advanced photoshop

Photoshop Tutorial: Create with shapes, part 1

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Tips & Tutorials, by Anna-lisa Saywell

Use both geometric and organic forms to create fresh and unique symmetry within your graphical designs

Creative shapes tutorial

In this tutorial, we turn our hand to this contemporary graphic style, using freestyle and geometric shapes to create a balanced composition. Also included are several mixed-media approaches that add tangibility to what may have once been a static style, as well as showing you how to couple 2D and 3D forms.

Download the start files for this tutorial (select ‘Shapes’ from the list)

Step 1

Photoshop Tutorial: Create with shapes, part 1

Settings for a graphic piece are more about sensation than visual detail. Start by opening your document and creating a new solid grey layer. Create a new layer, fill with solid black, then load up the Cloud Brushes, applying a 70% Opacity Cloud 3 black brush – bottom up – to create fog/cloud effects.

Step 2

Photoshop Tutorial: Create with shapes, part 1

Copy and Paste in iStockphoto’s ‘11242613’ nebula image. Place central to the skyline, rotating right by 30 degrees. Tweak tones by applying Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation, Hue at -175, Saturation at -20. You should see some semblance of a skull in the reoriented image (see example). Also apply Smart Sharpen to the Orion image – 100% Amount with a 1-pixel Radius.

Step 3

Photoshop Tutorial: Create with shapes, part 1

Apply a Vivid Light blending mode to your nebula layer then a layer mask, integrating edges. Duplicate, flip horizontally and reapply a Screen blending mode, tweaking mask and position. Next import the ‘1036239’ human skull image from SXC, setting a 70% Opacity Soft Light blending mode. Position over converging nebula layers to complete the skull visual, integrating with a layer mask.

Step 4

Photoshop Tutorial: Create with shapes, part 1

Copy and Paste in the iStockphoto ‘2684253’ close-up of the Orion nebula image. Rotate 90 degrees to the left, applying a Screen blending mode, then rescale and position to the right of your skull, extending from the right eye socket. Reapply blue and purple tones as before via Hue/Saturation. Sharpen and integrate with a layer mask once more.

Step 5

Photoshop Tutorial: Create with shapes, part 1

Duplicate your black layer from Step 1, placing above all others. Set the blending mode to Screen, then apply ‘120b91’ blue Color Overlay (15% Opacity) and a 90-degree violet-to-transparent Gradient Overlay. Next, Copy and Paste the ‘5260804’ model image and scale down, rotating 30 degrees to the right. Apply Image>Adjustments>Black & White, setting Reds at -120 and Yellows at 75.

Step 6

Photoshop Tutorial: Create with shapes, part 1

Position your model head layer as in the example. Duplicate this, resetting a 50% Opacity Multiply blending mode. Grunge up the area by applying iStockphoto’s ‘10117876’ and ‘4157951’ watercolour layers from the disc, set to Color, Linear Burn and Soft Light blending modes. Tweak opacity and saturation settings, playing with orientation and editing with layer masks.

Step 7

Photoshop Tutorial: Create with shapes, part 1

Let’s offset the standard shapes we’ll apply soon with bespoke samples. We’ve used contemporary rustic stock. Open the ‘IMG_1655’ mountain range image, then use selection tools (Pen, Lasso, etc) to draw around sections of the mountain, inserting into your image. Do this numerous times, rescaling and repositioning as you go. Drop Shadow layer styles can add perspective so play with these for best effects.

Step 8

Photoshop Tutorial: Create with shapes, part 1

To create more personalised graphic effects, try applying Exclusion blending modes to some of these mountain layers and inverting (Cmd/Ctrl+I) to create unique and interesting colour contrasts. Now start to apply your first pass of standard shape – circles. Copy and Paste these in from the ‘2D shapes.psd’, or make them yourself with the Circle Shape tool.

Continue to part 2 of this tutorial…