advanced photoshop

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2

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Tips & Tutorials, by Anna-lisa Saywell

Continued…Learn how to produce eye-catching creative portraits using geometric shapes and Photoshop’s colour adjustments in Part 2 of this tutorial from Ryan Barber

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
Follow part 1 of this tutorial

Thanks go out to Ryan Barber for this tutorial. See more of his work at

Step 13

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
From the upper-left corner of the Gradient palette, drag the Gradient swatch to the Swatches palette. Select a triangle and click on the new swatch; this applies it to the selected triangle. We can specify the location and direction of our gradient by selecting the triangle, pressing G and clicking where we want the gradient to begin, then dragging our cursor to the point where we want it to end. Repeat this click and drag process in different locations, adjusting the gradient slider, until it accurately represents the photograph’s colours.

Step 14

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
As we fill our grid shapes with solid colours and gradients, we need to make sure that we can clearly distinguish all of our triangles. If any triangles start to merge together then the image will begin to appear flat and lack that third dimension. Colour hues, colour values or gradient angles may need to be adjusted. Refer back to the base photograph for reference and remember: you should always be able to distinguish the edge of every side of every triangle.

Step 15

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
It’s time to add some colour adjustments and lighting effects in Photoshop. Hit Select All and then Copy. Now open up Photoshop and create a new document by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+N. Photoshop will automatically set up the new file to fit the dimensions of your illustration. Once again, if you want to get this printed then set your workspace to Image>Mode>CMYK. If you want this illustration to be used online, select Image>Mode and then choose the RGB colour mode instead. Paste as ‘Pixels’ and press OK.

Step 16

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
We’re going to change the model’s hair so that it includes vibrant purple tones. In Illustrator, lock the photograph by selecting it and pressing Cmd/Ctrl+2. Select all of the shapes that form her hair, except for the buzzed area around her ears. Individually select each triangle with the regular selection tool. Hold down the Shift key and click on each desired triangle, continuing to add to the selection. Once all of the hair is selected, press Cmd/Ctrl+C. Switch over to Photoshop and then press Cmd/Ctrl+V.

Step 17

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
Back in Photoshop, we now have two separate layers. The complete illustration should be on the bottom layer and the layer with just the hair should be set at the top of the stack. Change the hair layer’s name from Layer 2 to Hair by double-clicking directly on the layer’s name; a white box will appear around it. Type in Hair and then press the Return key. It’s always good practice to keep all layers intuitively labeled, no matter how few layers a file may contain.

Step 18

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
Now that we have an editable hair layer, we can make colour changes to it. Double-click just to the right of the Hair layer’s name; the Layer Style dialog will appear. In the left-hand column of options there are a lots of different Layer Styles. Select Gradient Overlay. Photoshop will default the gradient style to black and white, which will be previewed for us. If you don’t see the applied gradient overlay, tick the Preview checkbox under the New Style button.

Step 19

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
Set this gradient overlay’s blend mode to Color Burn. This particular blend mode creates a rather interesting effect, which can be seen in our example. Photoshop achieves this effect by looking at the colour channel information and then darkening the base colour, which it does by increasing the contrast between the base and the blend colours. The next thing for us to do is click on the gradient slider to activate the Gradient Editor. Here we will specify which swatches will make up the Gradient Overlay applied to the woman’s hair.

Step 20

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
The first thing to do is to click on the black swatch at the bottom-left of the gradient slider, as indicated in the lower of the two windows shown. This will activate the colour stop at the bottom-left of the gradient, which you’ll find under the Stops section at the very bottom of the window. Ours is a black stop colour, as seen in the upper of the two windows shown; click on it to activate the Select Stop Color dialog.

Step 21

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
The stop colour will default to a field of red. Click and select an area of purple in the Select Color Stop colour swatch. Notice how the woman’s hair now looks slightly purple. Click OK twice to continue. We don’t want the purple to stand out too much – it will look more realistic to dial the opacity back a little bit. In the Layer Style dialog set Opacity to 70%, Style to Linear, Angle to -100˚, Scale to 75% and check the Align with Layer tickbox.

Step 22

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
The polygons are beginning to pop now as these vibrant gradients work with the defined edges to create a 3D effect. Next we’ll make the model’s buzzed hair a darker purple. In Illustrator, copy the associated areas then paste these into Photoshop. Now we apply our new Gradient Overlay to this. Set the Gradient Overlay’s blend mode to Color Burn. Set Opacity to 85%, Angle to 140˚, Scale to 115%, and then set the stop colour’s RGB values to R:83, G:0, B:136.

Step 23

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
We’re going to make our polygonal punk model’s ring a brighter, baby blue colour that will give it a more of a gemmed feel. Switch over to Illustrator again and then copy and paste the ring into Photoshop. Set the Gradient Overlay’s blend mode to Overlay. Then set Opacity to 100%, Angle to 119˚ and Scale to 150%. Back inside the Gradient Editor, set the left-hand swatch’s RGB values to R:168, G:209, B:255. Then set the right-hand swatch’s RGB values to R:58, G:146, B:255.

Step 24

Photoshop Tutorial: Master Polygons Part 2
The final step is to create a separate adjustment layer that will bring everything together. Head down to the bottom of the Layers palette and then click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon. Select Levels from the pop-up menu. While holding down the Opt/Alt key, click in between the Ring Levels layer and the Ring layer. Now, any changes that you make in the Adjustments palette will be applied to the layer below it. Change the first Output Level value to 45, as shown.

  • Naomi

    it looks great. i will learn about this.
    thank you very much.

    what an awesome tutorial 😀

  • Ziran Lai

    so cool

  • Sarfaraz

    thnx dear,