by: Neil Duerden

Right time to go into Photoshop and create a "simple" moody image using loads of simple effects to create an image with depth and composition. This is simpler than you think but can demand a lot from your system. You will be switching between Illustrator, Photoshop, Painter and throwing a few hand rendered elements in just for good measure so put the kettle on, sit back and get ready to begin!

Step 1

Obtain a mono shot which has good deal of contrast, the shot can have a background or be on an infinity screen, each will give a different feeling to the final piece. Your main task here is to find a shot you like as you will be staring at it for some time.

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Step 2

Mask off the subject as tightly as possible, do this by creating a duplicate layer and adding a layer mask set to reveal all. Next select the mask itself and draw around the image you wish to keep. You can use feather edge brushes to allow semi transparent edges. Alternatively use a piece of masking software like Ez mask, a lot easier!

step 2

Step 3

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

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Step 4

Now switch your image into Illustrator. Just open up the image and begin to draw vector lines over the top. Remember to place it on a separate layer and lock it down before you start as to move the image and continue to draw your vectors is not good! Draw whatever you fancy and is fitting with your chosen image as this is where you stamp your mark on the piece.

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Step 5

If you have kept the original the same size in Illustrator all you need to do is paste it in and it will be the correct size in photoshop. Also if you are not happy with the colour simply adjust the hue via the Hue and Saturation command in the Image > Adjustment > Hue and Saturation

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Step 6

Now highlight vectors using the burn brush, use this to give added depth and vary the brush size to get the best possible result. You want to make this in between looking real and plastic false to help it stand out from the original layer. This will obviously differ depending on what you used as a base image.

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Step 7

Dupe up the top layer of the subject and then adjust the Hue and Saturation as in step 5, find a colour that matches the composition of your piece. Then add more sections to your layer mask to hide areas and give more interest to the viewer. Use your own personal judgement here and don't be shy!

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Step 8

Now freehand draw a shadow beneath the model and using the layer effect multiply place one below at 100% opacity and one above at around 50% opacity to hide the joint between the model and the background.

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Step 9

Open up the file splats.ai and paste onto your image and multiply the layer down. Place this image behind the main masked subject layer and experiment with the layer opacity to get the effect level you think is right. Then repeat this process numerous times until you get the complexity you desire.

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Step 10

Next get out your pen and paper and do a few hand rendered drawings, scan these in and place them behind your subject image. The image then needs to be again multiplied down and also use the Edit > Transfer > Perspective function in photoshop to get it to match into your composition.

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Step 11

Right time to swap programs again. Open your layer file into Painter and dupe the master layer of the girl, then apply the Effects > Fill > Pattern filter and choose the rose design. Then apply thelayer over the top using the Gel layer effect and reduce the opacity to around 15%.

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Step 12

Next get a picture of an item that complements your image and clipped out then place the image behind the main image, then add a slight drop shadow, not too much but enough to boost the contrast. You then need to dupe this layer and resize and change the opacity and layer modes in random to get a mixed effect. There is no science to this just experiment!

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Step 13

Now dupe up the splat effect and flower layers, change the Hue and Saturation to fit in within with the composition. This will give an overall more blended feel to the image as a hole, again multiply these layers down using layer effects in various fashions. I can't stress enough just experiment!

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Step 14

Now introduce some other elements using the same effects as with the flowers in the earlier step, don't be shy here just pile them up and work on your composition. You can take this as far as you want. Remember this is all about experimentation and making it different so try to get a good selection of items in at this stage! Drawing vectors and importing them can be a good idea to add more depth.

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Step 15

Now continue experimenting in this way adding layers until you are happy. Then just flatten your image and hey presto you are done!

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About the author

Neil is a self confessed Mac monkey based in a rural miners cottage 20 miles north of Manchester. He creates pieces that combine elements from mixed media, photography that are interlaced with complex vectors to create pieces that always hit the brief for clients all around the world. Visit Neil's website to see his works.