advanced photoshop

Active Graphics: Part 1

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Tips & Tutorials, by The Advanced Photoshop Team

Adam Smith reveals how to grasp his graphics mash-up, then go it alone creating your own styles!

Active Graphics: Part 1

Thanks go out to Adam Smith for this tutorial. See more at

Step 1: Cut out

Active Graphics: Part 1

Open the ‘iStock_000012456595X’ model image and duplicate your layer. Press Cmd/Ctrl+I, inverting and defining model edges. Use the Pen Path tool to draw around these model edges, select the Path palette, Cmd/Ctrl-click your path layer, choosing Make Selection. Reactivate your original model layer and Copy and Paste into a new document.

Step 2: Laying your foundation

Active Graphics: Part 1

Edit, resize and replace your model layer, applying a mid-grey tone to your background. Select Dodge and Burn tools, set at 30% Opacity and apply a vignette effect – darker at the edges, highlighted in the centre. If you want to tweak highlights, then apply a Levels new adjustment layer, from the foot of the Layers palette.

Step 3: Colour wash

Active Graphics: Part 1

To add background watercolour or crayon effects import and saturate grunge textures, desaturate, apply Hue/Saturation Colorize treatment, then a Multiply blending mode. Grunge brushes with the same blending mode achieve similar effects. Layer masks help integrate edges. We’ve also applied a paper texture (‘iStock_000000726224’) set to Soft Light with Fill reduced to 50%.

Step 4: Monochrome skin effects

Active Graphics: Part 1

After applying a few more masked grunge textures behind our model, we start her treatment. Begin by Cmd/Ctrl-clicking the model layer thumbnail and apply a new Black & White adjustment later. Set Reds at -20 and Yellows at -165. Now merge only your model and adjustment layers together in a new complete layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E). You can darken model areas by painting to new Overlay blending layers, making model selections by Cmd/Ctrl-clicking layer thumbnails. Use a 30% Opacity soft black brush.

Step 5: Skin smooth

Active Graphics: Part 1

We want to smooth away pores and imperfections, so treat moles, scars, etc with Photoshop cloning tools. Again merge all related model layers into a new whole layer. Duplicate this and apply a Vivid Light blending mode. Invert this new merged layer and apply a 1-pixel radius Gaussian Blur. Next apply a 2-pixel radius High Pass filter. Select Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All.

Step 6: Body contours

Active Graphics: Part 1

Apply a white soft-edged brush, set at 80% Opacity, to your new layer’s layer mask – thus revealing gradual skin softening. Repeat this step to intensify effects. Again merge all model-related files into a new layer. Apply two new Curves adjustment layers – one with extreme highlights, the other with extreme shadows. Invert layer masks and paint in exposure effects to the model’s body contours, using a 20% Opacity brush.

Step 7: Adding angles

Active Graphics: Part 1

Merge all model layers, applying a layer mask. Use a hard-edged black brush to hollow out your model’s midriff. Create depth by painting to a layer beneath, before merging as before. On a new layer, create a triangle using Pen Path and Stroke (Path palette, Cmd/Ctrl-click). Create a textured example by Cmd/Ctrl-clicking your triangle layer thumbnail, placing over and activating your model merge layer, then pressing Cmd/Ctrl+J.

Step 8: Coloured lights

Active Graphics: Part 1

Integrate the triangle shape with a layer mask, moving in behind your model’s arm. Applying light tones to the skin is easy. Create a new 30% Opacity layer and paint a blue tone on your model, applying an Overlay blending mode. Duplicate and transform the tone to hot pink using Hue/Saturation, then apply a Screen blending mode. Set Opacity at 75%.

To be continued…

  • Tarak Pal

    It would have better to have been seen the the video tutorial of this project for me better understanding. Please..

  • Shakhawat Shahu

    Great article about image masking. It is easy to go for designer.
    Clipping path service | Image masking

  • David Drazil

    Hi, where can I find the files for this tutorial, please..?

  • Fernan Matos

    Pretty cool!