My Blog for your Knowledge

We'll make sure your website works for you...

The Road to Web designing

Art Illustrations

Do you want to look great?

9 June 2010

Master advanced warp effects

Kyle DeTella makes heavy use of Photoshop’s Warp and Burn tools to create an abstraction composition based on his current work.

In this tutorial, we will use Adobe Photoshop to compile various simple elements into a more intricate design. Having a stockpile of assets and self-made elements is invaluable to any designer, whether simply for reference or to actually use in compositions.

Before tackling this tutorial, I would suggest creating abstract mini-compositions to throw into the piece. Make use of Photoshop's Warp, and Displacement features to achieve your look.

Having a clean focal point, such as a photograph of a person, is a wonderful contrast with the scratchy and busy shapes you can place around it.

Step 1
To begin, find a photo of a model in an upright pose. Be sure she has a sense of flow and movement. The model used in this tutorial can be obtained from (ref: 1847617). Begin by opening your photo in Photoshop. Using the Pen tool, path out the model (hair is always tricky, however in this instance, precision is not imperative since we will have a white background). Load your path as a selection from the Paths palette and copy-&-paste the model into a new document sized 2,400-x- 2,400 pixels. Fill the background (G) with dark grey (#111111).

Step 2
Resize the model to fit entirely within the frame. The original image was dull. We need to resaturate it. Select the Saturation Palette by pressing Ctrl/Cmd+U. Move the Saturation slider until her skin has a more natural tone. Keep an eye on the entire image to keep it even. Looking at her leg, the colour is very washed out. Use the Burn Tool (O) to remedy this. Use a soft brush set at between 600 to 1,200 pixels and set the range to ‘Midtones’. Run the brush in even passes over her leg and her upper body.

Step 3
If you are using the model from this tutorial, select the lower portion of her leg and copy-&-paste it in a new layer. Rotate the leg horizontally and place it beneath the Model layer. Play with its orientation and size until it gives the impression that it is her second leg and she is dancing. It’s okay if it is not 100 per cent correct – implied realism creates more intrigue. For organizational purposes, merge the two layers so it is easier to reposition her later.

Step 4
Use a stock photo or create your own TV. Use the Pen Tool (P) to trace the outline of the TV and screen. Select the path in the Paths palette and resize it (Cmd/ Ctrl+T). Load the path as a selection, create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N), and fill with black. Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), make a selection slightly larger than the screen area. Fill this with a medium grey (#696869) on a new layer behind the TV. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the screen. Brush white over one corner of the screen. Adjust the lightness in the Hue/Saturation palette (Cmd/Ctrl+U) to about -22. Repeat in the other corner.

Step 5
Resize the television and the model to fit into the frame together. Here is where your collection of assets and shapes comes in handy. Unless it is something client specific, I always reuse elements. Compile your elements, and make use of the Warp feature (Cmd/Ctrl+T then Right-click/Ctrl+Click > Warp) to create a white structure to place behind the model. Place this behind the TV and the model. Feel free to add extra elements and textures to give this, or any piece, more intricacy.

Step 6
Now for the ribbons. Using the Pen Tool create a curvy shape. Fill it with a beige colour (#dcd2b1). Burn (O) one edge to suggest lighting. Duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J), select the Free Transform tool (Cmd/Ctrl+T) and adjust the rotation point by dragging the crosshair in the centre of the transform box to a far corner of your element. Now rotate to achieve desired look. Continue this two or three times. Create additional ribbons varying the size, shading, and orientation. The idea is to complement the flow of the model.

Step 7
To divide the piece more, you can add a coloured shape flowing downwards. Use the Pen Tool to create a mountain with concave slopes. Make certain to overlap the white elements. Load the path as a selection and fill it (G) with another beige colour. Right click the layer in the Layers Palette and select Blending Options. Tick ‘Gradient Overlay’ from the Gradient drop-down menu, select ‘Foreground to Transparent’, change the colour to White, then tick the box ‘Reverse.’ You can also add a texture to this part using the Pattern Overlay feature.

Step 8
The mountain can stand to use some more dimension and depth. Use the Magic Wand tool (W) to select it and create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N). Using the soft-edged brush again, paint some black along the left and right edges of the selection. Do this gently and make it look very natural. You can also use Blending Options>Inner Shadow, but I feel this has a more authentic look. Adjust the opacity so the black doesn’t look too harsh.

Step 9
Hide all of your layers except the background. Create shapes using the Pen Tool (P), load them as selections then, as in Step 8 with the shading, paint around the edges, this time with white. This is a nice way to create smoke or even clouds. Get experimental! After painting one, copy and remold it using Free Transform>Warp. Lay out your shapes as if they are emerging from the television. Also add dimensional shapes such as spheres. Just make a circle using your choice of tool and add shading to one side of it to give it some depth.

Step 10
Open a new document in Illustrator. Make some scratchy paths with the Brush Tool. Set the stroke colour to BCB183. Use a couple of different brushes to achieve the desired affect. Before resizing strokes, click Object>Expand Appearance so that it all remains proportional. Select your design Cmd/Ctrl+A, copy it and move back to your Photoshop file. Paste the Illustrator design into your Photoshop piece. Select ‘Smart Object’ so that you have the freedom to resize. Set the scratches behind the model.

Step 11
Copy your scratchy brush design, or make a new one that is similar, and place it near the right of the composition. Copy the layer Cmd/Ctrl+J, then select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to 4.5. Set the Blending Mode to Screen and the Opacity to 40 per cent. This gives a nice glow to the element.

Step 12
Now to synthesize a reflection in the TV screen. Select your elements that are immediately atop the screen, copy the layers Cmd/Ctrl+J, and then Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T)>Flip Vertical, now move the element down so that it touches the bottom of the original. Lower the opacity to anywhere from 40 per cent to 60 per cent and softly erase away the reflection, leaving the sections near the top untouched.

Step 13
We need to add some dimension to our model. Copy her layer Cmd/ Ctrl+J, and in the Hue/Saturation Palette Cmd/Ctrl+U set the Lightness to -100. Set the layer behind the original model, Cmd/Ctrl+[ . Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to anywhere from 6-8. Now for some trial-&-error. Erase the newly made shadow on the right side of her body and in places where no element is immediately behind it. Just play around until you get the look that suits you.

Step 14
At this point add in your own elements, think of images or shapes that correspond to the feel and theme. To enhance the look, select the top layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl+A, Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+C, Cmd/Ctrl+V. This copy/pastes a merged layer on top of your composition. Scroll through the Blending Modes and adjust opacity to give this piece the look you want. You can also do an Auto Adjust on the Levels, Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+L. The composition may not look entirely balanced or have too much dead space. Try framing it within a smaller canvas size for a more interesting aesthetic.

Kyle DeTella

7 June 2010

Create fashion-inspired photo illustrations

Take one alluring fashion image – and add to its mystery using some clever photomontage techniques. In this tutorial, up-and-coming creative Bram Vanhaeren shows how you can transform fashion photography into edgy, enigmatic illustrations in just a few steps.

You’ll create and layer textures, vector elements and little doodles to draw the viewer’s attention and keep them noticing little details. Bram shows how to use the Warp tool to seamlessly blend elements, and to sample parts of your model’s clothing.

You’ll liven up your image’s subtle colour palette with dynamic flashes. The effect is on-trend but distinctive – and the techniques you’ll learn can be used for other photomontages.

The model shot was created by Katanaz-Stock and can be downloaded for free from DeviantArt at The paper texture is by bashcorpo and can be downloaded for free from DeviantArt at

Step 1 Choose a background and a model. I like to use a paper texture as a background as it gives you a lot of options to work with. Look out for fashion-related models, as they tend to have good poses with lots of attitude.

Step 2 Desaturate some parts of the model. Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness & Contrast and set both Brightness and Contrast to +25. Duplicate the model layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and desaturate the duplicate (Cmd/Ctrl + U). With the Lasso tool set to a 100px feather, make a selection around the model’s shoulder and delete this part from the desaturated layer.

Step 3 Create some 3D shapes. Using the Polygonal Lasso tool and a soft round brush set to 20% opacity, create an abstract octagonal selection, and fill it. In a new layer, add depth with light and shadows.

Step 4 At the moment the 3D shape doesn’t fit in with the piece at all: to integrate it more smoothly we’ll need to use the Warp tool. First merge the light and shadow layers, so that each 3D shape is a single layer.

Choose a particular shape and think of a place you want to blend it into – here I chose her upper legs. Now go to Edit > Transform > Warp and drag those parts into position.

Step 5 We’re going to use the interesting pattern from the model’s clothing. First, take the coloured model layer and duplicate it again. Cut out the checked pattern from her shoulder and arms with the Lasso tool. Go to Edit > Transform > Warp again and place it around her leg or arm as an armband – or any other use you can think of.

Step 6 Add some more coloured shapes in the background, and little elements that work well with the model – here, I’ve added some gold jewellery and a black abstract bird, as well as adding some drips to her wrist to conceal where her hand is cropped off.

Next, we need to create a pattern texture – in this case, I used a photo of a silver ring that I downloaded for free from stock.xchng (download it from Select a part of the jewelry, and select Edit > Define Pattern, and name your pattern.

Step 7 To create this shadow beneath our model, make a quick selection from her with the Lasso tool and then right click/Ctrl-click > Fill and select your jewellery pattern. Don’t forget to make a new layer under our model’s layer.

Step 8 We’re getting close to our finishing touches. As I mentioned in the beginning, I love to work with a paper texture in the background as it really adds to the depth of the piece without limiting you unduly. Here, I’m also going to highlight the model by adding white shapes – using the Lasso tool – behind her. I’ve created shapes that are similar to white abstract flames. On the paper texture this is subtle but highly effective.

Step 9 And now for some finishing touches. Add some abstract shapes and rough brush strokes. Now select a striking colour and highlight some parts of the model. Finally, take a round, soft brush at 60% opacity and paint some pink and blue over your model in a new layer. Change the layer’s blending mode to Screen or Lighten.

Bram Vanhaeren

4 June 2010

Create summery poster artwork using Illustrator CS5

Adobe's Creative Suite 5 has recently arrived, and with it comes a new version of Illustrator, featuring some exciting tools. To give you a flavour of them, we asked Ben the Illustrator to put Illustrator CS5 to the test. He uses it to create a summery poster, as given free with the June issue of Digital Arts.

In this tutorial, Ben guides you through some of Illustrator CS5’s biggest new tools. There’s the new – and very smooth – Variable Stroke-Width tool, the tidied-up dashed-line functions, the improved shape-building tools, and most excitingly of all, the new perspective tools.

Taken together, it’s a powerful set of new features that will come in handy in all sorts of projects and graphics tasks.

Step 1 We’ll start off in a fairly standard way for an Illustrator image: draw your landscape picture on paper, scan it and took import it into Illustrator (File > Place). Then start tracing it: here, I’ve created the basic landscape using the Pen tool, with various planes on different layers. I’ve worked from the horizon (on the lowest layer) to the foreground (on the top layer) of the image.

Step 2 Now move onto the detail: I drew all the houses using the Pen tool. If you’re creating a residential landscape then four different designs of house will usually give the scene enough variety to look natural without having to illustrate each one individually.

Step 3 You’ll notice a lot of copying and pasting; if you’re quickly repeating elements with the Selection tool, hold Altand drag a copy away from the original – this creates a duplicate. With these basic elements created, we’re ready to move onto Illustrator’s new tools.

Step 4 One of the most useful new tools in CS5 is Variable Stroke Width. To get started, draw some simple curved lines using the Pen tool, leaving the stroke weight at 1pt. You can experiment with more complex Pen tool lines or sketchy Pencil tool lines later.

Step 5 Select the Width tool from the toolbar. In much the same as you would usually drag a B├ęzier point or an object to resize it, click at any point on a drawn line and drag away from the line. You can narrow or widen a line as much as you want.

Step 6 If you want to only widen one edge of the line, holdAlt when you click and drag. If you want to apply a stroke width effect to multiple lines, create it once, with that line selected, open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke), open the Profiles menu and click the Add to Profiles button at the bottom left.

Step 7 The new Perspective Grid tool puts your flat artwork into perspective – as if pasted onto the side of a block. Create an element to use – here, I’ve made some mock billboards. Ensure your piece of artwork is grouped (select the artwork then hit Cmd/Ctrl + G). To open the grid, click the Perspective Grid tool in the toolbar.

Step 8 To define which side of the block you want to be pasting your artwork onto, select the corresponding side from the icon in the top left corner of your window. Switch to the Perspective Selection tool (it’s next to Perspective Grid) and select your piece of artwork.

Step 9 As you drag your artwork onto the grid you’ll see the grid affect its perspective. You can place your artwork anywhere on the grid, and resize it to gain the exact perspective required.

Step 10 When your artwork is in perspective as you need it, drag it away from the grid using the Selection tool – this will prevent the perspective from changing. You can still resize the artwork outside of the grid, or drag it back into the grid to alter the perspective.

Step 11 Dashed lines have always been a simple tool in Illustrator – now they’ll intelligently understand the shape you’ve created, making them tidier. To practise, create a basic shape – a square or star will work well. In the Stroke panel select the Dashed Line option and set a dash and gap size.

Step 12 You’ll see that the dashes don’t meet well in corners at first. To the right of the Dashed Line option are two new buttons: the left button is the traditional setting. Click the button on the right to shift your dashed line to handle points and bends much more neatly.

Step 13 One new tool that can make certain tasks more efficient is the Shape Building tool, which can merge shapes incredibly simply. To start, create two shapes, position them so that they overlap, and select both with the Selection tool. Don’t group the shapes.

Step 14 Choose the Shape Builder tool from the toolbar. Use the tool to drag a line across the two selected shapes – instantly they will become one perfect shape.

Step 15 You can also cut one shape out of another. Create a new shape and overlap it with your newly merged shape. Click inside an area you want to delete and drag away into open space – this will separate the shapes and delete any overlapping lines.

Step 16 Looking in the Layers panel, you can see how each time the shapes are being separated or merged into new paths or Compound Paths. Newly shaped paths cannot be undone, but compound paths can always be undone by selecting the object and clicking Object > Compound Path > Release. Try different overlapping objects and objects on top of each other with this great new tool.

Ben the Illustrator

Follow on Buzz