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Combine traditional methods alongside the Brush tool to build a vibrant portrait


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Welcome to the latest issue of Advanced Photoshop. We value regular feedback, so recently asked what you would like to see more of in the magazine, via our social media sites.
You answered in your droves and here it is an issue thats dedicated to our reader demands. Typography and type effects are very important subjects that are often overlooked in design magazines in favour of better or more impactive artwork, but this month we have given it centre stage. Our 20 type secrets feature delves into the world of commercial type effects in the industry today. If that wasnt enough, we also show you how to take a 3D text render from CINEMA 4D into Photoshop. One of your other requests was to see more photomanipulation. From our feature on product retouching, to our underwater effects and displacement tutorials, weve got it covered. I couldnt end without mentioning what we have on our amazing disc this month. Our Advanced Creative Collection is bigger than ever, with 95 premium images, 25 textures, ten Photoshop brushes and much much more!





Use brushes, drawn elements and other tools to build an inspired editorial illustration


Our very own Reviews Editor is exceptionally skilled at Photoshop, so was the perfect choice to take on this mammoth challenge based on Alberto Sevesos CS6 work



Learn creative and technical tips for enhancing an automotive commercial image



Whats hot, whos in and the latest art & design happenings
PRO PANEL: Our contributors share Photoshop secrets PORTFOLIO INTERVIEW: Cinematic illustration with Neal Hanson PROJECT FOCUS: Creating a Gothic poster STUDIO INTERVIEW: Hugo & Marie


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Professional artists reveal their high-end skills in our easy-tofollow workshops

20 type secrets Professional retouching


We put the latest creative kit, books and apps to the test
FEATURE: SpectraView Reference 271 monitor REVIEWS: Filterstorm 4, Creative Photography ideas using Adobe Photoshop

24 34 40 46 52 54

Expert automotive retouching Work with displacement Pillars of life



Underwater effects

60 64 68 74 88 92



CINEMA 4D & Photoshop Blending mixed media Paint a landscape Fantasy lighting effects Create smoke effects

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Free with issue 107 of Advanced Photoshop




Master retouching techniques and learn how to composite multiple elements to create a vibrant mixed-media image


Featuring 95 premium stock images, 25 textures, 20 Photoshop brushes and a plug-in



Tutorial project files Exclusive wallpapers for mobile and desktop Fonts worth $30

eye on design pro panel

pro panel
theo aartsma

eye on design

Our contributors share some of their essential techniques and advise us how to improve our images
JAMES KNOWLES Apart from using various colour and Levels adjustments to increase texture detail in Photoshop, you can also apply the Dodge tool. The original texture in this 3D render was quite flat, so I adjusted the Midtones and Highlights sliders in my applied Levels layer. I also added a textured Dodge brush with Control set to Pen Pressure in my Shape Dynamics brush settings. This created rich and vibrant textures. James CINEMA 4D and Photoshop tutorial is on page 64

If youre serious about your Photoshop work you should really consider buying a Wacom tablet. This opens up a whole range of new possibilities to experiment with. This artwork shows how the tablet was used to brush over what would have otherwise ended as an ordinary composite. The mixed-media style wouldnt have been possible without a drawing tablet. Find Theos How I Made image on page 52

Here you can see a clear difference between the original and edited textures

Scott dukes

When stripping in a cloudy skyon top of a clear blue sky, always use a Soft Light or Overlay blendingmode.This enables the tonality of the real sky to bleed through frombelow, giving a more realistic blend of both.It also helps to bring through tough-to-mask objects on thehorizon, such as trees, bushes and other shrubbery. Scotts Expert Automotive Retouching tutorial is on page 40

Drawing tablets provide you with realistic application when using Photoshop brushes

In this image you can make a clear comparison of how successful effects can be when used with blending modes


The magazine for Adobe Photoshop professionals
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RAPHAL VICENZI To create this personal illustration called Megaton, I drew the face directly in Photoshop. I composed my image by using various elements, including hand-made textures, then applied different blending modes to these such as Linear Burn and Multiply. Parts of these textures were removed with layer masks until the result looked painterly. Find Raphals tutorial on page 68

Magazine team

Deputy Editor Anna-lisa Saywell Editor in Chief Dan Hutchinson Reviews Editor Adam Smith Designer Marcus Faint Sub Editor Tim Williamson Photographer James Sheppard Head of Publishing Aaron Asadi Head of Design Ross Andrews
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I composed my image by using various elements, including hand-made textures, then applied different blending modes to these
Realistically overlap and integrate mixed-media effects with blending modes

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ARTEM KOLOMEICHUK Any final image must always include authentic lighting and other effects to create better realism. This image is a good example. None of the elements was shot in 3D or in-motion, so I applied Motion Blur and Radial Blur filters to the trees, road, sheep and the automobile. Once the effects were combined, there was a better interaction between all the objects that created the realism needed. Our Pro Retouching feature begins on page 34

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Head of Digital Mat Toor Digital Projects Coordinator Steve Litton

Advanced Photoshop is available for licensing. Contact the International department to discuss partnership opportunities. Head of International Licensing Cathy Blackman +44 (0) 1202 586401

Dont be afraid to experiment with the strength of effects to create different looks
Head of Subscriptions Lucy Nash For all subscription enquiries: UK: 0844 848 8402 Overseas: +44 (0) 1795 592 880 13-issue subscription (UK) 62.30 13-issue subscription (Europe) 70 13-issue subscription (ROW) 80 I find Curves to be one of the most powerful options in Photoshop. Most of my colourcorrecting work is fine-tuned using each channel in the dialog box. However, one of the quickest hacks for this tool is creating an empty Curves adjustment layer, applying presets and improving this by changing the blending mode of that layer. The modes that I find most useful are Overlay, Multiply, Screen and Soft Light. Find Jims tips for creating smoke textures in our Resource Feature starting on page 92


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eye on design portfolio Interview

Hanson reveals. After a year of community college I enrolled in [DigiPens] Production Animation program and studied everything from storytelling, animation, traditional and digital art, to 3D packages. While his time at DigiPen certainly laid the groundwork for Hansons career in videogames, his real education began after attending a Massive Black workshop in Seattle. The talent outside the classroom was shocking and I realised that I needed to devote myself to my work if I wanted to survive as an artist, he adds. Dedicated to the cause, Hanson found himself taken on board the ArenaNet team, joining as a motion graphics artist before being promoted to cinematic illustrator. His experience in motion graphics taking illustrations painted by the cinematic artists and adding particle effects, camera moves and transitions helped him to design and illustrate compelling shots.

portfolio interview

Neal Hanson gives insight into a career already spanning ArenaNet and Sucker Punch Productions
Here Hanson reveals his creative secrets, explains how he has manoeuvred through the videogames industry and offers advice for those wishing to follow in his footsteps. does being based in seattle influence your work at all? My position at Sucker Punch has been my first working experience in a major metropolitan area. Its great being able to walk to just about anywhere from work. However, I currently live outside of the city, way out in the woods. Its a nice change relative to the city. When I can, I go out with my laptop and [paint] the rivers and forests around my house. How does the pace at ArenaNet compare to that at Sucker Punch? The main difference between Sucker Punch and ArenaNet is the amount of time needed to complete

concept artist at Sucker Punch Productions can receive requests for just about anything a 3D artist or animator needs visualising. Neal Hanson, previously a cinematic illustrator at ArenaNet on Guild Wars 2, steps up to this awesome challenge by forging paint-overs of screenshots, mood pieces and prop designs. These are essential references for the 3D crew to take and re-create for future videogames. Landing a role at Sucker Punch didnt just fall from the sky, though. Hanson grew up in an artistic family including a grandmother that has been playing videogames for as long as he can remember. With art and storytelling running through his blood, when it came to choosing an education it was DigiPen that stood out as the place to go. My education at DigiPen turned getting a job in the videogames industry something that I knew as little about as joining the circus into a reality,

Guardians: This personal piece was created in a fantasy setting. Hanson wonders whether this could be an entrance to some abandoned mountainside fortress? Neal Hanson


portfolio interview eye on design

Divinity Reach Celebration: A vibrant celebration piece made for the end of Guild Wars 2. Hanson suggests that this was inspired by Disneys Magic Kingdom theme park All Guild Wars materials are property of ArenaNet/ NCSOFT and are used with permission


eye on design portfolio Interview

001 002 003


Sylvari Grove: This concept features another market-like scene for a load screen in Guild Wars 2 ArenaNet/NCSOFT


Sleeping Tree: This concept piece was painted for the end of the Guild Wars 2 Sylvari intro cinematic ArenaNet/NCSOFT


Lions Arch Celebration: Another colourful finale piece created for Guild Wars 2. This particular one started out as a paint-over ArenaNet/NCSOFT


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portfolio interview eye on design


Top Concept Design tips

Neal Hanson reveals his three best pieces of advice for those looking to get into concept work for videogames
use references Jumping into a concept without research is a bad plan if you intend to be innovative with it. Its also a lost opportunity to discover new ideas. The internet is a great and accessible place to explore and broaden your repertoire. Use it! refresh your perspective It always surprises me how different my work looks when I come back to it after walking away for a few minutes. Dont leave it for too long, though, or youll never finish the piece. Its easy to get lost in your work when youre investing hours at a time, making it difficult to point out individual problems and remove them. spend energy wisely You only have so much creative juice in you to spend every day and you need it when creating original designs. I try to recognise when I have run out and move to something that doesnt require the same kind of thinking. Try looking at other artists work for inspiration, reading, copying a movie still, or even just gazing out the window!


Sky Gunner: This beautifully serene personal piece was primarily inspired by Final Fantasys World of Ivalice Neal Hanson



Arctic Underwater: Used in one of Guild War 2s many limited cinematics, this impressive digital painting was the first full illustration Hanson created in his role at ArenaNet ArenaNet/ NCSOFT

each piece. At Sucker Punch, the primary goal is to simply get an idea across clearly, so I do more drawings/paintings with little polish if any at all. At ArenaNet the illustrations are essentially videogame assets and naturally call for a higher level of finish. Who most inspired you from the ArenaNet crew? [The concept art teams] work served as the foundation of ArenaNets high artistic standard, which I look up to [even now]. My own proximity to that energy positively affected my art and forced me to hold my new work up to a much higher standard than I did when I was going through school. I really cant thank the guys in the cinematic room enough for critiquing and painting over my work. I learned a ton from the team and my mind was opened up to a lot of new techniques.

How did the move from ArenaNet to Sucker Punch come about? As a relative newcomer to the industry, I think its good for me to explore and challenge myself as often as I can. Once Guild Wars 2 shipped, I heard about the position at Sucker Punch through some connections. I saw it as a good opportunity in my career to experience a new project The shift has forced me out of my comfort zone and [made me] tackle things Im not used to. Its important to resist getting too comfortable with your work, or your progression as an artist will falter. What characteristics do you need to produce whats expected (or even unexpected) of you? Someone [gave me a piece of advice] that I really agree with, so I will just repeat it here as best I can:

More than anything, your take or your unique vision on any given subject is extremely important as an artist. These days so many people can draw and paint There are tons of free resources and tutorials at your fingertips that can teach you just about anything. Your imagination is really what sets you apart and what you imagine is fuelled by your experiences. If you live and experience an interesting life, your art will reflect that. What are the key skills for depicting adventure in still imagery? There is a lot to juggle when making an image feel impactful, but the characteristic that generally makes pieces feel adventurous is the sense of exploration, which inherently involves some ambiguity or the unknown. Things that make the viewer question the story beyond the image and stimulate their


eye on design portfolio Interview

Ratasum Market: This load screen for Ratasum was particularly fun for Hanson as he enjoys creating busy market scenes. Lots of opportunities for little Easter eggs in this one! ArenaNet/NCSOFT

imagination are key to capturing that feeling. In a way, it allows the viewer to do some of the painting themselves and enriches their experience. In terms of artistic elements, the composition of a piece is one of the most important devices to consider. For me, the images that feel adventurous and exciting feature big open environments and the composition of the piece can do a lot to make or break this effect. Do you have any advice for combating creative challenges? How do you prepare yourself for a project? Usually when Im stumped on something its because I dont know enough about the subject, so I do research to better prepare myself. Another set of eyes is always helpful [too]. I did get a piece of advice that pertains specifically to design and I think its a great way to combat design problems: You can apply dissimilar subjects to one another, bringing new ideas to mind that you otherwise would have never found. Lets say youre trying to design an interesting cottage. Using this method, you can apply the alphabet (as an example) to your cottage, then try making an A-shaped cottage, a B-shaped cottage and so on. You could apply shapes of fruits, animals, office furniture and so on. This is a super-helpful way to come up with new design solutions when you find yourself stuck or slipping into autopilot.

Creating concepts for videogames is a much-envied job, with many talented artists competing in the field. Whats the competition like? The demand for concept artists is less than for other artistic jobs in the industry, so its naturally a competitive field. That said, Ive never had any experiences where Ive been competing neck-andneck with another artist for a job, so I guess I have been pretty fortunate so far. Who knows whats to come, though! Im always checking out the work of other artists and trying to figure out what they are doing that makes their art tick. Do you find time to be creative in your spare time? I think its very important to explore personal pieces outside of the job. I feel my best work is personal or at least it comes when I have the opportunity to just mess around. I find myself going back to mostly fantastical art in my free time. Worlds from Studio Ghibli films and the Final Fantasy games are incredibly inspiring to me and are a large part of what drove me towards this career in the first place, so I tend to lean towards that genre. I dont really do any finished work outside of digital painting but I do like to draw with pen, pencils and ink brushes when I can, if only because it just feels good. Because digital

is such a forgiving medium, I tend to take it for granted and work too chaotically. The nature of working with pen and paper forces me to think before I put something down, which in return helps me solve problems before I bring it to a digital stage. Can you reveal some creative secrets? I dont have any major staples in my workflow but there are some that are particularly helpful. [For instance], I find myself using the Navigator all the time. I make it really tiny and have it hovering right above my working canvas. As they say, if it works tiny it will work big, so this is a nice way to constantly keep tabs on the overall effect. Color Balance and Color Replacement are huge timesavers when experimenting with your colours. The Surface Blur filter is a great one when studying another image and figuring out which elements are essential to the piece without losing the edges. How does it feel seeing the results of your hard work in the end product? Guild Wars 2 was the first game I had the privilege to work on. Its an encouraging indicator that Im progressing and hopefully heading in the right direction. To be honest, its hard not to cringe when I see my work in a game I cant help but see lazy mistakes and wonder what I was thinking!


Some images shown are editions, e.g. S. Hagge, F. Holland, E. Waerfhrer, H. Droste, T. Tarcal, D. Wieck, M. Sachs (detailed view)


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eye on design Building a gothic poster

Building a gothic poster

project FOCUS

Illustrator Ludovic Cordelires discusses making a grim Gothic image thats nevertheless pleasing to the eye
hen you hear the term Gothic, a certain set of visual touchstones will likely jump to mind: gargoyles looming from cathedral buttresses; skulking figures concealed in spectral forests and Nosferatus ominous silhouette lurching up an eerie staircase. This arguably isnt the most visually spectacular aesthetic, to say the least. It shies away from the bright colours of a lot of contemporary art, more often dwelling in the shadows and the darker end of the spectrum. When tackling a poster for a South American horror film festival, artist Ludovic Cordelires was challenged with taking this grim, uninviting, rather sombre mien and turning it into something entirely more striking. The result is Temple Ov Depression, a charcoal frieze featuring skulls, demons and a menagerie of other horrifying creatures. With a background in illustration and design within the metal music genre, Cordelires was truly well placed to take up this task. The key to this image is its clever use of composition, a careful managing of layers and a subtle sense of restraint. We spoke to Cordelires to learn exactly how he harnessed these techniques to capture our morbid curiosity. Can you discuss how you went about creating this image? I started with a photo of an Indian statue, then modified its design to become an ancient god at the centre of the canvas. I wanted to build something majestic, both architectural and organic, hence the name Temple Ov Depression. Once the main figure was placed, I added two gate keepers to escort him. I tried out a few different heads for the main character (which was eventually built from vegetable stock images) and then added an organic door to the temple. I tweaked the image by playing with the head of the main character, then worked on colours and spotlights to enhance the two sentinels, the temple god and eventually the festival logo. Which Photoshop tools were particularly useful for the creation of this project? I didnt use any special tools to build this image. Most of time I use Photoshops core set, such as the Pen, Lasso, Fusion Mask and Eraser, because they enabled me to create a quick mock-up of what I had in mind. They are very simple to use and enable uncomplicated photomanipulation, for example with the work done on the demons head. Are there any tools the software doesnt yet have that you would like to see implemented? For me, no, definitely not. Photoshop is an amazing creative tool, which does the job its designed for incredibly well. Everything is possible, its just a matter of time, patience and learning. There are some tools and plug-ins that are pretty cool but theyre often too expensive. You can usually obtain the same effect by making it by yourself but if everything were easy, the work wouldnt be half as rewarding as it is!

About the artist ludovic cordelires
Ludovic Cordelires, aka Rusalkadesign, is an illustrator and art director with a background in drawing. Hes currently employed as a graphic designer and works in the music industry. He creates tutorials and freelances in his spare time.

name of project temple ov depression


Select a centrepiece Ludovic Cordelires

Arrange the layout Ludovic Cordelires

Add dark effects Ludovic Cordelires

Inject colour Ludovic Cordelires


Building a gothic poster eye on design

Liquify is one of the most powerful tools in Photoshop. I used it for this demon to make it more skeletal and creepy but still dynamic. You can use the tool to modify a characters appearance, but dont overuse it or youll damage your photo.

Simple but truly essential, the Pen tool enables you to nicely isolate a subject. Fusion Mask is another powerful tool as it enables you to keep the layer youre working on intact. In this case, I hid some of the demons head to put in a Spartan helmet.

Ludovic Cordelires

Deformation filters such as Spherize are pretty cool to create a planet or add volume to a flat texture. Here I used the tool to build a demonic orb. I drew some organic shapes on the orb outline to increase its volume.

Can you discusslayoutin your work? How do you avoid overcrowding in an image such as this? The most important thing for me is to tell a story, whatever colour my design is. This is the main foundation of my job: to illustrate. As such, I worked hard on light and contrast and brought out aspects I wanted to be noticed with various spotlights. Forcing myself not to overload my picture was a huge challenge, however. I made sure to choose the right composition for the image by using the golden ratio most of the time. I first put the important elements in my working area, even if they werent clean and finished, then I built the back and

foreground and added the details in last. In fact, for this kind of piece, its very important to work on every element at the same time in order to get a well-balanced result. Once the main pieces were in place, I worked on the aforementioned light and contrasts to highlight them. Which photoshop tips and tricks would you offer to others looking to create Gothic artwork? Using a graphic tablet is essential to make clean and precise designs. Also, try to always work with high-definition elements (using your own stock or buying some from image banks). Pay particular

attention to the composition and framing of your creation to focus on lights and colours. Try to manipulate elements as much as you can, while avoiding typical figures such as nude girls with crows, vampires, blood and overused colours. Most of the time Gothic images look very similar to one another, so one of the best tips I could give is to be original, even if you include a vampire or a demon. Tell a story in your design thats fresh and engages attention. Theres so much inspiration in videogames, books, music (metal music, for me) to stimulate the mind. Concerning Photoshop, dont use free brushes or other filters available on the internet. Try to make things for yourself!






ugo & Marie is an agency that has been working with a number of leading creative talents, across all disciplines, for nearly half a decade. This is due in no small part to the reputation for quality and reliability that has be nurtured by the agencys creative team. Mario Hugo and Jennifer Gonzalez founded the company together early on in 2008. Id been working at a design agency called Syrup NYC, then as a freelance illustrator, reveals Hugo. Jennifer was working in fashion. We werent really interested in operating under any one roof, so we formed the agency out of a desire to collaborate with talented friends and individuals.

Like many other agencies, Hugo & Marie began working fairly exclusively in print and illustration and many of its artists still do. Some of our internal team has since evolved to working digitally, explains Gonzalez. We still love print projects, they just have to be right. Working digitally has offered our team the opportunity to experiment and expand into new territories. We feel strongly about a variety of work weve done that is suited to the web. However, when asked which visual qualities Hugo & Marie is renowned for, the duo are stumped. We definitely feel each of the artists we represent share things in common, but weve never really put our finger on what those qualities are, says Hugo.

As founding members, both bring a recognisable male and female influence to the agencys style. Their work manages to successfully amalgamate a variety of looks. We cant always speak for one another, but I think that Hugo & Marie is made of equal parts graphically both masculine iconography and feminine nuance and gesture. We like the language of fashion and music, but we really pride ourselves on telling beautiful stories befitting each of the agencies or brands we work with. The agency has managed to gradually build a strong network of commercial clients off the back of a period of calculated inertia. The team of artists worked for a length of time producing and publishing


Hugo & Marie is a full-service creative agency that specialises in artist management and interactive services. Its team is dedicated to direction, illustration and interactive design, bringing all manner of creative projects to life.


1. Sam Hodges 2. Mario Hugo 3. Fanny Nordmark 4. Masha Spaic 5. Ania Nowak 6. Jennifer Gonzalez


studio interview eye on design


eye on design studio interview

work independently, before actively seeking wider commercial success. Gonzalez explains further: Our thought was pretty simple that the internet is an invaluable tool, but full of white noise. Hugo & Marie felt, and still does, that curation is the currency of the internet. Hugo & Marie aimed to curate a group of designers that it believed in, showing the strengths of the creatives operating at the agency and attracting clients through these talents on show. Finding commercial clients isnt always easy, but we do believe the key to being discovered is to make things you believe in, adds Hugo. The agency persists in utilising the web to its full potential as a means of actively seeking the publics attention, making prospective and existing clients fully aware of the agencys wonderful projects. We keep our website active, promoting work and creatives through the standard social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, Hugo tells us. We send books, schedule meet-and-greets when appropriate and we just ran our first print ad in the beautiful Port Magazine late last year. However, were mostly an online business. Continuing these relationships is crucial to Hugo & Maries long-term business plan and theyve built a reputation for quality that returning clients have come to expect. Being reliable in as fickle and fast-paced a business as the creative industry is a good way to ensure growth, Gonzalez explains. Variety is the spice of life though. We enjoy working with diverse new clients with different goals. This philosophy certainly applies to the agencys use of Photoshop. The software is applied in such a manner that its once again hard for the team to relay all the specifics. Im actually not too well versed in names and shortcuts, admits Hugo. The projects are pretty diverse, so its hard to say what, if anything, is most commonly used. I also feel like anything I say here may misrepresent the other artists on the Hugo & Marie roster. What I can say is that I spend about 95 per cent of my creative time in Photoshop and the other five per cent in Illustrator. I play with the Refine Edge filter a lot. I also like being able to tweak some of the subtler qualities of an image by gently softening things. One thing thats consistent is the agencys technological preference. Were definitely in the Apple camp iMacs, MacBook Pros, iPhones, iPads and so on, explains Gonzalez. The in-house team use Wacom Intuos pen tablets more or less exclusively. Weve also got a TV and a PlayStation for out of hours. The only hardware that you might not see everywhere else is an office swing and a Polaroid camera. We never cared much for white-box office spaces. The reliance on stout creativity and being technologically savvy has seen exponential growth, with the team now having to take on specific roles and functions to continue to prosper. Gonzalez and

MVMs beautiful Rihanna illustration was remixed by Mario Hugo, for the disc art. Special thanks goes to Fanny Nordmark, Sam Hodges and our friends at Def Jam records for their late-night teamwork Def Jam, SRP

Hugo & Marie Were definitely in the Apple camp iMacs, MacBook Pros, iPhones, iPads and so on Hugo & Marie

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studio interview eye on design

3.1 phillip lim holiday card

Mario Hugo explores the making of this fashion branding project

I spoke with the client at length about the general tone of the video, with a set of pencil sketches preceding the painted mockups. Textures from the garments were also used throughout. These images were sent to 3.1 Phillip Lim and ensured the mood fitted the brands Holiday collection. Id never worked in motion before, so after initial approval I spoke with Wyeth Hanson over at motion studio Labour ( about the best way to proceed. He informed me his team would be happy to receive vectors, so we created what were essentially illustration wireframes.

The video begins with a toy crank and moving textures of Phillip's textiles. These were something that really characterised the collection, so they were included from Day One.

Over the course of the video the viewer is climbing up a dream-like story where festive toys meet fashion ephemera. Music is another major theme for the video and the narrative is punctuated with a dark, moody tone, which is right up my alley.

We thought for a while about what to end on we didn't want to stick any holiday clichs at the top, so stars and angels were a no.

Our conference table. Theres no one around in this photo, but usually there is something going on back here Mario Hugo, Hugo & Marie

A rotating selection of reading materials and scented candles. Sometimes there are pieces to play with Hugo & Marie


eye on design studio interview

Masha Spaic manage both agency and commercial project productions. Creative direction and all internal projects are handled by Hugo and the other agency staff, including Fanny Nordmark, Sam Hodges, and Ania Nowak. Our team of twelve artists includes talent such as Deanne Cheuk, Mike Perry and Tom Darracott, who focus on art direction, illustration and design, explains Hugo. Going forward, Hugo & Marie actively seeks to evolve and rejuvenate itself. We tend to approach artists were interested in representing, but the aesthetic qualities that speak to Jennifer and I can be pretty elusive even to us, muses Hugo. Quality and consistency are clearly important in your work, but there really is so much talent out there that it can be difficult to stand out. We cant speak for all agencies, but were really attracted to people with a fresh perspective, who say something different.

When reviewing work, we will generally spend less time pouring over portfolios of people with an overwhelming variety of work. He advises you to find a few things you do well, then continue to improve and do them even better. Dont worry so much about commercial viability, a little weird is good, he adds. With creatives working around the clock on so many exciting and high-profile projects, the benchmark is understandably set high. Hugo gives us one last bit of advice. As an agency, weve worked with clients such as Stella McCartney, Gucci, Rihanna, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Apple, Microsoft and Nike, he says. Weve worked with agencies including BBH, BBDO and Yadda. Theyve all been unique learning experiences, both creatively and in terms of management, but the common lesson learnt and to always remember is good things rarely come easy.


TIP 1 Clean up your desktop. After a big job we ritualistically tuck files away into folders and toss out unnecessary clutter. Its almost a rite of passage. TIP 2 When were working in teams, we use Basecamp software with clients, but we really like Kickoffs simpler task management with the design team. This and Dropbox are essential for our workflow. TIP 3 We realise it can take time to acclimatise to a drawing tablet for absolutely everything. The one-to-one ratio of a tablet means you develop an instinct for navigating your screen space. TIP 4 Argue politely. If you believe in something, argue its merit. I dont care if a designer has been with us three years or three days. If you believe in something, speak up. TIP 5 Take breaks. We realise designers are pretty accustomed to an unsung social martyrdom, but youre more efficient when you take some time out.


studio interview eye on design

A black-and-white Monday at Hugo & Marie. Mario took the opportunity to take out his iPhone and document office events




Lately Ive been coming in earlier to have some quiet work time. Coffee quickly becomes the lifeblood of our creative day.



We have a meeting every Monday, including video conferencing, debates and catching up on weekend activities. This was my view when I tilted my head back.



Music drowns out some noise and energises the whole office. Everyone gets a shot at DJing. Were going on an office field trip to see Toro Y Moi this week.



I keep a number of magazines around. I flip through all kinds of print material throughout the day.



We try to photograph any and all inspiration, particularly when were out from behind our monitors for meetings in the city.



Our swing is home to plenty of informal business planning. Its great when used as a time-out device and as a stress-reliever.



Obligatory FIFA 13 rounds. Sam murders me, usually. The banter can get a bit aggressive. Its a great way to unwind after work.


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Jordan Metcalf

WE BRING YOU AN INSPIRING COLLECTION OF TYPE PROJECTS ALONG WITH INSIDE INFO AND PRACTICAL TIPS FROM THE ARTISTS WHO CREATED THEM To create a toolkit for Boston Magazine, artist Jordan Metcalf decided to go for a clean bespoke type that he refined and completed in Photoshop.


The brief I was tasked with building a visually striking typographic treatment that would work across a contents page, DPS and various sub-section headers of the magazine. The inspiration The style is a play on vintage signage that pays tribute to the rich history of the city. It was important that this wouldnt be specific to one place in Boston or preferential to any particular sub-section of the feature. Custom type All the type was completely drawn from scratch and no fonts were used. Creating shadows The shadows cast by the lettering were all done in vector with a combination of a few techniques. Getting grainy Photoshop was used for the final grain and highlight effects on the type. Gradient Map I used a Gradient Map adjustment layer in Photoshop to get the subtle muted colours consistent throughout the toolkit.


20 TYPE SECRETS TECHNIQUES With a bold font from the Avant Garde family as a base, Todd Fooshee set about building up a graphic type by adding hundreds of very small birds to his project. The font is clean, easily readable and has a really thick, sturdy look to it [thats perfect for rebuilding] the forms with birds. I did some adjusting to the kerning and from there began to place birds all around the letters. [I kept] balance in mind, but really just placed them at random to build the words. In terms of the specific tools for this project, I used a pen and paper, a scanner and some basic features inside Photoshop. Without the Invert adjustment I would have probably had to go a different route The layer groups were what really helped me out the most, just to stay organised and keep things in order After I finished the letters, it came down to building a background texture, which I did by combining a few images using different blending modes then erasing [areas] and using some texture brushes. I applied some of the bristle brushes with my Wacom tablet to add the slight vignetting around the top edges and then toned it down a bit with some blending modes. There is also a lot of copy-andpasting work at the heart of this piece.

2. BUILDING LETTERS TODD FOOSHEE When he was commissioned to create a T-shirt design for Nike that would fuse trainers with a slogan, Marcelo Schultz immediately reached for the textures.


Create a mask to apply the texture you're using. Select the type that you would like to apply the texture to by holding Cmd/Ctrl and clicking over the tiny image of the shape on the Layers panel. Keeping the selection active, create a layer folder and select Add Layer Mask, located at the bottom of the Layers panel.
Todd Fooshee


Here Design The multi-disciplinary team at Here Design decided to let their type do the talking when creating the packaging for the Hairy Bikers crisps brand. Coming up with a concept to sell snacks on behalf of two unorthodox TV chefs was a unique challenge. The team started by developing copy lines for each unusual flavour and sensation, as director Caz Hildebrand explains: Once we started looking at using just type, it quickly became obvious that this would work well and help the packs stand out against the competition. We were inspired by the sort of graphic style associated with packaging that has to travel, like cardboard boxes containing fragile items reading This Way Up or food packaging date stamps that read Best Before and so on. The colours were derived from the flavours, for example the Keralan King Prawns pack is pink both for the colour of the prawns and the Indian feel. The logo for the Hairy Bikers combines a spanner, a pepper pot and a fork inside a wheel to evoke both the motorbikes and the cooking of the duo. Each pack has relevant language for the flavour as well as Si and Daves seal of approval and signatures. We used Photoshop to create the impression of old letterpress-printed type thats a bit battered and careworn We mixed some of the Effects Gallery styles with scanned textures we found to create a unique set of textures to be used with the type.

Next place the texture inside the mask, which should fit to the exact shape. Inside that mask you can add some shadows and create a 3D depth effect, as you can see marked in green, to achieve the final effect.

This image uses different textures, such as leather and tread. Textures can improve and lend a realistic effect to your artwork, as long as they are of a good quality.


TECHNIQUES 20 TYPE SECRETS Anthony Giacomino teamed up with Richard Roberts ( to create an other-worldly type project for the Intrinsic Nature art collective. Bold 3D lettering takes centre-stage, enhanced by light effects and futuristic elements, as the team explains: For this piece we started with a base in CINEMA 4D to make the 3D type, lighting and also an assortment of geometric shapes. After importing this into Photoshop, we added more atmosphere and light emitting from the top, in addition to some light effects. The piece needed some more colour, so we sampled pinks and oranges to complement the cool blue and navy tones. For the final details we added a few other points of interest, such as the figure on the right and some foreground shapes to add depth and dimension. We utilised blending modes such as Screen and Overlay when playing with stocks and other elements to create some unique effects.
Anthony Giacomino and Richard Roberts

5. 3D TYPE ANTHONY GIACOMINO Marcus Byrne created this striking lighting typography for Cricket Australia/George Patterson Y&R in Melbourne. The illuminated fluorescent design includes detailed light effects and bright colours and was reproduced in all hues across the colour palette. The type was used in extensive applications across the range of marketing materials for T20 cricket. Here you can see some of the stages in Byrnes process.

6. ILLIUMINATE IT MARCUS BYRNE Drinks giant Diageo enlisted Nik Ainley to give a typographic treatment to promote a line of cocktail drinks. They wanted something with plenty of abstract and photographic items related to each drink and centred around 3D typography. The final design went through many iterations, almost 40 for the first image I seem to remember. The smooth flow from the pump to the glass was an important part of the concept and helped to give each illustration a shape. The first elements to frame each piece were the pumps and drinks, which came from specially taken photos. After this I discussed with the art director what sort of typography would work. From experience I knew that a fairly simple font was needed, as when you extrude a font you introduce a lot of new surfaces that can confuse the eye. In the middle of complex Nik Ainley illustrations like these you need to keep things as legible as possible. Using a simple chunky font minimises the confusing effect, so thats what I went for. The 3D letters were then built in 3ds Max and positioned. An excellent 3D artist and friend, Marcelo Jr, was involved heavily in this part of the process. Even after the 3D elements were brought into Photoshop, the piece consisted of many layers that enabled me to continue tweaking it as I went. From there it was a case of creating all the other aspects that consisted of stock photos, images captured for the project, decorative 3D elements and sections built in Photoshop. I brought all of these together with a heavy dose of retouching and editing.



20 TYPE SECRETS TECHNIQUES The team at Esquire magazine required an innovative and stylish headline treatment for a grooming section of the publication. Here Luke Lucas runs through how he approached this task. Initial brief I was asked to create a type illustration and some hairy graphical elements. Base text The client wanted to evolve the illustration from their standard condensed sans serif, into something that was more dynamic and relative to the theme. Creating hair I next built up all the hair elements using very fine strokes drawn with the Pen Path tool in Illustrator. Making hair brushes I created several hair brushes and applied them to paths in the shapes that I felt would work the best on the different letters. I then made some slight distortions using the Mesh Warp tool. Copy layers I added in some hair highlight layers using fine paths. I then copied both the base hair and highlights into Photoshop in separate layers. Add highlights I hid and made a selection of the highlight layers and brushed them within the selected shape on a separate layer. This brought more variation to overall design.


Luke Lucas If youve ever thought that standard type options are incredibly boring and if youre reading this I bet you have try looking at them through Eugene Lvovskys eyes. Instead of seeing letters, he sees shapes, and has used this approach to create his series of Type Is posters. You can see the full series here www.eugenelvovsky. com/typeis. The inspiration for the series is the immense beauty of typographic forms. Simply spotting a beautiful descender on a typographic character could easily grow into the question, Can I make this into a flower? I take this step further by creating a visually pleasing Eugene Lvovsky relationship between every single character, respecting and being true to its unique shape. Everything is thoughtfully interconnected, every character, every shoulder, stem and serif. There are no letters accidentally placed together in my images and the accessibility of Photoshop helps enormously when working on made-to-order prints. Everything from a Gradient Map to Hue/ Saturation adjustment layers save time when Im perfecting a bespoke colour combination for a client.

9. USE A NEW PERSPECTIVE EUGENE LVOVSKY Andr Beato created a playful type for easyJet, merging bold letters with different elements. The brief behind this project was to create a main type header for an article called The Next Big Thing. The idea was to play (bastardise, overlap or italicise) with the header title text, combining the four stories related to the article, namely Northern Lights, Cycle like the Pros, Ice Climbing and Sleep-Inducing Machines. I started the illustration process in the vector program FreeHand MX and tried to find the best way to combine the text block I used the magazine house font called Benton then drew the elements to adapt and join them with the text. I always try to create something legible but appealing at the same time. The process concluded in Photoshop, where I added all the little details like shadows, glows, brush-star effects and colour adjustments.
Andre Beato, Ryan McCabe



TECHNIQUES 20 TYPE SECRETS Linda Zacks usually originates her elements with real-world media, but here shares her tips on how to marry these perfectly in Photoshop. RPA in Santa Monica asked me to create an artful interpretation of the Newport Beach Film Festival name. This typographic collage was born from a stack of city shots taken while zooming around at night I went through heaps of photos, picking out awesome shapes and colours. In Photoshop I had a zillion windows open simultaneously and pasted stuff into a giant master file with a billion layers. Slowly but surely the letters came to life from several bits and pieces of photos as I sized, resized and transformed them. I also added some watercolour textures over the top that I had scanned in one rainy day. Nothing originated in Photoshop, but I used it as a virtual gluestick. For this project I used lots of layer functions as well as Multiply, Screen and Overlay blending modes. To finish I punched up the colour to add the last burst of zing.


Linda Zacks Skinny Cow and JWT New York were in need of a fresh interpretation of their campaign copy, so they got illustrator Linzie Hunter to apply her unique style. Sometimes Ill create my lettering on paper, while other times I play about with colours and styles directly in Photoshop. For this series of ads I worked fully in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet and pen. I concentrated on creating lettering that looked and felt hand-rendered and more in-keeping with my personal style. I like to mix and match typefaces with upper- and lower-case characters, as I feel this lends energy to my work and I prefer everything to not feel too neat or perfect. Sometimes its obvious which words need greater emphasis, but for me its usually just more of a hunch when it comes to developing or picking lettering styles I used a variety of custom brushes in order to achieve a more painterly or hand-rendered effect and also used my own textures, either scanned, photographed or hand-drawn. I also tend to have a lot of layers set to Multiply or Overlay in order to create textural effects and backgrounds. Sometimes with these hand-lettering assignments, the arrangement of words and letters just dont fit the space youve got in the way youd like.


All images Lizzie Hunter/JWT New York

028 Freelance creative Luke Lucas was asked to design this sweet and savoury graphic for the dining section of The New York Times, using Poplar as a secondary typeface. This illustration began with defining the main glass shape and the stylised wine pouring inside it in loose vector shapes. The main type was then created using Vector Paths in Illustrator, while the secondary type was set in the Poplar typeface and distorted to fit using the Mesh Warp tool. In terms of the creative process, the wine shapes were brought into Photoshop as separate objects and colour, highlights and shadows were applied to enhance the depth of tone. The main type was then filled with colour and the shadow details within the letters were masked and brushed to define overlapping elements. The warped secondary type objects were overlayed using layer effects, then it came to building the glass. The background of the image was to be white, so in order to define highlights on a white background I first needed to add a slight grey tint to the whole glass shape. This was placed on the bottom layer so as not to tint the actual wine itself. Next I brushed in the highlights and shadows in separate layers above the wine and type shape layers. Some faint reflection shapes were also masked and brushed in. Once the main type and glass objects were rendered to a fairly polished level I placed all of the wine and type elements into a layer group. To finish, I duplicated and applied masks to the groups, separating the objects between those inside and those outside the glass.


Luke Lucas

Refracted effect By separating and shifting elements in the glass, Lucas could imitate a slightly refracted distortion to create a realistic finish.

Two typefaces Lucas mixed two typefaces, placing one centre-stage as Sweet and Savoury and the other to spell out associated words in the glass.

Main idea The brief was to incorporate various flavours and descriptors associated with wine in an artistic way.

Highlights and Shadows Painted highlights and shadows gave definition to the type and the wine background, adding depth and interest.

All images Steve Goodin Steve Goodin gave a funky yet classy edge to this piece of marketing material for a Reno electronic music event. The initial idea stemmed from the title of the event. I was given creative control over the theme and style of the poster so I really wanted to set the tone and the vibe based on that title. This poster was created using some 3D type elements as well as some other stock photography and illustrated graphics. For example, the lightbulb images and vintage flowery wallpaper pattern came from a deviantART member.



TECHNIQUES 20 TYPE SECRETS Starting with an initially rough sketch, Juri Zaech gave these quirky personalised bicycles all their touching character using Photoshops toolset.


The Write a Bike series started with my own wish to create a personalised bicycle, so using the name of the owner seemed a logical and interesting way to demonstrate this. The process started with sketching up a rough shape of the bike and the name, to see how tight the letters needed to be spaced to maintain a somewhat natural proportion. Working to a brief for Nike, full-time artist, designer and creative consultant Si Scott built a unique typography-lead image. The design fuses the kit of a well-known football team with the words its fans sing at matches. The brief was to make the footballers from famous chants that the Paris Saint-Germain fans sing at their beloved teams games. The piece was used as three-storey-high banners on the side of the Nike store in Paris for the launch of that seasons kit, he says. The result Nike/ Simon Scott shows the famous kit, complete with Nike swoosh, worn by a man built purely from type. To create the image, Scott fused his well-known style of hand-crafted work with his Photoshop expertise. The image was drawn by hand in separate parts, scanned into Photoshop and pieced together in the program. The Magic Wand tool was used as a selection tool to get rid of the negative space. It was also helpful to remove marks left on the paper from the drawing process, which cant be seen by the naked eye. From there a mask layer was added to the type so the colour could be added.


I drew the bike in Illustrator, starting with the basic elements and the lettering of the chosen name. It took a lot of adjustments to get to the even structure of the bikes frame. Once all the vector work was finished, I took the different elements to Photoshop to render the 3D effect. Inspired by a period of his life when he wanted to slow down and appreciate the simpler things, Joey Camacho created a typographic poster series to echo his ideas. My process with this project, as with all my typographic work, started with word-pairing or putting together the concept for a series of images. I used Burgues Script for this as it has thousands of glyphs and alternative characters. Balancing out the words and using the flourishes sparingly was important. Some people dont spend the time required to understand the entire font, which I think is really important. When I get the images into Photoshop I use the Alpha channels and layer masks to tweak the colours, enhance the lighting and give them a tactile feel. The textured background is made up of quite a few different layers, reduced in opacity and overlaid. This often gives more depth than just one texture layer. I use custom dust and scratch brushes, while also using the Dual Brush feature to add some randomness and inconsistencies to the final result. I spend quite a bit of time dodging and burning the reflections and shadows, which helps make them pop. I also often use Color Balance and Curves adjustments to finesse the final product.


I mainly used simple Bevel and Emboss layer effects. It was important to pay attention to the details like the colour of the shades and obviously the amount of embossing. The reflection elements needed to be blurred, have their opacity reduced and other partial adjustments. The background, shadows, reflections and textures were all finishing touches.

Joey Camacho



Ben Downard Ben Downard created a concrete type graphic to raise awareness of the events in Haiti. He worked across CINEMA 4D, Illustrator and of course Photoshop to add texture and bring together the final effect. The result is a solid graphic that portrays the destruction. For the aesthetic of the project I wanted something stark, sterile and in a duo tone to illustrate the idea of devastation and its impact on a clean environment. For the concrete effect I used two photographs: a macro shot of basic concrete for the texture and a macro shot of dry, cracked, muddy earth. From that point on I applied with masks and lighting effects used as layer styles. This achieved a painterly and illustrative effect for the remnants of a building left standing after the earthquake.

18. REPLICATE CRACKED CONCRETE BEN DOWNARD The Church of London commissioned different artists to depict various Olympic athletes for the cover of the Metro newspaper during the games. The brief specified that only the portrait had to be recognisable and include the athletes names. Charles Williams depicted Louis Smith with a combination of hard-edged and soft flowing shapes, in reference to the strength and graceful movement required of gymnasts. Once Id put together a rough layout I started building the vector design in Illustrator, then added detail in Photoshop. I based the type on the shapes I used to build the portrait flowing organic shapes then gave it a bit of a circus feel, as this sat well with the gymnast figures above. I built the type in Illustrator then added depth and a soft 3D feel in Photoshop using Bevel and Emboss. To get this effect I set the Bevel and Emboss adjustments Highlight Mode to Overlay and created individual layers for each letters bevel. This prevented the bevels from bleeding into one another and distorting.
Charles Williams


Stefan Chinof Inspired by horror films and a love of candy, Stefan Chinof turned the Helvetica typeface into a fun take on a terrifying texture. I was inspired by a poster for a horror movie that had a very organic, bloody and sort of raw-meat-looking texture! Since Im a big comedy junkie and not at all a horror fan, I thought of how I could make this effect a bit more fun and juicy. Helvetica isnt a font thats usually seen in such an abstraction, so it was an interesting challenge on top of using the negative space around the font. Using negative space always has great power but is rarely used in this way. The tools I applied the most for this project were the blending options as well as the Bevel and Emboss adjustment. Shapes were quite useful too and a great addition, but drawing the idea out to start was the base of it all.







Larry Ewing


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The Fletcher Project/Ballantines Whisky. Retouching: Craig Minchington. Photography: James King

pro RETOUCHING techniques

meet the experts

craig minchington
Minchington is a Welsh digital artist living in Bristol who works under the alias Adora. Hes worked on a lot of retouching projects, both at home and in the Epoch Design studio.

angela carlson

sarah barker
Sarah Barker fell into retouching after starting a career in design and later moving into pre-media. She is completely self-taught in Photoshop and is the director of Pocket Rocket Productions.
All of Davis skills are self-taught through trial-and-error, videos and publications. He feels you have to explore Photoshops menus and blending modes to find your own style.

darius davis

artem kolomeichuk
Kolomeichuk is a designer born and raised in Ukraine. His primary goal in life is to make a living out of doing something he loves.Currently hes working at Positive Pictures studio.

20 years ago Angela Carlson fell in love with Photoshop while working on her high-school yearbook.After studying Graphic Design and Photography, she now works as a retoucher.

etouching is a secretive trade at the best of times, but here Advanced Photoshop blows the lid off commercial effects once more. In this feature we show you how to apply professional product-retouch techniques. Admittedly, in an arena preoccupied with beauty examples, retouching commercial products may not be at the top of your agenda. However, mastering this type of retouching will add a vital string to your creative bow. Avenues into product retouching are varied and should be taken full advantage of, if you are looking to make a living from your skills. Image editors can find a number of unique fields to operate within, such as apparel, jewellery, automotive, beverages and technology. Commercial clients know their products are a gateway to the world of consumers, so they strive to present a perfect portrayal for print and online campaigns. This means they regularly employ retouchers to ensure quality is always at a high standard. Therefore, even when working with everyday products, your portfolio needs to demonstrate aesthetic detail.

In this feature our industry experts show you how to achieve images that will rouse viewers, achieving professional looks using the power of Photoshop. Well also explore CG retouching and reveal how this trend is rapidly evolving. Beverage retouching When retouching any beverage product your starting point is a strong photograph. The pre-production shoot is an essential phase, as the shots you begin with need to be as high-resolution as possible. Your initial images will determine how much detail is available to work with and this influences the quality of your final image. Digital artist Craig Minchington ( agrees, adding: Youll want your shot to be lit well. Adding highlights [later] is one thing, but you dont want to have to fake [these] too much. Lighting also plays an important part in successfully presenting the theme of an image, as Minchington explains further: For fruit drinks you want the product to look really refreshing, whereas for a whisky brand you may want to portray

smoothness and class, in-keeping with the brands ethics. Minchington applies a mixture of Curves and Levels adjustment layers to establish these moods. I also experiment with the Dodge and Burn tools to really bring out contrast, accentuating the shadows and enhancing highlights, he adds. However, Minchington admits that there is no exact science applied to every project. Effects will need probing and can be repeated a few times until the desired effect is achieved. Despite this, he does have one effective routine for smoothing glass surfaces, which is extremely valuable for this type of retouch. Applying a mixture of gradients and brushing in colour can be a very effective way of [doing this], he says. I tend to use these effects for soft highlights, which works really well when dealing with liquids. As many beverage products have recognisable branding, controlling colour is essential. Both the liquid colour and the label artwork need to be exact. I will generally supply CMYK breakdowns then colour-pick areas, using Channel Mixer adjustment layers to achieve the desired tones, Minchington reveals.

Minchington explains how he used Photoshop to retouch this latest promotional Key Visual

retouching ballantines whisky


composite the image

Six photos were combined to achieve the final image. One shot was used to get an overall tone, while areas such as the neck were shot using extra light, shining through to show the golden colour of the whisky. I overlaid each section in layers.


work out blemishes

I added layer masks to each photograph using a soft black brush to integrate edges. This left me with one well-lit shot. A mixture of applied colour brushing (hold Opt/Alt to pick neighbouring tones) and applying the Clone Stamp got rid of blemishes.


correct with channel mixer

Once Id cleaned the image, I colour-picked areas then applied Channel Mixer adjustment layers to correct these. To finish I used a Color Balance adjustment layer to add a hint of blue to the shadows as well as to match the background.


Techniques pro RETOUCHING

apparel retouching Working with apparel can include a whole host of garments. Canvas shoes, cotton clothes and even metallic watches all fall under this one category. Watches are one of the most detailed subjects to tackle, which actually makes them one of the most satisfying to retouch. This is why professional artists like Angela Carlson ( value the tools Photoshop and Camera Raw supply, as they enable image editors the ability to create stunning looks. Lighting, sharpness and clarity are key, she explains. My goal is to create a soft glow, but still maintain a crisp overall appearance portraying the best possible

quality with snappy colour, while keeping true to the actual merchandise. A photo with multiple watches made of different materials may require several different exposures. It can be difficult to capture a group of watches with black leather and silver textures in just one shot, reveals Carlson. I prefer working with multiple exposures, but when Im unable to obtain them I open my file in Camera Raw.I use Fill Light to open up shadows and Recovery to bring back highlights that may have been blown. The Clarity slider adds contrast to the midtones. Once in Photoshop, retouchers often apply Adjustments>Shadows/ Highlights>Shadow Amount and Tonal Width sliders to enhance the detail further.

angela carson /

I prefer working with multiple exposures, but when Im unable to obtain them I open my file in Camera Raw

Colour accuracy is as important as ever, in order to properly represent each specific material. Sometimes you will have platinum, silver and white gold all in a single shot. Its important to make the visual distinction between each one. I use a combination of Curves, Channel Mixer and Selective Color adjustment layers to reach my desired results, Carlson reveals. With most watch shots looking more sleek and smooth, the only time a retoucher adds texture is when theyve brushed in highlights and have lost the original photographs grain.Carlson tells us: When this is the case, I add noise at a low opacity, which I add a very slight Gaussian Blur to in order to reintroduce [lost] grain texture. Carlson advises you to always work in RGB at full size, then convert your final layered file to a Smart Object before switching to CMYK mode or resizing. This enables you to maintain consistent quality when repurposing, she explains.

Create alluring commercial retouch images using simple Photoshop and Camera Raw techniques

sears canada holiday catalogue watches



Make global moves to improve contrast, colour and clarity in Camera Raw. Pen Path an outline around the watch then save feathered selections as Alpha channels.Clean dirt then smudge or clone out shadows and reflections.


Select with your Alpha channel masks and apply Curves adjustment layers, balancing lighting across all products. Shadows/Highlights can help bring out and emphasise details in darker areas. Use Channel Mixer and Selective Color to correct tones.


Correct all watches so they are set to the same time and date.Clone or paste higher-quality stones from one image into another, placing these over any poor-quality ones. Also, make sure knob stems are pressed in fully.


Brush low-opacity white reflections onto the faces of the watches to produce a shine. Sharpen these by applying the High Pass filter to the faces and stone layers. Set High Pass layers to Soft or Vivid Light blending modes.

Put all the layers in a masked Group file, revealing only the product. Add a white-filled layer thats masked using a gradient.Convert all the layers to Smart Objects and make adjustments for colour shifting when converting to CMYK.




JEWELLERY RETOUCHING Preparing jewellery for a shoot is the first step towards obtaining a choice retouch image. Great care must be taken when lighting the product, in order to achieve the best starting point. Making sure the product is as clean as possible when its shot is just as important. Items need to be polished by the jeweller prior to the shoot. These are the first stages towards producing what creative retoucher Sarah Barker (www. describes as a flawless image that looks covetable, desirable and resonates with the consumer. Surfaces must be free from blemishes, with reflections removed or blended. Barker uses a combination of Clone Stamp and brushes to clean up and perfect surfaces. The precious metal colour must be adjusted, sometimes neutralised, and gemstones must appear crisp and detailed, she tells us. This can be achieved using Levels, Curves, Channel Mixer and Hue/Saturation layers. I often stack several of these adjustments on top of one another to create the desired effects. Lighting is often controlled manually, with Barker wielding the Brush tool to create shadows from scratch. These are built up in a series of layers to achieve authentic results. I create a dense primary shadow and a softer secondary shadow, using values from the original image as a guideline. Sharpening is applied by duplicating the final image into a new layer and a High Pass filter at a Radius of 3.0 pixels is then added. The duplicate layers blending mode is set to either Soft Light or Hard Light depending on the sharpening required.



Gemstones are made detailed by combining adjustment layers Per Ericson Photography

Remove any blemishes with the Clone Stamp and Brush tools Per Ericson Photography



TECHNOLOGY RETOUCHING When shooting and retouching technology products, photo editors will focus on creating bright highlights, printable blacks and sharpness. Professional photographer Darius Davis ( explains further: I focus on using subtle gradients to bring attention to a products strengths, hiding any imperfections via the lighting or camera angle. If the initial photo is poor quality then it will rarely become a commercial-standard image in the end. Davis believes that if you must use Photoshop tricks extensively, this will ultimately degrade pixels and become evident. He adds: My standards begin in-camera. I prefer to composite parts rather than create pixels. I truly believe that theres a texture of light that cant be achieved outside of the capture.

Davis uses up to ten images when compositing. These include a bracketed shot as a base image, a screen burn-in shot, the background without the product and shots made for special instances, such as shadows or where strobe lights have been added or removed. Bracketing provides real pixels and textures for necessary lighting adjustments in post, Davis explains. I shoot burned-in screens with strobes on, model lights off and a slow shutter speed. This produces realistic and manageable screenshots for compositing. Davis will turn to Photoshop adjustments where necessary to create gloss effects. His go-to tools are Curves and blending modes. Ill create a new layer, with the blending mode set to Overlay, and apply the Brush tool set to Lighten in increments of three per

cent. I make adjustments in small percentages and often find myself pulling back the Opacity to between 10% and 30%, then duplicate the layer. I apply Multiply [blending mode] for dark areas and Divide [blending mode] for light areas. He also reveals how he quickly applies highlights, which also begins with a new layer. I then select the Elliptical Marquee tool and create a circle twice the size of the area I want to highlight, he explains. I choose Select>Refine Edge and apply a Feather to the selection between 50px and 125px. The larger the Feather radius, the subtler the gradient is. I fill my feathered selection with a light grey (approximately 210 RGB values in Color Picker), add a layer mask, select a 5% Eraser tool and refine the shape and intensity of the highlight.





Import your screen burn-in image into your layered retouch image, labelling the layer Screen. Path the screen and add a layer mask to eliminate everything except for the screen itself.



Use Free Transform to resize and shape the screen to match the orientation. With this active, Ctrl/ right-click and select Warp, Distort or Perspective to make the image look natural.



Duplicate your screen layer and place the copy behind any highlight effect layers. Set Opacity of the copy layer to 50% and set the blending mode to Screen.


Artem Kolomeichuk ( believes that one of the most important criteria for commercial retouching at Positive Pictures (www. is achieving realism in a final result. "For example, in this project for Chevrolets brand-new Aveo, we implemented a building by inventing fully 3D architecture," he explains. Understanding the physics of light, composition, perspective and layout of objects in the frame was essential, as with any work of art including photography. Skills used to produce these effects are used often by the Positive Pictures team . Referring to the car specifically, this was assembled from a variety of individually rendered elements inside Photoshop. "Each element has specific individual light and volume information applied," Kolomeichuk reveals. "By correctly assembling all these sections together we obtained a result that closely matched the requirements of our customer." Sophisticated compositing meant each layered image had its own mood, but that wasn't always the same as the original render or photo material. "This meant we had to draw flares and shadow mainly using the Paths and Brush tools," Kolomeichuk tells us. Each element, both the photo and 3D layer, were corrected separately. "This gave us the ability to precisely tune and correct the image," he adds. "A specific example would be in the car's different parts. We worked separately with the wheels, glass, interior and the body. We often applied the Motion Blur filter, creating a dynamic image." The application of textures helps a lot in this sort of image, where there are apparent weather conditions. Dirt, water and even snow textures can be added to induce an atmosphere. The Add Noise filter is often used for realism. Colour correction became essential when finishing the image. "It's the colour that gives the general perception of the image," explains Kolomeichuk. "Every image goes through this and Photoshop features [especially adjustment layers] enable us to get perfect results. For colour correction, we only use Photoshop." For more on automotive retouching, check out photographer Scott Dukes dedicated feature tutorial over the next few pages, where he reveals how to professionally enhance two luxury cars.


Using renders, the team created a clear model composition Vasyl Shulga

The final rendering of the car Vasyl Shulga

Here you can clearly see how the team produced the object rendering Vasyl Shulga

The final piece as it appeared in Chevrolets new Aveo advert Chevrolet, Vasyl Shulga (Positive Pictures Ltd)






Creative and technical tips for enhancing a commercial photo

hen retouching youll find yourself in a much better place if you have multiple files to pull from, especially when each and every one combines into one final image. Everything from camera angle and height to the direction of the light needs to be consistent if were to achieve realistic results. Unfortunately this isnt the case most of the time. Whether there are constraints while shooting, or the retouching of a specific image turns out to be an afterthought, we can find ourselves at the mercy of one lonely file. This means we could be left with

having to make a whole lot of something from a whole lot of nothing. Here well be exploring the creative and technical possibilities of retouching a photograph of a vehicle, starting from a single RAW base file, then wielding Photoshop to finalise the results. From the foreground to the background well go over everything you need to complete the retouch, including the processing of the RAW file, digitally painting the cars and creating a dust-kicking burnout effect. All this will be completed in Photoshop without any additional applications or plug-ins.

Our expert SCOTT DUKES
Scott is a commercial and editorial photographer born, raised and living in Los Angeles, California. His client list includes Lexus, Scion, Toyota, Harley Davidson, Vitamin Water, Automobile Magazine, Playboy and RIDES Magazine.

Start with the basics

Break down the image into multiple sections to give yourself the utmost control


Retouching from RAW file to sharp result

Work in Progress

Progress 1: Open your shot

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process the raw file

Start with a RAW file or files that offer the most flexibility for retouching. Utilising the Dynamic Range option is key, because if youre stuck with only one file you can process it multiple times for various elements. Its fortunate we have soft, even lighting in this image, so we only need to process once to get a good starting file.


break down the image

Its always best to divide your elements, then package each in a Group folder. Make a selection of the elements in each folder then apply a layer mask to the folder itself. This enables you to include effects but isolate them to individual areas. Here a good starting point for us is the background, the Dodge Viper and the Mercedes SLS.

Progress 2: New background

addition by subtraction

The saying work before play holds a lot of weight here. In general its a good idea to start off by doing the bulk of any retouching before moving into the creative work. This is where wed want to complete any obvious work with the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush tools, which usually means the removal of all distracting artefacts.

Progress 3: Burnout smoke



start image




set the tone

With the layer masks in place and the bulk of the work on the pixels done, we can move to the fun stuff. Starting with overall adjustments, we create a Global folder to keep everything in place. To avoid committing to anything, its best to work in a non-destructive manner by using adjustment layers. By applying Selective Color, for example, we can increase the contrast in the sky by adding blacks to cyans and blues but removing them from whites.


emphasise the subject

To pull more texture and contrast out of the road, we can use a Channel Mixer adjustment layer with Monochrome checked and a Blue Channel set to either an Overlay or Soft Light blending mode. To add a quick vignette, make a heavily feathered selection where the vignette will be and apply a Levels adjustment layer to control the effect. While enhancing the feel of the road surface, we can also help direct more attention to our subjects.


add layer masks

As were breaking down the image more and more, well come across situations where certain tools work better than others. As we isolate the rest of the background from the road surface, the Polygonal Lasso tool works best. As there isnt a clear-cut line in the pixels, we can quickly add a feathered selection along the outside of the road then apply the mask. This can be controlled manually using soft-edged black and white brushes.


replace the sky

As we started off with only one RAW file, this is where having a library of random images, such as skies, comes in handy. Picking a specific sky image will minimise any distractions, as well as alleviate the tension from the horizon line cutting through the roof of the SLS. This new sky works great, as the direction of the light is close enough and the mountains nicely frame the cars. We can integrate the skyline by applying to a layer mask manually. Plant the back plate farther into the distance by applying a slight Motion Blur filter to it.


Apply selective color

With the background set for now, we can move our focus towards the cars. As the Dodge Viper has three dominant colours in its paint, the Selective Color tool can provide great control when we start to dial in the colour and tonality. The CMYK sliders for every tone enable us to adjust contrast, saturation, hue, colour balance and more in the whites, blacks and reds of the car.

quick tip Use adjustment layers such as Levels, Curves and Hue/Saturation, as they offer endless flexibility. Everything is non-committal and non-destructive to pixels. As with any other layer, these can be toggled on and off as needed and can be set to any desired blending mode.

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Believably alter reality

Use focused effects to achieve a dynamic result tie up the loose ends


Starting with the background enables us to set the stage first, then clean things up as we move forward. Not much work is needed for the Mercedes SLS at this point, so with a few global and specific adjustment layers were able to fine-tune the overall tonality of the vehicle to match the rest of the image. 002 003


apply window reflections

With the basic retouching finished, we can now sit back and survey the creative potential of the image. At a quick glance the windows of both vehicles could use a little more detail. Use the Pen tool to apply precise selections of the windows, then create duplicate layers for each so as not to affect the pixels below. Cmd/Ctrl-click the layer thumbnail, make a selection of your copy layer and apply the Gradient tool to this window layer. Set a white-totransparent Gradient Style at 60% Opacity to achieve a reflective effect.


Completing colour and tonal work with the background first helps direct us where to go with the vehicles.


Using various Selection tools for layer masking, we are able to independently work on elements of the image.


Well create various realistic-looking lighting and motion effects to enhance the overall dynamics of the image.


add headlight reflections

Make a feathered selection of the headlights and add a Hue/Saturation layer. Activate the Colorize option, set Saturation at 40 and Lightness at 20. The Hue settings depend on the vehicle. From here you can double-click the layer to open the Layer Styles options. Applying both Outer and Inner Glow, we can create the desired radiance with the slider options. To create the flare, apply with a star-shaped brush and apply a slight Blur filter to soften the edges.


the digital paint booth

As the SLSs paint is a silver we can easily change it. First we need to create a new selection with the paint isolated. Use the correct Group mask to make your selection and edit out anything that isnt going to change colour namely the windscreen and lights. Add a layer and fill it with the new colour, in this case a sample of the factory red. Change this layers blending mode to Color and apply any adjustments needed to alter the settings.


replicate burnout dust

Looking to add a bit more action to the image, we can create the effect of burnout dust in a few quick steps. This is where our second additional file comes into play. With a photo of smoke against a black background, drag the file into the correct position and change the blending mode to Screen to leave only the smoke. Apply a mask to the layer and manually brush out any unnecessary smoke to achieve the desired look.



Use large brushstrokes and the Free Transform tool

boost the environmental lighting

bleed the light


Now that weve created the dusty smoke trail coming from the vehicles, we can add some more light play towards the front of the image to bring balance. Revisiting the background folder, create a new layer at the top of the Group layer stack to ensure your light will only affect the background elements. Using a large soft-edged brush, apply a single white brushstroke. We can adjust the light flare as needed with the Free Transform tool.


light the vehicle edges

With the light flare added, we now have to create the bleeding-light effect on both the vehicles to tie things together. Well create two new layers for painting in each car group, again ensuring we only affect specific layers. Using a soft-edged white brush, well apply along the edges of both vehicles to create the effect. We can transform and warp the paint, then tweak the opacity or change the blending mode to either Overlay or Soft Light for increased contrast.


add lens flares

Lens flaring will often occur when light bleeds into a lens directly from a light source. With the added light flare in the upper-right of the image, we can easily use the Lens Flare filter to add this effect. Making a Group at the top of everything, add a new layer filled with 50% grey (Shift+F5) and change the blending mode to Overlay. This gives us an invisible layer that we can apply the Lens Filter to without altering any pixels below.

quick tip When using layer masks, look at the surrounding pixels to help decide which tools to use. The precision of the Pen tool is great for clipping things out such as a car, while a large soft-edged brush or heavily feathered selection is perfect for creating vignettes.


make global adjustments

Now weve come full circle and will once again complete a round of global adjustments. As were looking to finish the entire image, ensure these are made on top of all the other layers and groups. We can use Selective Color to complete the bulk of the work. Add contrast in the sky by applying black to the blues and cyans. Removing black from white is a good method for pulling out textures, such as the road surface or clouds.


sharpen the result

To finish we want to sharpen the flattened and cropped image before saving. In addition to the Unsharp Mask filter, we can run a High Pass filter. Duplicate the final flattened layer and go to Filter>Other>High Pass. The Radius used is relative to the file size, or simply the desired effect. Change this layers blending mode to either Soft Light, Hard Light, or Vivid Light. All three slightly vary, so test them out to see which suits best. We can also reduce the opacity of the layer to soften the image if necessary.

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Photoshop users the ability to cut and customise layer shapes at any point during the workflow. Layer Style options also play a huge part, enabling us to produce effects that simulate depth of field. Coloured shape layers are purposefully thrown into the mix and will be applied with the Pen Shape tool. Youll be placing these shapes to enhance the 3D effects while simultaneously improving the realism of the final image. These layers will have a huge aesthetic impact on the design, especially when combined with a vibrant colour scheme. Everything is capped off with some lavish lighting effects to complete a truly exciting piece.

oull find many different interpretations of the displacement effect online when poring over numerous digital art portfolios. Alberto Seveso ( has really championed this style and recently Adobe adopted it to promote its software products. Here reviews editor and Photoshop artist Adam Smith puts his own slant on this creative effect, taking inspiration from some of the contemporary work being produced. He reveals techniques that will give you a foundation to build exciting results. Layer masks and Smart Objects are an essential part of our creative arsenal. These tools offer

Adam loves to test his Photoshop skills, so creating this surreal effect while managing a mammoth layer count was the perfect challenge.




Tutorial resources provided on the disc include bokeh and ink splat brush sets, as well as examples of model head shots.



Select the Pen Path tool and activate Rubber Band from the tools options. Trace around the model (Dreamstime image number 10869704) and activate the Paths panel. Cmd/Ctrl-click the new path layer to make an active selection. Reactivate the model layer and apply a layer mask, setting Feather to 2px in the Properties>Masks panel. Also set a solid black layer behind the model.



Duplicate the model copy layer and select Image>Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights. Set Shadows>Amount at 35%, Tonal Width at 50% and Radius at 30px. Apply all Highlight values at 0 and add a Curves layer with an upward curve, setting Input at 105 and Output at 135. Click and invert the layer mask, then paint highlights back into the centre of the face using a 50% Opacity soft black brush.



Start by merging the model and lighting layers into one whole layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/ Alt+Shift+E). Set this layers Opacity to 20% and duplicate. Ensure you follow this and the next step carefully as well as continuing to follow the exact technique throughout the workflow. This may seem a convoluted process but it will save you bags of time when making edits later.




cut out more elements

Select the Pen Path tool once more and use this to draw out a section of the models face, including lips, eyes and nose. Apply flowing edges, activate the Paths panel and Cmd/Ctrl-click the new Path layer to make an active selection. Add a layer mask to the model, merge the copy layer and set Opacity at 100%. We now have our first displaced element. The low-opacity model merge layer lies beneath, acting as a reference for further selections and displaced elements.


gradient overlay

Continue to duplicate the model layer, make selections with the Pen Path tool and apply layer masks to create displacement effects. Carefully layer these and replicate a depth-of-field effect through applied layer styles. Well now add a black-to-transparent Gradient Overlay set to either Overlay or Linear Burn. Hit Apply Angle, alter the opacity and position to suit. To save time we can select Layer Style>Styles and save initial settings as a New Style. This can instantly be applied to a layer and adjusted any time.


edit lighting

You can apply Drop Shadow effects (from the Layer Style options) to the displaced layers in order to replicate a 3D effect. Combining these styles creates a believable depth of field, but it can be enhanced using Smart Objects. Double-click the Smart Object layer, open the initial layer state and then apply Levels and Brightness/Contrast to affect the lighting on the shapes. Swap in and out of Smart Objects to assess and tweak effects, as well as edit shapes using the original mask. These shapes can always be customised.


add colour shapes

Well continue to push depth-of-field effects by adding Pen Shape layers. Use the Pen Shape tool to personalise a form that corresponds and interweaves with displacement layer edges. Theres a lot of trial and error with this technique, so persevere, be patient and dont be afraid to delete shapes and start again. Work with bright colours, as these make placement much easier to comprehend. You can also colour-tag the layers (Cmd/Ctrl-click the layer) in relation to each shapes colour.


create 3d shapes

Continue to apply these shapes, tweaking the settings to achieve the looks you want. To make the image look a lot more vibrant, weve created a spectrum colour scheme, from red to yellow ochre to green. Try adding shapes to the edges of the displacement layers to replicate a drip effect, placing these behind to create a warped 3D result. Everything is geared towards improving this 3D outcome. Dont forget to revisit the Layer Style> Styles presets and add them to coloured shapes.


apply smaller shapes

With all the main shapes in place, well continue to detail the elements. Scatter smaller shapes in and among the larger examples as well as away from the model while also applying coloured lines. All of these small effects improve the sense of direction and movement in the image. Even smaller details require our attention and the application of Styles presets. This process ensures lighting is consistent throughout the image, keeping all the vibrant elements and unified.

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Take the image to the next level in three simple steps

pay attention to detail

Get the mixed-Media effect

Duplicate the model merge layer and place this at the top of the stack. Opt/Alt-click the Add Layer Mask icon in the Layers panel, import the PDaily ink splats.abr brush set and choose a style. Set the brush to white and apply ink splat effects.

amend the shapes

If you want to amend the shape of any of your displacement layers, now is the time to do so, as these Smart Objects will really come in handy. Simply open one up then use the layer mask inside to edit the shape. Edits will update live in the image once you exit the Smart Object interface.

Make simultaneous tonal changes

If you are using CS6 you can save time by editing the colour of multiple layers. Simply Cmd/Ctrl-click the layers that need to be altered, activate the Shape tool and set a new colour in the Fill option. Here weve duplicated several shape layers, placed and selected them and then changed all of them to purple.



Create new image lighting and add vibrancy

add special effects

Bring in lighting effects


One way to achieve the lighting effects is to duplicate an existing shape layer then apply Motion Blur, setting a high Distance amount. You can add either Linear Dodge (Add) or Screen modes to these blurred layers. To boost the lighting on the chin well create a solid black layer at the top of the stack and apply a Movie Prime Lens Flare. Also add a Motion Blur and set it to Screen blending mode. We can now duplicate this layer and apply Hue/Saturation.


work with clouds

Add a new layer to the backdrop and apply a purple-to-transparent gradient to it. Place this layer in the top-right corner but towards the centre of the workspace and set its Opacity at 50%. Create a new solid black layer on top of this then set its Foreground colour to orange and the Background to magenta. Add Filter>Render>Clouds to this layer, apply Gaussian Blur and set the blending mode to Overlay at 40% Opacity.


Use a bokeh effect

Create a new layer on top of the clouds layer then load and apply the supplied Bokeh brush.abr. Activate Shape Dynamics, Scattering and Transfer in the Brush Preset options then set Spacing up to 100% in the Brush Tip settings. Apply the brush using yellow ochres and magentas and then set the layers Opacity between 45% and 50%. Finally add Gaussian Blur and Motion Blur to create some authentic bokeh effects.


retouch the model

Add a Selective Color adjustment layer, setting the colour options to Neutrals at 20, -10, -100 and 10. Invert the mask and paint to the eyes with a soft white brush. Add another Selective Color layer and set the colour options to Red at -55, 0, 0 and 0 then Neutrals at -40, 15, -40 and 5. Invert the mask and apply a soft white brush to the lips.


sharpen things up

All thats left to do is sharpen the edges in the image, but we dont want to sharpen the textured surfaces too much. In this case, instead of using Sharpen filters, apply a High Pass layer. Press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E to merge all layers into a new layer then apply Filter>Other>High Pass. Set the Radius between 4 and 8 pixels, click OK then add an Overlay blending mode. You can tweak the opacity to determine the strength.

save a selection Its really easy to transfer displacement selections between images by having two open with the same pixel dimensions one you want to copy from and the other you want to copy to. Make an active selection of a displacement layer shape in the first image then choose Select>Save Selection. Inside the Save Selection dialog box set your second (new) image as the destination from the Document options. Clicking OK will add an Alpha channel to the second (new) image. Cmd/Ctrl-click the Alpha channel layer, create a selection and add a layer mask to the new layer to re-create the same displacement effect. Alternatively you can save a set of Alpha channels to a new document, ready to be dragged, dropped and applied to any other image.

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he root of this image is a set of simple 3D elements. Artist Theo Aartsma (http:// explains: I created four blocks in 3ds Max, rendered them out and started working on top of them inside Photoshop. Aartsma began by texturing his elements, while matching the existing lighting in his photos to that of his 3D objects. When [the lighting] didnt quite match, but I still wanted to apply a photo, I used Photoshop options to even the lighting and manually brushed in the highlights and shadows, he reveals. Aartsma has developed his own specific techniques, used predominantly to enhance existing image contours and edit colour. [I] followed the flow and contrast of the photographic elements and used them to blend areas together, he says. For example, I washed out the colours and contrasting lines in some parts of the image, then refined the artwork and improved its aesthetics.

I used Photoshop options to even the lighting and manually brushed in the highlights and shadows


I imported a texture from my library into a new layer and then used the Transform tool to make sure it was covering the places I wanted it to show.

I added a layer mask, then removed the lock icon between the layer and the applied mask. With the mask activated I moved and transformed the scale to position the texture accordingly.


After importing a watercolour texture, I applied Select>Color Range and used the Eyedropper tool to select a good texture, setting Fuzziness to 200.

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how i made techniques



highlights in your photographic pieces, as well as how to create an image with greater impact. Blending modes will have a major impact on the lighting effects applied and will alter the colours drastically. Adjustments such as Color Balance and High Pass filters will be used to boost the aesthetics. This workshop is inspired by several popular designs that showcase an above- and below-water motif, which you can easily draw inspiration from yourself with a quick search online. These types of projects are a great way to fine-tune your Photoshop compositing skills and are an ideal opportunity to test your imagination.


reating an authentic underwater scene is all about effectively combining a large number of elements. This is achieved by carefully blending stock imagery together using a variety of Photoshop tools and techniques. If you are to succeed in replicating these effects, a firm grasp of the Photoshop interface and a sound knowledge of its basic features are necessary. The Transform tool, layer masks and blending options are also all essential to replicate the following results. Here well show you how to tone images separately to give them a cohesive look. Youll learn how to manually draw shadows and

Devin is an art director with more than eight years of professional experience and an extensive list of clients from all around the world. Weve supplied you with lots of water-related stock, which you can use to create your own interpretation of the effects achieved in this tutorial.






Well begin by sourcing images we want to use in the piece. Locating photos that will work together is key, so make sure you pay attention to the quality of the resolution, tone, light source and perspective. Once the right stock files have been found, begin by cutting them out with the Pen Path tool and quickly adding them to your scene. Apply Layer>Matting>Defringe to each object cutout and use a Defringe amount of 1 pixel. This will get rid of any white or oddly coloured edges.



Progress 1: Source your photos

Start with the street photo and cut out the individual elements. In this case weve removed the buildings, bridge and street from the background, then placed them in separate layer groups. Sometimes it helps to employ a number of different methods when separating stock images from their backgrounds. For instance, on our bridge we can use the Pen Path tool to cut it out and the Magic Wand tool to remove the background from between the individual struts of the structure.



Progress 2: Add highlights

Now add in a dramatic sky image but make sure its one that will give the final image a dramatic look. To create a sunlight effect, apply a large soft brush to lay down a spot of yellow (#ffeeaa5) to a new layer then set this to Lighten blending mode. Add in a slightly smaller white spot on top of this in a similar new layer, then move these two layers and position them above the bridge. Note that well want to use this Sun effect as our light source as we create our scene, so keep in mind this elements position at all times as we shade our photos.

Progress 3: Layer in details

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adjust the earth below

Now add in the elements youll find beneath the waves and carefully move, transform and skew them to fit the angle of your scene. Try to think objectively about how to place your objects and where you want the viewer to look. We can place a manhole cover at the centre of the underwater section and position the wrecked cars around it in such a way that will draw the viewers attention to the fish swimming out of it.


replicate a water line

Cut and place a water line image using either the Pen Path or Magic Wand tool, then place it into the scene to submerge the street. Make a selection below the water line that will represent the underwater section, then create a new layer and fill it with a bright blue (#5ea4b5). Set this layer to Overlay, insert a stock image that will represent the waters surface and then use Edit>Transform>Distort to match the perspective of your buildings.


use toning and highlights

Select your buildings and go to Image> Adjustments> Brightness/Contrast. Lower the Brightness setting slightly and then increase the Contrast. To bring about a little extra magic, insert a new layer on top of your buildings and set it to Overlay. Apply a soft white brush and lay down highlights over the structures. Use the existing contrasts as a guide to lay down more highlights, but reduce the opacity of this layer where needed.


blend in shadows

Just as in the previous step, we can now make a new layer and set it to Soft Light. However, this time well apply a soft black brush to accentuate the shadows in the building and bridge. Reduce the opacity of this shadow layer if necessary, but keep in mind where the light source is and work from that. Dont be afraid to lay down a lot of shadows initially, as you can always decrease the layers opacity to balance them later.


continue to shade

Now well add shadow under the cars using the Pen Shape tool, inserting a shape to mimic the outline of the vehicles where hard shadows would exist. Next go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and apply a very slight blur to soften your shape edges. Slightly adjust the opacity for each layer to create authentic shadow effects and achieve a unified look. You can draw out smaller shadows that sit beneath the car wheels to give the scene more depth.


layer on more details

Create a new layer, then apply shading and highlights to each car following the techniques in Steps 6 and 7. To speed up this process, duplicate one of the cars, select Image>Adjustments> Desaturate and set this desaturated layer to Soft Light. The grey tones will help accentuate the highlights and shadows of the original image further. After youve completed this, repeat Steps 6 and 7 for each individual car and integrate these.

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remove the car windows

Removing the windows on the cars presents a bit of a challenge. We need to show the interior elements of the car, but not the reflections currently in the photo, which can be hidden with shadows. First remove the car windows while keeping the interior elements intact. Once these are gone, use Selection tools to grab the interior portions of the car and apply Brightness>Contrast to darken these elements. After this is done, use a black brush to add shadow and obscure select parts from view.


unify the elements

Now well continue adding sections to the scene and carefully adjust the shadows and highlights to suit. We can use the Sun effect created in Step 3 as a guide to where our shadows and highlights will come from. For every new stock image added into the scene, we can also use separate Levels adjustment layers one adding highlights, another shadows. This will give us complete control over every stock asset and we can match them well to one another.


sound the depths

The further away your scene disappears into the distance underwater, the less you will see. To achieve a depth effect in the water, add layers of black between some of the elements that fade off into the distance. Here weve added a layer of black between the two main cars and the truck thats slightly further down the road. Tweak the black layers opacity to determine the depth of field and strength of the effects. You can add similar black layers in front and behind the bridge struts.

quick tip If your cutout images have faintly white pixelated lines or artefacts (purple halos) around them, select Layer>Matting>Defringe. Set Width to 1 and click OK to take pixels from the interior of your photo and wrap them around the edges.


insert rays of light

Add a new layer on top of your blue water layer and set its blending mode to Color Dodge. Drag out a perfect square with the Marquee tool, select Filter>Render>Clouds then go to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur. Set Blur to Zoom, Quality to Best and Amount at around 70. Use an Eraser with a soft edge to fade out any hard corners left by the blur effect. Position this layer in the centre of the water where the Suns light would shine through.


add bubbles and details

Now find a stock image of some good bubbles and place them into your scene. Go to Image> Adjustments>Desaturate then select Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast. The goal here is to increase the brightness of the bubbles and darken the background. Once you achieve a good balance, set the layers blending mode to Screen. This will ensure that only the white bubbles show. Once youve done this, use the Lasso tool to remove some of the bubbles and reveal a few of the fish. This will give the illusion of fish swimming in front of the bubbles.




insert more assets

Copy a portion of the bubble stock image from the current asset, paste this into your scene and position it so its emerging out of the divers mask. Select Edit>Transform>Warp and distort this new bubble layer towards the surface. Repeat this step for where you can imagine pockets of air escaping, but try not to overcrowd the scene too much. Gradually add or remove the elements, taking time to review the result each time to finish the step.


replicate a reflection

This step is similar to how we established the water line in Step 5. First locate an image of reflected water, position it in your scene and then use Edit>Transform>Distort to match the perspective. Set this layer to Overlay and adjust the opacity to establish how strong you would like the reflection to be. You may also wish to use a large soft Eraser to remove the edges of the photo and integrate it with other elements a lot better.


keep adjusting the details

Continue to refine the water level to build the overall realism of the piece. Depending on how dirty you want the water to appear, you can find a stock image of some dust on a black background, apply it and set the layers blending mode to Screen. This will show through the important elements, much like the bubbles in Step 14. This edit will also provide you with some nice orbs and details that will help the water look even more believable.


refine the tones

Once youre happy with the elements in the scene, go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Photo Filter and add it to the top of the stack. Set this to an orange, with a Density value of 27 to help control the tone of the water and make it look a little more realistic. You should experiment with filters and see what works best, but keep the corrections subtle at this stage, as its very easy and tempting to add too much, which will oversaturate the piece.


unify and make final adjustments

Here weve added a Color Balance adjustment layer on top of the scene and carefully increased the amount of red in the Midtones. This should make the sky really stand out and even phase out some of the colour tones between the aboveand below-water areas. This simple edit helps to make the image feel more like one unified composite, even though it is split between two distinct motifs.


use a high pass filter

To finish, copy and paste the entire scene into a new layer on top of all the other layers. Next, select Filter>Other>High Pass and set the Radius between 2 and 3 pixels to really pick out the images edges, but leave the surfaces untargeted. Follow this by setting the new High Pass layers blending mode to Overlay or Soft Light. This will help return delineation and sharpness to some of the finer aspects of the scene.

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hen you really want to boost highlights and shadows in your photo composites and create dynamic lighting, one layer effect just wont do. To get the best results possible we should take direct control of them by applying effects manually and specifying the look. There are several ways to achieve this quality, such as using the Dodge and Burn tools, but adding separate highlight and shadow layers using Photoshop brushes is the most preferred method. This enables us to quickly add in detail, while still maintaining a great degree of control when shading. This type of technique works best after youve already applied an image adjustment, such as Curves or Levels. Its also worth noting that its best to start by applying subtle effects, layer highlights and shadows where necessary. Be careful, as it can be very easy to go overboard and blow the lighting.




Adjust the image to match the scene as best you can. Select Image>Adjustments Levels and pull in your black and white point sliders towards the centre of the Histogram. Adjust the Midtones slider accordingly to bring out the contrast in the image.




Create a new layer and name it Highlight. Activate the Brush tool and set the Foreground to white. Try to imagine where your light source would fall on the image and dab white highlights on top of the picture. Set the Highlight layers blending mode to Overlay and decrease its opacity.



Make a new layer and name it Shadow. Pick up the Brush tool again, but this time set your Foreground to black. You can apply dynamic shadows to the image depending on the light source. Set this layers blending mode to Soft Light and also decrease the opacity to determine the strength.


For those interested in applying the exact stock images Devin is using, head over to Below are the image IDs for you to search for, along with one from Dreamstime //27149151 //2598956 //25226785 //13719887 //11688103 //2028404 //7402308 // 28630015 // 23625088 // 26123095 // 19046563 // 22806546 // 10795837 // 9217268 //1341532


Techniques how i made

how i made

angi sullins and silas toball Angi Sullins and Silas Toball reveal how
they create magic from mixed media
Imaginarium is where we live, in our heads, says Toball. If our studio could match our internal wonderland, this is what it would look like. When asked what role Photoshop plays in the creation of their images, Toball is keen to sing its praises. Photoshop acts as the cauldron in which photos, scans, textures, effects, bits and pieces are being churned and distilled into materialised expressions of imagination, he says. Its just the most versatile image-editing tool and over the years has become like a natural extension of my mouse/ graphics tablet. As is the case for most mixedmedia artists, Photoshops blending modes are a favourite feature of Toballs. The future holds very diverse projects for the duo. Having just finished illustrating a 2014 calendar for Amber Lotus, Toball is working on a classical orchestral score while Sullins is writing her third book. The couple also have a personal aim to help raise money for Sullins sister, who had to have her legs and fingers amputated. This is in the form of a special website ( as well as eBay auctions of artwork donated by artists such as John Howe and Brian Froud.


rtists should be champions of creative innovation, but Angi Sullins and Silas Toball ( have dedicated their lives to it. Our professional work is our personal work, Toball explains. We live to inspire and are inspired to live, fully. Over the years the duo have been asked to share how their art is created, which led them to write the Digital Art Wonderland, an inspirational instruction manual for using Photoshop as a mixed-media tool. The cover image of the book, Imaginarium (shown here), sums up their ethos perfectly. The


Gather the layers

Next we paste every element in separate layers so they can be shifted or removed as the project progresses. By using a silhouette of some grass in the foreground, then overlaying it with the same texture in the sky, we can achieve a strong composition for future consideration.

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Assemble the elements


duplicate, dont copy

We begin by putting together existing elements from our library. The texture for the sky is used to establish mood. The floor is also distorted with the Warp tool to add a topsy-turvy perspective.

We frame the entrance with two tents but want to avoid exact mirrored replicas at all costs. For this we change details on either side, select different curtains and add a little Buddha sculpture.


Silas Toball / Duirwaigh Studios

Photoshop acts as the cauldron in which photos, scans, textures, effects, bits and pieces are being churned and distilled into materialised expressions of imagination

Techniques how i made


build up more effects

Now well add elements that will extend the pavilion to the sides, making it look longer and more elaborate. The stairs and fairground-like balustrade are perfect for this purpose.


hold it together

In a collage of this nature, we want to avoid any element looking isolated. All the different sections need to blend in a natural way. One easy way to accomplish this is to add detail in places where objects meet. For instance, well add little flowers between the curtain and the stairs.


play with perspective

Note how the clouds become smaller and more detailed towards the horizon to create depth and dimension. We add stars on the darkest part of the sky, but so as not to compromise the extra depth we achieved well use the Transform tool. This makes the stars appear to fade into the background.


decorative touches

A large and completely black blob of swirls is now applied against a transparent background. This blob is made into a selection, inverted and then a new layer filled with black is added. We now disable the previous layer and choose the Difference blending mode to unify it into the piece.


tidy the edges

As up to this point many of the elements have been roughly applied, there are now many edges that require cleaning up. Small drop shadows need to be added and hues must be shifted in order to blend all the elements into an organic whole. This is a long but vital step in the process.

quick tip Lighting is almost always our last step. At this point, the light is distributed equally over the entire image. To alter this we use an abstract image file that contains marbled grey tones on a transparent background. We place this over the entire image and set it to Overlay. When using this effect we can control its strength with the Opacity slider. It also pays to experiment by rotating this layer then flipping or otherwise displacing it, because it can drastically alter the shadows and lights of your image. Any parts of the piece you prefer not to be affected can be controlled with a soft-edged Eraser.

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he image well be re-creating here, Level Up, is my own experimental, semi-abstract, interpretation of the common phrase used for reaching the next stage of a videogame. Well aim to create and then convert a standard 3D render into a much more dynamic image. During the process well be using Photoshops blending modes, adjustment layers and then finish with over-painting. Creating the 3D text is fairly straightforward. Dont worry if you dont own 3D software yet, as there are several free and open-source 3D packages (for instance Blender, as well as trial versions of CINEMA

4D, 3ds Max and so on), which will help you get started in 3D design. Well cover the basic stages of creating the 3D text. However, the 3D asset is already prepared so you can jump straight into the editing. During the tutorial we will touch on the Select>Modify function. This will aid in the removal of unwanted artefacts when importing an image that has an Alpha channel attached, resulting in a much cleaner and smoother outline. Well also look at ways of unifying the colour between the render and the background to help give a more natural appearance to the whole piece.

James is a self-taught digital artist/ illustrator and has been producing a broad range of digital art for over ten years. He is currently freelancing.





Set up the CINEMA 4D document at 1,180 x 2,668px and 300dpi. Choose your document save path and remember to include an Alpha channel. Set Anti-Aliasing to Best, then set Min and Max Levels to 4x4. For the best results use Global Illumination and Ambient Occlusion.



Using the Text Spline tool, add the words Level and Up as separate objects, then place both of these into their own Extrude NURBS objects to create the 3D text. Make sure you create both words at 40cm in thickness and then carefully position them in your scene.

The original 3D render is included on the disc entitled LevelUp-Render. png. This asset is provided for the purposes of this tutorial and other non-commercial projects only.



Progress 1: C4D main elements



Next, find a subtle texture to use as a material to add to the 3D elements. Try to use a tile texture, or alternatively create one in Photoshop. Use a Bump map on the texture and set some touches of specularity to the material. Also, ensure the material is projected in Cubic form.

Progress 2: Levels adjustment

Well cover the basic stages of creating the 3D text. However, the 3D asset is already prepared so you can jump straight into the editing
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Progress 3: Final touches



Techniques cinema 4d and photoshop


include more elements

Begin building the blocks from a basic cube then place them into a Cloner object. By applying a Random Effector you can adjust the settings and parameters to create an interesting abstract sculpture. Make copies of the Cloner object and adjust the settings in each to add variety. You can use the same material as the text on these objects to give the impression of unity. Next, position the blocks so that some of the text is obscured but so it still remains very legible.


set up the lighting

Add a plane, position it beneath the render and apply a simple pale-orange Luminance material. This will cast a secondary light from below. Next, insert a standard sky to the scene (approximately 12 oclock Noon, Mid-May) and use Hard Shadows. This will produce a graphic result in the shade to keep the render looking fresh. You can use the Compositing tab to prevent the sky from being seen by the camera, as well be importing a dramatic sky photo later on. Now were ready to render the scene.


import into photoshop

Open the render in Photoshop as a layer, then clear the background by selecting the Alpha channel, inverting and trimming it (or use the PNG file supplied). Next, import the cloud stock from: and place it below the render. Reduce the size of the sky and hold Shift to constrain the dimensions. Use Color Balance to add some red and yellow, set the layer to Hard Light and create a Radial gradient layer below this using soft-blue or green tones to adjust the colour scheme.


boost the contrast

Now lets add a little more contrast. Duplicate the 3D render layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and simply set the blending mode to Hard Light at 35%. This will immediately give the tones some much needed definition. Next, add a blank layer on top of this and name it Vignette. Select all (Cmd/Ctrl+A) and go to Edit>Stroke, setting the Width to 150px, Color to black and Location to Inside. Now go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set Radius to 250 pixels. To finish, set the layer to Soft Light blending mode at 55%.


use a levels adjustment

At this point its a good idea to check how our levels are looking. Consulting the Histogram (on the Menu bar, go to Window>Histogram) will indicate how your lights and darks are spread throughout the image. Too much bunching in the Histogram suggests theres an imbalance in your scene. We only need a slight adjustment layer here, so drag the small point sliders at either end of the Levels adjustment layer ever so slightly towards the centre. You should now see a big improvement in the range of light and shadow.

quick tip When using the Levels adjustment layer, holding Opt/Alt while dragging the adjustment point sliders will replace your main image with a white or black image. This will then display whether highlight or shadow clipping is occurring. Its useful to check if your changes are potentially detrimental to your image.

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cinema 4d and photoshop techniques

Use Distortive lens correction and a spot of painting

the next level

achieve semi-realism


So far we have taken an average 3D render, placed it in an appropriate environment, then enhanced its definition using adjustment layers and blending modes. For the final stages well attempt to inject some realism into the image to give it yet more appeal. 001 002 003


apply chromatic aberration

Make another duplicate layer of the render (Cmd/Ctrl+J), adjust its Curves slightly and boost the contrast a little (Image>Adjustments>Curves). This will flesh out the highlights and shadows a little more. Now go to Filter>Distort>Lens Correction and add a chromatic aberration effect. Under the Chromatic Aberration tab, tweak the Fix Fringe sliders slightly to separate the colours of the render. If used sensibly (and subtly) this fix will give a near-photographic quality to enhance the overall believability of the image.


By adjusting the settings and parameters of the Random Effector you can achieve a truly chaotic but effective result.


When selecting a stock image for the background, make sure that the light source complements the 3D render.


Boosting the contrast between the light and shaded areas of the render will enhance the overall definition.


add painted clouds

Using a soft brush (100px) set to low opacity, build up some foreground cloud on a new layer to add more depth to the scene. Try not to use pure white for the colour, but more of a light grey. When youre happy with the clouds, reduce the layer Opacity to about 22%, then duplicate the layer (Cmd/ Ctrl+J) and set it to Luminosity at 100%. At this point, you can experiment with blending modes or Opacity settings to achieve other interesting results.


let it snow

The image is looking a bit static, so to liven it up we can paint some snowflakes. On a new layer, using a small hard round brush set to about 80% Opacity, we can paint some snowflakes of various sizes. Try not to get carried away here, keep the painting to a minimum and restrict it to the lower portion of the canvas. Now go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur, set the Direction to about 30 degrees and the Distance to 25-35 pixels.


make a final colour adjustment

Tweak the tones by adding a Color Balance adjustment layer. Starting with Shadows, enter the numeric values: -19, 0 and +2; for Midtones input: +38, 0 and -15; then Highlights: 0, -27 and 0. The first thing youll notice is the whole image has changed to an ugly reddish hue, but changing the mode to Soft Light and adjusting the Opacity to 40% will act as a final contrast adjustment, with a subtle colour enhancement thrown in.

The image is looking a bit static, so to liven it up we can paint some snowflakes. On a new layer, using a small hard round brush set to about 80% Opacity, we can paint some snowflakes



ver the next few steps youll learn how to use different techniques to build this inspired digital collage. Well mainly be using hand-made textures, the Lasso tool, brushes, gradients and masks. Well start with a model portrait, modify it and add different elements such as hand-drawn make-up tools. Well also place coloured brushstrokes on top of the model and then remove aspects we dont need. Once the main features have been created and set in place its only a


matter of finishing the illustration with type and then distressing the image slightly. The key here is to experiment and take a hand-made approach to achieve a nice balance. Photoshop enables us to build up colours and effects that would be near impossible to create rapidly with real-world media. Although the process seems linear, the illustration can be made with a few back-and-forth adjustments, as well as experiments, to find the final composition, colours and shapes.

Raphal Vicenzi, aka mydeadpony, is a Belgian illustrator whose creations are often used for magazine editorials. He is represented by Colagene.




On the disc you will find textures and brushes used to create this image. You will need your own model image.



Progress 1: Build the base



We start by creating a new canvas of 235 x 302mm at 300dpi and drag the model onto the canvas. Next, detour the original image with the Pen tool (P) and desaturate it (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+U). You can slightly boost up the blacks and whites with the Curves panel.

02 03


Duplicate the image twice, change the layer mode to Multiply for the second copy, select the two bottom layers and merge them. Add a layer mask and fill the Foreground with black on the first layer to hide the image. Use a soft brush set to white (Opacity at around 40 %) to reveal the darker skin beneath.

Progress 2: Brush on elements


Select the top portrait image and create a new layer beneath it. Fill this with a gradient (G) and set it to Soft Light. Add a new layer beneath this, fill it with another gradient but reduce its Opacity to around 85%. Now use the Eraser tool (E) to remove any parts covering the face.

Progress 3: Add final effects

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mixed-media illustration techniques


Techniques blending mixed media


add in new features

On a new canvas well create a circle with the Ellipse tool (U+Shift-drag to constrain the circle) without a Stroke. Pick a tone, Ctrl/right-click, select Rasterize then place a texture on top of the circle and create a clipping mask with the texture layer (Cmd/ Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G). Set this layer to Divide, bring down the Opacity to around 50% and merge. Create a copy of this and resize it accordingly. You can also add a circle filled with a pattern in the same way.


import your elements

Now its time to bring the new elements into the original illustration. Drag them with the Selection tool (V) in the original document and place them behind the portrait layers. Playing with the effects is key to finding balance, so keep adding more features to further refine the distribution and dont hesitate to move them around if needed. Well also add a new circle on another layer filled with an off-white colour behind the portrait.


create make-up

On a layer above the portrait well use brushes from the Brush Preset palette (B) made from scanned textures. Apply around the eyes to create some original make-up, then softly erase the parts that arent needed with the Eraser tool at around 40%. Also, paint the lips in red on a new layer and set this to Linear Burn. Well also tone down the left and right side of the lips by softly removing the colour with the Eraser tool set at around 30%.


apply coloured shapes

On a new layer well roughly create different-sized blobs by hand using the Lasso tool. You can click on the Add icon to avoid holding Shift while making a few of these. Well use the Gradient tool to fill these with different gradients of our choice. Two more layers can be added in this way (dropping the previous selection each time) with different-sized blobs. These can be placed and resized (Edit>Transform/Scale) accordingly until were happy with the composition.


layer on more make-up

You can draw even more elements using different brushes on a layer. Create various layers (in this case we need to place them in different areas) then add swirling black lines next to the eye with a small brush. Next well draw two circles for the cheeks and a brushstroke set to Darken placed next to the head. Well also add a few painted strokes (using varying opacity) to bring some blue make-up around the eyes.

quick tip The various elements used for an illustration dont need to be complicated in themselves, but applying and finding the right place for them within the illustration will help build something more interesting for the final result. Experiment with what works best for you.

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blending mixed media techniques

Apply strokes with your brushes and tweak the composition

build layers and elements

use brushstrokes


On a new layer well add a few coloured brushstrokes to bring more colours to the illustration. Pick different brushes, vary their size via the Brush Preset palette and choose vivid tones from the Color palette. A bit of trial and error is required, so its best to play around and see if something worth keeping appears. 001 002 003


bring in texture

Open the scanned watercolour texture then drag and drop it on top of all the layers. Create a layer mask for the texture by clicking the icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and then set this texture layer to Linear Burn. With a brush picked from the Brush Preset palette we can mask selected areas while varying the size and Opacity (between 80% and 30%). Well add splatters by selecting another brush and applying blues and oranges.

We add in blobs of vivid colour with the Lasso tool and then fill these selections with a gradient.



Layer on strokes over the eyes to create the make-up and then add a few more hand-made doodles.


Paint random brushstrokes with brushes of various sizes to find an interesting look for the illustration.

Apply around the eyes to create some original makeup, then softly erase the parts that arent needed with the Eraser tool at around 40%. Paint the lips in red on a new layer and set this to Linear Burn


include more assets

Well now add other scanned elements into the illustration, such as a wing and plant shape. Select the shape of the wing, create a gradient fill set to Hard Light and then merge these layers. Next select the shape of the plant, place it on top of a black-and-white scanned texture, Ctrl/right-click the layer mask and choose Apply Layer Mask.


place the media

Add the new elements then move them around to find places theyll fit. By rotating, reducing and using different blending modes such as Multiply, Lighten and Luminosity, we can experiment and find effective combinations. You can place these new additions behind existing elements if needed. Always remain flexible and try not to overwhelm the result.


inject small details

Create a line with the Line tool, input a Weight of 2 pixels, select a gradient and then rasterise it. We can add a small circle using the Ellipse tool and constrain it with Shift. Choose a red Fill without adding a Stroke in the Ellipse tool palette, then rasterise this layer. Create three circles using the same method and fill them with a grey gradient.


Techniques blending mixed media

Refine your media and complete the stylised effects

finalise the image

reuse and recycle


On the portrait layer, select the face of the model with the Elliptical Marquee tool, create a copy on a new layer then choose Edit>Transform/Scale to reduce it to around 16%. We can then use an old mirror illustration from a source book and place it on the canvas. Well create some lines with a simple black brush from the mirror to the face and then merge these layers. Make a copy of these layers, flip them horizontally and place them accordingly.


apply more assets

Now well open a separate document to bring in new elements. These are drawn directly into Photoshop with different brushes, while observing reference material. We dont want these to look realistic, so just loosely draw them to maintain a hand-made look. The powder case object can be colourised with pink and blue tones using a simple brush. When youre done, import these objects back into the original image and position them.


include typography

Applying your own handwriting to add typographic elements will continue the unique hand-made aesthetic were developing. Using the same colour as the background, on a new layer placed on top of the coloured strokes, we can write something that suits the piece, in this case Mixed Media. Write the words on a new layer using a simple brush, vary the size to achieve some authentic inconsistencies and set the layer to Screen.

textures Its more rewarding to create your own textures from watercolours, acrylic paints or hand-drawn doodles and then use them in your illustration when brought in at a high resolution. A scanned texture can be drastically changed with the help of adjustment layers such as Hue/Saturation or Brightness/Contrast to give them a sharper look and feel. You can also add different textures on top of one another then play with different layer modes and opacities to add depth. Alternatively you can easily turn these scanned textures into Photoshop brushes to reuse in your projects.


Slightly distress the image

Use the Clone Stamp tool (S) with a large brush to distress the image, then add a new layer and select Current & Below under the Sample dropdown menu. Next, Opt/Alt-click to copy sections of the image and then position them where required using the Selection tool (V). Place this layer underneath the coloured brushstrokes and other elements so we can still see them and read the words more clearly.


finalise the illustration

To finish, bring up the Curves panel in the Properties palette and slightly boost the dark and light areas. This may not be necessary if the illustration is already quite vivid. Bring down the Opacity to around 25% so it only slightly enhances the image without overdoing it. We are now ready to save the image at a high resolution. As weve kept most of the layers intact we are able to rework the illustration if needed.

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paint a landscape
Create an illusion of detail and apply group tonal values

digital painting

ere youll learn how to create a landscape painting in Photoshop. With just a basic knowledge of the program youll be able to produce convincing artwork in no time. Some of the advantages of using Photoshop include being able to layer your work, create custom brushes and apply image adjustments. In the following steps you will learn some of the tools used in digital painting and what Photoshop has to offer. Before we jump into the process, well find some inspiration. Look up Angel Falls online to kick-start your research, as this is a fantastic example to use as reference. Try not to rush this step, as this is where you want to sit back, relax and be open to what you see. Throughout the tutorial well mostly be applying default hard and soft round brushes with Pen Pressure active. Play around with the settings of the brush and familiarise yourself with its effects. A quick tip is to squash the circle in the brush settings to create an ellipse. Another frequently used feature is the Hue/ Saturation adjustment. This is important for constantly checking the values, by desaturating the whole image and sliding the Saturation to -100. This way the colours wont distract you.


paint a landscape techniques

Our expert takumer homma
Takumer Homma is a freelance concept artist and a digital illustrator for videogames, who made a transition from the automotive industry in 2012. He dreams and aims to work in films.

source files

The brush file you will need for this tutorial is included on the website. http://blog.advancedphotoshop. This will speed up the process and help you understand how they are used.


Techniques paint a landscape

01 03

block in the main features

After completing a lot of research to better understand the subject matter, grab a big brush and block in masses of greys with a variety of tonal values, from light to dark. We can zoom out and mark with big strokes to keep away from details and then focus on composition and shapes. Its important to keep in mind that we need at least three values: a light grey for the background, a medium grey for the mid-ground and a dark grey for the foreground.


establish a story

We need to quickly conceive a story that will evoke something more in the artwork and garner some interest. Here weve added a cave that suggests erosion and composited in a focal image to set the overall scene. This scene takes us on a journey to discover what is left of the lost arch, the last remains of what used to stand. We now need to add a secondary focus to suggest the finding of the remains.

direct the light

At this stage we should spend some time further developing the image to provide better focus. Well determine the direction of the light that will complement the main focus point, the arch. There are multiple ways to light a scene, but in this case we need the light to enter from the top-left corner. This will also guide the placement of the images focus and detailed elements. Later on well also add a boat to give a better sense of scale and a secondary focus point in the image.


Layer on colours

Its now time to splash some colours on the canvas, so go crazy with the colour variations but be mindful of the tonal values. If youre unsure which colours to pick, this is where your research pays off, so grab some of the reference images youve gathered. Focus on the three major masses and pick some interesting dull instead of bright colours. Mix these as though youre mixing on the palette, then use the Brush and Smudge tools to move the paint until the tones interact with one another.


group the values

Extract the three masses on the canvas, one each on the left, middle and right. From the Adjustment menu, open the Levels adjustment and slide the Output Levels to group the values closer together for each of the three main masses. You can refer back to the initial values from Step 2 for this. Maintain the light, middle and dark values and then reapply with the brighter colours on the highlights. Try to maintain the most contrast on the main focus point, in this case just around the arch.


add a silhouette

Clarity is important, so constantly check the Navigator window to ensure that the image is readable. With a soft round brush we will be using mist and atmospheric perspective as an excuse to push and pull the masses while controlling the edges. The Lasso tool is very useful in a situation like this, where we are trying to retain the fine edges. Be careful not to overdo this effect, as things can quickly look artificial. The trick here is to keep a nice mix of looseness and sharpness.


paint a landscape techniques


refine the background

Now well pay some attention to the background as well as the edges of the three main masses. Try to avoid including too many details, as we are only after subtle suggestions at this stage. Keep the background loose and lightly apply a cool tone to it with a Color Balance adjustment layer. These cool colours will tend to recede, while warm ones often do the opposite. Well want to achieve a transition between the warmer and cooler tones.


mimic a water ripple

We have provided a ripple custom brush for use in this project, which was created using a few different photographs. It can also be useful for adding some noise to your image. Fill the water with dark cyan and stamp the bright ripple brush a few times with different values. Dont be afraid to paint over it, in fact youll probably have to in order to achieve the best result. You can also include some small rocks to add some interest and refine the arch some more.


use a highlight

Now well refine the highlights. Its key to pay attention to these areas because our eyes are naturally drawn to the bright sides of a canvas, especially when the light is against the dark. Add some colour variations and indications of yellowgreen tones to represent the leaves. We will be adding colour temperature and a slight shift from yellow to orange. If you have a tendency to draw every detail, using a bigger brush will usually help. quick tip With a brush active, hold Opt/Alt+Shift and click to bring up the Color Picker around the cursor. This will save you that extra time going back and forth to the tool menu.

11 10
layer on some texture
From the custom brushes provided, well go ahead and stamp the rock and arch brushes with different dark colours. At this point well be focusing on areas where we want some intricate details to draw in the viewers eye. The foreground elements and the highlight areas deserve a few stamps, but dont be concerned about making these accurate at this point. Use the brushes wisely, sparingly and always with a considered outcome. These textures aim to add some overall noise and depth to the painting.

apply further details

Paint over most of the textures to clean them up, but leave some as dark shades and try to let some of the details bleed through. We can also start cleaning up the water ripple and add some mist to blend the values closer together. Well now very subtly highlight the water ripple towards the arrow-shaped cave. This helps direct the viewer towards the arch and develops the overall composition of the painting.


Techniques paint a landscape


focus on the edges

Now we can apply further detail to the edges of the masses and scribble in some interesting elements. Include some silhouettes of roots, grass and thin branches then let them poke out slightly. This helps to create a sense of scale and detail, as they are shapes we are familiar with and can instantly relate to. This is a great opportunity to bring a unique feel to your composition.

quick tip Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift to merge all the visible layers on a separate new layer. To save time, instead of selecting all the layers, you can simply copy, paste and flatten them.


get a sense of scale

Well now add a boat to give the piece more of a sense of scale and life. As mentioned in Step 3, this is the secondary focus point, so give it a decent amount of time and attention. Stay attuned to its tonal value and dont worry too much about it looking out of place for now, as we can fix this later. The tonal value should be close to the value on the rock beside it. You can desaturate the image to check the values by using a Hue/Saturation adjustment.


blend in the boat

Once we have the overall shape of the boat, we can add a few spots of highlight to bring in some dimension. Not forgetting the reflection on the water, copy and flip the boat vertically and cut into it with the ripple effect. With the boat in place, we can now concentrate on blending it into the environment. Open the Levels adjustment and alter the values to match the surroundings. Also select the soft round brush and add some mist.


use a focus point

Zooming right in on the focus point, we can start refining the arch and its surroundings. Paint over some of the textures to further define the form of the structure and rocks. Since this arch is a man-made structure we will define it with simple hard edges. The colours are looking a little dull, so lets open the Color Balance adjustments and inject some life, adding some cool tones to the shadows and warm ones to the highlights.


paint a landscape techniques


apply highlights

Now its time to look over the entire piece, which by this stage should seem close to finished. From here onwards well only be conducting very small tweaks. By revisiting some of the highlighted areas we can add colour vibrancy with some brighter and saturated colours. Add in some of the grass with a few thin strokes of highlights, but be careful not to overdo this and avoid adding too much contrast.


tweak the depth and background

Now some of the background elements need attending to. We can subtly add some highlights and atmospheric perspectives to break up the masses. Remember to keep things loose, sketching in horizontal and vertical lines to indicate some of the open cracks. Try squinting your eyes to maintain control of the overall values, as we want to avoid the viewer being drawn to these areas.


sharpen things up

If youve accumulated multiple layers, you can now flatten these. Go to Filter> Sharpen> Unsharp Mask and adjust the settings to your liking. In this case weve applied an Amount of 50% and a Radius of 8 pixels. If an area is bothering you, simply take care of it and keep zooming out to see the bigger picture. This process will add more crispness to the right areas of the painting.

Take your time and look over the entire piece again. Are you happy with it? Check for anything that pops out


adjust the tones

We may have lost some of the warmth in the image along the way, but now we can bring it back. Bring up the Color Balance adjustment and add some warmth to the Shadow and Midtones settings. You can also use the Curves adjustment to do the job. If youre really desperate for more control, you can add a new layer on top, set it to Overlay or Soft Light and paint in some more warm tones.


final tweaks

Take your time and look over the entire piece again. Are you happy with it? Check for anything that pops out. If there is anything bothering you its not too late to fix. The main rocks deserve a little more attention, just to enhance the details. Shift the values ever so slightly when doing this, dont rush it and maintain a steady rhythm.



spectraview reference 271 reviews

spectraview reference 271

We explore the intuitive functionality of this high-end monitor and question whether this is enough to justify its hefty price tag

1,859 / $1,449

s digital photographers and Photoshop users, theres a regular feature we look for in every device. For an artist to be truly creative, there should be no barriers between his or her ideas and the equipment used to create colours, composition and the image as its brought to fruition. With regards to monitors, its vital that artists can discern every detail of the image theyre working on. Noticing subtle information in low light as well as the very brightest areas is as critical as presenting a smooth range of colours. There are only so many hours in a day, so we must consider how colour calibration factors into our workflow whether the process is disruptive or easily integrated to enable us to focus on creating brilliant new work. The SpectraView Reference 271 is a monitor that ticks all these boxes and more, justifying its hefty price tag. Its 27-inch screen and a super-sharp 2,560 x 1,440 resolution enable wonderfully clear overviews of an image, before you zoom in and work on the finer details. At 1,859 the SpectraView Reference 271 (known to US customers as the PA271W with SpectraView, costing $1,449) is clearly aimed at professional users who require a high-quality screen. The Reference 271 not only delivers a crystal-clear image but also provides total control over calibration. To help with the colour setup, you have the option to fully adjust the monitor with NECs dedicated SpectraView Profiler, which enables very fine 14-bit calibration. This dedicated profiler is designed to get the most out of your monitor and should produce better results than using software calibration on your computer (SpectraView Colorimeter needs to be bought separately). Once the monitor is adjusted you can then add profiles for your computer that will help maintain a consistent workflow. With an impressive


reviews spectraview reference 271

Double up and streamline your workflow

The gap between photography and filmmaking is narrowing all the time due to the arrival of HD filming on digital SLRs, comprehensive animation features in Photoshop and better integration with After Effects. A versatile secondary monitor provides enough screen space to scrutinise your motion footage, plus view your timeline and the many other windows that are needed when working with the moving image. The SpectraView Reference 271 can be easily and quickly rotated through 90 degrees, then raised, spun and repositioned to make working with motion footage quick and convenient. This enables a versatile desktop that you can change rapidly to suit your needs when switching between different applications. With the P-IPS panel the image can be viewed clearly from many angles, retaining vivid colours and detail while being evenly lit. Both of these functions make the Reference 271 a great display monitor for showcasing your finished work to clients and the public.

A versatile secondary monitor


spectraview reference 271 reviews

99 per cent Adobe RGB colour space you can see truly representative colours. We tested this monitor using a dual-screen 27-inch iMac, which unfortunately would not cater for the SpectraView Reference 271s 2,560 x 1,440 screen resolution. However, we were able to see the image unexpanded, which gave a good feeling for the sharp detail at full resolution. NEC offers two options with this monitor: the standard SV271 (priced at 1,751) and the Reference model that we tested. This came with the addition of a six-month zero-pixel-defect warranty, a monitor hood with a sensor cover (so you can fix your Colorimeter to the screen without removing the hood) and a certified high level of light uniformity across the screen. The monitor also features NECs P-IPS panel, which is capable of 10-bit colour depth when used with a high-end graphics cards on a PC or with Apples Thunderbolt interface. This means if you have the system in place the monitor can show a palette of 1.07 billion colours. The SpectraView Reference 271 is suited to high-end photography and retouching, with key features such as light uniformity across the screen and very subtle calibration control. It works well in an environment where clients demand accurate colour

across the whole creative process. You can spend limitless time precisely setting up the screens calibration in super-fine detail. However, if time is tight, the feature can be used in simpler ways, with enough control over the different colour channels and brightness to set up a few presets. These can roughly match the output of the different printers you use, so you can anticipate the output with a decent degree of accuracy. Your monitor is the last step in the creative process and enables you to clearly see what your image is doing. This means investing in the right one is as vital as having a super-quick computer or the most up-to-date camera. With all the technical specifications available, the SpectraView Reference 271 is a fine monitor for producing beautiful and creative work across all digital formats and styles.

Features: 8/10 Ease of use: 9/10 Value for money: 9/10 Quality of results: 8/10

Andrew brooks explains why a professional monitor is essential for quality results (
As a photographer and digital artist Im very fussy about the monitor I use to create my final images. The whole process from the shutter click, through to my digital pipeline, then onto the feel of the final print is my responsibility. I need the best feedback from my equipment and a good feeling for how the final image will be rendered by the many printers I use. One of the key things I obsess over but have found disappointing with all flat-screen displays Ive used is the amount of detail thats visible in the very dark or low-lit areas of an image. As part of my photography I do a lot of urban exploring and visiting strange, forgotten spaces that are usually very dark. Having a clear idea of what is going on in these shady parts is really important and this is one of the things that the Reference 271 does really well. It shows the smallest change in tone, which helps to make the final prints of all the more impressive.

get a feel for lowlight photography

Final Score:


You can drop your Colorimeter directly onto the screen using a handy sensor cover and keep the hood on as you calibrate

With the new DisplayPort input you can make good use of the monitors 10-bit colour depth




2.39 / $3.99 iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 5.1 or later. Optimised for iPhone5 ilterstorm 4 is a serious app for serious photo editors that strips away the fat to supply only the core toolsets for achieving professional looks all for under 5! Until now weve not seen many apps that include advanced functionality at this price. The apps swish carbon-coloured interface is littered with options that will be familiar to Photoshop users. Curves, Levels, White Balance, Hue/Saturation, Blur and Sharpening adjustments can be applied in real-time, through flexible sliders and control points. Even better, theres little to no lagging and the degree of control available is comparable to desktop software. Effects (filters) can be applied like adjustment layers and then edited using blending modes and allocated layer masks. You can also affect the latter manually with a brush or by using gradients, just as you would inside Photoshop. Filterstorm 4 only supports a stack of five layers but adding a sixth will prompt it to merge the bottom two. However, you can make the most of your layered effects by saving them as presets under Automations for use in future projects Despite the similarities, Filterstorm 4 shouldnt be seen as a portable replacement for Photoshop, but rather as a paired software, used to proof postproduction effects. You can then take your work into Photoshop to apply further edits and work with larger files. A 10MB installation is comparatively economic on memory, leaving plenty of space for library photos to experiment with. The app can also share images via email, FTP, SFTP, Flickr, Dropbox, Twitter and Facebook, which further reinforces its use as a proofing app ready to share concepts instantly.


The price ultimately matches the performance. You get bang for your buck from Filterstorm 4s advanced toolset and first-class functionality

VERDICT: 10/10



HUD brush functionality makes all the difference when cloning and editing layer masks with manual brushes in Filterstorm 4. These enable you to visually confirm a brushs size, feathered edge and opacity before applying that style to your mask.

We were truly impressed with this tool. Its operation is slightly different to Photoshops, but is just as comprehensible. You can simply place your marker to map what you want to clone, then press, hold and move your finger over the image element you want to remove.

This may seem an innocuous option to get excited about, but there are plenty of apps that short-change you in the Undo department some no more than three steps back. Filterstorm 4 provides many Undo stages, so you can continue to edit at your leisure.


creative photography ideas using adobe photoshop reviews

creative photography ideas using adobe photoshop
15 / $25 (via

We find out if this creative manual delivers advice that will greatly enhance your skills

Top 5

retouch resources beauty-retouching-dvd.htm

beauty retouching techniques in photoshop

e believe the prerequisite for a successful Photoshop guide is the ability to deliver practical advice. Techniques must be presented clearly, as well as significantly enhance or perfect the readers existing skills. For the most part, Creative Photography Ideas Using Adobe Photoshop fulfils these requirements. This book hits the ground running, presenting photo-editing enthusiasts with ways to create precise contemporary styles such as HDR photography, duel toning and solarisation. These techniques are especially useful for those looking to work with flat images. The thumbnail images accompanying the tutorials all feature the Photoshop interface, making the steps far easier to follow. The images also come in full colour, which is vital when addressing tonal and lighting techniques, such as the Shadows/Highlights command, to make local colour adjustments.

Sadly when we reached the token Special Effects chapter we found this book undoes all its good work. Derivative compositing techniques include adding a rainbow or lightning, while the thumbnails are of a far lower quality and seem like an after-thought. This does slightly tarnish what is otherwise a practical Photoshop manual, but the good outweighs the bad. The majority of this resource supplies you with necessary photo editing skills, manageable through a format that is easy to interpret.

This DVD series could possibly be the ultimate tool aimed at Photoshop retouchers. With well over 50 industry topics covered in a detailed, 13-hour, one-to-one with expert Gry Garness, youll be free to improve your retouch skills at your own pace.

99 (approx $154 US)

We were disappointed the book went out with a whimper, but it still provides the means to learn expert techniques
Get your copy of Creative Photography Ideas for less, at 11.99. Just visit www.thehobbywarehouse. and quote promo code R3158 at the checkout.

Verdict: 7/10

Not only does this website supply you with some secret tips and tricks, but it also provides the RAW content to practise with in your spare time for your personal projects.


$50 (approx 32)

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop

Photo-editing expert Scott Kelby reveals essential tips and tricks through step-by-step methods for fixing, enhancing and finishing your portraits. These include ways to smooth realistically, remove blemishes fast and much more.
Portrait Professional 11 automatically finds faces, maps and features that you can edit using simple slider controls and mask functionality. You can adjust eye detail, smooth skin, change hair colour and even sculpt features.

Portrait Professional 11

40 (approx $62 US) products/suite7
$80 (approx 52)

OnOne Perfect Photo Suite 7

Author: Tony Worobiec

Each of the seven pieces of software is geared towards creating contemporary effects through one-click options and sliders. These will undoubtedly improve your retouch and photo-editing workflows.


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reader interview fantasy lighting effects

fantasy lighting effects

Dan Maxwell discusses how lighting and knowing when to finish are key to producing digital art
my appetite to experiment and learn new digital techniques has continued to grow. Im actually a front-end web designer by day and a freelance digital artist in my spare time, but some of the stuff I see other artists do online is amazing and never fails to inspire me to keep developing. Do you believe your art has a definitive and recognisable style? Im not sure I do, as I tend to chop and change from one thing to another quite a bit. Somewhere between coming up with the idea for an image in my head and translating it across to the screen I end up with a fantasy aesthetic, but thats not necessarily how I intended it to look. It just happens. I would probably aving started out using Deluxe Paint on the Amiga, Dan Maxwell, who is a front-end web designer by day and freelance digital artist in his spare time, explains the importance of personal development during his creative process. How did you get into digital art? From as far back as I can remember I was always painting, sketching and just generally doodling, so art has always been my passion. My very first piece of digital art took me about three weeks to finish. It was a combination of having absolutely no idea how to use the program and the fact that each brushstroke took ten minutes to render on the screen. Since then

reader interview danmax

Our reader Dan maxwell


Alice Lands: Most of the elements on this image were created on completely separate canvases and then put together using Warp and Transform tools to get the final composition Dan Maxwell

Time: Blurring a few parts of an image that are in the foreground can give a great sense of depth to your artwork Dan Maxwell

Bunni Crusha: The characters were created in Illustrator then imported into Photoshop. I concentrated on the colour scheme for this image and it took several iterations to get right Dan Maxwell


Yin & Yang: This originally started out as two separate pieces. The hardest part was actually finding the right combination of crows and doves to merge together Dan Maxwell Wildflower: This was another of my earlier pieces. Its a combination of vector images and photos. The leaves were all created from one shape that I warped using the Transfer tool and then painted over Dan Maxwell



The lighting effects were completed by painting with a soft-edged brush on a separate layer set to Linear Dodge or Linear Add blending mode.

Vines and bracelets were drawn with the Pen tool and a hard-edged brushstroke was applied to the path. A Bevel and Emboss layer style was then added. The green and red shapes were created in Illustrator. The flowers were made from the same shapes using the Transform and Warp tools.

Dragon Orchid Dan Maxwell





The Tree House was one of my very first attempts at adding more lighting to an image, as well as one of my first Photoshop pieces. It was 98-per-cent photomanipulation and there were very few elements that hadnt come from some sort of stock photography. The majority of the lighting already existed on the main image and I just added extra bits here and there. Admittedly these were applied quite heavily and are visible where all the highlight areas have been completely blown out. The fairy snag was made using similar methods, however, instead of relying purely on photographs, I painted in most of the details and lighting myself. These elements were painted 300-per-cent larger than the rest of the canvas and then scaled down to blend in. The background was created using a mix of custom brushes and blurred to add depth.

The Tree House: This didnt take long to create, maybe a few hours. Though not very technical, it was the starting point of my fascination with lighting and Photoshop Dan Maxwell

The fairy snag: This image took me about two weeks in total to complete and is currently one of my personal favourites Dan Maxwell

say the most common theme across my images comes down to my use of lighting and glow effects. Im a total sucker for these. WHICH ARTISTS HAVE INFLUENCED YOU? I think Rodney Matthews style (www. is so unique. The particular shapes he uses to create his landscapes and characters have a real other-worldly magic to them and no one else quite captures that feeling in my opinion. Its an atmosphere I like to think I re-create in my images. Another favourite of mine is Radim Malinics graphic style ( HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROCESS? Unless I have a very clear idea of what it is that I want to do, painting random shapes on a page and hoping for a result is a commonly used method. It

doesnt always work and sometimes I just end up with one big mess, but its always fun trying. If I already have the idea, I start by creating everything in greyscale. This helps me to concentrate on the composition rather than jumping ahead and becoming too focused on little details. I colour the image, add highlights and shadows, then bring in a few more lights and some glows. At this point I also have to walk away [to get a fresh perspective]. WHICH PHOTOSHOP TECHNIQUES AND TOOLS DO YOU USE? Well, I love glow effects, most of which are achieved by simply painting areas and then applying a layer style such as Color Dodge or Linear Light. It can be quite easy to overdo these, so you have to be careful. I always try to keep my lighting effects on separate layers so they can be easily changed or removed.

The other things I use a lot of are customised brushes. I have hoarded hundreds of these over the years and although I do have a standard set that I fall back on, you can never have too many. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING YOU HAVE HAD TO LEARN CREATIVELY? Apart from the initial sitting down and learning an application (manuals are never my strong point), the biggest struggle I have is knowing when to stop. On more than one occasion I have overworked an image, only to end up scrapping hours of additional work for a much simpler, cleaner version. Its sometimes too easy to lose sight of what Im trying to create when I get really involved in an image. Walking away for a while then coming back with a fresh set of eyes always works. Also, I try not to be too critical about my own work.

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Always shoot against a completely white backdrop to enable light to reflect back into the container with your texture.



The lens will try to search for focus using the cameras Auto functions, but you can tweak this manually.



Use a macro or close-focusing lens. Set your f-stop at f32, ISO at 200 and shoot at 1/160th of a second.



Check your light and camera settings are optimal by running an ambient test, injecting water into water.



ver wanted to make your own smoke stock, but just dont have the space? Here well explore how you can easily simulate smoke textures, then apply the results digitally to your images in Photoshop. Once again well reveal the perfect studio setup and essential camera settings for shooting the




textures. Well also explain how best to apply the media during the shoot to ensure the best possible results are achieved. All youll need to complete this exercise is a transparent container, a syringe, a vial of ink, full-fat milk and joss sticks. Photographer and retoucher Jim Lind ( will then explain how to transform these materials into Photoshop brush styles to be applied to any digital artwork. Hell show how to comp in the smoke photos using little more than Curves adjustments and blending modes. Also, this issue were giving away 45 highresolution photos that can be used to produce bespoke brushes or composited into images.



Shoot a joss stick with a black backdrop in an interior setting to minimise reflection and avoid smoke dissipation. A Speedlight is perfect for this shot, as it has a tilting head and an in-built bounce board. Adjust the camera to manage optimum low-light conditions, setting the flash to ETTL, f-stop at f5.6, 1/200th of a second and ISO at 800. This will soften the backdrop through depth of field, while the fast shutter speed will minimise any blurring. Position the Speedlight head to reflect off the wall, so the ambient flash will illuminate more of the smoke. Direct light cuts through the smoke and illuminates the backdrop, making separation of the two harder.


Begin by filling up your transparent container with water up to an inch away from the lip. Next, fill your syringe with up to five millimeters of milk. Full-fat milk is less dilute and will create a better outcome. Tap the pump to apply three drops to the waters surface. This will react with the waters horizon line, creating the illusion of ground level when the image is flipped. Now insert the syringe tip into the water, inject a sharp burst of milk then shoot it.


As ink is more concentrated than milk, well only need to apply around three millimetres into the water. Lightly tap the pump to create a hanging droplet, then touch the surface of the water with this to create the illusion of ground level as before. Next insert the syringe and smoothly inject into the water while slowly pulling away. Afterwards, you can inject three millimeters of milk to your water and ink solution to vary the effects.


on the disc Create smoke effects

Bring your results into Photoshop and transform them into brushes

build your smoke brush


prepare your image

Begin by importing your photo, set this to greyscale, then crop and isolate the element you want to work with. Reorientate this into the correct position, using the Edit>Transform and/or Image>Image Rotation options.


boost contrast

To split the element from the backdrop, boost the contrast using Levels. You can also control contrast by using the Dodge tool set to Highlights and the Burn tool set to Shadows.


create your brush

Edit your element further by applying Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur if it looks too sharp. Finally, make a selection of your layer, invert and choose Edit>Define Brush Preset and name your brush accordingly. This is now saved as a brush style.

094 040






Always begin with high-resolution photos for realistic results. There are many quality micro-stock websites that offer great images such as If working with black smoke, choose examples shot on a light backdrop, or vice versa if youre looking to use white smoke.



Edit both the Shadow and Highlight controls in the Curves option to build contrast between the smoke and the backdrop. Again, use dark smoke on a white background or light on a black background. Integrate black smoke using Multiply blending mode and Screen blending mode for light smoke.



Now you can improve and personalise effects using a smoke brush. Adjust Shape Dynamics, Scattering and Transfer settings to suit your needs. By colour sampling areas near to where youre be painting, you can realistically add and blend smoke to create a realistic look.



We really enjoyed experimenting with real-world media in our shoot, so ended up with plenty of photos. Here weve selected 45 of the very best, which you can use in your own projects to replicate realistic smoke effects. These include examples of injecting milk and ink into water, mixing milk into ink as well as joss stick smoke plumes. Enjoy!



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