and make it any size you would like, but in portrait orientation, for example 210x297mm. Add a new gradient layer via Layer>New Fill Layer>Gradient. Double-click the layer and choose the two colours #00000 and #484848.

Add in the peacocks


paint with subtle variation without even having to change brush colour. After that, you get to play around with Brush settings and use downloaded custom brushes to add detail into the background. Throughout, keep the colours bright and vibrant, remembering the peacock inspiration. Stick to similar tones, using the Eyedropper to pull blues and greens directly from the photograph. You can get as creative as you like with the background and adding more detail to the illustration – even bringing in more photos! There isn’t a wrong way when it comes to mixed-media art.

Download ‘Peacock.psd’ from the FileSilo and drag to the canvas, top left. Duplicate with Cmd/Ctrl+J. Select the duplicate and go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+T. Drag the corner handle while holding Shift to make it slightly smaller. Move towards the bottom right.

Draw Pen paths


It’s a good idea to have a rough plan before you start with the Pen. When ready, select the Pen tool (P) and place a point by clicking. Create your second but as you click, drag your mouse to create a curve. Try to use few points for smooth curves.


Tutorial Mix photos and brushes Expert edit Simulating pen pressure

Get the drawn look


When adding a stroke to a Pen path, standard lines may look very uniform. To get help, Photoshop has a Simulate Pressure option to taper the edges as if drawn.

Add colour to paths


When you have a path you’re happy with, create a new layer (Cmd/ Ctrl+Shift+N). Select the Brush (B), set the size to around 5-10px and Foreground colour to Black. Back to the Pen (P), right-click on your path and select Stroke Path. Pick Brush from the drop-down and hit OK.

Create a full outline


Use the Pen and stroked paths to create a full line drawing around the two peacocks. Be sure to vary the brush size for smaller details. See the side steps for how to add a tapered line. You can also fill in small areas with the Brush tool.

Begin to add colour


Create a layer underneath the Lines layer. Select the Eyedropper (I) and choose a blue from the peacock’s feathers. Select the Brush (B) and reduce the opacity to between 20-60%, adjusting as you go. Start painting inside your lines.

Activate pressure settings


First you must give Photoshop a pressure control. Go to the Brush panel (F5) and then Shape Dynamics. Change the Control drop-down from Off to Pen Pressure.

Simulate pressure


Now, after you have drawn your path, right-click and select Stroke Path. Select Brush from the drop-down and tick the option that says Simulate Pen Pressure. Hit OK.

Introduce some depth

Get a faded effect


If you only want one end to taper, switch the Brush Control to Fade. Set the value quite high, for example 200+, and Stroke>Simulate Pressure for a different effect.



Painting with one colour can look boring, so use the blend modes from the top Options bar to easily add shades and tones. Set to Multiply, Linear Burn or Color Burn to create darker tones, and set to Screen, Linear Dodge or Color Dodge to create brighter tones.

Paint in the oranges


Create a new layer and repeat the drawing process with the righthand section of feathers. Use the blending modes, but also combine different colours. Start with a yellow base, adding orange midtones and finally red edges. Keep a low opacity for easy blending.

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Paint in the greens


Create another new layer and begin to draw the greens on the tail using the same blend mode method. Once the green is on, add a light blue in the centre of the eyes, and some orange/yellow details.

Add some shadows


Create a Solid Color adjustment layer above all the colour layers, fill with #352e2e. Set the layer’s blend mode to Hard Light. Fill the layer mask in with black, and use a white brush on the mask to add some shading. Set the Opacity to around 40-50%.

Get custom brushes


Go to the site Brusheezy to find free custom brushes. Search for Smoke brushes and download them from the site. In Photoshop, go to your Brush Preset Picker and click the cog icon in the top-right corner. Select Load Brushes, navigate to your downloaded files and load the .abr file.

Set up your brush


Open the Brush Panel (F5 or Window> Brush). Select the Basic Round, 100% Hard brush. Set Spacing: 150-200%. Select Shape Dynamics and increase the Size Jitter to 70-80%, Minimum Diameter to 0%. Select Scattering and set to 700-800%, Count 1.


Group all the colour layers together by highlighting them and pressing Cmd/ Ctrl+G. Add a Levels adjustment layer above it. Drag the white slider towards the middle of the histogram to brighten. Right-click the Levels layer and select Create Clipping Mask to restrict it to the colour layers.

Draw in smoke


Create a new layer underneath all your other layers, but above the Background. Using your newly downloaded smoke brushes on a low opacity, draw some light texture into the background. Experiment with a light smoke layer above all the colour as well.

Draw light speckles


Brighten it up

Create a new layer at the top of your illustration. Set your Foreground colour to white, brush size quite small, and use your new custom brush to draw speckles around the peacocks – be careful not to add too many or create big clumps.

Finish with splatters


Search and download some splatter brushes online. Load into Photoshop and create a layer above the background. Using a blue from the peacocks, add subtle splatter elements into the background around the blue areas of the drawing. Neaten up any areas, and you’re done!


Resource project Make marble swirls On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.


The technique involving shaving cream also involves food colouring. This can get messy but is also very cheap and easy.


The technique involving nail polish only needs two materials (most likely things you have to hand) so it’s easy.


All these textures can get messy, so make sure you do your work in a pan to hold your ingredients and make it easy to clean up.

Make marble swirls

Learn how to make fluid, vibrant marble patterns using household objects and supplies. There are infinite combinations of colours and patterns to make


hen thinking about marble, your mind may think of classical Greek or Roman sculptures; a white stone with dark or coloured veins that makes the human figures it represents seem oddly alive. Marble was a trademark of class, style and technical excellence. Today, marble takes a different form – fancy fingernail designs boast a swirling marble pattern; cakes and baked


goods swirl chocolate and vanilla to create delicious spirals of flavour also called marble; finally, we’re all familiar with the children’s game where small orbs of glass with fluid designs inside are rolled across the floor. While this tutorial will unfortunately not teach you how to make a marble cake or play with glass, it will teach you how to make a variety of marble-inspired patterns that you

can call upon for pretty much any Photoshop project. Using nail polish and water, you will learn how to create swirling metallic textures much like you would make for a marbled nail-polish effect. With shaving cream and food colouring, you will be able to make flowing watercolour marble textures. For this project, you’re only limited by your imagination and colour choices.

Download free resources here

Create organic swirls Use nail polish to create beautiful organic swirls

Drip the nail polish


Cover the bottom of your pan with an inch or so of warm water. Pick the colours of the nail polish that you are going to use and open the tops so they’re ready, because you’re going to have to move fast. Drip the nail polish into the water.

Make a pattern


Next, take a toothpick and swirl the nail polish around to create your pattern. Don’t spend too much time doing this, or the nail polish will stick to the toothpick. A few zig-zag motions is all you need.

Transfer to paper


Take a small piece of paper and slowly dip one side of it into the water. Make sure the paper lays flat on the water to pick up the nail polish. Drag the paper through the water and pull it out. Let it dry before moving to the photograph stage.

Make a watercolour texture Use shaving cream for a watercoloured marble texture

Apply shaving cream


Cover the bottom of your pan with a layer of foaming shaving cream. You can use your hands or a credit card to even out the surface. Then drip food colouring all over the surface. Use whatever colour combinations you’d like.

Swirl the colours


Using a toothpick, swirl the colours in the shaving cream. Don’t overdo it or the colours will blend too much and turn brown and muddy. You can always scrape the colours off to start again.

Transfer to paper


Squish a piece of paper down over the colours. Rub the back of the paper to transfer all the colour. Then gently lift up the paper and scrape off the shaving cream. If you use water to wash the shaving cream off, the colours will bleed more.

Types of marble effects Different effects and what to look out for while creating them WATCH OUT

As you add more nail polishes and colours, they may glob up when transferred to the paper so be careful and don’t overdo it.



Using black and clear nail polish will make the most classic-looking marble texture. Add gold or silver for more glamour.

When using the shavingcream method, if you let the shaving cream dry a bit before wiping it off, you’ll get crisp, clear swirls. If you wet the paper, the swirls will bleed like the texture on the end.


Resource project Make marble swirls

Apply faux nail polish Give an image fake marbled nail polish

Choose your image


Find an image of hands where the nails are visible. Then pick one of your textures. You can adjust the colours if you want later, so just think about the swirls.

Clip to nails


Using the Quick Selection tool, select the fingernails and mask the marble layer so the pattern only shows up on the nails. Then scale the pattern so each of the nails show some detail.

Eight marble textures – On the FileSilo this issue we’ve provided eight different marbled textures for you to use in your own fun composite projects.


Apply finishing touches


Create a Curves adjustment layer over the marble layer and clip it to the layer below it. Then darken the edges of the nails. Finally, change the blend mode to Hard Light to blend it together.

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Project focus Dealing artistic aces

Dealing artistic aces

The Playing Arts project featured 55 artists and caught the imagination of the digital art world. Curator Vlad Korzinin is commissioning a third set – so how did the idea begin?

About the artist Vlad Korzinin

www.playingarts. com @playingarts

Vlad Korzinin is a web and graphic designer who joined Barcelonabased Digital Abstracts (an online art blog that posts daily inspiration) in 2006. He is originally from Latvia, and among other things, has redesigned the website of Beyoncé. Digital Abstracts is a collaboration with Andreas Shabelnikov, Dmitry Melkov and other contributors.

Name of the project Playing Arts


lad Korzinin humbly describes himself as “just a designer who loves art.” A co-owner on the Digital Abstracts online blog since 2006, Vlad began the Playing Arts project just two years ago. The idea behind it was simple but ambitious: assemble a team of designers from around the world, give them complete freedom and assign each one a playing card to build a unique and wildly creative set of cards. The project caught the attention of the internet and garnered respect from socialmedia fans and top art bloggers. A third set of cards is currently in the works. So what’s the secret to Vlad’s success?

How did you get into design?

I started off as a web designer and got into graphic design ten years ago. I joined Digital

Abstracts magazine, which is an online web design and digital art blog, set up by my friend Andreas Shabelnikov. I joined Digital Abstracts a bit later but became their co-owner, and I still update the blog from time to time. But for years, we featured loads of cool work from great artists on the site. They inspired me a lot, and I always wanted to collaborate with these artists.

So how did the idea of creating a deck of cards come to you?

Very spontaneously! It came to my friend while we were on vacation in Thailand, and we were eager to test it immediately. The next day, I contacted artists to hear their thoughts on the project and find out whether or not they’d be interested in becoming a part of it.

Who were the first people you contacted and were they excited?

First I contacted my favourite artists, designers and friends; people like Anton Repponen, Sara Blake, Andreas Preis and Joshua Davis. Their feedback was so positive and inspired us to move forward with Playing Arts, and we’ve invited them back to other projects that we’ve worked on. We found artists for other cards quickly after getting the first few, contacting people such as Brosmind, Hello Monday, Your Majesty, 2Advanced Studios, Michael Cina and James White. Others soon agreed, and we had enough artists to create a whole set. We tentatively called it the Creative Cards project, and everyone started work on their cards. There are still artists out there, though, who I’d like to work with; I still want Stefan Sagmeister to join the project, but he’s so busy. He keeps politely refusing because of his commitments to personal projects. I’ll write to you again soon, Stefan!

When did you first have the feeling that this project would be a massive success? When we first published final artwork on the website and received amazing feedback. People loved it: the project was featured by design blogs and magazines, and I was really taken aback by the overwhelming support on social media. The first edition of Playing Arts Edition One




“I was fortunate enough to pick the card that I really wanted: the Jack of Hearts. It was a great opportunity to play with patterns but I also brought a Tim Burton influence to my design.”

3 OF DIAMONDS BY CARNE GRIFFITHS “I wanted to create something that used the white of the page a lot, and something dynamic and with movement. The piece was created using calligraphy inks over a graphite sketch.”

All images © Playing Arts

“I kept the diamonds from a traditional five of diamonds playing card, and I incorporated the symmetry you see with Monarch cards. This was an amazing collaboration; I’m really thankful to be part of the deck!”

7 of Spades by Muxxi

The King of Diamonds by Alexis Marcou

was launched on Kickstarter and funded within the first few days. More than 1,000 backers supported the project, and I think that’s because we give the artists absolute freedom in terms of design. The final artworks are always a big surprise. Everyone has a different favourite.

You created a second edition a year later. Did you approach this sequel differently?

Since the first project, I’ve learned everything about cards and how to launch a project. I experimented with formats and materials, and tried different materials for the cards. We had the same concept though, and just contacted

more of our favourite artists from around the world to contribute.

Was it easier or just as difficult the second time around?

All I will say is that it’s not an easy job to unite 55 creative individuals from all over the world on a single project and in a limited timeframe, but the result speaks for itself! It is a real pleasure working with them though, and we are really thankful that they all found time to join the project.

Is a third set on the horizon?

Yes, we’re commissioning a third set! We are now in the process of preparing something

9 of Hearts by Carlos Lerma

huge and will officially announce the project a bit later this year. Meanwhile, we invite all artists to submit their profile without any hesitation on our site (http://playingarts. com/submit). The third set will be slightly different. We will change the rules a bit and it is going to be so fun – watch this space!


From the makers of



There’s a whole new world ready to be explored, and it’s all within your imagination – but now it can be on your screen, too. With The Sci-Fi & Fantasy Art Book your own fantastical characters and creatures can be brought to life in full 3D.

Also available…

A world of content at your fingertips Whether you love gaming, history, animals, photography, Photoshop, sci-fi or anything in between, every magazine and bookazine from Imagine Publishing is packed with expert advice and fascinating facts.


Print edition available at Digital edition available at


ADVANCED PHOTOSHOP Learn how to… • Retouch portraits, landscapes, still life and more • Add depth to your inked artwork • Explore colour with brushes and textures • Enhance sports shots by adding drama • Create natural compositions with multiple photos



Using the Healing Brush tool, I clean the skin and things like flyaway hairs and other unnecessary stuff.


Using the Liquify tool, I can gently correct the shape of the face and extend parts of the image in order to build a better composition.

Š Konstantin Kryukovskiy




When retouching portraits, it is very easy to go over the top and lose realism. Make sure that all edits are non-destructive (use adjustment layers, new layers, Smart Objects and so on) so that you can make changes as needed. The main tools used are the healing tools (Healing Brush and Spot Healing Brush) to eliminate blemishes, as well as the Clone tool for larger areas. Konstantin Kryukovskiy ( also makes use of the Liquify tool for gentle corrections to the model’s features.



TIPS FOR RETOUCHING Top tips and techniques to turn you into a retouching master whatever genre of photography you are working with


etouching is a key skill for any Photoshop user. Most digital images will need some kind of retouching, whether it’s to boost contrast, hide blemishes, adjust lighting or sharpen details. There are certain tools that are essential for retouching and these are used across all genres of photography. For contrast,


After Liquifying and cleaning the skin, I replace the right eyelashes with the much better-looking left eyelashes. I make the selection using the Lasso tool, flip it horizontally and then place so it fits. I then mask out the extra bits.

professional retouchers will rely on the use of Curves, usually applied as adjustment layers, so that they can be selectively painted in for precision, much like the dodging and burning techniques of old in the darkroom. For removing unwanted objects, spots or blemishes, the Spot Healing Brush tool is accurate and very easy to control, while the


Next I do some very gentle dodging and burning via a 50% grey layer in Soft Light mode with black and white brushes. You can see the effect of dodging and burning above, where the selected part is the original.

Clone tool is handy for areas of uniform colour or texture. Throughout this feature we will be looking at key genres where retouching is employed and speaking to professional retouchers to gather their top tricks specific to each genre, so that you can master the skilled art of retouching in Photoshop.


Finally, I use Curves with a luminosity mask, which represents the brightest bits of the image. I’m basically increasing the depth of the image by giving it more contrast. You can find free actions for creating luminosity masks online.





I try to guide the viewer to a particular area of interest. This can be achieved by making the area brighter than the rest of the image, since our eyes tend to focus on the whitest point first.

When doing colour grading and effects, I would recommend trying out the different adjustment layers and going extreme with the settings. You might see a look you weren’t aiming for and you can always tone them back down.

BEFORE Š Kim S. Brockie


Š Photography: Fabrice Fouillet (; Retouching: Cristian Girotto

You can get quite creative when retouching landscapes. Retouching and Photoshop instructor Kim S. Brockie, aka Mr KSB ( likes to use a combination of Smart Objects and Camera Raw for his effects: “It still amazes me how many details you’re able to extract from a RAW file, especially in the shadow/highlight area. By opening the photo as a Smart Object layer, you’re able to create an encapsulated layer with your adjustments and then mask in the parts you need, giving you more control of your retouch.�


Product photography often needs the lighting enhanced to make it stand out for commercial use. You can boost the initial contrast using a Curves adjustment layer, creating a gentle ‘S’ curve. The Shadows/Highlights adjustment is useful for global changes to the lighting, but you may need to use the Dodge and Burn tools to manually paint over highlights and lowlights to precisely adjust areas of lighting.


In still-life photography, the focus is often on a single object within a crisp, clean environment. Cristian Girotto (www. achieves this by using the Pen tool to mask all the different elements to work with them individually; the Clone tool and Healing Brush tool to remove distractions; and finally adjusting the lighting and ensuring neutral colour. His top advice is to combine multiple passes of the same image and then “pick the best details on each version, and combine them to have a very rich image with no over- or underexposed areas.�





Edit the good shots. I feel people try to edit the rubbish ones to improve them; the shot must be good to start with. © David Plummer


I reduce the magenta to accurately render the green, then increase Exposure to 0.25. I adjust contrast using the White and Black sliders, as it’s more bespoke than the Contrast slider. I decrease highlights and increase Vibrance.


Now in Photoshop CC, I add a Levels adjustment layer and carefully move the Black and White points. Then I use the Midtone slider to suit taste. I change the blending mode to Luminosity, as Levels often increases saturation.

Wildlife photography throws up its own unique issues. For example, photographer David Plummer (www.davidplummerimages. says: “Many wildlife images have a green background; Photoshop automatically throws in magenta to correct what it sees as a colour cast.” Use the Color Balance tool to bring back the green foliage. Animals rarely stay still, so use the Sharpen tool to target specific areas of unwanted blur. You may need to employ the Crop tool to improve the composition, as the focus should be on the animal in their natural environment.


For this image nothing more needs doing. It is sharp anyway and sharpening is merely an optical illusion. If it’s not needed, don’t sharpen. Finish things off by saving the image as a PSD in a separate folder.


It’s always good to make sure that the clothing the athlete is wearing looks fluid. If you feel anything is not flowing right, it’s best to correct it.


For successful sports imagery, your aim with retouching is to ensure drama, excitement and a sense of motion. Retoucher Paul Hill ( uses two Curves adjustment layers to build contrast, one lighter and one darker, painting on their masks. Work into the body of the athlete, if there is one: “It’s good to bring out the muscle tones, so you can give a real sense of the body working. This helps suggest the feeling of movement.”

© Retouching: Paul Hill; Photography: Blair Bunting





The tool I use most now in Photoshop CC is the Spot Healing Brush tool. It uses Content-Aware technology and can cope with spots, in addition to larger distractions.

Converting an image to black and white (if shot in colour) can leave it flat and lifeless. Use Image> Adjustments>Black & White and apply the Preset options to increase contrast and get the best conversion, which you can tweak with the sliders. You also need to clear blemishes, but they can be hard to see. Landscape photographer Paul Gallagher (www. suggests applying “a layer to darken the overall image. This will show up the spots. Clean them, then delete the layer.”


A lack of contrast in monochrome images can make them appear flat and dull. There needs to be a real depth of tone to make an image stand out.

© Paul Gallagher


Actions can be very helpful for retouching. If you find that you often perform the same tasks, then create an action that you can run over a batch of images and save a lot of time. This is good for overall contrast correction at the start, or a final sharpening step, just leaving you with tasks that are specific to each image, like blemish removal.


Photoshop Lightroom is a dedicated tool for photographers that focuses solely on retouching without adding any fancy effects. Using its Develop module, you can adjust contrast, add sharpening, correct lens distortions and so on, with specific presets for certain cameras. It is incredibly powerful in what it can do, and lets you target specific areas for retouching. The Adjustment Brush is a standout tool, because you can brush on a selection of adjustments with absolute precision.


Avoid quick fixes, such as blurring, in magazine ad/editorial pieces, and concentrate on one small fix at a time. © Diego Alborghetti, Retouch by Daniel Meadows


Fashion imagery usually has a commercial purpose: to sell the clothing, jewellery or accessories. It’s important to remember this, says professional retoucher Daniel Meadows ( “Perfect hair and skin, and great colour in a handbag ad become pointless if the bag has loose threads and flaws.” Colour correction is essential to portray the items accurately: “There are an array of tools (Curves being my first choice), but for most local fixes, your primary tools for retouching are the Clone tool, the Healing Brush tool, Dodge and Burn.”



Images that are intended to be used for stock should be sensitively retouched. Don’t add any high-contrast effects, coloured lighting, filters and so on, as these will be too over-processed for most end uses. However, some retouching will be required and Tony Harmer, Senior Solutions Consultant, Digital Media at Adobe ( suggests that sharpening is a task worth completing: “Every digitally captured subject will benefit from sharpening or selective sharpening. The Camera Raw filter in Photoshop CC and Detail controls in Lightroom both offer fine control over sharpening to get the best results.”

© Supplied by Adobe

The intention of retouching with stock photography is simply to enhance the original photograph and not add in any artefacts that come with overprocessing. In particular, beware of blowing out highlights in naturally light scenes, for example in the sky in outdoor shots. If you use Adobe Camera Raw for initial processing, it will warn you if clipping is occurring in the highlights.

Make sure that the lighting in your image is balanced. This is especially important in still-life shots, as it is easy to introduce colour casts due to the lighting used. Use the Color Balance control to add or subtract colour as needed to give an overall neutral tone to your photograph. Adobe Camera Raw is a good starting point for adjusting the White Balance, which may automatically remove any casts. If your image needs any kind of healing, this should be minimal. Stock photography should be shot correctly in the first place, so that major changes to the image in the post-processing stage are not needed – there should never be a need to remove objects or correct large areas of the image. However, you may need to gently use the Spot Healing Brush tool to remove sensor spots or dust. It’s possible that you will need to adjust the contrast in your image. You are not looking to add too much drama, so it’s a more subtle control. Add a Levels adjustment layer and pull the White and Black points to a level that looks pleasing to the eye, but would leave the image open to further editing by a designer if needed.




Camera Raw is built in to Photoshop, and is good for making initial adjustments to RAW images captured in-camera. Photographer David Plummer (www. is a fan, thanks to its ability to make targeted adjustments rather than global, but he advises caution: “In ACR, just because there’s a slider, doesn’t mean you need to slide it. I only adjust what is required and don’t labour over the task.” It is particularly good for fixing colour casts, boosting contrast and sharpening images.


© Mike Kelley


© Supplied by Adobe

Lighting is key when retouching architectural images. A room/building should be shot multiple times, lighting different areas, and then layered in Photoshop. With a layer mask on each layer, you can use a large, soft brush to paint the light back in from each image, setting the layers to Lighten. Mike Kelley ( is well known for his ‘light painting’ technique, mixing artificial light, natural ambient light and high-powered strobe light in Photoshop to give a hyper-real look.


Advanced Add depth to inked artwork On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Time taken 12-18 hours

Expert BÜRO UFHO “We love the texture of paper @thepixelprosites and the way ink reacts to it. It’s something the digital process alone has a hard time emulating. We bring some of that quality back, by introducing ink textures into our artwork. With a combination of textures, brushes and shadows, we bring more depth into our black-and-white line work. “We are both artists under the moniker kittozutto, have a graphic design studio, BÜRO UFHO, and have been using Photoshop for more than 10 years. In 2015, we had the privilege to be invited by Adobe, together with 70 other artists, to celebrate its 25th anniversary of Photoshop, which was an honour.” For more of BÜRO UFHO’s impressive work, head to

Create basic line work


Start image

Add depth to inked artwork Give life to your black-and-white line work by adding colour and depth in Photoshop


dult colouring books are all the rage now. It is said that colouring helps you to relax, reduces anxiety, and creates focus. While we’re not quite sure if digital colouring has the same therapeutic qualities, we’re certain it can give new life to your line drawings, in addition to a great sense of satisfaction! In this tutorial, we will take you through the process and show you how we used Photoshop to add depth and colour to this image, using textures and a custom brush. By breaking down the process into smaller bits, you can concentrate in phases,

Begin by creating guides in your PSD to help you with the composition. Source for reference images and place them in for a quick collage. Next, use a Hard Round Pressure Size brush to begin drawing on a new layer above.


Decide on your lighting


which opens up flexibility in terms of editing at the later stage. Just one thing though – always make sure you remember to name your folders and group your layers accordingly or it will be a headache to find them. Also, before you get started, check out our Expert Tip for more specific advice on painting hair. You can download the layered PSD with textures from the FileSilo to get a better understanding of how you can build up your artwork. We’ve also supplied the original sketch, in addition to some brushes to get creative with.

Introduce highlights and shadows to the otherwise flat image. We wanted the light to be at the top right so that it cast a shadow onto the character’s face. Fill a 40% Opacity black layer as a base, and work out the direction of the light on a new layer.

Quickly sketch


With a white Hard Round brush, quickly go over the areas where you think the light is going to affect, and roughly block them out as a guide. Because it is a basic step, it is now easier to concentrate on the details.

Show us your coloured line work Search for photoshopcreative


Advanced Add depth to inked artwork

Expert tip Create the hair

Believe it or not, the key to creating great hair is using the Eraser tool. First, using a large Hard Round Pressure Opacity brush – in this example size 25 – brush in the dark portions of the hair. Next, switch to the Eraser tool, this time using size 15. Brush to erase, creating tiny hair stands. Switch between the Brush tool (B) and Eraser tool (E) for creating complex and natural-looking hair shapes. Set the blend mode to Soft Light and it becomes a darker tone of the hair colour.

Refine the sketch


On a new layer, continue to work out a more refined definition on the highlight areas. Open the layer styles, set the Color Overlay to Red to make the areas you’re working on obvious. When you are done, turn them off to see how it looks as white highlights.

Start pathing


Next create a new folder named Highlights and begin pathing using the Pen tool. Alt/Option-click on the point to convert it into a corner point. You can fine-tune the points by clicking Command/ Control on the path, on the point, or on the bézier handles to control your adjustments.

Introduce background textures


Continue pathing



You’ve managed to complete the progressive steps earlier and finished blocking out a refined highlighted area. Take a break and view it with fresh eyes. Using the Eraser tool, we’ve removed some highlights from the daisy flower on the right to break up the monotony.

With your highlight paths completed, you can start blocking out the rest of the elements. Create a Colour folder and begin pathing. Combine paths by selecting layers with the same colour together and click Cmd/Ctrl+E. This will merge the layers into a new vector path.

Create a Background folder, fill a new colour layer. Drag in the ink textures provided within the PSD file from the FileSilo. Resize them accordingly and set their blending mode to Soft Light. Lay the ink layers alternately to achieve interesting blends, for example INK_01 layer is black, INK_02 is white.


Remove highlights

Use transparencies


Setting your Highlights folder’s blending mode to Soft Light will automatically create a lighter tone of the base colour beneath it. To make the wings of the bees a little translucent, reduce the Opacity of the wings paths to 80%. You can now add in more details for the hair.

Add foreground textures


Select the Colour folder, duplicate it by clicking Cmd/Ctrl+J, merge it by clicking Cmd/Ctrl+E. Make the layer a selection by Cmd/Ctrl and clicking on the layer thumbnail. Create a new folder named Textures, and apply the selection as a mask. Repeat texturing within this folder.

Show us your coloured line work Search for photoshopcreative

Add noise


Fill a new layer with white. Go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Set the Amount to 400%, check Monochromatic. Set layer blending mode to Screen, Opacity: 50%. Right-click on the layer and go to Blending Options. Play with the Blend If sliders to affect only the lighter parts of the image.

Add more noise


Repeat the process, this time we are only going to affect the noise on the darker parts of the image. Set layer blending mode to Color Burn, with layer Opacity at 20%. Click Alt/Option and drag one of the sliders’ handles to split the sliders as shown in the screenshot.

Enhance the details


We’re going to give the image more detail by adding a mid-tone for the hair to create even more depth to the image. Start by using a black Hard Round Pressure Opacity brush and set the layer to Soft Light. Check out our Expert Tip on creating great hair.

Make a custom brush


Create a new square document. Set the size to 250px wide. Using a Hard Round brush, put in some dots of different sizes. Click Cmd/Ctrl+A to select all and go to Edit>Define Brush Preset. Give it a name and you have your own dot brush.


Photo Filters help unify colours in your image. First add a Warming Filter (85), and a Cooling Filter (80) at 50% layer Opacity. Add red to shadows and yellow to highlights by using a Selective Color adjustment. Finally, add a Hue and Saturation layer to play around with the desired look.

Create hair ink splashes


Drag the ink splash layer ‘INK_07’ from the PSD provided. Set layer blending to Soft Light. Mask it using the hair path you’ve already created. Duplicate and invert the white ink splash. Unlink the mask, move the ink splash to the darker part of the hair. Relink the layer mask.

Adjust brush settings


Make colour adjustments

Set the Brush Tip Shape Angle to -143%, Spacing: 5%. Check Shape Dynamics and set Size Jitter to 73%, Angle Jitter to 55%. Check Scattering and set Scatter to 215%, Count: 1. Brush in the shadowed areas and use the Eraser tool to erase away unwanted parts.

Add light dots


Set the black dots layer blending mode to Soft Light and do the same for the light areas, this time using a white brush colour. We’ve added some of these white dots to the orange peony as well as the blue butterfly wings.


Advanced Enhance your sports shots


Share your creative sports shots Tweet us @pshopcreative

Essentials Time taken 5 hours

Expert Rodrigo Marinelli “The inspiration for this @thepixelprosites image came from Greek mythology. Poseidon is the god of the seas, so I had the idea to make a powerful swimmer. I’ve been a keen swimmer since the age of four, and participated in competitions as a teenager. I now wake up almost every day at 7am to swim, so you can see that swimming has always been part of my life. I had the help of my friend, Raphael Peaga (www.peaga., from the conception of this image, right through to the final work. “I’m an art director and have more than 11 years of experience in advertising. I learned to use Photoshop by following tutorials.” For more of Rodrigo’s work, visit http://rodrigo_

Place a sky


Enhance your sports shots

In this tutorial we will use multiple photos and photomanipulation techniques to create an advertising-style image


f you want to composite a detailed scene in Photoshop, using lots of stock photos is essential. It’s vital to carefully choose which ones you’re going to use before you get started. But if you find an image isn’t working as you thought, pick another. Don’t waste time trying to force it. This composition used a range of stock photos and we’ve supplied the links so you can use the same images and follow along. Alternatively, pick your own images and use this tutorial as a guide. Photomanipulation is a technique that works best with multiple photos, changing their original

First create a new document (Cmd/Ctrl/Ctrl+N) that’s 230 x 300mm. Then add the sky part of this image: With the Brush tool, select the black colour and slightly paint over the top of the image. Keep in mind that the image should have a dark background.

forms to create a unique scene. With each new image, you’ll practise a different technique and learn something new, ultimately creating a dramatic scene with an advertising edge. The inspiration behind creating this image lies with commercial sports shots; this theme always lets you create a very interesting image because the athlete is a person who always wants to go beyond; is always looking to do something that no one has ever done before. Photoshop was made for creating things that haven’t been done before, so let’s get busy with enhancing our swimmer.

Add some sea


Add the sea found here: behind the black sky layer folder. Make some colour adjustments to turn the sea darker, use the Levels tool (Cmd/Ctrl/Ctrl+L) with the configuration 40, 1, 255 and Color Balance (Cmd/Ctrl/Ctrl+B) set to 0, 11, 0.


Advanced Enhance your sports shots

Expert tip Observe everything

One of the main secrets to creating an image with many details is your ability to observe everything that happens around you. Absolutely anything can be used to improve your creative performance, from a situation that happened to you or even a simple light reflecting on a table. In this case, observation combined with imagination is fundamental to creating a good image, so before you get started, don’t forget to look for references of water, storms and lights.

Introduce the swimmer


Adjust the background


To give the background the same colour tone, make a layer group (Cmd/Ctrl+G) and add some adjustment layers, such as Brightness/Contrast with the setting 5, 14, as well as Photo Filter with a cyan colour and 40% Opacity.

Add the swimmer found here: Adjust the colour tone by duplicating the layer and painting it purple (#414055), then change the blend mode to Color. After that, apply the High Pass filter as you did in step 4. Finally make a mask and delete the swimmer’s hands and legs.

Use wave brushes



Insert the image and make a mask leaving only the waterfall. Use the Hue and Saturation command set to 0, -74, 0, then duplicate the layer and apply the High Pass filter (Filter>Other>High Pass) set to 3px. Finally change the blend mode to Overlay.

Make it splash


Let’s start to add details to make the swimmer look more powerful. Add behind the swimmer. To delete the background, just change the blend mode to Screen. Change the colour tone to blue, using the Color Balance tool with a setting of -56, 0, 0.

To make the sea look more angry, add a few waves using brushes found here: To have more control, build up the waves in parts – first the right then the left. To make the wave stand out more, duplicate the layer four times.


Add a waterfall

Work on the water


Splash the body


Add and erase the background, changing the blend mode to Screen. Turn the image grey by altering the saturation using a Hue/ Saturation adjustment layer with the settings 0, -40, 0. Finally, duplicate the layer and rotate until the water surrounds and covers the swimmer’s body.

To make the waves more real, add the splash image you used in step 7. Delete any background, changing the blend mode to Screen and, as in the previous step, add the image in parts. Then with the Brush tool, make a mask to delete the unnecessary parts. Make the effect stronger by duplicating the layer.

Share your creative sports shots Tweet us @pshopcreative

Expert edit Perfect the swimmer

Add water drops


Add only the splash part from the photo Remove the saturation with the Hue/Saturation tool then change the blend mode to Screen. Make a mask to erase the unnecessary parts and place it in front of the swimmer to give more depth to the scene.

Create a swimsuit


Let’s make an athletic swimsuit. Cut out the swimsuit from the photo and put the layer above the swimmer. Make a mask and erase the unnecessary parts of the base, making a smooth transition between the swimsuit and the water.

Enhance his cap


Use the photo from www.shutr. bz/1p2vSoK and cut out one line. To make it look like it belongs, use the Brush tool with 30% Opacity and make a mask to gently erase the edges.

Fish texture


Create a layer folder, select the swimsuit and make a mask. Make a grey layer (#7b7f8a) and change the blend mode to Overlay. Duplicate this five times. Finally add the photo from www., take out the saturation and change the blend mode to Overlay.

Create a bevel effect


To have more control over the shadows, use the Pen tool to create a bevel effect. Draw in the shadow with blue (#c1c4cf) and soften the edges by applying the Gaussian Blur filter set to 5px.

Add muscle light


To enhance the muscles, use the Pen tool to draw a shadow on the chest and paint it black. Once done, apply a 30px Gaussian Blur and change the blend mode to Soft Light.

Place a swimming cap


Now complete the swimmer’s swimsuit by making the cap. The procedure is basically the same as the previous step, but before adding the Fish texture photo, make a blue layer (#586c8b) and change its blend mode to Color.

Put in a symbol


Poseidon’s symbol is the trident, so add the photo from Paint it white and put on the swimmer’s chest. Make a neon light on the trident by duplicating the layer and applying the Gaussian Blur filter at 2px.

Add shoulder light


To add highlights to the shoulders, use the Pen tool to draw the light and paint it white, apply a Gaussian Blur of 30px, change the blend mode to Overlay and duplicate it twice.


Advanced Enhance your sports shots

Enhance the swimsuit design


Add the image from behind the trident and change its blend mode to Lighten. To make the neon effect, duplicate the layer and apply the Gaussian Blur at 1px. After that, add the image from, change its blend mode to Lighten and duplicate the layer to make it more vibrant.

Make a storm


To make the image more interesting, add a storm. To do this, use the brushes from on a new layer with the colour set to white and at a size of 2000px. Make the storm in parts until it fills the whole scene and change its blend mode to Overlay. Finally, duplicate the layer.

Give him some power


Let’s give some power to the swimmer. Add the last splash photo of www.bit. ly/1TToSHf then change its blend mode to Screen. Duplicate the layer and with the Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T), rotate the water splash to look at bit like sun rays.


This art would be very cool on the walls, so print the image, put it in a frame, take some pictures to promote and sell on your site.

Adjust the lighting


To make the highlights more easily, use the Pen tool to draw them. Draw the highlights on different layers and organise into a group. After drawing the light, paint it white and change the blend mode to Overlay, then apply the Gaussian Blur. ON A SHIRT

There is nothing better than seeing your work literally walking on the streets, so make some t-shirts and promote your work outside.

What you can do with it Promote your art

Make final adjustments


Make some colour adjustment layers: Levels (9, 1, 255), Warming Photo Filter, a cyan Photo Filter with 50% Opacity, Brightness/Contrast (5, 10) a purple layer (#414051) with the blend mode Color and 40% Opacity, then a yellow layer (#fff9c8) with the Color blend mode and 10% Opacity.


When you’re creating, pay a lot of attention to the size and resolution of the art. Remember that once you define the measurements, it will not be possible to make it bigger without losing resolution. Make it large enough for any eventuality. For example, it’s important to promote your work without spending much money, so make a site where you can sell your art. In this case, try a framed poster or a t-shirt.


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Ele m en ts

18 pages of practical guides Create more in Elements… Master the Refine Edge tool.............................................................80 Build a web banner...................................................................................... 82 Face paint with the Displace filter .............................................86 Sketch with the Pen and Ink filter .............................................. 92 Q&A: Common problems in Elements..................................96

Essential techniques Follow the step-by-step tutorials

On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Surreal art…


GET CREATIVE WITH LAYER MASKS Create a surreal composition using masks and simple techniques in Photoshop Elements, p88

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What does it mean?

Merge your layers and add adjustments such as Photo Filters and Gradient Maps to unify the colours.

VIEW MODE – The View mode is used to judge the selection you’ve made on a background of your choice. Use the default marching ants; switch to a white, black or red overlay; layers; or as black and white. Toggle between the modes as you’re refining an edge to view your selections better.

On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Tool focus…

Master the Refine Edge tool

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Leave your outlines smooth and realistic with this powerful feature When people think of Photoshop, they often think of bad compositing edits where the subjects don’t look as if they’re actually in the place they’re supposed to be. This is often down to the edge of the subject, as it’s extremely hard to get perfect hair and blurring between your subject and the background. The Refine Edge tool is perfect for making a realistic selection; situated in the Selection tools of Elements towards the bottom of your screen. It’s a vital tool in so many tutorials, as it makes it easy to soften and smooth an outline. But with different sliders, icons and viewing modes, it’s sometimes hard working out where to begin with what’s supposed to be a simple feature.


Refine Edge can actually be a simple step in your compositing process. It’s one that doesn’t have a specific set of rules – you may want to experiment with the sliders, depending on the picture – but by playing with the sliders and using the Brush and Eraser tools to bring control to your selections, you might find it to be an invaluable feature when it comes to cutting subjects out. Check out our quick guide on how to use the Refine Edge tool, and discover how you can use it in your projects. Remember, once you’ve placed a subject onto its new background, adjustments, filters and Hue/Saturation control (Cmd/Ctrl+U) can all work to help bring extra realism to your composition.

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Eliminate hard outlines Soften subjects and bring a realistic edge to selections

Make a selection

Adjust the sliders

Start off by grabbing the Quick Selection tool, and drag the cursor over your subject to create a rough selection. Keep the size of the Quick Selection small so that you can reach the smaller areas, and don’t worry about being 100 per cent accurate.



Brush and erase

Touch up the mask


Use the Brush and Erase icons on the left-hand side of the panel to add and remove from the selection. This part of the Refine Edge tool is perfect for hair, and it can help touch-up the sides that didn’t look quite right in the original selection.


Use Shift and Alt/ Opt to add and remove from a selection

Next, use the sliders to touch-up the edge of your selection. Up the Radius to increase the edge outline, and then experiment with the sliders until you get a realistic outline for your subject. Change the View mode to see how things are progressing.


Once you’ve hit OK, the best way to edit is to use a mask, as this enables you to edit non-destructively. With a small, soft, white brush of around 20% Opacity, follow up your edit by touching-up any edges that need further editing.

Three essential options Get the most from this tool using the options

Feather Smoothing Output to… The Feather slider determines how much of a so

Try the Smoothing option in conjunction with the Once you’ve refined the edge of whatever you’re edge around your selection you’d like there to be. It’s good for so er edges and enables you to blur the outline somewhat for a more realistic subject. The Feather option should be used subtly and usually at a low value for best results; always use it to so en before you begin using the brush.

Feather option. While Feathering softens the edges of your selection, the Smoothing works with it to follow the Radius of the edge to give a lifelike outline to your subject. Use these two sliders together predominantly when you use the Refine Edge tool, and the other sliders sparingly.

cutting out, you can choose to export the output to either a Layer Mask, a new layer, a New Layer With Layer Mask, a New Document or just to the selection you’ve made for further editing. This means that you can mask even quicker and edit your subject non-destructively.


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On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.


Use Cmd/ Ctrl+K>Grids and Guides for a new colour

Creative project…

Build a web banner

Create a bright, cohesive design for the web, and adapt it for social media using Photoshop Elements Creating banners, images and icons can be a fun project, and one that tests how cohesive and consistent you can be in designing all kinds of web elements. So if you’ve got a website or you’re looking to create one, this is the perfect project to start with. Layers help you manage your projects and enable non-destructive editing, which means your web banner can be adapted for Facebook, Twitter or any other site that you need; simply change the text and crop to the right size.


Remember to vary the elements of this tutorial to suit your own needs. If you’re designing a personal website, you might want to use a picture of yourself, instead of our supplied subject. If it’s a website of a brand, you can vary the shapes to reflect this, and insert your own textures and colours into the project. Bear in mind that profile pictures on social media usually appear to the left of a header; we’ve placed our text above the profile picture, with the subject looking over to that direction.

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STAGE 1 Begin the design Get started with your banner and create a template

What does it mean? RESOLUTION – When you create any document, it’s vital to get the size right, but resolution is often overlooked. Resolution is essential when it comes to viewing images online and anything upwards of 300ppi should be enough to display your images; choose 500ppi if designing for mobile.

As exciting as it can be to start with a blank canvas in Elements and just see where your creativity takes you, designing for the web is rarely so unplanned. Making a template for your web banner and finding the main image you want to base your banner around is perhaps the most important step. This is where your brand begins – not just your banner – so choose something bright and striking. Remember too that you can save your template with the guides intact, and use this for other web banners. This is particularly useful if you are working on a series.

Use Rule of Thirds


Keeping things organised in Elements is key, and Guides can help with this. Go to View>New Guide to add four lines, which will form a Rule Of Thirds view. Choose 1.11cm and 2.22cm horizontally, and 2cm and 4.4cm vertically.

Create a new document


Start off by going to File>New. To have ample resolution, make sure you pick 300ppi. For the width, choose 1920px to accommodate the common screen sizes. Pick a height based on what you’d like for your website; we’ve picked 1000px.

Choose a main image


Although web banners can work with just patterns and text, something more striking can help to make your brand stand out on social media. Pick a subject and place on the top-right intersection of your guides; most websites’ profile pictures are on the left.

Arrange your subject Use Guides to ensure your banner looks good RULE OF THIRDS


Adding guides to your project means that you’ll be able to adhere to a structure when you create your banner.

The Rule of Thirds is most oen used in cropping, but it is a useful tool when building a composition.



When you adapt your banner for different sites, you will likely use the top half, so keep that in mind when designing.

The Rule of Thirds states that by placing objects on the intersection of the guides, your image will be more aesthetically pleasing.


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STAGE 2 Construct the banner


Use the same few colours when you’re creating your banner for a cohesive, more professional look.

Flesh things out with textures, shapes and gradients Now the fun bit: this is the part of the project where you can get as creative as you like. Alter blend modes and use masks to ensure that everything looks and feels unified on the banner. Clipping masks can be vital in this stage of the project too, as they can transform ordinary shapes into exciting objects. Finally, finish everything off with some bold, bright text on the left of your image.

Cut out the subject

Add a background

Play with textures

Cut your subject out from its background by grabbing the Quick Selection tool and dragging over the layer. Add or remove with the Shift and Alt/Opt keys; use the Refine Edge tool if need be before hitting the mask icon in the Layers palette.


The Graphics tab at the bottom-right of Elements is a great place to find all kinds of inspiration, so we’re going to use it to search through the various backgrounds. In this case, the Autumnal Reflection matches the subject’s clothes, so choose that one.



Insert some shapes

Place your text

Decorate the text


Choose shapes and drag onto new layers. Create more layers above these; Alt/Opt-click these layers to clip them to their shapes and drag gradients to brighten them up. Use drop shadows (Layer>Layer Style>Style Settings) to make them stand out.



Once you’re happy with the shapes you’ve added – we chose butterflies and a diamond shape around the subject – add some text. Place it perfectly on the intersection of the top-left guides and write the brand name or social-media username.

Insert textures and experiment with the blend mode of these layers – Hard Light, Soft Light, Overlay and Multiply work well. Mask out the subject from the texture by Cmd/Ctrl+clicking the subject layer icon, and hitting mask on the texture layer.


Use similar clipping masks of gradients and textures to brighten the text, keeping it cohesive to the whole design. Add the same drop shadow as the shapes by Ctrl/right-clicking layers, and simply copying and pasting layer styles.

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STAGE 3 Save for web



Sharpen your web banner slightly before exporting it for use on social media or your website.

Save as a JPG for use online. If you have transparent elements in your header, save as a PNG file.

Adapt the design for any site on the web With your header pretty much designed, it’s time to save your work. But unlike most projects, this needs a bit of planning and is one of the most important parts of the process. Saving to a specific ratio and making sure that the elements of your design are all in the right place is what makes a great web banner. This is also why layers are so key: you can move Alt/Opt-drag when creating text anything around that boxes to resize needs repositioning. outwards



Save your project at exactly the right size for a banner on any website, using the size boxes.

Sharpen with High Pass

Duplicate to new document

A High Pass filter is a great way to polish off your design with a bit of sharpening and make it web-ready. Create a merged layer at the top of your stack by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E, go to Filter>Other>High Pass and choose 4.0 pixels. Set to Overlay.



Save for Twitter

Save for Facebook


Alter the text with your Twitter handle. Go to the Crop tool. Choose a ratio of Width: 3cm and Height: 1cm. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/ Opt+Shift+S to Save for Web, and choose JPG, Quality: 100. Twitter headers measure 1500x500px, so simply input this into the boxes.

The good thing about working with layers is that we can alter everything for different websites and social-media outlets. Select all layers and Ctrl/right-click>Duplicate Layers. Choose a new document to keep all the headers you create separate.


It’s a similar process to save for Facebook. Duplicate all the original document’s layers to a new document. Enter the name of the Facebook page and again select the Crop tool. Choose Width: 8.51cm and Height: 3.15cm. Save for Web at 851x315px.


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What does it mean?

THE DISPLACE SCALES – The Displace filter works with two values: one for adjusting the horizontal scale and the other for the vertical scale. Increasing the value of both will increase the depth of the texture being used as the displacement map – a small value of 5, for example, gives a shallow depth.


Blend the edges of the graphic around the hairline using a so brush, and leave some hair overlapping for realism.


A black-and-white layer underneath prevents the graphic from looking too bright or saturated with colour.

On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Photo edit…

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Face paint with the Displace filter

Learn how to apply digital face paint to spice up any ordinary portrait The Displace filter in Photoshop is not the most well-known filter, and lacks a certain amount of kudos for what it can do. This is partly because it’s not the easiest filter to get to grips with and, on top of that, it’s been hidden halfway down the Filter menu. So, we feel a duty to put it to good use and give it the credit it deserves. This is why we’ve created this tutorial to prove just how easy the Displace filter is, and how applying effects is more fun than stressful. It’s good news for Elements users, because the Displace filter is just the same as it is in Photoshop CC. The filter works by ‘mapping’


an object, such as a graphic or logo, on top of a surface or background of some kind, like someone’s face as in this example. The graphic is made into what’s known as a ‘displacement map’, and this can be used to wrap itself around the contours or the shape of the desired background. Follow along by grabbing this cool graphic illustration from the supplied resources to use as the face paint design. Of course, try out your own design and see what kind of images you can create. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be an expert with the Displace filter!

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Face paint without the mess Use Elements’ Displace filter to create new looks

Prepare the displacement


Open up the start photo from the FileSilo and go to Enhance>Convert to Black and White. Choose the Newspaper preset. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, and set Radius to 20. Go to File>Save As, call it Displace and save as a PSD. Go to File>Close.

Position the graphic


Go to File>Open and re-open the start photo. Go to File>Place and open the supplied graphic and enlarge it to fit over the face. Lower its opacity to be able to position it accurately. When in place, increase its opacity back to 100%, then hit Enter.

Convert to monochrome


Click the Background layer and use the Quick Selection tool to select the face. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/ Saturation. Move the adjustment layer between the graphic and Background layer. Reduce Saturation: -100. Zoom in to the eyes and with a black brush set to 100% Opacity, paint over the eyes to reveal their colour.

Reveal the graphic


Set your Foreground colour to white, and brush around the hairline to blend the areas in better. Cmd/Ctrl-click on the adjustment’s mask to load the selection. Unhide the graphic layer, make sure it’s selected, and click the Add Layer Mask button.

Displace the graphic


Next go to Filter>Distort>Displace and hit OK. Set both Scale figures to 15, choose Stretch to Fit and Repeat Edge Pixels. When you hit OK a window will open. Choose the ‘Displace.psd’ file created earlier. The graphic will warp. Hide the graphic layer.

Make it look like paint


Change the layer’s blend mode to Overlay, 70% Opacity. Go to Filter> Blur>Gaussian Blur, and set Radius between 2 and 5 to make the graphic look painted on. You can also go to Enhance>Adjust Lighting> Levels and alter the contrast by sliding the middle grey point.

Colour choice Take your pick of colour variation using the Hue/Saturation adjustment


Press the number keys to adjust opacity using the Brush

Clip the adjustment Purple variations Thicker paint Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer using Why not try a vibrant purple variation? Tick the You can add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment, the drop-down list at the top of the Layers panel. So that it only affects the graphic layer, go to Layer>Create Clipping Mask. Inside the adjustment, slide the Hue slider to -150 to turn the blue to yellow.

Colorize box and set Hue to 300 and Saturation to 53. By sliding the Hue adjustment, you can choose any colour you like. Try changing how much black is in the face paint by sliding the Lightness to the left.

also clipped to the graphic layer, and set Brightness to -25 and Contrast to 100 for darker blacks. This makes the paint appear thicker on the face and deepens the colour of the graphic. Just get creative!


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Learn how to use layer masks to edit an incredible scene and add cool effects.

On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Surreal art…

Get creative with layer masks Start images

Create a stunning composition using masks and simple techniques In this tutorial we’re going to take a photo of a normal watermelon and transform it into a surreal underwater image to play with your sense of reality. We’ll start by using basic filters to blur the background and then jump into layer masks to compose the incredible scene and add a semitransparent effect. Over the course of the tutorial, we’ll explore other essential features such as adjustment layers to enhance the tones and colours, and Refine Edge to refine the selections. You’ll also learn how to use blend modes to make quick colour corrections and create shadows in your image.


The major Photoshop technique used in this tutorial is layer masks. Masks are essential not only to hide or show areas of an image but also to control a layer’s transparency. If you apply shades of grey on a mask, the image becomes more or less transparent. This kind of effect is perfect for creating translucent objects or to target specific areas in an image. Another great reason to use masks is the fact that they work in a non-destructive way, meaning the original image stays intact so you can modify it anytime you want. Download the start images from the FileSilo and follow this easy step-by-step guide to learn new skills.

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Edit with masks Get to grips with layer masks to create a surreal composition

Set the stage


Go to File>Open ‘Background.jpg. Now let’s apply the Gaussian Blur filter. First go to Layer>Simplify Layer. Now go to Filter> Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to 7 pixels and click OK.

Use a layer mask


Go to File>Place ‘Sand.jpg’. Grab the Quick Selection tool (Shift+A). In the tool options, choose a large, soft brush, check Auto-Enhance and then select the sand. Add a layer mask by going to Layer>Layer Mask> Reveal Selection.


Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N) and name it Shadow. Check ‘Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask’. Set the blend mode to Soft Light, check ‘Fill with Soft_Light neutral color’ and click OK. Grab the Burn tool (Shift+O). Set Range: Midtones, Exposure: 50%, choose a large soft brush and paint around the borders.

Create a clipping mask: select layer, press Cmd/ Ctrl+G


To enhance the tones go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. In the dialog box, check ‘Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask’ and click OK. Set the Input Levels to 10, 0.65 and 225.

Place the watermelons

Add a soft shadow


Enhance the tones


Go to File>Place ‘Watermelon1.jpg’. Grab the Elliptical Marquee tool (M). In Options, check Anti-aliasing and set Feather to 3 pixels. Select the watermelon. Go to Selection>Transform Selection. Hold Cmd/Ctrl and drag the corner handles to adjust the selection. Now go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection.


Apply layer masks to easily edit your images or to create a seamless transition between layers.


Clipping masks are ideal to make adjustments to a single layer. The changes will affect only the image immediately bellow.


The Tool Options let you change the settings of every tool in Elements. Each tool has its own commands.

What does it mean? ADJUSTMENT LAYERS – The adjustment layers edit a layer without making permanent changes. Alter the colours using Hue/ Saturation, improve contrast using Brightness/Contrast, adjust the tones with Levels and create cool effects. Apply adjustments to a single layer or several.


A neutral layer is an editable transparent layer. It can be used to add special effects or shadows and highlights.


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Expert tip Selection tools

Correct colour


Let’s fix the reddish hue around the image. Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/ Ctrl+N). Change the blend mode to Color. Click Cmd/Ctrl+G to clip the layers. Grab a soft tip Brush (B). Now hold the Opt/Alt key and sample the watermelon’s green colour. Release it and start painting around the image.

Hide under the sand


Let’s hide the watermelons under the sand. Click on the watermelon layer-mask thumbnail to make it active. Grab the Brush tool (B) and in the Tool Options, open the Brush Preset Picker. Choose the default Spatter brush. Paint over the mask until you partially hide the watermelons.


Changing the blend mode to Color lets you quickly change the colour of an image.


Open the Brush settings to customise your brush. You can change the Spacing, Hardness, Scatter and much more.


Place more images


Go to File>Place ‘Watermelon2.jpg’. Grab the Magic Wand tool (Shift+A), uncheck Contiguous and select the white area around the image. Inverse the selection (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+I) and then add a layer mask. Repeat step 6 to correct the colour. Now Place the ‘Watermelon3.png’ and ‘Watermelon4.png’ images.

Create more masks


Go to File>Place ‘Watermelon5.jpg’. Grab the Quick Selection tool (A) and select it. Create a layer mask. Now click Cmd/ Ctrl+T and resize the image. Grab a soft tip Brush (B) and paint over the mask to hide the area inside the watermelon.

Photoshop Elements has some awesome selection tools to get the job done. Press Shi+A to switch between the tools. Use the Magic Wand tool to quickly select pixels based on similar tone and colours. The Quick Selection tool will select an image by finding and following defined edges; the Selection Brush tool automatically selects the area you paint; and the Refine Selection Brush tool will help you to add or remove areas to and from a selection by detecting the edges. In the Options area at the bottom you’ll find different settings to control the tool even further.

Use semitransparent mask


Place ‘Water.jpg’ under the Watermelon5 layer. Create a layer mask and hide the unwanted areas. Now lower the brush Opacity to around 25% and paint inside the layer mask to create a semitransparent effect.


To sample a colour, press ‘I’ and click the colour in your image that you want to use.


Applying shades of grey to a mask will affect the layer’s opacity. Use the Gradient tool to create seamless transitions.

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Go underwater


Place ‘Underwater.jpg’ on top of the Water layer. Resize it and hit Return/ Enter. Now click Cmd/Ctrl+G to clip the layers. Create a layer mask. Use a soft brush to hide the top portion of the image to reveal the waves beneath it.

Refine the whale


Place ‘Whale.jpg.’ Grab the Quick Selection tool (A) and select the whale. In Options, click Refine Edge. Adjust the settings to enhance the mask. Resize and position the tail above the water. Now lower the brush Opacity to around 20%; paint the whale body to make it slightly transparent.

Apply custom brushes


Go to Edit>Preset Manager and click Append. Locate the file ‘Splash.abr’, click Load and then hit Done. Create a new layer and name it Custom Brushes. Set the Foreground colour to white, select the splash brushes and paint over the bottom of the rocks, whale tail and finally the tall ship.

Auto fixes for images

Enhance your images automatically

Bring in more images


Place the lighthouse, tall ship, and shark to complete the composition (you can also use your own images). Remember to create layer masks and hide the unwanted areas.

Make finishing touches


Create a new layer and position it on top of the Watermelon1 layer. Name it Shadows. Now change the blend mode to Soft Light. Grab the Brush tool, set the Foreground colour to dark green and paint the shadows around the image. Repeat this step for the Watermelon2 layer.


Press F5 in order to quickly show or hide the Tool Options

Photoshop Elements has several auto-enhancement commands to improve the appearance of an image with just one click. You can make colour corrections, improve contrast and lighting, and so on. You can find them in the Enhance menu. These options are very easy to understand and practical to use. The downside is that sometimes the results aren’t that great and once you apply an effect to an image, it will change it permanently. If you want to modify something later on, you basically have to start over again. To apply the Auto-fix to a Smart Object, you first need to simplify the layer and then apply the effect. Don’t be intimidated to explore these features; they can be very handy in many situations.


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Choose an image with sufficient highlights and shadows so the filter creates an excellent representation of the original image.

On the FileSilo

Start image

Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Digital art…

Sketch with the Pen and Ink filter Create hand-drawn effects from your photos Photoshop Elements enables you to create cool sketches of your photographs easily using filters. Filters are handy yet powerful tools that can change the whole appearance of your image in one click, such as using the Pen and Ink filter to create a hand-sketched effect from a photograph. This filter strips the colour away giving a raw, drawn look, and simulates the fine lining and shading of a sketch. You can adjust the settings for stronger and weaker line features, taking advantage of the sliders within the filter settings, or choose one of the four default filter choices of blue, purple, grey or inverted green. The sliders offer settings such as Detail, Width, Darkness and Contrast, enabling you to personalise your image however you want.


Also in the filter settings under the Pen section, there is a colour slider giving the option of adding a hue of colour to enhance and highlight areas, colour lines with block colour or fully fill the background. This adds a coloured pencil element to the sketch rather than just a basic grey drawing. When using your own images, try to stick with ones that are eye catching with strong highlights and shadows within them. This will allow the filter to reach its full potential and create a stunning sketched drawing from a simple photograph. Most of all, have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment with the settings, as you can always undo (Cmd/Ctrl+Z) and try again if it’s not what you want.

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Sketch it up Use the Pen and Ink filter to create personal sketched art

Create a new file


To create a new file, go to File>New> Blank File. When the box pops up, name your file and set the size that you need. Also make sure that the background is set to Transparent.

Place your image


You now need to add your chosen image. Go to File>Place and select the file you want from the pop-up box. Click Place to add it to your workspace. If you want to use the image we’ve used here, download it from the FileSilo.

Resize the image


Use the Free Transform tool to resize the image. Go to Image>Transform> Free Transform or use the shortcut Cmd/ Ctrl+T. Hover the cursor over the corners, then click and drag at the same time to resize. To keep proportions, hold down the Shift key when resizing.

Shortcut Duplicate the layer



Now you need to create a replica of the layer by going to Layer>Duplicate Layer. Name the new layer in the pop-out box and then hit OK.

Frequently save your work by pressing Cmd/ Ctrl+S


When you use Place to bring an image in, Elements turns it into a Smart Object. To apply the filter, you need to simplify the Smart Object by converting it in to an image layer. Click the drop-down menu in the Layers panel in the top right and select Simplify Layer.


Duplicate the layer so you always have an original image available for reference; go to Layer>Duplicate Layer.

What does it mean?


Converting the Smart Object to an image layer enables any filters or effects to be applied to the image.

FREE TRANSFORM – The Free Transform tool is a useful resizing tool. Use Cmd/Ctrl+T and a box appears around your image. In every corner and centre of each side of the box is a small square – these are called handles. You transform the shape simply by dragging the handles.


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Use the Spot Healing brush


Select the Spot Healing Brush (J) to clean up any unwanted blemishes on your image that will show up when the filter is applied. Change the size of the brush in the box at the bottom of the screen and paint over the top of the offending area.

Select the Pen and Ink filter


Shadows and Highlights

Add Surface Blur


Use the Surface Blur filter to smudge areas of the image while keeping the edges crisp. This removes any graininess the filter could pick up. Go to Filter>Blur>Surface Blur. Keep the Radius small, in this case set to 3 and Threshold to 10.

The Pen and Ink filter will identify the lines, highlights and shadows within your image and convert it into a flat colour while selecting the fine detailed lines. Select the filter by going to Filter>Sketch>Pen and Ink.


Improve the shadows and highlights within your image so the Pen and Ink filter picks up on lighter areas it could otherwise overlook. Go to Enhance>Lighting> Shadows and Highlights. In the pop-up box set Lighten: 7%, Darken: 43% and Midtone: +36%. Click OK.

Set the filter


A pop-up box appears. Select the Gray Tones preset and under the Ink heading, set Detail to 0.22, Width: 1.83, Darkness: 3.55 and Contrast: 0.77. Leave the Pen settings as they are and hit OK. This retains the fine details, sets line thickness and uses the best lighting.



Add contrast to the filter settings to develop dark areas around the eyes and nose.

Ensure you keep the details sharp with crisp and varying line strengths. This enhances the finer areas, such as hair.



Add a new layer by using the shortcut Shift>Cmd/ Ctrl>N



Use the Cmd/Ctrl and +/– buttons to zoom in and out to see finer details.

Know when to stop adding different elements to your image; you want it to look natural, rather than digital.

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Expert tip Spot Healing Brush

Make a Quick Selection


Choose the Quick Selection tool (A). Drag to select the area around your image and use the add and subtract settings in the Tool panel to tidy and refine the edges of your selection. Add a new layer (Layer> New>Layer), and fill with white using the Paint Bucket tool (K).

Refine the edges


In the Tools panel at the bottom select the Refine Edge button. When the box pops up, set Radius to 2.4, Smooth: 15, Feather: 3.6 px, Contrast: 0%, Shift Edge to -46% and hit OK. This will smooth the edges and make it softer when on a background.



With this image it is easier to select what is not needed and inverse it. When a selection is inversed, it deselects your selection then applies marching ants around everything else. While the Quick Selection tool selection is visible, go to Select>Inverse.

Cut and paste


Now the marching ants are surrounding the selection you want, use Cmd/ Ctrl+C to copy and Cmd/Ctrl+V to paste the selection on a new layer. Use the eye to turn the previous layer off in the Layers panel and the background will disappear.

The Spot Healing Brush (J) allows you to mask over blemishes, spots and imperfections. At the bottom of the screen you have options, which consist of Proximity Match, Create Texture or Content Aware. Proximity uses the pixels surrounding the edge of your selection to find an area to use like a patch; Create uses all the pixels in the selected area to build a texture to cover the imperfection; and Content can remove an entire object using the surrounding content to fill in the missing piece. If it goes wrong, use Cmd/Ctrl+Z.

Tidy up


Go back to the Spot Healing Brush (J) and tidy up any unwanted bits of the image, such as an odd strand of hair or dirty mark. This will make your image cleaner and more defined. Save using Cmd+Ctrl+S or File>Save.

Add a little colour

You can add colour at any time If you want something different to the grey effect, the Pen and Ink filter can also provide sketched lines with a little colour. When you first select the filter it gives you four options; three are colour. But even if you choose the grey tone you can go back and add colour by using the Hue slider in the filter’s Pen settings. When you have finished editing your image, select the Pen and Ink filter again and your image will pop up in the box. As you slide the Hue slider from le to right the colour will change. When you have found a tone that you prefer, click OK and it will apply it to the image.


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Get in touch


Ask on Twitter @PshopCreative

The Liquify tool (Filter>Distort>Liquify) is one of Photoshop and Elements’ most famous features, and it’s fantastic fun to bend reality with the tool. But there is such a thing as taking the Liquify tool too far, so it’s important to remember how to tone back the effect if need be. Before you begin using Liquify, duplicate the layer of the object you wish to use the effect on. This means that should parts of your image not look right once you’ve applied the filter, you can mask the original object back in. Within the Liquify tool itself though, use the Reconstruct tool (E) to bring back the original shape of your object, by brushing over wherever you wish to tone back the effect. Remember to adjust the size of your brush and the pressure of the filter on the right-hand side of Elements. This will enable you to edit with subtlety rather than dragging the pixels of your object all over the screen with the slightest touch.

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Add a subtle blush to the picture as well as correcting the overall colour of the cheeks.


Producing a melting object evokes Salvador Dali and can be a great effect for any surreal composition.


Skin tone is one of the hardest things for a photographer to capture when shooting, especially if you’re taking pictures outside or shooting with artificial light. A touchup of your picture is o‰en necessary before you do anything else, but skin tone is something you don’t want to spend too long on. Elements has the perfect quick fix for this problem. Head to the Guided section of the program, and there’s an option to Correct Skin Tones from there; this can be used either to fix a problematic tone of a portrait or to just give subjects a bit more of a tan. Use the three sliders on the right-hand side of your screen to adjust the portrait accordingly. You may wish to click Next at the bottom to save your edit, and then adjust a second time to eradicate any bad colour still in the subject. This edit might only take a few seconds to employ but it can produce dramatically improved results. If you head to the Expert section of Elements, you can further improve the colour and tone of your subjects by using some of the options available in the Enhance menu.



The aim of a sunrise/sunset is to have a high-contrast, vibrant landscape with vivid hues and silhouettes.


Sunsets and sunrises should be bright, colourful and beautiful. O en they can look washed out when they’re shot, but with a simple touch-up in Elements, you can restore that dazzle. Head to Enhance>Auto Smart Fix to give a subtle contrast tweak, and then Enhance>Auto Smart Tone to touch up the tone of the picture slightly. Then, hit Cmd/ Ctrl+U to bring up the Hue/Saturation panel. Here, you can improve the colour shade of your horizon by using the sliders. Increase the Saturation by +20, and remember that images with a lot of red in them look bolder when you adjust the Hue by -5. Your needs may vary from one picture to the next, but experiment with the sliders until you find what works for you.


Quick tip

Blur or noise can ruin a good photo or composition. It’s vital to protect the detail in your pictures to keep them at their best, and there are various ways to correct your shots and sharpen them up, using all kinds of filters and tools. By far the easiest, though, is to head to the Quick tab at the top of Elements, and hit the Sharpen option. Here, you’ll have the option to either use the slider to manually adjust the sharpening of your image, or select a preset option. Don’t force the image to be too sharp, otherwise it will just look unnatural and obviously edited. Get in the habit of editing your images’ sharpness before you build compositions. It saves you time in the long-run, and keeps your projects looking detailed and high-resolution.

Shortcuts are there to make your life easier. Instead of using menus, it’s useful to remember basic shortcuts to edit quicker. Easy ones are Brush (B), Quick Select (A), Eyedropper (I) and Eraser (E), but as you advance you’ll learn more. Hit D to set swatches as black and white and X to swap the swatches. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate a layer and Cmd/Ctrl+Shi +N for a new layer. Cmd/Ctrl+F repeats the last filter and Cmd/Ctrl+T will transform your selections.

Using shortcuts



Use a custom brush with lots of scatter. Check out the snow brushes on the FileSilo.


Pixel dispersions look absolutely fantastic, and they’re not as difficult as you might think to create. Start by isolating a subject using the Quick Selection tool, paste them onto a plain background and then duplicate. With the original subject layer, head to Filter>Distort, and pull one side of your subject to make them look stretched across the page. Grab a custom brush with lots of scatter – we’ve provided some snow brushes on the FileSilo – and mask in both the original subject layer and the distorted one. Finally, add some brush flourishes in similar colours on a new layer.




Price £35 (approx) / $49.99 US Web

JixiPix Pastello

Bring layers into your digital paintings with JixiPix’s brilliant new plug-in

The specs Company JixiPix

Additional specs Windows Vista and above Mac OS X 10.6 and above Photoshop CS3 and above Elements 10 and above


Add multiple layers of different artistic styles, or erase everything to just reveal a canvas.

Five top filters Which styles and filters should you apply to your pictures, and how can they be used?



The Chalk style is subtle but colourful. It looks artistic, but it doesn’t look like it’s too sophisticated, which makes it perfect as a creative base on which to place more filters. You can have fun with textures too, as they shine through the strokes.




The Charcoal styles are strong, monochrome and a great option for overlaying on top of a colourful style to emphasise it further. They work fine on their own as well, and can give a classic and simple look to any image.



Of all the styles available in Pastello, Conte is the best option for block colour, and as is the case with both Charcoal and Chalk, it can provide an excellent base layer to build artwork upon, or it can emphasise other styles.


Control everything from layer order to opacity using the Photoshop-style layers palette in the top-right of the program.


Alter aspects of an effect in any layer with the in-depth sliders, and create something unique every time.


f you’re not an expert in digital painting – or any kind of painting, come to that – filters can be a big help. They can magically turn your picture into a series of brushstrokes with just a few clicks; the only downside being that there isn’t much individuality or room for creativity in this method. If you’re using the Filter Gallery in Photoshop, the chances are that people will recognise the effect you’ve applied, and if you’re using a plug-in, it almost feels a bit like cheating. JixiPix’s Pastello plug-in, however, doesn’t feel like a one-click fix – unless you want it to, of course. In the past, JixiPix’s software has been simple but packed full of features and filters for you to apply to your photos, and Pastello is no different. Like previous JixiPix plug-ins, Pastello feels like an app, with the main filters shown along the bottom of the window, and the sliders to control these filters listed down the right. Each effect feels sophisticated and classy, and there’s a range

of styles, from Pencil to Da Vinci, and a few variations on each style. These filters are all interesting enough on their own, but the layering capabilities of Pastello is definitely one of the biggest draws to the software. By taking advantage of layers, you can mix various filters, alter the opacities of these filters – unfortunately not the blend modes – and build up your own unique effect. This really does separate JixiPix from other digital-painting plug-ins on the market, as it’s easy to construct completely unique effects. You can also save whatever it is you devise as a preset to use again in your own work, which is incredibly useful if you want to create a series of pictures in a certain style. The ability to mask out certain layers in JixiPix is another useful feature and something that really brings individuality back into painting plug-ins. By using the Brush and Eraser in the top left-hand corner of the screen, you can take out some of the detail in

layers or bring it back in. This makes it easy to compose mixed-media pieces, as well as add shade or texture to your paintings; it means that you can reveal more or less of the canvas too, and though you don’t have to be a painting pro to use JixiPix, there’s certainly scope for feeling creative with masks. The various styles that can transform your photos are top quality, too. Most notably are the Da Vinci options, which add a sepia tint and simple one-colour shading to your pictures for what JixiPix calls a ‘15th Century’ feel. While these particular filters look great on their own, they work best as additional layers that you can mix and match with the likes of Pencil, Coloured Pencil and Pastel – three of the best painting filters that the plug-in offers. In addition to the actual art effects, there’s an exciting array of cool canvases to use, and dozens of artistic finishes for every effect; Pastello really is packed with enough features to make every project feel unique and varied in style. Pastello is intended as a companion app for Impresso Pro. Though users of this software will no doubt see this as a cool new addition to their arsenal, this is a plug-in that works perfectly happily by itself. If you’re new to digital painting, if you’re looking to create a basis on which to smudge-paint, or perhaps you just want to add cool effects to your pictures, this is a fascinating, fun and costeffective plug-in that anyone can enjoy.

The verdict


A stylish and simple plug-in with more on offer than just filters, JixiPix Pastello is useful to all kinds of Photoshop users, and extremely reasonable in price.

Standout feature Layers palette

Da Vinci


The Da Vinci options within the plug-in look effortless and timeless, but they can be combined with the likes of Pastel and Chalk to create a very obviously drawn effect. The sepia tone is a quick way to provide age to your work, too.



The smoothest and brightest of all the available options, Pastel’s styles are worth adding to any picture, even if you just keep the opacity low. They work either with other artistic styles or on their own, adding a little texture to any picture.

Most plug-ins enable you to simply apply effects to pictures. Should you wish to blend these effects with others in Photoshop, it usually involves a longwinded back-and-forth between the plug-in and Photoshop layering. Not with Pastello though: the layers on the righthand side enable you to work solely within the plug-in interface.




Price Approx £60 / $89.99 US Web

Flame Painter 3 Pro

The specs Company

Escape Motions

Additional specs

Use bright brushes in your work with Escape Motions’ Flame Painter 3

CS5 and above Windows Mac


Build your effects with the Layers palette. Alter the opacity of each effect and change blend modes to work subtly and precisely.


Use the Pen, Eraser or even Fill tools to assist with your brushwork. These can help you cra€ a composition as you build your layers.

Create a flaming portrait Use Flame Painter to add excitement to any picture

Brush a rainbow


Start by selecting the Rainbow brush preset and practise swirling the brush with your cursor. Create a striking pattern over your picture, on a new layer, to add colour to this composition. Select the Lighten option in Blending on the left.


Add some flames


For real drama, try out some of the fire brushes. Select Flame in the Presets and alter some of the other brushes, such as Noise and Feather, to be bright, orange/yellow in colour and light enough to create a blaze across your picture.

Bring in the subject


Duplicate your subject layer and move it to the top of the stack. You can’t mask in Flame Painter, so go to the top-left of the program, select the Eraser, and brush the outline of the subject until your brushed layers reveal themselves.


Change the colour of your brushes by altering the hue or selecting a gradient, in the top right-hand corner of the program.


Choose a preset brush before altering the dynamics of it. You can also add or remove preset brushes from the window.


rushes can be one of the most exciting tools in Photoshop. They bring all kinds of interesting effects to your work, but the best thing about them is that you’re in control; whether you’re using a mouse or graphics tablet, you apply the effects wherever you want them. This means that you can unleash your artistic side in Photoshop, or just create something truly individual. Flame Painter 3 Pro from Escape Motions is a program that revolves around the idea of using your creativity to make something unique. It’s a simple software package with brushes at the forefront: simply alter the colours on the right and the settings on the left and you can create a brush to bring colour or decoration to any picture or composition. Flame Painter might seem like mostly programming brushes, but the presets on the right-hand side of the screen are a great place for any newbie to start. Here, there are a selection of eclectic brush types for trying out

on your canvas, and you can spend hours experimenting with styles. If you’d like to just try and create effects to use in Photoshop, draw onto a black background and then import your brushwork using the Ps icon in the Layers palette, before setting all of these layers to Screen. For any advanced users though, Flame Painter is adept enough for creating sophisticated swirls of fire, rainbow and ribbon. Everything is completely editable, meaning that you can program the exact effect you’re looking for. By using the Gradient and Color tabs in the top-right corner, it’s easy to get the exact hue you’d like, too. The Layers palette comes with a range of blend modes and opacity control, and you can also slow down the brushes for even more control. Ultimately, by building up effects, you can layer the swirls to either smooth or noisy, like light or more like fabric. It’s an extremely versatile program in this sense, and it’s more

than capable of producing effects for professional projects. However, once you get away from the brushes, everything is a little less accurate in Flame Painter. The layers don’t have masking capability, meaning you have to duplicate anything you wish to cut out, before using the Eraser tool in the top-left of the window to make the cutout. Unfortunately the Eraser isn’t particularly accurate; it fluctuates with pen pressure, so you might just be better off exporting to Photoshop. The Gradient options are a welcome touch for unifying pictures though, and a Pen tool is included, too. On the whole though, these are just minor niggles in what is a powerful, incredibly creative program. Flame Painter can be used either for touching up your pictures with tiny details, or creating impressive compositions using just brushes. It’s something that can be used by 3D artists, digital painters or photo editors, and it’s something that beginners can have great fun with, and professionals can harness for advanced projects. The option to import into Photoshop is a key one too, meaning that you can use the program as a plug-in and mask the effects into your Photoshop projects; the fact that all brushes are totally editable also means that you can create a piece of unique art with the software every time. This is something that any fan of brushes should seriously consider investing in.

The verdict


A powerful program capable of producing amazing effects, likely to appeal to all kinds of Photoshop users. It’s easy to use, but more importantly, it’s fun.

Standout feature Preset brushes

Embellish the composition


Give the effect that the explosion of bright, fiery brushes is happening all around the subject by adding some more. Insert a new layer and choose Noise and Flame: tinker with the sliders to create something unique.

Finish with gradients


Finally, fill layers can really finish off a composition. Go to Fill at the top left of the screen and choose Gradient; insert some on different layers and choose Soft Light, 20% Opacity to add them. Export to Photoshop for further adjusting if needed.

Flame Painter offers some beautiful preset brushes to start incorporating into your work, including a rainbow brush, noise, fire or just big colourful spark brushes. All of these are completely editable on the le-hand side of the screen, and everything can be altered in colour, using the options.



Power up your creativity Discover how the Dell Precision 15 5000 Series workstation, Windows 10 and Adobe CC will empower you artistically and professionally


ny of you who have ever upgraded to a faster, more efficient workstation will know that new equipment can change the way you work. A new workstation can drastically speed up your workflow and keep your creative process running efficiently, and a sharper monitor, a powerful processor and professional graphics all make for more ambitious projects, which, let’s be honest, we’re always going to be excited about. The Dell Precision 15 5000 Series workstation is a recent example of a mobile workstation that can transform the way you approach creative projects, through both its convenient design and computing power. You may think that a traditional notebook packs


enough of a punch for you to nail creative projects, but upgrading to a workstation like the Dell Precision 15 5000 is a simple way to supercharge your Photoshop workflow and explore more ambitious projects. Combining Dell UltraSharp monitors with speedy Intel Xeon E3-1505M V5 processors and NVIDIA Quadro graphics, these workstations holster the power to handle any Photoshop project from concept to completion, and the scope for you to keep growing as a designer where other systems don’t. All of this is supported by Windows 10, an operating system built with multi-tasking in mind, which makes it perfect for designers who want to keep an eye on emails while they’re

cutting out a troublesome image or check references while illustrating. Consider, too, that this pro-level machine, packed with the very latest in mobile workstation technology, is unapologetically sleek and portable. A NAME YOU CAN TRUST A leading name in computing, Dell has a rich, three-decade history of almost unrivalled experience building computers. With the Precision 15 5000, though, it’s created a machine that appeals to both anyone seeking a workstation for on-the-go ease of use and for creating high-quality design projects. There’s always the concern that a mobile workstation is going to be a bit hefty, but in


this case you’ll find carrying it around won’t be any trouble, which is great if you like to get things done on the move. At around 15 inches in width, the Dell Precision 15 5000 is light and compact, while still being just big enough to show off its crisp, 4K display. This display quality means that it’s just as at home in the studio as it is on your commute. It’s a workstation that has everything you might expect from your average computer, but dig beneath the sleek exterior and you’ll find a wealth of features and design capabilities dedicated to the design-minded that you’ll only find in a professional workstation. It’s not just a workstation – it’s your best friend when it comes to design.

that designers can really exploit for a better creative process. The ability to see windows side by side makes the organisation of your work even more visual, like you’re flicking between pictures on a desk. Add to the mix that you can snap four windows to the four corners of your screen, and you have a setup almost tailor-made for anyone creating with Adobe Creative Cloud tools. The advent of DirectX 12, the latest version of Windows’s application-programming interface makes for a higher frame-rate and greater graphical proficiency, allowing you to work quicker than ever before. Where Windows 8 opened doors for those inspired by mobile technology, Windows 10 feels like a great fit for any creative mind seeking a slick and structured operating system to work on.

Windows 10 offers much more to designers and artists looking for the ultimate Photoshop experience

WINDOWS 10 Of course, any workstation needs a solid operating system at its core. The previouslydropped Start button has returned to Windows 10, the tiled apps of Windows 8 are still a prominent feature and Cortana is now integrated into the operating system, but on top of these marquee additions, Windows 10 is now offering much more to designers and artists looking for the ultimate Photoshop experience. The multi-tasking aspect of the new system is much talked about, and it fits in with the modern computing experience, but it’s also a feature

THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB Adobe Creative Cloud isn’t just the industry standard for any designer or artist looking to let a limitless imagination run free, it’s also the perfect place for any enthusiast to start their artistic journey. Windows 10 was developed with software packages like Adobe Creative Cloud in mind, so if you’re looking to exploit that perfect harmony between hardware, operating system and specialist software, your best bet is a professional workstation product

ABOVE The Dell Precision 15 5000 is around 15 inches in width, and is light and compact enough to carry around. Screen size isn’t compromised, though, and images are crisp on its 4K display

Why choose Windows 10?

Microsoft’s new OS offers all the flexibility you need Windows 10 is a significant step towards your operating system integrating seamlessly into your busy creative schedule. Sporting everything you could ever need to keep yourself organised and working at maximum efficiency, it’s an operating system with your personal needs at heart. By taking advantage of exciting new features like the Snap feature, which allows you to snap up to four different apps into the four corners of the screen, you’ll discover new ways to streamline your workflow. Approaching deadline? Snap your emails to the corner of the screen and remain client-facing, while still getting the job done in Photoshop. Illustrating from reference? Snap your web browser and illustrate away without the need for switching between windows. As creatives, we’re always looking for ways to improve our workflow – features like this one have been built with this need for exciting, unimpeded productivity in mind. On top of this, Cortana is always on hand for whatever you need, from managing your personal calendar at crunch time, to digging out old designs you thought you’d forgotten about, to searching the web for all the inspiration you need to unleash your creativity. So why choose Windows 10? It’s simple – whatever your discipline, whatever your interests, Windows 10 offers the definitive 21st Century solution for creatives with busy work lives, and busy social lives too. Blending typical Microsoft ease of use with new, forward-thinking productivity aids like Cortana, the Snap feature and much more, Windows 10 is the perfect way to augment your creative life, keeping you organised while allowing you to let your imagination run as wild as you need it to.



– especially as they’re becoming more affordable by the day. Simply choose which apps you wish to install onto the Precision 15 5000 workstation and you can begin creating; the computer sports an Intel Xeon E3-1505M V5 processor, which is built for highly intensive tasks like 3D design and will chew through anything you throw at it, from experimenting with layers and masks to intricate illustrations. This makes it ample for getting the best out of Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Illustrator – all at once if you need to – and with a recorded 13 per cent improved performance from previous generations of Dell computers, this new breed of workstation has the power and speed for you to conquer design tasks in no time at all. STAGGERING CPU PERFORMANCE The processor in your computer handles the critical information that keeps the machine ticking as a whole, and as you might expect, a CPU with more cores and a high clock speed means a more efficient workstation capable of bigger projects and more ambitious multi-tasking. Intel Xeon processors are synonymous with speed and power, operating at a professional level and coping easily with strenuous tasks – perfect for anyone creating 2D or 3D renders on their workstation. Intel Xeon CPUs are becoming pretty much essential for anyone working at higher levels of design, because it can easily match your lofty ambitions. Gone are the days when hardware limitations could hamper your creativity. The tendency is for most creatives to purchase an often-overpriced laptop product that can handle intensive tasks like 3D compositions, processing loads of layers and the like when pushed, but usually at a crawl. By crossing over to a workstation your work rate will go through the roof – less time spent working at low resolutions and only keeping a couple of windows open, more time spent letting your creativity sing. PROFESSIONAL GRAPHICS Along with the CPU, the graphics card in a computer is most responsible for the speed and performance of your computer. It’s the graphics card’s job to display the images on-screen, process the images quickly – up to 60 times a second in some cases – and take away some of this strain from the processor. Understandably, it’s imperative for a designer to use a good graphics card in their setup – preferably a professional one. Dell Precision 15 5000 Series workstations utilise NVIDIA Quadro M1000M graphics as standard. Offering 2GB of VRAM and 512


CUDA cores, NVIDIA M1000M cards are great for tasks like compositing and 3D visualisation, which will come in useful if you’re an artist who uses 3D renders in your Photoshop work, and they support DirectX, which is a staple of Windows 10. While graphics cards are most associated with gaming, they can do wonders for your design work and even enhance the way you work with photography – especially NVIDIA Quadro cards, which are intended for professionals. THE RIGHT DISPLAY FOR YOU With all this power, speed and professional software for your imagination to run wild with, it’s easy to overlook the screen on which you view your projects. Dell Precision 15 5000 Series workstations rock a super

sharp 3840x2160 4K resolution, and wideview 15.6” sized, LED-backlit screens. Whether you’re busily carving out intricate Alpha channels or creating pixel-perfect illustrations, you won’t find any old portable system sporting such a crystal-clear display – your best bet is upgrading to a workstation. As well as the screen that comes as standard with Precision Notebooks though, some designers might wish to invest in another monitor. The remarkable 4K screen on this workstation can be paired with another 4K display, like the 32” Dell UltraSharp UP316Q monitor, making your designs look as sharp as ever in the studio or on the move. This is just another option for an ambitious creative like you seeking the ultimate workstation setup.

Expert opinion: David Cousens The managing director of Cool Surface Ltd goes hands-on with the Dell Precision 15 5000 notebook

“Thanks to the hybridisation of laptops and tablets, I’m finding that workstations are giving creatives the best of both. I found that the Dell Precision 15 5000 Series workstation was powerful enough to tear through processes in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 like the ContentAware Fill without flinching, and Windows 10 brings productivity advantages like the Snap feature, which lets you snap up to four apps to corners of the screen. It’s brilliant for multi-tasking. I painted digitally, looked at references online and kept an eye on my emails and Twitter all on one screen. If you don’t have access to a second screen it avoids the distraction of switching between apps. “Cortana stores and learns from your feedback to try to pre-empt your needs the more often you use it, and works across all of your Windows 10 devices. Cortana

streamlines searches and locates apps for you; simply asking “Hey Cortana” saves plenty of time, which is great for any designer! “I also love the screen on this workstation; it looks constantly beautiful no matter which angle you view it from, which makes a huge difference when painting and image editing. You’ll never have to crane your head around or move the viewing screen like some laptops.”


Supercharge your design workflow

Unleash your creative potential today by upgrading to a professional workstation and Windows 10

Expert opinion: Andy Hau The founder of AHA Design Ltd experiences Windows 10

WINDOWS 10 The handy Snap feature,

INTEL XEON E3-1505M For professional-level

NVIDIA QUADRO M1000M Why settle for

ADOBE CC All this power means that your favourite apps will be up and running in seconds. On a workstation, Photoshop will run faster and more efficiently than you ever thought was possible.

Cortana’s upgraded functionality and DirectX 12 support are just some of the key features of the definitive Microsoft Windows experience.

only one display? Professional GPUs are more than capable of getting you up and running with multiple screens – perfect for any creative.

design work, you’re better off with a professionallevel brain for your system. Mobile Intel Xeons make working with high-res scenes a dream.

TIME SAVED More power and a more optimised operating system in Windows 10 make for a more efficient and, ultimately, far more productive Photoshop workflow – exactly what you need when you’re cropping and comping images, creating your own textures, illustrating vast landscapes, creating matte paintings and anything else your imagination could possibly think of. Why limit your creativity? By upgrading to a workstation, you’re opening the door to a whole world of design potential.

“At the dawn of the internet, in a magical time dominated by Tamagotchis and butterfly hairclips, there was only one type of computer that you were going to be loading your AOL free internet trial CD-Rom from: a Windows one. “Having not used a Windows product since I was 16 (so, a good few weeks!), the thing that struck me when I turned on the Dell Precision 15 5000 notebook was how familiar it was, despite an updated interface. The dedication to laser-pointed efficiency and goal-orientated working that made Windows so popular in the first place, is demonstrated by the ability to snap four things onto your screen at once – gone are the days of trying to find a specific window when you’ve got a thousand internet tabs open and say hello to a more streamlined and organised workflow. “Apart from giving you the ability to be deadly productive, the Dell Precision 15 5000 notebook is also incredibly powerful. This is demonstrated by the fact that the Liquify tool in Adobe Photoshop CC, which can sometimes take minutes to process on other systems, is almost instantaneous on the Dell Precision notebook. The Dell UltraSharp 32 Monitor, a gargantuan high-definition screen, which can be easily hooked up to the notebook, allows for more workspace but also made me feel completely immersed in the image I was working on in Photoshop CC. Perfectly lit, the screen never feels glary and therefore saves your eyes from being over-strained.


Portfolio interview

Distorting reality in Photoshop @FloraBorsi


How does Budapest-based Flora Borsi create such distinctive artwork and what are the influences behind this striking, surreal style?

lora Borsi has been featured in over a dozen exhibitions, won awards and even been featured on Photoshop’s opening splash screen. But despite this incredible success, she’s hungry for more and wants to “inspire my age to create instead of being lazy.” We asked Flora about her work.

Have you always been artistic?

I used to draw as a kid, and one day I saw my sister using Photoshop. I was totally amazed by its power. From that moment, I became addicted to the software. I spent years developing myself and learning techniques. It didn’t feel like working because I love it!

What kind of art inspires you?

Music, paintings, photography, digital art and nature. I love to listen to electronic music and classical. The emotion that I hear in music inspires my artwork. And I love surrealism in art. There are a lot of styles that I like to observe, and mix them all in to my own pieces.

A lot of your work centres on distortion of the self. Is there a message in these pieces?

I don’t really like reality. It’s boring for me, and so many artists before me have done pieces based on what they see. Often I’m trying to create images that look close to life, but not the life people know. Somehow, I want to show my world through my work.

Colour, or a lack of it, also seems to be important in your work

It’s very important; I don’t like vivid colours. I often use colour layers in Soft Light mode or Linear Burn. I love pastel colours and mixing warm and cold shades.

You’ve worked with Adobe as one of Photoshop’s 25 Artists Under 25. That must have been exciting!

Yes, it’s a huge success for me, and I’m proud to be one of these artists. I created a surreal image of a girl (myself) floating with balloons over New York. I used lightbulbs to evoke ‘ideas’ and the notion that with imagination, we can reach anything we want in art.

How did you create the image?

I just made it for myself; I had no idea that Adobe would contact me about the project. I wanted to express my thoughts about the relationship between photography and painting, and create an image in which it was difficult to tell painted elements from the real elements. A hyperrealist painter aims to achieve a result which looks like a real photographic picture. A pictorialist photographer’s desired result is visually equivalent to a painting. The photographs that I

used in this project are real, I’ve just applied some colour/toning effects, adjusted the contrast and made a few skin retouches. I think this series is one of my best.

Which other projects are you particularly proud of?

I was involved in the Bully Project Mural, an Adobe-commissioned idea in which 16 artists created a piece of artwork that formed part of a bigger, anti-bullying logo. I’ve also done work with Adobe over its Fuse 3D software, which I enjoyed a lot, as it opens a lot of opportunities for a newbie in 3D. It was fun to create without photography’s boundaries. You always have to catch exactly the right moment, but with 3D, it’s all about perfecting in the studio.

Are you overwhelmed with how successful you’ve become?

Deep in my heart I always hoped I’d be hugely successful but yes, I’m absolutely surprised. I’m trying to work on topics that people can relate to though, like economic changes, icons of the past, other people’s lives and beauty standards. I would like to inspire people to think on important causes and make them either smile or cry. Making people think and feel emotion: that’s what makes us human.

Which Photoshop tools do you use to create these effects?

Perhaps my most-used tool is the Brush, for masking, making shadows and working on hair and make-up. I often use Liquify too.

Any tips for using the Liquify tool? It’s a good tool to correct angles and perspective, or create something totally new and surreal, like distorting the whole face. I don’t use it to make a subject’s body thinner: that’s wrong. I fake reality with it, but that doesn’t mean I have to lie about the reality of the subject.


Detroit: “The city of Detroit has gone through major economic and demographic decline in recent decades. I found pictures from the previous century and combined them with pictures I took on my most recent visit to Detroit.”

Photoshop in Real Life: “This was part of a project imagining how Photoshop could alter our lives in the real world. Other images included use of the Patch tool and Puppet Warp.”

Recent artwork: “One of two pictures in my portfolio that were created in 2014. They were shot with a Canon EOS 7D camera and edited in Photoshop with the help of a Wacom Intuos tablet.”

All images © Flora Borsi

IRÉEL: “This is one of a series, mixing photographic elements with painting techniques. The idea was to blend the lines between what a hyperrealist painter and a pictorialist photographer aims to create. It was the splash screen for Photoshop CC 2014.”

The Bully Project Mural: Into Ashes: “In this project, I wanted to do something dramatic. My inspiration was my childhood. I wanted to create the essence of the destructive nature of verbal aggression in this photomanipulation.”

Photoshop 25 Under 25: “This was shot with a Canon EOS 40D camera and mastered in Photoshop. The original shot of New York was edited for the sunset feel, which gave the impression of the bulbs being illuminated.”



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Reader interview


Colour Spl ash

The making of Colour Splash

What goes into one of Shivam’s bright, mixedmedia compositions?




Shivam Thapliyal


Discover top tips on colour use and understand what makes a good Photoshop piece with Indian-based artist Shivam

ight years ago, 19-year-old Shivam started teaching himself how to use Photoshop, and now he creates work for other people. “I’ve started doing vector arts and implementing skills and techniques I’ve learned from websites,” he says. But where does Shivam’s inspiration come from? We caught up with him to find out.

How did your relationship with Photoshop begin and what do you enjoy creating most?

I first started using Photoshop at the age of 11, when I got a new PC with it installed. I just started exploring and taught myself. I especially like making grungy, colourful, watercolourbased artworks. I use bright colours in my artwork a lot, too.

How do you create such evocatively colourful work?

Well to finish, I always use a Color Balance layer to give the whole of my artwork an overall look. For example, whenever I create something colourful or watercolour-based, I make sure I always give it a pale yellow lookup at the end to

help make it look as though I’ve created the picture on paper.

That’s a great tip! What other techniques would you suggest to Photoshop beginners?

I’d say that observation is your biggest strength. Try observing everything around you. Try taking inspiration from websites and everything you come across. Try to ask yourself: “Why and how is this artwork so good? Is it colour, contrast or saturation?” Try improvising, as well.

Do you try and give messages to your pictures?

Not o‡en, but I like to use bright colours to signify joy or happiness in my artwork, and I like to use neon or flame effects to suggest Was t Onc power ore energy. I just like to keep my work Wha bright and high contrast! To see more of Shivam’s work, visit ShivamThapliyal

Start by sketching the subject onto a piece of paper, and then import it into Photoshop. For this particular image, I wanted to keep the drawn ‘paper and pencil’ feeling of the original image.

Embellish the sketch

With the outline finished, start to add grunge elements and paint splatters around the hair of the model. It gives the image a watercolour effect and an inky texture.

Build the effect

Now it’s a case of adding further colours to the image and altering the blend modes to make it more vivid and to give it a spilled, splattered, textured look.

Finishing touches

When it comes to finishing the image, I find it useful to add a pale yellow layer set to the Multiply blending mode at 84% Fill, which helps give it a paper and vintage look.





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