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10 October 2009

Use layers to create dynamic depth

Creative genius Neil Duerden has been wowing the design community with his effects-heavy work. Here’s how he uses Photoshop’s Multiply blend mode to add depth.

Dynamic depth in Photoshop

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For this tutorial, we’re going to be primarily using Adobe Photoshop to create an image that layers a stack of simple effects. The result is a more complex final image that shows considerable depth in its composition.

This style of image is simpler than you’d think to create, but can demand a lot from your system.

You will be switching between Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Corel Painter as well, and throwing a few hand-rendered elements in just for good measure, and to bring out the hands-on creative in you.

A central element of this tutorial is the use of the Multiply function in Photoshop. Part of the darken family of blending modes, at its most basic it compares the blend layer’s pixels with the base layer on a channel-by-channel basis, but rather than simply choosing the darker of the two, it multiplies the base colour by the blend colour.

A multiple of black will always be black, and anything multiplied by white is unchanged. Otherwise, the net result is always a darker underlying image.

Become a mixologist

Multiply can seem odd at first glance. The concept of mixing paints – red and blue, for example – is simple to grasp. Multiplying is similar to the leap between addition and multiplication in mathematics.

To understand it, here’s a mini tutorial. Try creating a document that has two layers in Photoshop. Fill both layers with the same mid-range colour. A light grey works best here.

Next, switch the top layer’s blending mode to Multiply, and you’ll see the mode in operation, with the blend colour a much darker grey.

The key for this tutorial, though, is to focus on experimentation, especially with blending modes such as Multiply and Photoshop’s layer effects, and having a great starting image. While there is a lot you can follow directly along with – and the splat.ai file is included on the cover CD so you can do just that – an image such as this is heavy on creative fun.

Part of creating a complex image such as this is to be a magpie when it comes to images. From the base mono image through to hand-drawn elements, cutouts and scanned elements, our image is alive with points of interest and texture.

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Step 1
First, you need to obtain a mono shot that has good deal of contrast. The shot can have a background or be on an infinity screen, though bear in mind that each type will give a different feeling to the final piece. Your main task here is to find a shot you like, as you will be staring at it for some time.

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Step 2
Mask off the subject as tightly as possible, by creating a duplicate layer and adding a layer mask set to reveal all. Next, select the mask itself and draw around the image you wish to keep.

You can use feather-edge brushes to allow for semitransparent edges. Alternatively, you can use masking software like onOne Software’s Mask Pro 4, which makes this bit a lot easier.

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Step 3
Now, add a layer in between your two existing layers and add a splash of colour. To do this, simply add a gradient of your chosen colour to create a little contrast and use the hue command in the layer effects. Don’t make this too obvious, as the effect should be subtle.

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Step 4
Next, switch your image into Adobe Illustrator. With the image opened, begin to draw vector lines over the top. Remember to place it on a separate layer and lock it before you start, as accidentally moving the image as you draw your vectors is not good!

Draw whatever you fancy, and in keeping with your chosen image as this is where you stamp your mark on the piece.

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Step 5
If you have kept the original the same size in Illustrator, all you need to do is paste it into Photoshop and it will be the correct size.

If you’re not happy with the colour, you can simply adjust the hue by going into the Image>Adjustment>Hue and saturation menu.

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Step 6
Now highlight vectors using the Burn tool – using this will give added depth. You should vary the brush size to get the best possible result.

You want to make this appear as a cross between a real look and a plastic falseness to help it stand out from the original layer. This will obviously differ depending on what you used as a base image.

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Step 7
Duplicate up the top layer of the subject, and then adjust the hue and saturation as in step 5, using a colour that matches the composition of your piece.

Next, add more sections to your layer mask to hide areas and give more interest to the viewer. Use your own personal judgement here, and don’t shy away from experimentation.

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Step 8
Next, freehand draw a shadow beneath the model and using the layer effect Multiply. You need to place one below at 100 per cent opacity, and one above at around 50 per cent opacity to hide the joint between the model and the background.

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Step 9
Open up the file splats.ai supplied on this month’s cover CD and paste these onto your image, and set the layer to Multiply. Place this layer behind the main masked subject layer and experiment with the layer opacity to get the effect level you think is right.

Repeat this process several times, adjusting the opacity each time, until you get the complexity you desire. Time for some hands-on creativity. Get out your pen and paper and do a few hand-rendered drawings. Scan these in and place them behind your subject image.

The image layer then needs to be set to Multiply. If necessary, use the Edit> Transfer>Perspective feature in Photoshop to get your scanned in drawings to better match your composition.

Time to swap programs. For this final stage, we’re going to use Corel Painter. Open your layered file in Painter and duplicate the master layer of the girl, then apply the Effects>Fill>Pattern filter and choose the rose design. Then apply this to the layer top layer using the Gel layer effect, reducing the opacity to around 15 per cent.

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Step 10
Now you need to get a picture of an item that complements your image, and clip it out and place the image behind the main image, adding a slight drop shadow – enough to boost the contrast.

You then need to duplicate this layer, resize it, and change the opacity and layer modes in random to get a mixed effect. There is no science to this – just experiment.

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Step 11
Next, duplicate the splat effect and flower layers, changing the hue and saturation to fit in with the composition. This will give a more blended feel to the image as a whole. Next, multiply these layers down using various layer effects. I can’t stress enough that this is all a chance to experiment!

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Step 12
Finally, introduce some other elements using the same effects as with the flowers in the earlier step. Don’t be shy – just pile them up and work on your composition. You can take this as far as you want.

Remember this is all about experimentation and making it different so try to get a good selection of items in at this stage. Drawing vectors and importing them can be a good idea to add more depth.

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Step 13
Continue experimenting in this way, adding layers and elements until you’re happy. Then just flatten your image and save the file.

Author: Neil Duerden

2 October 2009

Create amazing sticker art


In this masterclass, Leicester-based duo Waste – the combined talents of Daniel Lowe and Norman Hayes – have drawn inspiration from the likes of Ed Roth and Jim Phillips to create an astounding sticker collection.

And not only can you explore how the duo create their art, but we’ve included the full sticker sheet free with this issue for you to slap onto surfaces anywhere.

Mention stickers to professional designers, and the inspirational styles of the likes of Jim Phillips and Ed Roth spring to mind. Roth, who was part of the 60s ‘Kustom Kulture’ in Southern California, kickstarted a whole generation of grotesque characters that have since formed the basis of sticker and card art.

It was a mantle taken up in the mid-70s to late 90s by Phillips, who transformed the art style into detailed skateboard deck art that came to dominate the scene.

Roth, who was born in 1932, was an artist and cartoonist who was behind the hot-rod icon Rat Fink, and other extreme characters. His passion was custom car building, but his staggering array of outsized, imaginative monstrosities that appeared as cartoon characters sealed his fame.

It’s reported that Roth’s hatred for Disney’s Mickey Mouse led him to draw the original Rat Fink. After he placed Rat Fink on an airbrushed monster shirt, the character soon came to symbolize the entire hot-rod/Kustom Kulture scene of the 1950s and 1960s.

Fast-forward to the mid-70s, and the other great inspiration for Waste’s style – Jim Phillips – stepped into the limelight. Best known for his rock posters – his second poster was for the first East Coast appearance of The Doors – from 1975 to 1990, Phillips was art director for Santa Cruz Skateboards, where he created hundreds of skateboard deck, T-shirt, sticker, and ad art designs.

His stickers became so popular that his designs chalked up sales of eight million over a two-year period. These two sticker-design giants were responsible for a cultural phenomenon. You can find out more about Jim Phillips at www.jimphillips.com, and more about Ed Roth at www.edroth.com.



Step 1
We're going to design a sticker sheet that will be printed on self-adhesive vinyl and die-cut. To start, launch Photoshop and create an A5 landscape document, setting the resolution to 300dpi, and colour mode to CMYK. Name it sticker sheet layout.



Step 2
You'll need to decide on a few informational elements before you start the design proper. Things to conside include company name Web address, contact details and any extra branding. You should also look back at any some sticker art from the 60s to early 90s – when the likes of Jim Philips and Ed Roth produced some amazing examples – for inspiration, as it's from here we'll be taking our lead.



Step 3
Before further work in Photoshop grab yourself a pencil and paper, and start producing some rough sketches of possible layouts and sticker ideas.

Once the layout and sticker designs have been chosen, you then need to map it out onto an A5 sheet, and transfer those positions roughly to the layout in Photoshop (you can use a separate layer to block out sticker areas, using the box and polygon tools to create a map of your sticker sheet). Save the document as Sticker sheet Layout.psd.



Step 4
For this masterclass, the stickers themselves are going to be pen and ink graphics that will later be coloured in Photoshop. There are many ways to draw pen and ink graphics but the method in the following steps best suits our own style of illustration.

Step 5
We've a good idea of what our sticker art will be, so it's time to sketch them. Key tip here – always ensure you use a jet black, ultra sharp pencil so you produce clean, sharp edges. Smudgy designs don't translate to stickers that well.



Step 6
Once your sticker art is sketched in pencil, it's time to link them up. Our personal preference is to use tracing paper to re-trace our pencil drawings in pen, improving the drawings where possible. Heavy up the outlines, especially on the underside of the character forms, and add texture and shading where needed.



Step 7
The next step is to bring the inked work into Photoshop. To do this, you'll need to access a scanner, which will scan each piece of artwork. Alternatively, you can always work in digital form in the pen-&-ink stage, bypassing the need to scan anything in.

Once scanned, open each sticker illustration into Photoshop and choose Image > Mode > Grayscale. Next choose Image > Adjustments > Brightness and Contrast and adjust each image to get a nice crisp line.



Step 8
Next, copy-&-paste each of your sticker designs onto the Sticker Sheet Layout document, and arrange them in your desired layout. You can toggle the position layer on and off as you work for accurate placement.

Because the stickers will be die-cut, it's important to allow space all the way around each of the stickers to prevent any details being cropped. No design should butt up against any other design.



Step 9
The next step is to colour up your stickers on the sticker sheet layout document but, before you do, you need to decide on the colours you are going to use. We want the colours to be vibrant and, because we don’t have the luxury of using spot colours, we have decided to use CMYK.

But, how you handle it is different to the standard CMYK working. For this sticker style we are sticking to pure CMY and K values – and avoiding any shades.



Step 10
First, you need to organize your layers. On the layer palette, highlight all layers that contain your sticker art and sticker sheet info, and choose Layer > Merge Layers (Cmd/Ctrl+E). Rename the layer Black, and set to Multiply from the drop-down menu on the layer panel. You need to keep the layer top-most and, if you haven’t already, delete your positioning layer as suggested in step 3.



Step 11
Next, create a new layer and name it Cyan. Set the fill colour to 100 per cent Cyan and 0 per cent Magenta, Yellow and Black. Using the brush tool (b) colour up the areas that will be cyan.



Step 12
Repeat for the Magenta and Yellow colours – keep to 100 per cent values for each. Once your sticker sheet is coloured, save the document as a PSD file. It’s handy to keep an unflattened version of your sheet in case you decide to change the colours.

However, for printing, we need a flattened TIFF, so flatten the layered image by choosing Layer > Flatten image, then save as Sticker sheet.tif.



Step 13
With the artwork for the sticker sheet finished, you have one more document to create before it goes to print – a die-cut line template, which we’re going to create in Adobe Illustrator.

Load up Illustrator, create a new A5 landscape document, and choose File > Place to place our artwork. Next, lock this layer by choosing Object > Lock > Selection.

Step 14
Now we need to draw our die-cut lines around each of the areas that will be cut. Set the fill colour to empty and the stroke colour to red and, using the pen tool (p), draw your cut marks as shown.


Step 15
Finally, unlock the sticker sheet by choosing Object > Unlock All, then delete it. You’re left with a die-cut template, which needs to be saved as ‘diecut.pdf’. Job done!



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