advanced photoshop

Create striking graphics: Part I

Posted in:
General, by Adam Smith

Create symbolic and geometrical shapes under a grid system that defines text layout

Using grids is a great way to determine the placement and hierarchy of text in our graphic design. This in turn will dictate the balance of our patterns.

Here, we explore how to set abstract shapes from some simple patterns, using a geometric and conceptual approach.

Treatment in Photoshop enables us to build our scene correctly and also to texture the image. Layer options are applied to achieve quick results and generate multiple effects, while creating minimalist designs.

We’ll show you how to achieve great balance in your design, exploring each element’s weight according to its position and angle.

This poster was in fact inspired by quotes about one of science’s latest discoveries – the Higgs Boson. So we’ve applied other visual cues inspired by this theme.

Create layout

We will start by applying a grid or squared pattern, which will help us to place balanced graphical elements. We will also apply an adapted version with the golden ratio to the top of our layout, in order to provide us with new spatial references that we will see applied in the final design.

Create striking graphics: Part I

Place text

We will make an initial placement of text, with a standard weight applied to all fonts. We have selected a font suited to the style of our intended design, which in this case is Avenir Lt Std. The hierarchy established by our initial grid determines the position of this text.

Create striking graphics: Part I

Determine direction

You can see the grid study dictates shape weights, which will be evenly distributed between the text and applied shapes. Also, we will determine the direction that we want our shapes and texts to adopt. In this case, the direction of our shapes will be set to diagonals with an inclination of 61 degrees.

Create striking graphics: Part I

Define text styles

Once we have placed our starter text, we can define text styles. Pay attention to the grid, as it helps you establish a new balance between the boxes of text and the space reserved for our graphics. Once applying your styles to the text, and after modifying the position, we will alter the colours of the texts to make them heavier or lighter. In the case of the header, we will choose a dark colour and a clearer tone for the smallest text. This game of contrast is defined by the results we envisage for the design.

Create striking graphics: Part I

Create vector patterns

Here you can see the kinds of shapes we’ve created using Illustrator, due to the vector nature of its tools. Resizing and applying gradients and outlines becomes much simpler, unless you have CS6 that is, as it now has the same shape engine. Open Illustrator and create a document to construct the first parallelogram. We can construct it from a rectangle, which we will displace horizontally by shifting the top two vertexes right. We will clone this first piece multiple times to create different elements by changing size, thickness, colour and transparency.

Create striking graphics: Part I

Import vectors

Once we have created a sufficiently diverse gallery of vectors, we will have to import these into Photoshop. You can easily do this by directly copy and pasting them. We will also be able to import them as a Path and then define styles by adding a new Gradient Fill adjustment layer. Using any of these two techniques will support the ability to rescale these shapes without losing any quality. Continue to duplicate imported elements, but name each one according to the order it’s placed.

Create striking graphics: Part I

Clone and insert elements

Now we will begin to duplicate the shapes and start defining the volume that will occupy our design. To obtain the effect that is observed in the supplied example, we will have to apply the Multiply layer mode to each one of the layers that contain the imported vector elements. Initially, we don’t have to conform to any specific structure or template. What we achieve here is simply a study of space, trying to simulate the illusion of a collision between particles.

Create striking graphics: Part I

Place patterns

Later, we will start defining the order of our elements more accurately. It’s advisable to merge the layers to exercise control over your graphics. We will start by ordering and grouping the biggest elements and continue expanding graphics by incorporating the rest of the smallest or subtle shapes. When overlapping layers, make sure you create a visual balance of sorts through the applied Multiply blending modes to your red and blue shapes, which create your gradient effects.

Create striking graphics: Part I

Clone and place shapes

After obtaining balance in our larger, denser shape layering, start applying smaller white elements. Merging this group of elements becomes an effective way to create visual dynamism, due to the great quantity of vector pieces that we will incorporate and juxtapose. The placement of these smaller graphics generates a certain amount of complexity and movement in the piece, so take your time with this step.

Create striking graphics: Part I

Add white parallelograms

Now we’ll import white parallelograms to create the illusion of empty spaces in our graphics, placed at points of interest. These extend the possibility of creating minimalist yet complex design. While applying this new graphic, we will make visible and use the golden ratio grid as before to respect the key areas of the design. Modify the size and transparency of the parallelograms to obtain subtler effects in the graph.

Create striking graphics: Part I

Second pattern group

Once we have obtained a group of graphical elements that we like, we will merge (Cmd/Ctrl+E) and lock these layers, ensuring that none of these shapes break away from our defined graphic layout. Again, import more shapes from Illustrator and start covering the design space with these, applying Multiply blending modes. Add to areas you think will benefit most. Once again, we will begin to duplicate dense and dark elements first.

Create striking graphics: Part I

New shapes and angles

We’ll place white parallelograms, used once again to create empty spaces and further complexity on a minimalist design. Instead of masking the design with these shapes, you can use alternatives. In this case, we’re happy with the direction of our graphic, which moves only in one direction on the same axis. We’ll respect the angles of the initial parallelogram and pay attention to the grids when creating these new hollows in our graphics.

Create striking graphics: Part I

…Revisit the AP Blog for Part II of this tutorial, tomorrow!