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Quick Tip: How to Create a Geometric Background Effect in Photoshop

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Like Illustrator, Photoshop also includes some very powerful vector editing tools. In this tutorial, we will show you how to create a geometric background effect for a poster design in Photoshop using a few simple shapes, blending modes, and transparencies. Let's get started!


1. Create a Color Scheme

My favorite way to create a color scheme for this effect is to start off in Illustrator. Illustrator's Blend Tool is a great way to create mathematically correct, gradual color schemes that smoothly transition into each other. If you don't have Illustrator, try drawing a gradient in Photoshop, using the color codes below. Then, use your color picker at regular intervals to produce a similar color scheme.

Step 1

The first step is to create a new document in Illustrator. The document that I created was 45.72 cm x 60.96 cm.

Step 2

Draw a rectangular shape and apply a color. I used #553895.

Step 3

Now duplicate that square shape by holding down Alt and dragging it across the canvas.

Change its color to something lighter. I used #CFC4E0. Keep in mind that we will be adding quite a few steps between these colors, so choose one that is fairly distant from your original color.

Step 4

Now go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Select Specified Steps. Use as many steps as you need but remember, you may need to set quite a few steps to produce enough colors to fill your Photoshop canvas in later steps. This could require some trial and error on your part. For this tutorial, I used 28 steps.

Select both Objects and go to Object > Blend > Make. You should now see something like the image below. Keep in mind that this is only to help create your color scheme. So your blended object doesn't have to look the same as the one below.


2. Create Basic Shapes

This background effect can be created using several overlapping hexagon shapes. Keep in mind that you don't really have to use Photoshop for this. Illustrator also does a fantastic job. The techniques used in the steps below are very similar to the steps in Illustrator so if you're comfortable with Illustrator, give it a try, if you like.

Step 1

Create a New Document in Photoshop, call it Color Scheme Setup. We will use this document to apply the color scheme that we just created to the shapes that we are about to create. I used the settings shown below but feel free to create a document that is consistent with the project that you are working on.

Paste your color scheme object into the scene. You can paste as Smart Object or Pixels, it doesn't really matter.

Step 2

Now we will start creating the basic shapes. Select the Polygon Tool and draw a Hexagon as shown. The dimensions of each hexagon should be around 6 cm x 5.1962 cm. You can enter the exact dimensions by selecting the Polygon Tool and clicking anywhere on the canvas.

Reduce the Transparency of the polygon to 80% and duplicate the shape 29 times, as shown. This will give you a total of 30 hexagons. In this step, it really helps to enable Snapping by going to View > Snap. When you duplicate the shape make sure that the left side of the polygon snaps to the center of the polygon to its left.

Start from the far left of your canvas and give each hexagon the same color as its corresponding rectangle. This is probably the most time-consuming part of the process. When you are done, group your layers. Your document should look similar to the image below. You can now disregard the Blend object that you pasted from Illustrator.


3. Creating the Pattern

Now that the most time-consuming part of the process is complete. We will now create our pattern. You may have noticed that the Color Scheme Setup document that you created was pretty large compared to the shapes you were working with. That is because the pattern needs to be very large in order to cover the background of the poster that we will end up creating. So we set the height just a tad bit larger than 60.96 cm (24 in).

Step 1

Select the Group 1 layer and hold down the Alt key. With the Alt key held down, drag the contents of that layer down and to the right. Make sure that Snap is enabled and place each new group as shown until the pattern completely fills up the screen.

Step 2

Create a new Photoshop document that is the same size as the Illustrator document that you created in the first step. The document that I created was 45.72 cm x 60.96 cm.

Step 3

Now go back to the Color Scheme Setup document. Group all your Shape Layers. Name that group Pattern.

Step 4

Go to Window > Arrange > Tile All Vertically.

Step 5

Now drag and drop all your layers from the Color Scheme Setup document into your Geometric Background Effect document.

Step 6

Now place the Pattern layer on the canvas as shown.


4. Additional Details (Optional)

If you are happy with your background effect, congratulations! You have finished this tutorial. I feel like the image looks a bit flat, however. So I'd like to add a couple of extra details to make it look a bit better.

Step 1

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels and adjust the settings as shown. This will make the colors pop a bit.

Step 2

Since this pattern is made up of many hexagon shapes, you have quite a bit of control over the look of the final image. If you would like to break up the gradient a bit, you can click on the individual shape layers and change its properties to make the effect much more interesting.

Click on the Path Selection Tool and select a few hexagons at random with the Shift key selected. With all of the paths selected, experiment with different blend modes, opacities, and colors. In my experience, Overlay, Hard Light, Multiply, and Screen work really well. The result below was done in just a few minutes. With a bit more tweaking you should be able to achieve a much more polished result.


Conclusion

In this tutorial, we showed you how to quickly create a geometric background effect using some simple shapes and transparency in Photoshop. The most challenging part of this effect is to figure out how many shapes you need in order to completely cover the canvas. Once you figure that out, the rest of the steps are quite easy. I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and can use these techniques to create background effects of your own.

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