Photo Manipulation

How to Create an Abstract Photo Manipulation

Give your photos a unique look with this retro effect that’s super easy and fun. You will learn how to create this effect with just one layer and three colors.


Preview of Final Results

Below is the image we will be creating, the inspiration for this image came from an image by Maciej Mizer, a great artist, check it out here.

Abstract photo manipulation


Abstract Photo Manipulation Photoshop Tutorial


Step 1

Go here and download the image then open it in Photoshop. Now go Image>Rotate Canvas>90°CW to get it it looking like the image below.

Grunge paper texture


Step 2

IN the layers panel create a new hue/saturation adjustment layer and use the settings shown below, the reason for doing this is that we are going to increase the saturation of the whole image at the end which would make the background to high in saturation so we are lowering the saturation now.

Hue/Saturation tool


Step 3

We are going to use an image of a parrot; mainly because parrots are colorful but you can use your own image if you want, the one I used can be found here so copy this image into your document then resize it is similar to the image shown below.

A photo of a parrot added to the document


Step 4

Now probably the least enjoyable part of any photo manipulation; the extraction, it’s worth get good at it though as you get quick after doing it a lot. So we only want the parrot, not the lake or the the white pole. Unless you’ve already got a solid way you like to extract images then use the way I’m about to teach you. Select the image of the parrot then click on the layer mask button in the layers panel to add a mask, if your not familiar with masks then basically if you paint black onto a mask then it will hide that part of the layer and the opposite goes for white, at the moment the whole mask is white so everything in the layer is visible. Select black as the foreground color then make sure the mask is selected not the layer. Now select the brush tool and use a round brush with about 80% hardness, start off with a diameter of about 30px although you’ll have to change this a lot so do so by using the ] key to increase the diameter and the [ key to decrease. Now you just have to brush round the parrot, you wont need to be too accurate here as we’re going for a grungy look anyway, I was pretty neat because I tend to use image that I’ve extracted multiple times. this was the part that I started on and I had to decrease the brush size to get into the bit next to the red feather.

Closeup of parrots wings

I lowered the hardness of the brush to 0% for this part as the feathers need to look soft.

Closeup of parrots tail

This is what it looked like after cutting the parrot out, well done if you’ve made it this far it’s easy sailing from here on.

Masked parrot on grunge paper texture


Step 5

We are going to use some watercolor brushes to create the painted effect, watercolor brushes have become really popular recently and the set I tend to use can be found hereso download and install them; you may need to restart Photoshop to get them properly installed. We are going to create all the watercolor effects behind the parrot so create a new layer then move it below the layer with the parrot in it. Select the eyedropper tool then click somewhere on the tail(is that what its called?), this is to get a reddish color that matches the color of the bird. Now select the brush tool and choose one of the watercolor brushes then click once to get the effect shown below. If you want to rotate the brush then go Window>Brushes>Brush Tip Shape and move the arrow in the circle that looks like a compass.

Watercolor brush added

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