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In today’s digital age, it’s easy to fixate on how many Likes, Shares or Appreciations our artwork receives online. While there’s nothing wrong with this, there’s perhaps something even more satisfying about seeing your artwork printed out and used in the real world. Whether you create a simple greetings card or a personalised board game, turn to p18 to check out the 12 practical projects in this issue’s feature, and have a go at creating something unique in Photoshop. There is also a plethora of creative tutorials inside, from using masks to composite an incredible scene like the one on this issue’s cover to adding dimension to a basic sketch. Discover advanced techniques for applying blend modes and filters, and learn how to design custom wrapping paper in Elements. All this and more is ready and waiting for you, along with over 600 free resources!

Sarah Bankes Editor


Contents Co

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SAVE 30% Turn to page 108 to get this amazing deal. US page 84



Survey 06 Reader Take our three-minute survey and

incredible art 24 Create with masks

you could enjoy fantastic benefits

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 Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2017 or Noiseless Pro

the studio 14 Inside We take a look behind the scenes of typography studio Sawdust

12 practical 18 Feature: Photoshop projects

Learn how to turn your digital art into real-life keepsakes

project 60 Resource Discover how to create your own melted-wax textures

Project focus

64 See how art can be inspired by sounds with Nidia Dias

104 Reviews Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2017 and

Explore various techniques and tips to make imaginative compositions

a collage 30 Composite with layers

Combine photos and textures to create a mixed-media collage

the lighting in 36 Retouch your portraits

Adjust so lighting in portrait shots to create more depth

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

textures, mockups, a font and more

reflections 40 Take out of bounds

Create a reflected mirror effect using masks and adjustments

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

added dimension 44 Give to sketches

Turn a sketch into a 3D-looking painted portrait with layer styles

how to select 50 Practise and blend

Apply selections, masking and blending techniques

a sign with shapes 56 Design Use shape layers to create a retro-style illustration

Imagenomic Portraiture

110 FileSilo This issue there are more than 600 free resources worth $200+

interview 112 Portfolio Discover how Marie Beschorner brings nature to life in Photoshop



interview 114 Reader Moreno Matković shares his Photoshop secrets

Advanced Photoshop pro Photoshop tricks 66 10 Digital artists share their secrets for taking Photoshop to the next level

masks, blend modes 72 Mix and filters

Blend shapes and images with masks, then embellish with filters



brushes for 78 Use pencil effects

Stylise portraits using traditional techniques and Photoshop



RACTI PTurn digital art intoSHOPPROJECTS real-life keepsakes with this array of fun, creative and practical projects to try in Photoshop







Elements creative

focus: Retouch with 94 Surreal art: Composite a 86 Tool the Recompose tool surreal animal scene Resize your photos without distorting the objects in them

Place animals, objects and lots of fun into one composition

project: Design 98 Digital art: Create 88 Creative pixel art custom wrapping paper Create a repeating pattern to print out and wrap presents

edit: Produce a 92 Photo realistic light leak Bring blurred colour to the corners of pictures

Make a retro pixel cafe with the Marquee tool

Common problems 102 Q&A: in Elements We answer your questions and ďŹ nd solutions to your problems




Reader Survey

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Join our team today! Take our three-minute survey and…  Get 10% off our books and magazines  Get access to an exclusive monthly subscription offer  Become eligible for exclusive competitions & free gifts We love making Photoshop Creative and hope you love reading it too. But we want to keep making it better, so we’re asking for your help. By answering a few questions, you could be selected to join our latest Photoshop Creative panel. We’re so excited to hear what you have to say and can’t wait to learn more about you. Sarah Bankes Editor


Reader Survey

Four changes you asked for in 2015… Last year we used your input to make some fantastic improvements, including…

1 More for Elements users We launched a new Elementsonly section that includes basic tool guides as well as challenging El nts users

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Resource projects

Every issue now includes a resource project that shows you how to make your own assets in the real world to take into Photoshop.


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. Retoka have supplied work for Adobe’s summits in the past, and this latest piece already has around 5,000 views online. The Barcelona-based duo rely heavily on filters, and we love the originality of their artwork.

Leonardo has been featured in Motion, Graphic Design and Illustration galleries on Behance, racking up 200,000 views in the process. This particular piece is mesmerising, and proof of how Photoshop can bring the best out of work started in Illustrator.

Leonardo Betti

This project began when I started drawing lines in Illustrator. In Photoshop, I worked a lot with gradients. I added masks for smooth shadows and made glowing effects to bring the best out of the shapes.

This image has been shared on various galleries online, and we love Rony’s use of light and colour in the image. Photoshop is used by all kinds of 3D artists for bringing renders to life, and this is proof of that.


This effect was achieved by playing with Photoshop filters. The lines were made with the Halone Pattern filter, before they were distorted with the Displace tool. Colour adjustments were made with Curves and Selective Color.

Rony Rekany ronyrekany

I first rendered 3D objects and when I was finished, I composited them in Photoshop and added colour. I used depth of field to give this image some shape, and played with exposure, shadows and saturation.


Jack Usephot

The initial concept was to get an epic atmosphere with some harsh environmental conditions. I used the Rule of Thirds to make sure that my focal elements were in the right position, and corrected colour to bring some drama to the image.

Jack’s work is always popular online, and he’s the current creator of the Photoshop CC splash screen artwork. We love how vivid and sharp his compositions are: all aspiring Photoshop artists should study his pictures.

Murat Kalkavan

Featured by Behance’s Student Show, we love Laura’s use of colour. The latest Playing Arts deck is composed from contest winners, and has seen entries from all over the world; this image from Laura is just one of them.

I chose a colour palette from Adobe Color when I made this. I used AD Cartoonist Brushes – a brush pack from one of my favourite illustrators, Alex Dukal – and found them really useful for this style.

Laura Palumbo Adobe Color is a fantastic tool for all kinds of Photoshop users, especially digital artists, and Murat – who’s had more than 100,000 online views – shows that with this playful and vibrant digital painting.

This is my entry for the special edition of Playing Arts’ deck of cards. This was drawn with a Wacom Bamboo tablet; Photoshop was used prominently when adding the textures to the final image, and to lay out the mock-up of the card.


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:

Felipe Hackriptos www.photoshopcreative. Felipe

Image of the issue This art was made for a Photoshop challenge. I used a few filters, gradients and Camera Raw, and worked a lot on post-production. I love to play with the surreal in Photoshop, and am always learning new things.

Steve Dellasala www.photoshopcreative.

I painted some buildings in laying out roughly the overall perspective of the piece. I imported in some lights to overlay on the buildings to bring them to life. Then I used a few different filters to create the rain effect.


Maurício Xavier

I like horror movies and series, and they inspired this piece of art. I felt that the colour scheme had to be really stark, and the blending was important to make it feel more realistic.

Evelyn Aguiar

I used a lot of stock images and created the background with clouds. I got the dark tone by using Color Lookup on the scene, and used orange tones by changing blend modes.

Corine Spring

To create this illustration, I chose a floral theme. The background is made with filters, and includes Clouds, Pointillism and Liquify tools. I added ivy leaves in the hair of the model to enhance the effect. I finalised in Camera Raw.

Felipe Siqueira

This image was created for a Photoshop tournament with a time limit of four hours. To compose this image, I used some stock photos of grass and sky, and added the illumination to emphasise the image and give a natural aspect.



Upload your images to

We challenged you with these In Issue 144, 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 Marcus Jones Say Cheese I used all four images. When I saw them I thought it would be neat if she was taking a photo of herself, so I gave her an extra hand to hold the camera and an extra hand to hold the rose.

2 Beth Foxcroft Xeno All four images were used. The geometric background was lightened over the other three images, which were edited using the filters, before finishing the whole thing off with a few brushes.

3 Marco Alma Retrography This was a collage inspired by vintage retro magazines. Three of the images were used, and different colour effects were applied in the image.

4 Trevor Budd Are You Licenced to Print Your Own Money? With the new plastic £5 notes that have been introduced in the UK, I thought I’d start by creating a ‘5D’ note just using the four images supplied and lots of blends, cutouts, layers, filters and more.

2 12




WORTH £78!

Macphun Aurora HDR 2017 This issue, we’re giving one lucky winner of the challenge a copy of Macphun’s latest Aurora HDR software! Aurora HDR has the power to transform any picture into a more toned, more cinematic shot, using Macphun’s specialist sliders and awesome presets. To learn more, check out our review of it on p104 now.

4 WORTH £78!

RUNNERS’-UP PRIZE… Noiseless Pro Three lucky runners-up, plus the winner, will all receive a copy of Macphun’s awesome Noiseless app! Noiseless can eliminate fuzziness and noise in your images, and is fantastic at fixing all of your late-night photos.

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: 8 Dec 2016.

WORTH £44.99! 13

Inside the studio

Made by Sawdust Big-hitters in the world of typography, the Sawdust duo explain how important Photoshop is to their partnership


ike so many young and enthusiastic graphic designers, Rob Gonzalez and Jonathan Quainton met while studying. This was way back in 1999 while they were studying for their National Diplomas in graphic design in Oxford, and they “rather naively agreed to someday establish and run our own design studio,” says Gonzalez. He went on to Bath Spa University, while Quainton attended Banbury College, but in 2006 they reunited to form Sawdust. After three years of working hard, they realised they needed to hone what they offered, rather than trying to be all things to all people. So, they focused on their key areas of creative interest, namely typography and image-making. Knowing each other for so long had a distinct advantage when it came to doing this. Quainton explains: “Having met each other while studying, it enabled us to begin working together at, quite literally, the very beginning of our careers. It enabled us to carve out our own niche together, so rather than forming two different viewpoints about design, we formed a common one, which – luckily for us – hasn’t changed over the 10-plus years we have worked together.” They “try to not be defined by a particular style,” says Gonzalez. “Our ethos is to be explorative; sometimes that means taking something that is considered uncool and spinning it in a way that surprises people and makes them think about it differently.” Quainton adds: “I think if you chase a style, you’re always going to be the one chasing.” But style aside, there is a precision and a clarity about Sawdust’s work that comes from having a common language and viewpoint. It is “difficult to define precisely what that is,” says Gonzalez, “because it’s more of an unspoken feeling about the work. It’s about having been on a journey together – almost everything we have learnt about our industry we’ve done together, which somehow comes across in the work we do. “Something we feel strongly about is being explorative and always trying to challenge both each other and our clients,” explains Quainton. “Our lives would be boring if we were simply creating run-of-the-mill work with no passion behind it and picking up a cheque.” That feeds into another attitude that they both


ABOUT THE STUDIO Sawdust @SawdustStudio The duo first met while studying graphic design at Oxford, parted ways for a while but then set up a partnership years later with a focus on typography and a base in East London. Sawdust’s effortless cool is backed up by its passion, hard work and hardcore Photoshop skills.

Rob Gonzalez Co-owner

Jonathan Quainton Co-owner

A day in the life of Rob Gonzalez Creativity comes from the same sequence of steps for Sawdust

Begin the day


The working day usually goes something like this: first, a new brief comes in. We read it, try to understand it, and then debate it.

Roll up your sleeves


We allocate the brief to either Jonathan or myself, depending on what is required, then it’s time to research what’s needed and begin work. I then usually agonise a bit.

The creative condition


The bulk of the day is then a series of highs and lows. Elation. Crippling self-doubt. Elation. Crippling self-doubt. Until, finally – like magic – an idea ‘happens’. So I test that idea.

Risk rejection I


It’s time to share the idea and the test with Jonathan, and hope it gets some love. At that point it’s either a) no love, so I suppress ego and repeat the process, or b) it gets love, so it’s time to develop and refine the idea.

Risk rejection II


Towards the end of the day, it’s time to share with Jonathan again. I take constructive criticism on board without being precious, and refine the work some more, sweating the details.

Risk rejection III Once I think it’s finished, I share again. At this point, if it still needs work, I agonise, push harder and suppress ego again. If Jonathan gives me the green light, then I can finish up, finesse details, deliver and go and have a beer!

© Sawdust



Inside the studio

TOP 5 TIPS 1. Filter fun “People joke about using too many filters in Photoshop, but don’t underestimate how useful they can be for providing reference points. For example, if you want a bevel effect, use a filter to give you an idea of how it might look, but then redraw it in detail or how you want it.” Rob Gonzalez 2. Save styles “When drawing detailed illustrations, remember to save and name your styles, so you don’t have to remember all the settings, then you can easily drag and drop the saved style onto a layer. Do this by clicking the thumbnail of the layer, pick Blending Options, then select the style in the top-right corner and name it.” Rob Gonzalez 3. Out of bounds “I like to set my Layers panel to use thumbnails so I can preview each layer, but a handy little feature is to turn Layer Bounds on, which ignores invisible pixels, making each thumbnail more recognisable. Do this via Layers>Panel Options>Select a Thumbnail Size>Layer Bounds.” Rob Gonzalez 4. Put it in your pocket “If you spend all that time creating a shape using the Pen tool, then make sure you remember to save the path so you don’t have to redraw it at a later date. Simple, but it can save you a lot of time!” Rob Gonzalez 5. Check up “When creating images that are very tonal, say black on blacks using a paint brush, remember to check the channels to ensure there’s no mismatch or discolouration, particularly if your piece is going to be printed.” Rob Gonzalez

Working with no air conditioning: The studio is warm in the winter, sweltering in the summer!

share: that it’s about creating great work, not striving for any particular achievements or accomplishments. Gonzalez says he aims for “nothing more than to make the best work we can and be paid fairly for it.” Quainton adds: “Ambitions are good but they can be stifling. Just get on and do it, and see where the journey takes you.” Nonetheless, the Sawdust journey has been littered with celebration from their peers, including a nomination for the Design Museum’s annual Designs of the Year in 2015 and a D&AD Wood Pencil in 2016. Their work has also been exhibited at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, and they’ve worked for high-profile clients, including Nike, Coca-Cola, Honda and IBM. Sawdust does all its work in Adobe CC – mainly Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign – but Cinema 4D and FontLab are in the mix too. “It’s incredibly rare that we won’t use Photoshop in some capacity while working on a project,” says Gonzalez, “whether drawing something from scratch, polishing up artwork,


Audi days: The Sawdust duo like to embrace challenging briefs

or using it to digitally present artwork and create visuals for presentations – it’s an incredible tool.” He first used Photoshop at college when, like most people, he applied as many filters as possible. But he “quickly learnt the power of restraint when images where becoming indecipherable, and I would tell myself: ‘No more than two filters Rob’.” Quainton describes Gonzalez as “a bit of a Photoshop maniac,” as “we’ll lose him for days at a time working on an illustration getting the details right.” Before Sawdust came to be, Gonzalez had a design job involving retouching and superimposing, so he “quickly learnt how to study images, everything from the light, to the tones, right through to the shadows and textures. I later realised I could use that knowledge to create my own illustrations and manipulate images in a creative capacity. Instead of making something look ‘real’ I could create impossible images – Photoshop enabled me to do that.” And the place that Gonzalez can disappear into Photoshop is their studio in Shoreditch. It’s a shared space, with a host of small creative businesses, such as “architects, fashion designers and animation studios. Our building is a converted dance school, so the spaces are big, open-plan studios with big windows and plenty of light. There’s some shared communal space and a humble kitchen, which is generally where we bump into other people while making tea.”

They have enough space that they can bring freelancers in when they need. “Sometimes it can be different skill sets, such as animation; other times it can be a similar skill set to ourselves,” says Quainton. “We prefer to have freelancers come in and work within the studio so we can discuss the work easily.” Most of the time, it’s just the two of them, though. They’re both close to the work, which is why it maintains such a high standard. “Through knowing each other so well, we can cut through the fluff when discussing things that are either working or not working,” says Gonzalez. “We both work on projects, but one of us will take lead, then there will be plenty of reviews along the way – nothing leaves the studio without a joint seal of approval.” Their egos have long been left behind. “If I feel strongly about something then I’ll fight my corner,” Gonzalez continues, “just like Jonathan would, but equally we’ll listen. We are where we are because everything we have done is built on trust and friendship.”

Space and light: The converted dance studio means the spaces are large with big windows, letting in lots of natural light

© Sawdust

Under X-ray Rob and Jonathan recently drew some X-ray style bones for Men’s Health US

Brush to bone


Sawdust started the process by studying actual pictures of X-rays, noting “never ever ever ever Google ‘broken bones’ – bad idea”. Then “we began drawing the layers of colour like a painter would, from the base upwards, using a standard soft brush.”

Build muscle mass


Next, they began to create “muscle tissue using the same brush. To create the ghosting effect, we used a layer mask, enabling us to soften the edges and get that all-important opaque feeling.”

Hone the texture


Next, they “adjusted the size of the brush to help with more detailed areas. When the areas of colour looked accurate, we applied a bone-like texture using Overlay from the blend modes drop-down menu in the Layers panel.”

Pins in


These last steps also “help when muscle tissues overlap to enhance the X-ray effect. Then it’s a case of building out the letterforms and adding details like pins and screws (nice).”




RA TICAL SHOPPROJECTS Turn digital art into real-life keepsakes with this array of fun, creative and practical projects to try in Photoshop


o many Photoshop projects are never printed out, simply because people expect to see artwork online these days. But creating an image that you can turn into something tangible is actually a lot of fun. Photoshop has a plethora of functions that can be wielded for making collages, calendars and the like; layers and masks are vital tools, and brushes and filters can add the flicks and flourishes to really personalise and embellish your work. We have compiled a selection of simple but effective projects that you can try out; you might want to use your own photos, bring


your own ideas to the project and create something utterly unique and personal to you. You don’t have to be a professional artist to create physical art, and there are all kinds of objects that you can apply your handiwork to, with websites such as Vistaprint and Redbubble specialising in transforming your art into products; simply follow the size guides before creating. On the FileSilo It’s an amazing feeling to actually see a Download your free product with your artwork emblazoned on resources at www.filesilo. the front!

se custom shapes, the Pen tool and layer styles to create a vibrant set of digital stickers

reate a star


Make a sunburst effect

Experiment with shapes


Use the shape named Registration Target 2 and draw it over the second star, sing a slightly darker yellow. Make a selection ound the second star by clicking on its vector ask thumbnail, then add a layer mask on the rget layer.

A photo collage is a creative way of showcasing a selection of photos. For this image, drop the guitar shape (from the FileSilo) onto an A3-sized canvas, and start placing and resizing the concert images over the shape of the guitar.

Draw a double star stroke


Draw a white star, available via the Custom Shape tool. Next, double-click e shape’s layer to bring up the Layer Style indow and select Drop Shadow. Set Opacity: 0%, Distance: 23px, Spread: 0% and Size: 0px.

This time draw a yellow star on top of the first star and slightly smaller. Now add a grey stroke around the yellow star. Bring up the Layer Style window, select Stroke and use these settings: Size: 24, Position: Inside.


There are a few different shapes that can help you to create a selection of different stickers. Simply repeat steps 1 to 3 to keep the effect the same, and if you have access to the Pen tool, why not have a go at drawing your own shapes?

Once all of the images are in place, add layer styles, such as Stroke and Drop Shadow to emphasise the individual images. Then apply adjustments, for example gradient maps, to give clear definition to the various sections of the shape.



PRACTICAL PHOTOSHOP PROJECTS 2017 CALENDAR TEMPLATE Use the supplied template for your calendar to save time creating the dates; it is completely editable, so you can change the fonts and colours.

Calendars are a perfect project to showcase 12 of your amazing pictures or pieces of art. Create a portrait document and split the page in two using View>New Guide. Place your image in the background and add the dates to the bottom half; either use our supplied calendar template, or fill squares in a grid, before adding text for the actual dates. Use adjustments and gradients to bring the project to life and insert a soft, black 30% opaque gradient at the bottom of your image. POSITIONING ELEMENTS Make sure that the dates are on the bottom half of your calendar, leaving plenty of space for the main picture at the top.

ou can be as creative as you like when designing a T-shirt. or this design, set up a new document 250mm wide x 00mm high, and fill the background with a light yellow. ext, select a darker yellow and an orange, then grab the ush tool. In the Brush tool’s drop-down menu, select atural Brushes 2. Use each brush on a new layer to create painted effect. Download the supplied palm tree images from the FileSilo nd use the channels to cut them out. Open up the Layer yle window for the palm trees, select Color Overlay and hange the colour to black to silhouette the trees. Add a hite frame using a custom shape and a handwritten nt with the help of the Type tool.

ADD THE TEXT Use the Type tool (T) to add a headline to your text, or even some speech, should you have a character in the picture.


CUT OUT WITH CHANNELS Duplicate the darkest channel and then use Levels to darken the shadows of the images. Next use the Dodge tool to whiten the background and the Burn tool to darken the palm trees.

Greetings cards are a fun project and a chance to get really creative if you’re making something for somebody specific. Create a new A4 document and insert a guide (View>Guide) through the centre of the page. Start compositing images in the bottom half by cutting out with the Pen tool; cut out the confetti with Select>Color Range and use adjustment options such as Vibrance to brighten up the final image.

CHOOSING A DESIGN Make your design versatile enough that it could be applicable to either a phone or tablet cover by creating it on a new document, ready to put onto its background.

Creating a smartphone or tablet case is a great way to express creativity and give your device the personal touch. There are all kinds of images that you can create in Photoshop, but going for something bright and bold can really make a statement. Layers are pivotal in bringing these designs to life. In this particular example, we used a marble texture as the background, before drawing the subject with the Pen tool in black and white. A gradient map helped colour the image. Remember, adjustments can be fantastic for transforming the colour and tone of your work, and really make case designs stand out.

SYNC WITH WALLPAPER Create a themed wallpaper so that you can have a cohesive design all over your device.

When creating a logo in Photoshop (that can be used at various sizes), use vector tools as much as possible. While Photoshop is mainly a rasterediting program, it does have some vector features and tools. In Photoshop/CC, use the Pen or Shape tools (set to Shape in the options bar) to produce vector shape layers. Once the shapes are set, get fancy with layer styles and textures overlaid via blend modes. Create a no-frills version for a flat logo alternative. Remember to keep the background transparent if you want the ability to use the logo on different colours or patterned backgrounds.

What better way to commemorate a meaningful event than lovingly assemb word art? While constructing word art might seem like a daunting proposition, the primary requisite really is patience. Start by creating the main shape. Then, piece by piece, add words and objects within the confines of the shape. If you need to quickly select a specific layer, pick the Move tool, Ctrl/right-click on the text or object and choose the layer from the contextual pop-up. After polishing off your typographic arrangement, e visibility of the overarching shape.

GROOVY TEXT Want to contort your text? Click Create Warped Text in the options bar when using the Type tool on a text layer. Play with the preset styles and sliders.

LIMITED PALETTE CUSTOM SHAPES Bring in a variety of shapes with the Custom Shape tool. In Photoshop/CC, make sure you set to Shape in the options bar in order to create vector shapes.

With so much going on in a typical word-art piece, it’s advisable to stay disciplined with your colours. Use the Swatches palette and limit yourself to a set array of colours.




Scrapbooking is a creative way to display photos, illustrations or anything else relating to a special occasion, such as tickets or stamps, for example. Photoshop can be used to create a digital scrapbook by compositing images with layers. You can use layer groups to organise different subjects and place as many photos as you want inside. One of the main characteristics of this art style is the colour tone. Make it vibrant using the adjustment layers; this will give more control over the final result. Let’s also use the Pen tool, feathering and blend modes.

Use blend modes


Blend modes are fantastic – they offer endless possibilities for merging layers. In this case, open ‘texture.png’, place it above the colourful paper and change the blend mode to Soft Light. Duplicate four times.

Find a nice bold font and write each letter of the name separately so you can apply different effects. To add a gradient to a letter, double-click on the letter’s layer to bring up the Layer Style window and select Gradients. Make the left colour stop darker than the right colour stop. Finally, do a little research on the theme you want to base your name around and use the Pen tool and Shape tools to help draw all the relevant assets.


Create layer groups


To help organise the composition, create layer groups. To do that, press the ‘Create a new group’ button, or Cmd/Ctrl+G, then give a name to the folder and place all the images you want to group inside it.

Compose the scene


Use the Pen tool (P) to cut out subjects. Make the edges of the cutout smoother using the Feather (Shift+F6) set to 3px. Enhance the colours using adjustment layers; try Photo Filter (Warming Filter_85), Brightness/Contrast (5/10) and Color Lookup (3strip.look).

USE THE PEN TOOL Use the Pen tool to create vector shapes for extra decorative assets. Make sure Shape Layer is selected from the top Pen tool options bar.

While InDesign is the undisputed king of print design, creating a rint piece in Photoshop is definitely fun and doable. By having l the tools for typography and visuals housed in one nvironment, you can really focus on your layout without having o flip-flop between apps. A vital foundational step in graphic design is establishing a rid. Drag out guides from the rulers at the top and left of the anvas (press Cmd/Ctrl+R (Elements: add Shift) to toggle ruler sibility), or use CC’s time-saving New Guide Layout (View>New uide Layout). Employ Shape tools to lay building blocks. In Photoshop/CC, e sure to set to Shape in the options bar to keep them vector. o mask a photo within a shape, place a photo atop a shape in he Layers palette, then Option/Alt+click between the layers. Add text with the Type tool. Control typography with the haracter and Paragraph palettes. GUIDES Use guides to help you line up elements. To show/hide guides, go to View>Show Guides (Elements: View>Guides). Turn Snap to Guides on/off by going to View>Snap To>Guides.

TYPOGRAPHY Experiment with typography settings in the Character palette. Here you can adjust tracking, kerning and leading.

LAYER VIA COPY With the Pen tool, make a selection around the front of the castle, Ctrl/ right-click and choose the Layer via Copy option. Finally place the castle layer above the boy layer.

The first thing to think about when devising a board game is the main theme. In this example, we’ve chosen a treasure hunt with an historical overtone, so look for references for this theme and then start to create your own board game. To make the game visually more interesting you can mix illustrations and photos. Use the Pen tool to crop the background out of photos, as well as blend modes and the Filter Gallery to create the board texture. Then select the Ellipse and the Custom Shape tool to create the design of the game.

CUSTOMISE THE GAME To make it more fun, use the Rounded Rectangle tool (U) to create the player’s space. Make a layer group with the rectangle shape mask and place pictures of your family inside.


Tutorial Create incredible art with masks


Share your submerged creations Tweet us @pshopcreative On the FileSilo

Start images

Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Works with




Whatyou’lllearn Create a halfsubmerged scene using adjustments and masks

Time taken 3 hours

Expert Daniel Sinoca “I always have a good time creating underwater scenes. There are so many techniques involved, but thanks to Photoshop all the complicated work is very simple to execute. “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.”

Create incredible art with masks Get to grips with Photoshop and explore various techniques and tips to create an imaginative composition


his tutorial will guide you through the process of making a half-submerged composition. When you create an underwater scene, there are distinct characteristics to observe. The objects tend to have less contrast and less saturation, and usually you have to apply a particular tint to balance the colours. For these situations, adjustment layers come in handy. In the following steps, you’ll learn how to apply the right adjustment for each situation. Another great technique covered in this tutorial is the Calculation command. This enables you to

Create the background


Go to File>New (Cmd/Ctrl+N). Name your project and set Width to 230mm, Height to 310mm, Resolution to 300ppi and press OK. To create the background, go to File>Place Embedded ‘Sky.jpg’ and hit Enter. Next, go to File>Place Embedded ‘Underwater.jpg’ and press Enter.

combine two different channels and blending modes in order to create a mask. This technique is especially useful when you’re dealing with complex and detailed images. We’ll also show you how to use the Color Range tool to select an image directly on a layer mask, and how to work with the mask to create a transparent object. This tutorial involves many images, tips and techniques, so follow each step closely to improve your Photoshop skills. All of the start images, brushes and files that you need are supplied on the FileSilo, so download them and let’s get started.

The underwater environment

Apply a gradient mask



Go to File>Place Embedded ‘Rock. jpg’. Tweak the tones using the Levels adjustment. Press Cmd/Ctrl+L to open the Levels and set the Inputs to 0, 0.70, 255, then click OK. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Vibrance. Set the Vibrance to +50, then clip the layers using Cmd/ Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G.

Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. Press D to set the default Foreground/Background colour. Grab the Gradient tool (G). Open the Gradient Editor and choose the Foreground to Background preset, then click OK. Place the cursor over the rocks at the back, hold Shift and drag from bottom to top.


Tutorial Create incredible art with masks

Insert more images

Make adjustments

Bring in more images




Go to File>Place Embedded ‘Coral_Reef1.jpg’. Grab the Quick Selection tool (W) and select the corals. In Options, click Select and Mask. Check Smart Radius and Decontaminate Colors, then click OK. (Photoshop CC and CS users, use the Refine Edge tool.) Press Cmd/Ctrl+T, reduce the size, then move to the bottom.

Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Solid Color. Choose #519ab5 as your colour and click OK. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G to clip the layers. Change the blend mode to Multiply and reduce Opacity to 15%. Hold Shift and select the Coral_Reef and the Color Fill layers. Now press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate and drag in the image.

Place the treasure chest

Swim with the fishes



Place the ‘Treasure Chest.jpg’. Select the image and create a layer mask. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Brightness/Contrast. Set the Brightness to 50 and Contrast to -50. Add a Solid Color adjustment layer using #519ab5 as your colour. Change the blend mode to Multiply, reduce the Opacity to 80% and clip the layers.

Go to File>Place Embedded ‘Fishes.jpg’. Grab the Magic Wand tool (W). Set the Tolerance to 35 and click on the background. Go to Select>Inverse (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+I). In the Options bar, click on Select and Mask. Tweak the settings to enhance the mask and click OK.

Apply more adjustments

Work on Color Balance

Add more waves


Place ‘Waves.jpg’. Compress the image to adjust the perspective. Add a layer mask and mask the waves. Apply the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) and set the Inputs to 0, 0.80, 255. Now add a Color Balance adjustment and set to Midtones, Cyan/Red: -50, Magenta/Green: +5 and Yellow/Blue: +40.



Apply a Levels adjustment (Cmd/ Ctrl+L) and set the Inputs to 0, 0.70, 255. Now apply a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, with Brightness: 0 and Contrast: -50. Add a Solid Color layer using #519ab5. Change the blend mode to Multiply, reduce Opacity to 15% and clip the layers.


Now place ‘Anchor.jpg’. Select the image and then apply a layer mask. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer> Brightness/Contrast. Set the Brightness to 85 and Contrast to -50. Add a Solid Color adjustment layer using colour #519ab5. Change the blend mode to Multiply, reduce the Opacity to 80% and clip the layers.

Place ‘Wave2.jpg’. Grab the Magic Wand tool (W) and select the white area. Hit Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert the selection, then create a layer mask. Grab a soft-tip brush and paint the mask, keeping only the surface visible. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 4px.

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Expert tip Alpha channels

Place the bottle

Make the bottle transparent



Place ‘Bottle.jpg’. Grab the Quick Selection tool (Shift+W) and select the bottle, then create a layer mask. Now convert the layer into a Smart Object. Right-click over the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object.

Enhance the mask


Click on the bottle thumbnail and use Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) to increase the contrast. Grab a soft-tip brush and reduce its Opacity. Now click on the mask and carefully start painting inside the bottle to make the bottle more or less opaque. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+T and rotate the image 45°.

Here is a little trick. Add another layer mask on the bottle layer. With the mask active, go to Select>Color Range. Check Localized Color Clusters, set Fuzziness: 100, Range: 100%, Check Invert, then click OK.

When you use the Calculation command, you’re creating an alpha channel. An alpha channel is a mask to save selections. Masks and channels are greyscale images – the black areas are transparent and the white areas are visible. Create an alpha channel from a selection. Select the area to mask. Go to Window>Channel and click the New Channel button at the bottom of the Channels panel. The selection is stored as an alpha channel.

Make more adjustments Create a group layer


To create the impression that the bottle is floating, first place the bottle in a group by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+G. Rename it and create a layer mask for the group. Grab a hard-tip brush and paint over the mask to hide the middle section of the bottle.


To give the bottle a blue tone, click on the bottle thumbnail, then go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Color Balance. Set the Midtones to Cyan/Red: -85, Magenta/Green: 0 and Yellow/Blue: +100 and clip the layers (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G). Now place ‘Stopper.png’. Resize it and place behind the bottle.

Bring in the ship

Enhance the mask



Place the ‘Ship.jpg’. To create a mask you’ll apply the Calculation command. Go to Image>Calculation. Set the Source1 Channel to Red. Change the Source2 Channel to Blue, and check Invert. Now change the Blending to Overlay, in Results set to New Channel, then click OK.

Apply the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L). Adjust the Inputs to increase the contrast. To improve the mask even further, use the Dodge/Burn tool (O). Start painting the white areas with the Dodge tool, then grab the Burn tool and paint the black areas to get as many details as possible.


Tutorial Create incredible art with masks

Load mask

Apply adjustments



First, press Cmd/Ctrl+2 to view the RGB channel. Next go to Select>Load Selection and choose Channel: Alpha1 and click OK. Now add a layer mask. Right-click on the layer and choose Rasterize Layer, then Apply Layer Mask. Go to Layer>Matting> Remove White Matte.

Bring in more images

Add a lens flare



Place ‘Captain.png’ and ‘Pirates.png’. Resize the images and place on top of the bottle. Use the adjustments to enhance the contrast and tones. To blend the images, first create a new layer, then load ‘Brushes146.abr’, choose the Splash brushes and start painting over the pirates.

Drag the Ship layer behind the bottle. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T, then resize and rotate the image. Apply a layer mask and hide the extra areas. Open the Levels and set the Inputs to 0, 0.85, 175. Now add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and set Brightness to 40 and Contrast to -50.

Place the final images

Create a new layer and fill it with black. Go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Keep Brightness at 100% and choose Lens Type 105mm. Change the blend mode to Screen. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T and scale the image at 300%. Add a new layer and use the Elliptical Marquee tool to create the sun.


In the FileSilo folder there are extra images to complete the tutorial. Feel free to place them over the canvas. Add shadows or highlights and new layer adjustments to enhance the images. Remember to clip the layers, so the adjustments will only affect the layer you’re working on.


What you’ll learn Use different techniques

Keep the layers organised by placing similar images, adjustments and effects into a group. This will make it easier to find and edit layers.

SMART OBJECTS Convert images into Smart Objects to make edits while preserving the original characteristics. You can apply adjustments, filters and masks without any damage to the original.

LAYER MASKS The layer masks are important to hide and show areas of an image and, more importantly, they enable you to control the levels of transparency of the images.


CALCULATION TOOL The Calculation tool enables you to combine two different channels and blend modes to create an alpha channel. These are generally used to mask complex images.

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Tutorial Composite a collage with layers Start images

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



Composite a collage with layers

Rodrigo Marinel

Make the most of layers to combine photos and textures, and create a vibrant mixed-media collage to remember good times

Works with




What you’ll learn Use Feather, the Select and Mask tool, and filters to mix photos and textures

Time taken

3 hours

“Travelling is one of my biggest passions; it’s so interesting to get to know new places and talk to people who I never imagined I would have the opportunity to meet – it helps me to open my mind to create unique artwork. “I’m an art director and have 11 years of experience of working in advertising agencies. I learned and am still learning to use Photoshop through following tutorials.”


ne of the best things an artist can do to enhance their creativity is to travel – no matter where you go, you’ll return with a broader mind and a wealth of exciting cultural experiences. And what better place to give life to your memories than in Photoshop?! Whether it’s a scrapbook for you to peruse on your own, or a photo collage framed on the wall for all to admire, mixing different media is a fun way to represent your experience. Creating a mixed-media photo collage means it’s possible to mix multiple photos and textures in

Create the background


Create a new document (Cmd/Ctrl+N) that’s 230x310mm and 300ppi. Set up the colour palette with two tones of red – #91272c and #ca4b53 – then make a linear gradient, as shown above using the Gradient tool (G).


endless combinations. Here, the main focus is the intrepid photographer. To compose the artwork we’re going to use landmarks, transport and other sights from the cities she’s visited. We’ll use the Feather tool to blend the images with the scene; the new Select and Mask tool to crop the background in an easy and a faster way; the Filter Gallery to achieve a collage style; and many other tools to get the best possible result. Don’t worry if you haven’t got the Select and Mask tool. Just use the Quick Selection tool (W) and Refine Edge instead!

Add textures

Use the Gaussian Blur



Add ‘watercolor_05.jpg’, change the tone to grey using Hue/Saturation (Cmd/Ctrl+U) (0, -100, 0), and change the blend mode to Soft Light. Add ‘watercolor_01. jpg’ and repeat the procedure. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and place at the top and bottom of the image.

Let’s make the background more colourful. Make a new layer, use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M), make a rectangle and paint it with yellow (#f2a71d). Now use the Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur) with 742px and change the Opacity to 70%.

Want to give an impression of movement? Rotate some of the images!


Tutorial Composite a collage with layers Expert edit How to create the details

Refine Edges Brush (step 6)


To help cut out the woman’s hair, go to the Select and Mask tool, choose the Refine Edges Brush tool (R) and click on the edges of the hair.

Create the background light

Add watercolour effects



Let’s create the background highlights. Select white as your Foreground colour and pick the Brush tool (B). Select a soft brush with 100% Opacity and 0% Hardness, and apply it as shown above. Change the blend mode to Soft Light and duplicate it four times.

To make the background more interesting, add ‘watercolor_02.jpg’, ‘watercolor_03.jpg’ and ‘watercolor_04.jpg’, and follow the procedure from step 2. To blend the images, select the layer, press the Add Layer Mask button, select black as your colour and use the Brush tool to erase edges.

Adjust colour


Add ‘model. jpg’ and place in the centre. Cut her out using Select and Mask or Quick Selection. See the left-hand panel for more. To adjust the tone, use a Color Balance adjustment layer (+6, 0, 0). Press Cmd/Ctrl+Alt to link it with the woman’s layer. Create another adjustment layer with Hue/Saturation (0, +8, 0) and also link it with the woman’s layer.

Enhance the details (step 7)


Make a quick mask; select the layer, press Q, choose a soft brush, paint the parts that you want, press Q again, invert the selection, and use Levels set to 30, 1.00, 255.

Make highlights (step 22)


As the photo ‘great_torii_of_ miyajima.jpg’ is in a bright part of the scene, select the Pen tool, choose white, draw some highlights and apply the Gaussian Blur filter at 8px.

Make a vignette (step 27)


Duplicate and merge the layers, make a rectangular selection in the centre, apply a 400px feather, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I) press delete and change the blend mode to Multiply.


Layer group with mask

Use Smart Filter



See the side panel for how to select and adjust the shadows of the woman’s face. Then create a new layer, activate the woman’s layer selection, make a group (Cmd/Ctrl+G) and press the Add Layer Mask button. Place ‘watercolor_01.jpg’ inside the folder and follow the procedure in step 2.

To give a collage effect, add a filter to the woman’s layer. Duplicate the layer and transform it into a Smart Filter (Filter>Convert to Smart Filter) then go to the Filter Gallery (Filter>Filter Gallery), select the Artistic gallery and choose the Poster Edges filter set to 2, 1, 3.

Want to give an impression of movement? Rotate some of the images!

Expert tip Select and Mask tool

Transform images

Draw the shadow


Add ‘golden_gate_bridge.jpg’, and apply the Poster Edges filter as in step 8. Create a new layer and with the Pen tool, draw the shadow. Fill it with #970a0e, change the blend mode to Multiply and apply the Gaussian Blur filter (Filter> Blur>Gaussian Blur) set to 20px.


Add ‘pisa.jpg’ and use the Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to give it more of an incline. Rotate it as shown above. Adjust the colour tone, adding a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer set to 29, 0, and link with the Pisa layer (as in step 6), then apply the Poster Edges filter.

Work on the blue car


Add ‘blue_car.jpg’, then press Cmd/Ctrl+G to create a group for the car. Use the Pen tool and make a selection in the windows. Ctrl/right-click and select Layer via Copy. Activate the window selection, choose the car layer and press delete. Finally choose the window layers and change the Opacity to 60%.

Before adding any photo into the scene, it’s necessary to cut it out from the background. In the latest Photoshop CC, there is a new tool to help with this process. Choose any selection tool, for example the Lasso tool, and you’ll notice that at the top of the menu is a Select and Mask option. Click in it, select the Quick Selection tool (W) and click in the parts that you want to be cut out from the background. When finished, press OK and the image is ready to be part of your composition.

Apply a gradient mask


To blend the image with the background, select the car layer folder and press Add Layer Mask, then select black as your colour and the Gradient tool (G). Go to the gradient options, choose Foreground to Transparent, and erase the base of the car slightly.

Work with opacity

Enhance the shadows

Add the red car




Now let’s add the driver into the car. Add ‘driver_01.psd’, make a mask to erase the unnecessary parts, and change the Opacity to 70%. Duplicate all the car layers, merge (Cmd/Ctrl+E) and apply the Poster Edges filter just like in the previous steps.

Add ‘train.jpg’ and place it behind the blue car. Use the Burn tool (O) to enhance the shadows. With the Pen tool, draw the train shadow as you did in step 9, but use the Gaussian Blur filter set to 3px. Finally, apply the Poster Edges filter.

Add ‘red_car.jpg’ and rotate it as shown here. Make the windows transparent, as in step 11. Add ‘driver_02.psd’ and carry out the same procedure as in step 13. To blend the car with the background, make a gradient mask, as you did in step 12.


Tutorial Composite a collage with layers

Using the Feather command


Add ‘bigben.jpg’ and place it behind the blue car, as shown here. To give a Add ‘jesus.jpg’ and place it behind the softer look to the edges, use the Feather train. To sharpen the details of the command. Activate the selection of the Big photo, duplicate the layer, apply the High Ben layer, apply the Feather (Shift+F6) set to Pass filter (Filter>Others>High Pass) set to 1.5px, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I) 1px, then change the blend mode to Soft Light. and press delete.

Sharpen with High Pass


Give movement to the scene

Make it vibrant



Let’s give some movement to the scene using ‘cablecars.jpg’. Apply transparency to the windows following the same procedure as step 11. After that, add ‘people.psd’ and place inside the cable car, as in step 13. Finally apply the Poster Edges filter.

Create a composition


Now let’s compose the mountain to go behind the woman’s layer. Use ‘mountain.jpg’, apply a feather (2px) and make a mask to erase the unnecessary parts. Then, place ‘landscape.psd’ in front of the mountain layer. To blend the image, follow the same procedure as the mountain layer.


Flip it horizontally


Now add ‘statue_of_liberty.jpg’ and flip it horizontally – select the layer and go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontally. Then place it behind the blue car. Make a colour adjustment with Levels set to 0, 1.00, 200, and apply the Poster Edges filter.

To add more depth to the scene, add ‘red_plane.jpg’ and place it behind the woman’s head. To make it more vibrant, adjust the colour tone using the Hue/Saturation tool set to 0, +17, 0. Add a feather, as you did in step 17, set to 2px.

Work with contrast

Add some birds



Add ‘great_torii_of_miyajima.jpg’ and place it behind the mountain. To enhance the contrast, adjust the tone with Levels (28, 1.00, 255). Apply a 2px feather and use the Dodge tool to enhance the highlights. See the side panel on page 26 for more.

To give more movement to the scene, add ‘birds.jpg’. Erase the background of the image by changing the blend mode to Multiply and using Levels set to 0, 1.00, 223. Finally duplicate the layer and place it to the left side of the scene, as shown above.

Want to give an impression of movement? Rotate some of the images!

Make highlights


Use the Brush tool (B) to create the highlights in the background. Select white as your colour and use a soft brush set to 700px and 80% Opacity. Make highlights behind the woman’s head, as shown.

Add the background car

Create texture



Now add ‘back_car.jpg’ and place it behind the woman’s layer. Adjust the colour using Brightness/Contrast set to 15, 10 and Levels set to 10, 1.00, 232. Apply the transparency to the car window, just like you did in step 11.

Give depth to the scene


To keep the main focus on the centre of the image, make shadows on the edges of the scene. To do that use the Pen tool, draw the shape of the shadow, paint it with #fc6114 and change the blend mode to Multiply. Finally use the Gaussian Blur set to 415px. See the side panel on page 26 for another option.

What you can do with it Print and frame your collage A great idea to show your work to everybody and give a new look to your house is to print the artwork as a poster. However, before you print the artwork, it’s necessary to convert it to CMYK. But if you are working in RGB, you need to ensure you don’t have any nasty surprises when you convert. To do this, work with the Proof Color command activated (Cmd/Ctrl+J). This feature enables you to work in RGB but see how the colours will look in CMYK.

To enhance the colour of the scene, add ‘watercolor_01.jpg’ and use Hue/ Saturation (0, -100, 0) to change the tone to grey and place it in the centre of the image. Change the blend mode to Soft Light, then make a mask to erase unnecessary parts.

Make the final adjustments


Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Photo Filter>Warming Filter (85) with 25% Density. Make a Brightness/Contrast layer of 18/12 and duplicate it, then add a Color Lookup layer (3Strip. look). Finally, make another Brightness/Contrast layer of 5/10. PAPER STOCK To enhance the colours of the artwork, choose the correct paper to print onto. A good choice is a coated paper at 150 grams.

HIGH RESOLUTION As the artwork will be printed and placed on the wall, the quality of the image is very important. Set up your document with a 300ppi resolution.


Tutorial Retouch the lighting in your portraits


Show us your retouched portraits Search for photoshopcreative On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.



Retouch the lighting in your portraits

Konstantin Kryukovskiy

Super-soft light might make a portrait seem too flat; in this tutorial we’re going to see how to bring the depth back

Works with

Start image




Whatyou’lllearn How to give depth to flat portraits with channels, masks and more

Time taken 1 hours

“I oen find my images look too flat and boring. Partly it’s my fault, and partly it isn’t. Finding a way to extend a relatively small dynamic range is one of my fixes. “I’m a portrait photographer and commercial retoucher, based in Moscow. I achieved a Master’s degree in Computer Science a couple of years ago and haven’t been a developer ever since.”


hooting portraits in daylight, when the sky is completely clouded over, is a very popular technique. Many photographers love it because of its maximum simplicity and genuinely natural and pleasing result. However, being a super-soft light, daylight comes at a price, and you often have to sacrifice the contrast or ‘depth’ of the scene. This means that in post-production you’re going to have to pull the depth back again, which brings us directly to the subject of this tutorial. The ideas behind retouching an image are quite universal, but the techniques may vary. The ones

Double RAW conversion


To pull some extra details in the shadows, you can perform an additional RAW conversion with overexposed settings and show the new shadows with details through the mask. You could also use the Shadows/Highlights tool instead, but it might give you a bit less detail.

we are going to talk about here are quite specific, chief among which is the brightening of the highlights. So it stands to reason that these techniques wouldn’t quite work on images with bright backlight, or in fact with any very bright background. In this case the result would be dead-white, which is of course a loss of information, and we certainly don’t want that. There are basically only three areas you have to be aware of: the highlights, the shadows and the bits in between. So let’s see how to deal with them in daylight conditions.



The first step is not strictly necessary and if you don’t have a problem with the shadow or highlight details, go straight to liquifying a copy of the original layer. You might want to carry out tasks such as adjusting jaw lines, or adding volume to hair.

Clean and heal


Using the Healing Brush tool, Clone Stamp tool or any other tool of that kind, clean up the biggest flaws on the skin, such as big pimples, scars, hairs and so on. If needed, clean up the background as well.


Tutorial Retouch the lighting in your portraits

Expert tip Frequency separation This process decomposes an image into spatial frequencies so image details can be edited in the different frequencies independently. Data is typically broken down into high and low frequencies. High frequencies contain information about fine details, like skin pores. Low frequencies contain information about shadows, light, colour and tone. It is not an essential process in this tutorial, but if you’re familiar with the technique, feel free to experiment with it in step 4.

Frequency separation

Dodge and burn effects



An optional step is to separate the image into three frequencies, leaving most of the skin flaws in the middle frequency, then mask the problem areas out on the mask of its layer. If you have heard about the ‘inverted High Pass’ technique, this one has a similar effect.

Look at the shadows


The hair is all in the shadows and bringing them up would give the hair more detail and volume. One of the ways to make a mask for shadows is using a channel. The red channel would work well, as it has the most contrast between the skin and the hair.

Find the highlights


In conditions like these you can really bring an image to life by brightening the highlights. For that you’re going to need a mask, and one of the ways to create it is the Color Range command in the Select menu. In the Color Range window, select Highlights from the list.


Time for a bit of precise correction using the Dodge and Burn tools on a layer in Soft Light. If you don’t want to bother with frequency separation, you could use only dodging and burning for almost the same effect. However, its combination with frequency separation saves you a lot of time. Check out ‘Step 5.psd’ on the FileSilo to see which areas we edited.

Bring up the shadows


Create a new Curves adjustment layer and use the Apply Image command to load an inverted red channel into the mask of that layer. Blur the mask using Gaussian Blur with a Radius of around 95. Change the blend mode to Screen and set the Opacity to about 25%.

Brighten the highlights

Mix channels



Set the Fuzziness to 60% and Range to 250 and click OK. You have an active selection now, and if you create a new Curves adjustment layer, the selection would go into the mask. Change the blend mode to Screen and set the Opacity to 65%. Voila!

Mixing channels is a great way to bring a bit more contrast to the skin. Create a new Channel Mixer layer and change the blend mode to Luminosity. In the Red channel, set the red slider to 50% and the blue one to 60%.

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Expert tip The color space

Separate the highlights


To make the highlights a bit more pronounced, separating them from the middle tones might be a good idea. Create a new Selective Color layer, using the red channel as a mask. In Whites, set the Black slider to -3 and in Neutrals, set Black to +3.

Add more contrast


Create a new Curves adjustment layer. Leave it in Normal mode, put a point in the middle of the RGB curve, and then bring it down between 7-9 points.

Shift the reds

Pump the colours



To edit the reds, create a new Hue/ Saturation layer, go to the Reds and move the Hue slider to the right by 3. To reduce reds even more and to make the yellows more clean, create a new Selective Color layer and set the Yellows to +5, 3, 6, 0, from the top down.

At this point the image has enough contrast, but not enough colour. The ideal solution would be going to Lab and pumping the colours there, but this tutorial isn’t long enough for that! Let’s stay in RGB and create a new Hue/Saturation layer. Set Master saturation to +10.

It should be said that retouching of the image was done in the ProPhoto RGB colour space, which of course isn’t necessary by itself. However, it means all the tool settings mentioned in this tutorial are specific to this colour space. So if you’re going to practise on this image trying to get the same result, you’re going to have to either convert your document’s profile to ProPhoto RGB or stay in sRGB, remembering that colour and contrast won’t be 100 per cent the same.

Reduce yellow


As boosting the saturation like this is a bit too much, go to the Yellows and set to -8. This way you have all the colours increased, except a part of the yellows. Now you have balanced the contrast with colour. TARGET

Closer look

The blend mode is how the Apply Image will blend its result with the target mask, channel, or the layer you’ve chosen.

Apply Image command WHY APPLY IMAGE? Apply Image is a powerful tool that works with channels. You can blend channels and layers, and even use channels as masks while using it. It’s found under the Image menu.

LAYER SETTINGS If you’re feeling confident, use the Merged setting in the Layer menu, but keep in mind that all of the adjustment layers above the target would affect the result.

CHANNEL Remember that in portraits the red channel will always be the lightest, the green one will always have the most natural contrast, and the blue one will be the darkest.


Tutorial Take reflections out of bounds

Essentials Works with

On the FileSilo Elements


Download your free resources at www.filesilo.


Whatyou’lllearn Use layer masks and other techniques for creative edits

Time taken 2 hours

Expert Daniel Sinoca “Photoshop is an amazing tool to create compositions. With just simple commands I can add effects, hide specific areas and show others. “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.”


Take reflections out of bounds Get inspired by the four seasons to create a reflected mirror effect using masks, adjustments and custom images


ake your creativity to the next level with this fun tutorial – we’ll show you how to use the 3D tool, filters and adjustments to create an awesome mirror effect. First we’ll use layer styles to create a frame around the mirror and transform it, and use the 3D command to extrude and add materials. When working in the 3D environment, use the Move tool (V) to move the image around and open the 3D panel (Window>3D) to access the 3D assets.

Next we’ll use masks to create an out-of-bounds effect and add clipping masks to place images inside the mirror. We’ll also use filters to create beautiful effects and custom brushes to reveal the details under the mask. Last but not least, we’ll use adjustments to make colour corrections. Check the Expert Edit and Expert Tip for extra advice. We’ve included several photos and files for you to work with in this project. Go to the FileSilo to download them or use your own images.

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Expert edit Prepare the images

Set the stage


To start, open ‘Background.jpg’. To create the mirror, create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N) and name it Mirror. Grab the Rectangular Marquee tool (M), create a rectangular selection, then fill it with black. Press Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect.

Create the mirror frame


Double-click over the Mirror layer to open the Layer Style window. Click on Stroke. Set the Size to around 30 pixels, Position: Inside, keep the Blend Mode: Normal and Opacity at 100%. Now choose Fill Type: Gradient. Open the Gradient Editor and choose the Preset: Metal Silver and click OK.

Set up the photo shoot


Choose a nice location for your shoots. Use a tripod and speedlight. Adjust the aperture and shutter speed of your camera. Guide your model to get the right poses.

Transform in 3D


Right-click on the Mirror layer and choose ‘New 3D extrusion from selected layer’. Open the Properties panel and set the Extrusion Depth to 0.2 inches. To apply a material, go to the 3D panel and click on Mirror Extrusion. Go to the Properties panel, open the Material Editor and choose Metal Silver.

Use the Camera Raw filter


Open the image in Photoshop, and go to Filter>Camera Raw filter. Adjust the settings to improve the colours and tones, and make basic corrections.

Select the image


Grab the Quick Selection tool and select the image. Use the Refine Edges (Photoshop CS) to enhance the mask. Or use the new Select and Mask feature in Photoshop CC.

Mask the frame Adjust the light and render


In the 3D panel, click on Infinite Light and drag the controller, moving it to the top-centre. Go to 3D panel and click Scene. Now in the Properties panel, uncheck Shadows. Go to 3D>Render 3D Layer.


Duplicate the 3D layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J). In the Layers panel, right-click and choose Rasterize 3D. Grab the Magic Wand tool (W) and select the black area. Create a layer mask (click the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers palette). Hide the original 3D mirror layer.

Place as Embedded files


Save the image as a PNG file or as a PSD to keep the mask and layers. Place the images as Embedded files and keep them as Smart Objects for an easier edit.


Tutorial Take reflections out of bounds

Expert tip Preset Manager Use the Preset Manager to load different presets, such as gradients and brushes. To load a custom brush, go to Edit>Presets>Preset Manager. In the Preset Type, choose Brushes and click Load. Locate and select ‘Brushes146.abr’, click Load again. Press F5 to open the Brush panel and pick the new brush. To load a gradient, select Preset Type: Gradient, and click the Presets dropdown menu. For this tutorial, choose Metals and then click on Append.

Create a clipping mask


Now go to File>Place Embedded ‘Autumn.jpg’. Press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/ Alt+G to create a clipping mask. Click and drag the mask you created in the last step onto the Autumn layer to reveal the frame around the mirror.


Place ‘Woman-autumn.png’. Resize it and drag over the mirror. Now create a clipping mask (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G). Let’s use the Levels to make a quick tonal adjustment. Press Cmd/Ctrl+L, set the Input Levels to 0, 0.90, 235 and click OK.

Use custom brushes

Make the out-of-bounds effect



Grab the Brush tool (B). Open the Brush Preset and load ‘Brushes146. abr’, then choose the Autumn-leaf brush. Press F5 and check Shape Dynamics and Scattering. Adjust the Size and Angle Jitter, and increase the Scatter a bit. Vary the Spacing and the brush size, then press F7.

Place ‘Autumn.jpg’ again on top of the layer stack. Keep the image large and create a layer mask. Fill with black. Set the Foreground colour to white and using the custom brush you’ve created, start painting over the mask to reveal the leaves rolling out of the mirror.

Enhance the tones

Let it snow



Place ‘Woman-winter.png’. Resize it, drag over the mirror and clip the layers (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G). Press Cmd/ Ctrl+U and adjust the Saturation to -30. Press Cmd/Ctrl+B, adjust the Color Levels to -15, 0, +20, then press OK.


Place more images

Add another mirror


Unhide the 3D mirror layer. Press V and use the controllers to rotate the mirror 45º around the Y axis. Repeat steps 5 and 6. First duplicate the layer and mask the frame, then go to File>Place Embedded ‘Winter.jpg’. Clip the layer and drag the mask.

Create a new layer, name it Snowfall and fill with black. Go to Filter> Pixelate>Mezzotint. Set Type to Coarse Dots and hit OK. Apply the Gaussian Blur filter at 2.5 pixels. Set the blend mode to Screen. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+L and adjust the inputs to control the intensity of the effect.

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Complete the effect

Repeat the steps

Make it summer


Repeat the techniques you’ve learnt in the previous steps and add another mirror. Create a mask for the frame. Place ‘Spring.jpg’ and ‘Woman-spring.png’, adjust the size and clip the layers. Place ‘Flowers field.png’. Grab the custom Spring brush, adjust the tip shape and paint the mask.



Hold Opt/Alt then click and drag the mask from the Winter layer onto the Snowfall layer. Place ‘snow.jpg’ over the mirror and create a layer mask. Fill it with black. Set the Foreground colour to white. Grab the Snow brush, alter the Shape Dynamics and paint over the mask.

Bring in more images


Enhance the composition by placing more images over the canvas. Place the butterflies around the spring mirror, and the skis and pinecone around the winter mirror. Add a bucket for summer fun. Now place the ‘Woman.png’, resize it and use the Layer Style window to add a subtle shadow.

Create the final mirror. Rotate the 3D mirror, then rasterize it. Place the ‘Summer.jpg’ and ‘Woman-summer.png’ images. Repeat the steps again to complete the composition. Use Levels to adjust the tones, then add a layer mask to spread out sand over the ground.

Create a snapshot


Click on the top layer and press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+E to create a snapshot. Right-click on the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object. Go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter. Adjust the settings to enhance the colours, making the image more vivid. SMART OBJECTS To create a Smart Object, rightclick on the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object.

Expert tip Using Smart Objects Photoshop automatically places an image as a Smart Object, which means the original characteristics of the image are protected, enabling you to perform non-destructive editing. You can apply filters, make colour and tonal corrections, or transform the image without losing quality or altering the original pixels. Use the Smart Objects whenever possible to make it easier for you to edit images. When working with several layers, place them into groups to expedite the workflow. You can even add masks, scale and apply adjustments to a group.

CREATE GROUPS Hold Shi and select the layers you want to group. Then press Cmd/ Ctrl+G to create the group. Rename for easy location later.


Tutorial Give added dimension to sketches


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

Essentials Works with




Whatyou’lllearn Use layer styles such as Gradient Overlay, Inner Shadow and Inner Glow

Time taken 5-7hours

Exper BÜRO UFHO “Using a combination of layer styles and some so brushes can help create a liquid illustration that looks 3D. “We are both artists under the moniker kittozutto, have a graphic design studio, BÜRO UFHO, and have been using Photoshop for more than 10 years. In 2015, we had the privilege of being invited by Adobe, together with 70 artists, to celebrate its 25th anniversary of Photoshop.”

Give added dimension to sketches Turn a simple sketch into a 3D-looking painted portrait with the help of layer styles in Photoshop


s designers, we often come across ideas that we sketched or scribbled down on paper. For the majority of the time, these ideas never translate into anything (especially if you happen to have lots of ideas!). But why not try taking one of those sketches a little further? We decided to see how far we could push a sketch. Over the course of this tutorial you will see how very different our initial sketch was compared to the final image. The image transformed from a simple line sketch, to colourful vector gradient

shapes, and finally to a finished illustration with much more depth. Even with limited resources, it is possible to create interesting abstract work using Photoshop. We’ll take you through the process and reveal how we use Photoshop to create fluid shapes, and incorporate layer styles to give depth and a 3D-feel to our splashes. Check out our Expert Tip for advice on the colour gradients and Blend Ifs sliders. You can download the layered PSD from the FileSilo to get a better understanding of how you can build up your artwork.

Start with a sketch


Source a side profile photo and use it as a base for your sketch. We used the following image by Reine-Haru, which is free to download: Give the photo layer a low opacity and begin drawing some fluid splashes on a new layer. Follow the contour of the face and make it more free flowing towards the back.

Refine sketch


With the basic sketch finished, it helps to separate each segment into smaller sections using curves and swirls. Use a different brush colour so you can see which are the main segments and which are the details.


Tutorial Give added dimension to sketches Expert edit Selection options

Whole splash selection


Cmd/Ctrl-click on the layer mask of the splash to make a selection of the whole splash.

Path individual splashes


With the completed sketch, begin pathing the splashes using the Pen tool. Don’t worry about the colours at this stage; just fill each splash with a different colour for clear indication.

Continue creating paths


To make the splashes fluid, adjust the curves properly to make it look more natural. We can still edit our paths by Cmd/Ctrl-clicking on the splash with the Pen tool. Alt/Option-drag on the handles to adjust the curves accordingly.

Fill with dark background


Create a new path layer beneath these splashes to fill up the negative spaces. Double-click on the layer thumbnail to bring out the Color Picker dialog box. Select black for the colour. Adjust the splashes accordingly to fill up any unnecessary gaps.

Subtracting selection


Alt+Cmd/Ctrl-click on the layer mask of the overlapped splash layer to subtract it from our selection.

Adding back to the selection


Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+click on the layer thumbnail of the desired splash layer to add back to the splash selection.

Get exact selection


Continue adding or subtracting selections until you are left with the desired selection, which you can then use as a mask.


Set colour and mood

Add depth through gradients



With the basic splashes completed, we can now begin colouring them. Create a colour palette on the side of the canvas. Sites like Adobe Color CC (color. are great for colour inspiration. Replace the existing colours with those from the palette by double-clicking the splashes and colour-picking the palette.

Once you are happy with the colour arrangements, proceed to apply colour gradients to the splashes. Right-click on the layer and select Blending Options. Check Gradient Overlay. Select the gradient to edit. Pick the existing colour as the first colour (in this case orange), and set the second colour as pink.

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Expert tip Moving gradients

Apply splash gradients


Apply gradients to all of the splashes. If the existing colour is dark, pick a lighter colour for the second colour, and vice versa. Experiment with different colours to find the right combination to create interesting transitions.

Adjust shadow settings


Continue applying Inner Shadow to all splashes. Adjust the Choke and Size according to each of the splashes. For larger splashes, we have set the Inner Shadow Size to 70.

Create inner shadows


We’re going to build up each of the splashes to make them pop out using an Inner Shadow layer style. Set Blend Mode: Multiply, Color: #000066, Angle: 90, Distance and Choke: 0, and Size: 35.

Apply Inner Glow


Next, apply Inner Glow to the splashes. This glow, together with the shadows applied earlier, creates a 3D-looking effect. Check Inner Glow, set Blend Mode to Color Dodge, Opacity to 60%, Source to Center, Choke to 10, and Size to 60.

Darken the layers


After applying Color Dodge and Overlay layer styles, some of the layers may end up too bright. Darken them so that there is enough contrast when we put on the white highlights at a later stage. Check Color Overlay, set Blend Mode to Overlay, Color to Black and Opacity to 50%.

Right-click on a splash layer and select Blending Options. Check Gradient Overlay. Select the gradient to edit the colours. With this dialog box opened, click and drag the gradient around on the canvas instead. This enables you to quickly move the gradient positions. Combined with adjusting the Scale of the gradient, it is a time-saving way compared to manually adjusting the colour. This is most useful for moving the centre of a Radial gradient.

Adapt the effect


Apply Inner Glow to all the splashes. The Color Dodge mode may be too harsh on certain colours, so for these layers use Overlay instead, with Opacity at 50%, Choke at 20 and Size at 16. Adjust the Blend Mode, Choke and Size accordingly for smoother transitions of the gradients.

Add drop shadows


Create more depth by adding shadows to each of the splashes. Check Drop Shadow, set Blend Mode to Overlay, Color to dark purple #523366, Angle to 45, Distance to 5, Spread to 0 and Size to 20. This will create some separation between the splashes.


Tutorial Give added dimension to sketches

Apply Outer Glow


Another way of adding more depth is by applying a glow around overlapping splashes. Check the Outer Glow layer style, with Opacity at 35%, Spread at 0 and Size at 25. Use this on the swirl at the side of the nose to make it look debossed.

Create glossy highlights

Add more highlights



Cmd/Ctrl-click on a layer thumbnail to make a selection of a splash. Use a white soft brush to slowly brush just outside of this selection. This soft brush will be masked within the selection. Deselect the splash and move the layer down a little to create a glossy highlight.

Shrink highlights

Make complex highlights



Continue adding more highlights to each splash. Duplicate the white highlights from one of the rounded corners and shrink it down using the Free Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to create a white reflection. Just using the curves of each splash can help to build up interesting reflections.

With a splash selected, click on a spot between the selection using a soft round brush. This creates a glow that is masked around the curve. Go to Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur. Set Radius to 2px. Move this layer so that it sits on top of the white highlights you created earlier.

Try different blend modes


With brighter colours, the Overlay blend mode may not work for the shadows as it won’t create a dark enough effect. Set the blend mode to Multiply instead, Opacity: 50%. Alternate between these two blend modes accordingly.


With the same technique, create some white glow on the rounded edges of the splash. Erase or mask out unwanted areas. Play with the opacity of these white highlights to create more depth. Our white highlights are more opaque at the edges than at the centre.

Create shadows


With the highlights completed, it’s time to add some shadows. Make a selection of a splash to keep the brush contained. Using a soft round black brush with Overlay as blend mode, brush around the splash softly to darken and add contrast.

Make complex shadows


Use a black soft round brush to brush in some complex shadows. Set the blend mode to Multiply, Opacity to 25%. On a new layer above, brush in more shadows, this time spreading them a bit wider than previously. Set this layer to Overlay, Opacity to 75%. We have created a stacked shadow.

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Expert tip Blend-If noise

Add line details

Create a Soft Glow



Add some white swirls in the negative zones within the face. On a new layer, draw a sketch of the swirls. Use the Pen tool to path the splashes out. These little line details help to break the monotony of the splashes.

On a new layer, use a white soft round brush and click on the canvas once to create a circular spot. Cmd/Ctrl+T to transform, right-click and select the Warp tool. Drag the mesh around to warp the spot around the curved edges of the splash. Press Enter to commit.

Make enhancements

Produce noise glittering



Create more drastic contrast by further darkening certain overlapped areas. Set blend mode to Multiply, Opacity to 10%. Brush along the corners to make it look like the splash in front is casting its shadow onto the splash behind.

What can go wrong

On a new white layer, go Filter> Noise>Add Noise, Amount: 100, Distribution: Uniform. Check Monochromatic. Go Filter> Blur>Blur. Add a layer mask to the noise, repeat adding noise and blurring to the mask. Set this layer to Color Dodge, Opacity: 50%. Right-click the layer to open Blending Options. Under Blend-If, Alt/Option-click the Black slider of This Layer, drag the slider to the right. Repeat for Black slider of Underlying Layer. Cmd/Ctrl+G to group this layer. Add a group mask and brush over areas you don’t want to affect.

Finish with a layer of noise. We’re going to ensure the white noise only affects the areas with white highlights. This creates a glittering effect and adds a little texture to the splashes. Refer to our Expert Tip above on Blend-If noise.


Beware of Color Dodge Save time by finishing the layer style for the first splash, then copy this layer style, select all the splashes and paste to apply to all. However, you may find that some layers become overexposed or the effect isn’t noticeable. That’s because the Color Dodge mode for the Inner Glow needs to be tweaked for each splash. You need to pay attention to the Opacity, Choke and Size to achieve a nice balance. If not, there will be an uneven transition of the glow. It is also important to alternate between RGB and CMYK preview mode (Cmd/Ctrl+Y) to check the colours if it’s intended for print, because Color Dodge creates differences in between the two modes.



Tutorial Practise how to select and blend

Essentials Works with

On the FileSilo Elements


Download your free resources at www.filesilo.


Whatyou’lllearn How to create a snow globe composition using layers and masks

Time taken 4 hours

Exper Mark White “Animal compositions are such fun to work on. Techniques in this tutorial, such as the selecting of the foxes, are applicable to all animals, and great for all kinds of tutorials. “As senior staff writer on Photoshop Creative, I’ve learned all kinds of quick tips to help with even the most impressive-looking pictures.”


Practise how to select and blend Use selections, masking and blending techniques to create a composition where two worlds collide


ll kinds of Photoshop tools are useful for different projects, and some can be particularly useful for projects you might not expect. While layers and blend modes are obviously vital when crafting a digital painting, brushes can be one of the most important tools for bringing a composition like this to life. In this tutorial, we use brushes to clear the background, add the leaves and grass, and retouch the foxes, but perhaps the biggest use of brushes is

for actually masking around the individual elements. You can change what the edge of your brush looks like, and this makes it perfect for cutting out things like fur. There are countless other tools that can help bring a surreal scene such as this to life, too. Filters are great for blurring and sharpening elements, as well as giving a cartoon feel; layers are essential for organising; and blend modes can finesse elements such as water, lighting and shadows.

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Clean the background

Recolour the scene



Start by opening ‘city.jpg’ in Photoshop. Resize it and pick the Brush tool (B). Use Alt/Opt to select colours and brush over the people in the scene to clear the city of everything, except the buildings. This will make for a sleeker composition.

Drop ‘sunset.jpg’ into the image and set the blend mode to Multiply. Using the same selecting colour and brushing technique, recolour the buildings the average colour of the sky, getting rid of the cloud detail that currently shines on them. Lightly brush over the street, too.

Extend the pavement

Start the globe



Grab the Polygonal Lasso and select a little further out from the left-hand pavement (sidewalk). Fill with the colour of the existing pavement and do the same with the kerb. Drop ‘grass2.jpg’ into the image. Mask so that only a square shows.

With the Elliptical Marquee, select a perfect circle and fill with #00d2ff on a new layer. Set to Color, 10% Opacity; duplicate and set to Soft Light, then duplicate again and fill with #FFFFFF. Place ‘soil.jpg’ and resize to the bottom of the globe.

Master the lighting

Warp in the tree



Clip ‘wood.jpg’ to the base and warp to follow the same direction; set to Overlay. On more clipped layers set to Soft Light, Overlay and Multiply, brush black and white to give more realistic lighting for the snow globe’s base.

Form the base


Select #808080 in your swatches. Make a rectangular selection along the bottom of the globe and fill, before warping to look like the base of what will become your snow globe. Do this by using the Warp option in Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) or Filter>Liquify.

Make a group of the globe layers thus far (Cmd/Ctrl+G) – not including the base – and place in ‘tree2.png’. Warp it so that it looks like it’s been grown within the dome; make the edge of it curve around the left-hand side of the globe.


Tutorial Practise how to select and blend Expert edit Animal masking techniques

Colour over grass


Grab a small, 5px brush. Alt/Optclick on the fox’s fur to choose a colour and gently brush over the grass to remove it from the image.

Shape the waterfall


Add ‘waterfall.jpg’ to the image. Place to the right, then select the water, from where the waterfall hits the water to the bottom of the image. Make this smaller to fit the image, and mask the whole thing into the globe.

Bring in the water


Add ‘wave.jpg’. Duplicate it twice: change one layer to Multiply, one to Screen and one to Soft Light, experimenting with Opacity for clearness of water. Select the soil layer and mask out the right-hand side softly. Add ‘clownfish.jpg’ and blend in. Clip a colour layer to the water to blend further.

Paint in the grass


Add ‘grass1. jpg’. Duplicate and line up along the top of the soil. Merge these layers, hit Mask, then invert (Cmd/ Ctrl+I). With a white, 100% opaque, 5px brush, mask in the grass along the soil. Repeat this twice for more layered grass.

Move whole limbs


Use the Polygonal Lasso to select a fox’s leg. Move it slightly, making sure not to ruin the realism of the image, and Clone (S) to re-build where the leg was moved from.

Fine selections with brushes


Soft brushes can reach the softer edges that other selection tools can’t. Sometimes it’s better to hit Mask and then manually draw around objects to achieve greater precision.

Combine multiple images


Some pictures have better subjects than others; by masking in different parts of different images with a soft brush, you can combine the best ones.


Add roots and the fox

Brush some leaves



Add in a fox to the snow globe; we’ve provided lots of stock images for you to choose from, but we used ‘fox3.jpg’. Hit Mask, and brush in black along the edges of the animal to fully mask close to the fur.

Open the supplied leaf brushes. Click on the Brush menu and set the Spacing to over 100%; experiment with the Scatter options so that when you brush, lots of leaves are created in the snow globe.

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Give the globe shape Scatter some petals


Open the supplied ‘blossom.jpg’. Cut out the individual petals and duplicate these across the image, particularly in the tree and on the ground. Place some petals on the fox and mask accordingly.


Place ‘bulb.jpg’, set to Overlay and brush over the filament. Create a 5000x5000px document, and go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Click OK, then Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates. Choose Rectangular to Polar; flip vertical, then repeat and choose Polar to Rectangular. Paste this over the globe; set to Screen.

Create autumnal leaves

Add more foxes



Add ‘autumnalleaves.jpg’ to the image, duplicate it to cover the road and merge, similar to how you added the grass. Hit Mask, invert, and then with a white leaf brush, mask in the leaves; reduce the height of the brush to make it look realistic.

To create a shadow for a fox, Cmd/ Ctrl+click its mask layer preview window in the Layers palette, create a new layer and fill in black; go to Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur, select 10px, and reduce to 30% Opacity. Transform these shadows (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to fit the scene.

Mask in pigeons



Add ‘tree1.jpg’. Use Select>Color Range to mask out all of the sky and use a small, soft brush to touch-up around the branches. Resize to fit over the grassy patch on the pavement and clip Curves and Hue/Saturation adjustments to blend it in fully with the scene.

Now it’s time to add more foxes to flesh out the composition. Use the side stepper on the left for help on how to blend them into the scene, and go to Edit>Puppet Warp to warp the animals so they are looking up at the globe.

Transform the shadows


Place the tree

Use the Quick Selection tool to mask in the pigeons from ‘pigeons.jpg’. Reduce them in size and mask along the wire they’re sat on, before placing them each on branches for more realism.

Blend in the eagle


We’ve supplied an eagle and a vulture on the FileSilo, so use your preferred selection tools to blend the two. Merge, duplicate and warp your duplicate over the globe to act as a reflection. Do the same for any foxes looking at the globe.


Tutorial Practise how to select and blend

Recolour, highlight and shade

Blur the background



On a new Color layer, 30% opaque, brush in brighter colours, such as on the tree and the foxes. Merge all to a new layer twice (Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E); set one to Multiply, one to Screen. Hit Mask for both and invert, before masking in highlights and shadows.

Merge all to a new layer again. Cmd/ Ctrl-click layer previews of the foxes, globe, tree, eagle and pigeons. Hit Mask, then invert. Go to Filter>Blur Gallery>Field Blur and choose 10px. Move this below the other layers and softly mask in the pavement (sidewalk) for depth of field.

Cartoonise the picture


Merge all to a new layer again. Go to Filter>Noise> Reduce Noise and choose Strength: 10, leaving everything else at 0. Click OK to cartoonise the picture. Merge all to another new layer: this time go to Filter>Other>High Pass, choose 5px and set to Overlay to re-sharpen.

Adjust the scene


Use adjustments to tweak the colour and lighting in your scene. We used a subtle Curves layer to boost the reds and greens, and reduced the brightness with a Brightness/Saturation layer.

Finish it off


Now the image is complete, just add a few finishing touches, such as a lens flare (Filter>Render Lens Flare). Select a circle of the city behind the globe and use Filter>Distort>Spherize to create a distortion behind. Brush in soft highlights. EAGLE Place the eagle in the top right to fill the blank space; resize it to fit the space accordingly.

Closer look Building the composition SNOW GLOBE BASE Don’t warp the base of the snow globe too far, otherwise it won’t look realistic; make the sides slightly curved, too.

SHADOWS Transform the shadows in the direction away from the light, and mask out the end of the shadows where they’re further away.


PAVEMENT Extend the pavement out, but remember to keep the top of it horizontal, otherwise it will look obviously fake.

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Tutorial Design a sign with shapes

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

Essentials Works with




Whatyou’lllearn Use the Pen tool and control shapes to create a stylised design

Time taken 1 hour

Exper Moe Hezwani “I love playing around with shapes, cutting them out and creating new ones to help build up an illustration for poster design. It’s so much fun experimenting with shapes to see exactly what will and will not work. “I’m a professional graphic designer/illustrator, and Photoshop is my go-to platform for my designs.”



Design a s with shapes Transport your imagination back in time with the help of shape layers to create a retro-style illustration


very time you create a new shape in Photoshop, it assumes you want it in a separate shape layer by default. On occasions, you will find this default setting useful, however there will be times when you want to combine two or more shapes together by adding new shapes into existing ones. Or you might want to use new shapes to cut out parts of the original shape. You can intersect two shapes so only the areas that overlap remain visible on your canvas. These techniques are called Adding to Shape Area, Subtract from Shape Area, Intersect Shape

Area and Exclude Overlapping Shape Area, and they are represented as a series of icons in the Pen tool or Shape tool Options bar. Ensure you have Shape Layers selected in the far left of the Pen or Shape tool Options bar to make these icons visible. The major part of this tutorial will walk you through how to cut out and combine shapes to create a retro background. There will also be some handy tips on how to draw a croissant, coffee bean and coffee with the help of the Pen tool. Lastly, discover how to create a grunge effect by playing around with blend modes.

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Get started

Create a border

Align shapes




Open the swatches and start image from the FileSilo, and use the start image as a guide to help build up the illustration. Next, grab the Rectangular tool and ensure Shape Layers is selected from the top Options bar. Select Swatch 2 from the swatch file and make a large rectangle.

Draw a smaller rectangle to your first and hold down Shift to ensure the new rectangle is drawn inside the same shape layer as the first. Before creating your second rectangle, click the ‘Subtract from shape area’ button or hit the (-) key from the Options bar.

Customise a shape


Use the Ellipse tool to draw an oval in the same shape layer as the rectangles. Select the oval using the Direct Selection tool to bring up its anchor points. Then hold the top anchor point of the oval and move it down to the middle of the rectangle border.

Cut out the oval


Now select swatch 3 from the swatch file and draw a smaller rectangle to the border in a new shape layer. Have ‘Subtract from shape area’ selected, then draw another oval that is slightly bigger than the first and inside the same shape layer as the new rectangle.

Make a trapezium

Duplicate the trapezium



Grab the Pen tool, select ‘Subtract from shape area’, then draw a sideways isosceles trapezium to one side of the rectangle; draw it inside the same shape layer as the new rectangle. Centre the trapezium to the rectangle vertical, but not horizontally; use the same techniques as you did in step 3.

Make sure that the two rectangles are perfectly aligned. To do this, grab the Path Selection tool (A) and select the rectangle. Hold down Shift to select two or more shapes at one time. From the Options bar, click Align Vertical Centers and Align Horizontal Centers.

Instead of having to draw the trapezium again, duplicate it by grabbing the Path Selection tool, selecting the trapezium and holding down Shift/Alt. Drag your shape to the left. Go to Edit> Transform Path>Flip Horizontally and use the Move tool to move the duplicated shape to the left of the rectangle.

Create more shapes


Ensure that ‘Subtract from shape area’ is selected and your new shapes are drawn inside the same shape layer as the new rectangle before drawing. Finally, draw a large circle in the centre of the rectangle and use the Pen tool to draw two thin rectangles at the bottom centre.


Tutorial Design a sign with shapes

Expert tip Don’t have the Pen? Most of this artwork is built up from shapes, such as the Rectangular tool to create the background. It’s not until you get to the croissant, coffee beans, cup and saucer when you need to use the Pen tool. But if you don’t have the Pen tool, or don’t want to use it, you can call upon the Brush tool to draw items instead. You can always hand draw them and scan them in, then trace your sketch. If you are more confident, create a new layer and get drawing straight onto your canvas.

Mask shapes Create a sunray effect


Select swatch 4 and use the Ellipse tool to draw a smaller circle in the centre of the canvas. Now pick swatch 9 and in the Custom Shape tool, select the Registration Target 2 shape and draw it over your second circle in a new shape layer.

Draw a half-sunburst

Place the final cutout circle



Select swatch 8 and using the Pen tool, draw a half-sunburst shape or open the custom shapes provided on the FileSilo and use the supplied half-sunburst shape. Draw the right shape first then duplicate and move it to the left side, so you get the same shape on either side.

Head to the second rectangle shape layer (with all the cutouts), grab the Path Selection tool, select the middle circle and copy it (Cmd/Ctrl+C). Then head back to the half-sunburst shape layer, select the shapes and paste the copied circle (Cmd/ Ctrl+V) into this shape layer.

Draw coffee foam


Duplicate the brown circle layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and double-click the layer’s thumbnail to bring up the Color Picker. Use swatch 13. Grab the Pen, with ‘Subtract from shape area’ selected, and cut out the large part of the circle to create the main foam shape. For the bubbles, draw small cutout circles.



To hide the unnecessary border around the target shape, hold down Cmd/Ctrl and click on the circles’ vector mask thumbnail to make a selection. Then add a layer mask to the Target Shape layer; do this by clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon on the bottom of the Layers palette.

Make the coffee cup


Grab the Ellipse tool and use swatch 10 to draw a circle to create the cup. To draw the coffee, select swatch 11 and draw a smaller circle. Then make the Foreground colour white and using the Pen tool, draw two half circles to create the cup highlights.

Add highlights


Select swatch 12 and use the Pen to draw a half circle to create the lowlights of the cup. To create coffee highlights, make the Foreground colour white and use the Pen to draw another half circle. Then use the Ellipse tool to draw little circles to create the bubble highlights.

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Draw a coffee bean

Finish the coffee bean



Use the Pen to finish off the coffee cup by drawing the handle. Use the Pen again to layer up shapes to draw the coffee bean. Create the base by using swatch 14 and draw a rough oval shape. Draw another two ovals on both sides of the first, this time using swatch 15.

Select swatch 16 and draw another two ovals slightly over the last two. Select swatch 17 then draw two final ovals slightly over the last two shapes. Now draw a long, thin oval from one end of the base to the other, and add a 2px stoke on that shape’s layer style.


Use the Pen and Ellipse tools to draw the croissant and saucer; use the same procedure as steps 13 to 17 to build the objects up by layering shapes. Think about where to place the highlights and shadows. Use the swatch file to help with drawing the croissant.


Group the bean shapes by selecting the bean’s shape layers and picking ‘New group from layers’ from the Layers palette drop-down menu. Then duplicate the folder, go Edit>Transform>Rotate and rotate the duplicated folder slightly. Also, use the Move tool to move the beans underneath the cup slightly.


Start by installing the ‘FoglihtenNo01’ fonts from the FileSilo and type the word ‘Fresh’ using the Horizontal Type tool. Then go to Edit>Transform>Rotate and rotate the word slightly by holding down the edge of the bounding box. Do the same with the word ‘Coffee’ on the other side of your canvas. With the font ‘immermann’, use the Type tool once again to type ‘start your morning right’.

Apply finishing touches Now head back to the Beans folder and duplicate the folder several times, use the Move tool to move them as above, then go to Edit>Free Transform to rotate and scale (either bigger or smaller).


Add fonts

Finalise the drawing

Duplicate coffee beans

Rotate the coffee beans


To create the background, make a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N) at the bottom of your Layers palette, pick out swatch 4, then go to Edit>Fill. Ensure that Use is set to Foreground Color. Then use the Pen to draw a coffee icon or use the coffee icon provided on the FileSilo.

Create a grunge effect


Open ‘Grunge Background.jpg’ from the FileSilo and paste it into your coffee canvas. Duplicate and move the duplicated layer below the coffee cup/ croissant layers. Change its blend mode to Linear Burn and Opacity to 40%. Then change the first grunge image’s blend mode to Hard Light and the Opacity to 30%.


Resource project Create your own melted-wax textures COLOURFUL CRAYONS To make melted-wax textures, crayons are your best bet; they’re cheap and come in a variety of colours for endless possibilities.

HAIRDRYER For the actual melting part, use a hairdryer with a high heat setting. You can also use a heat gun for faster melting, but be careful.

On the FileSilo

HOLD IT TOGETHER To keep the crayons from rolling around during the melting process, keep some clear tape handy.

Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Create your own melted-wax textures Melt wax to create interesting coloured textures for use in Photoshop projects


ax has been used as a durable tool in art-making for centuries. Encaustics, one of the oldest painting techniques, involves painting with melted wax that is mixed with coloured pigments. The word encaustic itself comes from the Greek meaning ‘burn in’ because you have to heat the wax to melt it. This technique was used on the Egyptian sarcophagi as early


as 300AD. Today when people think of drawing with wax, they think of crayons. The word crayon dates back to the mid 1600s in Europe when charcoal and oil were mixed together in cylinders for drawing. Eventually, the oil in the original crayons was substituted for wax, which was sturdier. Of course in the early 1900s, American companies began to make crayons for the average person and

even child. By the 1960s there were over 300 crayon manufacturers in the United States. In this day and age, melting crayons to create colourful artwork is a popular way to be crafty and end up with achievable art for your walls. This tutorial will show you different ways to melt crayons to create fun melty effects for use in any Photoshop project you can think of that needs extra texture and colour.

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Make classic crayon drips Melt crayons for the perfect drip

Secure the wax

Apply some heat

Let it dry




Lay your crayon on a piece of sturdy paper. Make sure you put it near the top of the paper so the wax has somewhere to drip, then tape the crayon down. Use a small roll of tape underneath, then a strip of tape over the top to secure it fully.

Once your crayon is taped down, tilt your paper at a slight downwards angle. Turn your hairdryer on and direct the heat on the middle of the crayon. If you have the pointed end of the crayon facing down, the wax will melt and slide off the tip.

Tilt the paper upright so the melted wax drips down to the length you want. It will dry quickly so be aware. Let the wax completely dry before photographing it or it will be shiny and look as though it is wet in the photos.

Create a melted marble texture Make a marbled effect with melted crayons

Divide and colour

Melt in the oven

Make your swirls




Begin by finding oven-safe containers and cleaning them out. Decide what colours you want to mix and divide them among the containers by colour. Break the crayons for a faster melting time.

Place in a 200-degree-Celsius/400degree-Fahrenheit oven for three to five minutes, or until the crayons are melted. You don’t have much time to create your marble design, but can re-melt if necessary.

Quickly pour your colours on top of one another on a piece of sturdy paper. Take a toothpick and swirl the colours together – you will only have a few seconds to do this so be fast.

Other wax melts Achieve different effects with these methods WAX BLOOM


Arrange pieces of crayons in a circle on paper. Direct the hairdryer in the centre and blow outward to create a blooming spread of wax.

Hold the crayon parallel to the paper with the sharpened end facing away from the heat. Melt with the hairdryer almost parallel to the crayon for a raindrop-like splatter.

WAX SPOTS Rubber band some crayons together and hold with tongs as you point the hairdryer at the backs of the crayons. Dab them on the paper as they melt.


Resource project

Enhance a scene Use wax drips to set the mood of a still life

Choose you images


Once you have an image picked out as your base, you must choose how to add drama. In this photo, we’re going to be adding wax drips to the green candle and turn the apple into a second candle.

Mold the image


Begin by lining your wax drip up with the candle after separating it from the background. Use the Liquify tool to warp it to match the contours of the candle. You can also use the Dodge and Burn tools to make the value match better.

Nine melted-wax images Enjoy nine styles of melted-wax images with a variety of different styles of melting and shapes. Feel free to use these in your own personal projects.


Colour correction


Next create a Color Overlay with the blend mode set to Hard Light to match the wax to the candle. Repeat with more wax drips and even to cover the whole apple to make it look like a wax candle. Copy the wick from one candle onto your newly made candle and you’re done.


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ON SALE NOW > Pro portraits skills> Coastal landscapes > Master metering







Print edition available at Digital edition available at Available on the following platforms

Project focus Art inspired by sounds

Art inspired by sounds Nidia Dias wanted to create a playlist cover each month as a personal project. What she ended up creating was a cohesive compilation that would be featured by Behance

About the artist Nidia Dias @imnidiadias Nidia Dias is currently an Art Director working in the motion graphics and advertising area. She has previously studied graphic design in Portugal, and motion graphics in Sweden. When it comes to design, Nidia loves geometry, abstract shapes, the form of shadows and light, how things react, and how simple things can be.

Name of the project An album cover a month


hile most design projects can seem like they’re taking forever to complete, Nidia Dias decided to purposely challenge herself to a long-term commitment, and embarked on a project that took a whole year to finish. The idea was simple and effective – create album-cover artwork to represent each of her monthly playlists. Once finished, these personal pieces of art were uploaded to her blog. The reward of this year-long task is a collection of 12 beautiful pieces of art, each representing a segment of Nidia’s life at the time. The covers all vary in style, colour and mood, but come together to show the music that Nidia had been enjoying that year. We wanted to know what the influences for this project were, though, and how Nidia used Photoshop to create the art.

How did the idea for this particular project start? My graphic-design journey began when I was 16 and I discovered Photoshop and all of its potential. It was a new world for me that felt simple to use and enabled me to express myself. I’ve always loved music and since I now work in design, it felt only natural to go down this route and do something like this as a personal project. I love finding new songs and bands, and I enjoy creating playlists on Spotify. That’s what sparked the idea. I wanted to simply explore different techniques and styles without a solid idea of what the outcome would be.

Was the artwork influenced by the music or did you find it was the other way around? I tried to choose songs that would suit the month – for example more upbeat music was picked for the summer – but the cover wasn’t influenced by it; it was mostly used as background music while I would work on them. I didn’t want to try and copy the artists’ album covers with this project. I wanted this project to be an exploration of my own style, rather than inspired by other particular artists. I do have a lot of favourite album covers though; covers like Tycho’s album Dive, The xx’s Coexist, FKA Twigs’s LP 1 and Tame Impala’s latest, Currents… the list could go on and on!

Each of the covers is very different – was that intentional? When I started the project, I wanted them to feel cohesive, but as the project evolved I realised that this wouldn’t be possible. It was a monthly project, so a lot of time would pass between each cover. Also, each of them was influenced by my mood or by a technique I would be using at that time. The July cover, for example, was inspired by UI design, and the November cover I wanted to start in Illustrator rather than Photoshop. The process for each was different, but most started with a photo or an asset from somewhere. I would explore a lot in Photoshop, either by using different blending modes, the Filter Gallery or changing the colours, until I was happy with the result.


PUTTING FEELINGS INTO PHOTOSHOP “All of the covers relate to how I was feeling and thinking around that time, but I would probably say that the March cover is my favourite one.”


“Each cover reflects the month itself, mainly in the colours. However, some months were also inspired by either my best friends or a family member who had their birthdays in those months.”

“This started from a 3D render that shortly became something more graphical. No matter what I do in design, everything becomes more graphical by the end.”

How did Photoshop help to tie all these influences and ideas together in the end? Some of the covers were done entirely in Photoshop, others with a bit of Cinema 4D or Illustrator, but all passed through Photoshop for the final details. I find Photoshop gives me the freedom to go from start to finish in a couple of hours, using just basic tools. Some of my favourite tools to use were Find Edges (I use that a lot!). I used the Filter Gallery a lot too; even if it’s used in a subtle way, it can enhance parts of the piece. I recommend using the High Pass filter as a final touch.

Which other techniques and software packages would you recommend to artists who just use Photoshop at the moment? I’ve recently been feeling like a kid and trying paper marbling (the June playlist started from that), but 3D software is definitely something people should try, or even Illustrator. So many different resources surround us that it’s now easier than ever to get a good grasp of a new program or technique. I believe as artists we should try to diversify ourselves a bit. Sometimes we may not succeed right away in a software or technique, but it helps us grow.

All images © Nidia Dias


This project was featured by Behance and had a fantastic reaction online. Are you surprised by the popularity of this, as it was a personal project? I didn’t expect such a great reaction online! I did post the covers once a month on my blog, but once I finished the one-year cycle I wasn’t sure if I should put it on Behance or not. It was kind of a last-minute decision, but I’m happy I did so. I’m not sure I’ll do many more album covers, and I do miss actually curating playlists and doing this project, but now is time for a new project to come along.



ACCURATE PLACEMENT The musical notes on these buildings have been placed using clipping masks to accurately isolate the area they need to fill.


© Mark Oliver

Use Paths to create clipping masks. You can reuse them and they are non-destructive to the image that is being clipped.



Digital artists and designers share their secrets and advice for taking Photoshop work to the next level


hen it comes to creating professional-standard digital artwork and designs, you need to work in a fast, organised manner while maintaining a high level of quality. In this feature, we have talked to 10 very different artists, working in a number of different genres, and got them to share the secrets behind their artwork. This includes

timesaving tips, how to use Photoshop’s tools to achieve a certain effect, and practical advice that you can apply to any piece of art. Even the most basic tools can be used in a professional manner by understanding how to get the best out of them. We also look at ways that you can use Photoshop alongside other programs, such as Adobe Illustrator and 3D applications.

Very often Photoshop is just part of a complex puzzle of software that come together in harmony to create striking designs. Knowing when to turn to Photoshop and what it can achieve will help you to streamline your workflow greatly. We have a mix of styles for you to explore over these pages, but most of the tips can be applied to any genre or style.

USE CLIPPING PATHS Clipping paths are a fantastic method for cutting out objects to create image files with transparent backgrounds. Illustrator Mark Oliver ( uses Photoshop as part of the process for creating his striking illustrations. For him, clipping paths are an important tool for isolating sections of his images. “In this case I wanted to multiply the image of sheet music upon the smoke hut accurately. Using the Paths tool, I created a vector path around the area. I pasted in the sheet music image and moved into place. Finally, I selected the path and converted to a mask.” This method provides a quick and accurate way of isolating certain parts of the artwork.



HAVE A STRONG CONCEPT For this photomontage, designer Fabio Araujo ( wanted to create a project about Brazil’s natural beauty, so the source imagery and composition all had to feed into this concept, as he shows us here. © Fabio Araujo







Araujo wanted to use the shape of the Brazilian map as the central focus of his composition to cement the concept behind his design. “I drew a sketch and filled it with a lot of trees, but I added them in a way where people could still identify the Brazil shape.”

To tie in with the shape of the map, Araujo chose an image of the famous Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro as the key piece of source imagery, and then he “added some typical animals, the Brazilian fauna and some tree branches to merge the images.”

NONDESTRUCTIVE DODGE AND BURN When working on a project for a client, it’s really important that everything you do is non-destructive and amendable, as there will be plenty of back and forth, lots of revisions, and you might even have to revisit previous versions. Alex Jeffries, director of MDI Digital (, suggests that keeping all your adjustments in separate layers can save a huge amount of time, but sometimes you will need to use a tool or workflow in Photoshop that doesn’t necessarily give you this option out of the box. “Dodge and Burn is a perfect example of this,” explains Jeffries.


“It’s hugely helpful to darken and lighten areas of an image, but the native tools basically require that you work on a flattened document. To create a more flexible version of Dodge and Burn, first create a new layer from the Layer>New>Layer menu (Shift+Cmd/ Ctrl+N). In the New Layer dialog box, choose Overlay from the Mode drop-down menu and then check ‘Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray)’, and that’s it! You now have a layer that you can use the Dodge and Burn tools with in a non-destructive way. It will also allow you to easily adjust the opacity of the effect or even apply a layer mask for an extra level of control.”

With all the source imagery in place, the concept was enhanced using colour. Brazil is famous for its vibrancy, so Araujo “started working on the colours using Color Balance and Contrast to make them more vivid. I added more clouds and an image of the sun.”

© MDI Digital


CREATE GRIDS FOR UI WORK BUILD YOUR LAYERS Add multiple layers for each element of your illustration, as well as each level of colouring to speed up the filling-in process using the Paint Bucket tool.

Grids help to line up elements in web/UI designs. Multi-disciplined designer Kostandinos Lagos ( uses a repeating pattern to draw grids. To set up a line every 16px, he creates “a new document 16px wide by the design height, i.e. 2000px. Align a 1px x 2000px rectangle to the top left and fill with colour. Go to Edit>Define Pattern. On your web/UI document, create a new layer, fill it, go to Blending Options>Overlay, select the pattern. Click Snap To Origin, reduce Fill to 0%.”

© Kostas Lagos, Fatdrop, Sea Shanty


© Miquel Rodriguez

DIGITAL COLOURING TIMESAVER If you are working on a project for a client, any Photoshop techniques that can help you to save time without compromising quality are essential to your digital arsenal. Illustrator and comic artist Miquel Muerto (http:// found himself up against a tight deadline and he needed to learn how to paint a complete page in less than a day while maintaining the usual high standards he is known for. He discovered that the often-overlooked Paint Bucket tool became his new best friend, even though he had never actually used it for this kind of work before. His normal weapon of choice was brushes set to Dissolve mode, but for speed he was forced to use the Paint Bucket with Contiguous and All Layers checked. “This method let me have each part of the page – line art, base colour for characters, their light and shadows, base backgrounds and details – in separate layers without messing around. [In this example, I had a] new layer in the middle of the background and the line art for the character’s colours, with the Paint Bucket tool respecting all the lines and other colour masses. If you, like me, don’t close every line, don’t worry; a couple of brush touches and all will be set. My workflow has been faster and better since I started working this way.”

When creating landscape compositions, it’s important that the overall result looks realistic. Perspective is a key element in achieving this, particularly aerial perspective, which helps to create depth in artwork. Also known as atmospheric perspective, aerial perspective changes the effect that ‘atmosphere’ has on an object in the artwork, depending on how far it is from the viewer. As objects get further away, the contrast decreases and colours become less saturated. Karim Fakhoury (www. is a designer, illustrator and matte painter, and he uses this essential technique to build his artworks: “Although it is often neglected, this technique is very important to bring realism and set the desired ambiance to your piece. You can achieve this technique in Photoshop mainly with adjustment layers and painting the light and shadows carefully with a brush. An object’s saturation decreases with distance, so keep in mind that the further away an element is, the less detail it has and the more its colour blends with the mood of your artwork, depending on the time of day and the colour palette you set initially. The aerial perspective is also very effective to separate your different grounds of composition and direct the focal point to the right place.”

© Karim Fakhoury


ADVANCED LIFT DARK COMPOSITIONS With dark images, you need to make sure details can be seen. One way to do this is to add a glow outline, as character artist Brandon Duffy ( explains: “I chose an area that would look good illuminated. Using the Brush tool, set to Linear Dodge at around 20% (constant strokes make each stroke brighter on this setting), I outlined the area to glow. I filled any negative space with the Brush tool to define the shape. This is a good time to try other brushes for texture. I then enlarged the brush and lowered opacity to make big strokes on top of the glowing area to create an atmospheric glow.”

© Brandon Duffy

TEXTURE 3D MODELS Jason Fitzpatrick (www. madebypixies) is a freelance artist. He created this image using ZBrush, Unity, Maya and Photoshop. ”This is the final image after Photoshop adjustments. I used a Levels adjustment layer and a dark purple Color Fill adjustment layer set to Lighten at 70% Opacity. I also used some advanced blending options to soften the fill colour effect over the darker areas of the image.”







”Due to ZBrush polypainting, sometimes it’s necessary to have separate objects to get the detail required. The textures for these components are baked out of ZBrush and composited to fit a 4096 x 4096 tga texture.”


© Jason Fitzpatrick

”I made adjustments to the cat character’s grey parts using a layer mask or by clipping it to a layer. I used a Color Fill adjustment layer set to Soft Light at 50% Opacity. I also used a Levels adjustment layer.”

”This is the final texture after all Photoshop adjustments. These include Color Balance, Channel Mixer, Levels and a couple of Color Fill adjustment layers. This is now taken into Unity and applied to the model.”


PICK PANTONE COLOURS “When working on illustrations for clients, they often request the colours to be part of the Pantone swatch library so that they can send the work to the printers safe in the knowledge that the colours will be accurately reproduced,” says creative director of Sonar Fates, Dean Falsify Cook (www.sonarfates. com). This is an important part of the process for professional-level work. Cook prefers to convert his colours to Pantone after completing the illustration. “This is a simple matter of adding a Solid Color adjustment layer to the group, clicking Color Libraries and selecting which Pantone book suits your client’s needs. Then it’s a case of selecting the closest match to the original colour, or you could experiment with different combos. A Pantone swatch book will also come in handy to be sure the printed colour is what you want.”

© Sonar Fates Limited

© Moiree

MOVE FROM TRADITIONAL TO DIGITAL If you are from a traditional art background, you shouldn’t expect Photoshop to react like the medium you are used to, warns digital artist and illustrator Mioree ( There is a learning curve and it takes patience to be able to replicate the level of work you were previously creating. “I would suggest taking the setbacks and difficulties in your stride, and remember that improvement is unavoidable as long as you don’t quit,” advises Mioree. During her time getting to grips with Photoshop, Mioree has discovered many tools that enhance her use of the program, most recently the value of layer masks for crisp edges and replacing the Eraser tool in her digital toolset. “All you have to do is paint on the layer mask, with your brush set to black as the colour, over any unwanted areas. Recover what you erased by painting with white.”


Advanced Mix masks, blend modes and filters On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Time taken 3 hours

Expert Andre Villanueva “The Move tool is my top pick of the toolbox gang. While filters, blend modes and 3D functionality facilitate all sorts of awesome effects, the process of arranging elements is the most enjoyable aspect for me. “A formerly timid artist, I became quite fearless aer my transition to a (mostly) digital workflow. The speed at which I can layer elements, and the all-important ability to undo and create snapshots at critical junctures of the artistic process, impel me to just CREATE. “I’m an art director in Alabama, USA, gliding back and forth between print and web. When not glued to my MacBook Pro, I enjoy spending time with family.” See more of Andre’s work at

Mix masks, blend modes and filters

Arrange a mishmash of shapes and images, blend them with masks, then embellish with filters, text and adjustments


aradoxes abound in life and art. Art? Well, crafting a ‘simple’ logo can be a gutwrenching experience where you agonise over every corner and curve, and pare down your colour(s) from a bajillion possibilities. On the other hand, a ‘complex’ composition like the one here, with an explosion of shapes, objects and floating binary code, may prove less difficult than you think. Sure, the composition will be more timeconsuming than an everyday Photoshop edit. However, if you’re at least an intermediate level user, you should be able to follow the techniques

Select the model

Clean up the mask



Open ‘Model.psd’ from the FileSilo. Use the Quick Selection tool to select the model. Resize the brush with [ and ]. To remove from the selection, hold Option/Alt while using the tool. When done, click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers palette.


without much sweat. Patience, a fearlessness to experiment and the willingness to constantly revise are the requisite traits. After selecting and retouching the model, you’ll place her atop the starting background. From there, you’ll bring in waves of elements. Masks, blend modes and filters will be employed, as will the Move tool and Free Transform. Positioning and transforming the elements will comprise a big portion of your tasks. After completing the steps, check out the tips on refining the image with filters and effects.

If necessary, use the Brush tool and a Soft Round brush to refine the mask. Paint black to hide, white to restore areas. Zoom in/out and adjust brush size/opacity as needed. Decrease/ increase brush hardness with { and }.

Share your creative portraits Tweet us @pshopcreative


Advanced Mix masks, blend modes and filters

Smooth the skin

Recolour the eyes

Lighten the eyes




Create a new layer. Select the Brush tool. Use a soft-edged brush at a low Opacity (10-20%). Zoom in close. Option/ Alt+click skin to get a proximate colour. Paint. Continue to sample colours as you paint to even out the skin. Lower the layer Opacity to tone down the overall effect if needed.

Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button in the Layers palette, choose Solid Color. Pick #62a5ff. Set the blend mode to Color. Click the mask and press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert. Now paint white with a soft-edged brush (40-50% brush Opacity) to add the colour.

Non-destructively dodge and burn

Situate the model



Add a new layer. Go to Edit>Fill. Choose 50% Gray, click OK. Set layer to Overlay blend mode. Copy the model’s layer mask to this layer. Starting with 10% brush Opacity, paint black to darken, white to lighten. Use multiple dodge/burn layers for increased control. When done, save and close the PSD.

Create a shape


Select the background layer, then select the Custom Shape tool. Set it to Shape in the options bar. Choose the Tile 2 preset. Set the Foreground colour to black. Make sure you hold Shift as you drag out a shape on the canvas.


Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button in the Layers palette, choose Levels. Option/ Alt+click and drag the previous Color Fill layer’s mask to the Levels layer to copy it. Click the Levels layer. Drag midtones and highlights leftward to lighten eyes.

Open ‘Start.psd’. Go to File>Place (CC: Place Linked), grab ‘Model. psd’. Scale down and position before committing the place. Option/ Alt+click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers palette to create a mask that hides all. Paint with white at 80-100% brush Opacity to add the upper portion of the model.

Mask the image

Group and duplicate



Go to File>Place (CC:Place Embedded), grab ‘Background.jpg’. Scale down and position over the shape before committing. Option/Alt+click between the layers to create a clipping mask. If needed, move or Free Transform (Cmd/ Ctrl+T) the mask or masked image.

Select the shape and masked image layers in the Layers palette (Cmd/ Ctrl+click). Group (Cmd/Ctrl+G). With the group folder selected, you can move and transform the pair as a unit. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+J to make duplicates. Move and scale. Add filters to the shape for interesting results.

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Expert edit Distorting shapes

Add circle frames


Select the Custom Shape tool and pick the Circle Frame preset (if you don’t see it, append the Shapes category of shapes). Set the Foreground colour to black. Create a large circle frame below and a smaller one above the model.

Incorporate an object


You can find pre-extracted objects in PNG format on stock-photo sites like Unlike JPEGs, PNG files can contain transparency. Place (CC: use Place Embedded from here onwards) ‘Gears.png’ below the model layer. Scale and position before committing the place.

Twirl the lines


After creating a duplicate group in step 10, select the shape layer. Go to Filter>Distort>Twirl. Click Convert to Smart Object. Move the slider left or right. Click OK.

Add some more objects


Continue to place more of the provided PNG object files. Scale and position before committing. Free Transform (Cmd/ Ctrl+T) to perform additional transforms if desired. To push dimensions, introduce shadows where appropriate by adding a black Color Fill layer, inverting the mask and painting white in the mask.

Resize masked images


The masked image may no longer adequately cover the shape. If that’s the case, select the masked image. Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) so it fills more of the distorted shape.

Duplicate and adjust


Duplicate the group. Doubleclick on the Twirl Smart Filter and adjust the Angle setting. Click OK. Transform the masked image if needed to fit the newly twirled shape.

Contract edges


The quality of the stock objects’ extractions can vary. If you see excess fringe, select the offending object’s layer and Cmd/Ctrl+click its thumbnail. Go to Select>Modify>Contract. Choose a suitable pixel amount (try 1-3). Click OK. Click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers palette.

Use shapes


Select the Rectangle tool. Create an assortment of shapes on separate layers above and below the model. To change colour, double-click a shape’s thumbnail. String shapes in a series. To evenly distribute shapes, select the appropriate layers. With the Move tool selected, use the distribute buttons in the options bar.

Try other filters


Test other filters on the shape. Check out some of the other Distort filters, or try the various sub-tools within Liquify. You can even combine multiple filters. Be fearless! Experiment!


Advanced Mix masks, blend modes and filters

Expert tip Things to consider As you introduce each element, take note of how it affects the composition. Does it fit in nicely? Does it make a large ripple that’ll require reconfiguration of existing elements? Does its inclusion actually work? Remember that not everything can be emphasised. Sometimes an element needs to take a back seat to help something else. Imagine the utter cacophony that would ensue if every member of a rock band decided to do a solo at the same time!

Create fill-less shape

Arrange triangles



Create a new layer. Select the Polygon tool. Set Sides to 3 in the options bar. Shift-drag out a shape. In the Layers palette, drop Fill to 0%. Click the ‘Add a layer style’ button, choose Stroke. Set Size: 9x, Position: Inside, Color: white. Click OK.

Blend circles


Place ‘Circles.jpg’. Scale up to fill the canvas before committing. Drop Opacity to 80%. Set to Linear Light blend mode. Add a layer mask. Duplicate the layer twice. Set top duplicate to Luminosity blend mode. Offset the duplicates. Paint black in masks to reveal the model and key areas.

The 3D sphere


Select the top Circles layer. Place ‘Central.jpg’. Go to 3D>New Mesh from Layer>Mesh Preset>Sphere. Switch to the 3D workspace (or open the 3D palette). With Sphere selected in the 3D palette, turn off Shadows in the Properties palette.

Use Lighten


Place ‘CoolBackground.jpg’. Scale down a bit and situate in the bottom left before committing the place. Set the blend mode to Lighten so the texture dresses the darker areas.


Select the Move tool. Rapidly duplicate a triangle by Option/Alt+clicking and dragging to a new location. Free Transform to scale or rotate if needed. Continue to duplicate and arrange triangles. When done, select the upper of the circle frames from step 11 in preparation for the next step.

Move and render sphere


Select the Move tool. Use the 3D mode tools in the options bar to scale down, drag and rotate the sphere. When done, use the Elliptical Marquee tool to create a box around the sphere. Go to 3D>Render 3D Layer. When complete, create another sphere if you like.

Merge with Overlay


Place ‘FuturisticFractal.jpg’. Set to Overlay blend mode. Option/ Alt+click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers palette to create a mask that hides all. Paint back with white at 40-60% brush Opacity to add texture detail in the vicinity of the model.

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Blend with Screen

Add text

Apply Color Lookup




Place ‘Space.jpg’. Position it to the left of the model. Drop the Opacity to 60%. Set to Screen blend mode. Option/ Alt+click the Add Layer Mask button. Paint back with white at 40-60% brush Opacity to introduce some of the cool colouring and the planet’s edge.

Use the Type tool to add text of varying size. The Arkhip font (www. was used here. Control tracking and other typographic settings in the Character palette. Use colours that exist in the composition (when using Color Picker, click on a colour on the canvas).

Select the top layer. Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button, choose Color Lookup. Set 3DLUT File to filmstock_50. Drop Opacity to 70%. Paint black (40-60% brush Opacity) in the mask in the central area and model to reduce the adjustment and restore detail.

More Color Lookup

Use Levels and Photo Filter



Add another Color Lookup adjustment. Set to HorrorBlue. Drop Opacity to 70%. Paint black in the mask to restore warmth on the skin and other areas. Add another Color Lookup adjustment. Set to Crisp_Warm, Opacity: 60%. Paint black to reduce in the bottom and other areas.

Take it further Further refinements

Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button and choose Levels. Lighten up by sliding Midtones to the left and the dark Output slider inward slightly. Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button again and choose Photo Filter. Pick Cooling Filter (LBB). Paint black in masks to reduce. When done, save your work.



Merge layers (Cmd/Ctrl+Option/ Alt+Shi+E) and convert to a Smart Object. Then apply the Camera Raw filter (Filter>Camera Raw). Use the myriad settings to enhance your image.

Merge layers (Cmd/Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shi+E) and convert to a Smart Object. Then apply Gaussian Blur (Filter>Gaussian Blur). Experiment with the Radius setting. Paint black in the mask to restore sharpness.

PARTICLES Make particles with the Gradient tool. Use a white (or light) Foreground colour with the Foreground to Transparent preset. Click and drag short distances.

REVISE AND IMPROVE Always be willing to revise your composition. Give yourself some time aer completion to revisit your work with fresh eyes.



Merge layers (Cmd/Ctrl+Option/ Alt+Shi+E) and convert to a Smart Object. Then apply the Lens Flare filter (Filter>Render>Lens Flare). Re-apply to add more flares.

Use Color Fills to add more colour. Control with their masks. Use the Hue blend mode for simple colouring, or try a blend mode like Vivid Light for more oomph.


Advanced Use brushes for pencil effects


Show us your pencil portraits Search for photoshopcreative Start image

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

Essentials Time taken 4 hours

Expert Geneva Benton “I have a huge love of traditional media, but I like the ease of use and cleanliness of digital media. Therefore, I like to mix in a bit of both for a brand new look and combination. I enjoy the challenge of broadening my style and matching all manner of moods. Although I am learning to create different scenes, portraiture, a pop colour and calming ambiance are my favourite artistic subjects to paint” “I’m a full-time freelance illustrator based in the United States. I have been drawing for over a decade and have been using Photoshop ever since. I love colour and the myriad of ways it can be mixed for different moods.” Head over to www. to check out more of Geneva’s creations.

Use brushes for pencil effects Discover a new way to stylise your portraits using a mix of traditional techniques with the twist of Photoshop


n this tutorial, you will learn the tricks, tips and brush techniques you need to transform a portrait photo into a fun, yet grungy, pencil-style masterpiece with a pop of colour. It’s best suited to advanced users or those with an artistic flair, as most areas are drawn from scratch. At least an intermediary knowledge of drawing is preferred to add in extra elements, shading and light sources. We did use a graphics tablet when creating this image, and although one isn’t necessary to complete the tutorial, it is highly recommended for certain effects.

This artwork was made in Photoshop CC, but any version of CS7 upwards should do the trick. Keep in mind this will require several layers and one processing-heavy filter as well. Brushes will be provided but feel free to use a couple of your own to give it your own flair. It is quite a neat effect to try out with your own photos, or would be a nice gift for a friend. Don’t worry too much about 100 per cent pencil accuracy in the beginning, as the effect evens out near the end. A clear and concise photo with one or two subjects works best. Keep it cool and fun, and enjoy creating it!

Set up the reference Get started


Create a new document at an adequate size for the detail, such as 300ppi and at least 3000 pixels. Start with a clean, usable reference photo and paste it in as a new layer, fitting the canvas proportions. We’ve supplied our reference image on the FileSilo.


To turn the existing reference into line art, it is important to start with good contrast. Start by desaturating the photo (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+U), and adjusting the contrast between dark and light without losing much detail with Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) and Brightness/Contrast (Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast). Make sure you duplicate this layer.


Advanced Use brushes for pencil effects

Filter into lines


Photoshop’s Filter Gallery is brimming with neat shortcuts, such as creating a line-art base. After desaturating, use the Glowing Edges filter (Filter>Filter Gallery) and adjust to a fine line. When finished, invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I) the artwork.

Clean up Glowing Edges

Draw over the reference



Set the inverted line art’s layer to Multiply and fill the layer underneath to a beige, papery colour. If there are unwanted details from the filter, such as strands of hair or patterns on clothing, carefully delete them with the Eraser tool (E) or Lasso tool (L).

Draw over the reference some more


For thicker or new lines, use the Small Sketch Brush on a new layer. Carefully draw over the reference or create new areas. If the brush is too thick, it will not quite achieve the intended look of pencil.

Line the hair

Detail the hair



The hair will have a strand-bystrand look. To start, section the hair with spaced-out lines. The hair will need to fall in a natural way, so pay close attention to the reference if it is still applicable.


The filtered lines should have made a good starting point for the line art, but use the duplicated reference from earlier if more guides are needed. In this case, the hair will be slightly different but still needs to look natural, so the original reference was shown underneath.

Erase lines and fills


We recommend you use the Eraser tool to delete lines and fills. Lightly erasing with pressure opacity controls, or Transfer in Brush Settings turned on, can look like graphite being erased.

For further detail, draw in smaller strands inside the larger strands. Continue doing so until you are happy. The ends will actually be tapered and without strands for a small wink at the Nouveau style.

Add shading


Instead of a general pattern, as was originally in the reference photo, we have used crosshatching as part of the garment. Using a different traditional pencil shading effect can add interest to the eye and to the artwork.

Show us your pencil portraits Search for photoshopcreative

Blend the skin

Shade the skin


Using the Flat Charcoal brush in black, lightly add areas of shading on a new layer. The original photograph can still be used as a lighting reference. If not, drawing a small guide of light reference can help.


Use a mix of a smaller brush and the Eyedropper tool (I) to blend the shading. The blending does not have to be perfectly smooth, but believable as pencil. Try adding other techniques, such as a small bit of hatching.

Add extra elements

Detail extra elements



This now needs something extra to make it stand out, so we added a tattoo and a few background elements. The designs were loosely inspired by paisley. On a separate layer, lightly draw the designs in.

The paisley-like designs are going to be filled with something resembling an ink wash, so load up the Free Inky brush. The design as a whole will be cleaned up, but try to keep the wash clean.

Clean up elements


Masks are an easy way to add or subtract without permanently losing the art you’re adding or subtracting. Group (Cmd/Ctrl+G) all the elements and colour pop layers together, and add a mask (Layer>Layer Mask) to erase overflowing fills and lines.

Create a pop of colour


Colour pops always add interest. Hot pink was used for the tattoo and background, and to match the girl’s personality. With the Free Inky brush loaded and a new layer created, wash over areas that need colour, and set that layer to Multiply.

Shade the background


The portrait needs to be the main focus and a simple, central background can help with that. Use the Flat Charcoal brush to create the look of rough pencil blending.


Advanced Use brushes for pencil effects

Expert tip Finding textures

Use gradient maps


Gradient maps are an extremely useful tool for changing and experimenting with colours. Create a new Gradient Map adjustment layer and use it to match the pinks of the foreground or any other desired colour.

Mask the background


Now mask the background to accommodate for the foreground. Some parts of the background intersecting with the foreground can give a cool effect, such as the pink shading merging over the girl’s hair.

Add overall texture


Use a texture to add a bit of depth to the artwork. A light grungy texture put on top of all the layers and set to Multiply will help to mimic traditional media.

Textures can be used in a myriad of ways to add extra oomph to an artwork, maybe for a light paper texture or to help with matte painting. An online search can unearth some good textures, but there are websites that are fully dedicated. An excellent gold mine of textures is, which are free to use for personal or commercial use. You can also creature your own textures by scanning them in, or taking photos of a texture and then editing in Photoshop.

Apply finishing touches


Take some time to look over the artwork and see if any extra definition or blending is needed. Adding gradients on separate layers and setting them to Overlay can help to focus on a part of the artwork, such as the girl’s face. ADDING HIGHLIGHTS

Expert tip Give life to eyes Drawing eye details can be one of the most challenging aspects of a portrait. They need to look realistic but it can be easy to fall into the trap of making them look lifeless. The reference photo and Glowing Edges filter should have given a basic guideline of the eyes’ shape and where general shading should be. However, more definition will need to be added by hand to add extra depth and life. Studying reference photos of eyes can help, along with keeping the brush small. Keep details loose around the edges but tight in the iris.


Adding highlights in the eyes to reflect the environment adds brightness and life. In this case, the highlights were done in white.

DRAWING FULL LASHES To draw eyelashes, start in a small clump around the eyes. With a finer brush, draw in individual lashes, focusing around the edges.


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Ele m en ts

Elements 18 pages of practical guides Create more in Elements… Retouch with the Recompose tool ...........................................86 Design your own wrapping paper...............................................88 Composite a surreal animal scene .......................................... 94 Create pixel art ................................................................................................ 98 Q&A: Common problems in Elements...............................102

Photo edit…

Bring blurred colour to the corners of your pictures to create a retro effect p92

Essential techniques Follow the step-by-step tutorials

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

ts n e m Ele What does it mean?

THRESHOLD – The Recompose threshold slider sets how much of the image you want to recompose; 0% will leave you to just transform the image rather than recompose it. Recompose judges the background when it resizes, as opposed to transform, which shrinks it regardless.

CLEAR HIGHLIGHTS Ctrl/right-click on your image to remove the protected areas you’ve created with the brush and eraser.

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

Tool focus…

Start image

Retouch with the Recompose tool How to resize your photos without distorting the objects in them There’s only so far that you can resize an image before it starts looking distorted; likewise, if you crop a picture, you might end up cutting out information that you’d actually rather keep. The Recompose tool is the perfect way to be in control of both these scenarios. It enables you to keep the objects in your photo completely unchanged, while the background shifts to create a better composition. It means that you can completely transform a scene without having to transform the focus of it. While the Recompose tool is fantastic on paper, it takes a lot of trial and error to get your picture right. The problem with stretching images with Recompose is that the tool isn’t 100 per cent accurate;


you may need to go back over the image with the Mark For Protection brush and Mark For Removal eraser to make sure you’ve highlighted everything you need, and even then, you may be left with significant glitches. These can be fixed with repair tools though, such as Content-Aware Move. Ultimately, this is a tool that you can use for a variety of projects. You might want to move the subjects in your photo closer together, minimize the size of the sky, or simply transform a landscape into a portrait orientation in a matter of seconds. The Recompose tool is great for all kinds of projects like this, it’s simple to use and you can be really creative with it, too.

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Reshape your shots Brush and erase over your pictures, then resize and crop

Shortcut Hold Shift if you want to brush in a straight line

Mark for protection

Set for removal

Start off by working out what you want to achieve in your picture; we want to bring the cars closer together and change the aspect ratio of the shot. Grab the Mark For Protection brush and draw over the two cars to keep them at the width they currently are.



Resize the image

Crop to ratio



Go to the left- and right-hand handles around your selection and resize the picture. Having been marked for protection, the cars should maintain their size and aspect ratio, while the background will shrink and become resizable.

Just as you marked the cars for protection in the edit, we’re going to need to mark the space in between for removal using the eraser icon in the Recompose tool. Do this and make sure that you don’t encroach on the green patches you created around the cars.

Click on the Ratio drop-down box. This will crop your image to a specific size, meaning that if you wish to print it, you needn’t edit any further. The areas of your photo marked for protection will still remain, and Elements will fill in the rest.

Useful repairing tools Touch up your recomposed edits with these Elements tools

Clone Stamp


Because the Recompose tool doesn’t always leave the cleanest or smoothest results around the edges of objects you’ve marked for protection, Elements’ other retouching tools can help to repair your pictures. The most well-known is perhaps the Clone Stamp, which works best at lower opacities and can duplicate areas of a photo you Alt/Opt-click on, just by brushing over them.

Content-Aware Move is great for repairing pictures, as it generates pixels based on the rest of the image. Select an area to duplicate and move it to where you want to repair; Elements will generate these pixels in its place. Or, select an area of pixels to repair, Ctrl/right-click and choose Fill>Content-Aware to perform a similar technique without moving anything.

Spot Healing Spot Healing is used most commonly for fixing the blemishes that you might have in a portrait, but it’s also good for using in landscape images to quickly and effectively hide glitches in your Recomposed areas. Simply select it and all you need to do is brush or click over the area you wish to retouch.


ts n e m Ele

Creative project…

Design your own wrapping paper Create a repeating pattern that you can print out to wrap presents You’ve made the effort to find the perfect present, only to then discover that the wrapping options on offer in the stores just don’t quite hit the spot. So why not create your own wrapping paper? All you need to do is create a pattern that repeats. You do this by making one square which is repeated both horizontally and vertically in order to create one big pattern across an entire sheet. This tutorial guides you through creating a cool, cubic-style design that you can make in a matter of minutes, before showing you a quick technique to tile the artwork. Tiling simply means that the design will work together in a grid, as if the canvas was one of many


repeated tiles. The easiest way to achieve this is to not let any objects inside the canvas go over the edge, so when it repeats there is empty space between the objects. More complex designs, however, can split an object across the canvas, either horizontally or vertically. This can produce some creative results, but will take more time to check and set up. Here, we will have one element across the tile – a relatively simple ribbon – to help get you used to how it should work. Once you have got to grips with lining up edges, you will be ready to create any design that you want!

Ele m en ts

STAGE 1 Create some quick shapes

What does it mean?

THE CUTOUT FILTER – The filter has three options: Number of Levels, Edge Simplicity and Edge Fidelity. Levels dictates how many colours or tones are in the effect. Simplicity adjusts how much of an angle or how many angles each edge has. Fidelity refers to how similar to the original the new edge is. Starting with our blank canvas, we’re going

Get a funky style from sketches in a few clicks!

to utilise the Artistic filters inside Elements to create a stylised effect on some simple brush sketches. The idea is to create something fun and eye-catching for wrapping paper, so keep your colours bright and vibrant, and use a large brush. The Cutout filter that will be used simplifies everything in an image down to its basic components, so big blocks of colour work very well. The outline will stay relatively thin to avoid too many dark shapes creeping in.

Sketch out rough lines


In Expert mode, create a new document. Keep it a square shape, at 300ppi for printing later. Select the Brush tool (B) and create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N). Begin to sketch out the main elements of your design. Be a bit messy – it will help later.

Paint some colour

Apply the Cutout filter



Create another new layer. Drag it underneath the lines layer and add some bold, blocky colour with a large brush. Again, don’t worry too much about being neat! When you’ve finished, highlight both layers, Ctrl/right-click and select Merge Layers.

With your merged layer selected, go to Filter>Filter Gallery. Navigate to Artistic at the top and select the Cutout filter. Set the Number of Levels to 7, Edge Simplicity to 8 and Edge Fidelity to 1, or use settings that work best for your drawing. Hit OK.


FILTER GALLERY Inside the Filter menu you can find loads of built-in effects and the extensive Filter Gallery to apply to your drawings.

Hit B to select the Brush tool, and hit E to select the Eraser

SEPARATE LAYERS Keeping the balloons on a new layer stops the Background colour from interfering with the final filter effect.

BLOCKY SHAPES Aer only a quick sketch, the Cutout filter will take the main colours and shapes to create this blocky look.

EXPERT MODE In Expert mode we can access far more tools and effects, giving us full creativity.


ts n e m Ele MASK IT UP

STAGE 2 Add some extra details

Use layer masks to give the impression the ribbon wraps through the balloons. Paint black to conceal, white to reveal!

Get a more interesting design by blending in some details This stage combines the brush and filters from the first step, with the added bonus of blend modes. Blend modes are a fantastic way of getting layers to interact with each other, giving you interesting colour and transparency effects. Keeping the same simple style as before, adding extra details can be done quickly and easily. We’re going to add some light-hearted cloud and star shapes and a ribbon.

Draw clouds

Fill and filter

Create a new Solid Color adjustment layer with the black/white circle above your layers. Double-click the colour preview and pick a light blue. Create a new layer (Cmd/ Ctrl+Shift+N). Using a small brush (B) and the same sketchy style as before, draw some clouds scattered across the canvas.



Colour in the stars

Add a ribbon



Select the Fill Bucket (K) and fill your star shapes with a very light green colour. If any of the star lines aren’t joined, you may need to touch them up with the brush before you can fill. Apply the Cutout filter and set the blend mode to Screen.


Create another new layer, drag it underneath the cloud lines layer. Draw in some colour and basic highlight spots – keep the colours pink and yellow like the balloons. Merge this layer with the lines and apply the Cutout filter as before. Set the layer’s blend mode to Screen.

Select the Brush. Go to Brush Settings and set the Spacing to 1% and the Roundness to 5%. On a new layer, draw a curvy shape across the canvas. Try to do this in one line. It may take a few tries so don’t forget Undo is Cmd/Ctrl+Z!

Sketch some stars


Create a new layer. Grab your brush again and draw some stars around the canvas. Don’t worry if they overlap some of the balloons. Because they are on a separate layer, you won’t run into any problems.

Filter the ribbon


Cmd/Ctrl-click on the ribbon layer’s preview to select it. Go to Select> Modify>Contract. Contract by 10px. Fill this new selection in with pink. Apply the Cutout filter once again. Add a layer mask with the Add Layer Mask icon in the Layers panel, and paint black over areas ‘behind’ the balloons.

Ele m en ts

STAGE 3 Making it tile

MAKE IT SEAMLESS The ribbon goes off the edge of the canvas, so both ends have to line up to tile seamlessly.


Hold Shift while dragging layers to constrain vertical position

Set up your design in order to print seamlessly This is a quick method that you can use to check your design is going to line up. Because the design only goes off the side edges, we only have to check the left/right tiling. If your design went off the top or bottom edges, you would also have to check the top/bottom tiling – luckily you can use the same method. It may feel a bit awkward at first, but have patience because it is an important step.

Set up the technique


Pick the Shape tool (U), making sure the Rectangle is selected. Draw a rectangle around your whole canvas, corner to corner. Drag it underneath the balloons layer. Highlight it and the layers above. Drag (V) them to the right. Now we know where to drag them back to when finished.

BRUSH SETTINGS There are loads of ways to adjust your brush inside the Brush Settings – get creative!

Line up the ribbon


Duplicate the ribbon layer by selecting it and hitting Cmd/Ctrl+J. Drag the duplicate over to the left so that the right end lines up with the left end of the guide rectangle. Select the Brush tool (B) and paint in black and pink on both ribbon layers until it lines up.

Realign the canvas

Get it printed



Select all the layers again, except for your duplicate. Drag them left until the square lines up with the canvas. Drag the duplicate ribbon right until it lines up. Pick the Marquee (M) tool and drag around the left side of the duplicated ribbon layer. Hit Delete. Merge the two ribbon layers together.

First select a layer thumbnail, right-click and select Flatten Image. Go to File>Save As and save as a .jpg. Now simply put ‘Print custom wrapping paper’ into your chosen search engine, and you can upload your image to a company! There are loads of online services to get your own wrapping paper printed, for example


ts n e m Ele SUNNY SHOTS

What does it mean?

Add light leaks to sunny pictures for the best results; you can add them to cloudier shots, but it won’t have the same effect.

BLEND MODES – Different blend modes do different things to layers, so it’s worth experimenting with each one. Screen is useful for light leaks as it replaces the darkness in your image with the colour of that layer, while Overlay/Soft Light adds colour to light and dark areas. Try Pin Light for saturated results.

On the FileSilo

BRIGHT COLOURS Use bright or pastel colours to create a really vibrant light leak, and pick yellows and pinks for warmth.

Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Photo edit…

Produce a realistic light lea

Start image

Bring blurred colour to the corners of pictures using this technique Ironically for such a technological age, vintage photography is more popular than ever. We have apps to help give our photos a retro look, and analogue cameras are a must-have for many photographers. Light leaks are just one of the more popular techniques photographers use to bring a retro feel to pictures, but they can also inject a bright, summery feel to your photos. Light leaks are created when light creeps into the lens by accident, creating a highly saturated feel, but it’s easy to replicate using simple Elements tools.


Every light leak is different, so there is no set way or magic formula to create the perfect one. What’s more, different photos require different light leaks. But they are very simple to create. You can add an array of colours to your image if you’d like to, or stick with just one basic yellow blur. Feel free to create lots of light leaks on black backgrounds ready to be dropped in to any picture and set to Screen; check out our guide on how to create them, and unleash your own creativity when you create yours.

Ele m en ts

Let there be light Create the light-leak effect with selections and blurs


Hit Cmd/Ctrl+F if you want to repeat the last filter applied

Adjust the Levels

Make a selection

Start off by tweaking the colours, tone and lighting in the existing photo. Go to the Fill Layer icon and choose Levels. Use the RGB drop-down menu to alter the Red, Blue and Green channels, then tweak the main channel for a brighter look.



Blur the colour

Build on the leak



Head to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Alter the Radius of the blur depending on how focused you want the light leak to be. Set the layer to Screen and reduce the Opacity to 80%; you can leave your light leak like this or choose to build it up with the next step.

On a new layer, grab the Lasso tool (L). Select a bright colour for your Foreground swatch, such as this yellow; drag a rough shape at the edge – or through the middle – of your photo and fill by hitting Alt/Opt+delete. This is going to be the base of your light leak.

Create new layers and do the same thing – creating different shapes, filling with different colours and reducing the layers to different opacities. Experiment with blend modes too; Overlay, Soft Light and Pin Light are all useful for creating light leaks.

Other retro camera effects Achieve the vintage look with these techniques

Lens flare Lens flares are really effective and simple to create; head to Filter>Render>Lens Flare to create one. To get the best out of them though, try creating a new layer, filling with black, setting it to Screen and then applying the lens flare. This will mean your lens flare will be editable, rather than applied directly to the photo.

Bokeh Bokeh is a fun light effect to try on all kinds of photos, particularly darker shots. Select a hard brush and on different layers, create differentsized strokes, then blur them using the Gaussian Blur filter. Create a new layer above each layer and apply gradients (G); Ctrl/right-click and Merge Down, then set these layers to Screen and reduce the opacity.

Scratches Having a slightly scratched surface to your image can be another way of creating a vintagelooking shot. Create a new layer, select black and white as your swatches (D) and go to Filter>Render>Fibres. Click Randomize then OK. Adjust the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) to darken the texture, then set to Screen.


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SPACE THE ELEMENTS Make sure that each of the elements in the picture has its own space, so the image doesn’t look too empty or cluttered.

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

Surreal art…

Composite a surreal animal scene Start images

Place animals, objects and an injection of fun into one composition Surreal compositions are often the best way to test your creativity. Letting your imagination run wild with stock images, brushes and a little ingenuity can result in something thought provoking, silly or downright hilarious, and it’s a project that can teach you a lot about layers and how to blend them together. This Monty Python-style piece is comprised from a range of images that shouldn’t be placed into the same photo. The real skill of building a surreal composition is in making sure that the picture doesn’t become too cluttered; everything in this project has its own


room to breathe, and though the finished picture has a lot going on, it isn’t too much to take in. It can be a real test of restraint as much as creativity. Remember to fix the edges of your selections for better subjects, and adjust individual layers for an improved blend. After tackling this tutorial, why not have a browse on stock-photo sites and the FileSilo, and see what kind of surreal images you can create with the most disparate of assets? There are renowned artists who have made a career from doing this, and you’ll certainly never create the same image twice!

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Unleash the surreal Bring together animals and elements that don’t belong together Shortcut

Use Output To in Refine Edge to mask when you hit OK

Place the turtle


Open ‘sea.jpg’ and add ‘turtle.jpg’ into the image. Grab the Quick Selection tool (A) and draw over the turtle, making sure you catch all the edges. Click on Refine Edge at the bottom of the screen and adjust the Radius, before using the sliders to touch-up your selection. Hit Mask.


Duplicate your background layer and hit 5 to turn the layer 50% opaque. Hit mask, then add a Gradient (G) to fade in the bottom of the sea to make it look more opaque. Duplicate the background layer again. Mask in the surface of the water, as above.

Place the elephant


Add ‘elephant.jpg’ and cut it out. Duplicate the elephant and hit Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T). Move this duplicated layer so that the trunk points upwards. Mask both layers with a soft brush to blend together. Add a Levels adjustment layer and clip (Alt/Opt+click) to blend into the picture.

SMOOTH The Smooth slider touches up the jaggedy areas of your selection, making it perfect for using with Quick Selection.

FEATHER The Feather slider makes sure that the edge of the selection is slightly soer, rather than the hard default.

Add the fish

Blend the water


Between the water layers, insert ‘fish. jpg’. Cut out the fish using the same technique of refining the edges and hit Cmd/ Ctrl+U to alter the Hue/Saturation. Duplicate this layer and do the same, tweaking the second fish to look different from the first. Add in ‘splash.jpg’, mask and set to Screen.

Give it some balloons


Add ‘balloons.jpg’ into the image. Cut out one of the balloons and transform into the image. Repeat twice, and use Hue/ Saturation to tweak the colours if need be (Cmd/Ctrl+U). On a new layer below with an 8px black brush, draw some strings.

CONTRAST Alter the contrast along the edges of your selection for a much sharper look to your subject.

What does it mean?

GRADIENT MASKS – When using masks, anything in white will show and anything black will be hidden. This principle works when using gradients, as we do in step 2. The fade of the gradient will be applied in the mask, as will any soft brushes you use, blacks at low opacities, or even shades of grey.

SHIFT EDGE Shi Edge moves the edge of your selection either forwards or backwards slightly to include more or less in the selection.


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Expert tip Take control of the brushes

Mask in the stairs


Place ‘staircase.jpg’. Grab the Polygonal Lasso (L) and draw around the staircase, before hitting Mask. On the mask layer, fill in the gaps between railings in black. This may take a while but is worth spending time on to get perfect.

Place the cat


Add ‘cat.jpg’ using the same Quick Selection and Refine Edge technique that we used earlier. Place it below the stairs layer and adjust as necessary to blend it into the picture.

Brushes can really help bring out the best in your artwork with all kinds of subtle flourishes, and in this particular project they’re used more as a finishing touch in order to get a cool effect from the balloons. When you open the supplied drip brushes in Elements, remember to tweak the settings slightly and apply strokes to different layers to keep them editable. By opening the Brush Settings, you can adjust the direction of the brush, and by hitting the [ and ] keys, you can change the size of your brush.

Create the bird effect


Place ‘seagull.jpg’, cut out and duplicate across the sky. Place ‘pins. jpg’ and cut out one of them. Duplicate and place as above, before creating a new 10% opaque layer to draw strings, to make it look like the cat is pinning the birds onto the sky.

Add the peacock

Give it a hand



Place the peacock onto the back of the turtle. Mask using Quick Selection and Refine Edge. Add ‘oar.jpg’, mask into the peacock’s beak, and move these layers below the water layers to submerge the oar.

Add in ‘artist.jpg’ to the picture. Mask out using Quick Selection and Refine Edge. Make sure that the layer is just above one of the balloons to make it look as if it’s being drawn.

BIRDS Remember to rotate the birds slightly; this gives the illusion that they’re all different.

BALLOONS Using hot air balloons instead of ordinary balloons adds to the surrealism of the piece, and plays with perspective.

SPLASHES Mask the splashes into the picture and place around the edges of the turtle to make it look like it’s swimming.


SHADOWS Remember to add shadows around the objects you place into the composition to create a sense of realism.

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Brush some paint in

Adjust the Levels



Find the supplied drip brushes in the resources and drag into Elements. Pick the Brush tool (B) and use three of them. On separate layers beneath the balloons layer, add some dripping paint in colours selected from the balloons (Alt/Opt-click to eyedrop).

Now that everything’s added into the picture, we’re going to adjust the colours and tones of the image. Add a Levels adjustment and then tweak the stoppers on the main and individual RGB channels to master the colouring.

Blend with blurring

Sharpen up



Merge everything into one layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shift+E). Hit Cmd/Ctrl+U and reduce Saturation to -30, Lightness to -20. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set Radius to 40px. Set to Soft Light, 30% Opacity.

Creating a big composition Small details make the difference

Add a Gradient Map


With such a surreal image, it’s tempting to give it a psychedelic tint. Add a Gradient Map from the Fill/Adjustment Layers icon and choose some bright colours for your gradient. Set to Soft Light, 30% Opacity.

Merge everything into one layer again. Go to Filter>Other>High Pass and choose a low Radius between 3 and 5 pixels. Hit OK and set to Overlay, Soft Light or Linear Light, depending on how sharp you want the image to look.


Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate a layer or adjustment layer

With surreal images like this, it’s important to make good use of space. You don’t want everything to look cluttered or empty. There are a few things that you should remember with big compositions as you’re editing to make it look as realistic as it can. Add a clipped layer of so, black, brushed colour over the turtle’s back as shadows. Clip Levels adjustments to individual layers to get the same tone across all the subjects and objects. Remember to mask the elephant’s legs so that it looks like he has two either side of the turtle’s back. And finally remember to touch up any subjects’ rough edges with brushes.


ts n e m Ele PIXELATED Using just three line angles and the Marquee tool, it’s possible to create a whole pixel world!

Digital art…

Create pixel art Discover how to make a retro pixel cafe with the Marquee tool Pixel art has been around for a long time – old monitors could only show a limited amount of pixels per frame, which gave games and graphics their pixel look. Now our computers can show thousands of pixels at a time, so we have to re-create the effect! Traditionally, each square would have been one pixel; however this results in a very small image. For this tutorial, each square is going to be 10 pixels (10px) to enable our canvas to be big enough to display on modern monitors or even be printed out if desired. In order to keep this scale, we will make use of the grid features in Elements to draw out the squares for us – we just need to colour them in.


The Rectangle Marquee tool is perfect for this type of artwork, as we can draw long and thin lines easily and quickly, as well as neaten up any mistakes without having to switch tools. Layer control is going to be important here; each section is going to be done on a separate layer to make editing easier, so they add up quickly! Get into the habit of renaming your layers as you make them, and keep them in a logical order. The principals of this technique are simple, and after step 4 you can use any design you like to complete the look. The grid will help to keep you straight, and the master lines will keep the correct angles, so have a go at different designs!

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Building with pixels Use the Marquee tool to draw pixels and create a vibrant scene

Set up your grid

Create pixels

Make a master line




In Elements, open up Expert mode from the top tabs. Create a new document with File>New. Create it whatever size you want, at 300ppi if you’re printing it, then hit OK. Go to Edit>Preferences>Guides & Grids. Set the Gridline as every 1cm, and with 10 subdivisions.

Create a new layer with Cmd/Ctrl+ Shift+N. Select the Marquee tool (M) and zoom in. Click at the top-left corner of a grid square and drag out the Marquee to fill exactly two of the squares. Release the mouse and fill it with black by pressing D, then X, then Cmd/Ctrl+Backspace.

Repeat this twice, starting at the top-right corner of your rectangle, creating a pixel diagonal. If you make a mistake, hit Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect, and redraw your marquee. Duplicate this layer with Cmd/Ctrl+J. Position it at the top right again. Repeat until you have a long line.

Flip the line

Sketch your design



Select all of your layers, Ctrl/right-click and select Merge Layers. Double-click this layer and name it Master Line R. Duplicate with Cmd/Ctrl+J. Select the new layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl+T. Ctrl/right-click the line and click Flip Layer Horizontal. Apply and rename this Master Line L.


Zoom in quickly with Cmd/Ctrl+ + to view the grid in detail

THE GRID The grid is king in this project; all of the squares are going to be lined up to it.

Now that you’ve laid out the angles, create a new layer and select the Brush tool. Using a small brush with medium grey, roughly sketch some guidelines for your full drawing, moving the master lines around as an angle guide with the Move tool (V).

What does it mean?

MARQUEE TOOL – The Marquee is slightly more accurate than the Brush for sticking to the grid, with Feather at 0px for sharp edges. However, it is still defined by pixels and sometimes may not exactly line up. Use the Marquee to delete mistakes by drawing a marquee around it and hitting Delete.

LAYERS Keeping your layers named will save you time later when you have a massive list to scroll through.


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Expert tip Speed up duplication

Position diagonals


Turn off visibility of your master lines by hitting the eye next to the layer thumbnails. Duplicate Master R, turn on its visibility and position it on your sketch where needed. Zoom in to make sure it’s lining up with the grid. Use the Marquee tool to delete unnecessary length.

Add in more diagonals


This is a long but important step! Keep duplicating and positioning major diagonals, either from the master lines or the new shorter lines that you create. This quickly generates a mess of layers. When you have completed a section, select all the lines, Ctrl/right-click>Merge Layers and rename appropriately.

Make some verticals


When you have a lot of your diagonals in place, you can start joining them up. This is far quicker and much more fun. Sticking to the grid, draw a tall, thin Marquee box, joining the diagonals together where necessary. Merge the new lines with the appropriate sections.

Draw more details


Still using the master lines, start to add some of the smaller details, such as the window with awning, the door and some edging to the building. Keep merging and naming your layers to keep your workflow quick and neat.

Duplicating the master lines is a great way to keep everything even, however it can get repetitive having to cut down the size for similar sections. For places such as the roof, you can create the outside right angle, merge these lines together then duplicate and move down to create the thin edge. Duplicate again, moving down to create the base of the roof lip. Merge these layers together and you have the full roof edge! Now you can duplicate this to create the roof section on the le really quickly – only needing to delete some of the length.

Create guides for letters


Duplicate Master Line R. Use the Magic Wand (W) and click in the white space of the layer. Invert with Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I, select a red colour in the Set Background Color box, and hit Cmd/Ctrl+Backspace to fill the line red. Set Opacity to 50%, duplicate and create guidelines for some letters.

USING GUIDES Setting up guides is a great way to keep tricky details in line with the rest of the drawing.

LAYER ORGANISATION Merge lines together into layers to keep sections together. You can add or delete parts from layers at any time.

BACKGROUND AND FOREGROUND Get used to your Background and Foreground colours. Switch them with X and reset with D.


DIAGONALS Make sure that all the diagonals are following the same angle by using the master lines.

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Make pixel letters


Using the guides, start to create letters. Each will be seven squares wide with a one-square gap between them. Use the image above as a guide – pixel letters can be difficult. Keep lines short and simple, trying to keep spacing as even as possible.

Add colour

Fill all the colours



Now for the fun part! Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N) and drag to the bottom of your layer stack. Using the Marquee tool, draw big boxes that you can fill with colour – Cmd/Ctrl+Backspace will fill your selection with your background colour. Keep diagonals parallel to the black lines.

Continue making new layers and filling them. By keeping the lines and the fills separate, you don’t risk colouring over any lines, and it enables you to be a little bit messier. Don’t forget to add shading with a tone slightly lighter and one slightly darker than the main colour.

Add chairs and tables

Apply final details



Using the same methods as for drawing the building, draw a simple table as above. On a new layer, draw a simple chair. Duplicate the chair, hit Cmd/Ctrl+T, Ctrl/right-click and pick Flip Layer Horizontal. Move the second chair to the other side of the table.

Neaten it up How to fix things when the pixels don’t quite line up

Create a new layer and add colour to the tables and chairs. Duplicate all three layers (table and two chairs) and move this new set to the other side of the building. Add details such as brick work and floor tiles using similar colours to the fill.

Shortcut While colouring, turn the grid off and on with Cmd/Ctrl+’

Whenever you’re drawing new lines and not using your perfectly polished master lines, you may find that the Marquee tool isn’t always 100 per cent accurate to the grid. Luckily, the Marquee tool giveth, and the Marquee tool can taketh away! If you have gone over the grid square edge, simply draw a marquee box from the outside up to the grid line and hit Backspace to delete the extra. Similarly, if your ‘pixels’ didn’t quite fill the grid line, just draw another marquee box on top and fill it with your background colour using Cmd/Ctrl+Backspace. And if you find you have made a marquee selection that is completely off, just use Cmd/ Ctrl+D to deselect it.


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Get in touch

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IS THERE A WAY TO ADD FIERY EFFECTS TO MY PICTURES? Fire can really brighten up ordinary portraits, and they’re easy to apply in Elements. All you need is a portrait image (we’ve supplied ‘firegirl.jpg’); cut this out with the Quick Selection and place on ‘street.jpg’. Add ‘fire.jpg’ to the image and set to Screen. Place it behind the subject and use Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) to make the fire more vibrant. Duplicate this layer and place it in front of the subject too; mask out some of the fire from her face, and with another duplicate of your fire layer, mask in some of the fire around her hair. Above your subject layer, click the Fill Layer option and choose Gradient Map. Choose a fiery set of colours by Alt/Opt-clicking the shades in your project. Mask where you want your fiery shades to be over the subject. Finally, merge all to a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/Opt+Shi+E), and go to Filter>Distort>Glass to give a final texture for realism.

ENHANCE THE EYES Use so brushes set to So Light and Color on a new layer to paint in colour over the irises.


ADD SPARKS Place ‘sparks.jpg’ on the image and set to Screen; this is an optional step for a more realistic effect.


Even the best models can benefit from their portraits being enhanced slightly, but learning key retouching skills can also help you to conquer all kinds of projects. One of the most exciting new features of Photoshop Elements 15 is the ability to Adjust Facial Features. Found in the Enhance menu, you can change anything about your subject, from the size of the forehead to the width of the eyes. Use the sliders to re-shape the face, but remember to edit with subtlety so that you don’t distort your subject beyond reality. The Spot Healing Brush is also a key tool for touching and brushing over skin to eliminate any patches of skin that need repairing. It works in a similar way to the Clone tool – which is also useful – and you can use brushes for adding detail and colour to the subject, particularly on the lips and cheeks. Finally, duplicate your subject layer twice; set one to Multiply, one to Screen, set both to 30% Opacity and then hit mask, and invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I) for both. With a so, white brush, draw in highlights and shadows on each layer, particularly the lighting in the eyes and shade on the cheeks.


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

COLOUR LAYERS Add Fill Layers, set them to Color, 30% Opacity and clip to your underwater layers for realism.

HOW CAN I MAKE TEXT LOOK LIKE IT’S PRINTED ON A SURFACE? A lot of filters are used for adding a little more realism to your work. Blurs can be used to show depth of field; adjustments are great for equalising colour and tone in your work; and Displace is good for making 2D layers, such as text, look like they appear on 3D objects, such as this wall. Displace simply looks for tone of the image, and spreads the layer above across it evenly. First, open ‘wall.jpg’ and save as a PSD. Select the Type tool and write something that you want to be placed over the image. Ctrl/ right-click the layer, click Simplify and set to 90% Opacity. Go to Filter>Distort>Displace; choose Horizontal Scale: 12, Vertical Scale: 12, Stretch to Fit and Repeat Edge Pixels. Choose the wall PSD you’ve just saved to apply the displacement.

Select three sides of a cuboid with Polygonal Lasso and fill with shades of grey. Place ‘underwater. jpg’ and ‘bubbles.jpg’, use Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to skew perspective: clip over the sides of the cuboid, set to Overlay. Add ‘waves.jpg’, skew, set to Overlay and clip to the top of the cuboid. Insert ‘beach.jpg’, use Filter> Distort>Liquify to curve into an island. Add ‘palm-trees.jpg’ and ‘boat.jpg’, cut out with Quick Selection and place. Cut out ‘rock. jpg’, add to between the water layers, set ‘fish.jpg’ to So Light.

Quick tip

Using Fill layers Fill layers, as the name suggests, are just layers that are filled with something, whether that’s solid colour, a gradient or even a pattern. These layers can transform your pictures in much the same way as filters, but the great thing about them is that they stay the same whether you resize your picture or not. Fill layers are dependant on their document – if you add a gradient, it will re-centre should you crop the picture – meaning less tweaking if you decide to edit your picture later on.

WHAT’S THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO FIX EXPOSURE? Exposure refers to the brightness of your photo. An image can be overexposed if there is too much light, or underexposed if details are too dark. In this example, the camera flash was never going to be powerful enough to light the scene, but this is fixable in Elements. Head to the Quick tab at the top of the program, and go to Exposure. It really is this quick; all you have to do is adjust the slider or choose one of nine presets to lighten or darken your image. If you want to edit your picture further, go to the Lighting or Color options, or choose a filter for the picture in Smart Fix.





Price £78 / $82 US Web

Aurora HDR 2017

Developed with HDR specialist Trey Ratcliff, does this software application offer lovers of high dynamic range the ultimate solution?

The specs

BRUSH MODE For truly localised control you can head into Brush mode, which enables you to tackle specific areas of the image using a brush or gradient. The ability to remove sensor spots is missing, however.

Company Macphun

Additional specs Mac OS X (Windows in 2017) HDR Noise Reduction Polarize Tool Plug-in and standalone



Along the bottom of the interface you’ll find a huge selection of presets to help you decide on an initial tonemapping look for your HDR image.

This is where you can really get to work on improving the way that your final image looks, controlling every conceivable nuance of the colour, contrast and definition.

Tone map your HDR Create an appealing final image using Aurora HDR 2017

Processing options Initial screen


This is the dialog box that you will initially be presented with when you load up Aurora HDR 2017. It enables you to either load a group of bracketed exposures or a single frame, or to head into the batchprocessing options.



You can choose extra options when it comes to creating your HDR image. These include the ability to reduce ghosting, diminish low-light noise and remove chromatic aberration. You can also check the Alignment option, useful if you were shooting handheld rather than with a tripod.

Choose a preset


Aurora HDR 2017 makes tone mapping your HDR image extremely straightforward. It’s probably best to begin by selecting a preset, which can then be fine-tuned through the wealth of sliders over on the right-hand side.


f you want to start a fierce debate among photographers, simply mention HDR. High Dynamic Range sounds, in theory, like an excellent idea: what’s not to like about an image with improved shadow and highlight detail? Well, quite a bit, as it turns out. Critics point to the fact that images rendered in this way don’t resemble ‘normal’ photographs – instead, they can often take on a cartoonish, artificial appearance that many photographers find unattractive. It’s worth pointing out that this aspect of HDR photography is mostly applicable to images that are generated with a degree of automation using imaging software – software such as Aurora HDR 2017 – as a result of the tone mapping applied in order to render it in a way that’s usable for viewing and printing. Many photographers, particularly those who specialise in landscape photography, choose to negate the issue of cartoonish images by blending exposures manually using layers in Photoshop, but this requires skill and patience.

Photoshop has its own facility for automated exposure blending, of course, but Aurora HDR 2017 is a third-party option from Macphun that offers plenty of extra functionality for those who are serious about their HDR images. Aurora HDR 2017 works either as a plug-in or a standalone application. Compared to Aurora HDR 2016, this new incarnation is said to be “at least 50% faster”, but if you provide the software with three different exposed frames to blend, it will still take over a minute to process the files, without the additional ghosting, alignment and chromatic aberration options checked. Of course, this will inevitably depend on the speed of your machine. You can load just a single image, but this will not result in the same degree of flexibility. Speaking of which, you’re best off with RAW files for HDR work, purely because of the extra information they contain. In the 2017 version, you can work with DNG files, which is a beneficial enhancement.

Aurora HDR 2017 also offers a new third approach, which Macphun describes as the “single most user-requested feature” since the initial introduction of the software, in the form of Batch Processing. This automatically recognises groups of bracketed exposures, which is great if you’ve shot lots of files on a photographic trip and want to achieve results in as little time as possible. As mentioned earlier, tone mapping is really at the heart of HDR processing, and the engine for this has been improved in Aurora HDR 2017. A new HDR Look control has been included, which is a simple slider essentially designed to enable you to refine the realism of the results, to make it easier to steer clear of cartoon-like images. However, the initial output produced by Aurora HDR 2017 doesn’t really have the stereotypical, obvious HDR look. It’s only when you go and select one of the many presets, such as the Landscape Detailed preset, that this occurs. The chief culprits when it comes to creating a very unnatural result are in the Structure section of the adjustments, with HDR Structure and HDR Detail best used with extreme caution. A nice extra touch is the Polarizer filter, which enhances blues and ‘cuts through’ haze. The main thing that’s missing is a healing brush. Although there is a brush mode for applying localised effects, you cannot banish sensor spots, which are often more visible once HDR is employed.

The verdict


If you’re an HDR fan, you’ll find Aurora HDR 2017 very appealing as it does a fine job. Those who aren’t keen won’t be persuaded by this application, though.

Standout feature Layer options built-in


Add a vignette



This is the section that’s most relevant when it comes to controlling the strength of the HDR effect. You’ll find that the three HDR Structure sliders – Amount, Softness and Boost – and the two HDR Detail sliders – Amount and Softness – are very beneficial in this respect.

A key reason why HDR images can often look a little less than natural is because the exposure can appear too even across the frame. Adding a vignette, that is darkening the image edges, can greatly reduce this problem. You can also brighten the centre of the frame.

As every experienced retoucher knows, layers are an essential component of a professional edit. Wisely then, Macphun has included layer functionality within the Aurora HDR interface. You can work custom textures, one of the original HDR frames and adjustment layers, plus apply blend modes and opacity refinements.




Price £163.43 approx / $199.95 US Web

Imagenomic Portraiture

Smooth over skin and bring detail back into subjects with Imagenomic’s retouching plug-in

The specs

VIEWING OPTIONS Choose to view either one window or a before/aer screen. You can set the before/aer to a horizontal view or vertical.

Company Imagenomic

Additional specs Windows XP and above Mac OS X 10.6 and above Adobe Photoshop CS4 and above Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and above



Change everything about your portrait’s skin on the le-hand side of the plug-in’s screen, from the detail to the masking and contrast.

See your image as a whole with a red window of where you’ve zoomed in, and see the masking you’ve made on the image.

Using the plug-in Retouch portraits with Portraiture before moving to Photoshop for further editing

Import and choose preset

Select your mask

Master detail/smoothing




Import your image and you will view it at 10% zoom. Go to the top-left area of the plug-in’s window and choose a preset to start working on to suit your image. You can view the names of the presets only, or see the preview thumbnails.


Use the Eyedropper tool along with a colour palette to select the colours you’d like to smooth over. You can alter the hue, saturation, luminance and latitude with sliders, in addition to changing the maskviewing options.

Tweak how detailed or smooth you want your retouching to be; you can even alter the size of the portrait to give a more accurate selection of the subject’s skin. Choose Fine, Medium or Large and alter the Threshold to taste.


kin is sometimes one of the most overlooked parts of any portrait. While you’re busy perfecting the hair and recolouring the eyes, skin might be an afterthought for the Spot Healing Brush. Often, skin is either too smooth, not smooth enough or completely missed altogether; there isn’t a specific tool for it in Photoshop, and the skill and time required to perform a professional skin retouch is enough to put off most home users. Imagenomic’s Portraiture plug-in is one of only a handful of skin-specific retouching plug-ins available to help level out pores and leave your subject with silkier skin. Unlike many software packages on the market, it focuses solely on skin, meaning that you can really pay attention to this particular retouching step, instead of just rushing it to focus on more creative edits, such as the eyes or lips of your subject. First impressions of Portraiture, though, is that it is fairly unexciting as a product. It really is a no-frills type of plug-in, with only a few sliders on the left, a preview window in the centre, and navigation/mask viewing windows

over on the right-hand side. Presets are located in the top-left corner, so while it doesn’t look particularly exciting when you first open it, Portraiture is at least easy to start using straight away. The presets of Portraiture are as to-thepoint as you’d expect, too. There are only a handful of them – which deal with the likes of high-key and low-key photography, as well as a few basic softening presets – but you can add more presets as you go along. Starting by selecting one is a good idea so that you can build on it, and using the Mask tool next, despite it being the third option down from the left, is a good technique for smoothing over the skin. The Eyedropper tool is precise enough to select a good range of tones to smooth over, but the option to add more shades to the image could be improved. Portraiture is, however, extremely easy to navigate; the lack of particularly creative tools means that you can really get to grips with the core editing sliders that can transform all of your subjects. The sliders themselves are extremely powerful without being so strong as to make

your subjects’ skin look like an overly soft mess. The Detail/Smoothing options are where you can really gauge how far you want to take the retouching of the skin, particularly with the Threshold. The multiple options for viewing the central window (available at the top of the program) can help you to see a notable difference between the before and after. The Fine, Medium and Large smoothing options can finesse your subject’s skin further, and are actually on par with any sharpening or softening tools that Photoshop offers. Enhancements are also extremely useful for touching up all of your subjects. The Sharpness and Softness sliders are ones that you will find yourself using on all kinds of subjects. The Warmth, Tint, Brightness and Contrast options, however, are sliders that might feel like tasks that Photoshop can handle, but as you use them over time, you’ll begin to see them as a crucial part of the retouching process. There is nothing superfluous about Portraiture: nothing more or less than you need to retouch skin is packaged within the plug-in. Ultimately, Portraiture’s biggest strength is in that ruthless efficiency. It turns smoothing skin into a quick but vital step in your retouching process, and as you add more presets, the whole endeavour will only get quicker. This is a great product for photoeditors, and one that will help you never forget to edit skin again.

The verdict


It isn’t the most creative plug-in, but Portraiture does exactly what you’d expect. It delivers powerful results, is easy to use and can be a valuable asset.

Standout feature Preset options Portraiture is quick and easy to use as it is, but the preset options can speed up your workflow even further. Although the default preset options are quite basic, you can add to them as you work, meaning you can create presets based on individual subjects that you shoot, or combinations of sliders that you feel work well.

Edit further in Photoshop Make enhancements


The enhancements are really where your retouching comes to life; you can alter sharpness, softness and even the warmth and brightness of your subject, which can really affect the smoothing of the skin.


With your retouching complete in Portraiture, feel free to make any other edits in Photoshop itself. Dodging and burning can bring out highlights and shadows, adjustments can add colour, and the Spot Healing Brush can improve skin further.












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Portfolio interview

Marie Beschorner was a traditional artist who experimented with all kinds of media, until she found Photoshop and discovered her niche


arie Beschorner’s work has the look of traditional paintings and the detail of a photograph, but it’s actually Photoshop that helps her to create her captivating art. “For a long time I mainly used Photoshop for photo editing,” she says. “But the magic started when I got my first tablet and explored the painterly options.” We caught up with her to discover how she’s evolved as an artist, and how she creates such amazing work.

Do you come from a traditional art background? Yes, I used to work mainly with oil and acrylic. During my studies I experimented with a variety of different types of media. To be honest, none of it really felt right. As an artist I only started to unleash my true potential when I discovered the digital medium for myself. The digital painting process is completely different from the traditional one, and although each medium has its advantages, I love the flexibility and complete freedom of working digitally. I love the intuitive design of it and the many features it provides to bring out the best in your work. As a freelance artist I value Photoshop for being reliable software, which guarantees a fast and fluent workflow.

Who are your artistic influences? I draw inspiration from many different sources. Visually, Studio Ghibli, CoMix Wave Films or the movies of Mamoru Hosoda had a great impact on me in the same or even stronger way than Disney/ Pixar or DreamWorks’ Animation did. I also draw inspiration from traditional artists like Caravaggio, JW Waterhouse or Edward Burne-Jones.


realism is paired with a fairytale atmosphere. I love to paint animals, especially wolves, and draw inspiration from the seasons or different weather conditions that I am capturing in my art. Lately, I’ve started focusing on darker moods, trying to make a break from that cheerful pleasantness.

How does Photoshop help portray such vivid and detailed scenes? Atmosphere created through lighting is an important aspect of my art. In this regard, I love working with blending modes like Color Dodge, Screen or Overlay, which really help you to bring stunning light effects into your work. As a digital painter, Photoshop’s brush presets are the most important thing in my work. It is amazing how many possibilities you have to adjust a single brush completely to your needs, and how a simple change of the presets can make one and the same brush look completely different and lead to very different results.

As you have learned more, has your work evolved? Yes. I still feel very strongly about the first pieces I created when I got my tablet, because I learned so much painting them. But when it comes to my most favourite pieces, I have to say that my latest works speak very strongly to myself. Stardust is one of these pieces, because it clearly marks a shift in my style and the overall mood. I am also preparing the launch of a big personal project – an illustrated novel, which will feature a lot of atmospheric new artworks.

How would you describe the art you create in Photoshop?

You have over 4,000 followers on Behance now, and have been featured by online galleries. Is it exciting to think that more people than ever are seeing your art?

Since I started working digitally I strongly focus on realism. Most of the time this

Yes, it can be quite an overwhelming experience! My followers are really

dedicated, and I cannot describe how much I appreciate their participation in my art. Art shouldn’t exist in a vacuum and in solitude – it is there to be shared, to inspire others and to grow, change and develop. My advice to aspiring artists would be to start building a strong community you can share your art with as soon as possible. It is not only an important source of motivation and positive reinforcement, but also a commercial means to get your art seen by potential clients.

That’s a useful tip for working in the modern world! Are there any other Photoshop tips that you would like to share with digital-art novices out there? I would advise to start with the basics: when it comes to using Photoshop it is very helpful to figure out how to make the most of different brushes. Get accustomed to the presets. I remember that I only worked with one or two brushes in the beginning and never adjusted them to my needs. This often resulted in quite sharp strokes, which didn’t always suit the subject, and made it look unnaturally hard. I also easily dismissed certain brushes, deeming them unfit for my needs because I didn’t understand how I had to use them in order to get the results I desired. So be patient and experiment a lot.

Summer Rain: This is a good example of the Photoshop blending modes I used to create atmospheric light, which makes a strong contrast with the dark landscape scenery.

All images © Marie Beschorner @CoOfWolves

Bringing nature to life

Spring is Coming: In this piece, experimenting with brushes has been useful to create realistic-looking fur. I started with a broad brush and dark tones, and gradually decreased the size while increasing the brightness to render the fur.

Happy When it Rains: This artwork is 5000x5000px, and I zoomed in to 65-100 per cent while I was painting it in order to work out the details and get the highly rendered, hyperrealistic look.

Winter Solstice: Aer the initial painting process, I adjusted hue and value, the colour, as well as the contrast for a vibrant and crisp result.

Yamainu: This is a brand new, unpublished piece for my illustrated novel. It is my ďŹ rst artwork in which I added an overall texture on top of the ďŹ nished painting to add some noise and graininess. Stardust: I usually make use of Photoshop blending modes to create dramatic lighting in my artwork. In this piece I decided to ignore this method and only place very subtle highlights instead.

Want a Nut: This is one of my ďŹ rst digital artworks. I made use of the Gaussian Blur to create a frame of leaves through which the viewer can peek to witness the scene.


Reader interview

Creature Jour ney


Creature How Moreno used colour, smudging and compositing to build one of his pieces

Setting up First I chose the dimensions of the image in Photoshop. Then I chose stock images for manipulation; I either download them or photograph them myself.

Arceus Summon

Moreno Matković How Croatia-based Moreno creates artwork, from taking photos himself to working with colour


oreno Matković experiments with all sorts of disciplines in Photoshop. “I love a good walk through the forest with my trusty camera,” he says. Despite the eclectic nature of his work though, everything he produces still has a consistent style. What secrets does Moreno have for working in Photoshop? We caught up with him to find out.

What do you look for in a good Photoshop composition?

Do you try to convey a message with your work? Sometimes, but I leave that for my viewers! If I’m making fantasy art, then I use mostly orange and warm colours; for surreal work, I like greens and blues; and for horror, I like using low saturation. I love creating art with wolves, too.


I built the background, lowered the saturation, added a few Color Lookups and put my subject into the shot. Then I worked on the light and perspective. In this piece I created mist.

I respect artists who know how to use perspective – that’s something that’s very important in an image. I want my artwork to leave an impact on people, personally. I use some Photoshop plug-ins, mainly for enhancing photography.

Are there any other essential tips Do you think that there are any you would like to share that you themes and styles that are distinctive think will be useful for anyone in your work? starting out in Photoshop? I don’t like using many colours; I like to keep it as dark as possible with low colour saturation. I’m a big fan of horror so I like dark art as well. I mean, it all depends on the mood really!

Building the picture

I know it sounds obvious, but just keep working hard. Don’t try to be too much like other artists because you’ll lose your own identity. Also, try to accept criticism and learn from it – it’s a great way to learn and also to grow up in life! Try to keep creating in your Once Was ownt style, and develop it. That’s all you can Wha really do. Check out more of Moreno’s work at http:// DarkIndigo

Working on the colour I worked on the colour palette, added a painted effect with the Smudge tool, and then added blue colour with Color Lookup.

Finishing touches For the finishing touches, I added orange lighting on the head of the creature to create a lava effect, and then added fire sparks. I finished with more gradients.


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Photoshop creative issue 146 2016  
Photoshop creative issue 146 2016