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Photoshop’s brushes are incredibly versatile and can be used to achieve a wide variety of results, but what we perhaps associate them with most is digital painting. This issue we explore some of the most common and also creative brushes that Photoshop has to offer. Whether or not digital painting comes naturally to you, there’s always something new to learn, so turn to p18 and check out our painting projects. This issue is also packed full of step-by-step tutorials on compositing creative portraits with layer masks, mixing media with filters, designing a logo and much more. Plus there are exciting advanced features as well as tutorials for Elements users. Remember to visit the FileSilo too, as you’ll find more than 1,000 free resources to download, including hundreds of brushes, in addition to textures, shapes, actions, a font and more!

Sarah Bankes Editor


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realistic fur with 24 Paint the Brush tool

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gallery 08 Trending Check out some of the most popular artwork that’s trending

gallery 10 Readers’ Have a look at what your fellow readers have been up to this issue

challenge 12 Readers’ A chance for you to win a Photoshop course or ArtRage 4

the studio 14 Inside We take a look behind the scenes of creative studio Zombie

Get the best out 18 Feature: of brushes

Learn which brushes are best for particular projects and styles

I Made 46 How See how Colin Anderson photographed and composited Pele

project 62 Resource Discover how to master wood block printing

focus 66 Project Mapping out Photoshop with

Layer up with the paint brush to create your own furry masterpiece

art with 30 Enhance layer masks

Embellish a portrait with layer masks, blend modes and more

a child’s 36 Draw book character

Create a character with beautiful texture using brushes and noise

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

textures, backgrounds, a font and more

a surreal scene 40 Build with layers

Use multiple layers to compose an extraordinary scenario

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

media with filters 48 Mix and more

Combine filters with blend modes, custom brushes and other tools

a stylish logo 54 Design Use layer styles, Smart Objects and the Pen tool to make a logo pop

a fun composition 58 Create with Liquify

Warp a new world into a head with the Liquify filter, layers and masks

Mexican artist Aldo Crusher

106 Reviews Nikon D500 camera and Filter Forge 5.0

interview 112 Portfolio Discover how Jack Crossing connects music with art



interview 114 Reader Tarek Hakeem shares his Photoshop secrets

Advanced Photoshop professional effects 68 Produce with filters

Start creating advanced effects with Photoshop’s built-in filters

product 74 Retouch photography

Take your studio shots to the next level with these top techniques


3D wooden letters 80 Make Achieve 3D letters that appear to be craed out of wood



Learn which brushes are best for particular projects and how to create certain styles







Elements creative focus: Make cars 88 Tool move with Speed Pan Master movement with Elements 15’s new option

art: Combine 96 Surreal filters and styles

Use filters and styles to create a scene inside a water droplet

art: Paint a project: Use 90 Creative 100 Digital watercolour city layer & clipping masks Design a band poster with masks, shapes and blending

Combine brushes with clipping masks and filters

edit: Replace Common problems 94 Photo 104 Q&A: textures in your photos in Elements Create a hybrid animal with a new and unique pattern

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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.

Adobe’s Inspiration Is and Student Show sites, as well as Wacom’s gallery, have featured Christi’s beautiful work. We particularly love the incredible detail he manages to create in fairly sparse pieces like this.

Adam’s image is one of five posters commissioned by Adobe for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. We love how Adam has used custom brushes and particles to bring out the lion from its background; it certainly makes for a classy and well-adjusted finish.

Christi du Toit

This was created as part of a group project where each illustrator was given a letter of the alphabet to interpret however they liked. Photoshop is my weapon of choice; this was drawn from the ground up in Photoshop, using custom brushes. When it comes to branding, taking an image is only half the job. Brandlab has nearly 180,000 views on Behance, and the adjustments on this dog image are an example of how to get the best out of animal photography in Photoshop.

Adam Spizak

Adjustment layers and colour correction in Adobe Photoshop were key for this image; I was able to add contrast and correct imperfections, resulting in a clearer and sharper image. All the particles and dust were also created using brushes, set to the Screen mode.


This was an image used to renovate a brand of dog food in Peru. We worked hard to ‘humanise’ the dog’s expression in Photoshop with filters, and the orange background was created with a gradient to set the brand apart from competition.


A featured artist of Savannah College of Art and Design and AIGA, Karim’s command of colour is fantastic. This masterful composition shows just what you can do with stock images, brushes and a big imagination.

Rafa Goicoechea

This project was commissioned by Yorokobu magazine, with the only requirement of the image being that I had to use the title of the magazine. I used perspective tools, construction elements and vivid colours to bring it to life.

Karim Fakhoury

‘Ancient Future’ is quite a simple-looking composition with a unique central focal point. Using Photoshop and a Wacom tablet, I was able to blend pictures and digital paint to create a poetic scenery surrounded by an ambient atmosphere rich in colour.

Rafa has had over 330,000 views on Behance, and it’s clear to see why. His original take on typography is fresh and colourful; an inspiration to any illustrator looking to conquer the Pen tool.

Looking at how sophisticated it is now, it’s easy to forget that Photoshop started as a photo editor. Yijiang’s stunning image of Shanghai is a great reminder of Camera Raw’s capabilities, and was recently featured by Behance as a result.

Yijiang Wu

This photograph was taken in Shanghai during 2013, and portrays the incredible urbanisation of this metropolis. I did some basic adjustments in Photoshop’s Camera Raw, and refined details with the Brush tool to give it a surreal look.


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:

Sulaiman Almawash www.photoshopcreative. almawash

Image of the issue When I photographed this bird, I loved the overlapping colours of the feathers and the wings. The idea then came to me to use brushes and paint-stock photos to execute this look for a Photoshop project!

Murilo Henrique www.photoshopcreative. Henrique

I had the idea with this image to create a bear being carried away by the river, and to create a natural environment that was vibrant with adjustment layers. The movie The Jungle Book inspired this a lot.


Uillsam Cavalcante

This took six hours to complete. I merged multiple images from different angles, but with very similar lighting; I used Dodge, Burn, Color Balance and Unsharp to get the lightness, peace and tranquillity of this picture.

Alexandre Perez www.photoshopcreative.

Brushes, blend modes and filters were key in creating this image. It was finished off with a gradient map to unify the colours a little, and was created as a study into how to work with the elements.

Randy Monteith

This project is over 80 layers. Brushes were used to cut out parts of the model’s face, and a small amount of drop shadow was added to each layer. The wooden texture and Levels adjustment were both added later.

Tom Cornish

I created this by merging three images together in Photoshop that I’d taken in the same place. The first was of the man in bed, the second a cloud made of cotton wool, and the third was water squeezing out of a sponge.



Upload your images to

We challenged you with these In Issue 145, 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.

Challenge entries The best entries and overall challenge winner

s’ r e d Reaallenge Ch INNER W

1 Mark Furlong Archer at Sunset The archer from the supplied photos was given a new outfit for this image, and the bow and arrow was worked on. The sky was also used in the background behind the castle.

2 Alex Coleman Lone Survivor This image is of a survivor in a zombie apocalypse. The main images used are of course of the girl and the car behind, but the sky has also been manipulated and used in the background.

3 Brian Naylor Night Time Ride I used all the images and cut out what I wanted, recoloured the sky and added a moon and lighting. I darkened copies of the woman and car to make shadows, and used adjustment layers for the overall effect.

4 Andre van Graan The Watcher I brought the model’s eyes in line with the head in a more upright position. I did a bit of skin retouching, and used filters, textures and adjustments to blend them into the final image.

2 12




WORTH £495!

Highlander Photoshop course This issue, one lucky entrant will win a Photoshop course from Highlander! This is a great chance for a Photoshop user of any level to polish their skills and learn something new. The course is available to take in London or York (UK), and will be valid for 12 months. Check out the website for more info: photoshop-training


WORTH £495!


This issue’s challenge

Think you can do better? Prove it! 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 www. and simply hit the Challenge link. Closing date: 5 Jan 2017.

Three lucky runners-up, along with the winner, will receive a copy of ArtRage 4 for Windows or Mac! This software is fantastic for natural paint effects and works well as a creative companion to Photoshop for digital artists.

WORTH $49.90! 13

Inside the studio

Zombie Studio Set up in Paulo Garcia’s mantra, Zombie is a hardworking, ambitious studio that focuses on the details


here’s nothing uncommon about artists and designers seeking perfection, and the best pieces of artwork are often the ones that take longest. In a studio though, it’s only natural that most of your career is spent working against the clock, and the meticulous nature of an artist can be compromised. This is something Zombie Studio fights against. “We pursue perfection, trying to do everything better than the briefing we receive,” says Paulo Garcia, co-founder of Zombie Studio. “Our beliefs and values have helped Zombie Studio to achieve the recognition that we have today. We never deviate from our beliefs and values.” Zombie Studio’s unwavering commitment to perfection has won the São Paulo-based group respect from all corners of the design community, including awards from Cannes Lions Festival and Cúspide Creativity Festival. Paulo Garcia originally conceived the idea to start the studio to do things his way, and has led with that mantra ever since. Paulo previously worked at Y&R Brazil alongside art director Tomás Lorente, and together the pair of them spent long nights working hard on campaigns. Paulo claims that the dedication paid off, as new clients would be so impressed by the attention and detail in their portfolio that they’d want to work with them. Immersed in such a hard-working environment and surrounded by the talented Tomás and his team, Paulo became influenced by this kind of approach, which eventually led him to starting his own team in this image. “Zombie Studio was created based on my frustration as an art director spending hours trapped in an endless process of approvals, and not focusing on each campaign’s details,” says Paulo. “It led me to open my studio where I could gather a dream team and dedicate more time to layouts, compositions and visual solutions for each piece we were working on.” Together with Natália Gouvêa, Paulo’s partner both in business and at home, the pair built the company into what it is today. “Natália brought a creative expertise of management and production to the studio of which I had no knowledge,” Paulo adds. Since then, Zombie has grown steadily with Paulo describing most of the studio’s output as “creating and designing characters.


ABOUT THE STUDIO Zombie Studio Zombie is a creative studio that integrates several disciplines in the production of images and animations for clients around the world. The studio has been awarded at many festivals throughout its existence.

Paulo Garcia Co-founder & Chief Creative

Natália Gouvêa Co-founder & Chief Creative

A day in the life of Paulo Sampaio What’s life like working at Zombie?

Arrive in


We arrive at work and have coffee and something to eat. This is just before the work really begins.

Feedback from production


I ask the manager about what we’re working on and what the deadlines are. We go from table to table giving feedback about works that are starting or going to be delivered.

Start work


If I’m going to work on an already-started job, I will search for music that helps me to concentrate and try to keep the previous day’s rhythm. However, if it’s a day to start a new project, I look for inspiration and references on Pinterest or from artistic communities.



It’s time to have lunch. Zombie is located in a region full of many restaurants and bars, and it is easy to find a good one; we can always find new restaurants in this neighbourhood.

Get back to work


I check in again with the project manager about what I’m working on. On some days, I test alternative methods to do a project; other days, I just continue with what I was doing.

Talk budgets


We gather the budgets that arrived to discuss the deadlines and technical solutions. This step occurs in 95 per cent of the Zombie jobs.


I go back to the production, where I finish my work day at 7pm. At some point in the afternoon, Zombie supplies snacks and on Friday, beers!

© Zombie Studio



Inside the studio

TOP 5 TIPS 1. Evaluate and decide on what you want to do before you start Before beginning work in Photoshop, it’s important to look at what you want to achieve. Make sketches and write down ideas of the direction you’re looking to go in. Think of the mood that you want to give and think of how you’re going to convey that. 2. For the best images, make sure you don’t forget to focus on light and shade Lighting and shading is oen the most important aspect of a Photoshop composition. It’s really important to align every element in a picture to make sure that nothing is underexposed and that the light is consistent across the image. 3. Absolutely everything you do counts Time is never wasted when you’re working on a picture. It’s easy to get disheartened when things aren’t going the way you want them to, but remember that the longer you spend on something, the better it will end up being.

5. Sometimes less is more It’s a rule of minimalism that less is more, but in lots of other cases, leaving less in the picture can give more focus elsewhere. Conveying simple ideas can oen be the most powerful, so it’s important to have a strong focus.

At work: Most of the employees at Zombie all sit around the same table for ease of communication

“Through the years, we’ve had an incredible number of interesting jobs. Most focused on character work, from conception to design, but recently we have had an amazing amount of work from the automotive industry. We have a long list of clients now; we care about them all and it means a lot that they want to put so much trust into Zombie Studio.” Some projects are more special than others though, and recent project Dream is one that Paulo is most proud of. Viewed over 14,000 times on Behance and featured by the website, it feels extremely relevant to the modern world, as Dream manages to convey an environmental message through the studio’s inimitable style. “Dream was created for WCFF in partnership with DDB NY. This film shows four animal species in their habitats and how human interference alters the path of life and dreams,” he says. “The animation is extremely emotional and has been successful in making us rethink our actions on the planet that we share with other beings. This film featured a


© Zombie Studio

4. Use tools subtly Use Photoshop’s tools with caution. Don’t try and overdo everything: remember that most images won’t need to use every tool or feature. Creating amazing work that is also subtle is one of the most difficult things to do.

Cobra: This image was created for a car campaign, and used a lot of photo-compositing

massive use of Photoshop, from illustrators who created the entire film conceptually, illustrating the characters, to the scenarios of this story as well as the post-production, which was generated in matte-painted backgrounds and scenes.” It may seem surprising that for a studio like Zombie, which is so focused on character design and creating animations, Photoshop is key for the team. But Paulo claims that the whole of the program is useful to him. “Today, all creations at some point are made with Photoshop,” he says. “Photoshop is a wonderful, versatile program that allows artists to showcase their creations. If asked about their favourite tools, illustrators would probably cite the painting tools; retouchers, the image-editing tools; photographers, the tools to adjust colour… I prefer to highlight the full Photoshop program.” Paulo has a strong faith in Photoshop and recommends that any ambitious Photoshop user should just continue working with the software, and watch other users to learn more about it. In fact, he says it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the program that well at all: it’s all about the references that you have. “By observing other professionals working, you will discover and understand that there are many ways to do the same thing in Photoshop,” he says. “It’s hard for me to list specific tools that are my favourite or that I use the most. This is the most interesting

thing about the program for me; it does not work as a logical line of code but rather as an open environment where you can achieve anything in a number of ways.” Zombie Studio itself may focus on a large range of clients, styles and briefs, but this is exactly what Paulo was influenced by when he set up the company. “I have always had a very eclectic admiration for different types of approaches to art, ranging from art direction and design to photography, and following in this line to illustrators and digital artists,” he claims. With such a high work ethic, it’s unlikely that Paulo and the team will stop for a breather any time soon. “We also offer animation as a service, and we want to produce the same quality,” he says. “We are a group of professionals passionate about what we do, producing works with a wealth of details that catch the viewers’ eyes, wherever they are.” It’s an extremely ambitious next step but no doubt an achievable one, looking at what Zombie has already accomplished.

The office: Each employee works on a Mac and has a tablet to use with their work

Mollie’s Fund campaign How did Zombie Studio go from 3D rendering to working on this image in Photoshop?

The 3D render


Curves and correcting


Here, using correction curves, we were able to reach the result we wanted on the skin, especially with the lighting of both the elements and the background, as well as inserting a shadow of contact between the skin and the floor to support the objects in the image.

Re-correct the lighting


At this stage we again corrected the colour of the composition, enhancing the effect of the burning skin, and worked a lot on the general illumination of the piece. It is important to keep working on lighting to get it perfect.

© Zombie Studio

After the 3D development of the monster and skin, this is the result that we achieved in rendering before the image was even brought into Photoshop. The idea behind the image was to dramatise what could be happening beneath your skin.

Working on the monster


In this picture, we noticed that we had carried the corrections applied in the previous stage on the skin to the monster, thus changing its light and exposure. We corrected this and added detailing around the monster. We used pieces of volcanic lava from image banks, too.

Build the image further

Finishing touches



We added small flakes, bringing the feeling that the fire is still present around the monster. At this stage we worked on the hairs, making them more organic, in addition to increasing the lava tongue. We noticed that the burned edges were a bit exaggerated, so we softened the effect.

Here we corrected general details, adding fire to our monster. With this, we corrected the colours to integrate the fire into the composition. We also added small spots of smoke spreading on the skin, to increase the tension of the scene and finally create the result we were looking for.





Learn which brushes are best for particular projects and how to create certain styles


hen it comes to Photoshop’s brushes, there are so many options available, it’s hard to know which brush is best for which style of art. Knowing when to use hard brushes instead of soft brushes comes with practice, and sometimes experimenting with brushes you wouldn’t usually use is the best way to discover their capabilities and produce unique effects. If you want to create a certain style, like a watercolour portrait or airbrushed effects for example, it’s worth exploring some of Photoshop’s more creative brushes.

Over the next few pages, we’re going to showcase some of Photoshop’s most exciting brushes, in addition to teaching you how to master certain painterly effects. You’ll discover how blend modes can be crucial to bringing painted pieces together, and also how other Photoshop tools work in harmony with brushes to produce the best results. On the FileSilo Download the start images and additional Download your free brushes from the FileSilo, but also make sure resources at www.filesilo. you experiment with your own images.








Discover how powerful popular brushes are, such as the hard and soft brushes.

Experiment with various brushes to build up pencil-style artwork and draw in details.

Learn the benefits of using dual brushes and blend modes to create different textures.

Instantly enhance skin by applying brushes to the shadow and highlight areas.

Use drip brushes, splatter brushes and airbrushes to add creativity to a portrait.

MULTIPLY AND OVERLAY Multiply and Overlay blend modes are a great way to increase your artwork’s contrast. On separate layers, set to Multiply and Overlay respectively, apply dark blue to the bushes’ shadows, and a warm yellow to the highlights. Lower the opacity until the contrast is just right.

Draw with hard brushes Use a hard rounded brush at 25-30px to draw the outlines of your characters. Sketch them on one layer, and once you’re done, lower the layer’s Opacity to 30% and below. Create a new layer above it, select a dark brown from your palette, and draw over your sketch below with your brush set to 20-25px. Make sure your brush has pressure sensitivity selected. This will give you greater control of the thickness of the lines as you draw. Try to apply thick lines to big objects, like the owl’s wings, and softer lines to delicate things, like the mouse’s fur.

Shade with soft brushes A good way to begin shading is to use a big, soft airbrush (500px+) with 20-40% Opacity, and a dark colour to sketch in the shadowed areas. You don’t have to be specific; worrying about details this early on will hinder you later. Use a brown colour to make the owl’s feathers appear soft and voluminous. Use this technique to sketch in the shadows in the water, the bushes behind the owl, as well as the shadow it casts on the grass. Use this same brush, set to Overlay, to apply highlights using a warm yellow.

Apply grass and leaves brushes For the grass, start by arranging a palette of various greens. Be sure you have dark, mid and light tones. Use the Hard Round brush in the Default Photoshop Brush set, and a midtone to sketch in your grass first. Fill out the detail around the edges with the Grass and Dune Grass brushes to give it texture. Using the same brush, switch your colour to the darker and lighter tones for the shadows and highlights. Do the same for the fauna behind the owl, using the Scattered Leaves and Maple Leaves brushes. Add some blues to emphasise shadows, and yellows for sunlight.

Adjust angle and roundness To shade the characters, use a Hard Round brush set to 35px+ and 90 Angle, and select Transfer in the Brush window. Select a light and dark brown. Use the dark brown to sketch in big, soft shadows first, then shape them by selecting the lighter brown and drawing over them. Use a smaller brush and cross-hatching motions to make the harder shadows.

Use spacing and scattering Use the Watercolour Small brush with high Spacing, Scattering and Transfer for contrast and texture. Alter the Angle of the brush until it looks like several jagged lines. Take a light blue, and sketch over the surface of the water. This will create shimmering highlights, give your water some contrast and define the light source.





Add highlights To apply highlights to your strokes, use a white Flat Angle Low Bristle Count brush, set brush Spacing to 1%, and brush on a layer above your coloured paint brush layer. Set this layer’s blending mode to Soft Light. We want these white brush strokes to only affect the lighter parts of the area, so right-click and open Blending Options. Under the Blend-If section, drag the black slider of the Underlying Layer across to the right side to target only light areas. Repeat this step to build up layers of highlights if necessary.

Build up paint by going over your brush strokes with other colours and see them get mixed together to achieve vibrant and complex-looking marks.

Blend colours First, source a picture of an actual painting. Open up the image, click and hold down on the Brush tool to activate the drop-down menu and select Mixer Brush tool. With a large Hard Round brush, Alt/ Option click on the part of the painted picture you wish to sample. Now change the brush type to Oil Medium Wet Flow, brush Spacing to 1%, check Shape Dynamics and set Size Jitter Control to Pen Pressure. Check Texture. Apply your brush stroke and see the colours mix. Use the same brush at a very small size to mask away the edges to make them look nice and rough. APPLY A FILTER Apply the Glowing Edges ďŹ lter (Filter>Filter Gallery>Style>Glowing Edges). Invert the image (Cmd/Ctrl+I) and set to Multiply. Set the stock layer to Multiply so the beige shows through.

Before GETTING STARTED Colour your document with beige (#E5DCC5). Aer removing the model from her background, desaturate the image (Image>Adjustments>Desaturate) then brighten it with Levels (Image>Adjustments>Levels).

Producesketcheffects The start photo and brushes for this pencil-style image are on the FileSilo. With the Brush tool, fill in areas to refine, like her clothes. Sketch out the basic areas of hair. To draw in each hair ine, mask out her original hair, start drawing large areas and then create smaller sections in each area. Once finished, use the Flat Charcoal brush to brush over and mask out the flatter parts of her hair. Create a new layer for small details. With the Small Sketch brush, add subtle shading or hatching lines to the pre-shaded areas of her face, hair and clothing. To make it look ike it has been shaded with a pencil, create a new layer under the sketch layer and use a large Flat Charcoal brush to block in areas for shading like the roots, tips and folds of her hair and olds of clothes. Create a layer mask on your shading layer. Use a smaller Flat Charcoal brush, mask out the areas with too much shading. Create a layer for highlights. Use the Flat Charcoal brush with a light colour and draw in highlighted areas on her face. To create the washed, inky tattoo effect, experiment with the Free Inky brush on the FileSilo.

Create texture Once you’re satisfied with the shading on the rocks and ruins, keep your dark colour selected and prepare a wide (500px+) Rough Round Bristle brush set to Multiply, but keep the Opacity very low (10% or under). Click the ruins layer’s Preserve Transparency icon, and lightly paint over the area to create subtle aged-stone texture.

Shaping branches


Use a soft, angled brush at 20-25px to sketch in the tree’s flat colours. The small brush size will help to shape the thin tree’s branches, and the Angle setting will help when drawing the tree at an angle.

Work on shadows, details and highlights


Reduce the brush size to 10-15px, the Opacity to 40%, and select a darker brown. Use this brush to lightly draw in the shadows and details in the tree’s bark. Use a lighter brown to add highlights.

This fruit glows somehow


Select a golden yellow, increase your brush size to 20px, Opacity at full, and sketch in the fruit. Add the glow effect by using an Airbrush with the Opacity set to 20%, Overlay mode, and paint lightly around the fruit.

Select blend modes

Use dual brushes

Altering the blend mode for the Brush tool helps to achieve realistic effects. Here we used Multiply for shadows in the ruins; Overlay to make the fruit glow; Soft Light and Screen for the sky. For something subtle, apply texture using the Soft Light blend mode. Create a new layer above your flat colours, right-click>Create Clipping Mask, and set it to Soft Light. Use a wide (300px+) Rough Round Bristle brush with light Opacity (50% and below), and make sure Transfer via Pen Pressure is applied in Brush Settings. This will allow you to gently brush in some subtle texture to the rocks and ruins. Deepen the shadows with a small, round brush at full opacity.

Select a large (200px), Round brush with the Oil Pastel Large brush applied via the Dual Brush setting. Set the blend mode to Multiply. Notice how your normal Round brush now has textures applied to it. This is great for creating texture within a contained space: it enables you to have a lot of control. Use this to paint rocks, ruins and tree branches that are textured from the moment you start painting. To apply texture later on, use the same settings above, but lower the Opacity to 50-60%. Use this to paint shadows on solid objects, like the ruins, to give them a rough edge.



BRUSHES CLOUD COLOURS Colour selection is key when painting clouds with the Brush tool. Pick colours from the source photo as a starting point.

Paint clouds Start by building up a dark base with a soft round Airbrush at 30% Opacity, with a variety of dark shades. Add texture and detail with textured brushes. Photoshop’s Chalk brush is a good place to start; in the Brushes panel add in some Angle, Size and Opacity Jitter to create randomised cloud-effect brush strokes. Next, use lighter shades to add some midtones. Consider the density of the cloud; make it lighter around the edges, but heavier at the bottom. On a new layer set to Overlay, use pale yellow to add rim lighting with a small round Airbrush.

Light up with brushes A glowing light effect can be achieved with the Brush tool and blend modes. First enhance the brightness of each light; create a new layer and set the blend mode to Color Dodge. Use a Soft Round brush to paint over each light using a colour to complement it. Next, on a new layer set to Screen and 30% Opacity, use an Airbrush large enough to create a glow extending outwards from the light and, with the same colours as before, tap over each light.

Retouch faces with brushes Whenever we use brushes to retouch skin, it is absolutely essential to be subtle with the application of pixels. The aim is to avoid losing skin texture, and more importantly skin tone. The easiest way to achieve this is to create two layers; one for highlight control and the other to control shadows. In Photoshop, create your two layers and set the blend modes to Lighten and Darken for each. On the Lighten layer, use a small Round brush set to a low 10% Opacity and 0% Hardness to paint over the shadows under eyes and around the nose, for example. Be sure to sample a lighter skin tone for these areas. For any bright speckles, or overexposed areas on the face, switch to the Darken layer and use the same brush, but this time sampling a darker skin tone. By brushing over the highlights with a skin tone that’s darker than what is already Create a skin brush Make a circular selection around an area of there, along with the good skin, go to Select>Modify>Feather and combination of the set to 10px in order to soen the edge. Go Darken blend mode, it to Edit>Define Brush Preset and save the means that skin selection as a new brush tip. Now go into your Brush Preset menu and highlights can be locate the brush tip you’ve reduced and balanced. just saved.

LIGHTEN UP SHADOWS Be sure to use a low-opacity brush when lightening the shadow regions, and build up the effect gradually. You can always lower the opacity of the layer as well.



DIM DOWN HIGHLIGHTS The highlights on the skin have been controlled separately to the shadows using a different layer. Sample a skin tone that’s close to the area being altered for best results.


Advanced brush blending As you build up layers of brushes with So Light or Overlay blend modes, it can get too dark to the point of areas being black. Soen this by using the Blend-If slider. Alt/Option to split and drag the Black slider to the right to restrict blending only to lighter areas.

INTRODUCE PHOTO Import ‘cityscape.jpg’ and set the layer blend mode to Overlay over your splatter layers. This will create a futuristic neon lightlooking city as your background.

Splatter brushes Download the Splatter brushes from www. Stamp around the centre of the canvas. Set the colours to yellow, green, dark blue, dark red and hot pink using Color Overlay under Blending Options. Load ‘PE_Splatter brushes.abr’ from the FileSilo and continue building the colours with the UFHO_blob brushes. Use black blob brushes with Soft Light blend modes to darken areas, and white blob brushes to lighten areas.

Drip brushes Download the Drip brushes from www. Select the brushes Spray 8,9,10 with drips using #000066 and stamp it onto the canvas as a background. Repeat with different hues of dark purples and blues, and set the blend mode to Soft Light. This will help blend the drips with the spray brushes. Layer these brushes on the face using a white drip brush and set the layer blend mode to Soft Light.

Airbrushes CONTOURING Use Airbrushes to brush in white highlights and dark shadows of the face. Set the layer blend mode to So Light to give the face more depth.

Select Airbrush Soft Round, 50% Flow. Stamp the brush around the forehead. Apply a Gradient Overlay, #663399 on the left slider, #ff3366 on the middle, #ff9966 on the right slider. Check Reverse and set Style to Radial. Group this layer and set the group blend mode to Lighten. Repeat with different colours to create soft colour transitions with Photoshop’s Airbrush.

Create smoke brushes For an interesting edge effect, make your brushes look smokey. Go into your Brush palette and first select a Soft Round brush at 400px, with Spacing set to 20%. Tick Shape Dynamics. Set Angle Jitter to 70%, Roundness Jitter to 63%, and Minimum Roundness to 25%. Tick Dual Brush and select the Soft Round, with Size set to 116px, Spacing: 25%, Scatter to 330%, and Count to 1. Tick Color Dynamics and set Saturation Jitter to 6%, Brightness Jitter to 8% and Purity to -6%. Apply the brush on a new layer set to Normal blend mode, Opacity: 90%, to create a smoke effect, sampling colours from the image.

SMOKE HIGHLIGHTS To add depth and contrast to the smoke, add another layer above the smoke, set it to Overlay blend mode, and continue brushing on highlights.


Tutorial Paint realistic fur with the Brush tool


Show us your digital paintings Search for photoshopcreative 736 Dreamstime: ID 9065 © Holly Kuchera

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

Essentials Works with




Whatyou’lllearn How to use the Brush tool alongside adjustment layers and filters

Time taken 2-3hours

Exper Jenni Sanders “I’ve always loved to draw with pencils and paper, but when I discovered the Undo command in digital drawing, I was converted. Painting in Photoshop holds almost no limitations and is very forgiving of mistakes! “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.”

Start images

Paint realistic fur with the Brush tool Layer up with the paint brush to create your very own furry masterpiece from scratch!


ome of the coolest animals have fur, so it’s time to step up your skill level and have a go at creating realistic paintings of our furry friends. Unfortunately, there is no real ‘quick’ way of drawing fur. Fur brushes, plug-ins and filters can come close but for the best effect, the only process is just to get to grips with the paint brush and get stuck in! The more you practise painting elements like fur, the better, especially if you start off using real-life photographs as references. This tutorial explains how to set up Photoshop to have your canvas and

Get your base image

Create an outline



Download the wolf image from Dreamstime (ID: 9065736). Open it in Photoshop and increase the image size to bigger than you’ll need (if your computer can handle it) via Image>Image Size. This helps you to draw small details that look great when the image is shrunk back down.

the photograph side-by-side, preventing you from simply tracing – a good way to help you learn quicker. Using photos enables you to see the imperfections that sometimes you’ll miss if going from imagination, not to mention the fact that they are perfect colour references. Using the Eyedropper tool, you’re going to create a swatch selection within the canvas to speed up your workflow and keep some consistency throughout the painting. Small, low-opacity brushes are going to be your friend, not to mention a bit of patience for which you will be rewarded.

Create a new layer with Cmd/ Ctrl+Shift+N. Using your favourite method of selection, make an outline around the wolf. Here the Pen tool is used to draw paths, then right-click>Make Selection. Try to capture the main shapes of the fur, but don’t get hung up on the small hairs.

Fill your base layer


With your selection active and while on your new layer, use the Eyedropper tool (I) to select a main colour from the image and fill your selection with the Bucket tool (G). Create a new layer (Cmd/ Ctrl+Shift+N) above.


Tutorial Paint realistic fur with the Brush tool Expert tip Adding highlights Your highlight colour should be used sparingly. In this image, the highlight colour is the same as the wolf’s lightest fur – never use pure white, as it doesn’t appear in real life. Aside from the light fur, highlights only appear on the eyes and nose, as they are shiny surfaces that reflect light. Use a low-opacity small brush and build up in a few strokes to make sure the edges are so and you can still see some of the original colour coming through.

Organise your window Sketch basic outlines


Set your base layer to 50% Opacity so you can see the photo underneath. On your new top layer, select the Brush (B). Make it really small and roughly sketch in the main features of the wolf, such as the eyes, nose, ears and main fur lines.


Create a new layer and drag it beneath your base layer. Pick the Eyedropper tool (I) and select some colours from the photo reference: lightest shade, darkest shade and a few in between. Draw blobs of these colours so you can easily select them later.


Using your selected colours, start to paint thick strokes around basic colour areas in general fur directions all around the wolf. Don’t worry about being too accurate at this stage; just capture the basics using the photo as a reference.


From now on, the photo will be a reference only. To keep it visible, right-click the photo layer and select Duplicate Layer. From the bottom dropdown menu, select New. Your photo canvas should appear as a new tab. Go to Window> Arrange>2-up-Vertical.

Set up your brush

Get your colours ready

Paint in basic shades



Create a new layer above the base layer. Right-click> Create Clipping Mask. This will keep your strokes inside the wolf shape. Select the Brush (B), setting it to 70-80% Hardness, 50% Opacity and 20% Flow. You can adjust these numbers when it suits later on.

Add lighter tones


Lower the opacity of your brush and go back over the wolf, this time adding more of the lighter tones. Fill in areas like the right-hand side, where the photo is brightest, and the snout. Begin to add in some basic highlights on the nose with a much smaller brush.

Blend the colours


Using lower Opacity and Flow settings, begin blending in shades by painting over them multiple times. Define the darker areas now; shadows under the chin and in front of the ears. Give the wolf as much shape as you can.

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Set up the brush


When you’re happy with the basic tone and shades of your wolf, it’s time to add the fur. This is time consuming, but rewarding. Make your brush very small. If you have a graphics tablet, turn on Pen Pressure as the Control in Brush Settings (F5)>Shape Dynamics.

Continue drawing fur

Draw fur


Create a new layer and make sure it’s a clipping mask just above the colour layer. Begin to patiently draw fur lines in between the eyes and on the forehead. Use the reference photo to guide you as to the direction and length of the fur.


Using the same colours as earlier, continue drawing fur on the head. Pay close attention to the direction, especially around the ears. Notice where the fur splits into different directions and replicate this. Try not to adjust the size of your brush as the hairs should all be the same thickness.

Add final fur details

Paint the body fur


The fur on the body is much longer, thicker and messier than the head. To try and imitate this, increase your brush size slightly and paint in rough fur areas. These will be the base to help achieve greater depth later on.


Go back to your small brush and add in all the small strokes to help make the body look a bit more fur-like, remembering again that fur changes direction. You may have to add in your own details depending on the aspect ratio of your canvas versus the reference.

Start the eyes


Zoom in to the eyes. Using a lowopacity brush, ‘eye drop’ colours from the reference and paint in the iris. Also with the low-opacity brush, build up the black around the eyes and some shadow on the iris from the eyelids. Don’t forget to add some small highlights.

Create some intensity

Sketch in whiskers



Because it’s a drawing, you can enhance real life! Add some more intense amber colours to the keys, creating more contrast around the edges and a brighter centre to the iris.

On a new layer, sketch in some whiskers roughly and quickly in single brush strokes. There is a mix of black and white whiskers off the snout, so get a good mix in. Keep your brush pretty small.


Tutorial Paint realistic fur with the Brush tool

Soften the edges


Duplicate the original base layer. Select the bottom copy and go to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur. Set the Method to Zoom and the Amount to 10. Hit OK. Select the top copy and repeat; this time have Zoom set to 5.

Add Curves adjustments


Create two Curves adjustment layers via the Black/White circle at the bottom of the Layers panel. In one, drag the middle of the curve up to lighten everything. Fill the layer mask with black. On the other, drag the middle of the curve down to darken. Fill the layer mask with black.

Apply extra effects

Finish it off



Add any extra adjustment layers you like. For example, here a Levels layer was used for extra contrast; a Curves layer with a reversed Blue curve and a flat Green curve set to Soft Light, 20% Opacity; and a stamped layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+E) desaturated (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+U) and set to Soft Light, 17% Opacity.

Enhance using layer masks


Use the layer masks of the Curves adjustment layers to add in extra highlights and shadows that you didn’t quite achieve with the earlier painting. Use a relatively large brush with 50-60% Opacity.

Delete any layers you no longer need, such as the colour swatches and the reference image, if you still have it in your canvas. Go to the top base layer, right-click and select Blending Options. Add a soft Outer Glow with 21% Opacity, Spread: 0 and Size: 103. BLENDING INTO PAINTING The Motion Blur and Outer Glow should help the image to blend in to the background. If not, use a layer mask on the base layer for final tweaks.

Take it further Add a background ADD BLUR


Give the impression of depth of field by adding blur. Go to Filter>Blur and pick Box, Gaussian or Lens Blur, and adjust as necessary.

Depending on the background image, you may have to adjust the colours to match the wolf. Use a Hue/Saturation layer for this and play with the sliders until you’re happy.

CHANGE ANY TIME Don’t flatten your image – save a layered copy so that you can change your background image at any time.


FIND AN IMAGE Download the background image provided or find your own and add it into the Photoshop document. Drag it below all the other layers.

ADJUSTING THE BRIGHTNESS A shallow depth of field means a wide aperture; this oen means the background is quite bright. Brighten the background with a Levels layer, dragging the white pointer le.

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Tutorial Enhance art with layer masks On the FileSilo

Start image

Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Works with




What you’ll learn Enhance a portrait with nature using masks, filters and blend modes

Time taken

2 hours

Expert Andre Villanueva “Layering images and textures onto a portrait are the top two things I like to do in Photoshop. I’m drawn to visuals of humanity infused with nature. I’m strapped to technology for most of my waking hours so I daydream of a tech-free world. “I discovered Photoshop when studying web design. I’m now art director for a tech company, soothing my inner instructor by sharing techniques with readers.”

En art with layer masks Imbue a portrait with insectile elegance using layer masks, blend modes and the potent Displace filter


magine a world stripped of technology, swirling with mystical power and overrun with fauna and flora. The human natives have been subjected to so much nature that they are actually merging with it. Take the majestic specimen here. Her skin has adopted the patterns of a moth’s wings. In this tutorial, you’ll re-create this unification of nature and woman with filters, masks and blend modes. You’ll call upon the powerful Displace filter to aid in tattooing the moth-wing patterns onto the woman’s face. Displace utilises a displacement map; a copy of the surface on which the texture will be applied. The affected layer will bend and

Select the model

Refine the selection

Clean up the selection




Open ‘Model.psd’ from the FileSilo. Use the Quick Selection tool to select the model. Resize the brush with the [ and ] keys. To remove from the selection, hold Option/Alt while using the tool. Continue until you get a decent selection.


warp per the curves and creases of the map. Use a layer mask and the Overlay blend mode to make the merge even more convincing. Then, to push the nature theme, you’ll place and situate a flower, bird and spattering of butterflies with a combination of masks and Free Transform. You’ll apply Unsharp Mask and Gaussian Blur to merged layers to help ensure areas are either emphasised or pushed to the periphery. Fine-tune the balance with masks. After completing the tutorial, use the techniques learned to create all manner of interesting and beautiful merges.

Go to Select>Select and Mask (non-CC: Refine Edge). Paint with the Refine Edge Brush (non-CC: Refine Radius tool) along the edges of the hair to fine-tune. Resize the brush with the [ and ] keys. When done, set Output To to Layer Mask. Click OK.

(Elements: Click mask). Using the Brush tool and a Soft Round brush, paint black to hide and white to restore areas. Use the Zoom tool to get up close. Adjust brush size/opacity as needed. Decrease/ increase brush hardness with the { and } keys.

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nce art with layer masks

Smooth the skin

Colour the lips



Create a new layer. With the Brush tool still active, set to a low brush Opacity (10-20%) and 0% Hardness. Option/ Alt+click the skin to get a proximate colour. Paint. Continue to sample colours as you paint to even out the skin. Lower layer opacity to tone it down overall if needed.

Enhance the eyes


To boost eyes, follow the previous step’s instructions, but use #466bd3 and Overlay. To lighten eyes, click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button in the Layers palette and choose Levels. Slide midtones and highlights leftward. Invert the mask and paint white on the eyes.

Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button in the Layers palette and choose Solid Color. Pick #f917d1. Set the blend mode to Soft Light. Click the mask and press Cmd/Ctrl+I t Invert. Now paint white with a soft-edged brush (40-50% Opac add the colour.

Apply dodge and burn

Place the model



On a new layer, Edit>Fill (Elements: Save/Close ‘Model.psd’. Open ‘Start. Fill Layer). Choose 50% Gray and OK. psd’. Go to File>Place (CC: Place Set to Overlay. Add a layer mask, paint black Linked), and grab ‘Model.psd’. Scale it down a (100% Opacity) on everything but the face/ bit, rotate counterclockwise a smidgen, and hands. Click layer thumbnail (Elements: position centrally before committing the double-click). Paint (10-20% Opacity) black to place. Add a layer mask. Paint black (40darken, white to lighten. Use separate dodge/ 100% brush Opacity) to fade some of the hair burn layers for increased control. and the bottom edges.

Create a displacement map

Add the moth



Press Cmd/Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shift+E to merge layers. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+A then Cmd/Ctrl+C to copy all. Create a new document (set Color Mode to Grayscale), then paste (Cmd/Ctrl+V). Go to Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur. Set Radius to 3. Click OK. Save as ‘Map.psd’. Close and return to the main PSD. Delete the merged layer.


Go to File>Place (CC: Place Set the blend mode to Ove position on the face before confirm Displace. (Elements: Click OK to si p y ) , and double-click the map you saved in the last step.

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Finalise the moth overlay


Click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers palette. Paint black (50-100% brush Opacity) on the moth edges and model’s eyes. When done, add a Solid Color fill layer. Pick #ff00c6. Set the blend mode to Color. Option/Alt+click between this layer and the Butterfly layer to clip.

Select and place the flower


Open ‘Blossom.psd’. Use the Quick Selection tool to select the flower. Add a layer mask. Save and close. Back in the main PSD, select the background layer. Place ‘Blossom.psd’ (CC: Place Linked). Scale down, rotate and position before confirming. Add a layer mask and paint black (40-60% brush Opacity) to fade/remove areas.

Add the bird


Open ‘Hummingbird.psd’. Use instructions from previous step to select and place. Before masking, apply a slight blur (Filter>Blur>Motion Blur) (Elements: Right-click layer, choose Simplify Layer before applying). Tilt blur the angle to match the bird’s trajectory. (CC/Photoshop: paint black in Smart Filter’s mask to restore some clarity.) Mask to fade/remove areas.

More butterflies Copy and paste the butterfly


Select the top layer. Open ‘Butterflies.png’. Using the Lasso tool, make a loose selection around a butterfly. Copy (Cmd/ Ctrl+C), then switch to the main PSD and paste it in (Cmd/Ctrl+V).

t some stars Create a new layer at the top. Select the Brush tool. In the options bar, click preview. From the panel menu, e Load Brushes. Grab ‘Stars.abr’. Select rs brush. Set Foreground/Background e/white or white/#5ec7de. Paint stars 0% brush Opacity). Vary the size. Paint multiple layers. When done, select the topmost layer ready for the next step.


Use the previous step as a blueprin butterflies. Use the Move tool to pos in front and behind the model. Scale/rotate Ctrl+T). Utilise layer masks to hide areas. P Opacity) on blank layers below to add shad

Blend the texture


Place ‘Texture.jpg’ (CC: use Place Embedded from here on out). Set to Color Dodge blend mode. Scale up and position before committing. Add a layer mask. Duplicate (Cmd/Ctrl+J). Set duplicate to Overlay blend mode. Paint in masks with black (Soft Round brush, 60-100% Opacity) to fade edges and reduce/remove texture on the face and top/bottom.

Tidy the stars


Select top layer. Place ‘Stars.jpg’. Set to Overlay blend mode, then scale up to cover the canvas before committing. Add a layer mask. Paint with black to reduce on the model and upper areas.


nce art with layer masks

Expert tip Tweak colour

Add a lens flare

20 Blend with Exclusion


Place one more blend layer. Grab ‘Space.psd’. Set to Exclusion blend mode. Scale up to cover the canvas before committing. Add a layer mask. Paint with black to reduce on the model and top.

Go through your image and make any last compositional changes. When done, select the top layer. Merge layers by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shift+E. Convert to a Smart Object in Photoshop/CC. Go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Click on preview to place flare origin point. Adjust Brightness and choose Lens Type. Click OK.

You’ll oen find the need to tweak colour in compositions. This can be editing existing colours, using new colours or even reducing colour in areas. To boost or adjust colour, you can employ adjustments such as Vibrance and Color Balance in CC/Photoshop, and Hue/ Saturation in Elements. To add new colour, paint o layers set to bl like Color. To colour, use V Saturation an or Saturation l

Merge and sharpe Add more lens flares


Continue to add more lens flares. Adjust the Brightness, Lens Type and location. In Photoshop/CC, you can paint black at varying brush opacity in the Smart Filter mask to reduce/hide any areas that have unwanted light. In Elements, add a layer mask and paint black in it to control.


Merge layers again Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shift+E). Convert to a Smart Object in Photoshop/CC. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask (Elements: Enhance>Unsharp Mask). Increase Amount to sharpen. Be sparing with Radius and Threshold. Click OK. In Photoshop/CC, paint black in Smart Filter mask to reduce in periphery. In Elements, use a layer mask.

Now blur


Merge layers Object in Photoshop/CC. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Try a Radius of 5. Click OK. In Photoshop/CC, paint black in Smart Filter mask to restore clarity. In Elements, paint black in a layer mask to restore clarity. When done, save the PSD.


Expert tip Being smart about objects Whenever you are bringing an element in to Photoshop/CC via the Copy and Paste commands (such as a butterfly here), ask yourself: do I need to convert it to a Smart Object or can I leave it as it is? If you’re just going to drop it in and be done with it, you may not need to make it smart. However, if you plan on applying filter effects or if you’re unsure about orientation and need to play with Free Transform, you’ll want to convert it. In Elements, you can re-copy and paste an object if you ever need a reset.


The face was added via File>Place Linked, creating a super Smart Object. It works like a Smart Object, but it also remains linked to the original, reflecting any changes.

SMART OBJECT PHOTOSHOP/CC By converting a layer to a Smart Object, you can scale up and down without fear of losing the original quality. You can also apply filters as editable Smart Filters.

Tutorial Draw a child’s book character


Share your character designs Tweet us @pshopcreative On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Works with




Whatyou’lllearn Achieve a grainy texture effect and work with clipping masks

Time taken 2 hours

Expert Alena Tkach “I like experimenting with materials and using natural effects in digital illustration. I believe Photoshop is a really great way to combine a traditional approach with modern techniques. “I am a Ukraine-based freelance illustrator working mostly with children’s books and mobile games. My works are heavily inspired by nature since I am a great lover of animals and plants.”

Draw a child’s book character

Create a character with beautiful texture using only a few brushes, a raster texture template and a noise effect


his tutorial will help you to learn how to apply a beautiful grainy effect to your illustration, and keep your style playful and fancy using only a few simple tricks. In addition to this, you’ll learn how to draw using several basic layers and apply clipping masks, which enable you to keep your layers editable throughout the entire process of creation. Your main assistant will be an amazing pencil brush created by digital artist Denis Zilber. This brush creates a line that looks as though it was created by a real pencil. And just like a real pencil,

it can be used for many purposes, including sketching, colouring and texturing. Using this wonderful pencil brush, we will create thumbnail and refined sketches. We’ll also use it to create rough, grainy edges on shapes. To strengthen the effect, we’ll apply a texture using blend modes. Finally, we will show you one more way to apply grainy texture using the Noise filter. In the tutorial we’ll use many clipping masks, so remember to keep them in order. Also, don’t forget to visit the FileSilo to download the brush and raster texture template.

Create a rough sketch

Refine it

Set the background




Go to File>New (Cmd/Ctrl+N), name it Whale. Set Width to 230mm, Height to 310mm and Resolution to 300ppi. Click OK. Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N) and name it Sketch 1, grab the Brush tool (B), choose the pencil brush made by Denis Zilber and draw a fast, rough sketch of the whale.

Set the Opacity of Sketch 1 to 50%. Create a new layer, name it Sketch 2, and using the same brush draw a more refined sketch. Use the Eraser (E) to clean the lines. Delete the Sketch 1 layer. Now set the Opacity of Sketch 2 to 30%, change the blend mode to Multiply and lock the layer.

Double-click the Background layer and press OK in the dialog. Doubleclick this layer to open the Layer Style window and choose Color Overlay. Now change the colour to a deep sea green. Press OK. Rasterize the layer style (Layer> Rasterize>Layer Style).


Tutorial Draw a child’s book character

Create basic colour blocks


Create a new layer and name it Body. Draw the main shapes with the same brush tool. Set brush size to 75px for a visible rough edge to the shape. On a new layer press Opt/Alt+Cmd/Ctrl+G to make a clipping mask. Draw the tummy on this layer. Draw a back fin and an eye on the separate layers. Use a darker tone for distant objects and a lighter one for closer objects.

Make colour adjustments

Add details



Now adjust the colours of the image To make the image playful and to better suit the colour palette more attractive, draw extra details, you’ve chosen. Select the Body layer and like a dotted pattern on the head and fins, and correct its colour using Hue/Saturation (Cmd/ lines on the tummy and bottom eyelid. Create Ctrl+U or Image>Adjustments>Hue/ a new clipping layer over the Body layer and Saturation). Repeat this procedure for the rest draw details. Do the same to the back fin. of the layers. Turn off the visibility of the layer Sketch 2.

Introduce highlights


Create a new layer as a clipping mask over the Body layer, grab the Brush tool and choose Soft Round Pressure Opacity brush. Set its Size to 500px, draw the soft highlights and change the blending mode of the layer to Overlay with 35% Opacity. Use Denis Zilber’s brush to create more local highlights on a separate layer, and apply the same blending mode and opacity setting to the layer.

Bring in shadows


Use the same kind of brushes to create soft and local shadows. Set the blend mode of the layers to Multiply (Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options). Create each shadow on a separate layer to be able to adjust its colour later if needed. To get a more realistic effect, select warmer colours for the highlights and colder colours for shadows.

Make water reflections


Choose a Soft Round Pressure Opacity brush again to create soft reflections (each on a separate layer). Set the brush size to 500px and select a purple colour. Draw the reflections on the bottom of the whale and change the blending mode to Color Dodge at 25% Opacity. Repeat to create a warm-yellow reflection on the top of the whale, and set the blend mode to Overlay.


Add light rays Create a background gradient


Choose the Background layer and go to Layer>Layer Style>Gradient Overlay. Create a soft gradient to show the depth of the background. Use navy for the bottom and a light sea green for the top part of the water. Set the gradient angle to 70.


Turn on Sketch 2. Select the Rotate View tool (R) and rotate the image to -40 degrees. Draw rays of light with Denis Zilber’s brush, press E and use the Soft Round Pressure Opacity brush to remove the ends of the rays. Now go to Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur and set Radius to 50 pixels. Set the Opacity of this layer to 30%.

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Expert tip Experiment with textures

Make colour corrections


Use Hue/Saturation (Cmd/Ctrl+U or Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation) to edit and finalise the colours. Choose the layer with the tummy, select the Eraser tool (E) and make the back part of the tummy less visible.

Add background texture


Choose the Background and background highlights layers and merge them (Cmd/Ctrl+E or Layer>Merge Layers). Add a noise texture with the Noise filter (Filter>Noise>Add Noise). Set the Amount of noise to 10.

The latest versions of Photoshop enable you to use brushes to create amazing traditional-media effects, such as watercolour, charcoal, chalk and many others. Don’t hesitate to add fresh strokes to your work, which will breathe life into your image. Natural touches always look excellent and make digital illustrations feel richer. Also, you should experiment with different raster textures (paper, cardboard, wall textures and so on) to get unexpected effects.

Work on the small details


Use the Brush tool to create extra details and make the image more interesting. Use the Lasso tool (L) and hold Alt/Opt to copy and paste details, such as bubbles or dots, on the whale. Select all layers with different parts of the whale and merge them (Cmd/Ctrl+E). Choose File>Place Embedded and choose ‘texture.psd’. Apply it as a clipping mask to the whale. Set the blending mode of the layer to Overlay with 20% Opacity.

What you can do with it Turn it into a children’s book illustration This children’s illustration would be equally good for a children’s book, app or game. If you’re going to create a children’s book illustration, make sure you have set the CMYK colour mode while creating a new file instead of RGB. CMYK is a special colour mode that is used for printing. Also, you should keep in mind resolution (300ppi) and add about 5mm to each side of the image for trim.

Make a final highlight


Select the layer with the whale and holding Alt/Opt, copy it to the bottom. Apply Color Overlay with a white colour (Layer>Layer Styles>Color Overlay) and rasterize the layer style (Layer>Rasterize>Layer Style). Move this layer slightly to the top and right to get the effect of a highlight, and erase undesirable parts of it with the Eraser tool (E).

KEEP IMAGE COLOURFUL Children admire colourful and cheerful illustrations, which doesn’t actually mean you have to use all the colours of the rainbow. But try to keep your children’s illustration in a stylish colour palette, with bright and juicy spots.


Tutorial Build a surreal scene with layers

Build a surreal scene with layers

Use multiples layers to compose a surreal scene of a giant woman getting stuck in a house!


ith Photoshop, it is possible to create literally anything; all that matters is how interesting the idea is and your ability to use the right tools to construct the composition. In our scene here, we are playing with size for a surreal finish. Movies are a great inspirational source for unique images. You can enjoy the big-budget effects, and then try to imagine how it’s possible to replicate in Photoshop. Curiosity is a very important quality that always helps to enhance creative potential.

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


When you are constructing a scene made up of many elements, it is essential that you know how to work effectively with layers. The more detailed an image is, the more layers will be needed, so you need to be extremely organised. To do that here, we will be creating layer groups. To give movement to the scene we’ll use blend modes to add elements that give the impression that the house is exploding. To actually compose the scene, we’ll be calling upon the Pen tool, masks, feathers and many other tools.

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Essentials Works with




Whatyou’lllearn How to create a complex scene working with multiple layers

Time taken 6 hours

Exper Rodrigo Marinell “Ever since I was a kid I have loved movies with special effects. I think it’s amazing to see how many details are necessary to make just one scene. With that in mind, I always try to find a way to reproduce the effects, giving a unique look to my art. “I’m an art director and have 11 years of experience in advertising agencies. I learned and am still learning to use Photoshop through following tutorials.”


Tutorial Build a surreal scene with layers

Blend the images

Use the Free Transform tool

Make it sharper




Create a new document (Cmd/Ctrl+N) set to 460x310mm. Add ‘background_01.jpg’ then change the sky image using ‘sky.psd’. To blend the images, select the sky layer and make a mask (press the Add Layer Mask button), select black and use a soft brush (B) to erase the edges.

Add the Ground layer from ‘ground. psd’. To adjust the perspective, use the Free Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T), keep the Cmd/Ctrl button pressed, select the little square on the left corner of the base and drag it until it fills the work space, as can be seen in the image above.

Duplicate layer selections

Create shadows



Use the photo ‘buildings.jpg’. To make the river bigger, make a selection and duplicate the layer. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M), make a selection, Ctrl/right-click and select Layer via Copy. Then place it as shown above.

Now use the photo ‘flower.psd’ and duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl+J) until it fills all the river space. To make a shadow for the flowers, pick the Elliptical Marquee tool (M), make a circle and paint it black. Then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set to 3px.

Use folder with mask

Create the sun light

Compose the house’s ground




Add the photo ‘garden.psd’ and place it above the ground. To make the image fit in the scene, make a layer group (Cmd/Ctrl+G) and place the garden layer inside. Then select the folder and make a mask (as in step 1). Finally with the Brush tool (B), erase the unnecessary parts.


Use the photo ‘landscape.jpg’ and place it as shown above. To blend the image, make a mask and erase the edges (step 1). To make it sharper, duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J), go to Filter>Other>High Pass and set to 2px. Change the blend mode to Soft Light.

Create a new layer (Cmd/ Let’s start to compose the house’s Ctrl+Shift+N) and select the Brush ground. To do that, use ‘womans_ tool (B). Click the little arrow, next to the ground.psd’. First use the layer Base brush size, open the settings and choose a Perspective, then place the layer Adding_ Soft Round brush. Select white as your colour, details, as shown above, and finally use the change the layer blend mode to Soft Light Detail layer. To blend the layers, make a and brush in the sun light. mask and erase the edges of the photo.

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Expert tip Skin corrections

Compose the giant woman

Use the High Pass filter



Add ‘legs.jpg’ then, to organise the layers, make a layer group (Cmd/Ctrl+G) and place it inside. Make a mask and erase the woman’s body. Go to the Adjustments menu and pick Levels, hold Cmd/Ctrl+Alt and link it with the leg layer, then set to 0, 1.00, 230.

Draw the highlights


Add the House layer from ‘house.psd’ and place it in front of the woman’s body and behind her leg. Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N), use the Pen tool (P) to draw highlights on the house, paint them white, use the Gaussian Blur (step 5) set to 5px and change the blend mode to Overlay.

Add the ‘body.psd’ and place it as shown above. Make a layer group (step 9), then make a mask and erase the woman’s arms. To make it sharper, duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and use Filter>Other>High Pass set to 2px. Change the blend mode to Soft Light.

Making skin corrections is always a very important part of the creative process. There are many features to help with this; during the tutorial we used the Patch tool (J) but we could also use the Healing Brush tool (J), which is a very fast way to erase little imperfections. To work with this tool it is necessary to hold the Alt button and click in a clean area, close to the part that you want to correct, then click above the little imperfection and it will magically disappear.

Add details


Add the ‘house_base.psd’ and place it below the house. Duplicate it (Cmd/ Ctrl+J) and with the Free Transform tool (step 2), adjust the perspective and place it at the side of the house. Finally add the Detail layer from the photo ‘house.psd’. Repeat the perspective procedure and place it as shown in the above image.

Create the house grid


Let’s start to create the top of the house, add ‘house_grid.psd’ and duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl+J) until it fills the front of the house. To fill the side, use the Free Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T) and repeat the perspective procedure from step 2.

Add flowers

Make skin corrections



Now let’s give some colour to the house. Add the ‘flower. psd’ and place it behind the house’s grid. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) until it fills the top of the house. To blend the layers, make masks (step 1) and erase the unnecessary parts.

Let’s add the woman’s face. Use the photo ‘woman_face.JPG’ and place it behind the house. To make the skin corrections, use the Patch tool (J), make a selection in the part that needs to be corrected and drag the selection onto a clean skin part.


Tutorial Build a surreal scene with layers

Expert tip Make the shadows It’s great when you can use the natural shadow in a photo, but sometimes you need to create one. Let’s take the ‘scared_woman.jpg’ as an example. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J), activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+click) and paint it green (#3d7120) (Alt+Del). Then use Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T), hold the Cmd/Ctrl button, select the top-centre square and adjust the shadow perspective. Use Gaussian Blur (70px), change the blend mode to Multiply and adjust the Opacity to 50%.

Add the left arm

Use the Feather command

Work with perspective



Let’s put a roof above the woman’s head. Use the Roof layer from ‘photo house.psd’. To make the edges look softer, use a feather. Activate the selection of the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+click), press Shift+F6, set to 2px, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I) and press delete three times.

Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N). With the Pen tool, draw the roof’s perspective, activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+click) make a layer group (Cmd/Ctrl+G) and press the Add Layer Mask button. Add the Texture layer from the ‘photo house.psd’ to the group and with the Free Transform tool, adjust the perspective as you did in step 2.

Apply the Warp tool


Use the photo ‘right_arm.jpg’ and place it as shown above. Duplicate the It’s now time to add the left arm layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J), activate the selection coming out of the window. Add the ‘window.psd’ and adjust the perspective (step (Cmd/Ctrl+click) and paint it black. Use the Gaussian Blur (step 5) set to 20px, change 2), then make a new layer and with the Pen tool, draw the window hole and paint it black. the blend mode to Soft Light and use the Warp tool (Edit>Transform>Warp) to adjust Finally, add the ‘left_arm.jpg’ and make a mask (step 1) to erase the unnecessary parts. the shadow’s shape.



Let’s add elements to give the idea that the woman is exploding out of the house. Add the ‘sand.psd’ and place it on the ground. Make a mask (step 1) to erase the unnecessary parts. Finally, duplicate the layer and place it behind the woman.

Use blend modes

Sprinkle some dust

Organise the layer order




Now let’s add some broken glass, Add ‘roof_dust.psd’ and place it giving the impression that the above the roof. Change the blend woman’s arms have smashed through the mode to Multiply and use the Levels tool windows. Add the photo ‘broken_glass.psd’, (Cmd/Ctrl+L) set to 0, 1.00, 186. Then add change the blend mode to Screen and place it ‘dirt_03.psd’ and ‘dirt.png’. Repeat the same next to the arms, as shown above. Also add procedure and place in front of the woman. ‘explosion_dust.psd’ and ‘explosion_dust_02. Finally add ‘dirt_02.psd’ and change the psd’ and follow the same procedure. blend mode to Screen.


Create motion elements

Add the ‘scared_guy.jpg’ and the ‘jumping_guy.jpg’, and place them behind the flowers. To make the hands look supported by the rail, use the Pen tool (P), select the hands, activate the selection (Cmd/ Ctrl+click) Ctrl/right-click and choose Layer via Copy. Now place it above the house grid layer group.

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Use the photo’s shadow

We’re going to use the natural Add scared people shadow of the photo to make the Now let’s make the scene more runners blend with the scene. Add ‘runner_01. interesting by adding scared people psd’, change the blend mode of the shadow to interact with the giant woman. Add the layer to Multiply and apply Levels (Cmd/ ‘scared_couple.jpg’, the ‘scared_woman.jpg’, Ctrl+L) set to 0, 1.00, 48 and Hue/Saturation the ‘pointing_out.jpg’ and the ‘dog.jpg’ and (Cmd/Ctrl+U) set to 0, -74, 0. Add ‘runner_02. place as above. In all images, apply the JPG’ and repeat. Feather command (step 16) set to 2px.



Flip the photo


To add the balloons, bring in ‘balloon_02.jpg’ and ‘balloon_01.jpg’ and place as in the image above. Because the light of the sun is on the left, it’s necessary to flip the balloons. To do that, select the layer and go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal.

Make the final details

Tweak colour tone



Let’s add the last two details to the scene: the bird and the plane. First add the ‘red_plane.jpg’, use the Feather (step 16) set to 1px, then duplicate the layer and use the High Pass filter (step 10) set to 1px. Finally add the ‘birds.jpg’ and also use a feather set to 1px.

Use the Adjustments menu to set the colour tone. Use Color Balance (-22, 0, 0), Color Lookup (3Strip.look), Photo Filter (Warming Filter 85, 25% Density) and finally Brightness/Contrast set to 16, 26. ADJUST THE TONE Use the Adjustments menu, choose Brightness/Contrast, Cmd/Ctrl+Altclick in the scared couple layer, then set to 15, 0. Repeat the link procedure using Levels (0, 1.00, 248) and Hue/ Saturation (0, -22, 0).

Closer look The scared people USE THE BURN TOOL To enhance the shadows of the photo, the Burn tool (O) is useful. Select a small brush size and pass over the darker parts of the photo.

USE THE DODGE TOOL Enhance the highlights of a photo using the Dodge tool. The procedure is the same as the Burn tool. Don’t exaggerate and use a so brush with 50% of Exposure.

USE THE QUICK MASK Select the layer, press Q, use the Brush tool (B) paint the front of the woman. Press Q again, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shi+I) and use Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) set to 0, 1.24, 255.


How I made Pele

Essentials Time taken 30 hours

The artist Colin Anderson “I studied advertising and design at Melbourne University. I went on to work as an art director at an advertising/design agency before leaving to pursue a career as a photographer. “While I remain based in Australia, I still have clients from all over the world.” See more of Colin’s work at www.andersonproductions.

Pele Colin shot everything he needed in Hawaii before photomanipulating textures and renders


his image is featured in a Fine Art series, Ancient Hawaii, which is a collaboration between Robert Andia and myself,” says Colin Anderson, of his fiery portrait, Pele. “Our goal is to inspire investigation and generate awareness in an effort to promote, perpetuate and preserve the culture and ancient legends of Hawaii.” This image took hours of work, and not just in Photoshop. Colin used 3D programs to create the dress shape, while much of the volcanic texture, background and flames were shot on location in Hawaii. “Being a photographer who specialises in conceptual imagery is what I enjoy most,” Colin says. “It allows me to cover a spectrum of topics, from fashion to financial and everything in between.”


There’s a broad range of tools that Colin uses to bring his work to life, though. “I guess the tools I use the most are the Pen tool, layer masks, adjustment layers, the Transform tool, Liquify, the Clone Stamp and custom brushes,” he says. From drawing in flames by hand to adding the texture onto the 3D dress, this was certainly a meticulous project. “Ancient Hawaii is a 15-piece series that debuted at the Honolulu Museum of Art in 2015,” Colin says of the project. “It was originally intended to be printed as a 2.5-metre long, fine-art piece with 300dpi, so the file size was tremendous. Extra attention to detail was necessary, as any faults would be easily visible.”

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Build the background

Craft the dress

Apply finishing touches




Using elements that had been shot on location in Hawaii, I began by combining numerous images to build the background. The distant volcano was created by reshaping a normal mountain into an erupting one by adding explosions and fire.

The lava dress was created in ZBrush. Using lava textures we had shot on location, I began by placing these textures on top of the dress and setting them to the Overlay mode so the form of the dress could still be seen.


The final step to bringing it all together was by adding fire, sparks and hot lava. This was perhaps the most tedious part, especially the lava dress, as the glowing and cracking lava had to be painted in by hand.


Tutorial Mix media with filters and more


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Essentials Works with




Whatyou’lllearn How to create and edit compositions with filters, blend modes and brushes

Time taken 2 hours

Expert Daniel Sinoca “I really enjoy taking time to explore the Photoshop filters; they give me the ability to create wonderful effects. There are so many possibilities and they are very easy to learn. “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.”

Mix media with filters and more

Use filters, blending modes, custom brushes and basic tools to create an awesome mixed-media piece


n this tutorial, we’ll demonstrate how to apply different techniques to create an incredible mixed-media effect. We’ll show you how to work with brushes and filters, and combine images to get amazing results. You’ll learn an easy method to create a sketch effect, using filters and blending modes. You’ll also use several tools, like Smudge, Dodge and the Brush tool to create subtle effects. All the steps require close attention as you’ll be working with several layers. It’s important to keep them organised to maximise your workflow. You’ll also repeat some steps to create similar effects.

Create the background


To begin, go to File>Place Embedded ‘Background.jpg’. Now go to Layer>Duplicate Layer or press Cmd/Ctrl+J. Hide the BackgroundCopy layer temporarily by clicking on the Eye icon. Click on the Background layer and then go to Filter>Lens Correction. Click in Custom and set the Vignette Amount to -100, then click OK.

Add layer masks whenever you think it is necessary, and use to hide unwanted areas or imperfections. When you apply an adjustment or filter targeting a single layer, don’t forget to clip them. Doing so will avoid affecting other layers. To complete this tutorial, you need to download the splatter images from paint-tossing/ and the stock images and custom brushes from the FileSilo. Hopefully, by the end of this tutorial, you will have learnt some new skills, ready to be applied in your future projects. So let’s get started.

Reapply the filter


Unhide the Background-Copy layer. Now go to Filter> Lens Correction. Click in Custom and this time set the Vignette Amount to 100, then click OK. Create a layer mask by going to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. Grab the Gradient tool (G), choose the Foreground to Background preset and then apply over the mask.


Tutorial Mix media with filters and more

Complete the background

Make a group



Go to File>Place Embedded ‘City. png’. In Options, set the Horizontal/ Vertical Scale to 500% and hit Return/Enter. Drag the image down to the bottom. Now change the blend mode to Overlay. Open the Hue/Saturation adjustment (Cmd/Ctrl+U) and set the Lightness to -50 in order to reduce the contrast.

Let’s place the images into a group to keep the layers organised. Hold Shift and select all layers, then press Cmd/ Ctrl+G to create a group. Rename it Background. Now place the playing card. Go to File>Place Embedded ‘Playing_card_1.png’. Resize the image around 50%, place at the centre and press Return/Enter.

Duplicate the layers


We need two more playing-card layers. Duplicate the image twice (Cmd/Ctrl+J). Rename the first playing-card layer to Colour, the second layer to Effect and the third layer to Paint. Now hide the Colour layer and click on the Blend layer. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G to clip the layers.

Apply adjustments Create the sketch effect


Change the blend mode for the Effect layer to Color Dodge. Then press Cmd/Ctrl+I to Invert it. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to around 9 pixels and click OK.

Enhance the contours


Now click on the Paint layer. Go to Filter>Stylize>Oil Paint. Set the Stylization to 7, Cleanliness: 7, Scale: 5, Bristle Detail: 0.5, check Lighting, keep the Angle at -60°, Shine: 1.5 and then click OK.



Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. Check ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’ and click OK. Then set the Saturation to -100. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Clip the layer and then drag the Input sliders to adjust the contrast.

Load brushes

Add a new layer



Go to Edit>Presets>Preset Manager. Click Load and choose ‘Sketch_ Brushes.abr’, load the brush and click Done. Grab the Brush tool (B). Press F5 to open the Brush panel and choose Sketch brushes. Increase the Spacing to 40 and Size: 200. In Options, set the Opacity to 35%.

Add a new layer below the Colour layer and name it Sketch. In the Brush panel, click Shape Dynamics. Set the Size Jitter to 100%, Minimum Diameter: 50%, Angle Jitter: 50%. Press F7 to open the Layers panel, and start to paint over the card to add a subtle sketch texture.

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Expert tip Brush Dynamics

Place more images

Blend colours


Unhide the Colour layer. Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. Now grab the Brush tool (B). Press F5 to open the Brush panel. Choose the Chalk brushes and use the same settings as in step 10. Set the Foreground colour to black and paint over the mask to create the effect shown above.


Go to File>Place ‘Woman.jpg’. Now go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter. In Basic, set Exposure to 0.65, Contrast: +20, Highlights: -75, Shadows: +100, Whites: +75, Blacks: -50, Clarity: +25 and Vibrance and Saturation: 0. Open the Detail panel and set the Luminance at 50, then click OK.

Duplicate the layers

Select and mask


Grab the Quick Selection tool (W) and create a selection around the woman. Go to Select>Select and Mask. Check Decontaminate Colours. Grab the Refine Edge Brush tool (R) and refine the edges, then click OK. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T and resize the image, placing on top of the card.

Refine the mask


Grab a hard-tipped brush (B) and press F5. Uncheck the Shape Dynamics and set the Spacing to 0%. Reduce the opacity for the layer and paint over the mask to fit the woman in the card.

Create the sketch effect


Grab the Brush tool (B) and press F5 to open the Brush panel. Shape Dynamics set Size, Angle and Roundness. Scattering separates the brush strokes, ‘spraying’ the brush in various directions. Color Dynamics makes the brush switch between Foreground and Background colours. Spacing controls the distance between the strokes. Reducing the Hardness creates a stroke with so edges. Angle and Roundness alter direction and shape.

Change the blend mode for the Effect layer to Color Dodge. Then press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert it. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to around 15 pixels and click OK.


Now let’s repeat steps 5 through to 8. Duplicate the image twice (Cmd/ Ctrl+J). Rename the top layer Colour, the second layer Effect and the third layer Paint. Now hide the Colour layer and click on the Blend layer. Press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G to clip the layers.

Make adjustments


Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. Check ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’ and click OK. Set the Saturation to -100. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Clip the layer and then drag the Input sliders to adjust the contrast.


Tutorial Mix media with filters and more Expert edit Apply finishing touches

Select the heart


Click on the Playing Card layer. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W) and select the heart. Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate and then drag it to the top of the layer stack.

Apply the Oil Paint filter

Blend colours



Now click on the Paint layer. Go to Filter>Stylize>Oil Paint and apply different settings. Adjust the Stylization to 3, Cleanliness: 4, Scale: 10, Bristle Detail: 10, uncheck Lighting and then click OK. Add a new layer and use the sketch brush to paint the image as in step 10.

Unhide the Colour layer. Go to Layer> Smart Object>Convert to Smart Object. Now add a layer mask (Layer Mask>Reveal All). Grab a soft-tipped brush (B), vary the brush opacity and paint over the mask to reveal the effect underneath. Then place the layer into a group.

Bring in more images


Go to File>Place ‘Brush.png’. Rotate the image and place it next to the woman’s head. Go to Layer> Layer Style>Drop Shadow. Modify the settings to create a soft shadow and then click OK. Now go to Layer>Layer Style> Create Layer. Open the Free Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T) and then adjust the shadow.

Add some style


Go to Layer>Layer Style>Bevel & Emboss. Set Style to Inner Bevel and adjust the settings to create a nice effect. Now add the Drop Shadow to create a subtle shadow.

Duplicate and merge


Duplicate the layer then use the Free Transform tool to resize and rotate the image. Repeat this step a few times. Then hold Shift, select the layer and merge (Cmd/Ctrl+E).

Place the paint splatter

21 Paint with the Splatter brush


Create a new layer. Grab the Brush tool (B). Choose the Splatter brush. Hold Opt/Alt to select the colours and start painting around the canvas.


Download the splatter pack from Go to File>Place ‘Splatter #7.jpg’, then Layer>Rasterize>Smart Object. Grab the Magic Wand tool (W), set the Tolerance to 100, select the black area, then press Delete. Press Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect the image. Grab the Dodge tool (O) and paint the edges.

Distort the image


Place the Splatter behind the playing card. Go to Edit>Transform>Warp. Drag the handles to distort the image a bit and place it in the top-right corner. Use the Puppet Warp tool to distort the image even further. Go to Edit>Puppet Warp. Add the pins and drag.

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Blend the images

Place more images

Introduce the birds




Place the ‘Seagull.jpg’. Go to Layer> Rasterize>Smart Object. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W), select the blue area and then delete. Grab the Smudge tool. In Options, set the Strength to 100% and gently drag the seagull tail to blend it with the splatter image.

Place the ‘Swan.jpg’. Repeat the previous steps. Select and mask the image. Now place the ‘Splatter #7.jpg’. Resize and distort it, placing it under the swan. Grab the Dodge tool (O). In Options, set Range to Midtones and Exposure to 40%. Paint over the splatter to brighten the shadows.

Place ‘Tucan.jpg’ and ‘Flamingo.jpg’. Select and mask the images. To change the colour of the splatters, go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/ Saturation. Check Colorize and tweak the settings to find the desirable colour and then clip the layers.

Apply adjustments

Add the final images



Place ‘Flower.jpg’. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and then hide the ‘Flower_Copy’ layer. Press Cmd/Ctrl+U and set the Saturation to -100. Open the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) and adjust the inputs to increase the contrast. Unhide the ‘Flower_Copy’ layer, add a layer mask and use a chalk brush to blend it.

Place ‘Splatter #7.jpg’ behind the flower’s layer. Resize it and apply a layer mask, then hide the unwanted areas. Grab the Smudge tool and blend the image. Apply the Hue/Saturation adjustment to change the colour. Finally, place ‘Playing Cards.png’ and ‘leaf.png’ to improve the composition. LAYER MASKS

What you’ll learn

Apply a layer mask to hide or show parts of an image. Click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Key tools and techniques PHOTOSHOP FILTERS Explore the Filters menu to create special effects, retouch photos and much more. Apply adjustment layers to enhance the effects.

PHOTOSHOP TOOLS Use the Dodge tool to brighten the shadows and the Smudge tool to smooth the edges. Make use of the custom brushes to create a variety of effects.

ADJUSTMENT LAYERS Apply the Hue/Saturation adjustment to change the colour or lightness intensity. Check Colorize and adjust the settings to create different tones.


Tutorial Design a stylish logo


On the FileSilo

Works with

Download your free resources at www.filesilo. Elements



Whatyou’lllearn Use the Pen tool, layer styles, blend modes, Smart Objects, shapes and text

Time taken 1 hour

Exper Moe Hezwani “Logo design is a big aspect of my day-to-day work. I’m oen asked to create a number of styles and type, and am very grateful for the techniques and tools I can use in Photoshop to help me design all these logos. “I’m a professional graphic designer/illustrator, and Photoshop is my go-to platform for my designs.”


Design a stylish logo Don’t be afraid to stand out; use layer styles, Smart Objects and the Pen tool to create an eye-popping logo


very great company needs a brand logo to stand out from others, and it’s essential for it to be original and eye-catching. Most logos use typography, but it would be too ordinary to just use a standard font; you want to find the right font for your brand and tweak it to make it perfect. Did you know you can customise a font by converting it to a shape layer? By default, regular type created with the Type tool is vector. But you can also convert regular type to individual vector

shapes. You can edit the shapes like any shapes created with the Pen or Shape tool by manipulating anchor points and straight and curved segments. To convert type to shapes, choose Type>Convert to Shape. In this tutorial you will learn how to create an original and eye-catching logo by using a number of different Photoshop tips and tricks. Discover how to give your text depth and customise it with the help of the Pen tool and layer styles.

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Create a gradient

Convert type to a shape



Start by creating a new document, then go to Layer>New Fill Layer> Gradient. Hit OK when the New Layer pop-up appears, then the Gradient Fill pop-up will appear. Make the left stop a dark navy and the right a slightly darker navy. Then change the Style to Reflected.

Begin by installing the Remissis font from the FileSilo. Grab the Horizontal Type tool and type ‘Animal’ then ‘Kingdom’ into a separate layer. To convert your type layers to vector shapes, right-click on the type layer and within the drop-down menu, select Convert to Shape.

Draw a tail


Start by using the Direct Selection tool to help cut the anchor points on the flick of the ‘g’. Then grab the Pen tool and draw the end of a dog’s tail. Make sure you are holding the ‘+’ key to draw a new shape into the current shape layer.

Transform the shapes


Now, move each letter to make them look warped and fun. To do this, grab the Path Selection tool, select each letter individually, then go Edit>Transform. Either rotate the letter slightly or scale to make them bigger (do this for the ‘A’ and ‘F’).

Add a type gradient


Bring up the type’s Layer Style window and pick Gradients. Set the gradient to a dark-to-light orange. Ensure the Style is set to Linear and change the Angle to 100° and Scale to 150%.

Create a white stroke

Make the text 3D

Add shadowy gradients




Create a sharp, white stroke on parts of the letters for depth. To do this, stay in the Layer Style window. Select Inner Shadow and amend the following settings: Blend Mode: Screen, Shadow Color: White, Angle: 120°, Distance: 3 px, Choke: 0% and Size: 0%.

Using the Pen tool, draw around your type to make it look 3D. Ensure your 3D shapes are below the main text layers. Use darker oranges for the shadowy section of the 3D effect (the bottom shapes) and a slightly lighter orange for the highlights (inside left shapes).

Now we’re going to give the 3D shape layers some depth. You want to make the text appear like it is popping out of the canvas. To do this, give the darker 3D shapes a gradient. Bring up the shapes’ Layer Style window and apply a dark orange to darker orange gradient.


Tutorial Design a stylish logo

Expert tip Elements users A large chunk of this tutorial involves the Text tool, Brush tool and layer styles, which Elements users are able to follow. However, Elements does not have the Pen tool, which we have used to draw the 3D effect, leaves and other illustrations. As an alternative to the Pen tool, you can try drawing the font changes by hand, scan them into Elements and then use the Brush tool to draw out the font shapes. You should find that you get almost the same results as with the Pen tool.

Convert to Smart Object


Because you have several shapes added to your text, it’s an idea to combine them together into one layer. Do this by selecting all your shapes, right-clicking on the layers and selecting Convert to Smart Object.


To make your text appear as if it is popping out of your canvas, doubleclick your new Smart Object layer to bring up the layer styles and amend the following settings: Blend Mode: Overlay, Angle: 90°, Distance: 5px, Spread: 0% and Size: 10px.

Enhance the shadows

Brush away mistakes

Make the text glow




Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N). Change the blend mode to Hard Light, right-click the layer and then select Clipping Mask to clip it to the main Smart Object layer. Now grab the Brush tool, select a dark orange and start to paint around the darker areas of the text.

If you went a little overboard with the Brush tool and got a bit of dark orange on the main section of text, add a vector mask by clicking the Add Vector Mask thumbnail located at the bottom of the Layers palette. Using the Brush tool, rub away the unwanted paint.

Create more glow


Make an additional new layer, change the blend mode to Overlay and with a soft white brush, with the brush Opacity at 30%, lightly brush around the areas where you want to enhance the highlights.


Add a drop shadow

Create a new layer, change the blend mode to Soft Light and add a clipping mask to clip it to the main Smart Object layer. Use a white brush to paint around the white stroke lines to give them a glow effect. Then add a vector mask to brush away any unwanted paint.

Boost the key lines


After painting, the stroke lines have faded slightly. To bring them back, double-click the Smart Object thumbnail. Then drag over the main text shape layer on your canvas. Use the Move tool to move it to place, delete the gradient but leave the Inner Shadow layer style, and make the Fill 0%.

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Draw a leaf


Using the Pen tool, draw a basic leaf with veins, then select your two shape layers and convert to a Smart Object. Bring up the Layer Styles window and add a drop shadow. Use the default settings but amend the Size to 43.

Make scattered leaves

Generate a backdrop glow



Place your leaf Smart Object layer into a Group folder (Cmd/Ctrl+G) and duplicate the layer several times. Rotate the leaves for a scattered look. Change the blend mode of the group to Pin Light, duplicate the folder, and change the duplicated folder’s blend mode to Color Dodge.

Add the extra bits


Add in a few extra illustrations to give your artwork some depth. Use the Pen tool to draw some paw prints, a cat and a dog. Use the same layer style effects as steps 6, 7, 9 and 10 to make the illustrations match the text.

What you can do with it Create business cards Every business needs a business card, and now that you have a stylish logo for your company, you can show off your design by creating a professional business card. This way you can share your creation with friends and family, as well as potential customers. There are hundreds of online applications to help you place your artwork onto a business card and get them printed for you. Browse the internet, choose a site and upload your design.

Create a new layer, which is above your leaf group but below the text layers. Change the blend mode to Soft Light and reduce the Opacity to 50%. Grab a white large soft brush and simply click your mouse once in the centre of the canvas to create a backdrop glow.

Apply a textured foreground


Open ‘Textured Background.jpg’ from FileSilo and paste it into your canvas. Ensure it’s at the top of the Layers pale Change the blend mode to Soft Light and reduce Opacity to 40%. A a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and turn Saturation to +20.

FIND THE RIGHT APP Finding the right price and the right application to upload your artwork is important to achieve the best business card. A good one to try is

HIGHRESOLUTION ARTWORK Before sending your artwork to be printed, make sure it has a high resolution; 300dpi should do it. If it has a low resolution, your business cards may come back with a bit of blur.


Tutorial Create a fun composition with Liquify


Want to add sparkle to eyes? Use a so, white brush! On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Start images

Essentials Works with




Whatyou’lllearn How to create a zipped head effect using filters, layers and masks

Time taken 3 hours

Expe Mark White “What I like most about this tutorial is that the main idea may remain constant, but you can substitute your own photos. You could create almost any scene within the head, from something idyllic like this, a city scene or even a skeleton! “As senior staff writer on Photoshop Creative, I’ve learned all kinds of quick tips to help with even the most impressive-looking pictures.”

Create a fun composition with Liquify

Discover the tricks for warping a new world into a head, with a little help from filters, layers and masks


hotoshop as a word has often had connotations with the surreal, and the Liquify tool is one of its most famous features for its use in the media for distorting bodies and retouching portraits. No matter its use, there’s no denying that Liquify is a very powerful tool, but as with anything powerful in Photoshop, it’s important to use it with subtlety. In this particular project, we use Warp tools to not only split the face of this model in half, but also to blend an entire scene within her head. Using Liquify with nuance means that the face

Retouch the portrait


Open ‘girl.jpg’. Use the actions in ‘’ to touch up the subject’s face, erase the hairs around the forehead with the Spot Healing Brush, then go to Filter>Liquify. Freeze most of the subject and warp the hair parting to the centre of her head.

doesn’t look stretched to unreal proportions, and the scene actually looks believable. Applying this subtlety across the image as a whole not only makes for a better composition, but also improves your Photoshop skills. Masking the rocks and the bear with a soft brush blends them gently into the scene, and using a consistent colour over the water makes it believable that these two images belong together. This tutorial is a great exercise for anyone wanting to work on creating believability. Photoshop is a tool to make the unbelievable real.

Split the face

Liquify the two halves



Once you’re happy, cut out the model from the white background with the Quick Selection (W) and Select and Mask. Grab the Pen (P); draw through the parting and down her face. Select one side, Ctrl/ right-click and select Layer Via Cut.

Go to Filter>Liquify again. Select a Pressure of 5 and a big brush; warp the left side of the model to the left slightly, creating a curved edge and leaving the face undistorted. Do the same thing with the right side of the model.


Tutorial Create a fun composition with Liquify

Add the sky Bring in the zip

Complete the zip



Place ‘zip1.jpg’. Select the zip from the jacket and using the Pen, cut it out; place it over the neck. Duplicate the two sides of the zip track, using Transform (Cmd/ Ctrl+T), and warp it over each half of the face.

Place the first waterfall


Place ‘waterfall.jpg’ into the image and duplicate. Set one layer to Screen and mask in the colour from the other one. Place ‘lake.jpg’ into the image and overlay this on the image. Create a Color layer and brush #51afbe over the water; we’ve provided a swatch on the FileSilo.

Drag in ‘zip2.jpg’ and again, use the Pen to cut out the zip track from the image. Warp the zip around the top of the head; ‘zip2.jpg’ is taken at a different angle and so will suit the top of the head perfectly.

Create the cliff


Place ‘cliff.jpg’ and ‘clifftop.jpg’ into the picture, and use Transform to warp the two into the image. Clip a Curves layer to these to improve the contrast if need be and equalize the tones. Align the cliff top vaguely with the hairline.

Place ‘sky.jpg’ into the image. Drop in ‘sunrise.jpg’ and mask so that it only appears between the two halves of the subject’s face. This is going to form the background on which we’ll create a new environment. Place ‘seagulls.jpg’ and cut out the birds to populate the background a little.

Layer a second waterfall


Add ‘waterfall-2.jpg’ to the image, and just as with the first one, blend the water with the rest of the image, using the supplied swatch to create a consistent colour to the two stock images.

Mask the bear

Insert other elements



Place ‘bear.jpg’ and cut out the bear from the image. Place the same image again and cut out the rocks to the place on the layer below; mask this in and then place the bear over the top of this.



With the majority of the image completed, add in ‘bridge.png’, ‘girl_ sitting.jpg’, ‘tree.jpg’ and ‘horse.jpg’. Cut out all of these elements and place into the image. Blend in with masking, and warp the bridge from the cliff across to the waterfall.

Want to add sparkle to eyes? Use a so, white brush!

Expert tip Blending the image

Render some steam

Make a rainbow



Set your swatches to black and white (D). Create a new layer, then go to Filter>Render>Clouds. Set to Screen, hit Mask, and then with a white, soft, 20% opaque brush, mask in some steam around the waterfall.

Create a new document of 4000 x 4000 pixels. On a new layer, just above the bottom of the document, hit G and drag a rainbow gradient (we’ve supplied one on the FileSilo). Go to Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates. Hit OK and go Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, set to 10px. Mask over the waterfalls and hit Screen.

Make adjustments

Lighten and darken


Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E twice. Set one of these layers to Multiply, one to Screen, hit Mask, and invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I) for both. Using a soft, white brush, mask in highlights and shadows over the image as a whole.

What can go wrong

The better you blend your image, the more realistic the final result will be. It’s important to remember a few things when you’re creating not only this picture, but any composition like this. When masking water, keep your brush so as this will give a more realistic edge. Remember to add a shadow for every object you place into the composition, such as the horse at the top of the image. And if need be, create a Color layer to finish, and brush in colour to unify the piece.


Create a Curves layer to control the tone of the image, then hit Cmd/ Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E again to merge everything into one final layer. Create a final Camera Raw adjustment by using the supplied action; this will sharpen, heighten colour and tone, as well as add noise and a subtle painted effect.


Be subtle with Liquify The Liquify tool can be used to heighten reality in your images, but it’s worth remembering that it’s primarily a tool for distortion. As a result, it is ridiculously easy to distort your image too far, and in an image such as this, you could make the face look misshapen. When it comes to Liquify, subtlety is key to get your picture looking its best. First, choose a Pressure of just 5. If the Pressure is too high when using this tool, you will end up pulling the face too far beyond reality. Select a big brush, as this will drag the face as a whole, keeping it much more intact; smaller brushes will drag different parts of the face at different angles and in different directions.



Resource project Master block printing SOLID BLOCK The linoleum block is a piece of wood with a sheet of linoleum attached to it. Make sure you pick a size appropriate to your design.

CARVER The block-printing carving tool is sharp and comes with a variety of removable blades. Each is capable of different tasks in terms of cutting.

On the FileSilo

SCREEN PRINTING INK Printing ink comes in a variety of colours, and block printing ink is nice and thick, so it adheres to the block.

Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Master block printing

An easy guide for block printing, from designing to printing to using your print digitally


lock printing originated in Asia to print on textiles in the year 200. It was one of the only print methods up until the printing press and movable type, but it was obviously more suited to images as opposed to words. Block-printed books didn’t appear in Europe until the 1450s, but even then the books were generally heavily pictorial and fewer than 50 pages long.


Before linoleum, block prints were carved directly into wood. They had to work with the grain, which affected the types of images that could be produced. It wasn’t until 1905 that linoleum was used to print on wallpaper. Linoleum block printing, or linocutting, was brought to America in the 1920s. Now it is used by artists of all sorts. Everyone from children to fine artists to street artists utilise

this printing method. In this tutorial, you will be learning all the necessary basics of how to make a successful linocut. The start design will be clean and sharp, using only one colour of ink. You will then learn how to carve the block accurately and finally how to ensure an even, high-quality print. You will also see an example of how a simple print can enhance a composite scene.

Download free resources here

Handmade block prints How to make your own linoleum block print

Design and print

Carve the block

There are online programs to make symmetrical designs like this. Only Transfer the image work in black and white for clarity. Keep in In order to transfer the design, rub mind that the black portion of the design will over the back with a pencil. Lay the be printed, so the white will be carved out. design face up on the block, tape it down, Print in multiple sizes to ensure one will work. then trace around the design.

Begin carving into the linoleum block. 03 Start by gouging part of the background and then work your way into the



smaller details. Always remember to cut away from yourself because the blades are very sharp.

Pressing and printing How to print your design to scan for digital use

Final finesse

Roll on the ink

Use the gouging tip to clean up any areas of the print that may stick out where you don’t want them to. Clean the edges, and brush any linoleum crumbs off so they don’t transfer during printing.

Squirt your selected colour of ink onto a palette, and roll the roller back and forth to evenly coat it. Then roll an even layer of ink onto the design, being sure to cover the entire design.



Rub and print Lay a piece of paper over the design, 03 lining it up with the block to keep it straight. Next, take a spoon or flat object and rub the paper all over to evenly distribute the ink onto the paper. Then peel the paper back and you have a block print.

Types of carving tips What types of carving tips do what USHAPED GOUGES U-shaped gouges are useful for removing large pieces of linoleum in backgrounds, and areas with few details.

VSHAPED CUTTERS V-shaped cutters are useful for narrow, deep cuts. They can fit into tight curves and still happily remove the chunks of linoleum.

KNIFE The knife tip is good for super-thin linear cuts to get maximum amount of detail.


Resource project Master block printing

Use your design in Photoshop Add colour to a scene with your block print

Create background elements

Blend the tile

Add a person




Change any colours in the image to vibrant ones, and mesh them with blend modes. Then bring your block image into Photoshop and place it anywhere you want to create a tile pattern. Add a slight bevel for a more dimensional look.

You can add the pattern in other places using the Distort command to fit the tile. Then use blend modes to merge the tile into the background. If desired, you can also change the colour, invert the pattern or even warp it around an object.

1 block print tile design We’ve included our wood-block design print for you to incorporate into your own personal projects.


Finally, add a figure into the composition to really bring it to life. Don’t forget to give her a shadow, bright dress, and dramatic lighting. This can be achieved by using the Render>Lighting Effects filter.

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Project focus Mapping out Photoshop

MappingoutPhotoshop Mexican artist Aldo Crusher created a one-off image for a friend that caught the attention of a magazine; 40 geometric maps later, he’s an online hit and inspiration to many

About the artist Aldo Crusher aldocrusher. @aldoCRUSHER Aldo Crusher spent most of his childhood drawing, playing video games and watching cartoons. That’s when he decided he wanted to create illustrations and animations for a career. Aer graduating from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 2011, he’s spent the last five years working as a motion designer, animator and illustrator.

Name of the project Cosmópolis


ldo Crusher admits he is “an avid consumer of media content, so I would say cartoons and some TV shows have influenced my work.” There’s a clear cartoon feel to Aldo’s geometric map series, Cosmópolis, which has spawned four series of artworks from across the globe. Aldo focuses on a city, town or place, and illustrates the key landmarks and icons of that place with precise Pen-tool control and vibrant colour. It’s a simple idea that has struck a chord with Behance, being viewed a collective 170,000 times, and the site has featured them all.

This particular project combines art with maps. Is this because you are a keen traveller? Yes, I’m into travelling, but I’d never really paid

attention to maps until now: this was kind of an unexpected project! The whole thing began when I designed a poster for a friend. He wanted me to draw a busy city and a path leading to an abandoned house. I published that poster on my Behance portfolio, and the people at Aire magazine found it, contacted me and told me that they wanted me to do a series of city maps, one for each issue.

How do you go about creating one of these cities? First I collect impressions from the different regions, looking at the culture, architecture, skylines, weather and lifestyle, in order to get a feeling for the city, and this then informs the colour palette. This is very important because it encapsulates the attitude and culture of the city. The next step is working on the landmarks, architectural elements and main buildings. The last step is adding the roads, trees and other secondary elements.

You mention how important colour is; so many artists use Photoshop for adding colour to their work, don’t they? Yes, Photoshop is my favourite tool to adjust colours and add textures to my artwork. I discovered Photoshop when I was in high school; I wanted to take my drawings to the next level, so I started experimenting with my computer. It was fun learning about all the tools and filters that the software can offer, but at the same time it was frustrating because I didn’t know how they all worked: somehow I made them work in the end!

How do you add texture to your work in Photoshop to get your distinctive look? My favourite tools are the Brush Tool Presets, and I’ve bought a couple of custom sets. With them I can add texture to my illustrations and even make quick sketches. Also, I like to play with the blend modes to generate different contrast levels. When it comes to animation, I use Photoshop to make quick line tests and then export them to After Effects.

Do you carry out a lot of research for each picture?





Dots are added to the image as a final flourish, as they help to populate the piece; this is one of the most distinctive things about the series, and most of the maps have them.

Each landmark is created from studying reference images and using the Pen tool to draw individual elements from the base colours of the chosen palette.

Oh, I have to research every city! I try to analyse the personality of the city to get the mood and the feeling of the place, and there’s a lot of research on landmarks. I collect images and analyse which ones are the most iconic and important to the city. I try to include as many as I can, from 8 to 10 approximately, sometimes more. And of course, I look at real maps, as they are the starting point of the illustration. Google Maps has been a great tool for me.

Is it overwhelming to think that this project is so popular it might be inspiring artists globally? Not really. I actually like it. It motivates me to create better artworks. It helps me to push

myself to work harder and pay more attention to details.

What would you suggest to anyone who might see your work and want to create their own geometric city? First of all, be very patient. It takes a lot of time to do city maps; it may seem easy but it isn’t. Another important thing is to have a lot of reference images. You’re representing something real. If you want to capture the feeling and personality of the city, you have to see how it really looks. You have to keep in mind that every element communicates something, including colour, so you have to choose the perfect colour palette for the city.

All images © Aldo Crusher

Each of the images does something creative with the title, whether it places it on water, in a corner, or in this case, in an emblem in the centre of the image.

Out of all of the projects you have worked on so far, do you have a favourite map? It’s really hard to pick just one piece, as I’ve done about 40 now. But I have a top five: Dubai, Tanzania, Barcelona, Moscow and New York City.

What is it about those images you like the most? Because I’m a colour perfectionist and I think the colour palettes of those pieces match perfectly with the spirit of the cities. I was really happy with the St. Basil’s Cathedral I created for Moscow and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, too. They took me about three hours to finish each.



PRODUCE PROFESSIONAL EFFECTS WITH FILTERS Forget the cheesy filters of Photoshop past, and start creating advanced effects with the built-in options


© Mario Sánchez Nevado 2014

hotoshop’s filters have had a bad reputation over the years. This is mainly due to two key factors: the automated filters had few controls and worked on a ‘one setting fits all’ approach; and their overuse to create unrealistic and fake-looking results. The need for filters to perform certain processes or create distinct effects was filled by third-party plug-ins offering more advanced users of Photoshop a way to gain control over effects.


However, Photoshop has been busy building its filter library, and it now houses some incredibly powerful features that can be applied in order to create professionalstandard artwork. We will look at a number of different filters throughout this feature, and speak to the professionals using them to create all different types of work. Many of the filters are designed to be used for retouching imagery, including correcting common

problems and adding in photographic effects. However, there are plenty more creative options, all of which can be manipulated and used within an advanced workflow to great effect. Forget the somewhat cheesy results you can get in the Filter Gallery; these new filters are a whole different ball game and definitely worth learning how to use to save time, add finishing touches and lift your artwork to the next level.



Meet our experts and find out their top tips for using filters

Adam Spizak Don’t over-rely on filters “Every professional Photoshop designer uses filters. Filters are great at helping you make fantastic work and speed up the process [but] they won’t do the work for you.” Amar Kakad Ensure you master the Lens Correction filter “The Lens Correction filter is among the most powerful filters. It fixes distortions caused by the camera lens, such as barrel and pincushion distortion, vignette and chromatic aberration.” Edmond Yang Save photos from blur “Captured the perfect moment, but annoyed by the blur caused by camera motion? Fine-tune it with the advanced controls in the Shake Reduction filter. You can really save your photo with this one.” Mario Sánchez Nevado Make your filters editable “Create a merged copy layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E), turn it into a Smart Object and use your filters above your composition. This gives you the ability to make changes to them at any time.” Maurizio Pagnozzi Experimentation is key “Exploiting your own creativity and the Photoshop filters, you can make truly original graphic creations. Experiment with the tools and it’s possible to create special effects to give a new tone to your pictures.” Chirad Doshi and Prasad Shetty Keep it real “The most important idea for us is to keep the image looking as real as possible, so the use of filters in doing so should be managed subtly. It’s incredibly important to not go overboard, but it is easy to do so.”


ADVANCED © Amar Kakad; photographer – Olgun Kordal (

MASTER THE OIL PAINT FILTER Edmond Yang explains how the Oil Paint filter can achieve a professional real-paint effect The Oil Paint filter is one of the ‘creative’ filters that has a bad reputation due to overuse, however it can give amazing results when used sparsely, explains visual artist Edmond Yang (www. “When I am satisfied with the portrait, I create a Merged Copy layer on top of everything (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E). I apply the Filter>Stylize>Oil Paint filter, turn up the Stylization and Scale sliders, keep the Cleanliness to about 5 and Bristle Detail to 0. The values depend on the size of your image. The Lighting option is off, or else it creates highlights I don’t need. Click OK. Add a Quick Mask and use a black brush to paint back the details underneath.”

Here the Spin Blur filter is applied on the wheels to further enhance the car’s speed

© Amar Kakad; photographer – Ste Ho (

Amar Kakad uses the Lens Correction filter to fix distortions caused by the camera lens, and for interesting distortions for creating dramatic compositions

CORRECT COMMON ISSUES While filters are traditionally associated with creating different effects, some of the most powerful filters that Photoshop has to offer are designed to help correct common problems, particularly in retouching. Most of the filters in Photoshop can now be applied as Smart Filters, which means that they remain editable. The exceptions are Lens Blur, Flame Picture Frame, Trees and Vanishing Point. Put simply, a Smart Filter is a filter that is applied to a Smart Object layer, and they are nondestructive. To apply to the image as a whole or to multiple layers, you will need to create a merged copy layer of all the layers you want to be affected by the filter and then convert this to a Smart Object (Layer>Smart Object>Convert to Smart Object).


Digital photography has so many positives, but there are certain flaws that always seem to need correcting in post-production. One of the most popular filters built in to Photoshop is Lens Correction, which is a tool that helps to combat the spectre of lens distortion, including barrel and pincushion. It also has controls to remove vignettes or chromatic aberration. While it does offer an Auto Correction option, which is fine for making quick adjustments, the real power comes from going into the Custom tab. “[This] allows you to manually make adjustments to alter the horizontal, vertical perspectives and so on,” explains creative consultant and pixel engineer Amar Kakad ( “There is also an option to preview a grid, which makes it easy to visualise these adjustments.” The ability to select the particular lens and

settings that you used when taking the shot, and adjust for its particular known distortions, is what makes this tool so effective. If you find yourself working on an image that has been taken with a wide-angle lens, then you will be delighted to hear that Photoshop has a filter dedicated to the problems inherent in this kind of photography. Visual artist Edmond Yang ( uses the Adaptive Wide Angle filter when he needs to “correct the distortions due to a wide-angle lens. Very useful for straightening buildings, by using multiple straight lines. It’s magic!”

Edmond Yang shows how the Oil Paint filter can be used to enhance fur and hair in particular

© Edmond Yang

© Edmond Yang


EFFECTS WITH FILTERS The other popular image-correction filter that our experts rave about is the Noise filter. “The Noise filter is a very powerful tool,” says Amar Kakad. “I use it a lot towards the finishing stages of a project. When you work with multiple images from different sources, they are shot with different ISO, apertures and so on. When I composite these images, the size of noise becomes quite visible and hence they need to be equalised. I apply a Noise filter on the topmost layer. As a result, this will balance the size of noise on the overall composite.” Illustrator and designer Adam Spizak (http:// is also a fan of the Noise filter, due to its many applications: “The most useful for me is removing banding in missing colours. Adding a low-opacity layer with noise set to Screen blending mode can remove banding. Another way to use the Noise filter is to apply it to a layer mask. Add a mask to your layer and, once you’re done working with the mask, try to add noise to the mask itself, using low values to make sure it’s not too obvious. Adding noise to masks helps to remove banding issues (when masks are soft they often create visible banding lines around the subject).”

CREATIVE BLUR AND SHARPEN Blur and sharpen are perfect opposites, but are both common processes that are employed by designers, illustrators, retouchers and digital artists. The Filter menu offers a whole host of options for applying blur and sharpen effects, meaning that picking the right method is key to getting the most professional effect.

USE CAMERA RAW FOR POSTPRODUCTION Camera Raw is often forgotten about once in Photoshop. It opens automatically when you select a raw format image for pre-production tweaking, but it’s always available from the Filter menu to apply post-production tweaks to all kinds of compositions. Illustrator and art director Mario Sánchez Nevado (http://


© Adam Spizak

EXPERIMENT WITH VALUES Experiment with the values; each slider represents the axis, so move them in the opposite directions for stronger chromatic aberration.

ADD CHROMATIC ABERRATION Chromatic aberration is used to shi the colours off the spectrum a bit and results in edges of different colours not aligning perfectly, therefore making the image look soer.

COMBINE WITH NOISE This effect works great when using colour noise, as it merges all the elements of the image to create a cohesive single shot. Adam Spizak used the Chromatic Aberration option within the Lens Correction filter to soen his image uses the Camera Raw filter as his final step on many of his photoreal compositions. “I use this to adjust final lighting and void extreme highlights and shadows on the histogram, ensuring the image will have the correct white and black balances on all devices and prints. Also, it’s very useful to refine colour, as it gives more correction options than usual image adjustments in Photoshop. If you are


working on photography or photoreal digital compositions, the Noise Reduction adjustment here is best when you want to equalise all the different items contained in your image, and it’s also way more powerful than Photoshop’s default one. In the example shown here, you can see that colours are popping out more, the atmosphere is stronger and the lighting is more dramatic after applying the filter.” © Mario Sánchez Nevado 2015

The Camera Raw filter is applied to a Smart Object layer to be edited. The aer image shows better contrast and the colours ‘pop’ more


ADVANCED The traditional Blur selection of filters is still present, but it has in many ways been replaced by the Blur Gallery, which offers much more powerful blur effects. Not only are the effects more natural and distinct than the traditional automated blur options, but they also introduce intuitive on-image controls to apply the effect to the right location and control the strength, direction and intensity. The Blur Gallery is essential for Amar Kakad’s work, particularly for applying to his vehicle retouches. He highlights the Spin Blur, which rotates and blurs an image around one or more points: “I use this a lot when I need to simulate movement on a tyre.” He also makes use of Path Blur to add motion blur along a specific path, which Kakad applies to simulate movement on a road or environment. As with Blur, Sharpen has its own section in the Filters menu and there are a number of different options to choose from. Sharpening, by any method, should be the very last step in your image-editing process. First, because further editing might introduce artefacts or banding due to the increase in contrast. Also, you may need to adjust the level of sharpening for different outputs, such as print, web, mobile and so on. For professional results, don’t rely on the automated options, like Sharpen, Sharpen Edges and Sharpen More, as these can easily over-do the effect and look amateur. Both Edmond Yang and illustrator Mario Sánchez Nevado (http:// use the Smart Sharpen filter because of the total control that it offers – you © Mario Sánchez Nevado 2013

© PixelPaint. Art director Khurram Haque and creative director Nitin Srivastava at OGILVY, Delhi

The team at PixelPaint uses a wide range of Photoshop filters in all of its compositions to help achieve the photo-real effect it is known for

can sharpen the effects of specific types of blur (such as Lens Blur, Gaussian Blur and Motion Blur), reduce associated noise and adjust the pixel edge radius for an accurate finish. Unsharp Mask is good for “giving photos an extra punch in sharpness,” says Yang. It uses a different method for sharpening; rather than edge detection, it increases the contrast along the edges of an image, determined by pixels

ADD TEXTURE TO 3D RENDERS Usually we want to remove noise from images, particularly in photo editing, so you may wonder why there is an Add Noise option (under Filter>Noise). Illustrator and designer Adam Spizak is one artist who uses it in a lot of his work, as he explains: “One of the issues when working with 3D renders (or many stock images) is that they are often too perfect and can look over-sharp and unnaturally smooth. The Add Noise filter adds imperfection to your work that makes it more natural for the human eye to look at. Create a new layer, place it on top of your layer stack and use a black fill colour. Apply the Add Noise filter to the black solid layer (the Amount will vary depending on the image resolution), change the blending mode to Screen and lower the Opacity (5-7%). The noise should be soft enough to not be noticeable and strong enough to add texture and graininess to the image.”

© Adam Spizak Liquify was used to deform some items, as well as the Camera Raw filter for post-production and the Oil Paint filter



EFFECTS WITH FILTERS different in value from their surrounding pixels based on your chosen Threshold, Amount and Radius values. It is easy to oversharpen with this method, which can result in a halo around your subject. Images may also appear over-saturated, but this can be improved by changing the layer’s blending mode to Luminosity. There is another filter-based method used for sharpening images by the pros, but it isn’t obvious at first glance. The High Pass filter is hidden in the Other menu and it has myriad uses, one of which is that it can be manipulated into use as a sharpening tool, thanks to its fantastic edge-detection capabilities. The Radius is the only control that you have over the filter, and the higher the value, the more sharpening that is applied. Keep this number fairly low to avoid the over-sharpened look, and apply to the image. All you will see is a neutral grey fill layer with the edges of the image detected and highlighted (as determined by that Radius slider) – you want a subtle outline of the key details of your image for a natural finish. Change the blending mode of this layer to Overlay to eradicate the areas of neutral grey, and leave just the highlighted edges visible, making the whole image appear much sharper.

APPLYING FILTERS PROFESSIONALLY Even high-end studios use Photoshop filters to achieve their professional results. Chirad Doshi and Prasad Shetty of PixelPaint (www.pixelpaint. in) apply a number of them in combination to achieve their photoreal compositions for clients: “Photoshop’s built-in filters are great tools for us to help make the image look as real as possible. We use them widely, but the most common of them are Liquify, Sharpen, Blur, Displace and even Filter Gallery options like Spatter, Oil Paint and Plastic Wrap.” While filters are commonly used for photoediting and retouching, as well as composite work and photomanipulations, they also have their uses in the world of graphic design, branding, web design and UI creation. Maurizio Pagnozzi ( is a brand designer who makes particular use of the Vanishing Point filter. While many of his graphics are drawn in Illustrator, he uses Photoshop for creating mockups of his work on the intended end products for clients to visualise the result. “Vanishing Point is a very useful filter to insert drawings, textures or other graphic elements into a photo/picture and maintain the perspective,” he explains. “Use the Create Plane Tool to draw the four corners of the perspective plane on your business card or letterhead. Click OK when your plane is correct, open your graphic element and Copy it (Cmd/Ctrl+C).

DRAW YOUR PERSPECTIVE PLANE This is the Create Plane tool and is the starting point for using this filter. Click the four corners of the object you wish to use to generate a plane.

THE PERSPECTIVE GRID A blue grid now appears over the object and this is your perspective plane. It can be adjusted if you have made a mistake by dragging the corner points/nodes.

PROFESSIONAL USES Having a library of blank stationery images is essential in branding work, such as the business cards and letterhead shown here, which can be reused time and again.

Maurizio Pagnozzi uses the Vanishing Point filter to apply his graphic elements to blank stationery images in perfect perspective for Photoshop mockups of his designs

Return to the source image and reopen the Vanishing Point filter, then Paste (Cmd/Ctrl+V) the graphic. Drag the graphic into the blue plane created earlier and, without any effort, the object should lie on the plane assuming the correct perspective distortion.” The Vanishing Point filter is also useful for architectural photography. For example, a photograph of an interior for retail might be boosted by adding in a painting on the wall to create a more ‘homely’ feel. A completely separate file of a painting can be easily added to the interior photograph’s wall using the Vanishing Point filter to draw a plane on the wall and paste the painting in perfect perspective. When it comes to creating work for clients, time is of the essence, with tight deadlines and even tighter budgets. Some of the filters in Photoshop are now so powerful that they can

© Maurizio Pagnozzi

help to streamline workflows and even cut out whole production steps. For example, in web design, sourcing photography with the right lighting to make up parts of the overall design can be costly. Stock photography is expensive, as is hosting a photo shoot. The Lighting Effects filter has come on a lot over the last few iterations, taking concepts out of the 3D world and applying them to the advanced algorithms in the filter. What this means is that designers can now take a flat photograph and apply realistic lighting setups to it that lift the images and make them appear as though they were professionally shot in a studio. Whatever your initial thoughts on filters, hopefully you will see that they have developed greatly and are worthy of your time, attention and experimentation to elevate your artwork to the next level.

An example of graphics applied to blank stationery images using the Vanishing Point filter by brand designer Maurizio Pagnozzi

© Maurizio Pagnozzi


Advanced Retouch product photography


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Essentials Time taken 1 hour

Expert Matt Bennett “I’ve oen found myself needing to retouch product shots and make them look more appealing. Photoshop is a huge part of what it means to be a modern digital photographer and, provided it’s used carefully and honestly, it should be used to its full potential to enhance images and make them the best they can be. Productphotography retouching perhaps focuses particularly on corrective retouching, but there’s also room for some more creative work, too. “I am the Deputy Editor of Digital Photographer magazine. Before joining the team, I worked as a portrait photographer for five years and before that as a fulltime retoucher and colour corrector for a professional printing lab.”

Retouch product photography Take your studio shots to the next level with these essential Photoshop editing techniques


roduct photography and Photoshop have long enjoyed a close relationship. Stunning product photography is shot for advertising and commercial reasons; in other words, to sell something. This involves making the item, whether it’s a watch, bottle of perfume, or as here, a bottle of aftershave, look as good as possible, going beyond what can normally be achieved in-camera. Of course, it helps to have an excellent starting image to work with. Product photographers often use smoke, shattered glass or other striking visual effects to create a photo that’s already got a bold,

eye-grabbing appeal – sophisticated, elegant and enticing. But this kind of photography is inherently unpredictable, no matter how many times you’ve done it, and the tricks you use in-camera are likely to give rise to the need for a bit of retouching in the form of some tidying of the composition. Furthermore, because the aim of product photography is to make something look as visually appealing as possible, there is scope for creative, as well as corrective, retouching. This tutorial will cover some key techniques that you can use as a springboard for your own images.

Correct the colour

Fix the exposure



The most immediate problem here is that the exposure is a little under where it should be, while the colour balance looks a bit warm. Create a Levels adjustment layer and click on the middle eyedropper. This enables you to then click on the background, just next to the aftershave bottle, and see an immediate improvement in colour.

Luckily, we can perform our next task without the need to leave the Levels adjustment layer. The image looks slightly underexposed and dull, and you may notice that the histogram isn’t reaching to the far right. To fix this, drag the white point to the left until it meets with the edge of the histogram.


Advanced Retouch product photography Expert edit Shooting with glass

Enhance the glass Select a space


You really need to work in a suitable space – such as a studio or spacious garage – in order to shoot product photography using glass. Don’t attempt to do something like this lightly.


The shattered glass is a key feature of this image so it’s worth making the most of it during your Photoshop editing work. Create a new layer, which will be Layer 1 by default. Change its blend mode to Color and then double-click on the Foreground swatch to bring up the Color Picker to choose a tone to enhance the glass with.

Adjust the Flow setting


We’ll now use the colour that’s just been selected to paint over the glass and give it some more impact within the image. You want to build this gradually, and a reduced brush opacity might seem the obvious choice, but lowering the Flow of the brush instead can produce better results.

Paint the glass


Now you can begin painting over the glass. Simply use the Eraser tool if you make a mistake, or press Cmd/Ctrl+Z to take a step back. If you wish, lower the opacity setting of the brush, too.

Eliminate chance


Trying to guess when to fire the shutter button in conjunction with dropping a bottle of aftershave, even with an assistant, is difficult, so use a sound trigger to set everything off when the glass shatters.

Trigger the lights


A TriggerSmart device or similar will work in response to the sound trigger and ensure that the flash fires in co-ordination with the camera that is taking the image.



Don’t expect this sort of thing to work after just one attempt – it might take multiple drops, and several sheets of glass, before you finally capture the frame you want.


Boost the definition

Apply the High Pass



Click back on the Background layer and duplicate it. Change the blend mode of the Background copy to Soft Light and then head to the Filter menu. Scroll down to Other and High Pass.

Tweak the slider until you get a result you are happy with, paying attention to the image preview as you do so. Click OK. If you wish, you can try changing the blend mode of this layer to Overlay or Hard Light.

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Expert tip Work with layers

Work with modes

Tidy the product


Create a new layer and then select the Healing Brush, changing the settings for this so that All Layers are sampled. Zoom in to 100% and inspect all areas of the aftershave bottle to avoid overlooking something.


Replace mode works well for trickier areas of the image where you don’t want Photoshop to try to blend the pixels, and is similar to the Clone Stamp. Normal mode will be worth using for some parts of the debris, however.

Improve the background

Copy and clone


You may come across an imperfect edge, where a shard of glass has obscured the perimeter of the bottle. You could use the Healing Brush for this, but it’s simpler to go back to the Background layer, Lasso a better part of the bottle, press Cmd/Ctrl+J to copy this to a new layer and then use the Move tool (V) to perform a repair.


Colour-grade the image

Create a layer mask



Colour grading is a notion that’s derived from film, where it’s common practice to tone footage to create a certain ambiance. We can do something similar with stills, and Photoshop provides many options for this. Double-click the Foreground swatch to bring up the Color Picker and select a colour to use.

The power of layers cannot be overstated. Edits have been applied on their own layer, so you can easily go back and adjust a step. You should take the time to rename individual layers so it’s clear what each one is; it’s easy to forget what Layer 5 was there for once you’ve arrived at Layer 10. Keep in mind how your layers interact with each other. For example, when the edge of the bottle was patched, the High Pass layer needed to be edited at the same point with the Eraser.

Create a new layer again. Inspect the background for sensor spots, which tend to be rather visible on a white studio background such as this. However, you should also remove stray fragments of glass that aren’t adding anything to the main effect. Some flare at the top of the frame can also be dealt with now.

Press Cmd/Ctrl+Backspace to fill the layer with the colour you chose. Change the blend mode of this layer to Overlay and create a layer mask. Use the Brush tool with black as the Foreground colour to paint over the bottle, thus removing the new colour. Pressing the backspace key will highlight your mask in red.

Increase the contrast


Once again, there are several ways to do much the same thing in Photoshop, but Curves is a powerful option. Create a Curves adjustment layer, change the blend mode to Luminosity to preserve the colour, and then fashion a gentle S-shaped curve.


Advanced Retouch product photography

Use the Pen tool

Make a selection



Having cleaned up some of the very small fragments earlier, there’s no harm in adding in one or two bigger bits of glass. Use the Pen tool to make a selection of an existing one.

Once you’ve created a path around the bit of glass, right-click to bring up a menu of options, many of which will be greyed out. Near the top, you’ll find Make Selection – click on this.

Dodge and burn Choose selection options

Relocate the glass



A dialog box will appear, and here you can choose precisely how the path you created with the Pen tool will be converted into a selection. It’s best to leave Anti-alised checked, but Feathering is probably best left set to 0.

Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to take your bit of glass to a new layer, and then use the Move tool to relocate the glass. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+T to activate the Free Transform tool. This enables you to rotate and re-orientate the shard.


Create a new layer and press Shift+Backspace for the Fill options box. Here, you want to select 50% Neutral Gray and then press OK. Change the blend mode of the layer to Soft Light and then use the Brush tool on a low opacity, such as 10%, to brighten (with white) and darken (with black) parts of the image.


What you’ll learn

Apply custom colours to different parts of the scene using the Color Picker and enhance these with blending modes.

Key product retouching skills HEALING OPTIONS Make the Healing Brush function as an even more powerful version of the common Clone Stamp tool by switching to the Replace mode.

BRUSH OPTIONS Discover how adjusting the Flow on the Brush tool can offer more flexibility than merely lowering the opacity setting.


LAYER EFFECTS You will discover how adjustment layers can be used in conjunction with empty layers to produce creative effects.


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Advanced Make 3D wooden letters

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Essentials Time taken 3h

Exper Kirk Nelson “My first interest in CG art was based in 3D. When Photoshop began working in 3D, I was therefore keen to get involved. “I’m a professional graphics artist with nearly 20 years of experience in photomanipulation and digital illustration. At heart, I’m just a friendly graphics geek!”


Make 3D wooden letters Achieve 3D letters that appear to be crafted out of wood


hotoshop first began its foray into 3D several versions ago when there was a feature known as Repousse that was targeted primarily at creating 3D text. Today, Photoshop boasts a much more robust 3D feature set. One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that the majority of 3D Photoshop work still centres around creating 3D text. It’s great for typography artwork, or creative headlines for movie posters.

In this tutorial we will explore some advanced features. We start with some humble text and learn how to give each letter its own 3D extrusion settings and distortions. We use a wooden texture along with a Normal map to give authentic bump-like texture to the wood. We will also look at the 3D paint system and lighting setups that use HDR images to create realistic lighting. So follow along in our 3D typography adventure!

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Start with text

Text to shape



Begin with a new file that is 5550 pixels wide by 2360 pixels high and on a white background. Add in the text using a separate type layer for each word. Choose big, bold typefaces as they will translate easier to 3D blocks.

Right-click on each type layer and select Convert to Shape. Then use the Direct Selection tool to select the points surrounding the dot of the ‘i’ in the word ‘is’ and hit the delete key to remove it.


Advanced Make 3D wooden letters

Convert to 3D


For each text layer, go to 3D>New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer. Photoshop will change to the 3D workspace and extrude the text into 3D blocks. Change the Extrusion Depth to -1000px in order to extrude the text forwards instead of backwards.

Merge 3D objects


Currently, all the words exist in an independent 3D scene. To combine them all into a single 3D scene, Shift-select all the 3D layers in the Layers panel and go to 3D>Merge 3D Objects. Then use the Move tool to arrange the words in 3D space to form a basic composition.

Create 3D meshes

Make a bevelled edge



To be able to manipulate the individual letters, the words need to be separated into individual meshes. Select each 3D word and go to 3D>Split Extrusion. Notice in the 3D panel how each individual letter is now a separate 3D mesh.

Select each of the letters for the ‘adventure’ word and go to the Cap tab in the Properties panel. Set the Sides to Back, Width to 5%, Angle to -45% and Contour to Half Round. This gives a subtle rounded edge to the 3D blocks.

Deformation adjustments


Select each letter block in turn and go to the Deform tab in the Properties panel. Give each letter a unique value for Twist, Horizontal Angle and Vertical Angle. Because the extrusion is negative, these adjustments will move the front of each letter instead of the back.

Wood texture Other bevels


Select each letter of the word ‘art’ and use the Cap tab to adjust the bevel settings. Set the Sides to Back, Width to 25% and Angle to 45%. This word will have an inset bevelled edge to it.



Go to the Material tab of the 3D panel and Cmd/ Ctrl-click each Extrusion material. This will select the materials assigned to the extruded sides of the letters. Go to the Properties panel, click the folder next to Diffuse and select Load Texture. Select ‘WoodTextureDiffuse.jpg’ from the FileSilo.

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Normal maps

Edit the diffuse map



While the extrusion materials are still selected, set the Shine to 50% and the Ambient to a medium grey. Then click on the Normal folder icon and load the ‘WoodTextureNormal.jpg’ from the FileSilo. Apply the same wood texture maps to the Back Bevel materials too.

Add a bit of noise


Add a new layer over the colour fills and fill this layer with white. Clip the layer to the stack and change the blending mode to Multiply. Then go to Filter>Noise> Add Noise and set the Amount to 25%. This gives the letter textures a slight roughness.

Select any of the Back Inflation Materials for the ‘ADVENTURE’ letters and go to the Diffuse setting and Edit Texture. A new file opens with the word as a shape layer. Add a clipped layer above the shape and use rough selections and coloured fills to create an assortment of colours for the letters.

Layer the wood grain


Use Edit>Place to layer in the wood grain texture over the letters. Clip the wood grain to the stack and hide the texture with a layer mask. Use a brush with the Chalk Brush tip and white paint to reveal the wood at some of the corner areas. Then save and close the file.

Assign a copper edge


Select the Back Bevel Materials for the ‘art’ word. Open the Materials library and assign the Metal Copper 2 material. If you don’t see the metals in your library, use the small gear icon at the top right to load the Metal materials.

Make a copper gradient

Brush in 3D Paint



Edit the diffuse texture for the copper material and use the Gradient tool (which is hidden in the 3D workspace – use the bottom icon in the toolbar to reveal it) to add a copper gradient vertically to the texture. Add a touch of noise with the Noise filter before saving and closing the texture file.

Grab the Brush tool and use the Round Rough Bristle tip. Select a dark brown colour from the wood texture. In the Properties panel, click the icon for 3D Paint. Then use the brush to paint directly on the model. The idea is to break up the perfect appearance of the wooden textures.


Advanced Make 3D wooden letters Expert edit Final touch-ups

HDRI lighting Quick colour trick


An easy way to deepen the colours in the final render is to create another copy of the render layer and set the blending mode to Soft Light.

Infinite Light settings


In the 3D panel, switch to the Light tab and select Infinite Light 1. Adjust the light direction to be originating from above the camera’s viewpoint. Set the colour to a pale yellow (#f0dba4), Intensity to 75%, and the Shadow Softness to 50%.


Switch to the Environment light and load a file into the IBL texture. Use the ‘CreativeIBL-04-RoomB.hdr’ file by going to downloads/ This file uses a high dynamic range image to generate realistic environment lighting. Then set the Shadow Softness to 50%.

Render time


Go to 3D> Render 3D Layer. Photoshop will render out the 3D layer into a final image. This will take some time, so plan ahead! When the render is done, go to Select>All then go to Layer>New>Layer Via Copy to copy the final render onto a new layer.

Hand-painted grunge


Create a selection based on the render by Cmd/Ctrl-clicking that layer and use the selection as a layer mask on a new layer. Then use the standard painting tools to roughen the surface.

Wood texture overlay


The wooden texture map is a good overlay for some additional interest. Layer it above the render and set blend mode to Soft Light. Use selections and layer mask to control the appearance.

Post-production touch-ups Dodge and Burn tools


Add a layer filled with 50% gray and set the blend mode to Overlay to render the grey invisible. Use the Dodge and Burn tools to paint in deeper shadows, brighter highlights and metallic gleams.


Background gradient


Add a new layer underneath the render layer and use the Gradient tool to add a linear gradient from a tan colour (#d0bfab) to transparent, starting at the bottom of the frame and stretching upwards.


Use the regular image-editing features of Photoshop to add any touch-ups or corrections to the final image. See the Expert Edit on the left for some suggestions. Then create a merged layer at the top by holding down the Alt/Opt key and going to Layer>Merge Visible. Convert that merged layer to a Smart Object.

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Expert tip More 3D painting

Add some focal blur Apply the Camera Raw Filter


Go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter and in the Basic tab, set the Shadows to +17, the Clarity to +30, and the Vibrance to +12. Switch to the Fx tab and set the Post Crop Vignette Amount to -14.

What can go wrong


Go to Filter>Blur Gallery>Iris Blur and set the blur widget’s point at the corner of the ‘U’ in ‘Adventure’. Then set the Blur to 15px and drag the outer ring around so it encompasses the entire set of words. Click OK and you are done!

The ability to paint directly onto the 3D surface in Photoshop is handy, especially since it can cross over material boundaries by using the Projection ode instead of texture. That means if you wanted one of the blocks to have ink splashed on the front, you can paint that directly on, even though it would need to modify multiple textures. 3D painting isn’t limited to just the diffuse property. Brushes can be used to apply qualities such as bump, shininess and roughness.


Extrusions are confusing In step 3 of this tutorial it’s specified that the 3D extrusion should be set to a negative value. That is not a mistake, it is intentional. The negative setting pulls the extrusion forward instead of pushing it backwards. The only reason this is important is because in step 7 the individual letters are slightly twisted and bent to give the wooden blocks some character. These settings change the relation of the extruded face, not the original base. So if the extrusion was positive, the twist setting would change the face of the block opposite the viewpoint, which is much more difficult to work with. By using the negative extrusion, it ensures the back face of the letters all stay nicely aligned and in place while the front face is manipulated.



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Ele m en ts

Elements 18 pages of practical guides Create more in Elements…

Essential techniques Follow the step-by-step tutorials

On the FileSilo

Create movement with Speed Pan ..........................................88 Use layer and clipping masks for poster art ..................90 Replace textures in your photos ................................................. 94 Paint a watercolour city......................................................................100 Q&A: Common problems in Elements...............................104

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Surreal art…

TERS Discover how to use layers, filters, styles and more to make a creative composition in a water droplet p96

ts n e m Ele What does it mean?

HIGH PASS – High Pass is a filter that converts your image into mostly neutral grey. Where the blacks and whites are strongest on the outlines becomes visible in the High Pass layer. Set to a blend mode that processes light and dark pixels – Overlay, Soft Light or Linear Light – to sharpen your image.

CHOOSING THE OBJECT Be sure to pick an object that isn’t already blurred when you create the Speed Pan effect.

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Tool focus…

Start image

Create movement with Speed Pan Master movement with Elements 15’s brand new Guided option Blurring and sharpening is far more important to a photo than you might actually think. It can indicate how far away the background is, give focus to your subjects, and in this case, turn a stationary vehicle into a moving one. There are all kinds of reasons you might need to add a little motion to your images, not least because physically photographing a moving object can be extremely difficult. By applying the blur to the background in this tutorial manually, we can sharpen the car as much as we like. Elements makes it possible to add and remove the blur wherever you like, to different degrees of intensity, and you can even vary the angle at which the blur is applied in the options.


The Guided section of Elements is fantastic for adding simple edits like this, and it’s full of effects that you can mix together. Once you’ve applied a Speed Pan to your work, you may wish to go to the Expert tab to edit further. You’ll find that the Guided edit actually creates three new separate layers; the first is a duplicate of the existing image, the second is a blurred layer minus your selected object, and the third is your selected object masked on top. As with everything in Elements, this effect is completely editable. The masked object can be sharpened further, and the blurred background can also be blurred further. Remember to experiment in the Expert tab once you have your image.

Ele m en ts

Applying the blur effect Keep an object still and blur the background


Alt/Opt-drag with Quick Selection to remove from the selection

Select the object

Add the motion blur

Go to the Guided tab across the top of Elements and find Speed Pan in the Fun Edits section. Start off with the Quick Selection tool, drawing over the object you want to remain static. You can vary your brush size and use Add and Subtract to perfect the selection.



Refine the effect

Fix in Expert



Use the Refine Effect brush next to touch-up the selection between the blurring and object. Again you can vary brush size, and choose opacity while you tidy the image, just to blur anything you missed in the original selection.

Move down to the Add Motion Blur part of the edit. Increase the Intensity – 202 should be sufficient – and choose the Angle that you’d like the background to blur in. We chose 5 degrees. It’s wise to keep this in the same direction as the car for better realism.

Finally, feel free to edit the image further in Expert mode. This might be to refine the blur effect, but we also added a High Pass layer (hit Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E, and go to Filter>Other>High Pass) set to Overlay, just to sharpen the car a little more.

Other blurs to try Move on to other effects once you’ve mastered Speed Pan

Speed Effect Just as the Speed Pan effect was added to Elements 15, Elements 14 brought with it the Speed Effect edit, also in the Fun Edits, in the Guided tab of Elements. While the Speed Pan focuses on the background, the Speed Effect acts as a motion blur to give speed to your subject. It works in a similar way, and makes for an optional second edit that you can apply to a Speed Pan edit.

Zoom Burst The Zoom Burst effect is another Guided edit that relies on blurring. Rather than a straight blur, the Zoom Burst comes from all angles as a radial blur; simply drag and refine the effect as you would with the Speed Effect or Speed Pan, leaving focus on the centre of your object (in this case, the head of the seagull).

Blur in Expert Mode Once you’ve experimented enough with the Guided tab of Elements, head to Expert and discover all the effects that are located in the Filter>Blur menu. You can apply Motion Blur and Radial Blur just as you can in the Guided section, but a good tip is to duplicate your layer, apply a blur and then hit Mask, before using a brush to apply that blur in a specific place.


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

Creative project…

Use layer and clipping masks for poster art Use shapes, blend modes and masks to fashion a band poster When throwing around the term ‘mask,’ chances are layer masks are involved. But what about clipping masks? Though some users may balk at utilising them, they’re an important part of the creative arsenal. Confining an image within text is the perfect example of a clipping mask in action. The text masks the image, which beats trying to manually cut the image in the shape of the text. This tutorial will provide practice for using both layer and clipping masks. A layer mask is a mask that’s added to a layer (very logical indeed). Click the Add Layer Mask button above the Layers palette to add one to the selected layer. The mask is white, meaning the whole layer is


visible. You can introduce black – for example, with the Brush tool – to hide parts of the layer. Finesse the masking by reducing brush size, opacity and hardness. Paint with white if you need to reveal parts that were obscured while masking. A clipping mask uses the non-transparent contents of a layer to mask another layer. With the example of an image confined within text, the text is the mask. To create a clipping mask, hold Option/Alt and click between two layers (the lower one is the mask). Both layers remain independently editable and you can continue to mask successive layers.

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STAGE 1 Set the stage Create shapes, and blend and mask images

What does it mean?

CLIPPING MASK – A clipping mask uses one layer to dictate the visibility of a layer (or successive layers) directly above. A mask can be a shape or even text. Option/Alt+click between two layers to create the mask. Alternatively, you can right-click on the upper layer and choose Create Clipping Mask.

Designing a band poster is a fun exercise for your layout skills. If you don’t have a design gig lined up with a band, why not create your own selfinitiated advertisement? The Pixels, the poster’s imaginary musical heroes, are about to embark on a mini-tour. Starting in London, they’ll touch some European cities, then rock out across the US. You’ll make use of the various Shape tools to lay out some basic shapes. You’ll then blend in clouds via layer masks and confine a concert shot within a circle using a clipping mask.

Create rectangles


Open ‘Start.psd’. Select the Rectangle tool. Drag out a large rectangle covering the top. Double-click the layer thumbnail and set the colour to #e4d8e2. Make three smaller strips on separate layers using #d0aa6b and white. Vary layer Opacity (13%, 50%, 25%). When done, select the top layer in preparation for the next step.

Blend clouds

Use a clipping mask



Go to File>Place and grab ‘Clouds.jpg’. Scale it up a bit and position at the top. Commit. Set the blend mode to Overlay. Drop Opacity to 70%. Click the Add Layer Mask button above layers. Select the Brush tool (Soft Round brush). Adjust the brush size with the [ and ] keys. Paint black (80-100% brush Opacity) to fade the edge.

With the Ellipse tool, create a circle (any colour at 100% Opacity) in the centre. Place ‘Concert.jpg’. Scale up, covering the circle, then commit the place. Option/Alt+click between the layers. Go to Filter>Stylize>Extrude. Click OK to simplify. Set to Type: Blocks, Size: 20, Depth: 20 (Level-based). Tick the bottom options. Click OK.


BLENDED CLOUDS The clouds image is placed atop the rectangles and set to Overlay, its bottom edge faded with a layer mask.

While dragging out a shape, hold space to reposition



Be ready to adjust the various elements’ positioning in response to changes in the evolving composition.

The concert image is placed perfectly within a circle thanks to a clipping mask.



Basic shapes lay the foundation for the design. To change colour, double-click the layer thumbnail and choose a colour.

The Extrude filter is used for an interesting pixelated effect that plays off the band’s name.


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STAGE 2 Build up the focal area

FREE TRANSFORM Use Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to scale, rotate and move shapes. To scale proportionately, tick Constrain Proportions in the Options bar.

Add more shapes, images and clipping masks With the basics sorted, it’s time to build up the central area using more shapes and masks. Remember, you can mask more than one layer with a clipping mask as long as they’re successive. You can even clip adjustment layers to a mask! As you continue building the composition, you may find the need to move a mask and its clipped layers at the same time. Select the mask, Shift+click the topmost clipped layer, then use the Move tool to reposition all the layers in tandem.

Alter colour


Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button above the Layers palette and choose Solid Color. Pick #e7c485. Option/ Alt+click between this layer and the Concert layer below to mask. Set the blend mode to Color. Drop the Opacity to 50%.

Add more circles


Create another circle (#cccccc) a bit off-centre. Place ‘Concert.jpg’ (scale up a bit) and clip to the circle. Set Opacity: 60%. Create and clip three circles (#dda6a5, #ebddeb, white) on separate, successive layers. Vary Opacity (100%, 40%, 15%). Use the Move tool to arrange the clipped layers.

Use a triangle


Select the Polygon tool and set Sides to 3 in the Options bar. Create a triangle (any colour, 100% Opacity) on a new layer at the top of the stack. Place ‘Clouds.jpg’. Clip to the triangle. Drop Opacity to 70%. Scale up a bit, covering the triangle, then commit.

Paint shadows

Mask adjustment and fill

Add another triangle




Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button in the Layers palette and choose Solid Color. Pick black. Move below the triangle. Invert the adjustment’s layer mask (Cmd/Ctrl+I). Paint white with Brush tool (5-10% brush Opacity) to add slight shadows.


Click the top Clouds layer. Click the ‘Create new fill/adjustment layer’ button and choose Levels. Clip the adjustment layer to the mask. Set midtones: 2. Add a Color Fill layer and choose #d5e0e8. Clip to the mask. Set the blend mode to Color.

Create another triangle (white) at the top within the existing triangle. As with the circle in step 2, have it slightly off-centre to keep things from looking completely proper and lined up (we’re dealing with a raucous rock band, after all).

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STAGE 3 Add a focus image and text



Choose a fitting font (or fonts). Here, a sans serif font is used for a clean, modern look.

Two adjustment layers (Photo Filter and Levels) are added as a finishing touch. Feel free to try more.

Round out the design with the main picture and text If you’re only showcasing one image in your design, make it count. Here, a single tree standing strongly symbolises the solidarity between the band’s fans on both sides of the Atlantic. You’ll mask the image with a triangle and add inner shadows to help push just enough depth without overdoing it and making it distracting. You’ll add textual content with the Type tool. Use existing colour to help tie everything together.

STRIKING IMAGERY A single tree symbolises solidarity among fans of different nations. Try using your own striking, symbolic image.

Add the main image

Mask adjustments



Place ‘Tree.jpg’. Scale to position over the smaller triangle before committing. Create a clipping mask using the triangle. Add a Color Fill layer (black), clip to mask. Drop Opacity to 50%. Paint black at 90-100% brush Opacity to restore the colour in the tree image.

Click the ‘Create new fill/adjustment layer’ button and choose Levels. Clip it. Set shadows: 12, midtones: 1.2, highlights: 227, dark Output Level to 20 (or fiddle with these yourself). Add a Color Fill layer and choose #cb8091. Clip it. Set to Overlay blend mode.


Undo clipping mask: Option/Alt+ click between layers

Bring in the text


Use the Horizontal Type tool to add text to new layers. Use settings in Options bar to customise. To pick a colour from the canvas, click the Color box, click the Color Picker icon at bottom right, then click on the canvas. Use the Rectangle tool to create a divider.

Apply final adjustments


Select the top layer. Click the ‘Create new fill/adjustment layer’ button and choose Photo Filter. Set Filter to Deep Blue and drag Density to around 50%. Paint black (80-100% brush Opacity) in the mask to restore warmth centrally. Add a Levels adjustment layer. Twiddle the settings until you’re satisfied. Save your work.


ts n e m Ele What does it mean?

FILL LAYER – The Fill Layer icon is the one next to the Mask icon at the top of the Layers palette, which consists of a half blue and half white circle. These apply non-destructive adjustments to your layers; you can tweak brightness, colour or contrast for example, without editing the layer itself.

SHADE YOUR IMAGE Brush in light and shade on a layer set to So Light for a more believable composition.

SHARPEN Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/ Opt+Shi+E, go to Filter>Other>High Pass and choose Overlay to sharpen.

Start image

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

Photo edit…

Replace texture in your photos Create a hybrid animal with a new pattern using masks and blending Photo edits don’t just have to consist of fixing the lighting or retouching a model. Some photo edits think outside the box, and replacing an entire texture of an animal is the kind of imaginative edit that really pushes the boundaries of what you can create with Photoshop Elements. The key to this kind of edit, as with any surreal composition, is to pay attention to the basics. For this image, we’ll need an array of leopard print textures that we can add to the zebra and overlay onto different parts of its body to make it look realistic. When you add a


texture, be sure to resize it so that the pattern is roughly the same size as the other patterns you’ve already added. Adjusting each layer is key to getting them to blend together too, and it’s important to manually add light and shade to finish up the image as a whole. While we’ve combined a leopard with a zebra though, this isn’t the only option. Why not mix two different kinds of birds or even mix an animal with a completely different kind of texture altogether, such as denim or paper? The best thing about a tutorial like this is that it relies on your creativity.

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Apply the texture Use masking and blending to create a convincing result


Hit X to jump from Foreground to Background swatches

Apply a texture

Build on the texture

Open your zebra image and paste a leopard over the top. Resize over the zebra, hit the Mask icon and then Invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I). Grab the Brush tool (B), choose white in your swatches and mask in the texture over the top of your image.



Blend the image

Now adjust



Select and group all of the leopard texture layers (Cmd/Ctrl+G). Adjust each layer in order to blend the image as a whole; Hue/ Saturation and Brightness/Contrast can be used for this. Add a Fill Color layer of #e19e35, set to Soft Light and clip to the whole layer group to unify colour.

Use the other supplied leopard images in the same way as you applied the first texture, masking in various images across the zebra’s body. Use similar parts of both animals to make for a more realistic image.

Continue adjusting the project. Use Brightness/Contrast (Brightness: +10, Contrast: +5) and Hue/Saturation (Saturation: +15) on the image as a whole, and create new layers to brush on highlights and shadows. Select a soft 10% opaque brush, and brush either black or white onto a Soft Light layer to do this.

Other useful tools Check out the other features that can help create this effect

Blend modes If you have an animal like an elephant or rhino that is naturally a neutral grey colour, blend modes such as So Light and Overlay can help to add a texture to the animal without negating any of the animal’s original texture.

Clone Stamp The Clone Stamp is most often used for

Warp and distort Oen, the textures you want to apply don’t fit

retouching, but it can be a creative tool, too. Paste the texture you want to apply onto the image that you wish to apply it to. By Alt/Optclicking on a source and brushing the texture on a new layer, you can apply it while seeing exactly where you’re applying it to.

the subject you wish to apply them to. By using Liquify (Filter>Distort>Liquify) and Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T), you can resize and reshape textures ready to apply to other animals. Drag the texture into the image so that you can compare it to the other animal as you work.


ts n e m Ele SURREAL EFFECTS Get to grips with filters and the Effect panel to create a fantastic composition like this from scratch.

What does it mean?

SIMPLIFY LAYER – Sometimes you can’t apply a style or filter to a layer until it has been simplified. Smart Objects, type layers and shape layers may need to be converted into pixels (simplified) so you can edit the layer, applying filters, styles or using the painting tools. To simplify a layer, go to Layer>Simplify.

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

Surreal art…

Combine filters and styles

Start image

Use filters and styles to create a scene in a water droplet In this tutorial, you will be introduced to several techniques to create a surreal water-drop effect. You’ll start by creating a beautiful background using the Spot Healing brush to extract unwanted elements, and then apply the Gaussian Blur filter to create a depth-of-field effect. Next, you will create the droplet from scratch. You’ll start with a simple flat image, then you’ll apply the Spherize filter to add a spherical shape and 3D look. You’ll use the Clone Stamp tool to add some reflections around the sphere, and add gradients and layers styles to create shadows and highlights for ultimate realism. Finally, you’ll learn how to use the Polar Coordinates


filter and blending modes to create an amazing effect to enhance the highlights and add details to the composition. The tools and techniques you’re about to learn will help you to advance your Elements skills. During the tutorial, you’ll be instructed to merge and duplicate some layers, so follow each step closely and don’t forget to clip and hide the extra layers. Also, apply the adjustments to enhance the colours and tones and create a better finish. Check the Expert Tip and the boxout for extra information and tips, but for now, download the stock images from the FileSilo and start learning new creative techniques.

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Powerful filters Take your Elements skills further with this very easy step-by-step guide

Create a blank file

Remove images



Go to File>New>Blank File or press Cmd/Ctrl+N. Name it Water Droplet, set Width: 230mm, Height: 200mm, Resolution: 300ppi and then press OK. Now go to File>Place ‘Photo1.jpg’. Fit the image on the canvas and click Return/Enter. Then go to Layer>Simplify Layer.

Let’s remove the couple. Grab the Spot Healing Brush tool (J). In Options, check Content Aware. Choose a soft-tip brush, set the Size to 700 pixels and paint over the couple. Reduce the brush size and remove the extra unwanted spots. Don’t worry – it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Adjustments and filters


Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Brightness/Contrast. Set Brightness to 30 and Contrast to 20. Now let’s blur the image a bit to create a depth-of-field effect. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set Radius to 20 pixels.

Place the leaves

Complete the background



Go to File>Place ‘Leaf1.jpg’. In Options, check Constrain Proportions and set the Horizontal Scale to 300%, then click Return/Enter. Grab the Spot Healing Brush tool (J) and select the leaf. Now go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection. Use a hard-tip brush (B) to enhance the mask if necessary.


Press Shift+Cmd/ Ctrl+L to auto adjust the Levels

TOOL OPTIONS Open the Tool Options at the bottom le of the work area to access the options to customise each tool.

Go to File>Place ‘Leaf2.jpg’ and hit Return/Enter. Grab the Magic Wand tool (J). Set Tolerance to 50, check Contiguous and click on the white area. Invert the selection (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+I). Then go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection. Rotate the image (Cmd/Ctrl+T) and drag it behind the Leaf1 layer.

MASKS Create masks to hide or show parts of an image. Right-click over the mask thumbnail in order to access more options.

ADJUSTMENT LAYER Apply adjustment layers to make colour or tonal corrections or to enhance the composition.

HEALING BRUSH The Spot Healing Brush is used to extract small imperfections, but can also be used to help conceal large objects.


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Expert tip Enhance the highlights

Create the droplet

Use a layer mask



Go to File>Place ‘Photo1.jpg’ on top of the layer stack. Then go to Layer>Simplify Layer. Grab the Elliptical Marquee tool (M), hold Shift and drag the Selection from the top left to bottom right. Now go to Filter>Distort>Spherize. Set Amount to 100% and click OK.

Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection or click Add a Mask at the top of the Layers panel. Then go to Layer> Layer Mask>Apply or right-click over the mask and choose Apply Layer Mask.

Aer you have finished the droplet, brush the Dodge tool over specific areas around the image to make the highlights stronger. Grab the Dodge tool (O). In Options, set the Range to Highlights, Exposure to 30% and choose a large so-tip brush. Gently start painting at the bottom-le side of the droplet and the top right to strengthen the effect. When finished, grab the Brush tool (B). Go to Edit>Preset Manager and Load the ‘Sunburst.abr’ brush. Create a new layer. Paint the sunburst onto this to add the final touch to the droplet.

Add reflections

Bring in shadows

Select and merge




Press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N to create a new layer. Name it Reflection, check ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’ and then click OK. Grab the Clone Stamp tool (S). In Options, check Sample All Layers and set Size to 100 pixels. Start sampling the grass and then paint around the circle.

Create a new layer as in step 8. Grab the Gradient tool (G). In Options, check Reverse and choose Radial. Click Edit and choose Foreground to Background preset. Set the first colour stop to dark green and the second to white. Set the white colour Location and its Opacity to 50%.

Apply the gradient. Drag it from top to bottom and change the blend mode to Overlay. Hold Shift and select the Photo1, Reflection and Shadow layers. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+J to duplicate, then press Cmd/Ctrl+E to merge. Rename the layer Droplet. Hide the other layers by clicking on the eye icon.

MERGE LAYERS SELECTIONS TOOL Hold the Shi key and drag to create a perfect square or a perfect circle. To transform a selection, go to Select>Transform Selection.

Press Cmd/Ctrl+E to merge multiple layers into a single layer. This option can be useful to apply filters and styles.

SAMPLE ALL LAYERS The Sample All Layers option enables you to sample the pixels from all visible layers.

GRADIENT EDITOR Use the Gradient Editor in order to define the colour, location and opacity of the gradient.


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Apply styles

Create the highlights



Go to Windows>Effects (F6) and choose Styles. Now open the dropdown menu and choose the Glass Button. Look through the styles until you find Translucent Glass. Double-click on it or drag over the image to apply the effect. Press F11 to go back to the Layers panel.

Create a new layer and name it Highlights. Grab the Rectangular Marquee tool (M). Hold Shift and create a selection, then fill it with black. Keep the selection active and go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Set the Brightness to 50%, choose Lens Type: 50-300mm Zoom and click OK.

Add filters


Now go to Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates. Choose Polar to Rectangular and click OK. Go to Image> Rotate>Flip Selection Vertical. Finally go to Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates, but this time choose Rectangular to Polar and then click OK. Grab the Elliptical Marque tool (M). Select the effect and add a layer mask.

Blend and add adjustments

Make final adjustments



Go to Image>Rotate>Flip Layer Horizontal. Press Cmd/Ctrl+G to create a clipping mask. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T and adjust the size. Change the blend to Screen. Open Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L). Set the Inputs to 0, 1.50, 60, and click OK. Open Hue/Saturation (Cmd/Ctrl+U). Set Hue to 60 and Saturation to -45, then click OK.

Add water droplets Create water drops using layer styles To make the scene more realistic, you can use the highlight technique from steps 12 to 15 to add a few more water droplets to the leaf. Duplicate the final effect (Cmd/ Ctrl+J). Open the Free Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T) and then resize the image. Now go to Layer>Layer Style>Style Settings. Set the Light Angle to 45° and then check Drop Shadow. Set the Size to around 35 pixels, Distance: 25 pixels, Opacity: 70% and choose a dark green colour. When done, click OK. To achieve some added realism, it’s possible to add a glow effect inside the water droplet. Check Glow and then choose Inner. Set Size to 35 pixels, Opacity: 55% and pick a vibrant light green colour. Duplicate the image a few more times, resize them and place over the leaf. Go to Filter>Distort>Liquify and then use the Warp tool to modify the shape.

Hold Shift and select the Highlights and Droplet layers. Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate and then press Cmd/Ctrl+E to merge (hide the extra layers). Open up Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) and adjust the image over the leaf. Go to Filter>Distort>Liquify. Use the Warp tool and flatten the bottom a bit.


Press F6 and F11 to switch between Effect and Layer panels


ts n e m Ele CANVAS Insert your own canvas texture over the final image and apply blend modes as an alternative to using the Texturizer filter.

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

Start images

Digital art…

Paint a watercolour Combine brushes with clipping masks and filters for a paint effect Though many artists use digital tools to create their artwork, you don’t have to be incredibly artistic to create a watercolour painting in Elements. Being able to draw isn’t the most important part of this tutorial, as most of it revolves around converting existing images. The Threshold filter might seem like one of the lesser-used options available in the Elements Fill Layer adjustments, but this is one instance in which it is extremely useful. Its ability to convert a layer to two colours immediately will save you loads of time having to cut out images, and can easily prime your layers for adding watercolour effects to them. Though you don’t have to be amazing at painting to create this image, you can unleash your creativity through the brushing aspect


of this tutorial. We’ve supplied a selection of brushes for you to mask the images in, which gives the final picture its watercolour texture. By using the Brush Settings, you can vary the size, shape and angle of your strokes to produce something completely unique, and remember that you can create new layers with different colours of brush strokes added, just to add even more to the final picture. As with many images though, the key to this watercolour masterpiece is in the adjustments. The adjustments can transform a flat-looking image into a technicolour painting, so be sure to experiment with all the options available in the Fill Layer icon. Experimentation is the key, as you can discover all kinds of effects that you never realised you could create.

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Paint the city Use layers as well as brushes to create a painted masterpiece

Edit a landmark

Build the landscape

Create some brush strokes


Do the same thing with the Louvre and Arc De Triomphe photos, along with ‘bridge.jpg’. Combine them all together and group them as layers (Cmd/Ctrl+G). Set all of these layers to Multiply, as this will make sure only the black shows through other layers.



Start off by inserting ‘eiffel-tower.jpg’ into your document. Go to the Fill Layer icon, choose Threshold and Alt/Opt-click the adjustment to clip it to the photo. Hit Mask on the photo and mask out any excess left over from the Threshold effect with a hard brush.

Open the supplied brushes from the FileSilo. On a new layer beneath your landmarks, in black, make some brush strokes on the image to build up the picture further. Be sure to have clear brush edges in the silhouette for the effect to work.

Add colour

Apply more brush strokes



Insert ‘watercolour.jpg’ and Alt/Opt-click the layer to clip it to the group of landmarks. Select the group layer and hit Mask, then Invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I). With white paint brushes, set from 30-50% in Opacity, mask in your skyline to get the texture from your brushes.

Shortcut Use the [ and ] keys to quickly alter the size of your brush

ANGLE Vary the direction that your brush points, using the 360-degree wheel in the Brush Settings menu.

Create a new layer, and duplicate the watercolour layer; clip it to this new layer, as you clipped it to the group. With more brushes, add in more strokes to the image to build it up further. You need only add a couple of strokes here.

What does it mean?

THRESHOLD – Threshold converts your image to black and white, depending on the lighting in the image. It uses just one slider to determine the balance of light. By then setting the layer to Multiply or Screen, you are able to blend in either the white or the black with the rest of your image.

SCATTER AND SPACING Vary whether your brush is scattered or spaced when you brush over your layer using the sliders.


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Expert tip Control the background

Bring in the background


Add ‘skyline.jpg’. Just as before, go to the Fill Layer icon and pick Threshold. Alt/Opt-click the layer to clip it to your skyline and turn the skyline layer to Multiply, 50% Opacity. Lessening the opacity of this layer keeps it subtle.

Change the colour


Duplicate the watercolour layer and again, clip it to your background. Go to the Fill Layer icon and choose Hue/Saturation; use the sliders to achieve a different colour for your background to contrast against the main foreground.

The purpose of the background is to act as a subtle contrast to the foreground. In order to bring the best out of the main landmarks in your image, remember not to overdo the skyline behind. Keeping the background a contrasting colour can help to bring out the colour of the main landmarks, but remember to keep the background lighter in colour to avoid stealing attention. Use adjustments such as Levels or Hue/Saturation to have more control over exactly how bright the background is.

Mask in the background

Recolour sections

Make colour tweaks




Select all of the layers that were used to create the background and group them (Cmd/Ctrl+G). Hit the Mask icon again and Invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I). Grab more painted brushes and mask in the background as you did with the main landmarks in the image.

Create a new layer and set to Color. Use the Swatches to select another colour, such as pink or blue, and with a different brush, gently apply over the corners of the foreground and the background to add a little more hue to the picture as a whole.

Go to the Fill Layer icon again. Add adjustments that can enhance the colours in your image, such as Photo Filter, Gradient Map or Levels. Experiment with these adjustments to bring out the best from the colours in your image.

HUE, SATURATION AND LIGHTNESS Alter anything about the colour in your photo using the three main sliders of the adjustment.

COLORIZE Give your layer an overriding colour with the Colorize checkbox, which can be ticked to create a different filter.


COLOUR COMPARE Compare how the colour spectrum is shiing with your edit with the bar at the bottom of the adjustment.

CHANNEL Alter the individual colour strands using the Channel drop-down menu; you can alter just the reds or blues, for example.

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Create the wash


Duplicate your watercolour texture again and set to Multiply, 20% Opacity. Hit the Mask icon and as before, invert the mask (Cmd/Ctrl+I). Using more brushes, with white selected in your swatches, mask in the texture to create a watercolour wash.

Add a watercolour filter


The Filter Gallery is great for transforming images into paintings, but it can also enhance this watercolour image. Merge all into one layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+ Shift+E) and go to Filter>Filter Gallery>Artistic> Watercolor. Increase the Detail and lower Shadow Intensity.

Apply a texture


Click OK on the Watercolor filter and again, hit Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E to create a merged layer. Go to Filter>Filter Gallery and under Texture, choose Texturizer. Choose a canvas texture for the image that suits your painting, then click OK.

Make adjustments

Sharpen slightly



Before you sharpen up your image one last time, make any other adjustments to improve the image. Go to the Fill Layer icon and choose Hue/Saturation, Levels or even Brightness/Contrast to get more kick from the colour in the image.

Play with colour Use adjustments for a completely different finish

Merge everything into one layer using Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E. Go to Filter>Other>High Pass and choose 4.0 pixels, before clicking OK and setting the layer to Overlay. This will sharpen the image a little and give a cleaner finish.


The Filter Gallery is also available as a tab along the bottom

Watercolour paintings traditionally use a subtle palette of pastel colours, such as greens and blues to create a bucolic finish in an image. With the power of Elements though, you can create all kinds of finishes to your paintings using adjustment layers. Go to the Fill Layer icon and choose Levels and Hue/Saturation. Using the drop-down RGB options in Levels, you can adjust the stoppers to completely transform the colours in your work, either slightly or in the extreme, as we’ve done here. The Hue/Saturation adjustment is equally good for tweaking colours, and can brighten up your image as a whole.


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Get in touch

Ask on Twitter @PshopCreative

HOW CAN I CREATE REALISTIC RAIN IN A PHOTO? Changing the weather in your photos can prove to be tricky, but using the filters available in Elements makes it possible to produce a rain effect that looks both realistic and subtle. Start by creating a new layer above your photo, and select black and white in your swatches. Go to Filter>Render>Fibers; choose a Variance of 50 and a Strength of 25. Hit OK, go to the Fill Layer icon, hit Levels, then Alt/Opt-click this adjustment layer to clip it to the Fibers layer you’ve just made. Move the stoppers on the histogram to darken the layer and create white specks over the photo, then turn this fibers layer to Screen. Go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur to redirect these raindrops at a slight angle. We’ve supplied a selection of water splashes on the FileSilo that you can simply set to Screen and add to your photo.

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USE IN SUNNY PICTURES Lens flares work best in pictures with a lot of light; sunnier pictures are ideal for displaying them.



SELECT BLACK AND WHITE Hit D to select black and white in your swatches before you render the fibers.


Lens flares can brighten up a photo and they are easy to apply. But if you’ve used the default lens flares a lot and would like to discover some new ones, it’s easy to create your own. Set up a new document that’s 5000px wide and 2000px high; go to View>Guides and create a Horizontal guide across the centre of the document. This is where you can create the elements needed to design a lens flare. Select black and white in your swatches and go to Filter>Render>Clouds, then to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur and choose a Zoom blur with an Amount of 50. Change to the Screen blend mode to set this as the main glow. Use brushes of varying hardness, sizes, colours and blend modes to then scatter across the central guide to complete your effect. Use so brushes on masks too, to edit the circles you create, and remember that you can even vary your lens flare with shapes such as hexagons by using the Shape tool (U). Once you’ve finished, group your layers into one (Cmd/Ctrl+G) so that it’s ready to drop into any picture. All you’ll have to do is either remove the black background or turn the entire lens flare to the Screen blend mode.


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

With the release of Elements 15, it’s now easier than ever to create a cool painting effect, and you can do so from a photo. Open the image you would like to turn into a painting and go to the Guided tab, where under Fun Edits, you’ll find the Painterly Effect. For the first step, click on the Paint Brush button to reveal your subject through custom paint-style brushes; this basically masks through your image as if you’re painting it yourself. From there, select a canvas colour and then choose a texture for the canvas; a texture is optional, as is a final effect for the painting, which applies a Filter Gallery-style painted finish to the image. When you’ve finished, click Next.

APPLY ADJUSTMENTS Use the Fill Layer icon to apply Hue/ Saturation or Levels to adjust the colour and tone in your finished image.

IS THERE A WAY TO MAKE ONE SHADE OF COLOUR BRIGHTER IN MY PICTURE? Colour is extremely important in any photo, whether there’s lots of it or none of it. The Hue/ Saturation adjustment – which can be found when you click on the Fill Layer icon – is a feature that can help you to control the colours in your image with no hassle at all. While the Master option can help you to brighten or saturate the image as a whole, use the Channel drop-down menu to find the individual shades that can be tweaked. Pick a group of colours and use the sliders to alter them; you can use the eyedroppers below and the spectrum at the bottom of the adjustment with the stoppers to alter the selection of colours that you have. This is how you can make one particular shade brighter and bolder than the rest. It’s subtler than an isolated colour effect and useful for highlighting certain hues.

Quick tip

Grouping your layers


Making a group of layers means that you can apply adjustments, clipping masks or even just a blend mode to a collection of layers all at once. This means that you don’t have to merge layers, and you can still edit individual elements. It’s a non-destructive way to edit and it can keep your layers organised when you’re using the Layers palette. Hit Cmd/ Ctrl+G to group a selection of layers. This will create a folder, which you can name. To add subsequent layers to the group, just click and drag into the folder.

WHAT DOES THE EFFECTS TAB DO? The Layers tab at the bottom-right of Elements is one of the most frequently used parts of the program, and the Styles, Graphics and recently-added Filters tabs all provide shortcuts to useful menus and tools. But what does Effects do? Click on the ‘fx’ logo and you’ll see a drop-down menu with different categories of effects. Here you’ll find all kinds of photo filters, from so focus to painted styles and textures, which can be applied to your photo in a single click. These are good for when you’re looking for a one-click fix to your photos as opposed to a bigger edit. But if you want to go further, you can use the Effects as a starting point for projects.




The specs

Price £1,800 / $1,999.95 body only Web

Nikon D500

Company Nikon Additional specs

Can this premium DX-format camera divert attention away from the manufacturer’s full-frame offerings?


s with many camera manufacturers, it’s now difficult to decipher much information, if any, from the number that’s given to the models in the line-up. As such, a bit of explanation regarding the position of the D500 within the Nikon DSLR range is probably a good starting point here. Though it may sound like it’s related to the D600, D610 and D750 full-frame (35mm) FX cameras, the D500 is in fact a crop-sensor (APS-C) model, which sits above the D7200 in the company’s DX line-up. The reason it sits above the D7200, which actually has a slightly higher resolution sensor, is the fact that, along with some enhanced features, the camera’s body specification is more high-end. The D500 essentially represents a renaissance of the D300/D300s, which had been abandoned. Design traits normally reserved for the full-frame cameras, such as a mechanical viewfinder blind and the ‘fourkings’ mode buttons on the top plate, make an appearance here. The camera has a satisfying feel in the hand and delivers a very professional shooting experience. All the buttons fall where you expect them to, and Nikon offers a very good range of custom adjustments, so you can make the camera function as you want it to. In

fact, despite the fact that Nikon’s DSLRs are typically strong performers in the ergonomics department, the D500 still manages to stand out. A new joystick has been added to the back, which can be used to select the AF point, and the ISO button has been shifted to enable adjustment of the sensor sensitivity with just one hand. If you are used to capturing files using your smartphone, this will feel like a luxury shooting experience, irrespective of the lens you’re using. Nikon has a remarkable range of optics, and you can even use lenses dating back more than half a century with the D500, albeit with some limited auto-functionality. If you’re not an experienced photographer, fear not, because Nikon has catered for newcomers with a wealth of auto modes. The 20.9-megapixel sensor is more than enough to provide superb quality in a wide range of situations, and in combination with the new EXPEED 5 processor, it delivers exceptional results. In fact, this is one of the most instantly impressive cameras that Nikon has delivered in recent years. Noise control, colour consistency and clarity are all right up there with the best you can get, no matter if you prefer the immediacy of JPEGs or the more nuanced editing options facilitated by RAW.

DX-format APS-C sensor 20.9-megapixel sensor EXPEED 5 processor Hinged LCD screen

If you do go for JPEG, you’ll be very impressed with the results, thanks to the very good dynamic range of the camera, with highlights and shadows well catered for even in fairly difficult exposure scenarios. There does appear to be a mild tendency towards slightly bright exposures, which isn’t unusual for Nikon cameras and isn’t a big issue in the scheme of things. If you’re shooting a landscape with some moderate areas of shadow in the foreground and a reasonably bright sky, you may notice the exposure favours the shadows, possibly resulting in slight clipping in the very lightest parts of the sky. This is no concern if you shoot RAW, but JPEG shooters may want to consider Nikon’s highly effective Active D-Lighting (ADL) in combination with some very slight negative exposure compensation to get around the problem.

The verdict


A superb camera with plenty to please even the most pedantic. The only question is whether it’s worth stepping up to full-frame if you’re spending this sort of sum.

Improve your sharpening Turn off in-camera algorithms and get it right in Photoshop

Customise the camera

Adjust a setting

Before sharpening




In-camera JPEG sharpening can seem like a good idea on paper, but it’s not such a great idea in practice, unless perhaps you need to output your files immediately and quickly. So it’s best to head into the menus and switch it off.


Standard picture mode is a great option for general shooting, producing images that pack enough punch but without being over-the-top. Even after you’ve taken the sharpening right down to zero, you can return to the factory default at any time.

It’s often worth doing all the editing and other adjustments you plan to make to your images before you apply any sharpening – and many pros advise sizing for print or web output beforehand, too. Duplicate the background layer.

HIGH ISO PERFORMANCE The camera produces excellent results even at very high ISO sensitivities in low-light conditions.

BLACK AND WHITE If you like to shoot files in mono, without worrying about converting them later, the Nikon D500 does a superb job in this department.

CRISP RESULTS The D500 produces images with superb levels of detail, and there’s no need to worry about shooting with the sharpness turned up to its maximum setting.



The Nikon D500 feels truly excellent in the hand, with a well-designed grip that enables you to keep a steady, comfortable grasp on the camera using just your right hand.

Most Nikon cameras of this kind feature a model dial, but here we find a set of four buttons, for white balance, image quality, metering mode and exposure mode.

ISO BUTTON On many previous Nikon cameras, this was over on the le-hand side of the camera, but now it’s placed close to the shutter button, just as on the D5.

VIEWFINDER CURTAIN This feature is unusual on a ‘nonprofessional’ model, so its addition here is most welcome. Stray light can be a problem with longer exposures, but this mechanical blind will prevent this.

Standout feature Rear-panel joystick Previous DSLRs of this class from Nikon have not had this feature – it’s been reserved for the likes of the high-end D4 and D5. This makes it really convenient to change the AF point when the camera’s up to the eye, which is particularly beneficial with the D500, boasting as it does a comprehensive coverage of AF points.

Choose a method

Apply the sharpening



Photoshop now offers alternative methods for sharpening, but traditional Unsharp Mask is often the best – and most straightforward – option. However, Smart Sharpen is worth looking at, too.

Unsharp Mask gives you a 100% zoom preview, which is important for correct sharpening. Choose an Amount of around 80 to 120%, and a Radius of between 1.0 and 2.0. The Threshold can usually be left at 0.




Price £327 (approx) / $399 US (Professional Edition) Web

Filter Forge 5.0 Go further with filters using Filter Forge’s huge bank of high-quality textures, effects and settings

The specs

MAIN MENU Choose from an array of filters, either the ones loaded with Filter Forge, or ones you’ve downloaded or created.

Company Filter Forge

Additional specs Mac Windows



Choose from a range of presets based on whichever filter you’ve picked to get a more individual result.

Watch your image take shape in the main window using all of the options from the le of the interface.

Five of the best filters Which of the default filters in Filter Forge are well worth applying?

Bright Dots


Similar to a few of Photoshop’s filters, the Bright Dots effect in Filter Forge breaks your work up into individual glowing circles. You can overlay this as a layer onto the original picture, or use it to create neon signs in Photoshop.


Bumpy Glass




The Bumpy Glass setting is an intriguing filter for creating stainedglass effects. When used subtly, it’s the perfect finishing touch to a fiery image, as it generates distortion.

Cross-stitch creates an image consisting completely of material-like Xs across your picture. It’s different to anything that Photoshop offers, and makes a cool novelty effect for your pictures.


ilters are a Photoshop tool used by beginners and experts alike. Their ability to transform a layer either subtly or dramatically can not only be fantastic fun to play with, but also help to make your compositions look more realistic; the blurs, glass effects, painted styles and textures can be employed in just about any image, and can instantly turn a good picture into a great one. One of the biggest problems with the Photoshop filters is that there aren’t enough of them. Once you’ve seen them all, they’re obvious to spot in any image, and this is where Filter Forge Professional comes in. Filter Forge has a big collection of filters similar to Photoshop’s; they’re not nearly as easy to spot in your compositions as being from a stock bank of filters, and there’s the ability with Filter Forge to create your own or download more online. It’s an answer for all kinds of Photoshop users – whether you’re a digital artist looking for textures, or you dabble with 3D and want some realistic effects for your compositions – and the filters within the

program are easy to modify whatever your individual needs may be. Filter Forge isn’t the sleekest or most attractive program to look at, but it’s certainly easy to navigate. Filters are all displayed in the top left with options to edit the filter that you’ve applied just below; the viewing window is to the right of this; and the program as a whole has a classic Windows vibe to it, with drop-down folders and grey windows. It may not feel like it’s practically an extension to Photoshop’s Filter Gallery but it can complement it nicely. Just like the Filter Gallery in Photoshop, everything in Filter Forge is arranged into subheadings, and there are plenty of individual sliders for altering everything about your image. While Filter Forge is a powerful tool for an advanced Photoshop user, the ease of use makes it great for beginners to get to grips with. However, one of the few downsides is that the previews load extremely slowly in the program. When you’ve chosen a filter, the aforementioned bottom-left window is where

Filter Forge really comes into its own. There are presets for each of the individual filter choices from the top left, but the Settings tab can transform your filter even further. Colours are variable for all kinds of textures, and you can alter size, variation and even seamlessly tile textures, too. Everything is customisable with the program, and you can save your own filters as you go. As well as being a useful tool for simply applying different textures, effects and photo styles to your pictures, though, Filter Forge goes further with 3D than your average filter package. Many of the settings panels for individual filters have a focus on 3D, as you can alter the lighting with the filter you’re applying, tweak the angle and light colour, and there’s even the option to choose either diffuse or specular influence. You can view maps – again specular and diffuse are options along with bump maps, metallic and alpha – and add various light sources to reflect onto your textures, all in different colours and at different angles. Filter Forge has superb depth. There are countless options within the filters that it offers, but more than just that, there’s the ability to follow the Filter Library link in the top right and download even more content. It’s a great companion to anyone wanting even more filters in their work, and a program with loads to discover.

The verdict


Filter Forge can improve any image style. There are loads of superb options within the soware, and the Filter Library gives you unlimited scope.

Standout feature Settings box The array of filters on display from Filter Forge is amazing, but the settings can really bring the best out of them. The sheer number of options on offer is staggering, from the option to tone your image with HDR in some of the photo filters, to the ability to switch the colours up in the stone textures.


Peeling Paint



One of the more conventional photo-editing options available in the software, Lomo creates a toy-camera-style effect. There are varying degrees of intensity and the settings can edit this further.

Adding the Peeling Paint setting to your picture can either create a simple final effect for your photos or really enhance your digital paintings, depending on how you choose to use it.












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Portfolio interview

Jack Crossing on how he turned frustration in Photoshop into a career designing album covers for musicians, film posters and much more


’d say my technique has changed in Photoshop, and I guess I’ve developed a look and feel to my work,” says Jack Crossing. Jack is often involved with an array of projects in different styles, but just how has he evolved his distinctive visual look? We caught up with him to ask about influences, Photoshop tools and what he loves creating most.

You’ve created a lot of artwork for musicians, Jack. Is there anything about album cover art that you particularly love? When I first got into design, my brother was getting into music, and I’d come up with ideas for album covers and visuals for his bands and other music projects. This, and also being a fan of my dad’s old records when I was younger, was where I really started to enjoy the use of visual art to accompany music. That process of creating art for another form of art is what really excites me; it’s the same with film. Essentially you’re being asked by another artist to help create an image that represents their art! I really enjoy the collaboration process with music.

So when you create an album cover, does the music ever influence the work? When a new cover-art project comes in, I’ll listen to the music a lot to get a feel for the music. This is very important, as it’s essentially an opportunity to gain an understanding of what the artist has created. Normally the artist has a rough idea in their mind of the direction they want the cover to go in.

Are there any particular musicians who have influenced your style? When I first got into art and design I was influenced by the artworks of the old studio Hipgnosis, who used to make album covers for bands like Pink Floyd,


Syd Barret and Led Zeppelin to name a few. I’ve always loved art, and I started designing when I was about 16 at college; I started using Photoshop at university. When I was younger I’d have all these ideas for visuals that I just couldn’t bring to life and it would frustrate me so much, but now with Photoshop I can more or less make whatever I think up in my head.

As someone who used to be frustrated with Photoshop, what would you suggest to other Photoshop beginners who are getting to grips with the software? I’d say learn the basics like layers, brushes and masks; the more of an understanding you have of the basic tools and the setup, the more you’ll be able to create things and not be frustrated like I was. Also, use a tablet: it’s the closest thing to using an actual brush! Oh, and also make sure you use Smart Objects. It’s taken me a long time to use them, but they make everyone’s life easier.

Do you find you are still learning new things in Photoshop?

Despite these themes, your work is very varied. Is it important for you to mix up what you create? Yes, having a particular style isn’t necessarily something I want to have; I think it works for some people, but having variety within my portfolio is very important for me. It also gives me an opportunity to try and teach myself new styles and techniques within Photoshop. I have a few film posters that I’m really proud of; AMY, LIFE and Knight of Cups to name just a few. I like how clean and simple those artworks were. In a time when there’s so much busyness on film posters, those ones were very stripped back and engaging.

What projects do you have lined up for the future? A few musicians have been in touch regarding some cover projects, so I will get some ideas for those projects. I also want to get into digital painting some more. The more time I have, the better. I like to get a feel for a project and then develop ideas!

At the moment I’m using a lot of the brushes; the way they move and create strokes is great! I’m really getting into digital painting and airbrush art off the back of a project I just finished; it’s great fun. Also the Liquify tool is great for re-creating distortions in glass, and I’m having fun with that at the moment, too.

Distortion seems to be a big theme in your work, and most images contain juxtaposed elements. How would you describe this style? I guess you’d call it surrealism. I really enjoy creating work that makes an audience say: “Hang on, how did those two images get together?” Essentially it’s tricking the eye and making people think something is happening when it’s not.

Les Loups – Stay: I created this artwork for the group Les Loups, using a mixture of photography and Photoshop. The visor was the trickiest part to get right: I think there were 30 versions of the visor alone!

All images © Jack Crossing @JackCrossing

Connecting music with art

Delty Heavy – Paradise Lost: This piece was created for Delta Heavy’s debut album Paradise Lost. Built entirely in Photoshop using probably over a hundred elements, my favourite element about this cover is the reflection of the man on the ground. I used the Smudge tool to create that distorted water look.

Share: This was built using a number of photos and repositioned in Photoshop. The speaker was created from a texture and duplicated, while the frame was built using a number of elements.

Raise – Find U: This was the artwork created for Swedish producer Raise’s Find U single. Here I used Illustrator to create the shape and then everything was put in place using Photoshop.

Inhabit 2: This is one in a series that I created juxtaposing images of animals in unusual environments, using different elements brought together in Photoshop. I sold these as prints back in 2013, and there are still some available on my site.

Floating Test: Using predominantly the Brush tool, I created a surreal retro-looking piece. The lighting is created from scratch; flares are all added in using brushes.


Reader interview

Water Bottle Beakland

Time Gate

The making of Water Bottle Discover how Tarek approached creating this water-bottle advertisement

Making a quick sketch First I made a couple of rough sketches of my concept. I played with the composition and then started collecting the stock images that suited the design.

Giving Up Comfortable Creature

Tarek Hakeem We ask 24-year-old Tarek about his tips for sketching out work, getting inspiration and using brushes arek Hakeem describes himself as a self-taught digital artist, and works for an advertising agency in Cairo. “I started playing with Photoshop about seven years ago, but really got into it about two years ago. I was fascinated by its ability to make art,” he told us. But what tips and techniques has he picked up in his Photoshop discovery? We decided to find out.


Which Photoshop tools do you like using most and what do you tend to use them for?

How does an image start for you?

What essential tips can you share with Photoshop beginners who are just starting out?

Sometimes I will make a couple of rough sketches, then I start collecting the stock images and begin compositing right away. I start with the background, work on the sky and adjust the atmosphere until I can add more and more to the image.

So what do you think makes a good Photoshop composition? Your eyes should be diverted to the main subject. The secondary elements in your composition should be arranged for the benefit of the main subject, and I try to keep lighting and vibrancy bright for an interesting picture.


Compositing the images I applied the stock images to the sketch, put the desert image on the top and cloned the cylinder shape. I created the small oasis, blended it with the environment and brushed in the sun.

I like to use the Chalk brush to create dust, smoke or fog by adjusting the Brush Settings and playing with the Scattering and Color Dynamic properties. I also use the Clone Stamp tool to extend and make changes to the shape of my subject.

I would tell them at first to master the program’s main tools and understand blend modes. Watch and read a lot of tutorials, and if they’re not very good at first, just keep practising. It will definitely get better with time. Check out professionals and remember Was teach you a lot about composition t Once can paintings Wha and lighting. Discover more of Tarek’s work at www. hakeem

Working up the image I added more stock images and adjusted the light and shadows. I created some splashes by blending splash images on Multiply mode and painted behind them with a light blue colour.

Applying finishing touches In the retouching phase, I adjusted the shadows and highlights by dodging and burning. Then I created adjustment layers to tweak the Levels and colours to make it more vibrant.


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Photoshop Creative - Learn Painting | Muhammad Osama  

Photoshop® Creative is the perfect magazine for learning more about Adobe’s outstanding application. Each issue is packed with inspirational...

Photoshop Creative - Learn Painting | Muhammad Osama  

Photoshop® Creative is the perfect magazine for learning more about Adobe’s outstanding application. Each issue is packed with inspirational...