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 bit.ly/ckWqaQ. The paper texture is by bashcorpo and can be downloaded for free from DeviantArt at bit.ly/cSqR43.

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 bit.ly/dikOH9). 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

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