In this tutorial, we're gonna get into some abstract themed stuff, that I called "Fallen Angel". I'll show you how to create a great dynamic scene using several renders. Also, there are some cool tricks and nice photo manipulation techniques included. So let's take a look at this piece!
As usual I'll be using some great photos from 123rf.com. I especially loved the jumping man taken by Alexander Yakovlev, and I just had to use it. You should check his portfolio of dancing models, really great stuff for some graphic concepts. Some photos have just natural dynamic themselves, so these are the ones we're looking for, while working on project like this.
The other photos like, wings, feathers or textures can be taken from elsewhere (like sxc.hu). But I like the comfort and quality of this pay site, so that's the way I prefer while searching pictures.
Let's start by opening a new document at 1100 pixels by 1500 pixels with a resolution of 300px/inch. Grab the Brush Tool (B), set the Hardness to 0% and Flow to 1%. Pick black for the color, create a new layer, name it "background 1" and start brushing all around the canvas to create some gray color depth.
Add a Layer Mask to the "background 1" layer, change your Master Diameter size to 1px, set the Flow to 20% and lower the Opacity option just a touch.
Work with the Flow option very dynamically, change it whenever you like. The main task is to create some scratches to this colored background. Brush on the layer mask with black color, and make those scratches random.
Create new layer above "background 1" layer, name it "background 2", and repeat Steps 1 and 2. This time add some more depth (using a black color) and then create some scratches using a layer mask the same way we did previously.
Now, open the image of jumping man, extract it with the Pen Tool (P) and drag it into our project. Then apply some adjustments to make the colors more suitable to the environment.
You can find them under:
- Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation
- Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast
- Image > Adjustments > Levels
- Image > Adjustments > Selective Color
Now let's add some more background effects. Open the paper texture image, drag it into our project document. Name it "texture." Position it above the background layers. Then go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate, and Image > Adjustments > Invert. Once you do this, change this layer Blending Mode to Screen. Now go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and adjust it by increasing black, to make some parts totally vanish (3rd image below).
Next, when you zoom a little into this textures, you can see that they are a bit blurry. So let's sharpen it a little. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask, and increase the amount. Then use Edit > Transform > Free Transform and rotate this whatever you like. Make a few duplicates (Command + J) and position them in the other areas. Help yourself with the Eraser Tool (E), set at 0% Hardness and 50% Flow. You may also decrease these textures opacities.
Create a new layer below these textures, grab the Brush Tool (B), make your diameter very big. Change the color to white and set Hardness to 0%, and Flow to around 30%. Now make several big white dots behind the jumping man, to make him stand out more.
Let's fill this project with some cool shapes that I prepared for this tutorial. You can find them in "Renders.psd," which is in a directory labeled "source" that came in the ZIP file that you downloaded. Open "Render 1", use Edit > Free Transform and position this render as shown. Try to place it behind the jumping man. This 3D object has a pretty massive center, and we wanna use mostly the sharp, popping edges. So make sure you hide the massive part behind this person.
I planned to make this illustration dramatic and add in some warm colors, so I'll colorize all renders to red tones. While we still have this "Render 1" layer selected, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and add some red color. As you can see, sometimes one color adjusting process is not enough. We want to change this render to a very intensive red. So add some more adjustments using Image > Adjustments > Color Balance (I used here Shadows and Midtones).
If you receive some bad looking parts, simply take the Eraser Tool (E), set both Hardness and Flow to 100%, then clean it out. Using Layer Mask on this is also a good option, either way is fine.
Open "Render 2" and place it close to the first render. To achieve a more dynamic look, try to position it towards the jump direction. Then grab the Lasso Tool (L), draw a selection around this render, hit Command + Shift + I to inverse the selection, and press Delete. This way you will get rid of unwanted parts.
Next create new layer above the "Render 2" layer and name it "Render shadow." Grab the Brush Tool (B), then set its Hardness to 0% and Flow to around 20%. Paint in the connection between renders to make them fit together. Now run some color adjustments and add a nice red tone to this render. It doesn't have to be exactly the same colored piece as the first render. It's good to have some color depth variety.
- Image > Adjustments > Levels
- Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation
- Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast
While adjusting the contrast, try to make this second render look like the first one.
Open "Render 3" and repeat the same process as previously. I worked alot with the Eraser Tool (E) with Hardness and Flow set to 100%. There were many parts that bothered me, so I simply cleaned this render a little.
While positioning this piece, make sure it's behind the person. Pay attention to the direction, and where did he jump from. We need to make this man look like he was leaving some pieces while jumping. After positioning, repeat the color adjusting process. Use Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation.
And again, if your connection between renders needs some correction, create a new layer above "Render 3." Grab the Brush Tool (B) with a soft black brush (Hardness 0%, Flow 20%) and paint in the connection spot to make it blend in just a touch (3rd image below).
Here is basically the same process. Open one of the rest of the renders. Name it "Render 4", rotate it using Edit > Transform > Rotate and then make some more effects. The renders themselves created lots of little pieces.
Spread them randomly, but don't make it too messy. Then run Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and add some nice red depth to this object. Help yourself with the Eraser Tool (E) while getting rid of unwanted parts.
Repeat the same process, open the next render and name it "Render 5." Position it behind this guy's head. Adjust the colors using Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and Image > Adjustments > Color Balance. If you're not satisfied with the result, you may also add some more render and color it the same way as well (5th image below). Try to get some nice spreading parts.
Open some more render. I picked "Render 1" as it looks sharp. Now, notice that all those colored renders behind this man look a little flat. So take this new opened render and position it in some spot on this man. I chose the head are, as it would be a great spot to connect the render.
Hold Command, then left-click on the new opened render layer's thumbnail to load its selection (1st image). Then select the "jumping man" layer and hit Delete on the keyboard. Press Command + D to deselect, and you should get something like the 3rd image below. Then just make the gray render invisible, as we don't need it anymore.
As I was watching this person, I thought that it needs more depth and less color. So I went for Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation, and desaturated it a little. Then I used Image > Adjustments > Curves. It's mostly personal taste. While working on a project, there are always lots of corrections. Adjust objects whenever you feel they need some correction.
Now, grab Burn Tool (O), set it to Midtones and change the Exposure to 25%. Select "jumping man" layer and brush in spots where the renders occur to make this blend it.
Go to Layers Palette and create a new adjustment layer below the "render" layers. Select Curves, I decided to give some brown tones to the background, I adjusted it until I found a satisfying color. And here are the values of this Curves adjustment layer:
- Red - Output 77, Input 65
- Green - Output 106, Input 103
- Blue - Output 117, Input 120
Once your background looks better, duplicate (Command + J) the "jumping man" layer, change it's Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map. Then set the gradient to go from color #ead3d3 to #261a16, and lower the layer opacity if needed.
Open the image of the bird and grab the Pen Tool (P). Then cut out one of its wings, drag it into our project document, and name it "wing." Next, hold Command, left-click on the "jumping man" layer thumbnail to load its selection (2nd image below). Select the "wing" layer in the Layers Palette. Now you can see how the silhouette of the man looks. Grab the Eraser Tool (E) and erase some parts of the wing's inside selection.
Now look closer at the 3rd image below. You need to be careful. Before you erase some more parts of this wing, you need to create a path using the Pen Tool (P) around the first arm, and then turn it into a selection (Right-click > Make Selection). We need to make sure this wing will be between the two arms of this man. So, using the Eraser Tool (E), reveal the man's left hand by erasing the selected part of the wing. Then hit Command + D to deselect.
Next, colorize the wing using Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation. I used it twice in a row to get better color. And finally, to match the colors, duplicate the "wind" layer (Command + J). Set this copy Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map. Set the gradient from #25170e to #ded5cc. You can lower this layer's opacity just a touch if needed.
OK, now focus on the first and second image below. Grab the Clone Stamp Tool (S), and use the settings shown in the first image below. Make sure you have the "Sample: All Layers" option selected. Now create a new layer above the "wing" layer. Use the Clone Stamp Tool, hold Alt and sample the wing pattern (1st image), then left-click on the spot where you want to put it (2nd image).
Now load the selection of the "jumping man" (Command-click on the layer's thumbnail). Use Command + Shift + I to inverse the selection. Grab the Eraser Tool (E) and erase the unwanted parts of the wing pattern.
Go to the Channels palette and load the path that we created for the man's arm. Use Command + Shift + I to inverse the selection, and create a new layer above the "wing" layer. Name it "wing shadow." Grab the Brush Tool (B) with Hardness set to 0% and Flow to 15%. Change your Foreground color to #392a25 and paint between the "arm" and "wing" to create a shade. Hit Command + D to deselect.
In next step, I wanted to add some renders to this wing, so I decided to darken the parts where renders will appear. Select the "wing" layer. Grab the Burn Tool (O), set it to Midtones and set the Exposure to 25% and darken some spots, where you would like to put some renders.
Open one of my renders. Place it in the spot where you have darkened the wing. Load the selection of "wing" layer (Command-click on the layer's thumbnail). Then hit Command + Shift + I to inverse the selection. Now, select this render and hit Delete on the keyboard (you should get something similar to the 2nd image below). Then use Command + D to deselect. Help yourself with a soft Eraser Tool (E) if needed.
Finally let's add some colors to this render. Make it similar to the wing. Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and set some nice color. Add another render and adjust it the same way, you may also use Image > Adjustments > Curves. Adjust the curves per channel. Make them look similar to mine.
Now, let's create a second wing the same way as the first one and position it behind (or you can just duplicate all the wing layers). Then, load the "wing" layer's selection (Command-click on the layer's thumbnail).
Hit Command + Shift + I to inverse the selection. Next, create a new layer, change your Foreground color to #392a25. Grab the Brush Tool (B) with Hardness set to 0% and Flow to 20% and paint around the first wing to create shadows on the second wing. Check the second image for some direction.
Now we'll create some lines. Make a new layer and name it "line." You're free to place it wherever you like, because the location of these lines will be pretty random. This is very easy, grab the Brush Tool (B), make the Master Diameter 1px big and set the Flow and Opacity dynamically (for example: Flow 90% / Opacity 70%, then for example to Flow 60% / Opacity 50%). So hold Shift and make lots of left-clicks with this small brush in random spots.
This works simply: you hold shift-click to create a brush dot, move the mouse and make another dot elsewhere (still holding Shift), move the mouse again and make another dot elsewhere (still holding Shift). And this way you can create some abstract straight lines.
Create them on several new layers and go to each one and apply Blending Options > Color Overlay, and set the color to white, and another line to brown, in another red, gray, etc. (second image).
Now we'll make a burst coming out from the man's hand. Create a new layer above all the layers, and name it "glow." Change your Foreground color to white and the brush Diameter to 1px (make sure you have the Flow set to 100%). Now grab the Pen Tool (P), draw a path like in the 1st image below. Now right-click, and select Stroke Path.
Duplicate (Command + J) the "glow" layer, and rename this copy to "line." Select the "glow" layer and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and apply a touch of blur to create some glow. You may duplicate this "glow" layer (Command + J) to make it more visible. Then these two glow layers and one line layer and hit Command + E to merge them. Name this new merged layer "burst line."
Now we're gonna create some burst. To make it easier to understand I described it in the images, so make sure you follow them below.
Now, create a new layer group above all the layers and name it "burst circles." Create a new layer in it, name it "circle." Change your Foreground Color to white. Then grab the Elliptical Marquee Tool (E), draw a circle while holding Shift (to get a perfect shape). Grab the Paint Bucket Tool (G) and fill this layer with white. Lower the layer's opacity just a touch to make it almost vanish. Then create several duplicates of it (Command + J). Position them in a straight line, and resize each one using Edit > Free Transform.
Pick random circles and apply to them a touch of blur using Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Also pick some random circles and change their color to light red using Blending Options > Color Overlay (3rd image below).
As some final upgrades, we will add some feathers. So open the image of feather. Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and colorize it the same way as you see the feathers in the wing.
Then duplicate this feather (Command + J), change this duplicate's Blending Options to soft light. Then go to Image > Adjustment > Gradient Map, and set the gradient from #1f1405 to #e1d7cc. Go to Layer > Flatten Image. Then grab the Pen Tool (P) and start extracting this feather from it's white background. When you're done, drag this feather to our project document.
Go to Edit > Transform > Warp, and bend this feather a little to make it look more dynamic. Create several duplicates of it (Command + J) and add blur to some of them to create a depth of field. Use Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.
Look at the 4th image below. Notice that the feathers which are bigger, have more blur then the ones that appear farther. So follow this direction while creating your own depth of field.
In the end, you can add some more renders the same way we did in the beginning. Colorize them using the same process as previously, and find some nice spot to place them. And using a very soft, black brush, make them blend in with this man.
As a final touch, go to the very top of the Layers Palette and create a new layer. Hit Command + A to select the whole canvas, then use Command + Shift + C (Copy Merged) and Command + V (Paste). We just duplicated the whole image. Now set this layer Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map. Set the gradient from #4b4342 to #ccbcac to give this piece a final color correction, and we're done!
Abstract pieces like this one, have no particular rules. If you have a good concept, then the rest is just freestyle work. Most of the ideas in this concept just came to me while working and experimenting. I guess, the main things that really mattered here, were the proper use of colors and attention to details. So thanks for your attention. You can view the final image below or view a larger version here.