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The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited material lost or damaged in the post. All text and layout is the copyright of Future Publishing Ltd. Nothing in this magazine may be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher. All copyrights are recognised and used specifically for the purpose of criticism and review. Although the magazine has endeavoured to ensure all information is correct at time of print, prices and availability may change. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. Photoshop is either a registered trademark or trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries and is used with express permission. If you submit material to Future Publishing via post, email, social network or any other means, you automatically grant Future Publishing an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free licence to use the material across its entire portfolio, in print, online and digital, and to deliver the material to existing and future clients, including but not limited to international licensees for reproduction in international, licensed editions of Future Publishing products. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future Publishing nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for the loss or damage.

© 2017 Future Publishing Ltd ISSN 1747-7816

Welcome to our special 150th issue! To mark the occasion, we’ve put together a jam-packed feature that’s bursting with 150 Photoshop tips and tricks. Covering all its essential tools and the most popular digital-art styles, there’s something for everyone, and you’re bound to discover incredible new ways of working in your favourite piece of creative software. Turn to p18 and get stuck in! This issue is also full of step-by-step tutorials on compositing surreal artwork, illustrating with the Pen tool, retouching portraits and much more. We also feature a guide on how to get your artwork noticed and even make money from it. Turn to p68 for professional advice and suggestions on how to get started. There are interviews, projects and galleries for you to take inspiration from, as well as heaps of free resources on the FileSilo.

Sarah Bankes Editor


Contents Co



06 FileSilo This issue there are hundreds of

masks and layers 34 Explore Use masks, adjustment layers and

gallery 08 Trending Check out some of the most

drama 38 Create in monochrome

free resources worth over $145

popular artwork that’s trending

10 Have a look at what your fellow Readers’ gallery

readers have been up to this issue

challenge 12 Readers’ A chance to win Pixnub Master Key or AKVIS Refocus so‹ware

Achieve dramatic impact by transforming a coloured image

in isometric 42 Draw with the Pen tool

Illustrate a stunning Rubik’s Cube and fill it with your favourite things

surreal artwork 48 Composite Blend images from different

150 ways to master 18 Feature: every tool

incredible 54 Make 3D text effects

Discover 150 incredible tips and tricks for using Photoshop

project 62 Resource Easily make your own rust textures to use in your projects

focus 66 Project Martine StrØm on making marble-

SAVE 30% Turn to page 110 to get this amazing deal. US page 86

more to create a vibrant portrait

the studio 14 Inside We take a look behind the scenes of UK-based Crush

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

textures, mockups, fonts and much more ✔ Plus files to follow the tutorials ✔ Free and ready for you to download today!

Merge Photoshop’s 3D tools with photomanipulation techniques

textures into 58 Blend your portraits

Combine the elements for a colourful and creative piece

textured planets for a magazine

I Made 78 How How Ricardo Guimaraes used 3D and Photoshop in One Chance

106 Reviews Three Adonit Styluses and Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 365

interview 112 Portfolio Discover how Photoshop Creative

helped Thiago Garcia to make it big

interview 114 Reader Anders Wik shares his Photoshop secrets and tips with us



Advanced Photoshop to get your work seen 68 How Show your art to the world, and turn your hobby into something more

a 3D 74 Create infographic template

Learn how to display statistics in a professional and visual way



an abstract scene 80 Create Edit multiple bikers as individual PSDs for an abstract scene








Elements creative focus: Master 88 Tool Perspective Crop

Tweak the viewpoint of your photos with this handy tool

art: Play with 96 Surreal light and transparency

Use blend modes and masks to create transparent objects

project: Make 100 Digital art: Design your 90 Creative own web icons a fun photocomposite Have some fun compositing a humorous family scene

edit: Create a 94 Photo coffee stencil

Make art in your coffee with masks and adjustments

Learn how to create bespoke icons for your website

Common problems 104 Q&A: in Elements We answer your questions and find solutions to your problems



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

Felix’s work has been seen online over 240,000 times, and it’s clear why: his attention to detail when editing tiny models is astounding. We love how realistic this image looks, despite the fact it was shot in a studio.

Felix Hernandez

Scale is very important. If you want to give realism to scaled models, you need to use the right lens. Photoshop was key in the post-production of turning this image of a toy into a real-looking composition.

Anton creates mostly infographics for a living, and we love the precision that’s gone into this photomanipulation. It shows what you can do with the right stock images, and it’s been viewed over 38,000 times on Behance.

Featured by Wacom’s online gallery, Ashraful’s beautiful paper boats project is a great example of how to edit lighting and water with blurs and sharpening. The contrast of red and blue really works well in this image, too.

Anton Egorov

This is a classic photomanipulation. Starting with a handdrawn sketch, I collected about 300 stock photos to have alternatives for each element. Then I gathered them in a rough composition and finally combined the photos using various Photoshop tools.

Ashraful Arefin

I used various adjustment layers and blend modes. First I did some regular adjustments like cropping, exposure and contrast. Then I enhanced the tones selectively using Selective Color, Curves and Color Balance adjustment layers. Also I created a subtle lighting effect using the Gradient tool.


Marko Rop

Winter Wonderland is one of my first digital works. What makes my work stand out is the analogue look I try and achieve by adding many hand-drawn textures to my drawings.

Marko Rop is best known for children’s books, and has been involved in The Monster Project and Oxford University Press publications. His distinctive style is a good example of how to make digital work look as though it was drawn by hand.

Novans Adikresna

Featured by New York’s School of Visual Arts (SVA), Victor’s work is extremely distinctive and a testament to how Photoshop can enhance work that you’ve created in Illustrator. This image feels both retro and influenced by science fiction.

I made this artwork in a very short time. I used some supporting photos for this artwork visualisation, while I made the other objects by myself, with the help of Adobe Photoshop, of course.

Victor Moatti

Novans’ work is extremely popular online, with over 8,000 people following him on Instagram. The simplicity of this composition is particularly striking, as it feels both minimalistic and emotionally evocative.

I usually use Illustrator to work on the shapes, and Photoshop for the colours, lights and shadows. I like to play between deep black and vibrant colours in my works. I usually start by mixing dynamic objects with gradients and Curves.


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:

Emanuele La Grotteria

www.photoshopcreative. photography

Image of the issue In this image I used four pictures: the model, the mountains, the texture and sky. I selected the model and created a layer mask. I opened the mountains in a new document and used the Distortion filter to create the round effect and place it behind the model.

Alexandre Bocquier


First, I started making origami with special paper. Then I photographed and integrated them in Photoshop CS6 on a neutral paper texture. I cut the animals, and placed and painted some other elements. Finally I worked on the colours and light, mainly with adjustment layers.


Mehdi Mostefai

This was a really simple design; the whole work was focused on painting colours and lights. First I found a nice sky, painted it a little and added the reflection with the help of the Displace filter.

Drazen Gasic

With this photo I was trying to create spray paint on canvas; this is a Photoshop action, which I designed. I isolated the woman from the photo and created the effect with brushes, patterns, blend modes and other techniques in Photoshop.

Fadi Ajjan

www. photoshopcreative.

This double exposure was designed by using Photoshop to integrate stock images of space and stars inside the girl, before I added the moon and birds as an expression of the image looking dreamlike.

Nikola Miljkovic


With a couple of stock photos, I wanted to create some artwork with a motivational message. I started by cutting out the background of all the photos, then composited the photos into one before retouching, increasing details and adding some noise and grain textures.



Upload your images to

We challenged you with these In issue 148, 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

1 Mario Unger

Lonely Runner About 20 to 30 layers in total were used to create this image, with a lot of masking and cutting out used to blend everything into place.

’ s r e Reaadllenge Ch INNER W

2 Ilenia Sparacino

Video Games Energy This image includes all of the supplied images, and it was created using blending modes, colour manipulation, transform tools and adjustments layers.

3 Marcus Jones

Queen Of The Surf All four of the supplied images were used. I cut out all the images and then stretched and Liquified the pineapple to create the waves. I also used the water splash. Blend modes and adjustment layers were also used along with a touch of dodge and burn.

4 Sheri Emerson

Epic Rage Quit This was my entry for the Readers’ Challenge. I used all four of the images provided. This is dedicated to all of us who have ever been frustrated by a handheld video game!

2 12



WORTH $599.99!

Pixnub Master Key This issue, one lucky winner will receive a Pixnub Master Key worth $599.99! The Master Key is a lifetime serial number for all of Pixnub’s Photoshop plug-ins, and is compatible with any new plug-ins that are released in the future; whenever a new plug-in is released, you can just download it from the website and install it with your serial number!

WORTH $599.99!



This issue’s challenge

Perfect for blurring and sharpening your photos, three lucky runners-up, plus the winner, will receive a copy of AKVIS’s Refocus plug-in! The plug-in is a creative way to refocus shots and is a useful companion for photo editors.

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: 30 March 2017.

WORTH $49! 13

Inside the studio


We talk Photoshop, design and recipes for success with this experienced UK-based studio


ased in a converted coffin factory in Brighton, UK, Crush is a design studio currently consisting of six creative individuals, with a host of external freelancers at their fingertips. Founded some 17 years ago, setting out with the goal of producing beautiful design work, Crush has a strong background in producing creative work for the music industry. Having worked with big names such as MTV, the company’s studio has grown rapidly over the years to broaden its portfolio with new and exciting projects. From tackling briefs for major clients such as Greenpeace, Sony, Disney and The Guardian newspaper, the studio has recently acquired a project working with the NHS (the UK’s national health service). The studio’s success in expanding its portfolio is – in part – down to having a no-nonsense work ethic which, as managing director Carl Rush describes, is: “Do great work for great people, get paid (properly) and go to the pub.” He continues: “We really try not to do long hours and try to leave at 6pm on most evenings. Good time management means that the bulk of the work should be done within normal office hours. Many of us have families, so we try to get a good work-life balance.” In the step-by-step on page 17, senior creative Brett Jones provides us with a revealing insight into the making of one of Crush’s outstanding design projects for the Major League Soccer (MLS) Gold Cup. The challenge was to create a series of socialmedia campaign posters to grow the fan base of MLS and elevate the clubs involved in the Gold Cup. The final campaign consists of more than 25 vibrant posters using bespoke fonts, illustrations and photography. More information about the project, as well as a look at the other posters within the series, can be found on Crush’s website. Also, designer Carl Rylatt reveals some of his most valuable Photoshop secrets for working more efficiently as well as keeping up with the times. So, is it more about the clientele, or the type of project that attracts Crush to the work? Carl Rush explains: “No matter the client or industry, our goal is always to produce brilliant creative work with strong ideas… Creativity has always been my goal


ABOUT THE STUDIO Crush Creative @crushcreative From storytellers and typographers to makers and visualisers, Crush is a truly integrated design agency that provides creative solutions across all print, digital and moving media. Crush believes in a collaborative process and also producing standout creative for clients all over the world.

Carl Rush Managing Director

Chris Pelling Creative Director

A day in the life of Brett Jones We spend a day with the Senior Creative to see what he gets up to

Coffee first


The day starts and the coffee is on. This is essential, as nothing can even be contemplated until that coffee is in your hand. Alongside this I have usually an hour of replying to emails.

Monday morning


The Monday morning catch-up is generally a project review. We also talk about any new and upcoming jobs, and use those few more minutes to get into work mode.

Get to work


I work on a variety of projects. I can be pencilling storyboards, idea generation, site plans, app design, illustration and animations. On a good day I get out the brushes and inks.

Lunch break


I always head out for lunch with sketchbook in hand, for green tea and drawing of various personal projects and collaborations (or just drawing wrestlers from the Eighties).

Ideas meeting


The most important part of all projects are the ideas. With new projects, we all go through the brief and come back with a number of routes and ideas to meet the brief.

Scanning and scanning


I often have pages of sketches, textures and artwork that I need to scan and produce digital art from. I’m not one to work solely in digital form but to use all tools at my disposal.

Š Crush Creative


Inside the studio TOP 5 PRODUCTION TIPS


1. If you do it o en, action it I’ve met a lot of designers who basically ignore the Actions panel in Photoshop, which is a shame as it’s an absolute godsend. Making custom actions for a repeated process speeds up your workflow incredibly. Resizing documents, saving as jpeg, adding noise, High Pass, or texture – action it! 2. Quick Selection tool If you are an older designer, and afraid of change, you are probably still using Channels to cut out complicated things like hair. You’ve possibly seen the Quick Selection tool and thought, ‘what’s that?’ and moved on. My tip would be, if you are old like me, take a moment to acquaint yourself with this and Refine Mask. 3. Paste in Place This is what it says on the tin! Paste in exactly the same place from doc to doc.

5. Develop your own style It’s corny but true. Tutorials are all well and good but unless you make them your own, then everything you do is going to look like a tutorial. Do things wrong, make mistakes, embrace serendipity and make Photoshop your tool, rather than the other way around.

Wall art display: Studio art and the other Carl (designer)

rather than growth, but the ambition to work with great clients is always there.” He gives us a glimpse of what it is like to work over at Crush: “The atmosphere is generally headsdown and working, with flurries of activity throughout the day as we discuss creative, deadlines and various digital issues. Tunes are playing all day long.” Integrating Photoshop into the production line gives Crush the flexibility and creative freedom required to keep producing outstanding work that delivers in full. Photoshop plays an important part for a variety of reasons. “We use Photoshop every day in lots of different ways. Sometimes we are drawing in Illustrator, then adding textural elements using brushes. We create many of our book covers in Photoshop and much of our animation work starts in Photoshop as well as making GIFs for social media,” describes Carl Rush.


© Crush Creative

4. Where’s my brush gone? For ages, my brush cursor would disappear and I would find it incredibly annoying. I thought it was just one of those annoying glitches that we designers put up with from time to time. It’s not. Caps Lock is on. For some reason the brush disappears when this happens. It may serve some useful purpose that is beyond me, or it may not. Who knows. At least I found my brush.

Laine branding: Laine Brew Co. branding and packaging artwork

A memorable project for MTV opened the door for Crush to explore alternative themes for both advertising and social-media outlets. Carl Rush describes the project in detail: “A great project that used Photoshop extensively was the tune-in campaign we created for MTV’s show Ridiculousness. Aimed at 16 to 29 year olds and in keeping with MTV’s refreshed look and feel, our creative route combines the jaw-dropping reactions of the guest celebrities on the show with the current internet culture’s nod to the Nineties. We built up a spoof Nineties desktop with everything that’s wrong with the internet… wrong colours, patterns, cats, unicorns, palm trees and dodgy GIFs. Each pop-up window was then combined to produce the on-air advert, and then broken back down again to make individual GIFs for social media.” He concludes: “It’s a riot of colour and wrongness that could only have been made in Photoshop.” With some incredibly ambitious plans to make important renovations to the studio space in 2017, including an event space, a private members’ work club, a bar, and a loft apartment for rental, the future for Crush includes plenty of new creative outlets on the horizon. So apart from the renovations for a new studio, what else does 2017 hold in store for Crush? “We aim to keep doing what we have always done: push great creative in all media. I do, however, suspect that moving image is going to be big for 2017, and we hope

to be working more with our favourite clients who let us try new ideas. We are currently working on six animations, so those will see the light of day next year, including work for World Duty Free, Great Western Railway and Fremantle Media.” Keep up to date with Crush’s latest creative ventures, and view more of its industryleading design work via their website at

The Crush team: Agency group shot standing outside the studio in North Laine, with Pepper dog

Letter modelling: The height of art department days – some letter models that Crush created for a shoot for Pan Macmillan. PanMac became PacMan

Gold Cup posters

Senior creative Brett Jones shares with us what went into making this bespoke poster

Starter sketch


After coming up with the initial idea, we had many players to create posters for. We sketched out each one first to work out the elements used and composition.

Photo treatment


Each poster used a photograph of the player in action, which we built the illustration around. We masked the player to get them isolated, tweaked the Levels to get a nice vibrant image, and used the Halftone filter to give a collage-print feel.

© Crush Creative

The illustration


In Photoshop we built up the illustration layer by layer to include each component, from the player’s team location to his national team’s flag and colours. One invaluable tip: get yourself Kyle brushes Megapack. You will use them every day.

Custom typography


We created custom type for each illustration so it would flow with the player’s movements, and weave through the smoke and clouds to fully integrate it as part of the illustration. Drawn initially in Illustrator, this was then brought into the Photoshop file and given texture.



With all the pieces in place, the final touch was to add overall texture to help bring the piece together; especially when we were dealing with different assets like photography and illustration.



Switch the Workspace

Different projects naturally require different tools – 3D and motion, for example, use different features. In order to switch the Workspace so that you can see more of the tools that you need, go to the top-right corner of Photoshop and click on the square icon.

Choose document sizes


Redesigned in CC 2017, it’s easier than ever to create the right-sized document after you’ve gone to File>New Document. Scroll through the available presets and you’ll find an array of useful sizes for your work, without having to fill out a width and height for your new document.


Download Stock templates


As well as providing stock photos, Adobe Stock now offers templates straight from the New Document window, many of which are free. Use these as a basis to start other projects; these textured masks, for example, are fantastic in grungy posters.

Work with Swatches


The Swatches palette is the best place to store colours that you use frequently in your work, not to mention somewhere that you can view previous colours you’ve used. To save a shade to Swatches, click Add to Swatches from the Color Picker.



Check out the various presets in the Styles palette (Window>Styles). Use them as-is or as launchpads for your experimentation. Find a preset that’s close to what you need, then continue tweaking its settings.

Use a combination of blend modes and layer masks to blend layers. If a layer needs to be toned down uniformly, lower its opacity. If a masked or blended layer needs bolstering, try duplicating the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J). Lower the duplicate’s opacity if needed.

11 GROUP ADJUSTMENTS Need to adjust a subset of layers in Photoshop? Place the layers in a group and set the group’s blend mode to Normal. You can now add adjustment layers inside the group and they’ll only affect the layers contained in the group.


Need to line up some shapes or objects? Shiƒ+click a series of layers, or Cmd/Ctrl+click specific layers, then grab the Move tool. Use the appropriate Align and/or Distribute buttons in the Options bar.


In Photoshop, it may appear that the Fill and Opacity sliders do the same thing. There’s an important difference. Opacity governs the visibility of a layer. Fill controls the fill only, leaving layer effects like glows and shadows intact.


Need to mask a layer with layer styles? If you directly mask the layer, the layer styles will conform to the masking. This may not be your intention. To avoid this in Photoshop, place the layer in a group, then mask the group.


Link layers so you can move and transform them in tandem. Shiƒ+click a series of layers, or Cmd/Ctrl+click specific layers, then click the Link Layers button in the Layers palette (Elements: go to the Layers’ palette menu and choose Link Layers).


12 Overlay view

13 Gradient mask

15 Vector mask

19 Properties panel

16 Edit masks

20 Color Range

17 Clipping mask

21 Channel masks

Once you’ve created a layer mask, you can toggle between viewing the entire image or just the mask by holding Shift+Opt/Alt while clicking on a layer mask thumbnail. Useful if you want to clean up the mask.

You can use the Pen tool or the Shape tool to create vector-based masks to select or edit specific areas of an image. Grab the Pen or Shape tool and draw a path around the image. In the Options bar, click Mask to create a vector mask.

To edit a vector mask, select the Pen or Shape tools. Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click the vector mask thumbnail. Drag the handles to edit the mask. To transform a vector mask to a layer mask, Ctrl/right-click the mask thumbnail, choose Rasterize Vector mask.

A clipping mask uses the ‘shape’ of the layer directly below as a mask. Here we used the clipping mask to add the textures directly on the alligator shape and then we applied a blending mode and a layer mask to hide specific areas and blend the image.

Apply the Gradient tool over a layer mask to create a soft transition between the layers. Choose the type of gradient and set the Foreground/Background to black and white and then drag it over the mask.

This can create a layer mask based in a similar colour. Add a layer mask and go to Select>Color Range. With the Eyedropper tool, select the initial colour. Drag the Fuzziness or Range sliders to define the amount of similar colours.

Create a mask from an alpha channel and then refine the mask. Open the Channels panel and duplicate the channel with most contrast. Use Levels or Curves to boost black-and-white areas, or grab the Brush tool to mask out the areas.

Create masks using the Select and Mask task space. Open the task space and choose one of the selection tools. Make a selection around the image. Grab the Refine Edge tool and refine the mask if needed. In Properties, tweak the controls to enhance the selection. Click OK to create a mask.

You don’t have to invest a lot of time to achieve a decent selection. Start by creating a selection around an image and then press Q in order to edit in Quick Mask mode. Grab the Brush tool and use it to start to clean up the areas or edit the mask even further if you feel it’s necessary. Make sure you zoom in and out, and don’t forget to vary the brush size according to the area you are working on.


The Quick Selection tool (W) is the easiest way to define the area you want to mask. In the Options bar, define the brush size and tick Auto-Enhance. Drag the selection within the image and create a layer mask.

This fine-tunes or modifies a mask. Click on the mask and open the Properties panel. Change Density to control opacity of the layer mask or Feather to soften the edges. You can access Select and Mask, Color Range and Invert features through it, too.

22 Select and Mask

18 Quick Mask mode

14 Selection tools


If you apply a Smart Filter or adjustment layer to a Smart Object, you can mask it to confine the effect in a specific area. For example, we applied the Gaussian Blur filter over the alligator and then we masked out the area above the water so the effect was only under the water.

24 Saving masks

When you create a complex selection to mask an object, it’s definitely recommended that you save it. In order to save a selection, you need to make sure that you keep the selection active and then choose Select> Save Selection. Give it an appropriate name and click OK. Photoshop automatically creates an alpha channel that will store your selection, ready for it to then be used at a later time.

25 Edit with modes

The Hue, Saturation, Color and Luminosity blending modes are very handy for editing photos. Basically, they are used to tint the layers or to blend the shades and colours in relation to the layers below.

26 Adjustments

Use blend modes to boost contrast, tint or sharpen your images, then apply an adjustment layer and change its blend mode to create beautiful effects or enhance the image further.

27 Overlay

The Overlay blend mode is really useful for sharpening a layer. All you need to do is duplicate the particular layer, set it to Overlay and then apply the High Pass filter. The layer will immediately be sharper.


Apply the Multiply blending mode whenever you want to create a colour that is darker than the original colour from the layer beneath.


So Light

The So Light mode hides the midtones and gently boosts the contrast. You can use it to create so shadows and highlights to enhance your artwork. Just create a new layer, change its mode to So Light and paint with the Brush tool.


Depending on the colours of the images, the Hard Light blending mode usually creates an intense contrast, and in some cases results in a harsher light. When combined with lighter pixels, though, the result can be very pleasant.

31 Blending Options 32 Screen The Blending Options panel enables you to control how the blending modes interact with the layers. There are various options that can be used to help you control the effect, such as being able to define the Fill opacity, restrict the blending option to a specific channel and also reveal the content from other layers using the Knockout and Blend If functions.

The Screen blend mode is another essential option when compositing creative pieces like this alligator. It gives the effect of lightening the image by leaving the light areas of the layer untouched, while making the dark areas appear translucent. This is a very useful technique if you want to control the exposure, add reflections or create a glowing effect.


33 Smart Objects

Smart Objects keep everything editable on a single layer. When you apply any filter to a Smart Object, you retain the ability to adjust the values at any time. Change the Smart Object content and the filters will apply to the new image automatically.

34 Smart Filters

Smart Filters give you a filter mask and the ability to change filter values at any time. Prepare any layer to receive Smart Filters via Filter>Convert for Smart Filters. The mask can then be used to ‘block’ areas where you don’t want the filter to apply.


Try drawing random shapes in black on a white layer then adding a Halone filter (Filter>Filter Gallery>Sketch). Try Dots at a large size with high contrast then set the blend mode to Overlay for some cool backgrounds. Or, use it as a layer mask for a photograph.


Blurs can be great for bringing motion to a photograph, and are also a quick way to add some creativity to an image. Create a gradient or random brush strokes, apply a strong Radial Blur set to Zoom and you have an awesome abstract effect.

Inside the Filter Gallery, you can layer filters for different effects without having to create lots of different image layers. Simply add the first filter you’d like to apply, then click the New Layer icon on the bottom right of the window, and add another filter.


You can use filters on layer masks, as well as layers. For example, with your layer mask selected go to Filter>Render>Clouds and then use the Cutout filter from the Filter Gallery to get a cool, random layer mask for abstract work.


Use Sketch filters to quickly add details. Reset your colours with D. Make a stamp of your image (Cmd/Ctrl+Shi+Alt+E), go to Filter>Filter Gallery and add a Sketch effect such as Graphic Pen. Hit OK and set this layer to Multiply to only use the black tones.

39 Filter layers

35 Mask layers

40 Distort effects

Try layering different levels of Distort filters to create a deep, subtle look. Turn your layer into a Smart Object, apply Filter> Distort>Wave. Pick the 1 Generator, Type: Square, then use different Wavelengths and Amplitudes on different layers. Adjust the opacity of each until you get the effect that you are after.

41 Custom brushes

There are so many brushes offering so many effects that they can really speed up and enhance your creativity. Download .abr files from sites like Brusheezy, then in Photoshop go to the Brush panel, click the cog icon and then select Load Brushes.

42 Brush Jitter

Inside your Brush menu (F5), the section called Shape Dynamics enables you to add Brush Jitter. These randomise the Size, Angle and Roundness parameters, so you can draw continuously with one brush while making it look varied and not repetitive.

43 Opacity & Flow

Build up shades of paint using the Opacity and Flow values in your top toolbar. Opacity builds up more with each separate stroke; Flow builds up within the same stroke. A combination of low flow and low opacity can create realistic-looking paintings.


Use a round brush to create random, spaced-out dots. Go to your Brush panel (F5) and increase the Spacing. Then activate Scattering and increase the percentage until you’re happy. You can also add Size Jitter in the Shape Dynamics. Add an Outer Glow inside Blending Options for more drama.


Brushes can be used to paint in your own contrast by creating a new layer and setting the blend mode to Overlay. Anything you paint on this layer will affect the layer below. If you paint dark strokes, you’ll add dark contrast; if you paint light strokes you’ll add bright contrast.

46 Dual Brush

Inside the Brush menu (F5), you can add a Dual Brush option to create some really interesting effects. Your primary brush (the one you already have active) will act as a constraint for the second brush you add. Once you have your two brush tips set, play around with the sliders to create some unique brush effects.

47 Brush transforms

Inside the top level of the Brush menu (F5), you can use the controls found near the bottom to adjust the actual brush itself. This is especially useful for custom brushes. For example, you can rotate or flip the brush to get it to fit perfectly into your scene without having to adjust the layer. Explore the other options and achieve the brush you want.

48 Masks

Custom brushes aren’t limited to layers; you can also use them on layer masks. This enables you to quickly make detailed masks for certain effects, filters or adjustments. You just have to make sure that you have the mask selected and start painting. Alt/ Option+click on the mask if you want to view it full screen.


49 Feather

To avoid a scissor-cut look when selecting models and objects, use feathering (Select> Modify>Feather). Start low (1-2px). Apply after creating the selection, or preemptively set a feather amount in the Options bar with a selection tool active.

50 Selection options

When working with a selection tool, make use of Add, Subtract and Intersect in the Options bar. Click the desired button, or press the appropriate key(s) to streamline editing: Shift (Add), Option/Alt (Subtract) and Shift+Option/Alt (Intersect).

51 Selecting hair

No matter which main tool(s) you use to select a model, employ Select and Mask/ Refine Edge (under Select in the menu) after creating the base selection to help with hair. Paint with the Refine Edge Brush tool/ Refine Radius tool along the hair edge.

52 PEN

Don’t forsake the venerable Pen tool. Tick Auto Add/Delete in the Options bar to make life easier. Click on a path segment to add an anchor point. Click on an anchor point to delete it.



Need to use a wispy object like clouds? Instead of painstakingly selecting them, try Photoshop’s Blend If sliders (Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options). Drag the dark slider under This Layer inward. Option/Alt+click and drag to split the slider for smoother blending.

55 Can’t see?

Can’t see an object’s outline enough to select it? Use a Levels or Curves adjustment above to reveal it. You can exaggerate the settings if it helps. After completing the selection tasks, tone down the settings or just trash the adjustment.


The Lasso tool is ideal for cleaning up a selection. Its freehand nature makes it easy to pick up. When performing selection clean-up duty, be sure to zoom in and out as needed to get a good view.

56 View

While in Select and Mask/Refine Edge, use the View drop-down menu to see your selection in different ways. Press F to cycle through the various views and use X if you want to temporarily disable the views to a get an unobstructed look.

57 Curves

Have you tried playing with the RGB channels in Curves in Photoshop CS or CC? You can modify each channel individually to produce some interesting results. To save your settings, click the panel menu icon and choose Save Curves Preset.

58 Luminosity

59 Smart adjustments

60 Presets

64 Auto adjustments

If an adjustment affected colour in an unwanted manner, use the Luminosity blend mode. Setting a Levels adjustment layer to Luminosity enables you to focus on the lightness values since it ignores colour information. Try Luminosity with Invert!

A lot of the adjustments come with presets. If you’re unfamiliar with a particular adjustment, go on a reconnaissance mission and check its presets (if available) to gauge its capabilities. Because you’re free to continue tweaking the presets’ adjustments, you can use presets as stepping stones for your own unique adjustments.

61 Group reduction

Have a series of adjustments in Photoshop that need to be toned down together? Select them and press Cmd/Ctrl+G to group them. Lower the group’s opacity. To reduce in specific areas, add a layer mask to the group and paint black in those areas.

62 HDR Toning

Adjustments can be applied to Smart Objects as Smart Filters in CC. You no longer have to resort to using a clipping mask or placing the target layer in a layer group set to Normal to limit the adjustment to a layer.

In a big hurry? You can try Auto Tone (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+L), Auto Contrast (Option/Alt+Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+L) and Auto Color (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+B). Elements also has: Auto Smart Fix (Option/Alt+Cmd/ Ctrl+M), Auto Smart Tone (Option/ Alt+Cmd/Ctrl+T) and Auto Haze Removal (Option/Alt+Cmd/Ctrl+A).

65 Add contrast

Use a Levels adjustment layer to quickly boost contrast. A gap at either end indicates the image isn’t living up to its tonal potential. Move the Shadow and Highlight sliders inward to touch the histogram, then test the midtones slider.

HDR Toning (Image>Adjustments>HDR Toning) only works on a flat image. Keep a separate PSD for your base image. To apply HDR Toning, save as a separate document. Flatten (Layer>Flatten Image) and apply the HDR Toning adjustment.

63 Shadows/Highlights 66 Match Color 67 CLIPPED

In non-CC versions, use a clipping mask to limit an adjustment to a layer. Place the adjustment above the layer, then Option/Alt+click between the layers.

68 Vibrance

Vibrance or saturation – which one should you use? Vibrance is a more intelligent version of saturation, which increases less-saturated colours more than ones that are fairly saturated. Vibrance also helps to keep skin tones from getting too hotly boosted, which makes it the usual choice when working with portraits.

To coax detail from murky areas of your image, try Shadows/Highlights (Image> Adjustments>Shadows/Highlight). Convert the layer to a Smart Object (Elements: create a duplicate) before applying. Move the Amount slider under Shadows (Elements: Lighten Shadows slider) rightward to improve shadow detail.

Match Color (Image>Adjustments>Match Color) enables you to adjust the colours in an image (the target) with colours from another image (the source). You can make a selection in the target and/or source, or you can just let Match Color work with the whole images. Use Image Options to fine-tune the effect.

69 Reusable adjustments Get into the habit of reusing adjustment layers for an efficient way to apply the same adjustments over and over. You can drag adjustment layers from one document to another. You can also save template PSDs that already contain adjustment layers with the desired settings, ready to be dragged over when needed.


70 Guided mode 71 Quick mode Guided mode in Elements takes you step-by-step through common and not-so-common edits. There are six categories to choose from. Basics covers foundational edits such as Brightness and Contrast, Crop, Levels and Sharpen. Color and Black & White cover matters of colour and non-colour. Fun Edits and Special Edits enable you to unleash more advanced and creative effects such as Out Of Bounds, Puzzle Effect and Tilt-Shift with minimal sweat.

Quick mode in Elements lives up to its name. Run through the categories at the bottom and play with the corresponding settings. Adjustments contains the essentials, improving contrast, colour and sharpness. Effects lets you play with some interesting treatments, such as Pencil Sketch, Vintage and Light Leak. Textures and Frames enable you to choose from a selection of texture overlays and frames, which you can use to round out your image.

75 Improved crop


In Photoshop/CC, disable Delete Cropped Pixels in the Options bar for non-destructive cropping that retains the pixels outside of your crops. In CC, Content-Aware will actually fill in gaps caused as a result of rotating and straightening.

You can specify the range of colours adjusted by Hue/ Saturation. Use the drop-down just beneath the presets.


Need a quick contrast boost for an overexposed image? Duplicate, then set the duplicate’s blend mode to Overlay. If that’s too intense, try So„ Light.

76 Spot Healing

For blips and imperfections that need to be cleaned up, use the Spot Healing Brush tool. Instead of applying directly to the target layer, create a new layer above and tick Sample All Layers in the Options bar.

77 Red eye 74 NOISE

Introduce texture with Add Noise (Filter>Noise>Add Noise). If you apply this to a Smart Object, paint black in the Smart Filter mask to reduce.

78 Vignette

Create a vignette using the Camera Raw Filter in CC. Convert the target layer into a Smart Object, then go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter. Use the Post Crop Vignetting settings under Effects. In Elements, switch to Guided mode. Under Basics, you’ll find Vignette Effect. Select black or white, adjust Intensity and click Refine Shape for more options.


Inadvertently got some red eye in your shot? Click within the red using the Red Eye tool to neutralise. If needed, adjust Pupil Size and Darken Amount in the Options bar. Elements even has an Auto Correct button you can test first.

79 Add motion

Use Blur filters like Motion Blur and Radial Blur to add dynamism to your image. Apply to individual layers or a final merged layer. Convert a layer to a Smart Object before applying so you can reduce the blurring with the Smart Filters mask. In Elements, duplicate the layer and apply, then mask the layer as needed.

81 Adjustment layers


Make use of adjustment layers to make colour or tonal corrections to an image. To activate, click on the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button at the bottom of the Layers panel, or go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer.

The Quick Selection tool is a great choice for selecting areas with similar textures. Press W and start ‘painting’ the area you want to select.

82 Neutral layers

Press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N to open the New Layer dialog box. Enter a name, tick the box to create a clipping mask, change the Mode to Overlay and tick ‘Fill with neutral colour’. Use this to paint the shadows and highlights in the image.

83 Customise

Grab the Brush tool (B) and then press F5 to open the Brush panel. Select a brush preset and tweak the options to control the appearance of your brush stroke. Then paint over the mask to blend the layers.

84 Groups

Organising layers into groups will greatly improve your productivity and make it easier for you to find each layer. To create a new group, first hold the Shift key and select each layer, then press Cmd/Ctrl+G.

85 Free Transform

Use the Free Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to scale, rotate, stretch and warp an image. In the Options bar, click to switch to Warp mode and then manipulate the control points to apply distortions to an image.

86 Liquify

87 Layer style

88 Pixel masks

89 Multiple styles

While the Liquify filter can be great for retouching photos, it’s also a handy tool for applying over textures to reshape an image around an object. Then use blend modes or adjustment layers to improve tones.

Pixel masks are layer masks that enable you to hide or show areas of an image. Select the area using a selection tool and click Add Layer Mask.

Use the layer styles to apply one or more effect(s) to an image. You can create shadows, strokes, bevelled edges and more. Double-click on a layer in the Layers panel to open the Layer Style dialog box.

In the Layer Style dialog you can add multiple effects of the same kind. For example, add a second stroke by clicking the plus sign next to the effect name.


90 Reference

Make a folder on your computer and fill it with reference pictures you collect. References of anatomy, poses, nature, colour – anything you want to study. CC Stock is useful for this. Or take a camera with you when you go outside, and photograph interesting reference subjects.


Sketch loosely at first. Use a so, medium-sized brush, and give yourself freedom to experiment and practice as you draw.

91 Prepare brushes

It helps to prepare your brushes beforehand, so you won’t get stuck later on trawling through your collection looking for a suitable brush. Be sure to have at least one large brush for sketchier, broader strokes, and a smaller one for detailing.


Rotate your canvas for a different vantage point, just as you would if you were drawing or painting traditionally.


Create a new layer and draw little circles with your selected colours. Keep this layer at the top, so you can quickly select these colours with the Eyedropper tool.


Use a large canvas setting to retain details and definition in your drawing. Aim to set it to at least 1000px width.

96 Reference help

A reference image is useful, but having to click away from your canvas to look at it can be a pain. Instead, put reference images on your uppermost layer, lower the Opacity to 50%, and use the Move tool to drag it around the canvas. Then it will always be in view as you’re working.


97 Broad strokes

Contrast is key to an appealing image, so it can be useful to start planning out your lighting early in the sketching process. Use a large airbrush to quickly cover your background layer. When sketching out shadow and light, use a wide, soft brush set to a low Opacity setting.

98 Tablet hotkeys

Set one of your tablet/Cintiq’s hotkeys to Undo if you haven’t already. This is very useful during the sketching process! Your tablet/Cintiq’s hotkeys can all be bound to custom commands, putting your favourite shortcuts at your fingertips, so be sure to make use of them.

99 Painting hotkeys

Set one of the hotkeys on your tablet/Cintiq, or even on the pen itself, to the Eyedropper tool. When painting, you can use this hotkey to quickly select a colour you need to work with. This makes picking colours much faster, and will streamline your painting process.

100 Brush opacity

As with layer opacity, use the number keys on your keyboard to lower or increase brush opacity by 10% increments: 1 sets to 10%; 0 sets to 100%. Hit numbers in fast succession to set opacity to a specific amount.

101 Texture brushes

Collect texture images and brushes relevant to what you paint. When painting with a texture brush, reduce Opacity to 50% and below. When applying image textures, paste it onto a layer above your painting, and set it to Multiply or Soft Light.

102 Blend modes

Make use of blend modes to increase contrast. Use Multiply to deepen shadows, and use Overlay or Color Dodge to create vibrant highlights.

103 Brush range

Make sure you have the following brush types to hand: small round for details, big round for painting (useful for skin), and airbrush for lighting.

104 Contrast

A good way to figure out contrast in the initial stages of painting is to paint in greyscale first. Once done, apply colours using the Overlay mode.


Know the difference between RGB and CMYK! Monitor screens best display colours in RGB mode; the colours of your piece will only display properly in this setting. Check your canvas is set to RGB mode before you begin painting by going to Image>Mode>RGB Color.

106 Flow

The Flow setting is just as important as the Opacity setting for digital artists, because it controls the amount of ‘paint’ that is on your brush. Adjust both settings to gain greater control of how colours layer up on your canvas.

107 Graphics tablet

While some digital artists prefer to use the familiar mouse, getting to grips with a graphics tablet can offer smoothness, far more control, better precision, touch sensitivity and improved workspace. It’s also closer to using a pen/brush and paper. We recommend you at least try one out!

108 Finishing touches

Have fun with the finishing touches! Once you’re done, flatten the image. Create a layer above, and draw in small details like raindrops and hair strands. Use Brightness/ Contrast, Levels and gradient maps to make the colours pop, and filters like Poster Edges to give your piece extra definition.



Clip a layer to the one below by Ctrl/rightclicking>Create Clipping Mask. This will only affect or be shown on the layer you clip it to – like a really quick layer mask!

109 Hand painting

Custom brushes are great, but you can use the Brush tool to add in your own unique, hand-drawn elements. Sketchy styles work well: set your brush to 100% Opacity and 80-100% Hardness. ‘Sketch’ using your brush in short, quick strokes to build up shapes.

110 Global effects

When you’ve finished combining and merging layers, they can still look disjointed. Use the black/ white circle at the bottom of the Layers panel to add adjustment layers above all layers and edit everything. Adding a Gradient set to Soft Light unifies everything.

111 Adjust hues

New images might not match your canvas colours. Add a Hue/ Saturation layer using the black/ white circle icon in the Layers panel and clip to the desired layer or leave unclipped to affect many layers. Move the Hue slider gingerly to match the colours.

114 Organising layers

Whenever you add lots of layers in a mixed-media piece, you need to keep your organisation on point to prevent future confusion. Name your layers, group layers of similar types (like Brush Strokes), and use Photoshop’s layer colours (Ctrl/ right-click and select a colour) to keep things clear.

116 Inner Glow

When blending sections from different images, edges can reveal original backgrounds. Objects photographed on white will have bright edges, which will be obvious on a dark canvas. Ctrl/right-click the layer, pick Blending Options and add an Inner Glow of the background colour to help blend.



Create interaction between different objects by adding layer masks. Paint black to hide areas and paint white to reveal. Use a mid-grey (or lower-opacity black) to add transparency levels to your mask, adding an extra level of realism when merging certain materials.

115 Dry Brush

Not a natural illustrator? Get a painted effect for your mixedmedia piece by using the Dry Brush filter. Have your photo layer selected and go to Filter> Filter Gallery. Select Dry Brush from the Artistic section. Set the Detail and Texture low or 0, and increase the Brush Size.

117 Feathering masks

Ideally, cutting out sections of an image should be done using the Pen tool, before converting it to a selection and adding a layer mask. When you’ve finished drawing the Pen outline, Ctrl/ right-click>Make Selection and always add a Feather of at least 0.5px to prevent harsh edges.

118 Theme for cohesion

Mixed-media art can be quite abstract with many different elements. To keep a coherent project it’s great to have a theme in mind, be this certain colours or even an overall ‘feeling’. Try to stick to this as you add elements, using your theme to decide whether something fits or not before you merge it in.

119 Perspective Crop

Found within the Crop tool, Perspective Crop is great at realigning the focus in your photos, particularly to buildings or objects that haven’t been photographed face-on. It’s a good first step in adjusting the perspective of landmarks before you begin photomanipulating a scene.

120 Ruler tool

The Ruler tool, found within the Eyedropper icon, isn’t just good for measuring how long aspects of your compositions are. Use the Straighten Layer button at the top of Photoshop and you can align the layer perfectly parallel to the rest of the image.

121 Magic Eraser tool

If you’re looking to erase parts of your image quickly – particularly in a cartoon – you may use the Magic Wand to select before hitting Delete. Cut out the middleman, though, with the Magic Eraser tool, which can get rid of parts of your image just by clicking.

122 Freeform Pen

Hold the Pen icon down to find the Freeform Pen. A cross between the Pen and the Brush, you can draw a path straight onto your image with the Freeform Pen and still edit the points, which makes it great for detailed digital art.

123 Rotate View

Hit R, or hold the Hand tool to find the Rotate View tool. This can turn your canvas around; it’s a vital tool for digital-art projects and it can help to improve the precision of your brush strokes on your artwork.

125 Dodge and burn 126 Recolour layers Before you dodge and burn, create a new layer and fill with #808080. Set this layer to Soft Light, and dodge and burn on here instead to make your edits non-destructive and editable: find the Dodge and Burn tools by hitting O.

127 CROP RATIOS Crop to a specific ratio for more accuracy using the top toolbar.

124 Edit toolbar

If you’d rather reorder the left-hand toolbar for your own ease of use, that’s possible by using the Ellipses icon. From here you can assign new shortcuts, move icons, and customise the toolbar so that it suits your own needs.

Similarly to dodging and burning on a separate neutral grey layer, create a new layer, set it to Color or Hue and use soft brushes to apply new shades to your image non-destructively. Select the Brush tool by hitting B.


Use grids to help you crop, so that you can measure your image’s composition.


Use the Tracking icon in the Type tool (T) to space out text.



Pick the perfect colour quickly by ensuring the Color palette is located in the top-right of your window, rather than having to keep referring to the swatches in the bottom-le.



Record actions as you work, and play them to repeat the editing process you’ve just made; it saves time with batch edits and you can even assign shortcuts.

133 Opacity shortcuts To change the opacity of a layer, you can use the Opacity slider. To speed up time, though, press any number from 1 to 0 to change opacity: 1 being 10%, 0 being 100%. Pressing two numbers quickly also changes opacity; for example 7 and 5 will set to 75%.

134 Shift & arrows

You may know that holding Shift while using the arrow keys will nudge a selection ten pixels in your chosen direction. This also works when you have a value selected; for example, hold Shift and the down arrow to reduce the brush size value by 10px.

135 Create stamp layers This has got to be one of the most important commands you’ll ever need: hit the Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+Opt+Shift+E buttons to create a new, merged layer made up of all your other layers. This is a simple and non-destructive method of creating High Pass layers or Camera Raw edits in your work.


Rather than selecting blend modes with the drop-down menu, save time by hitting Shi and either + or - to cycle through and view them one by one.

136 Search Stock

When you are faced with the prospect of having to source stock, you can find all kinds of images for your work by visiting, ready to license and drop in to Photoshop. To save a little time, though, go to the Libraries tab – just above the Layers palette – and click on the Search Adobe Stock bar. From here you can simply drag images into your document to use; you can incorporate these into your work, edit them or build photomanipulations with them, and the changes you make will remain once you license them.

137 Hide visibility

The eye icon next to your layer determines its visibility. Hold down one of these icons and drag down the layer stack to turn off the visibility of selected layers.

138 Pan

Hold the spacebar and drag to pan around your image when zoomed in; it’s quicker than using a scroll wheel or the Hand tool.

139 Save selections

Save selections (Select>Save Selection) when cutting out complicated things with the Lasso, and find them in the Paths menu.

140 Text caps

Nothing in real life has perfectly straight edges or perfectly pointed corners. Unfortunately when working with 3D text, your computer assumes perfect edges as default. Unless you’re going for a stylised look, always add some level of caps or bevel to your 3D text to help realism.

141 Object rotation

3D space offers two methods of adjusting composition: transforming the objects themselves, and transforming the camera. Be careful with which one you adjust and, where possible, adjust the camera first – or else you might end up with your object half in the floor or floating at strange angles!

142 Merge layers

Combine multiple 3D layers into one ‘group’ by highlighting them and going to 3D>Merge 3D Layers. This puts all the selected objects into the same ‘3D Space’, enabling them to share things like lighting and environment.

143 UV maps

UV(W) maps are how you add textures to 3D objects. U, V and W are axis, same as X, Y and Z – however W is almost always ignored. UV maps convert 2D images into 3D space – Photoshop automatically adds UV guidelines to textures so you can easily line up bitmaps.


Marble textures can be time-consuming to create with ink but can be made solely in Photoshop. Go to Filter>Render>Clouds, then Liquify to warp the shape, and add a gradient map. It’s a quick way to create a high-quality texture for your work.

147 Stock images

148 Fonts

149 Brushes

150 Templates

Creating your own bank of photos to use in your work can be a good way to make sure you always have the exact images you need, no matter what the project is that you’re working on. Use the Camera Raw filter to process them, and save them to your Libraries in CC so that they’re ready to drag and drop into Photoshop, ready to use.

Select everything on a layer and go to Edit>Define Brush Preset. You can create anything from watermarks to bokeh, which can be used for an array of projects, just with a click.

Creating your own typefaces can help to add personalisation, but unfortunately, Photoshop doesn’t save to .otf or .ttf files. Create the characters for a font using selections and brushes though, and save them all as separate layers in a Photoshop document. That way, you can drag them into your work to form words, and still have control over the kerning and leading.

Templates and mockups can showcase your work. Insert linked files into images, such as pictures of laptops or phones; you can always relink these files, and they act as great templates.

144 Ground position

Sometimes getting that perfect angle in Photoshop 3D can leave you in a bit of a pickle, with your objects getting too far away from the Ground plane. Quickly reset the Y position with the Move to Ground button inside the Coordinates menu.

145 Post render

Try not to get caught up too much with the final look inside the 3D engine – remember that you are still inside Photoshop! You can render your 3D models and then continue to adjust things such as colour, shadows, tone and so on, as if it were a normal Photoshop layer.


Tutorial Explore masks and layers On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Works with Elements



What you’ll learn

Use masks, blend modes and adjustment layers for a surreal scene

Time taken 5 hours

Expert Rodrigo Marinelli “The surreal style is one of my favourites because it lets you create anything you want without losing realism. Every time I start to create a scene using this art style, I know it is an opportunity to make something absolutely new. “I’m an art director and have 12 years of experience in advertising agencies. I learned and am still learning to use Photoshop through following tutorials.”

Draw the background


Start images

Explore masks and layers

Discover the tricks to using masks, blend modes, highlights and shadows to create a vibrant yet surreal scene


ne of the most important skills to learn is how to create a scene that causes a big impact on those looking at your work. To achieve this, begin by having an original idea, choose an art style to follow, be very careful with the details, and always make it colourful. In this case, let’s create a scene where a woman pulls out her own face to release all the things that are inside her. As this image follows the surreal style, it’s necessary to pay attention to the details

Create a new document (Cmd/ Ctrl+N) set to 230 x 310mm. Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N), use the Paint Bucket tool (G), set the Foreground colour to #f59880 and paint the background. Create another layer, use the Pen tool (P), draw a transversal shape, activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Enter) and paint it with #ffd165.


Work with blend modes


so the scene looks realistic. The big secret to working on this art style is to create a crazy scene and make it believable. To accomplish this scene, we shall use masks and the Pen tool to isolate areas of the woman’s face. We will also learn how to create layer groups with masks; how to add motion to photos by changing the blend modes to make the scene more dynamic; and how to use adjustment layers to make the final result more colourful.

Add ‘texture_01.jpg’, place it on the top, use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (Cmd/Ctrl+B) set to 0, -100, 0, then change the blend mode to Soft Light with 40% Opacity. Use ‘texture_02.jpg’, place it on the bottom, and change the blend mode to Color Burn at 20% Opacity.

Make a quick mask


Add the ‘model.jpg’, adjust the colour tone using the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) set to 0, 1.00, 213, then activate Quick Mask (Q), use the Brush tool (B) with 50% Opacity and paint the face. Press Q again, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I), then use Brightness/Contrast set to 52, 21.

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Tutorial Explore masks and layers

Expert tip Make skin corrections

To correct skin, first use the Patch tool (J), make a selection around the part that needs to be corrected and drag into a clean part. This is perfect for quickly erasing small imperfections. If you need to correct a specific part of the skin, use the Clone Stamp tool (S) with a selection. Use the Polygonal Lasso tool (L) to make the selection, then with the Clone Stamp tool, hold Alt, click in a clean part of the skin then click on the selected area.

Make a layer via copy


Crop the face


Select the woman’s layers, place into a layer group (Cmd/Ctrl+G), then press the Add Layer Mask button. With the Pen tool (P), draw the shape of the woman’s face, just like the image above, activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Enter), set the Foreground colour to black and erase it (Alt+Del).

Select the woman’s layer group, activate the mask shape (hold Cmd/ Ctrl and press the mask icon), then go to the woman’s layer, select the Polygonal Lasso tool (L), Ctrl/right-click and choose the Layer via Copy option. Place the woman’s face on her extended hand.

Erase some details


Add highlights



Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N) and place it behind the woman’s body. With the Pen tool, draw the shape of the outlines, activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Enter) and paint it (Alt+Del) with #b07c5f. Then, also with the Pen tool, draw the hole for the woman’s face and paint it black.

To give more depth to the scene, use the Pen tool (P) to draw some highlights on the woman’s body and face. Paint the shape of the highlights with white (step 5), then use Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur) at 20px. Change the blend mode to Soft Light.

Add the ‘leafs_02.psd’ and change the blend mode to Multiply. To blend the photo with the scene, select the layer, press the Add Layer Mask button, use the Brush tool (B), choose the Soft Round brush (Opacity: 80%), set black for the Foreground colour and erase the unnecessary parts.


Draw the hole

Bring in elements


First add ‘fireworks.jpg’, ‘rocket_ smoke.psd’, ‘waterfall.psd’, ‘fireworks_02.jpg’ and ‘movement.psd’. To make the background disappear in all of these photos, all you have to do is change the blend mode to Screen. Place the photos as shown in the image above.

Use the Feather command


Place ‘yellow_flower.jpg’, ‘pink_flower.jpg’ and ‘flower_detail.psd’ as shown above. To make the edges of the photos look softer, activate the selection of the layer (Alt+click), use the Feather (Shift+F6) set to 2px, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I) and press delete two times.

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Enhance the details


To add the flying elements, place ‘birds. psd’, ‘glider.jpg’, ‘hot_air_balloons.psd’, ‘balloon.jpg’, ‘butterfly.jpg’ and ‘aeroplane.jpg’. In all these photos, use the High Pass filter to enhance details. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/ Ctrl+J), go to Filter>Other>High Pass set to 1px, then change the blend mode to Soft Light.

Add the final details


Change the colours


Now add ‘flower_03.jpg’, ‘flower_04. jpg’, ‘flower_detail.psd’ and ‘flower_02. jpg’ and place behind the woman’s face, as shown above. To make the scene more interesting and colourful, duplicate the flower_02.jpg layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and use the Hue/Saturation tool (Cmd/Ctrl+U) set to 0, 55, 0 to change the colour to red.

Add ‘bubble.jpg’, change the blend mode to Screen and place it as shown above. Create a new layer, select the Rectangle tool (U), use the Stroke at 18px and with white as your colour, make a rectangle and place it behind the woman.

Use the Motion Blur filter


Add the ‘leafs.psd’ and place it as shown above. Duplicate the layer_03 (Cmd/Ctrl+J), activate the selection (Alt+click on the layer icon), paint it with #c79462 (Alt+Del) and change the blend mode to Multiply. Then go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and set Angle: -25 and Distance: 30px.

Adjust the colour tone


Use the adjustment layers to set the colour tone. Use Color Lookup (DropBlues.3DL), Levels (2, 1.00, 247), Brightness/Contrast (15, 16) and Hue/Saturation (0, +13, 0). Finally use a Soft Round brush (B), set the Foreground colour to white, change the blend mode to Soft Light and make highlights on the woman’s head. USE MASKS

What you’ll learn Make the scene realistic

Place the woman’s layer into a group (Cmd/Ctrl+G), press the Add Layer Mask button, use the Pen tool (P) to make a selection on her face, set black as your colour and press Alt+Del.


It’s possible to use the blend modes in infinite ways. In this case, in order to make the black background of the photos disappear, change the blend mode to Screen.


To set colour tone, always use adjustment layers. This makes it possible to edit without losing the original colours of the scene.


For realistic shadows, duplicate the Leaf layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J), paint it with #c79462, change the blend mode to Multiply and apply the Motion Blur filter with Angle: -25 and Distance: 30px.


Tutorial Create drama in monochrome


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Start image

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Essentials Works with Elements



What you’ll learn

Techniques for creating monochrome images with detail and depth

Time taken 30 mins

Expert John Ross

Create drama in monochrome

“Using the techniques shared here, you can create monochrome masterpieces with ease. “With 20 years’ experience in the field, I educate photographers and retouchers by expanding their knowledge through my website www. TheArtofRetouching. com. I also carry out comprehensive live classes in New Haven, Connecticut.”

The auto Grayscale method


Discover how to create a dramatic impact by converting a coloured image into a monochrome that pops


ometimes, no matter how you look at it, colour can get in the way of a photo when you’re trying to create specific impact and drama. This is especially true when there are too many elements in an image – colour just becomes a distraction. Haven’t you always wondered how professional photographers and expert retouchers can stir up intense emotions with images that don’t rely on colour? Black-and-white images have exactly that kind of impact. By getting rid of the distracting colours in an image, you can then help viewers to

Go to Image>Mode>Grayscale. A dialog box will prompt you to confirm you want to discard the colour information. While this is the easiest way, you aren’t given any way to control the effect. There is simply no way to adjust the colour tones while converting by using this technique.

Adjust Curves and Levels


focus on what truly matters: the subject of the photo itself. Still, the goal in creating monochromatic masterpieces is not simply to create a black-andwhite image and be done with it. Rather, what you should aim for is a monochrome that jumps off the page. Creating black-and-white images is as simple as pressing a button, but it’s always best to do so with more control. Even a black-and-white photo needs to have detail and depth, and in this tutorial you’ll learn all about the different techniques for how to do just that, and so much more.

While some images may turn out okay, most end up looking flat. Nothing pops, and you are very restricted by the automatic conversion. However, you can adjust Curves and Levels on a limited level. It works fine with global modifications, but any targeted changes require masking.

The Channel Mixer method


Choose Channel Mixer from the Adjustment palette, or via Layer> New Adjustment Layer>Channel Mixer. Check the Monochrome tickbox to create a black-and-white image. This means you can adjust the Red, Green, Blue and Constant sliders based on the photo’s RGB channels.


Tutorial Create drama in monochrome

Expert tip Creating focal points

What makes the Black & White adjustment layer method superior to the automatic Grayscale mode is that you can set the focal point of your image. While you can hit the Auto button to see your image’s default settings, that is merely a starting point. In this case, you want the attention to be on the model’s face and not the clothes or background. Because you know which sliders affect which areas a‚er experimenting with them, you’ll know which ones to use.

Experiment with sliders


Curves, Levels and masking


While the Channel Mixer option does give you more control, it still doesn’t let you correct targeted issues, such as backgrounds and clothing, without the need for masking the individual parts, and once again using Levels or Curves to adjust the tones.

Check what the Reds, Yellows, Greens, Cyans, Blues and Magentas can do on your image. Depending on the colours used, and where they are located, you will often find that you can easily make moderate or severe tonal changes without the need for any masks at all.


Instead, Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Black & White is the best way to go. From the Properties palette, Auto can help you to set a starting point. For more control over every detail of how your image turns out, you can efficiently adjust the six individual sliders as needed.

By increasing the Reds, you can brighten the model’s skin tones with more tension, while you can find the right balance of her clothes and face with the Yellows slider. Greens help to brighten the scarf and add more detail to it. Cyans, in the case of this photo, are negligible.

If you want to start experimenting, you can follow the steps above, but start playing with the different blend modes, opacity settings and masks. By being more creative with the conversion, you may be able to extract more detail, and a visually wider tonal range.



Reds, Yellows, Greens, Cyans

Explore blend modes and opacities


Black & White adjustment layer

A final step


Adjust the background


Adjust the Blues to dull the background detail, as it should not overpower the main subject. Lastly, adjust the Magentas for the lips as necessary. Every image is different – always use the effect that will fulfil your goal for that particular image.

You can add a secondary Black & White adjustment layer on top, and further tweak the six sliders. You can clearly see that this technique gives the model a more complex skin tone, drawing your attention to her face rather than having her blend into the background.









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Tutorial Draw in isometric with the Pen


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Essentials Works with Elements



What you’ll learn

How to create an isometric image using the Pen tool

Time taken 15 hours

Expert Andy Hau “Isometric is an easy way to create dimensionality, and Photoshop has great tools for emulating this style. “I am a London-based architect and graphic designer, and the owner of A.H.A. Design Ltd, a multidisciplinary design studio. In all my work, from buildings to digital imagery, I believe design should have an element of joy about it – from inception to final product.”

Set up the grid


Draw in isometric with the Pen

You won’t be able to solve this digital Rubik’s Cube, but it will certainly unlock the key to fantastic isometric images!


nyone who works in a multidisciplinary environment usually finds it helpful to keep their mind compartmentalised. Like an infinite Rubik’s Cube, an idea is packaged in a figurative cerebral box and once dealt with, it gets pushed to the back and a new box takes its place. However, the danger of this is that boxes that should be treasured sometimes get shuffled to the darkest crevices of your mind, and it takes a while before they make their way to the front again. In this tutorial, we’re going to take all the things that make us happy and put them into one

Open a new canvas and make it 50 pixels wide by 50 pixels high. Select the Pencil tool (B) and set the Radius to 5px. Starting from the top-left corner of the canvas, draw an ‘L’ shape in black. Select Edit>Define Pattern and save the pattern.

illustration. The best thing about this is that it doesn’t need to make sense; it’s just a way of reshuffling the boxes in your mind. This tutorial will show you how to draw in isometric using Photoshop’s Pen tool to create a false (but convincing) 3D perspective. We will also be discussing how to create a subtle colour palette. Rather than following this tutorial to the letter, though, you should use the techniques to help you draw whatever makes you happy. Don’t like killer whales? Then draw something else – this is your Rubik’s Cube, after all!

Create a square grid


Open a new canvas and make it 1000 x 1000px. Create a new layer and use the Paint Bucket (G) to fill it in white. Double-click on the layer in the Layers panel and select Pattern Overlay. Use the pattern created in step 1 and click Snap To Origin.


Tutorial Draw in isometric with the Pen

Expert tip Reshuffle the squares

The beauty of drawing in isometric is that most of your lines are drawn at 30° and 60°, which means that most of your Rubik’s Cube squares are exactly the same. If you decide later on that you don’t like the arrangement of the squares, or the colours of a particular square clash with its neighbour, it is very easy to take that square and move it somewhere else. If you want to move the square to a different side of the cube, you can reflect it horizontally or rotate it 90 degrees.

Choose a colour palette


Create an isometric grid

Enlarge the grid


Move the pattern across slightly and duplicate the layer. Tile the layers together to create a larger area of pattern. Tile it as many times as you want but make sure the pattern always remains as a square. Select all the pattern layers, Ctrl/right-click and select Merge Layers.

In keeping with a traditional Rubik’s Cube, we are using blacks, whites, reds, blues, oranges, greens and yellows. However, keep all your shades muted – this will help the overall image to appear harmonious, even when there are colours that would traditionally clash with each other.

Start easy


Make the cube


Fill in the background with the Bucket tool (G). Using the grid as a basis, draw your cube with the Pen tool (P). Follow the lines of the grid to create the sides in the correct perspective. For the twisted layer, unless you’re great at maths, you can approximate it.

Select the layers with squares in the Layers panel, Ctrl/ right-click and select Rasterize Layers. Select one of the squares with the Magic Wand (M) and fill it with the Gradient tool (G). Draw a simple shape with the Polygonal Lasso (L) and fill it in with the Paint Bucket (G).


Add tropical leaves



Open up a new canvas (this will be your working canvas) and drag in the pattern. Rotate the pattern 45° (Edit> Transform>Rotate) and apply the transformation. Select Scale (Edit> Transform>Scale) and in the Height box, type in 58% (keep the Width at 100%) to create an isometric grid.

Work on the squares


Draw the squares with the Pen tool (P). To create curves, Alt/left-click. Once you’ve drawn one square, you can make copies of it to complete the rest of the cube (apart from the twisted layer – you’ll need to draw those separately).

Fill in a square with the Paint Bucket (G). Create leaves with the Pen tool (rasterise and merge the shape layers once you have a complete leaf). Place the leaves on top of the square and use the Polygonal Lasso (L) to trim the bottom of the leaves.

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Build a skyscraper


Fill a square with the Gradient tool (G). Using the grid as a guide, use the Pen (P) to draw the skyscraper – stick to three shades: the lightest for the side that faces the light source, the darkest for the shaded side. Create the landscape with the Pen.

Introduce butterflies


Fill a square with the Gradient tool (G). Split the square in half with the Polygonal Lasso (L) and on a new layer, fill in a darker shade (making sure that All Layers is ticked). Lower the opacity of the layer. Draw some butterflies with the Pen tool (P).

Create sliding doors


Fill a square in a dark colour and duplicate the layer. Double-click on the new layer in the Layers panel, select Stroke and choose an appropriate size. Lower the Fill setting to 0%. Create the sliding doors with the Polygonal Lasso (L) and Gradient Fill (G).

Produce a rocket


Use the Pen tool (P) to create the body and pattern of the rocket. You may need to rasterise the layer and clean up the edges with the Polygonal Lasso. On a new layer, use the Pen tool to create smoke trails. Rasterise this layer and lower the opacity.


Create an opening effect in a similar way as step 11. Use the Pen tool to create a fox, using a gradient for the fill. Rasterise, merge the fox layers and place over the square. Use the Polygonal Lasso (L) to trim the bottom of the fox.

Add text and smoke


Type in a number using the Type tool (T) and rasterise the layer. Distort the text (Edit>Transform>Distort) to manipulate the perspective of the text. For the smoke, use the Elliptical Marquee (M) and Paint Bucket (G) to create white circles on a new layer. Lower the opacity.

Create some rooms


Place the fox

Use the same technique as step 11 to create walls and floors, bearing in mind your light source at all times. Create objects, such as the bed and mirrors on the wall, with the Polygonal Lasso (L) and Paint Bucket (G), using the grid for reference.

Make money


Create the coins using the Elliptical Marquee (M) and Paint Bucket (G) (or Gradient Fill). Add the dollar sign to the coins as per step 14. Create three coins in different perspectives and layer them up until they fill up the square. Trim the coins with the Polygonal Lasso (L).


Tutorial Draw in isometric with the Pen

Expert tip Clipping masks

If you want to quickly trim elements so they fit within your squares, use clipping masks. To do this, ensure that the element to be cut is oversized and sufficiently overlaps the cutting object (in this case, your square) so that you’ll get a perfectly clean edge. Next, place the cutting object below the element to be cut in the Layers panel. Finally, Ctrl/right-click on the layer with the element to be cut and select Create Clipping Mask. The element will be trimmed by the square.

Create a whale and glacier

Add a tablet and retro television


Use the Pen tool (P) to create a tablet and the retro TV. For the ‘apps’, you can copy the squares of the cube, scale them down (Edit> Transform>Scale) and fill them with a different colour. Add shapes and letters to the apps as before.

Build a climbing wall


Use the Polygonal Lasso and Gradient Fill (G) to create the facets of the climbing wall – really try to visualise how the facets would connect together so that the wall looks convincing. Use the Polygonal Lasso and Paint Bucket (G) to create the hand holds.

Place an onsen bath house


Construct an aeroplane


Fill in the square with the Gradient tool (G). Create the clouds with the Elliptical Marquee (M) and Paint Bucket (G). Draw the main parts of the aeroplane with the Pen tool (P). For the details, use the Polygonal Lasso tool (L) and Elliptical Marquee (M).

Create a room as per step 16. Following the lines of the room, create the panels on the wall and the planks on the floor with the Polygonal Lasso (L) and Paint Bucket (G). For the bath itself, use the Elliptical and Rectangular Marquee (M) and the Gradient Fill.


Create a letterbox



Fill a top and side square with the Gradient tool (G). Use the Pen tool (P) to create a whale. Rasterise it and select the tail with the Polygonal Lasso (L). Cut and paste onto a new layer, and lower the opacity. Create the glacier with the Polygonal Lasso and Paint Bucket.

Make building façades


It’s easiest to draw elements of the façade with the Polygonal Lasso (L) and Paint Bucket (G). For a reflective window, fill the pane of glass with a Gradient Fill (G). On a new layer, create diagonal white stripes with the Polygonal Lasso and Paint Bucket, and lower the opacity.

Fill in the square with the Gradient tool (G). Create the letterbox opening and the letter itself using the Polygonal Lasso tool (L) and the Paint Bucket (G). Add some shading to the edge of the letter to give the impression it is within the letterbox opening.

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Introduce a fish tank


Construct a swimming pool

Fill in the square with the Gradient tool (G). Create a fish using the Pen tool (P). Rasterise and merge the layers and copy and paste until you form a school of fish. Vary the sizes and rotation of the fish (Edit> Transform) as well as the opacity.


Follow step 16 to form a room. Using the grid for guidance, create the pool with the Polygonal Lasso tool (L) and Paint Bucket (G). For the tiles, draw them as though you were viewing them from the front, then distort them (Edit>Transform> Distort) to fit the perspective.

Add some tentacles


Use the Pen tool (P) and Gradient tool (G) to draw the tentacles. Give the tentacles dimensionality by shading the underside using a darker colour. For the spots, create them using the Pen tool, then change the blend mode for this layer to Soft Light and lower the opacity.

Take it further Unlock even more potential

Re-create the Underground


Create the room as per step 26. Using the grid for guidance, create the steps of the escalator with the Polygonal Lasso tool (L) and Paint Bucket (G). The handrails are created using the Pen tool (P). Use the Elliptical Marquee (M), Polygonal Lasso and Paint Bucket for the sign.

Rotate the cube


Select all the layers in the Layers panel, apart from the background layer, and select Rotate (Edit>Transform>Rotate). Rotate the cube until it appears asymmetric but still balanced. The cube will no longer be orthogonal so any further changes may be slightly harder to make after this step – be careful!


Try adding little details that require the viewer to look a few times before they see it. You could add more small, quirky details to keep the observer interested.


We’ve only twisted the middle layer of the Rubik’s Cube, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t twist more of the layers or even try twisting the layers vertically instead.


We’ve drawn a traditional 3x3x3 Rubik’s Cube but 4x4x4 and 5x5x5 cubes also exist. Since the drawing is isometric, it would be easy to add more cubes to the drawing.


The isometric perspective makes things easier to draw. However, for a challenge, you could use a point projection perspective.


Having people helps to give scale to an illustration but also adds atmosphere. Add crowds of people to give the drawing an energetic, bustling feeling.


You could add a lot more shading to the cube and the rest of the illustration to make it look more realistic.


Tutorial Composite surreal artwork

Expert Daniel Sinoca

“I really enjoy creating surreal compositions because it forces me to use all my skills. I love to work with masks, apply adjustments and create shadows and highlights; these techniques allow me to create amazing compositions. “I started to get involved in the digital world more than 15 years ago and have been working as a freelance artist ever since, creating all kinds of multimedia projects and tutorial guides.�


Want to re-apply a filter? Press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+F!

Composite surreal artwork

Discover the essential techniques you need in order to blend and composite images from different sources to create a fantasy scene


dvance your compositing skills as we reveal how to create a surreal image. In this tutorial, you’ll learn the basic workflow process to blend different images and create special effects using regular filters. When you work with different source images, there are some details you have to pay attention to, such as the quality of the images you’re using, the environment you’re planning

to create, the position of the light source and how the shadows and highlights affect each element. All these details will have a major influence on the final composition. In each case, there is a different technique involved but there is a basic workflow you have to follow. First, you have to use the adjustment layers to make colour and tonal corrections to every image. Then you may need to select

and mask the images, and finally you use neutral layers to enhance or create the shadows and highlights. This workflow will be used in this tutorial along with other techniques to create this striking image. By the end of this tutorial you will have a better understanding of the techniques involved to blend different images. Download the files from the FileSilo and let’s get started.

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Essentials Works with Elements



What you’ll learn

Add visual effects and blend images using several workflow techniques

Time taken 3 hours


Tutorial Composite surreal artwork

Set the stage


Start off by creating a new document. Go to File>New or press Cmd/Ctrl+N. Name it Surreal Art. Set the Width to 460mm, Height to 310mm, Resolution to 300ppi and then click OK.

Create the background


Go to File>Place Embedded ‘Sky.jpg’ and press Return/Enter. Now let’s increase the contrast. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Set the Input Levels to 15, 0.40, 210 then click on the bottom-left icon to clip the layers.

Make adjustments


Start by increasing the contrast. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Set the Input Levels to 0, 0.70, 235 and clip the layers. Now go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Vibrance. Set the Vibrance to +30 and Saturation to +10 then clip the layers.

Apply the effect


With the whirlpool selected, go to Filter>Distort>Twirl. Set the Angle to 300° and click OK. Press D to deselect and then press Cmd/Ctrl+T to resize the image horizontally and stretch vertically to match the perspective of the ocean. Add a layer mask and get rid of the hard edges.



Go to File>Place Embedded ‘Ocean. jpg’. Hold Shift and drag the handles to resize. Now create a mask. Go to Layer> Layer Mask>Reveal All. With the mask layer active, grab the Gradient tool (G). Choose the Black/White preset, hold Shift and drag from the top to the middle of the page.

Whip up a whirlpool


Go to File>Place Embedded ‘Whirlpool.jpg’. Hold Shift and drag the corner handles to fit the image on the canvas. Go to Layer> Rasterize>Smart Object. Grab the Elliptical Marquee tool, hold Shift and drag a selection from the top left to bottom right.

Enhance the effect


Complete the background

Create a hole by using the Elliptical Marquee tool to create a selection in the middle of the whirlpool. Grab the Brush tool (B). Hold Opt/Alt and sample the dark green colour from the image, then paint the selection. Now deselect the image and paint outside the hole to add shadows.

Place the house


Go to File>Place Embedded ‘House. jpg’. Grab the Quick Selection tool (A) and select the sky around the house. Go to Select>Inverse (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+I) then create a layer mask. Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection.

Want to re-apply a filter? Press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+F!

Expert tip Working with brushes

Add shadows and highlights

Duplicate and mask


Now duplicate the image, press Cmd/Ctrl+J and hide the original House layer. With the House Copy layer active, go to Layer>Rasterize>Smart Object. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T and make the house smaller. Now add a new layer mask and paint over it to make the image look as though it is floating in water.

Place the woman


First, download this image by Marcus Ranum. Go to http://mjranum-stock. and place it on the canvas. To correct the colour, go to Filter>Camera RAW filter. Set Exposure to 0.90, Contrast: 25, Highlights: -100, Shadows: -25, Whites: 30, Blacks: -65, Clarity: 20 and click OK.

Bring in more images



Create a new layer, press Shift+Cmd/ Ctrl+N. Name it Shadows/highlights, tick ‘Use previous layer to create clipping mask’, change Mode to Soft Light and tick ‘Fill with neutral colour’. Grab a soft Brush (B) and use black to paint the shadows, and white to add the highlights.

Select and Mask


Grab the Quick Selection tool (A) and select the woman. In the Options bar, click Select and Mask. In Properties, set View Mode to Overlay, grab the Refine Edge Brush tool (R) and refine the mask, then click OK. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T, resize the image and move closer to the house.

Place ‘Phone Booth.jpg’. Using your favourite selection tool, select the phone booth and add a layer mask. Resize it and paint over the mask to make it ‘float’. Add a Levels adjustment layer and set the Inputs to 0, 0.80, 255 and Output to 0, 200. Now clip the layers.

Use the Brush panel to select the brushes and change their options. You can adjust the size, flip it, define the angle or modify the roundness and spacing. In this tutorial, you may need to adjust the angle before applying the brush. You can also modify the brushes using the Free Transform tool and masks. Paint the layer, hit Cmd/Ctrl+T, and drag the handles to scale the brush or to warp around. Apply a layer mask to control the opacity of the marks or to hide the unwanted areas.

Boost shadows and highlights


Let’s intensify the shadows and highlights. Create a new Soft Light layer as in step 10. Take your Brush tool (B) and with black as your colour, paint over the left side and under the arm to enhance the shadows. Now using white, paint highlights on the face and right side, trying to match the light source.

Place even more images


Place the ‘Clocks’, ‘Window’ and ‘Balloon’ images. Distribute them over the canvas as shown above to create a dreamlike composition. Use the techniques you’ve just learned and add layer masks, paint on shadows and highlights, and use adjustment layers to make colour and tonal corrections.


Tutorial Composite surreal artwork

Use custom brushes


Go to Edit>Presets>Preset Manager. Click Load and locate ‘Splash_ Brushes.abr’, then press Done. Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N). Name it Brushes. Grab the Brush tool (B) and hit F5. Choose a custom brush and paint the ‘splash’ underneath the images. Add as many splash layers as you want.

Complete the effect


Place the lightning


Now go to File>Place Embedded ‘Lightning.jpg’ and hit Return/Enter. Change the blending mode for the layer to Screen. In the Layers panel, drag it and place over the Sky layer. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T and adjust the size.

Go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur. Set the Angle to 75°, Distance: 100 pixels and click OK. Change the blend mode to Screen. Press Cmd/Ctrl+L and adjust the Inputs to 45, 1.00, 70. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J). Scale down and drag over the Sky layer to make the rain more intense.

Closer look Work smarter in Photoshop

Let it rain


Create a new layer on top of the layer stack and fill it with black. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+T and scale the layer to 150%. Go to Filter>Pixelate>Mezzotint and choose Type: Fine Dots. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set Radius to 2 pixels.

Make the finishing touches


Click the top layer in the layer stack then press Shift+Cmd/ Ctrl+Opt/Alt+E to create a snapshot. Go to Filter>Lens Correction. In Custom, adjust the Vignette Amount to -100. Now go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Color Lookup. In Device Link, choose Smokey and reduce the layer’s Opacity to 50%. SMART OBJECTS

Smart Objects enable you to apply filters and adjustments without affecting the original pixels. To create a Smart Object, right-click the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object.


Make your own custom brush by creating a high-contrast image (black and white), then go to Edit> Define Brush Preset.


Groups are the best way to keep your layers organised. Hold ShiŠ and select the layers you want to group, then press Cmd/Ctrl+G.



Use the new Select and Mask command to select and refine the mask. Go to Select> Select and Mask. Grab the tools and tweak the options to create precise masks.

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Tutorial Make incredible 3D text effects

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

Essentials Works with Elements



What you’ll learn

Get to grips with 3D space and discover how to create 3D text

Time taken 2-3 hours

Expert Jenni Sanders “When 3D modelling started becoming more accessible to the everyday designer, I knew it would be a game changer. The possibilities that it opens up are crazy! “From the moment I saw my dad manipulate photos as a child, I was hooked and have since worked entirely within the industry of photography and Photoshop.”


Make incredible 3D text effects

Learn how to combine Photoshop’s 3D tools with photomanipulation techniques for an eye-catching typography project


ven if you’re quite comfortable with Photoshop and are confident you can make some pretty cool edits, you may still find yourself a bit stumped when you make the switch to 3D. 3D space is very different to 2D space in Photoshop – your layers all of a sudden have a whole new dimension! Not only are you able to transform your layer objects, but now you can also move your camera. The appearance of your objects are also affected by new things like environment and lighting. This tutorial goes through some basic 3D techniques, as well as how to quickly turn text into 3D extrusions. Once we have our 3D text

positioned and textured, then it’s back to 2D space, and the tutorial takes you through adding premade assets to complete the image. It’s important to note that the 3D capabilities were only introduced in the CS6 Extended edition of Photoshop, so if you are using an earlier version of the software you won’t be able to follow the 3D section of the tutorial. However, we didn’t want CS users to feel left out, so you can find the ‘TASTY.psd’ file on the FileSilo for you to load up and join us for the 2D work. You might find that using 3D tools is a bit heavy on your computer system, so make sure that you save regularly and stay patient!

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Set up your canvas


Create a landscape canvas, around 3000 x 2000px, or a bit smaller if your computer struggles with large files. Insert the ‘Background’ image from the FileSilo via File>Place. Position it so that it fills the canvas and hit Enter when you’re done.

Create the text


Select the Type tool (T) and choose a blocky sans serif font – or download one from Type your word, making sure none of the letters touch. Adjust letter spacing in the Characters menu and increase Tracking to above 0. When you’re happy, go to Type>Extrude to 3D.

Add some caps


In the Properties menu, click the icon along the top row that looks like a quarter circle and two mini arrows. In here, change the Width and Angle both to 9%. Then, click the Contour preview and select Cone from the drop-down menu.

Prepare your environment


In the 3D menu, select Environment. Look for IBL, click the small icon next to the preview and click New Texture. Make a 1000 x 1000px canvas. Fill the background with black and use the Ellipse tool (U) to draw two ovals: top #ffd7af, bottom #d3f2ff. Save and return to your render.


You may get asked to switch to a 3D workspace. Click Yes and a new menu will appear. Your text will now be 3D! In the new 3D menu, click the ‘layer’ with the 3D T icon next to it. In the Properties menu, set the Extrusion Depth to 20cm.

Rotate the camera


Making sure you have the Move tool selected (V) and your 3D text layer selected, use the Orbit camera tool at the bottom left of the work area to rotate to the left of the text. Play with the Pan, Zoom and Rotate tools until you’re happy.

Split and re-position


Adjust the extrude

Select your 3D text, go to 3D>Split Extrusion. A warning may appear, so click OK. Select your new letter layers and use the widget to adjust each one. Move by dragging the arrows, and rotate by dragging the small arcs. The controls can be awkward, so play around and stay patient!

Make a diffuse texture


Inside the letters groups, hold Cmd/ Ctrl and click Front Inflation Material. Click the icon next to Diffuse, select Load Texture. Navigate to ‘Diffuse Texture.psd’ from the FileSilo. You can go to Diffuse>Edit Texture to make adjustments. Set Shine, Reflection and Roughness to 0% and then Bump to 15%.


Tutorial Make incredible 3D text effects

Expert tip Working in 3D

We use two different types of texture map in this tutorial: diffuse and bump. Diffuse maps are in almost all 3D work; they are sometimes referred to as colour maps. Diffuse maps can be a single colour or any bitmap image (which is what we used). Bump maps give the illusion of depth, without changing your 3D geometry. A bump map will be greyscale – white appears raised and black appears flat. Go into Edit Texture of each to look at the maps and play with them.

Make a bevel texture



With all the Front Inflation Materials still selected, click the folder icon next to the Bump slider and pick Load Texture. Navigate to ‘Bump Texture.psd’ from the FileSilo. If loading textures to all the letters at once is too much for your computer, simply do them one at a time.

Now to select the front bevel texture for the letters. Load the same extrusion texture from before. Edit the UB Properties again, this time changing U/X Scale to 120% and V/Y to 420%. Set Shine to 30%, Reflection to 25% and Roughness to 0%.

Finalise the stalks


Insert the stalk


Go to File>Place Linked and navigate to ‘Stalk1.psd’ on the FileSilo. Move this layer above the S. If your letters are positioned differently than this tutorial, the stalks might not line up, so you may need to use masks to adjust them, or download your own stalks online!

Go to File>Place ‘Linked Stalks 3, 4 and 5’. Move 3 to the right side of the Y, 4 underneath the first T, and 5 to the left of the T. Remember that you can always go back to your 3D layer and re-position the letters if they don’t fit.


Create extrusion texture

Add a bump texture

Paint text shadows



Select the extrusion material for the letters (Cmd/Ctrl and pick the materials). Go to Diffuse>Load Texture and grab ‘Extrusion Material.psd’ from the FileSilo. Click the icon again and select Edit UV Properties – do this one letter at a time. Set U/X Scale to 40% and V/Y to 600%.

Mask the stalk


Go to File>Place Linked and navigate to ‘Stalk1.psd’ on the FileSilo. Move this layer to below the S. Add a layer mask and paint in black to hide any of the stalk that goes over the T, making it look as though it goes behind it.

Create a new Solid Color adjustment layer with colour #182813. Drag the layer to just above the 3D layer, Ctrl/right-click>Create Clipping Mask. Fill the mask with black. Set your Brush to 10% Opacity or lower and gradually paint in white areas on the letters where the leaves/ stalks would cast a shadow.

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Paint floor shadows


Darken the seeds


Create another Solid Color layer, The seeds lost some of their dark colour #325634. Fill the mask with colour thanks to our bump map black and set the layer Opacity to around 45% earlier. Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment – or whatever matches the shadows best. You layer above everything. Set the Saturation to may need to change the colour. Use 100% -92 and the Lightness to -24. Fill the mask in white to paint in shadows that the stalks and black and paint in white over the seeds to leaves would cast on the floor. darken them again.


Add a Levels adjustment layer. Set the Black value to 23, Grey to 1.06 and White to 238 to increase contrast. Then, add a Vibrance adjustment layer and increase Vibrance to 100%.

Create droplets Quickly add droplets by creating a Solid Color layer with #ffA9B7, set the blend mode to Darken then fill the layer mask in black. Ctrl/right-click>Blending Options and add Bevel & Emboss, Inner Shadow, Satin and Drop Shadow – check out the annotations for the different settings. Once you’ve got the Blending Options set up, simply paint on the layer mask using white in small, round shapes and it will add ‘water’ effects as you draw.


Add a Curves adjustment layer. From the RGB drop-down, select Blue and drag the top-right point to the bottom right, and the bottom-left point to the top left. Change this adjustment layer’s blend mode to Soft Light, Opacity: 30%.

Render your text

Make final adjustments

Take it further

Add a colour effect


Go back to your 3D menu and select the TASTY group. Make sure you’re happy with the 3D settings, then hit the Render button in the bottom centre of the panel. This will take a while, depending on your computer spec, but afterwards you will have a high-quality image!


Select Bevel & Emboss, choose Inner Bevel, Smooth. Direction: Up, Size: 13, SoŽen: 10. Shading Angle: 108, Gloss Contour: Cone, Highlight: White at 100% Screen, Shadows: Purple at 48% Multiply.


Add an Inner Shadow the same purple as the Bevel & Emboss shadow colour. Set the layer to Multiply, 35% Opacity, Distance: 3px, Choke: 0 and Size: 7.



Check the Satin option. Set the colour to a vibrant pink at 50% Opacity, Angle: 90º, Distance: 50px, Size: 80px.

Add a small drop shadow using a dark purple. Blend Mode: Multiply, Opacity: 88%. Set the Angle to 108º Distance: 3px, Spread: 10%, Size: 1px.


Tutorial Blend textures into your portraits On the FileSilo Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Works with

Blend textures into your portraits Start image




What you’ll learn How to merge disparate textures and blend modes

Time taken

3 hours

Expert Mark White “I usually avoid using nebula textures in my work. It’s sometimes far too easy and obvious to insert one and set it to Screen, but if you use a little more imagination and combine nebulae with other textures, you can create something really original. “As senior staff writer on Photoshop Creative, I’ve learned all kinds of quick tips to help with even the most impressive-looking pictures.”

Combine the elements for a colourful and creative abstract portrait


hen we think of the amazing things that Photoshop can create, it’s often very three-dimensional fantasy scenes that come to mind. Creating much more atmospheric, abstract portraits, though, can be just as creative, mixing textures and techniques to make something completely unique. The mixing power is brought about by blend modes. As the name suggests, they’re responsible for blending pixels from each layer to create the finished effect, whether you’re looking to only show colour from a layer, light or dark pixels, or a mix of everything. The best way to find which layers work

best with which blend modes is just to experiment: you may stumble across an amazing effect, or discover something you didn’t realise you could do. The great thing about this tutorial is that you never achieve the same result twice. The combination of textures, filters and the way that you blend them all together guarantees a unique image every time, from the positioning of your marble textures to the way you Liquify the fire. Photoshop is capable of producing incredible photomanipulation scenes, but sometimes it’s how far you can take a simple portrait that really highlights its power.

Start building textures


Open ‘start_image.jpg’ and insert ‘marble1.jpg’; set to Soft Light and duplicate to create the marbled wash to the portrait. Insert ‘nebula.jpg’, hit Mask and then invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I). Grab a white brush (B) and mask in over the hair. Do the same with ‘rednebula.jpg’ and ‘galaxy2.jpg’ and set these to Screen.


Layer the effect


Start adding more textures: place ‘marble2.jpg’, ‘galaxy.jpg’ and ‘galaxy5.jpg’. Set these to Screen too. Alt/ Opt+drag to your start layer to the top of the stack and set to Overlay to bring a little more contrast back into the picture.

Create the marble


Insert ‘marble1.jpg’ and set to Multiply. This will add more texture over the lighter shades of the image, and enable you to drop in some more nebula textures over the top to balance out the lights and darks of the image.


Tutorial Blend textures into your portraits Expert tip Using Overlay

The Overlay and So Light blend modes are the perfect medium between the Screen and Multiply modes. When you desaturate an Overlay layer, it will darken and lighten the pixels below with whatever tones are on that specific layer; this makes it good for mixing textures into your work, such as the rock, mountains and water textures we’ve used here. Use So Light for a more subtle finish than Overlay, and experiment with other blend modes.

Tweak the colours


Alt/Opt+drag the start layer to the top of the stack: set to Overlay. Create a Curves adjustment as shown, a Vibrance layer (+20 Vibrance) and a gradient map with the supplied ‘fo_gradient.grd’ set to Soft Light. This will boost colour; Elements users try Levels and Hue/Saturation.

Place another galaxy


Insert ‘galaxy3.jpg’ and desaturate, either by hitting Cmd/ Ctrl+Shift+U or clipping a Hue/Saturation adjustment to the layer. Set to Multiply, 60% Opacity and increase the contrast either with Levels or Curves to create this noisy effect. Mask so that it only appears in the background to the left behind the subject.

Paint up the eyes


Insert a new Soft Light layer and paint #25baff over the iris, before adding another Soft Light layer and painting #5de573; both these colours are supplied as swatches. Insert one more layer and create two white dots in each eye. Then mask a Curves layer to brighten the eyes.


Blend in comets




Merge everything into one layer at the top of the layer stack by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/ Opt+Shift+E. Go to Filter>Liquify (Elements users: Filter>Distort>Liquify) and drag the texture subtly to create an abstract marble pattern around the subject’s shoulders. Hit OK when you’re done.

Work on facial texture


Insert ‘rock2.jpg’ and set to Overlay. Resize and place over the subject’s face, before setting to Multiply, 40% Opacity. Insert ‘mountains.jpg’ and clip to your rock texture. Mask the rock texture so it appears a little more on the more shadowy cheek.

Insert ‘comet.jpg’ and duplicate it twice. Position the comets as they are in the final image using Transform (Cmd/ Ctrl+T), then set the biggest to Screen, the second biggest to Color Dodge, 90% Opacity, and the smallest to Screen, 60% Opacity. Mask the smallest comet behind the subject’s shoulder.

Adjust the contrast


Insert ‘galaxy2.jpg’ and set to Color Burn, 30% Opacity; duplicate and mask so the duplicate layer is only visible in the background behind the subject’s shoulder. Brighten the image again using Curves or Levels; this will bring a space-like contrast back into the picture.

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Make the 3D effect

Insert fire and sparks


Insert ‘fire.jpg’ and ‘sparks.jpg’; set both to Screen. Position each as you see them in the final image and Liquify the right of the fire texture to blend further. Place ‘pool. jpg’, desaturate and set to Overlay too.


Duplicate the sparks layer twice. With the first layer, nudge 20 pixels to the right and with the second, 20 to the left. With the first layer, hit Cmd/Ctrl+U and change the Hue to -40; change the second’s Hue to +180. Mask this effect over the subject’s hair and the body.

Texturise the piece


Insert ‘bark.jpg’ and again desaturate. Set to Overlay and position over the darker side of the subject’s face. Hit Mask and invert, before masking in the cracks. Insert ‘crack.jpg’, set to Multiply and do the same again. Place ‘glass.jpg’ set to Screen and mask around the eye as shown above.

What you can do with it Create a phone wallpaper While this image would look incredible as a film poster or even a book cover, the vibrant final artwork that you end up producing in this tutorial makes it perfect for screen display. Wallpapers are becoming more and more highresolution, so creating such a detailed, multi-layered and textured background can really bring out the best of your device. You could even use the Creative Cloud app to transfer your final image from your desktop to your phone. Add your own touches, and you’ll end up with a wallpaper no one else has!

Blur the piece


Merge everything into a new layer at the top of the layers again. Go to Blur>Blur Gallery>Field Blur, choose 15px; increase Light and Color Bokeh (Elements users: use Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur: 30px). Merge this bokeh over odd sparks, the top-left corner and the smallest comet.

Sharpen and reduce noise


Finally, merge everything into one layer again, and go to Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise. Set Strength: 10 with all other values set to 0. Now merge again, go to Filter>Other>High Pass and choose 6, before setting this layer to Overlay in order to sharpen your whole piece. DIMENSIONS

Save as 1080x1920, but set the resolution to 512dpi for a more high-quality finish to your image.


By making the focus of the image roughly in the middle, you can avoid the time and ‘slide to unlock’ text when you apply the image as a phone wallpaper.


Resource project Make your own rust textures PEROXIDE

Rust is a reaction of mixed chemicals; you will need hydrogen peroxide to make the reaction occur.


Finding metal to make rust can be difficult. Find steel that is non-galvanised so the rust will appear.

On the FileSilo


In order to prep the metal for rust, you have to buff it with any steel wool.

Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Make your own rust textures Learn how to make rusted metal textures and use them in Photoshop projects


ust is a by-product of degradation and abandonment. There is something charming about it though; the more loved something is, the more likely it is to get worn down. Thanks to the modern obsession with the past, everything vintage and retro is more in style than ever. Shabby chic interior design makes new look old, which is kind of what we’re doing here.


Rust is caused by a reaction between iron and oxygen. Over time, anything made of iron will turn into rust. Steel also corrodes and the result is called rust. Since rust is so destructive to metals, many modern metals are treated through a process called galvanisation to protect them. Galvanisation is when a layer of zinc, which adheres to steel, coats the steel. Of course there are other ways of protecting

from rust including using bluing, inhibitors, and even painting over it. In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a layer of rust on top of steel. Tin also works for this process as long as it is cheap enough. The method in this tutorial is additive, meaning the rust is being built on top of the metal and not eating into it. This is the fastest way to create realistic rust.

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Making real rust Create real rust cheaply and easily

Measure the metal

Buying small pieces of metal is not 01 always an option, so you may have to buy bigger than you need. If you are going to make multiple rust pieces, it’s important you measure out each piece; 5”x7” is a good size to aim for because any bigger and the sharp edges become unwieldy and dangerous.

Prep the metal

Using your steel wool, buff and sand the metal fairly evenly. You should begin to see light scratching as the steel wool gets rubbed in. This enables the rust to form on the metal.


Cut the metal

Remove rough edges

The simplest way to cut metal that is not too thick is to use a hand saw. It will take a bit of time, but it is safer than an electric saw and easier to buy and use.

Of course, if you saw metal, the edges 03 are sharp and dangerous. Be sure to use a file and remove any jagged bits so you

Apply the acid

Spritz and spray


There are multiple acids you can use to coat the metal; hydrochloric/ muriatic acid is more dangerous, but vinegar is not as powerful. Pour your acid of choice onto the metal, let it sit for a minute and then dry it off with a rag.


can handle the pieces safely and comfortably.

Fill a spray bottle with hydrogen 06 peroxide, then spray the metal a couple of times – not enough to soak it; just

enough to cause the chemicals to react. Let the metal dry – the higher the temperature, the quicker the reaction.

Different rusts How different acids create different rust effects HYDROCHLORIC/ MURIATIC ACID

Since this acid is so strong, the rust will be dense with high coverage; useful for covering large areas.


Treating with vinegar before spraying hydrogen peroxide will provide a splotchy rust pattern. This is useful for rust brushes and heavy rust spots.


Just applying hydrogen peroxide onto the metal that has been rubbed with steel wool will created light rusting. This effect is very useful, just not as dramatic as the others.


Resource project Make your own rust textures

Add rust to compositions How to age digital metal with your textures

Clip the rust


Blend it in

Select the part of your image you want to rust. Then create a clipping mask over it. Reposition the rust until you are happy with how it lays on top of the sign.


Select the Blending Options from the Layer Style window. Then blend the rust layer by dragging the right slider until the rust is more transparent. The exact settings will depend on the rust texture you use.

Six rust textures We’ve provided six rust textures of different levels of intensity. These textures are free for you to use in your personal projects.




The easy way to make the rust look more realistic is to use a rust colour to paint spots on a layer under the rust layer. You can then duplicate your rust layer, put it above the paint layer and lower the opacity.


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Project focus Marble in Photoshop

Marble in Photoshop

When Martine Strøm was asked to create artwork for a magazine spread, she chose to boldly go where she’d never been before: using marble textures and Photoshop

About the artist Martine Strøm martinemaya7f4a

Martine Strøm is a 26-year-old Norwegian graphic designer and illustrator at ANTI design agency. She attended Strykejernet Art School in Oslo in addition to the Westerdals School of Communication. At the time of writing, Martine’s work has been viewed more than 200,000 times on Behance. Furthermore, she has also been featured by the site’s Illustration, Advertising and Graphic Design galleries as well as the company’s Student Show site. Visit and see more.

Name of the project Marbling Space


hen Martine Strøm was commissioned to create some artwork for a magazine article about space, it gave her the idea to use one of her favourite real-media techniques. A long-time admirer of marble images, Martine created all the textures that she needed for the project using ink and paper, before letting it dry and photographing it in high resolution. From here, she used the textures for the planets. ‘Marbling Space’ has been viewed around 40,000 times now, and has been featured by two Behance galleries. But how did Martine get into marbling and what was the inspiration for this project?

How did this project begin?

The brief for this project was to create illustrations for the magazine A New Type of Imprint, for a piece about the universe. I was free to choose both motif and illustration style.

At first I drew lots of small sketches of ideas and then I found illustration styles I thought might fit well with them. I sent three ideas to the magazine (hoping they would choose a detailed pencil drawing I had started on), and they wanted me to further explore the marbled planets idea.

Had you used marble textures before or was this something completely new to you?

Before this project I had recently attended a weekend class in paper marbling, or ebru as it is traditionally called. I had only seen it inside very old books and in various Pinterest posts before that, and was thrilled to find a class for it in Oslo. I discovered that the textures and patterns on the planets (as seen from Earth) greatly resemble marbled paper and was finally able to make use of them. Since childhood I have always loved to draw and work with my hands. I remember my mum taking me to her job and letting me play with Paint on one of the computers in her office. That is probably my first encounter with digital tools. I got my first laptop and a license for Photoshop Elements 5 through school and it was love at first click. I spent hours trying all the different filters and effects, and I started drawing with the touchpad.

So how did you go from the sketches to the finished project?

I wanted to create something simple, inspiring and visually pleasing. I created the marble effects and realised I needed to take pictures of my marbled paper in higher resolution. Some of the sheets were a bit wobbly and needed some extra adjustments in Photoshop to look good. I made a dark-blue background and painted lots of stars with the Brush tool. Then I pasted in a sheet of marbled paper and masked out a circle to make a planet. This already looked quite nice, but it appeared very flat. To enhance the feeling of a round planet I painted some shadow in separate multiplied layers. Finally I did some small colourcorrections to make it pop, and sent it to the magazine for print. Poster set


You then took the project even further, didn’t you?



I started out with small stamp-sized idea sketches with pen and paper, of everything from a person being lost in space, to a new version of the Voyager Golden Record.

I explored a few different techniques I would like to work with, and aer some feedback from the client, chose to work further with the marbled planets idea.


I would definitely like to keep exploring illustrations with marbling and other textures, but picturing other things. Landscapes, animals and maybe a children’s book: that I would love to do!

Individual papers

Yes, because I found this project fun and very inspiring to do, I decided that I would make a poster series with all the planets in our solar system, and also some fantasy planets in various compositions.

How was Photoshop key in bringing your marble art to life?

My favourite tools in Photoshop are probably the Brush, Content-Aware, masking and Clone tools. For this project I think I used the masks (for cutting out the planets from marbled paper) and the Brush tool (for adding shadow/ depth to the planets and background) the most. Aside from the digital aspect of the

All images © Martine Strøm

Planet set

Colour combinations

project, my advice for people who want to work with marble textures would be to experiment a lot with colour combinations. And for making the marblings, it takes a while to get the hang of it, so collaborating with someone with more experience might be a good idea. When you have made enough patterns, be sure to take high-quality pictures of them before going into Photoshop.

The project has been seen by thousands of people now: that must be satisfying for you

When we look up at the stars, or see images of planets and nebulas, we can’t help but feel

small and filled with wonder. I think a lot of people draw inspiration from space, and naturally a lot of people enjoy projects inspired by the universe. This one in particular was an interesting mix of traditional and digital media, and the client was very happy with the result; they loved that the illustration in itself was like an abstract piece of art as well as an illustration to their article. They also posted it on their blog, and told me people contacted them asking where they could buy posters. So yeah, I’m very happy that some people appreciate my exploring of techniques, and so much more than I expected.




Not sure how to make a splash? Follow these invaluable tips and make a name for yourself in your chosen field

Master the hashtag Most social-media networks use hashtags. These are metadata tags that enable people looking for something they are interested in to search content. Use hashtags for your work to appear in relevant searches.


Be consistent Make sure that all your profiles and portfolios use the same name to link them together, whether this is simply your full name or a design alter ego. A consistent online presence will help to build a name for yourself.

Link everything together All your profiles and networks should link. Your main website portfolio needs to have an easy way to get to your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Behance and so on, so that visitors can choose their preferred option.

Start a conversation The best way of getting your own work noticed is simply to be vocal about the work of others. Make constructive comments on their designs, ask questions and start to build up a network of like-minded artists.

Upload to our gallery The Photoshop Creative gallery is a good way of getting your work noticed. Not only will fellow Photoshop fans be able to see your designs, but the team often use the gallery to find artists to feature within the magazine.




Show your artwork off to the world, turn your hobby into a sideline money earner, or even build a career from your Photoshop skills

f you’ve been working with Photoshop for a while and have started to build up a few images that you’re proud of, you might want to start sharing them with more people. Getting your work out there gives you the opportunity to receive feedback, which is invaluable for improving your work. It’s also a good way of engaging with the art and design community. In this feature, we look at how you can showcase your work online and get it seen, as well as turn your hobby into a sideline revenue stream, or even start a whole new career from your Photoshop skills.


In order to get your work seen, you need a decent platform to showcase your art. This doesn’t mean you need to learn complex coding and build a website from scratch; there are plenty of websites dedicated to the

art and design community that enable you to create attractive and effective portfolios quickly and for free. Don’t be discouraged from putting your work online because you’re worried it’s not good enough or there is already a lot of similar work out there. Emad Helail ( suggests that whatever genre or style of art you create, there will always be others doing something similar, but you shouldn’t “waste your time thinking about this matter. [Just think about] you and your [own artwork].” Having a personal portfolio online is as much for you collecting your work in one place, as it is having it seen by others. A good place to start is to create profiles on the main web communities and start populating them with your work. DeviantArt ( has been around for a long time and remains a popular platform for digital artists. While there are sections for

every genre of work, it is most commonly used for digital paintings. It’s a good place to join a strong contingent of like-minded artists and get valuable feedback on your work. Behance is another free web community that is incredibly popular for graphic design, photography, photomanipulation, illustration and website design. It covers the whole spectrum of artists, from professionals and studios to students and hobbyists. With so many artists and designers on Behance, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Nikola Miljkovic (aka NKML – www. has a portfolio on Behance, alongside profiles on Facebook (, Instagram ( and Talenthouse ( nikola-miljkovic). With over 45,000 project views on Behance, this is one artist who knows the key to getting your work noticed:



Check out how one artist has used Adobe’s showcase platform to great effect If you have a Creative Cloud subscription, you have Adobe Portfolio (www. Digital artist Rodrigo Marinelli has used Adobe Portfolio with great success (https://rodrigo-marinelli., using a template that showcases as many images as possible on the homepage. He has also added section headers and has links to his published work and contact details – simple, but effective.

This artwork can also be seen with motion on Instagram (www., which has attracted a lot of interest

“For getting publicity on Behance, you need to have a good project, but also a better visual presentation. [For example] add close-ups of your work, add any original stock photos you use, put your work on a product mock-up, etc. Also, the most important thing for gaining followers is that you need to appreciate other projects and give feedback.” This latter point is about building a community on your chosen platform. If you respond to artwork you like, they are more likely to come and look at your work in return. Jake Lovelock ( jakeldesigns) agrees that this is key: “If you’re looking to get your work out there for the first time, I would say to try and build a small community of people. Share each other’s work and help each other out. Eventually that small community will grow, and more people will notice your work.” While you can easily use Behance or DeviantArt as your main online presence, you can also create a free or low-cost web portfolio. Adobe has launched its own service for creatives called Adobe Portfolio (see the boxout), which is linked with Behance and is free to Creative Cloud subscribers. Another good option favoured by artists and designers is Carbonmade (, which enters the world of pay-for website hosting, but it’s fairly reasonable (from $6 a month) and can be expanded if you choose to take your artwork further.


Having an online presence on as many web communities as possible is pretty much essential if you want your work to circulate in any meaningful way. Curators of art websites, for example Abduzeedo (http:// and From Up North (, and digital art magazines like Photoshop Creative, showcase the best work from the web, so you need to be present to be noticed.


Having a website portfolio is great, but it’s also important that you can share what is on there as widely as possible. This means getting to grips with social media, and it’s worth engaging on as many platforms as possible to spread your work to lots of different people. You may find that one

Behance is one of the most commonly used platforms for getting work seen

© Nikola Miljkovic NKML

network suits your work and gets a better reception than another, so there is a fair amount of trial and error. One of the most natural social-media platforms to use is Instagram – it’s designed for visuals after all. Building a good Instagram following means having a distinct style, as these are the most popular profiles. Curate your images carefully and decide which ones suit the style you want to present to the world. Also, avoid the use of the built-in filters so that your work is shown as you designed it. Get to grips with hashtags too; this is how new people will find you. Common ones like #photoshop, #digitalart and so on are widely used, but don’t be afraid to also use ones that are specific to your style such as #illustration, #stilllife, #cgi, so that when other users are



Jake Lovelock’s artwork has built him a large following on Twitter, where he engages in the art community regularly

© Emad Helail

hunting for a particular look, they may come across your work. Daniel Aristizábal is one artist who has proven popular on Instagram, with over 80,000 followers to date (http://instagram. com/darias88). Of all the platforms he uses to promote his work, it’s been the most successful. “I got lucky to be honest,” he says when asked how he did it. “I started to post stuff that I’d done for a while, but I didn’t have a big presence online. I remember that I opened Behance (www. and a few months later Instagram (this was three years ago). Right from the beginning, people responded positively to my work, and I started to gain a strong following. Instagram interviewed me for their own account and that gave me a huge boost.”

Emad Helail posts his designs to Behance and runs a Facebook page to keep followers up to date

© Jake Lovelock

Use courses to better yourself Online courses cover everything you could possibly imagine, and they’re a great way of expanding your skills and knowledge. If you want to improve your Photoshop skills, there are all kinds of courses. The video tutorials offered with this magazine are a great place to start, but for a more in-depth course, take a look at websites like and Maybe you are happy with your ability, and just want to improve how your designs are seen. Websites like have social-media courses that are reasonably priced. In particular, take a look at Social Media Marketing Simplified For Artists/Creatives. If you decide you want to make some money from your art, all three of the websites mentioned here have courses aimed at building your portfolio, best practices for working with clients, working as a freelancer and many more.

Daniel Aristizábal has built an impressive Instagram following of over 80,000

It’s hard to avoid the ‘big two’ when it comes to social media, and it’s important to have a profile on both Facebook and Twitter to showcase your work. Facebook enables you to create a Page for your designs, so you don’t have to use your personal profile to post your art. As most people have a Facebook profile, it’s a good way to encourage engagement with your work, in addition to getting your designs shared quickly and easily. Twitter might not be the most obvious format – it’s for short and sweet sentiments rather than glorious artwork, however it does have a strong art community. Much like

Instagram, using the right hashtags is important to get noticed, but with limited characters these need to be selective. Jake Lovelock ( says that out of all the networks he uses, it’s Twitter (@JakeLDesign) where he feels his work is best recognised: “Over the last few months I have built up a small community of people I talk to, and they support and share my work with their friends, which helps to get my work out there.” Pinterest is another great option for showcasing visuals. If you have a lot of different styles or types of work, it’s easy to create different boards for each. It is a little


ADVANCED harder to build up followers over some of the other social networks, but followers also tend to be more loyal and revisit boards they follow regularly.

Society6 offers an easy solution to start selling your artwork on a variety of products


© Daniel Aristizábal


Once you start to get some appreciation from your artwork online, and begin to build up a following, you might think about whether you could make a little money from your talent. There are a lot of simple ways to start a design-based sideline that can give you a revenue stream. For example, if you are already on DeviantArt, that has a couple of options built in for you to make money from. You can offer commissions via your profile to create bespoke pieces of digital art for followers based on your unique style, which enables you to set your own prices and work to your own schedule. It also has a store (http://, where you can choose your uploaded images to be sold as prints, as well as a range of other products. You keep a certain percentage of the profits from each product sold. DeviantArt is popular as so many people are on it and the images are already uploaded, making it simple to list them as prints. However, this also means that it is a fairly saturated store, and it can be hard to make much through this method unless your work is chosen as a ‘Daily Deviation’, which highlights it to the community. There are plenty of other websites that give you the chance to sell your artwork as prints and other products, with your own storefront that you can promote via your social-media channels. One of the best-

Daniel Aristizábal sells prints of his surreal works on Fab ( as a way of making money from his work

known in the creative world is Society6 ( You post your artwork, and the company produces, packages and ships it for you. For most print sizes and types, you can set your own royalties and prices from a base price, whereas for other products, like mobilephone cases, royalties are set. You can offer the same print in many different formats, which expands the appeal. While anyone can set up on society6, some sites, like, are more selective, but this also means that you could earn more for your designs. Daniel Aristizábal ( danielaristizabal) sells prints on Fab, and thinks that it does help to build your profile and earn some money: “Other than making your work a tangible piece, the extra money always helps. I do suggest trying to cut a


Mike Kus is a designer, illustrator and photographer who knows how to draw an online crowd Mike Kus ( has a huge online following. His Instagram profile (https://, which he uses to showcase his photography, has a whopping 842,000 followers. “The key to building up a solid Instagram following is to post good shots, regularly. If you can keep this up, your following will grow. You’ll also build relationships with your followers via the platform. With the addition of Instagram stories, you can now share your process and daily working life, which is another great way to engage with your followers.” For Mike’s design work he primarily uses, perfect for engaging with other designers: “Dribbble has a great community. There’s a lot of engagement and it’s a great place to receive feedback on your work.” He also shares his work on Twitter (@mikekus – 17.4K followers) and Behance ( His advice for getting your work out there is “to create work on a regular basis and share it across multiple platforms. Use the platforms best suited to your work and post your best work on all of them. Also, post your experiments and personal side projects. It all helps to build your profile, and gives potential clients a good picture of who you are and where your skills lie.”


YOUR WORK SEEN nice deal directly with the site. They usually offer you a pretty low revenue, but sometimes you can negotiate a little.” Design By Humans (www. is a selling website that has built up an artistic community, as well as being a go-to place to turn your designs into t-shirts and prints. Profits are fixed, but it is possible to earn good rates with the right design if your work is suited to t-shirts. Also, by being part of the greater community, you get to interact and learn from fellow designers, which can enhance your profile further.


For those with the right skillset and talent, Photoshop can become a career. Maybe you are at the beginning of your journey, for example a student due to graduate from an illustration, digital-art or graphic-design degree. Or maybe you have started to build a profile and get your work out there, and found that there is a large audience for your images and enough interest for you to consider making it your full-time career rather than a sideline hobby. In this industry, one thing tends to lead to another, and word of mouth is very important. But getting those first paying jobs is the hard part. First, you need to check that your online presence showcases the best that you can do. Prune out any work that you don’t think represents what you are capable of. It’s much better to have fewer amazing pieces than a portfolio padded out with everything you’ve ever created. Be active on social media and share your work widely. Sometimes, offering your services for free can be a good starting point. Getting some designs on your portfolio that are indicative of the kind of work you are looking for is important. Ask around your immediate network or approach local businesses to see if you can produce any work – creating a logo for a friend’s new business, for example, could lead to great things later down the line. It also pays to keep on top of what is fashionable at any given moment. Design trends come and go, and if you are offering the latest style or technique, you’ll be more in demand. Jake Lovelock (www.behance. net/jakeldesigns) agrees: “If you’re looking to start a career in design, the most important thing to do is to keep up to date with all of the current trends and styles that other designers are using for their work. This way you won’t lose possible clients because you’re not [current].” There are plenty of


Writing tutorials is a great way to share your Photoshop knowledge, get your work seen by thousands of people, and also make a little money to boot Throughout this magazine you will find some inspiring tutorials from fellow digital artists. Writing tutorials is a great way to get your work into a magazine, as well as a way to get paid. “Writing tutorials for Photoshop Creative is an honour,” says Rodrigo Marinelli (https:// “There isn’t a better way to get your work known. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about Photoshop and enhance your portfolio.” Tutorial Explore masks and layers

If you’re interested in being considered for a tutorial, the best route is to approach the editor. Send an email (photoshopcreative@ offering your services, with details of particular techniques or skills you could share, and always include a link to your website or portfolio. Don’t worry if you haven’t done anything like it before; Photoshop talent and an ability to break work down into manageable steps is more important than previous experience. Marinelli had never written a tutorial before and he now works regularly for the title. His advice is to “open Photoshop, start to create something new, and send your work to the magazine – that’s how I got my opportunity.” Tutorial Explore masks and layers

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Make skin corrections

Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Essentials Works with Elements



What you’ll learn

Use masks, blend modes and adjustment layers for a surreal scene

Time taken 5 hours

Expert Rodrigo Marinelli “The surreal style is one of my favourites because it lets you create anything you want without losing realism. Every time I start to create a scene using this art style, I know it is an opportunity to make something absolutely new. “I’m an art director and have 12 years of experience in advertising agencies. I learned and am still learning to use Photoshop through following tutorials.”

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Expert tip

On the FileSilo

To correct skin, first use the Patch tool (J), make a selection around the part that needs to be corrected and drag into a clean part. This is perfect for quickly erasing small imperfections. If you need to correct a specific part of the skin, use the Clone Stamp tool (S) with a selection. Use the Polygonal Lasso tool (L) to make the selection, then with the Clone Stamp tool, hold Alt, click in a clean part of the skin then click on the selected area.

Start images

Explore masks and layers

Discover the tricks to using masks, blend modes, highlights and shadows to create a vibrant yet surreal scene


ne of the most important skills to learn is how to create a scene that causes a big impact on those looking at your work. To achieve this, begin by having an original idea, choose an art style to follow, be very careful with the details, and always make it colourful. In this case, let’s create a scene where a woman pulls out her own face to release all the things that are inside her. As this image follows the surreal style, it’s necessary to pay attention to the details

Make a layer via copy

so the scene looks realistic. The big secret to working on this art style is to create a crazy scene and make it believable. To accomplish this scene, we shall use masks and the Pen tool to isolate areas of the woman’s face. We will also learn how to create layer groups with masks; how to add motion to photos by changing the blend modes to make the scene more dynamic; and how to use adjustment layers to make the final result more colourful.


Crop the face


Select the woman’s layers, place into a layer group (Cmd/Ctrl+G), then press the Add Layer Mask button. With the Pen tool (P), draw the shape of the woman’s face, just like the image above, activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Enter), set the Foreground colour to black and erase it (Alt+Del).

Select the woman’s layer group, activate the mask shape (hold Cmd/ Ctrl and press the mask icon), then go to the woman’s layer, select the Polygonal Lasso tool (L), Ctrl/right-click and choose the Layer via Copy option. Place the woman’s face on her extended hand.

Add highlights


Draw the hole


Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N) and place it behind the woman’s body. With the Pen tool, draw the shape of the outlines, activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Enter) and paint it (Alt+Del) with #b07c5f. Then, also with the Pen tool, draw the hole for the woman’s face and paint it black.

To give more depth to the scene, use the Pen tool (P) to draw some highlights on the woman’s body and face. Paint the shape of the highlights with white (step 5), then use Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur) at 20px. Change the blend mode to Soft Light.

Enhance the details


To add the flying elements, place ‘birds. psd’, ‘glider.jpg’, ‘hot_air_balloons.psd’, ‘balloon.jpg’, ‘butterfly.jpg’ and ‘aeroplane.jpg’. In all these photos, use the High Pass filter to enhance details. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/ Ctrl+J), go to Filter>Other>High Pass set to 1px, then change the blend mode to Soft Light.

Change the colours


Now add ‘flower_03.jpg’, ‘flower_04. jpg’, ‘flower_detail.psd’ and ‘flower_02. jpg’ and place behind the woman’s face, as shown above. To make the scene more interesting and colourful, duplicate the flower_02.jpg layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and use the Hue/Saturation tool (Cmd/Ctrl+U) set to 0, 55, 0 to change the colour to red.

Use the Motion Blur filter


Add the ‘leafs.psd’ and place it as shown above. Duplicate the layer_03 (Cmd/Ctrl+J), activate the selection (Alt+click on the layer icon), paint it with #c79462 (Alt+Del) and change the blend mode to Multiply. Then go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and set Angle: -25 and Distance: 30px.

Bring in elements


First add ‘fireworks.jpg’, ‘rocket_ smoke.psd’, ‘waterfall.psd’, ‘fireworks_02.jpg’ and ‘movement.psd’. To make the background disappear in all of these photos, all you have to do is change the blend mode to Screen. Place the photos as shown in the image above.

Add the final details


Add ‘bubble.jpg’, change the blend mode to Screen and place it as shown above. Create a new layer, select the Rectangle tool (U), use the Stroke at 18px and with white as your colour, make a rectangle and place it behind the woman.

Adjust the colour tone


Use the adjustment layers to set the colour tone. Use Color Lookup (DropBlues.3DL), Levels (2, 1.00, 247), Brightness/Contrast (15, 16) and Hue/Saturation (0, +13, 0). Finally use a Soft Round brush (B), set the Foreground colour to white, change the blend mode to Soft Light and make highlights on the woman’s head. USE MASKS

What you’ll learn Make the scene realistic

Place the woman’s layer into a group (Cmd/Ctrl+G), press the Add Layer Mask button, use the Pen tool (P) to make a selection on her face, set black as your colour and press Alt+Del.


Draw the background


Create a new document (Cmd/ Ctrl+N) set to 230 x 310mm. Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N), use the Paint Bucket tool (G), set the Foreground colour to #f59880 and paint the background. Create another layer, use the Pen tool (P), draw a transversal shape, activate the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Enter) and paint it with #ffd165.

Work with blend modes


Add ‘texture_01.jpg’, place it on the top, use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (Cmd/Ctrl+B) set to 0, -100, 0, then change the blend mode to Soft Light with 40% Opacity. Use ‘texture_02.jpg’, place it on the bottom, and change the blend mode to Color Burn at 20% Opacity.

It’s possible to use the blend modes in infinite ways. In this case, in order to make the black background of the photos disappear, change the blend mode to Screen.

Make a quick mask


Add the ‘model.jpg’, adjust the colour tone using the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) set to 0, 1.00, 213, then activate Quick Mask (Q), use the Brush tool (B) with 50% Opacity and paint the face. Press Q again, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I), then use Brightness/Contrast set to 52, 21.


Erase some details


Add the ‘leafs_02.psd’ and change the blend mode to Multiply. To blend the photo with the scene, select the layer, press the Add Layer Mask button, use the Brush tool (B), choose the Soft Round brush (Opacity: 80%), set black for the Foreground colour and erase the unnecessary parts.


websites that focus on current trends – bookmark these and study them. Getting work with a design agency will help you to improve your skills at a commercial level. You could approach local agencies and ask if they offer work experience or other placements to learn on the job. Another option is an online design agency, which operates with a network of designers and allocates jobs as they come in. Jake Lovelock works for an online design agency and thinks that this is a great way to start on the career ladder: “[Online design


Use the Feather command


Place ‘yellow_flower.jpg’, ‘pink_flower.jpg’ and ‘flower_detail.psd’ as shown above. To make the edges of the photos look softer, activate the selection of the layer (Alt+click), use the Feather (Shift+F6) set to 2px, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I) and press delete two times.


To set colour tone, always use adjustment layers. This makes it possible to edit without losing the original colours of the scene.


For realistic shadows, duplicate the Leaf layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J), paint it with #c79462, change the blend mode to Multiply and apply the Motion Blur filter with Angle: -25 and Distance: 30px.


agencies] help bring in clients for you to be able to practise your skills, learn what it’s like to be a freelance designer and also earn money while doing so. Furthermore, they introduce you to new people who can help you improve on your designs.” In order to make it as a professional artist or designer, you will need to work hard to stand out from the crowd. It’s a popular profession and one that can be hard to break into, but for those with the right skills and a popular style, it could be the best decision you ever make.

Websites like Abduzeedo help you to keep on top of design trends, which is key if you want to build a career


Advanced Create a 3D infographic template


Show us your infographics Search for photoshopcreative Start images

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

Essentials Time taken 5 hours

Expert Rodrigo Marinelli “Creativity is something I @thepixelprosites have to practise every day, as unfortunately there isn’t a magic way to have a good idea. When I have to create an advertising campaign at work, the first thing I do is pick up a piece of paper and a pencil, and start to draw some ideas. Whatever the subject, the principle is always the same: try to combine things you already know in a different way. That’s why it is so important to observe everything around you; it could turn out to be very useful. “I’m an art director and have 12 years of experience in advertising agencies. I learned to use Photoshop by following tutorials.“ For more of Rodrigo’s work, visit http://rodrigo_

Create the background


Create a 3D infographic template Learn how to combine stats with visuals for killer infographics


reativity is the most wonderful tool that everybody already has, but the big secret is to practise all the time. Try to combine items that wouldn’t normally go together, as in this tutorial, where we combine a 3D pie chart with a farm to create an infographic to illustrate information about the farm. To make this image we’ll be using the 3D tools to create the pie-chart shape, then the Pen tool to draw the different wedges. Layers will be grouped in folders with masks to help keep everything organised and editable. To ensure that the image

Create a new document at 233x310mm, then fill it with the colour #e9e4d0. Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J), use a soft rounded brush (B) with a size of 2600px, select white as your colour and paint in the centre of the image. Change the blend mode to Soft Light.

looks as realistic as possible, we’ll be delving into perspective, highlights and shadows, and using the Shape tool to create the infographic information. Keep in mind that the most important aspect of an infographic is the actual information, so it’s advisable to create a clean layout to ensure the content is easy to see. Anyone who looks at the image should instantly be able to understand what it is about. Therefore the image theme used should act as a complement to the information. Now, let’s open Photoshop, put on our straw hat and create a farm infographic.

Use the 3D tool


Create a new layer and make a white circle, then go to the 3D menu and choose the option ‘New 3D extrusion from selected layer’. Go to the Coordinates menu and use the settings shown in the screenshot (provided on the FileSilo). Then go to the Mesh menu and set the Extrusion Depth to 2.53cm.


Advanced Create a 3D infographic template

Expert tip Explore the 3D space

The 3D functions in Photoshop are improving in each update. To understand all the commands it’s necessary to explore all the tools – as we are creating an image with a realistic style, it’s important to know where the shadows will be positioned. To work this out, it’s necessary to go to the Properties menu and activate the Catch Shadows and Cast Shadows functions. In this way it’s possible to change the size or the rotation of the graphic without losing the shadow information.

Use masks to blend


Create a layer mask


Create a new layer, select the pie-chart layer and with the Magic Wand tool (W), click on the white part. Create a layer group (Cmd/ Ctrl+G) and press the Add Layer Mask button. Repeat the procedure for the base. By grouping layers, you will ensure a tidier workspace.

Place layer01 from the ‘grass.psd’ image inside the chart’s top layer folder, then place ‘grass_02.psd’, as in the image. To blend it, make a mask and with a soft rounded brush (50% Opacity), erase the edges. Finally add ‘river.psd’ and follow the same procedure.

Compose the base


Link the adjustment layers



Use the Pen tool (P) to draw the slices of the chart. To make it more organised, draw each part of the slice and place it into a layer group with a mask, just as you did in the previous step.

Combine tools


Add ‘cow.psd’ and with the Pen tool, Add ‘tree.jpg’ and place it as shown draw the shadows separately in above, then add ‘farm.jpg’, activate black. Use the Gaussian Blur filter set to 15px, the layer selection, use the Feather change the blend mode to Multiply and press command (Shift+F6) set to 2px, invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I) and press delete. the Add Layer Mask button. Use the Gradient Use a Levels adjustment layer, hold Alt+Cmd/ tool (G) with the option Foreground to Transparent (Opacity: 40%) and gently erase Ctrl and link it with the farm layer, then set it the shadow. to 48, 1.00, 255.

Inside the base layer group, add ‘graphic_base_01.psd’, and the 01 and 02 layers from ‘graphic_base_02.psd’. To blend the images, make masks to erase the edges. To get a more realistic result, place the images at a small size and then duplicate (Cmd/Ctrl+J) until they fill the entire base shape.


Draw the slices

Apply blend modes


Add layer01 from ‘wheat_field.psd’ and place it on the top of the slice 02 folder. Use the same images from step 8 to compose the base. Add layer02 from ‘wheat_field.psd’, place it outside the folder, change the blend mode to Screen and duplicate it until it fills the shape.

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Adjust the perspective

Follow the same procedure as the Blend the images previous step; add layer01 from Use layer01 from ‘corn_field.psd’ and ‘rice_field.psd’ and place it on the top of the place it on top of the slice 04 folder, slice 03 folder. Use the Free Transform tool then use layer02, place it outside the folder (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to adjust the perspective. Finally, and duplicate until it fills the shape. Add add layer02 from ‘rice_field.psd’, place it ‘corn_field_02.psd’, place it in the bottom of outside and duplicate until it fills the shape. the slice and make a mask to blend.




Add ‘tractor.jpg’ and blend it in with the scene by making a mask to erase parts of the tyre and windscreen. Then add ‘birds.jpg’ and ‘cloud.psd’, and place them as shown above.

Make the final adjustments

Include the information


Now let’s add the information about the farm. To do that, make a rectangle using the Rounded Rectangle tool (U) with the colour #3f7b32 and without any stroke. Then write the information. Remember that the number should always be the main focus of the information.


Now for the final adjustments. Use the Adjustment menu to set the colour tone. Remember that as this is a piece of art with information it must be very vibrant, so use Brightness/ Contrast set to 5/10 and Photo Filter (Warming Filter 85 with 25% of Density). ADD DEPTH

Use the recommended brush setup again, select black as your colour, change Opacity to 50% and paint above the shadows of the field. This will enhance the depth of the scene.

Expert tip Add the details To create an image like this, it’s essential to remember that every detail is important, so to make the image more realistic, pay attention to the highlights and shadows – this will give more depth to the scene. To create the highlights, select white as your colour, go to the Brush panel, activate Shape Dynamics and set Size Jitter to 44% and Minimum Diameter to 35%, with Size: 300px. Gently paint the edges of the image and change the blend mode to Soft Light. For the shadows, repeat the procedure, but change the brush colour to black.

Add more elements


Use our recommended brush setup to gently paint the edges of the scene; be careful to not paint the base of the infographic.


How I made

Essentials Time taken 40 hours

The artist Ricardo Guimaraes “I am a freelance concept designer working for the entertainment industry. My illustrations were showcased in ImagineFX and also the Exotique book. Among my most notable @thepixelprosites achievements is the work I did on the Intro Cinematic for Blizzard’s Diablo III and also on Square Enix’s DeusEX: Mankind Divided. I am currently an Academic Specialist at Michigan State University, teaching courses on Concept Design. I love challenges and always do my best to impart this excitement in every work I get involved with.” You can see more of Ricardo’s work on his website at https://ricguimm.


How I made

One Chance

Discover how one artist uses Photoshop to enhance 3D renders by merging textures, photos and brushes


icardo Guimaraes likes to use Photoshop to create “realistic, yet fantastical images, merging textures and photos, and painting over with my huge selections of brushes.” Combining Photoshop with 3D software, he frequently works upon a 3D base, taking his creations into Photoshop to then paint over them. “For every image I create, I usually write a few words on what I want to accomplish with my images. This helps me a lot with the storytelling and choosing the elements for the set dressing of my environments.” Ricardo explains that his idea for One Chance was “to create a realistic scene in an apocalyptical future, where nature has taken over and wildlife is on the loose in large cities.” He has achieved this with his “crumbled buildings and plant overgrowth.” Ricardo wanted to give the impression that “only a few mechanical things still work properly, but most of them are just rusted, wasted ghosts from the past.” He states that the remaining “survivors must fight” for their lives, and

that this idea is what sets the stage for the overall piece of art. Before starting out, Ricardo thinks carefully about the tools he will use in Photoshop. Although he also uses 3D programs, Ricardo admits that “Photoshop is amazing and we have so many options.” His favourite tools for painting are brushes, “which I use with or without textures, mostly to create interest on different surfaces.” He also uses the Pattern tool (under the Stamp tool) “which helps me to quickly set the tone and colours for specific areas”. However, Ricardo explains that he only uses custom patterns that he creates. Another tool Ricardo often uses is the Smudge tool. “I always use [this] with painterly brushes (uneven shape), and if used correctly, they behave pretty much like a dry bristle brush over wet oil paint. I also use adjustment layers combined with blending modes for the lighting and for integrating photos. I take advantage of the masks that come with the adjustment layers to make my modifications non destructively.”

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Starting in Maya

Adding textures

Once I chose the composition, I started from a 3D base created in Maya. This is especially useful because many of the problems I would have to deal with, such as perspective, are already solved on this simple 3D rendering, and though I have a good understanding of perspective, lighting and so on, this speeds up the process.



Blending the images

Lighting the scene


Here I started to play with some textures, in several different blending modes, to make the props more believable, according to my original idea. The main thing was to work on the diffuse colours first. This is why I said I was not thinking about lighting the scene before. First work the diffuse, then work the lights.

Completing the story


I proceeded to overlay some photo textures over the 3D base to quickly bring some real-life elements into my composition, making sure it fitted my vision and my colour scheme. The main idea was to fill the composition with information, and match the perspective. I wasn’t worried about the lighting at this early stage.


At this stage, since all the main elements are already placed, I started working on lighting the scene. I wanted the focus to be on the foreground and on the lion’s gaze. It is usually a good idea to begin with a fairly soft light, without much strength, and just define the areas that will be more illuminated afterwards.

Here I added the girl and the shotgun, which complete the story I had in mind. The lion, obviously, is aware that someone is hiding behind the car. What should she do? Stay still, run for the shotgun or just try to run away? Would she be fast enough to escape? And what would you do in the same situation?

Placing the elements


I then started to work on the set dressing, placing elements that would help tell my story. The biggest challenge was to find a proper scale for the several objects, since they came from different source images. Always have in mind where the horizon line is and you will have a much easier job placing your props.

Defining the temperature


At this point it was time to define the temperature of the different areas. Warmer, more saturated tones for the foreground; cooler, more subdued tones for the background. I wanted to make sure that the background didn’t steal the attention from the foreground, but still remained detailed and interesting. It is saturated now, but it will be adjusted afterwards.

Applying finishing touches


Now it was time for the final touches. Here I adjusted the colour temperature over the whole scene, added some cracks on the pillars, and worked on the reflected light. Also, this was a good time to work on the atmosphere to increase the depth of the scene. After working on these adjustments and small details, the image was completed.


Advanced Create an abstract scene

Essentials Time taken 2 hours

Expert Andre Villanueva “I’ve always appreciated how design programs like InDesign enable you to maintain linked files in documents. Ever since File>Place Linked appeared in the Photoshop menu, I’ve been using it wherever it makes sense. I can more easily refine individual elements of a scene without having to dig through layers for the embedded files. Since I tend to create gargantuan PSD files with untold numbers of layers, working with manageable portions of an image at a time helps to keep @thepixelprosites my computer from smoking due to overexertion! “I’m an art director in Alabama, USA, gliding back and forth between the worlds of print and web. When I’m not tethered to my MacBook Pro, I enjoy spending time with family.”


Create an abstract scene

Edit multiple bikers as individual PSDs for an abstract bike scene


t’s time to get efficient with an abstract scene featuring bikers, linked assets and masking. Very rarely do you composite an image without performing a slew of tweaks and revisions. You might clean up a selection, transform a layer or fiddle adjustments only to make more changes once new elements are added. Consider this: when you have a multi-layered character or object that requires special editing

and/or will be used in multiple projects, keep it as a separate PSD and use Place Linked to import into a composition. If you need to edit one of these supplemental PSDs, you can quickly open it up, make your edits, then save. If you have the main composition PSD open, the changes will reflect. If not, update the linked files next time it’s opened. Practise this process as you select, edit and enhance several bikers in this tutorial.

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

Blend fractal


Open ‘Start.psd’ from the FileSilo. Go to File>Place Embedded and grab ‘Fractal.jpg’. Scale up to fill the canvas before committing. Set the blend mode to Linear Light. Option/Alt+click the Layer panel’s Add Layer Mask button, then paint white with a soft-edged brush at 20-40% brush Opacity to bring a bit back.

Add some shading


Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button in the Layers panel and choose Solid Color. Pick black. Click the mask and press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert. Paint white with a soft-edged brush (20-40% brush Opacity) to add some shading.


Advanced Create an abstract scene

Add abstract shapes


Go to File>Place Embedded and grab ‘Abstract.jpg’. Scale if desired, then commit the place. Option/Alt+click the Layer panel’s Add Layer Mask button, then paint white at 20-60% brush Opacity to bring a bit back.

Apply the Glowing Edges filter


Click the layer thumbnail. Go to Filter>Stylize>Glowing Edges. Set Edge Width: 6, Edge Brightness: 20, Smoothness: 15. Click OK. Paint black in the Smart Filter mask at 40-80% brush Opacity to reduce the effect in areas.

Create twisty lines

Adjust Smart Filter blending


Double-click the Edit Blending Options icon to the right of the Smart Filter. Drop Opacity to 30%. Feel free to experiment with the blend mode, or just leave as Normal. Click OK.

Use particles


Place ‘Particles.jpg’. Before committing the place, scale up and situate to the left. Set the blend mode to Overlay. Option/Alt+click Add Layer Mask, then paint white at 20-60% brush Opacity to bring a bit back.


Go to File>Place Embedded, grab ‘’. Click OK in the ‘Open as Smart Object’ dialog. Before committing, scale, position to the left, Ctrl/right-click in the bounding box, choose Flip Horizontal. Drop Opacity to 40%. Click the Add Layer Mask button, paint black at 40-100% brush Opacity to reduce and fade ends.

Add technical lines

Place a speedometer


Place ‘Speed.jpg’. Scale down a bit and position before committing. Click the Add Layer Mask button, then paint black at 60-100% brush Opacity to fade around the edges to blend it.



Place ‘Technical.jpg’. Scale up and position before committing. Set the blend mode to Hard Light and drop the Opacity to 70%. Go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter. Under Detail, increase Sharpening and Luminance to 100. Click OK. Add a layer mask, then paint black at 60-100% brush Opacity to fade and blend the effect.

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Expert tip Extraction via clipping

Tweak the Hue

Adjust the Levels


Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ layer’ button in the Layers panel, and button in the Layers panel and choose choose Hue/Saturation. Drag Hue leftward to Levels. Drag the midtones slider rightward to -150 (or feel free to experiment). Paint black in darken. Paint black in the mask at 60-100% Opacity the mask at 60-100% brush Opacity to reduce to reduce the darkening a touch. the adjustment effect.


Make a surface


Place ‘Abstract2.jpg’. Before committing, move down, Ctrl/rightclick within it and choose Perspective. Drag a bottom-corner handle outward. Commit the place. Press Cmd/Ctrl+U to adjust hue directly on a Smart Object. Drag Hue rightward to +150 (or experiment). Add a layer mask, then paint black at 60-100% brush Opacity to fade.

Blend the scooters

Add some blur


Place ‘Blur.jpg’. Scale up and position before committing. Set the blend mode to Overlay. Option/Alt+click Add Layer Mask from the Layers panel, then paint white at 60-80% brush Opacity to bring a bit back.


A typical method of extracting a model or object is to make a selection and create a layer mask to hide the surrounding areas. How about using a clipping mask? Create a layer below. Grab the Pen tool, set it to Shape in the Options bar. Since you’ll be using the layer as a mask, it doesn’t matter what colour you use. Trace along subject. Once complete, Option/Alt+click between the layers to create a clipping mask. To make adjustments, use the Direct Selection tool to edit the shape.

Add shapes and symbols


Select the Pen tool and set to Shape in the Options bar. Using white, yellow (#ffea00) and wine (#762a3b), plot some shards throughout. Mask and/or lower the opacity to blend them in. Also, add some techy repeating symbols such as slashes and plus signs with the Horizontal Type tool.

Place ‘Scooters.jpg’. Scale down and position on the left. Set the blend mode to Overlay. Option/Alt+click Add Layer Mask from the Layers panel, then paint white at 60-100% brush Opacity to bring back. Duplicate the layer and reposition for extra streaks (adjust masks as needed).

Isolate the biker


Open ‘Biker.psd’. Use your favourite selection technique(s) to select and then isolate the biker, or use the clipping mask technique outlined in the Expert Tip. After isolating the biker, merge layers at the top (Cmd/Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shift+E), then turn off the visibility of any working layers.


Advanced Create an abstract scene Expert edit Use Spin Blur

Apply Spin Blur


Ensure the target layer is a Smart Object. If it’s not, Ctrl/right-click on the layer, choose Convert to Smart Object. Go to Filter>Blur Gallery>Spin Blur.

Apply Camera Raw


Convert the merged layer to a Smart Object (Ctrl/right-click, choose Convert to Smart Object). Go to Filter> Camera Raw. Go crazy with the plethora of settings available; just be sure to bump up Shadows and Clarity. Click OK. Paint black in the Smart Filter mask to reduce.

Add headlight glares


Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button in the Layers panel, choose Solid Color. Pick #fffbe5. Click the mask and press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert. Now dab white with a soft-edged brush (40-60% brush Opacity) atop the headlights.

Place biker


Save the biker PSD. In the main document, go to File>Place Linked, grab the ‘Biker.psd’. (Why Place Linked now instead of Place Embedded? If you continue to edit the biker, the changes will reflect in the placed instance. Nice!) Scale and position before you commit.

Configure Spin Blur


Use the controls to position the blur. Option/Alt+click and drag the central rotation point to reposition. Adjust the Blur Angle at the right to dictate the blur’s intensity.

Add a second blur


To add a second blur, simply click over the other wheel. A new blur and associated controls will appear. Configure it as in the previous step.

Paint shadows

20 Finalise and mask


When you’re satisfied with your blurring, click OK at the top. Paint black in the Smart Filter mask to reduce the blur effect in areas.


Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button in the Layers panel, choose Solid Color. Pick black. Move below the biker layer. Click the mask and press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert. Paint white with a soft-edged brush at 40-80% brush Opacity to add shadows. Lower the layer opacity to reduce the effect if needed.

Duplicate and blur


Select the biker layer, press Cmd/ Ctrl+J to duplicate. Go to Filter>Blur> Motion Blur. Adjust Angle to match the action. For Distance, try 475 pixels. Click OK when satisfied. Offset the layer with the Move tool. Add a layer mask. Paint black at 40-100% brush Opacity to reduce the blur.

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Edit more bikers


Use the techniques employed on the first biker (steps 16-21) for ‘Biker2. psd’, ‘Jump.psd’ and ‘Jump2.psd’. Biker2.psd is pretty much extracted; you may just need to clean up some minor rough spots before enhancing. After editing a biker, place and arrange in the main PSD.

Merge layers


Go through your image and make any ‘last’ changes. Smooth your masking, perform tweaks to your adjustments and reposition elements. When ready, select the top layer. Merge layers (Cmd/Ctrl+Option/Alt+Shift+E) and convert to a Smart Object.

Make more adjustments

Apply Color Lookup


Click the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ button in the Layers panel, choose Color Lookup. Pick Crisp_Winter.look. This grants a nice blast of crisp cool. Paint black at 40-60% brush Opacity in the mask to reduce.

Use Camera Raw


Non-destructive editing Resizing layers is just a part of editing. Ditto for fiddling with adjustments and fine-tuning filter settings. Therefore, stay flexible and perform non-destructive edits as much as possible. Keep placed images as Smart Objects or linked objects. Very rarely should you rasterise a layer. When creating shapes with the Pen tool or a Shape tool, choose Shape in the Options bar. Shape layers keep crisp edges even after scaling or resizing. Adjustment layers and Smart Filters, both infinitely tweakable, round out your flexible, non-destructive workflow.

Play with the other Color Lookup presets. Mix the results with the masks. To reduce the effect of an adjustment uniformly, you can simply lower the opacity of the layer. If you’re feeling extra experimental, try playing with the blend modes of the adjustment layers.

Merge and blur

Go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter. Take your time and play with the wealth of settings to enhance your image. When satisfied, click OK. Paint black in the Smart Filter mask at 40-80% brush Opacity if you need to tone down areas.

Expert tip



Merge layers again and convert the merge to a Smart Object. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Try setting Radius to 3.5 Pixels. Click OK. Restore clarity by painting black in the Smart Filter mask at 40-80% brush Opacity. When done, simply save your work!


Smart Objects and linked assets maintain their composure, weathering scaling at the layer and image levels. Plus you can apply filters as non-destructive Smart Filters.


When producing shapes with the Pen tool or the various Shape tools, set to Shape in the Options bar. There’s no real need to ever use Pixels.


Did you know applying image adjustments such as Curves, Hue/ Saturation and Shadows/Highlights to a Smart Object results in a Smart Filter? Control with the Smart Filter mask.


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Ele m en ts

18 pages of practical guides

Essential techniques Follow the step-by-step tutorials

Create more in Elements… Master Perspective Crop.....................................................88 Make a fun photocomposite............................................90 Create a coffee stencil..........................................................94 Design your own web icons............................................100 Q&A: Common problems in Elements...................104

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

Surreal art…


PLAY WITH LIGHT & TRANSPARENCY Discover how to use blend modes and masks to create transparent objects for stunning effects p96

ts n e m Ele CROP ANYWAY

What does it mean?

When you’ve finished using the Perspective Crop, use the ordinary Crop tool to actually reset the focus of the image.

STRAIGHTEN – The Straighten tool has one use: by dragging it across your image you can realign the horizontal sides. There are, however, options for what happens to your final image; the three icons in the bottom panel can either grow/ shrink your image, keep it the same size, or auto crop it.

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

Start image

Tool focus…

Master Perspective Crop

Tweak the viewpoint of where your photo was taken with this tool Cropping a photo is seen as perhaps the most basic adjustment you can make. It’s one that’s often reserved for the end of the editing process – sometimes not at all – and it’s something that can be carried out in a matter of seconds. But cropping can be creative too, believe it or not, and just because you’re cutting the edges out of your picture, it doesn’t mean that you’re not realigning the focus of it at the same time. The Perspective Crop tool works on much the same principle, only it’s a little more creative than your average crop. By creating a four-sided shape in the photo, you can reset the sides of your image. Elements will then create a perfectly straight rectangle from


the uneven shape that you create, and distort the image to fit across the new size. It takes some experimentation to understand how it works, but by using the tool’s grid lines, it’s actually fairly easy to tweak. If you’ve taken a picture of a building from lower down than is ideal – perhaps you were too close to it – then the Perspective Crop is perfect. It can also realign the central focus or simply distort the buildings on a horizon for a fantasy look. Remember that the Perspective Crop tool is just one modification that can transform your image, and that by using Crop and Straighten, you can achieve the perfect balance to your photo.

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Realign your photos Create the grid, edit it and apply the edit

Hit C to scroll through the various Crop options

Create the other lines

Make your first line


Start off by selecting the Crop tool (C), and find the Perspective Crop tool in the bottom panel of Elements. Select this and make your first line with the tool. This will be the starting point for creating a four-sided shape.

Edit your shape



It can be hard to get exactly the right perspective for your image first time. Luckily you can edit the four points of perspective as much as you like, simply by dragging them elsewhere in the image. Zoom in to get closer and make sure that you follow the perspective of everything in the image before applying.


Once you’ve created your first line, repeat this another three times to create a four-sided shape that forms the new sides of the picture. The point of the Perspective Crop is that it doesn’t have to be straight; follow the horizon horizontally, and any landmarks vertically to make them straighter in the final image.

Straighten up


Once you’ve applied the four sides of perspective to the image, you may wish to edit the final image a little further. Click on the Straighten icon at the left-hand side of Elements, and by dragging it across the image’s horizon, realign the picture.

Additional uses What else can the Perspective Crop be used for?

Centralise vertical distortion Oen it’s difficult to take the perfect picture of a

building without getting too far away. It’s natural that your shots will be looking up at it somewhat, but the Perspective Crop tool can fix that. When you’re creating your four sides, be sure to keep the horizontal sides straight, and simply tilt the vertical ones to follow the sides of the building.

Create surreal View front-on Just as you can correct vertical distortion, caricatures the Perspective Crop tool can also do a good The Perspective Crop tool is useful because the finished results look subtle and natural. But by taking the tool to its extremes, you can change how natural your final image looks; simply experiment with where you place the four points of the tool, and you can create surreal images that don’t follow the laws of physics.

job horizontally. This is particularly useful for any scenes that you’ve taken from an angle, particularly if you’ve taken a photo of a painting that you’d like to view from the angle it was painted at. Keep the vertical sides straight and alter the horizontal sides.


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Creative project…

On the FileSilo

Make a fun photocomposite

Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Get creative and have a laugh making this family-orientated image We may love our families, but sometimes they can really drive us mad! So why not vent your frustrations in a fun and creative way by digitally taping them to the wall? Yes, it sounds bizarre, but it does make for a very amusing picture. Obviously, this concept works brilliantly with young, noisy children. However, if you have other family members or friends with a good sense of humour, they’d be a great target too. Once you have a roll of a duct tape and a willing ‘victim’


or two, you’ll need to set up an area for a photo shoot. We’ll take you through the process of getting the ideal shots, or you can use the photos provided on the FileSilo. To achieve the most realistic results, take your time when selecting and cutting out people and objects, and don’t rush when painting in the shadows. It’s worth spending a little longer on these stages, as they are crucial to the realism of the final artwork.

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STAGE 1 Set the scene Grab some models, a roll of duct tape and your camera

Rename your chosen photos to find them again easily

REFINE EDGE – Using the Selection tools alone to cut out objects can leave a jagged or messy outline. Refine Edge is a function that helps you achieve a better result with your selections. Smoothness is one of the most useful settings, while Feather is also handy if you want a softer, faded edge.

The first step in assembling a personalised photocomposite image is to create the photographs themselves. If you have access to professional lighting equipment, then that’s great. But if not, finding a bright, well-lit environment will work well too. Try to keep the light source consistent for all of your photos, so that it matches in the background shot and the individual model shots (bearing in mind the angle you plan to position the models in the final image). This will make it much easier to create a realistic finish.

Take the shots



What does it mean?

To take the photos, you’ll need to get some height over the model. You could stand on a small ladder or chair, but be careful and make sure it is safe! Take a variety of shots, and encourage your model to pull some funny or angry faces.

Tape your models


Get your models to lay on the floor, preferably on a solid white background (this will make selecting and cutting them out easier later on). Start to apply tape over their bodies, arms, legs, wrists, ankles and anywhere else that you think is appropriate.

Photograph the background


Take the background photo straight on, so that the angle matches that of the taped models, with a blank area above the sofa so there’s plenty of space to paste them in. Once you have selected the photos you’ll be using, simply open them all up in Photoshop Elements.


The scene is looking a little empty, so we’ll be scattering some toys on the floor to help create a story.


Use the Crop tool if necessary to create a size and composition that you are happy with.



We’ll be building this image up using lots of layers, so have the Layers panel open.

Our three selected photographs can all be accessed quickly with a click of the mouse via the Photo Bin.


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STAGE 2 Select, cut and paste


Take your time choosing just the right position for your subjects; the girl’s eye line fits the scenario perfectly!

Use Elements to combine your various shots into one scene With the photos taken, we are ready to start piecing our image together. There are several selection tools in Photoshop Elements to choose from when cutting out your models. For subjects with simple outlines and a plain background, the Quick Selection tool works especially well. Combined with the various options in Refine Edge, we can quickly and easily get a neat and realistic finish. So open up your first taped model and press A to activate the Quick Selection tool.

Select the subject


Use the Quick Selection tool to select the girl. Click and drag over the subject, holding Alt while using the tool to remove any areas from the selection if necessary. Zoom in close and check all around the edges, tidying it up with the Selection Brush (press A again).

Make adjustments


You may need to make some adjustments depending on differences in lighting and colour tone. For example, on the Girl layer, press Cmd/Ctrl+L to adjust the Levels, and move the middle grey slider left to 1.16.


Refine the selection


Once the entire model is selected, click Refine Edge. Adjust Smoothness, Feather and Shift Edge. We used values of 6, 0.7 and -9 respectively, but this is dependent on your image and the selection you have made. Choose Output: Selection, click OK.

Create a shadows layer


Add a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N) below the Girl and Boy layers. Name it Shadows. Set its blend mode to Multiply, and Opacity to 80%. Use the Brush tool (press B) with a soft round brush and colour of R:40 G:40 B:42 to paint shadows around the children.

Copy and paste


Copy (Cmd/Ctrl+C) and paste (Cmd/ Ctrl+V) the selected model into your background. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T to resize and position them on the back wall. Repeat the process to select, copy and paste the second model onto your background.

Paint in the shadows


Use a small brush to create harderedged shadows where the children are pressed closer to the wall (beneath their hands, for example), and a larger brush to create softer shadows where they’re further from the wall (the ends of their feet).

Ele m en ts

STAGE 3 Build up the scene


The adjustment layers can be found here, accessed by clicking the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ icon.

Paste in extra elements and make the final adjustments It’s now time to add some extra finishing touches. The toys on the floor help to create a story within the image, making the final result more engaging to the viewer. Some more practical finishing touches, such as extra shadows, Photo Filters and other adjustments, will bring the whole image together and give it a sense of realism. Feel free to elaborate with your image; add in photos of items around your own home that you think best represent you and your family.


With so many layers, it’s important to name them so you can find them more easily when making edits.


Add in shadows and shading over and around the elements that have been pasted in, so they match the background.


Press E to switch to the Eraser and remove mistakes

Paste in the toys


Open the various toy photos, and use the same methods as before to select them and copy and paste them into your artwork above the other layers. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T on each to resize and position them around the floor.

Apply extra shading


Ctrl/right-click the new layer’s name and choose Create Clipping Mask. Select the Gradient tool (press G), choose: Linear, Foreground to Transparent, 30% Opacity. Click and drag diagonally down and right from the top-left corner, to apply a shadow over the boy’s feet and legs.

Give the toys shadows


On the Shadows layer, use the same brush as before to paint shadows for the toys. Make sure the direction of the shadows matches the other elements. Add a new layer above the Boy layer, and set it to Multiply.

Add adjustment layers


To help unify all the elements, add a Photo Filter adjustment layer at the top of the layer stack, choose the Deep Yellow filter with 40% Density. Add a Levels adjustment layer and drag the black-and-white sliders inwards slightly to give the image a boost.


ts n e m Ele CROP THE IMAGE


Make the coffee mug the centre of focus in the image using the Crop tool (C).

We’ve created a lightcoloured stencil suggesting milky froth, but you can go for a chocolatey brown look.

What does it mean? FILL LAYER – The Fill Layer icon is at the top of the Layers palette, next to the mask icon. From there, you can create non-destructive adjustments that you can clip to layers or edit without changing the layers themselves. This is the best way to apply solid colours and gradients.

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

Photo edit…

Create a coffee stencil

Start image

Create art in your coffee with masks and adjustments There’s a real skill to creating milk-foam art in a mug that relies on wrist movement and the way that you pour the milk onto the top of your coffee. It takes care and plenty of practice, but if you’re struggling to create it in the real world, why not go digital and create your own coffee stencil in Elements? Creating a coffee stencil in Elements might feel like cheating, but there’s scope to create absolutely anything using layers and blend modes: layers are important in adding textures and details to your image, and blend modes are important for blurring them into the


final image. All you need to do is adjust your stencil image – in our case a dog – with Threshold fill layers, and you can mask in details wherever you like in the image. The great thing about this tutorial is that you can create anything your imagination dreams up inside a mug. If you want to get two different shades in the coffee, use the ‘cappuccino.jpg’ stock image to blend chocolatey and milky textures into the image. Creating coffee art for real might be difficult, but it’s easy to master in Elements if you’re feeling creative.

Ele m en ts

Make coffee art Mask amazing images into a photo of a mug


Cmd/Ctrl+click the layer preview to select everything

Mask into the cup

Clone out the original


Start with the ‘froth.jpg’ image and grab the Clone Stamp tool (S). Alt/Opt-click to select a source of pixels, and brush over the pattern already in the coffee so that you can create your own.

Insert the image


Place ‘dog.jpg’. Go to the Fill Layer icon and choose Threshold; Alt/ Opt-click that adjustment layer to clip it to your dog layer. Select the layer preview of the froth layer; hit Cmd/Ctrl+G to group the Threshold and the dog, and hit Mask to place the dog in the mug.

Ctrl/right-click the layer and Duplicate to the ‘coffee.jpg’ document; set to Screen, 90% Opacity. Use Transform (Cmd/ Ctrl+T) to resize the froth and place over the mug, before using brushes to mask the coffee froth over the black coffee in the mug.

Get more detail


Copy the dog layer above the Threshold layer by Alt/Opt-dragging it in the Layers palette. Create another Threshold adjustment as you did in the last step, only with this one, use the slider to create more detail. Mask the main facial features over the first layer.

Blur further



On each of the masks of the Threshold layers, follow step 4 again to create as much detail as you like – add masks and using a soft, 50% opaque brush, blur the edges further into the coffee to blend the picture a little more.

Add some texture


Insert ‘cappuccino.jpg’ into the image. Mask over the coffee that’s already in the mug and set to Soft Light, 75% Opacity. Set the group that you’ve created to Soft Light as well. This should blend not only the Threshold layers together a little more, but everything into the coffee, too.

Make adjustments


Finally, go to the Fill Layer icon to create a Levels adjustment, and increase the contrast in your image. Create a new layer, brush soft black and white over the coffee as seen above, and set to Soft Light, 30% Opacity.


ts n e m Ele What does it mean? QUICK SELECTION – The Quick Selection tool provides exceptional results. In the Tool Options, you can customise the tool and define if the strokes will add or subtract from a selection. Use the Refine Edge command to tweak the selection and automatically add a layer mask to your project.


Explore the blend modes and masks to create a complex composition, then apply adjustment layers for a quick fix.

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

Surreal art…

Play with light and transparency

Start image

Use blend modes and masks to create transparent objects In this project, you’ll discover how fun and easy it is to create a surreal scene in Photoshop Elements. You’ll learn how to add a miniature world inside a bottle, create transparent objects using blending modes, and play with brushes and masks to make a beautiful underwater scene. You’ll make extensive use of layer masks to hide and reveal areas of the images. We’ll also demonstrate how to apply clipping masks using shortcuts and preset commands to make the adjustments affect only the layer below, which is very useful for controlling the effect. You’ll use different blend modes to create transparent


objects and adjustment layers to make subtle colour corrections and other adjustments to your images. Creating an underwater scene and transparent objects may look very intimidating at first – there are so many details to observe, such as lighting, perspective, colour and image focus. However, by the time you complete this tutorial you should have a better idea of how to use these techniques to create this type of scene and feel inspired to apply it in your own projects. Check the Expert Tip for extra advice and follow each step closely. Download the files, images and brushes from the FileSilo and dive in to this fun project.

Ele m en ts

Surreal art techniques Create a surreal miniature world inside a bottle


Press F5 in order to open or close the Tool Options bar

Create a blank file


To begin, go to File>New>Blank File or press Cmd/Ctrl+N. Name the new project Scene in a Bottle. Now set the Width to 230mm, Height to 200mm and Resolution to 300 pixels/inch. Confirm this by clicking OK or press Return/Enter.

Make the background


Go to File>Place ‘Sea-Floor.jpg’. Drag the top handle down to compress the image just above the centre of the canvas and then press Return/Enter. Duplicate the image (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and change the blending mode to Soft Light.

Complete the background


Go to File>Place ‘Sky.jpg’. Adjust the size and then press Return/Enter. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Set the Input Levels to 30, 1.60, 255. Now clip the layers (click on the bottom-left icon).

Add the adjustments


Go to Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color. Set the colour to #152041 and click OK. Now clip the layers, press Cmd/ Ctrl+G. Make another adjustment. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Set the Input Levels to 0, 0.50, 255 and clip the layers (click on the bottom-left icon).

Place the bottle


Go to File>Place ‘Bottle.jpg’ and hit Return/Enter. Grab the Quick Selection tool (A). Zoom in (Z). In the Tool Options bar, set it to Add to Selection, choose a hard-tip brush, size 25 pixels, tick Auto-Enhance and then start selecting the bottle. Now go to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal Selection.


Blending modes use calculations to define how the pixels of an image will interact with the pixels of another image.



Use solid colours to colorise your image and change the mood of the entire scene or of individual layers.

Use the non-destructive Levels adjustment layer to adjust the tones of an image and enhance the colours and contrast.


The Tool Options bar is located at the bottom of the workspace. Use the options here to customise the tools.


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Expert tip Layer masks

Make it transparent


Duplicate the image (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and hide the original bottle layer. With the Bottle_copy layer active, open the Free Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T). Resize and rotate the image around 45°, then go to Layer> Simplify Layer. Change the blending mode for the layer to Hard Light.

Place and mask


Place ‘Ocean.jpg’ and resize the image. Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on the bottle thumbnail layer to select it. Press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert the selection. With the Ocean layer active, add a layer mask. Grab a brush, and paint over the mask to reveal the water surrounding the bottle.


Open the Preset Manager (Edit>Preset Manager) to add, append, save, rename or delete custom brushes.


Select the Brush tool and in Tool Options, open the Brush Preset Picker to select a custom brush.


Enhance the bottle


Grab the Quick Selection tool. Select and duplicate the bottle cap, change blend mode to Normal. Press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N. Set Name: Shadow/ Highlights, check to Create a Clipping Mask, change Mode to Soft Light, click OK. Grab a soft brush (B) to paint the highlights and a bluish shadow on the cap.

Layer masks are absolutely essential in any kind of editing project. They enable you to hide or show parts of an image and control the level of transparency of each layer. In this tutorial, we used the shape of the bottle to apply a custom mask to create different effects. Elements will automatically link a layer to a mask. When you unlink the layers, you can move the image freely within the mask. In steps 11 and 12, unlink the layer mask to adjust the position of the images. To unlink the mask, click on the ‘chain’ icon between the layer and the mask.

Load brushes

Adjust the tones


The ocean surface is a little dark, so let’s apply a new adjustment layer to correct the tones. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels. Set the Input Levels to 0, 1.20, 185 and clip the layers (click on the bottom-left icon).


Go to Edit>Preset Manager. In the Preset Manager window, click Append. Locate the ‘Brushes150.abr’ and click Load. Now press Done. Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N). Name it Brushes. Grab the Brush tool (B). In the Tool Option bar, open the Brush Preset Picker. Choose a brush and paint around the bottle.


Clipping masks, also known as clipping layers, enable you to apply an adjustment only to a layer immediately below.


Layer masks let you reveal, hide and control the level of transparency found in an image.

Ele m en ts

Place a new image


Go to File>Place ‘Houses.jpg’. Resize the image to cover the top portion of the bottle. Drag the layer and place behind the Bottle layer. Now hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on the bottle thumbnail layer to select it. Keep the House layer active and create a layer mask.

Bring in more images


Place ‘underwater.jpg’ behind the Bottle layer and resize the image. Now create a layer mask as in the last step. Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on the bottle thumbnail layer to select it. Keep the Underwater layer active and create a layer mask. Reduce the layer’s Opacity to 75%.

Use custom brushes


Create a new layer behind the Houses layer. Grab the Brush tool (B). In the Tool Options bar, open the Brush Preset Picker and choose Sunlight brush. Paint over the sky to create the sun and, using a light-blue colour, paint again to create sun rays under the water.

Create images in advance Open a new blank canvas

Add more elements


Place ‘Reef1.png’ and ‘Reef2.png’. Resize the images then go to Layer> Simplify Layer. Now go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to around 4 pixels and click OK. Go to Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color. Set the colour to #63b8df. Clip the layers and change the blend mode to Multiply.

Create a lens flare


Create a new layer on top of the layer stack and fill with black. Go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Choose Lens Type: 105mm Prime and click OK. Place over the sunlight and the bottle, then change the blend mode to Screen. Add more images, such as birds and fishes to complete the composition.


To unlink a layer mask go: Layer> Layer Mask> Unlink

When you create a complex composition in Elements, you’ll probably end up looking at a massive pile of layers and losing track of the ones you want. One smart solution to maximise your workflow and keep the layers organised is to create a new composition on a different canvas. Then save it as a PSD file in case you need to change something later or save as JPG or PNG and place in your project. In this tutorial, we created the house and the underwater images on a different canvas, then we saved it as a PSD, JPG or PNG and placed it into our project. Pick basic tools to select and make the initial adjustments, then use your creativity to bring in the images and create a nice composition.


ts n e m Ele

Shortcut Ctrl/right-click a layer in order to Clear Layer Style


On new layers, make selections and fill with white to create custom icons for your buttons.

Digital art…

On the FileSilo

Design your own web icons

Download your free resources at www.filesilo.

Whatever your site design, create a bespoke icon set to match The internet may be built from code, but it’s graphic designers that determine how it looks. Creating a beautiful website can be a lot harder than it first appears, but designing pretty icons for your site needn’t be so difficult. The main tools you need for this project are clipping masks. Clipping masks are simply layers that clip directly to the pixels below, hiding everything else. Providing that you have a shape you’ve created – such as the circle we create in step 1 – you can add just about anything to your icon, whether that’s a simple diagonal line for


a minimal button, or a noise layer for a stamp-themed button. Create a Solid Color layer using the Fill Layer icon, and you can change the colour for each of the icons in your set should you wish. You don’t need to use stock images for this project, but if you wanted to, you could clip them onto your icons. When you’re saving these icons, remember to crop around them and delete the Background layer. Save for Web (Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/ Opt+Shift+S) and save as a PNG; this will keep the background transparent. They will then be ready to incorporate into your website.

Ele m en ts

STYLE 1 Create flat, minimal icons Use the basics to create a simplistic icon look

What does it mean? DROP SHADOW – The Drop Shadow layer style is intended to make 2D shapes stand out against their background, whether that’s with a faint colour around the outside, or a defined shape a little distance away. We reduced the Size and increased Distance for more definition, but experiment.

When people first started building their own websites, arty, flashy and complicated icons were all the rage. About a decade on, minimalism is in, with the web favouring a more simplistic, flat-looking icon. Luckily, as well as being the most fashionable icons, minimal icons are also the easiest to make. You can either keep with the bare minimum, or use them as a good starting base to get creative and make something completely unique to your site.

Make the circle


Grab the Elliptical Marquee tool (M) and create a circle. Go to the Fill Layer icon, choose Solid Color and choose a bright shade (we chose #26ded8). Alt/Opt-click on the fill layer to clip it to the circle. The fill layer enables you to change colour for multiple icons.


Add a shape


Click on the Custom Shape tool (U). There are all kinds of shapes that make good icons, so to add one to the image, simply drag it onto the circle and change the colour to white. Select all your layers so far and group (Cmd/Ctrl+G).


To keep this icon minimal, we’re just going to make subtle edits. Create a new layer and fill in a portion with white before rotating diagonally. Set this to Soft Light, 50% Opacity. Click on the circle layer and go to Layer>Layer Style>Layer Settings. From here, pick the Drop Shadow option.


Alter the angle for where the shadow falls. 135 degrees will make it fall in a perfectly straight line from top-le to bottom-right.


Reducing the size of the drop shadow will reduce the soness of the edge, leaving a defined outline.



Choose the colour of your shadow, but leave Opacity at 100% so that it isn’t faded.

The distance of the drop shadow refers to how far away from the shape it falls; keep this at 40px for best results.


ts n e m Ele

STYLE 2 Make a rounded icon


With the Outer Glow, the lighting angle isn’t important; it will simply resonate from the whole shape.

Play with filters to get a 3D-looking button

While minimal icons look great and are all the rage, it can be fun to create something a little more unique for your website. Filters are there for these kinds of projects, and by using lens flares and distortion, we can give a little more tone and shape to our button. Remember that you can play around with the style of this button and the colours, and you can even make it more rounded by brushing black and white onto a Soft Light layer.


Create a size between 180 and 200px for optimum results; this will produce a large enough glow for the shape.

Distort a lens flare


Create a new 5000 x 5000 document. Go to Filter>Render> Lens Flare and click OK with the default option selected. Go to Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates and choose Polar to Rectangular. Click OK. We’re going to turn this shape into a sphere to add to our button.

Apply the shine


Use the basis of your flat, minimal icon from the first project. Set the sphere layer to Screen and clip to your circle. Create a new layer, add a white oval to be clipped to the circle. Set to Soft Light.



Choose white, but reduce the Opacity to 65%, as this will make sure your glow doesn’t become overpowering.

Make the sphere


Flip your shape vertically (Cmd/Ctrl+T). Go to Filter>Distort> Polar Coordinates again and choose Rectangular to Polar. This will create a sphere shape that you can copy back into your icon document by Ctrl/right-clicking the layer and choosing Duplicate Layer.

Touch it up


Create a new layer, fill with black and go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Flip this layer vertically and place over the shine of the button. On the Custom Shape layer, go to Layer Style and create a white Outer Glow.

Ele m en ts

STYLE 3 Produce a stamp icon

Shortcut Use Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to flip a layer vertically

Get even more creative with filters and selections If you’re looking to create something even more personalised for your web icon set, why not try thinking outside the box completely? A set of stamp buttons can totally transform the look of your site from minimal or futuristic, to give it a much more quirky, retro feel. This might be the perfect project for if you’re looking to include portraits of people in the icons, rather than simply opting for the usual custom shapes.


Though there is a temptation to create futuristic-looking buttons for your site, a set of stamp icons can look vintage.

Make the shape


For this icon, we’re going to use a rectangle. Clip a Fill Color layer to the rectangle just as before, add your custom shape and clip a black layer. Go to Filter> Render>Noise, choose Monochromatic, 400%, then Filter>Filter Gallery>Sponge; Size: 10, Definition: 0, Smoothness: 6. Set to Soft Light, 50% Opacity.

Apply layer styles


With the crux of your button complete, layer styles are a great way to bring the best out of it. Go to Layer>Layer Style> Layer Settings on each layer to add an Inner Glow to the main rectangle, a Drop Shadow to the perforated edge and a Drop Shadow to the main custom shape.

Outline the rectangle


Create a slightly bigger rectangle on a layer behind your coloured rectangle and fill with #ebebeb. Grab the Brush (B) and set Spacing to 150%. Hit mask, and holding Shift, drag your brush along each edge of the rectangle to create a stamp effect.

Give it a gradient


Gradients are good for adding a little tone to flat images. With an icon such as this, you may want to keep it more flat and minimal; if you want to inject a little more dynamism, however, create a Gradient Fill layer and set to Soft Light.

Build on the stamp


Duplicate the custom shape of your icon. Resize it, keep it clipped to the circle layer, and fill with black: set to Soft Light, 50% Opacity. Position it so that you can still make out the outline of the original shape, so it looks like a giant shadow.

Texturise the edge


The outer rectangle of the stamp, that you masked with the spaced brush, may also benefit from having a little texture applied to it. Create a noise layer, as you did in step 1, and clip it to this rectangle.


ts n e m Ele


Get in touch

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DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR TYPOGRAPHIC POSTER ART? Type is something that’s really easy to get wrong. Fonts provoke strong opinions with designers, and getting the spacing and colours correct can be tricky, and that’s before you even begin to consider readability. When creating typographic posters, though, there are a few tricks that you can use to brighten up your work using simple techniques. For example, the ‘T’ of the first ‘The’ and the ‘G’ in the word ‘dog’ in this poster have been embellished by blending other letters into the poster with masks. The dot of the ‘I’ in ‘quick’ has had Motion Blur applied to it (Filter>Blur>Motion Blur) to convey the meaning of the word. A Gradient Fill layer (#ed874f to #f37279) has been clipped to add colour to the text. Layer styles are vital in embellishing text anyway, but even more so in posters. A white Stroke has been added here, and a #014770 Drop Shadow. Wires have been drawn in black to give the poster a neon sign feel.

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

Go to the Fill Layer icon and insert adjustments such as Levels or Hue/ Saturation to tweak the colour of your piece.



Use the Custom Shape (U) tool to add an icon or symbol to bring the text to life a little.


Low poly is a style of artwork that relies on shapes and low resolution as opposed to detail. Typically, low poly art consists of triangles; it is most commonly created in 3D-rendering programs such as Blender or even Adobe Illustrator, but it is possible to create low-poly artwork in Elements. Grab the Polygonal Lasso tool, and create a triangle over part of an existing photo. Fill that triangle with a colour and repeat until you’ve covered the photo in triangles. This is the easiest way to create low poly, but it’s very time-consuming; one way to actually speed up your workflow is to use the Average Blur tool. With your triangle selected, go to Filter>Blur>Average Blur, and Elements will fill the selected space with an average of all the shades in that space. Now as you go through selecting and filling, instead of having to use the Eyedropper to pick colours, you can just hit Cmd/Ctrl+F to automatically fill. Build with smaller triangles over the face for more detail, and move onto bigger triangles the further out from the face you move, until you’ve completed the picture.



Hit Auto to let Elements calculate how much it needs to fix your photo by and make the necessary adjustment.



The Quick tab of Elements is designed to make photo editing easier than ever. It provides you with a range of adjusting tools that can tweak your pictures with just a click, using sliders or with presets. Whenever you are in a rush, make the Quick tab your first port of call. The Smart Fix is perhaps the most basic of all these tools. It offers nine different degrees of fix for your picture – or a slider if you’d rather get a little more precise – and it simply tones and tweaks the colours. This makes it a perfect first step of any tutorial, just to fine-tune your shots. Equally, though, it might improve your image enough without you needing to do anything else.

Quick tip

Using the Color Picker

Isolating a single colour in a photo is a good way to draw attention to that particular shade, and it’s a simple technique that can be achieved in Elements using the Guided tab at the top of the program. Located under Black And White, B&W Color Pop enables you to choose red, green, blue or yellow as your chosen shade, or a colour of your choice. From there, you can refine the selection or increase the saturation of your shade. Hit Expert to actually edit the mask of your isolated colour.

The Color Picker can be used to find a specific colour from within your document. You can access it either by hitting the I key or holding Alt/Opt while you’re using the Brush tool (B). Though the Color Picker is one of the simplest tools in Elements, you can refine your settings for it in the bottom bar. You can choose a point sample, which picks the exact pixel you click on, or an average of either 3x3 pixels or 5x5. Click the Sample All Layers option if you want to choose a colour from across the document.



The temptation with double exposures is just to keep layering lots and lots of textures, images and landscapes over an existing photo to create a complicated final composition. Sometimes though, simple is best. To create a striking double exposure, use just two photos. Decide on a subject – whether that’s a person or an animal – and use Levels as well as masking to darken that subject and lighten the background. Select the subject with the Quick Selection tool (A); hit Mask, duplicate (Cmd/ Ctrl+J), then Invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I), and you’ll have two layers – your subject and its background – to edit. Now, drop in your landscape and set to Screen. Position it over your subject and mask where necessary. Copy the original subject layer over the top and set to Soš Light to add a little more definition.




Price Jot: £27 (approx) / $29.99 US | Mini: £13 (approx) / $19.99 US | Pixel: £70 (approx) / $79.99 US Web

Adonit styluses: Jot Pro, Jot Mini and Pixel

The specs Company Adonit

Additional specs Jot Pro/Mini: compatible with all touch screens Pixel: iPad 4, all iPad minis, all iPad Airs, iPad 12.9, and iPhone 5 and later

As tablets become more integrated into a digital artist’s workflow, which stylus suits you best? PIXEL

The Pixel can create highly detailed work as easily as it can create sketches. It requires charging though, which makes it better for keeping at home.



The Jot Pro is fairly similar to the Mini, only longer and heavier: this is the best stylus for sketching on the move.

The Jot Mini is the lightest of all three styluses, making it easily transportable but also the best option for taking notes.

Different strokes for different folks Discover the best stylus for your work

Fine sketches


When it comes to accuracy, all three Adonit styluses are good enough for creating fine work. Though the Pixel offers good touch sensitivity, you may find that the Jot Pro and Mini both offer more control thanks to the nib disc.


Writing notes

Thick strokes

All three styluses are more than capable of taking notes, but given the size and weight of the Jot Mini, it probably suits the role best. The clip just below the screw top also makes it very easy to place into a pocket.

The finer nibs on the Jot Mini and Pro are good for meticulous artists, but the thicker end of the Pixel is fun to splash watercolour shapes across a screen with. You can also take advantage of different pressures for different strengths.




s laptops and computers evolve, touch technology is becoming more and more accessible to digital artists everywhere. An iPad used to be thought of as a notepad-esque tool for quick sketches, but is increasingly being used to create whole pieces of artwork. With its wide range of styluses, Adonit has actually created pens specifically for both sketching and creating full pieces on tablets. The Pixel is a Bluetooth-powered stylus described by Adonit as “the best stylus we’ve ever made.” At a very different end of the spectrum however, the Jot and Mini are simpler, analog tools more capable of just making sketches on your device. But whether you’re a digital artist fully embracing the power of technology with the latest apps and portable devices, or you’re someone just looking to get your ideas down before you forget them, there’s definitely an Adonit stylus for everyone.

The Jot Pro stylus has a disc on the end of the nib – transparent so that you can see through to the tip of what you’re drawing – and its surface enables you to keep it flat against a touch screen. This is an interesting feature, as though it feels simplistic, the Jot has a pen-like weight when you hold it, and a screw lid for ease; it’s primarily built for comfort and user-friendliness, but the disc on the end of the nib is somewhat restricting while sketching. It’s the same for the smaller model, the Jot Mini; the disc is more useful for note-taking than actually drawing. This is where the Pixel is more advanced; the nib is far easier to use and just as smooth to the touch. Like the Jot Pro and Jot Mini, it has a good weight, feels comfortable and looks minimal, but it’s not really built for using on the go; the Pixel is more of a studio-based tool, as that’s when you can get the best out of the palm rejection feature and really explore the pressure sensitivity that the stylus offers.

Aside from these Jot issues, the disc actually anchoring the nib of your stylus to the screen is a good thing while on the move. Both styluses are minimal in design, but neither feels cheap, as they offer crisp precision. The Mini might be the better stylus for someone new to drawing on their iPad, or just wanting to write as opposed to draw, but the choice of which one you’d rather go for also depends on your drawing style. If you sketch at an angle, the Jot Pro might be better, while the Mini is ideal for those who hold a pen perpendicular to the page. The Pixel, however, feels a cut above both the Jot Pro and Mini, and it’s a pen that can be used at any angle. It’s Bluetooth enabled, with charging, shortcut buttons and touch sensitivity. It’s the next step up for digital artists who want to create more fully formed work on a tablet, as it has not just the accuracy of the Jot styluses, but it’s easy to shade with, too. Each stylus has its positives. The Mini is a cost-effective option for someone new to drawing on a tablet, and the Pro offers a different weight for more of a sketching hand. The Pixel combines the best of both with touch sensitivity, but while technology is rapidly evolving, the Jot Pro, Jot Mini and Pixel are all good for different kinds of artists. The real selling point of all three styluses, though, is just how easy they are to use; there really is a stylus for everyone.

The verdict Pixel:9 JotPro:7 JotMini:7

All three styluses are perfect for shaping work to embellish in Photoshop later. The Pixel is more sophisticated, but just as easy to use as the other two.

Standout feature Pinpoint pen precision

Embellishing artwork


The Jot Pro is the perfect stylus for any subtle flourishes you want to make to finish up your work. It’s scrupulous, comfortable in your hand and remains fixed to your screen, thanks to the disc. This makes it easy to track what you’re doing.

Sophisticated digital paintings

Whether you’re using the Jot Pro, Jot Mini or Pixel, the accuracy of your strokes remains the same. There’s absolutely no lag or latency with these styluses, and the calibration is perfect, making all three feel like you’re drawing with a pen on paper. The palm rejection feature with the Pixel makes it even more comfortable to draw with, too.


For anything a little more complicated, the Pixel is more than capable of assisting. Aside from its impressive pressure features and accuracy, it feels smooth across the screen at any angle you’re drawing at.




Price £49.99 / $89.99 US Web

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 365

The specs Company


Additional specs Windows Vista and above Minimum 500MB of RAM Minimum 300MB of available hard-disk space

What can Xara’s photo-editing software package do that Photoshop can’t manage? LAYERS


Build up your effects using the Layers palette on the right-hand side of your screen, just as in Photoshop.

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 365 has a big editing workspace: the toolbars are smaller to help keep everything else minimal.


Focus on specific photoediting nuances using the tabs on the right, and find tools on the le“.

Five novel effects Some of the more original tools offered by Photo & Graphic Designer 365

Upload to Facebook


Not only can Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 365 export your pictures to social media, but it can also create descriptions and enter keywords for people to find your work, all in just a few clicks.


3D rendering


While it can be difficult in rendering programs to get to grips with your polygons, Photo & Graphic Designer makes it easy to create simple 3D shapes that can be edited; even the lighting is simple to tweak.

The icon that looks like a wine glass on the left-hand side of Photo & Graphic Designer controls transparency. Rather like dragging a gradient, it has fantastic control over your image and is non-destructive.




hotoshop is thought to be the ultimate photo-editing machine for a reason. There’s very little that the software can’t do to an extremely high standard; it’s the perfect program not just for photo editing, but photomanipulation and digital art, and often all three kinds of project blur into one. While it’s difficult to reinvent the wheel when it comes to photo-editing software, plenty of programs attempt to do so, or simply create features that re-create Photoshop’s effects in quicker or easier ways. Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 365 is a program that offers a lot of the same things that Photoshop does, such as basic adjustments and simple tweaking tools like Type and Crop, and it even boasts a 3D-rendering aspect. In addition to the more rudimentary tools that you might expect, though, it delivers novelty effects and easy editing options that differ from Photoshop. First impressions of Photo & Graphic Designer are mixed. The main window is large enough for a big working space, and the

Layers palette comes with big icons for visibility, but more confusingly, there are colour swatches along the bottom of the window, and the interface isn’t the slickestlooking. The main tools are listed vertically down the left of the program, with all of the tweaking options and values appearing across the top bar found above the workspace. Photo & Graphic Designer can be difficult to get the hang of if you’re used to Photoshop, but once you’ve got to grips with the layout, there’s plenty to discover. The more ordinary editing tools are all high quality: the selection tools are responsive, the type feature is easy to use and customise, and the Shape tool is one of the simplest to master. Photo & Graphic Designer feels quick and efficient; it might not look the most sophisticated program on the market, but it gets edits done quickly, with the photo-editing ‘FX’ button being a prime example of this. Rather like Photoshop filters, each effect acts as a mini plug-in that can either add a subtle style such as HDR to your image, or create a wildly different effect with your picture.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are features that Photo & Graphic Designer boasts that few other packages on the market can. The 3D rendering option transforms flat objects just at the click of the button; for anyone interested in how rendering works, Photo & Graphic Designer feels like a good stepping stone between curiosity and experimentation. The Fill option can create psychedelic, kaleidoscope-like effects or simply mirror your image in two by dragging the picture from one side of the canvas to another, and the Transparency tool works like a cross between an eraser and a mask to give smooth, feathered edges to your images. While Photoshop can manage a lot of these tasks, Photo & Graphic Designer almost bridges the gap to break them down into more accessible projects. Though you can use the software for quite ambitious designs, it thrives in making intermediate photo-editing projects really quite simple to master. Though Photo & Graphic Designer isn’t without its faults, its user friendliness and reasonable price make it perfect for those starting out with editing. With a wealth of tools and lots of options within each one to create specific effects, there’s plenty to explore. Photo & Graphic Designer isn’t quite as sophisticated as Photoshop, but it’s powerful at what it does, and a useful program for creative photo-editing beginners.

The verdict


Well-priced and packed with all kinds of photo-editing options, Photo & Graphic Designer 365 is good for beginners to develop their skills, and great fun.

Standout feature FX tab

From the simple to the creative, the FX tab offers all kinds of filter-like options to help edit your photos. They’re easy to use, the effects are created quickly in the workspace behind, and they’re a good basis for you to start building a bigger effect with later on.

Fill in gaps


Use the Fill tool to generate more pixels across your image. Whether you use it creatively or just to block blank space with generated pixels, Photo & Graphic Designer fills the space quickly and cleanly.

Add in shadows


The Shadow tool enables you to physically drag shadows from your image to create a three-dimensional effect in your photo. It is particularly good when used in conjunction with the 3D tool.


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Portfolio interview

Brazilian youngster Thiago Garcia on how featuring in Photoshop Creative helped him to develop into an artist showcased by Adobe


hiago Garcia was just 14 years old when he was first featured in Photoshop Creative. Fast-forward three years, and he’s now one of Photoshop’s 25 Under 25, as well as developing a book of his artwork. But what advice does Thiago have for other young Photoshop artists wishing to develop like him? We asked him to share his artistic secrets.

Can you tell us how you first discovered Photoshop?

I always loved art. I tried all sorts of ways to express myself using art, until one day I started to study a bit of design with a focus on photo editing. In 2012, I found Photoshop. First, I learned everything from YouTube, watching several Photoshop tutorials. I started editing photos; in the beginning it was a bit difficult to get the hang of, but soon I began to get the hang of it. Today I see art as a way to inspire people, and this is what I try to do in every artwork of mine.

You were featured in the Photoshop Creative Readers’ Gallery 30 issues ago. How did that experience lead to you developing as an artist?

I found the Photoshop Creative website through some friends, who were also artists. I bought some magazines and I really enjoyed them; they really helped me a lot. I was asked to publish my first artwork in the magazine in issue 120, and that gave me a great motivation to evolve my style and improve each time. I met several other artists who saw my work and became my friends. And that’s the reason for my evolution and the achievements I’m having now.

Shortly after that, you were chosen as one of Adobe’s 25 artists under 25 to celebrate Photoshop’s 25th anniversary.


How did that come about?

Well, when Adobe launched the #Ps25Under25 tag on Behance to pick the artists, I put that tag in my projects, and I was lucky enough to be chosen. It was an amazing and unique experience that I will carry for the rest of my life. I created for them a piece of art called The Robot And The Bird – they loved it and everything went very well! All the art that was made for this project was displayed at Adobe Max 2015.

That’s a long way to come in such a short time: did you feel overwhelmed at any time?

Yes, having the feeling that your work is appreciated is gratifying and pleasurable for any artist. It’s a sign that things are working well. But the way I see it, I have a lot of work yet to be done; I want to learn more and gain more followers around the world, inspire people and make them happy, if only for a moment. In the future I want to create tutorials for my followers who are still new to art, as I believe that art can change the world.

doesn’t consist of only photomanipulations, though; they always have a little digital painting, so I use brushes and get detailed with colours. But I also have some works that consist of just digital paintings, and with these I solely use brushes in almost all the work.

What tips do you have for other Photoshop users who are perhaps looking for the same success with their work that you’ve had? Do things with love and you will surely receive this love back. Risk everything even if you go wrong several times; the fear of risk prevents you from evolving. Try to see the world in a way that’s different from the ordinary. Never try to be better than anyone; just be yourself.

What is it about Photoshop that you love so much?

I like to create art that inspires people; this is my greatest artistic goal. My style focuses on surreal artwork, with strong and vivid colours. I started doing this style after observing various works by artists like Erik Johansson that inspired me a lot. I think the surreal style is amazing: I love the way that it shows reality in an alternative way and can convey things that you wouldn’t see in real life. People today are tired of seeing the ordinary: they want to see something different, and that’s what I want to do with everything that I create.

What are your favourite tools?

Filters! The way they change the entire context of an image is incredible. My art

Portal: This was a picture in which lighting was important, but also one where digital painting skills were key. Adjustments were employed to perfect the colour and lighting.

All images © Thiago Garcia ThgGarcia

From magazines to Adobe Max

Alternate Reality: A science fiction-inspired image, the Screen blend mode was used on the starry sky to bring the stars out from the piece, and the grass was masked to look like the edge of the world, with the subjects walking towards the planet.

Earth: Earth is one of my favourite pieces I’ve created, along with the likes of Inner, Alternate Reality and Path. They all show an alternate reality of some kind, involving a bit of nature, space and humans, for a surreal finish.

Robot And The Bird: This was a project made for Adobe to celebrate 25 years of Photoshop. The original concept of the piece included 25 clover leaves, which refer to the 25th anniversary. The colour scheme was designed to be modest but still vibrant.

Path: Another image inspired by spacey textures, this one makes the girl the focus of the image and keeps to a more modest colour scheme. Brushes were important in creating the rain, as well as bringing contrast to the finished piece.

Inner: I went through a long creative process, trying to find my style, and the style I most liked was what I do now: surreal artwork with bright colours. This piece uses starry-night stock images to give the spacey feel.


Reader interview

Gods Growth

Wav ing Venture

Gods Growth Learn how Anders created this spacey composition with mostly stock images

Basic compositing

I began with a simple picture of space. I added a planet, then found a face from a Greek statue and set the blend mode to Hard Light. World’s End Chosen World

Anders Wik


Discover how 25-year-old Swedish designer Anders Wik turned a casual Photoshop hobby into a passion

hen Anders Wik first began using Photoshop, he used it simply “to tweak colours or have fun with images.” However, he goes on to say that “eventually it developed into less of a hobby and more of a passion.” Anders freelances occasionally but still spends hours on Photoshop in his spare time, as he says he finds Photoshop “soothing, like meditating.” We caught up with Anders to share some of his designing tips.

What makes a good composition?

I always look at the details. If there’s a lot of detail in a piece of art, you can tell that the artist has put a lot of work into it. I like to look at how the images are assembled in a photomanipulation.

How do you photomanipulate? Do you sketch ideas first?

Usually I get an idea in my head, and that turns into a picture. I rarely sketch. I look up stock photos that I need or take them myself if possible. Then all I have to do is create what’s in my head with Photoshop.


Do you try to convey a message with your work?

Adding the grass

I found and warped some grass with the Warp tool, added some contrast and then added a little shine to the planet to place some light in the scene.

I’m just trying to have fun while working on projects; that’s why many of the compositions I make have a comedic spirit to them. I guess, though, that I try to create something that conveys worlds beyond our own. That’s the power of Photoshop.

Do you have advice for beginners?

There are loads of tutorials out there, from beginner to the more experienced. Don’t worry about not being able to get help. I knew nothing before I started reading tutorials. They can help you to find your own style, develop and also embrace ideas.

Brushing the clouds

With the Brush tool and a set of cloud brushes, I created a fog-like effect in some areas of the image. I wanted a nice transition from the ground to the sky.

What key things have you learned?

When I’m done, I always use Camera Raw. The

t Once Wasyou can make allow you to tinker adjustments Wha

with colours or raise the clarity. You can also boost depth of an image, which I find useful! Find more of Anders’ work at http://

Placing the tree

The tree was placed as a finishing touch. From then on, there was nothing more than adding and adjusting details, such as colours, contrast and texture.


Photoshop creative issue 150 2016  
Photoshop creative issue 150 2016