Create a beautiful and stylish photo manipulation in abstract style. This picture is a poster with a large number of interesting effects and creative solutions. In this tutorial I’ll show you a new and interesting effects, talk about alternative ways of selection, retouching, working with a variety of filters, tools and much more. We all create a beautiful effect grid of small dots, soft focus and glow. Read this tutorial and improve your knowledge in Photoshop!
What you’ll be creating
To create this work, I needed only one resource – the model. In this artwork is that all the details and effects created in Cinema 4D and Photoshop by me. I start with of the creation a photo manipulation from the background. We will add important background objects and work with blending modes. Next I add the model and retouched it, add interesting texture to the dress and abstract render, a little effects and a grid of small dots effect for background. Following I will add the abstract sphere on the foreground and flares. At the end of photo manipulation I create lighting, soft focus and glow effects, color correction and sharpening the image. You will need good mood and be sure to have Photoshop beginning with CS version. In this tutorial will be presented pretty complex effects, so be careful and do not panic. I will write all very accessible and understandable.
Open Photoshop and go on a fascinating journey! First at all create a new document (File > New or Cmd/Ctrl + N) with Width: 3000 pixels, Height: 4500 pixels, Resolution: 200 Pixels/Inch, Background color: #000000 (black).
Add a main color spot and at the same time light source by using gradient. I work non destructive method so use fill adjustment layer “Gradient Fill”. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient. In window that appears set Style to Radial, Angle to 90 degrees, Scale to 120% and set up gradient according to the following sequence – #000000 > #315a7a > #4e8eb2 > #92ccf0 > #ffffff. Click OK to apply gradient. Set layer Fill to 30%.
Next I add wireframe texture to background. Go to File > Place…/Place Embedded and open image “013” from “Atom Stock Pack”. In Free Transform mode (Cmd/Ctrl +T or Edit > Free Transform) increase the size quite a bit and rotate it to 156.75 degrees. Hit Enter/Return or press check mark on settings bar to apply changes. Change layer Blending Mode to “Multiply” to hide white background.
Now a bit of fractals. Fractals are very useful in the work, because the create unique shapes and complementary space. They can be used as a flare or backgrounds depending on what you want. Go to File > Place…/Place Embedded and open image “005” from fractal folder. In Free Transform mode resize the layer like shown in the image below. Use “Screen” Blending Mode to hide blacks and reduce Fill to 75%.
Add another one fractal “004” and move it up on canvas to continue the first fractal. Use “Screen” Blending Mode and reduce Fill to 70%. Group all layers via Cmd/Ctrl + G or go to Layer > Group Layers and name it “Background”. We will return to this group later. With the groups it is very easy to working.
And now a little bubbles. I accidentally created a this render when experimenting with materials. I liked it because (running a little ahead) can be used with different blending modes and they are nicely complement the picture. Place Image “2” into working document (File > Place…/Place Embedded). In Free Transform mode reduce size and rotate on -40.17 degrees. Set Blending Mode: “Screen”, Fill: 60%.
Duplicate this layer via Cmd/Ctrl + G or go to Layer > Duplicate Layer… or grab and drop layer on icon “Create a new layer” icon at the bottom of layer panel. Change Blending Mode to “Soft Light” and restore Fill to 100%. This will add more contrast to the spheres.
Add more bubbles to cover all working field by repeating Steps 6-7. Use both black bubbles images from folder. Experiment with different blending modes to find more interesting effects such “Multiply”, “Overlay” and etc. On image below shown all bubbles layers and their settings. After all, group layer (Cmd/Ctrl + G or Layer > Group Layers) and name it “Spheres”. Reduce group Fill to 65%.
Now time for a model. As I say you can use any model. Download and Place image with model (File > Place…/Place Embedded). Reduce size of model to leave more space for the effects and objects and apply changes. This tutorial is built on the effects rather than the objects.
You need to remove background so we can continue montage. Hide all layers except model by clicking on eye icon near thumbnail. Go to Channels tab (Window > Channels) and grab “Green” channel and drop on “Create a new channel” icon so you create a copy of this channel. Use “Levels” (Image > Adjustments > Levels or use Cmd/Ctrl + L) adjustment to increase contrast of image until model become white and background black. I use following settings for Blacks: 11, Neutrals: 0.62 , Whites: 50. First, I always add a little black to hide the background when it is different in tone. Then do the same for whites. To correct, I use gray. I chose this channel because it is the best contrast. If you use this method in other cases, looking for a suitable channel.
Of course not all of the model will be just white. Some of the details you need to adjust manually. Take a Brush Tool (B) with “Hard Round” preset, Size: 50-300 pixels, Opacity: 100%, Spacing (F5): 0% and set defaults background and foreground colors (D). Use black color to remove flare near model’s face and black on a model. Also, try not to touch model’s hair. With holding Cmd/Ctrl key click on “Green Copy” thumbnail or “Load channel as selection” button to load selection. Now the most important thing to understand how this method works. All of black this is unnecessary background (that’s what you want to remove) and white is desired object. The most important thing is to get the contrast that was only black and white. If the image has shades of gray it means that this item also add into selection but with less Opacity.
Go to Layer panel and add a layer mask to a model (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection or click on “Add layer mask” icon at the bottom of Layer panel). Do not forget to restore the visibility of all layers. The method described above is very handy when the image contrasted and with a minimum number of objects. I often use it in my artworks, because it saves time. Duplicate model (Cmd/Ctrl + J or Layer > Duplicate Layer).
Create a new layer via Cmd/Ctrl+ Shift + N or click on “Create a new layer” icon and clip it tp original model layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G or right click on layer > Create a Clipping Mask). Take a Brush Tool (B) with soft round form, Size: 900px, Opacity: 100%, color: #000000 (black) and draw at legs of model. Use Blending Mode “Multiply” and reduce Fill to 79%.
For a second layer add an adjustment layer “Curves” (Image > Adjustments > Curves…). Put one point with Input: 68, Output: 43. This adjustment be like smart filter so you can edit this on a smart mask. Of course you can use adjustment layer if you want.
Now add texture to the dress. In this step we will edit a layer mask to get the desired result. Go to a Brush Preset panel (Window > Brush Presets) and click on options button. Load “Square Brushes” and go to Brush Settings (F5) panel.
Set the brush as shown in image below to get the spray with squares. In Brush panel (F5) set Size: 255px, Spacing: 70% and go to “Shape Dynamics”. In “Shape Dynamics” set, Size Jitter: 100%, Angle Jitter: 60%. Checked “Scattering” and set Scatter: 550%, Count: 2. You can add texture to the brush as an experiment or use a different shape or place some texture to the model.
With Brush Tool (B), created brush and black color, draw on second model layer with “Curves” a bit squares on the dress. It’s a little spice up the dress of model. You can try different shapes and brushes. The main thing is the principle of work.
Duplicate original layer with a model two times (Cmd/Ctrl + J or Layer > Duplicate Layers…) and move it topmost in layer stack. For first copy go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur… and set Radius to 2.0 pixels.
For a second copy add filer “High Pass” (Filter > Other > High Pass…) with Radius 2.0 pixels. It is important to comply with the same value of blurring and sharpening to achieve a balance. Rasterize both layers (right click > Rasterize Layer…). Clip both to model layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G or right click on layer > Create a Clipping Mask).
And now time for retouch. So, we have two layers – one blurred, other sharpening. Do not worry about the appearance, we will fix everything later. First, let’s remove unnecessary texture from the model on gray (sharpening layer) using a Clone Stamp Tool (S) with hard round form and Opacity: 100%. We need to clone the flat skin on those places where there is an error (hair at the hands, wrinkles, etc.). On the layer can also use a brush with 50% gray (#818181) to remove any texture. When you’re done with it, set layer Blending Mode to “Linear Light” and reduce Fill to 45% (To edit the layer you will need to return all settings).
On bottom blurred layer use Eyedropper Tool (I) + Brush Tool (B) or Mixer Brush Tool (B) with soft round form, Opacity: 10 – 50% to smooth color (shadows, highlights, problem areas). You need to darken and lighten strong overexposure too dark areas on the skin. Use the average skin tones near the area being edited. Also, try to make your correction was not different from the original. If you find that the correction is too obvious decrease layer Opacity until 50%. Use Zoom Tool (Z) or Cmd/Ctrl + (+/-) so you can more clearly see the details of the image.
Since the correction is finished and we can to work with color and texture. First, add a new Gradient Fill layer (Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient or use “Create new fill or adjustment layer” button at the bottom of Layer panel) with default black and white gradient, Style: Linear, Angle: 90 degrees, Scale: 100%. Change Blending Mode to “Multiply” and reduce Fill to 65%.
Replace layer mask from “Curves” model layer to Gradient Fill layer by holding Opt/Alt and drag and drop layer mask to gradient layer mask. Take a Brush Tool (B) with soft round form, Opacity: 100%, Color: #000000 and remove gradient from the skin on layer mask.
Now place texture file from “Atom Stock Pack” (File > Place…/Place Embedded) and resize it to the size of the working field and rotate it on 90 degrees Clockwise (right click in Free Transform Mode > Rotate 90 degrees Clockwise ). Use “Screen” Blending Mode and replace layer mask from original model layer. On a layer mask remove texture from skin with black brush. Group all model layers (Cmd/Ctrl + G or Layer > Group Layers…).
Now add the hood of the atomic lattice. In render folder have different images and you can use any. I used this in picture file “4” and “5”. Place “5” image into working document and resize it so atomic lattice does not extend beyond the edge of the working area. Rotate image to find best form. Place this image in the region of the head and neck and shoulders of model. Change layer Blending Mode to “Screen”.
Replace layer mask (hold Opt/Alt and drag and drop layer mask to atomic lattice) from original model layer and remove remnants of the lattice on this mask. Be sure to invert (select layer mask > Cmd/Ctrl + I) layer mask to hide all on a model. Leave some texture on the shoulders of model.
Now add “4” image and create likeness do a small crown on the head of model of the atomic lattice. To do this I used a 6 copies of this layer with very small size. To quickly duplicate the layer, use Move Tool (V) + Opt/Alt key and move a copy. Be sure to use layers Blending Mode “Screen”.
Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N or use “Create a new layer” icon) above all others with “Screen” Blending Mode. Use Brush Tool (B) with soft round form, Size: 35 – 100px, Opacity: 50% and color: #ffffff (white). Draw some fireflies with different sizes on ends of the atomic lattice.
Now create a texture from dots. So, first create a merged copy of all image via Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E. Then set foreground color to black and go to Filter > Filter Gallery… In window that appears go to “Texture” folder and use “Stained Glass” filter with Cell Size: 8, Border Thickness: 9, Light Intensity: 4.
Where we create a grid, we need to separate bright areas, which will form the basis effect. To do this I use “Color Range” Tool (Select > Color Range) with Select: Highlights, Fuzziness: 20%, Range: 80. You can experiment with the settings to select more or less points.
But the point still remains polygons. I’ve been thinking about this problem and decided to use Refine Edge to soften the edge and create a true point. While the selection is still active go to Select > Refine Edge or use Opt/Alt + Shift + R. In window that appears, check mark “Smart Radius” but do not change the Radius. Set Smooth: 50, Contrast: 50%, Shift Edge: +3% and click OK.
Add a layer mask for this layer to hide all except points (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection… or use “Add a layer mask icon”). Use “Screen” Blending Mode and Fill: 75%. If you want to create more points, repeat Steps 29 – 32 but do not change the settings for “Refine Edge”. I had to connect the ingenuity and a lot of experimenting to create the effect. I hope you will appreciate it :)
Now we go back to the background. Duplicate points layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J or go to Layer > Duplicate Layer…) and move it above gradient fill layer in “Background” group. Delete layer mask grasping the mask icon and dragging it to the Trash at the bottom of Layer panel. Again apply “Color Range” tool, but in this time with Fuzziness: 100%, Range: 75%.
Duplicate selection (Cmd/Ctrl + J ot go to Layer > Duplicate Layer…) then remove selected polygons, so that only the grid (Del on keyboard or Edit > Clear). Change layer Blending Mode to “Multiply”, reduce Fill to 70%. Add a layer mask for this layer and apply radial black and white gradient on a mask by using Gradient Tool (G). Or you can use big soft round brush with black color. If you do not like the effect in some places, just remove it with a brush on the layer mask.
Let’s go back to duplicated selection. With Free Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T or go to Edit > Free Transform) increase image size a bit (hold Opt/Alt + Shift keys to make it proportionally from the center). To convert polygons to points you need to select all on this layer (hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on layer thumbnail) and use “Refine Edge” with the settings from Step 31 and delete all unnecessary. Add a layer mask and click on it. Set default foreground and background colors (D). Go to Filter > Render > Clouds… Press Cmd/Ctrl + L or go to Image > Adjustments > Levels… to add a bit of contrast on a mask by set for Blacks: 117. Use It softens and partially hides points.
At this with points we’re done and go further. Again place fractal “004” uppermost in layers stack. You do not need to change the size of a fractal, it is important to place a layer in the upper half of the working field. Change Blending Mode to “Screen”. Add a layer mask and with black soft brush remove it from model’s face (but I left a little on hands).
Now the spheres of wire. This is a very beautiful image of a sphere and complete image, in my opinion. I will not add the usual “Outer Glow” style. All little confused, and I’ll open the secret of it at the end of this tutorial. In the meantime, place an image “1” from “Bubbles” folder (File > Place…/Place Embedded) and resize, rotate it as shown in image below. Use “Screen” Blending Mode.
Now add a little flares. It is always advantageous parts, especially in the music posters. Place flare and resize it in accordance with the object for which you want to put it (Choose the most vivid places. So the highlight will look even better). As always use “Screen” Blending Mode. Duplicate this flare several times (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and put it in different parts of the image.
Group all flares (Cmd/Ctrl + G) and change group Blending Mode to “Screen”. Flares spoil the image because edges are illuminated. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels… or use “Create new fill or adjustment layer” icon. Set for Blacks: 20 and clip this layer to a group to the effect of the layer affect only on flares.
I decided to make more visible and add more colors to background. I used “Curves” adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves…). I lighten a bit shadows (bottom point) on Red (Input:0 , Output: 34), Green (Input:0 , Output: 28) and Blue (Input:0 , Output: 63). Try not much to lighten the background because it is only color correction. I will add a glow effect later.
On the layer mask, I removed the partially effect from the brightest areas of the image and model’s skin, so they do not become even brighter and did not spoil the picture. Use Brush Tool (B) with soft round brush ans different sizes. Here’s my result after applying adjustment layer and cleaning.
Now I used adjustment layer “Color Lookup” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Lookup…) to add more warm tones to the image and expand the color gamut. I use 3DLUT File “FallColors.look” and reduce Fill to 50%. You can try other files from the list. I remember that there were a couple of interesting. Keep in mind that the colors should fit together. And if additional tone is not in harmony with the image, or change the range of the entire image or the additional colors.
To focus the viewer on the main subject, I use a small vignette around the image. You can paint it, but I like to use Gradient Fill layer with the settings: default black and white gradient (for white slider set Location: 63%), Style: Radial, Angle: 90 degrees, Scale: 189%, check “Reverse”. Set layer to “Multiply” Blending Mode to hide all whites.
And now the long-awaited part of the tutorial – effects. I used the “Filter Gallery” to create the desired effect and removes them on smart filter layer masks where they interfere. First, I will create a glow effect. Remember, we create a merged copy? Use it again (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E) and move this layer to top of layer stack. Convert this layer to Smart Object (right – click on the layer > Convert to Smart Object or go to Layer > Smart Objects >Convert to Smart Object), that you can change the filter settings. Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Brush Strokes > Accented Edges. Set following settings: Edge Width: 2, Edge Brightness: 38, Smoothness: 5 and click OK to apply filter.
Inverse Smart Filter layer mask via clicking on it and press Cmd/Ctrl + I or go to Image > Adjustments > Inverse… Take a Brush Tool (B) with soft round form, Size: 300 – 500px, Opacity: 20 – 50% and white color. Remove partially the effect from image center, and where you find it ugly.
Again create a merged copy of image (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E) and move this layer to top of layer stack. Convert this layer to Smart Object (right – click on the layer > Convert to Smart Object or go to Layer > Smart Objects >Convert to Smart Object). Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Distort > Diffuse Glow. Set following settings: Graininess: 1 (be careful with this, because than larger this value then greater the noise in the image), Glow Amount: 2, Clear Amount: 13.
On image below shown where stayed filter. Zone with filling purple I removed on the layer mask using the brush from the previous step. Also remove the effect from some spheres to leave them without a glow. Do not be afraid to try different settings for the filters! You can find interesting options. In this work with filters is ended. All the main effect is finished and there was one last step.
In this last step, I sharpen the image. I want to warn you that in this picture a lot of small parts and should not be greatly sharpen, so as not to spoil the image. Create a merged copy of image (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E) and convert it to Smart Object. Go to Filter > Other > High Pass… Set Radius to 2.0 pixels. Use “Linear Light” Blending Mode and reduce Fill to 50% (use only “Fill”, not “Opacity”).
That’s all, dear friends! I hope you are happy with the result. Do not be afraid to experiment and try something new. Look at my final result and send your results!