Photo ManipulationUpdated

Create a Textured Bird with Smoke in Photoshop

Today we’re going to be taking a look at a few basic techniques to get you started using Photoshop’s blending options to give you some very nice looking results fairly quickly!

Here we’ll be giving basic graphic shapes some depth and style with blending options. I chose to use a humming bird as the basic shape however this can be used however you’d like! I’ll be explaining as well as showing my settings for this look but I encourage you to experiment to get comfortable using these methods on your own! I’ll also be going over some techniques I use to get some nice bright colors in an otherwise dull piece rather quickly. You’ll need Photoshop CS3 or newer to follow this tutorial.

Tutorial Resources

  • Humming BirdShutterstock – However any stock photo can be used as its only for reference and wont be seen in the final result.
  • Smoke – Shutterstock – Again something you can find for free on sites like Free Stock Photo Exchange or Deviantart.
  • Concrete Texture for Background Shutterstock – However free sites can offer similar results.
  • Metal textures From CGTextures, a great site for high quality tetxures.
  • Bokeh Textures – Feel free to use the one you like best in combination with your color scheme.

Step 1

First up let’s make a document to work on. I like to use a nice big size with plenty of resolution to work with so it makes it easier to scale later on. However your welcome to use any size you see fit or that runs best on your computer.

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Step 2

For the base of our background make a new layer (Shift+Control+N on pc) and used a green gradient. From light (#14dc02) in the center to dark (#008325) on the edges. This might seem subtle now but it will help us later on when we use textures to give focus to the subject without being overwhelming.

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Step 3

Lets go ahead and bring in the first of our background textures, the concrete. I like to keep mine as Smart Objects so they can scale down and back up without loosing resolution in case you change your mind. For this we can set the blending mode to Soft Light and opacity to 27%. Below you can see that we’ll want to position it in the center so it covers the whole image.

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Step 4

We’re going to do the same for the next two textures, make sure the cover the whole image setting their blending mode and opacity accordingly. Experiment a little here and find what looks good for you by rotating though different options at different opacities. Remember though this is the background, we want it to enhance our image and provide interest without overwhelming the focus of our piece. I also used a black and white filter (Adjustments > Black and White) on Auto to tone it down just a little bit. After your happy with your background its good to group it all together, select the all the layers you want grouped using SHIFT and clicking the ones you want and clicking CONTROL+G or going to Layer > Group Layers. You can even color code a group as you would a layer by right clicking on it and selecting a color at the bottom.

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Step 5

Now that we’ve got our background all grouped up and organized its time to bring in the main subject. Depending on what you chose to use this part will be a little different but the process is the same. We’ll be using the pen tool to define our shapes the filling them with color by closing the shape and right clicking then selecting fill path. That will bring up the menu below where you’ll want to change the contents section to COLOR and select the color you want from the color picker. Remember to make all new shapes on new layers, with something like this you can end up with a lot of layers so its important to stay organized with groups and proper names (I.E. “body” “wings” and so on) and then even further you can group all these groups into one called “Bird” or whatever you’d like to call it. This will play a role later in getting a blending style over the subject as a whole.

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