Author: Naomi Yu

Exploring Filters and the Brush Tool in Photoshop

Design Ideas

For my week 3 task, I continued my software skill development by creating three creative images in Photoshop. This task aimed to help me to explore further and expand my creativity. From the last term, I demonstrated my design skill on the topic of a podcast cover. Therefore, I decided to accomplish another topic choice for this time. I always wanted to create artworks for my cat, but I never had a chance. This task was an opportunity for me to achieve it. In my last term, I watched a bunch of videos to help with my skill development. Nevertheless, I nearly forgot all of them that make me realised the balance of quality and quantity. Instead of watching numerous tutorial videos, I decided to focus on one skill topic and practise in-depth. 

The first two design are both oil painting portraits of my cat. I watched the same tutorial video but with different authors to compare their approach towards this topic. For my last design, I made it a review practice of what I have learnt in Photoshop so far. I combined all the skill and created the final piece.

Design Process

Design 1

I first used the lasso tool to select the head area and applied a content-aware fill to replace it with the background colour. After that, I cropped the head part of my cat by using the lasso selection tool again. I copied and pasted the head on the painting. I then applied a layer mask onto it and started using the brush tool to erase the unwanted edges. Before applying the oil paint stylisation, I added one more layer of unsharpen mask. It can bring back the details of the image. I further adjusted the level values and colour balance to match with the painting itself.

Design 2

For my second design, I repeated the same procedure as the first one. Dispiratively, I used the stamp tool to copy the collar pattern as one of the clone sources after using the content-aware fill. The shadow underneath adds depth to the head part and creates dimension to the painting.

Design 3

After I decided to use the painting ‘Summer is icumen in’, I then inserted my cat image and started resizing and adjusting its perspective. Apply the oil paint filter to make the image look like having painting strokes on it. It was different from the last two design. I altered the levels of stylisation to match with the original painting at the back. The cat looks like it is floating in the air, so I used the brush tool to draw a shadow and blend the colours. I additionally used the eyedropper to help me get the exact shade in the painting to prevent colour differences.

Software Tutorial

This video is a tutorial on how to create an oil painting portrait for your pet. The author applies different layers of filters to edit the image from a digital form to an oil painting. I followed his instruction of stylising the pet image with an oil paint filter. This filter can add a brushstroke texture to the image and creates harmony with the original painting. Apart from using filter layers, he makes level and colour adjustments to the image to achieve a more satisfying result. The level adjustment depends on the original value of the photo. It is impossible to copy all of his value changes because we were using different pictures. Therefore, I had to adjust to other value levels to see if it works in my case.

This tutorial video has a similar process as the previous one. However, one point that is worthy of drawing attention to is the use of the stamp tool. Although the content-aware fill can approximately cover up the head, the texture near the neck will get blurred out. As a result, the author finishes its touch up by using the stamp tool. He uses the stamp to copy the pattern of the collar and starts pasting them around the neck. For my second design, I followed his way of creating an oil painting portrait. Compared with the first tutorial video, his method can keep the detail part of the collar and makes the whole piece look more well-finished. Overall, I prefer this tutorial more.

The following tutorial is an introduction video of the brush tool. The brush is the core tool that I used in my third design, so it is essential to learn about its functionality. This video talks about the importance of adjusting different brush hardness levels. A softer brush can build up layers and create smooth edges. It usually uses to blend colours. A soft brush can also embellish an image easier. On the other hand, a higher brush level can draw out a sharp line, so it generally uses for outlining. Therefore, I adjusted the brush hardness to 0% when I was blending.

After finishing this task, I am interested in exploring further with the brush tool, especially experiment with different types of brushes. I have experience in drawing in Illustrator but never tried to draw in Photoshop. Accordingly, I will start to develop my drawing skill by practising with the brush tool or watch some drawing time-lapse videos to observe how people utilise the brush tool in Photoshop.

Resources for Research and Inspiration

My main inspiration for this task is the series of oil paintings named ‘Dogs Playing Poker’. General artists usually express an image by painting a human as the character, but Coolidge used personification to paint dogs playing poker. This surreal approach is interesting to investigate and discover. Therefore, I put this idea into my first two designs, editing my cat head onto a human portrait.

All of my designs focus on the style of an oil painting. When I was searching for the image option, I chose portraits that painted during the Renaissance. I found out they usually had a bulky collar that covers their neck. This clothing decoration can make the process of editing easier because it avoids extra works.

Recently, oil paintings with a soft pastel colour scheme have become a famous aesthetic. I have an album on Pinterest where I collect this kind of oil paintings. It is also the inspiration for my third design in this task.

To conclude the topics I have done so far in Photoshop, I tended to research vintage and retro themes. In the last term, I designed a series of vintage podcast covers. For this week 3 task, I used renaissance paintings as my inspiration. It might be a good idea for me to explore other kinds of approaches, such as combining neon colours and glowing effect to create a futuristic style.

Mining in Photoshop

Design Ideas

For this task, the design was supposed to relate to typography and graphic communication. I first decided to name it ‘History of Typography’, because giving a name to the podcast can make my design direction more specific.  ‘History of Typography’, the word history means the past and the story of old-time. I wanted to design each of the covers for a particular period, for example, the first one as the 1970s edition and the next one be the 1960s edition. To make the design feels like its responding year period, I searched for their own represented era as the design theme.

Design Process

Design 1

My first design idea came from the word, ‘disco 70s’. Mirror balls are one of the iconic elements in this disco era, so I used a picture of a woman lying on the mirror ball to give out this similar sensation. The original picture was in a brownish warm colour tone, I increased the noise level to add more texture to the image. To create the dreamy fantasy look, I changed the gradient fills into blue and purple. I also wanted the audience’s attention to go to the mirror ball rather than the woman next to it. In this case, I needed to emphasise the existence of the ball, so I added a glitter image on top of that area and blended it in the colour dodge mode. A soft paintbrush was then used to add white dots to make those sparkles more noticeable. In this version, I did not do much to the typography, I just simply turned on the drop shadow and the inner glow effect to make it look much more three-dimensional.

Design 2

Pop art was first introduced during the 1950s, it went viral onwards. Comic style, dots were the key features, so I decided to apply these effects to my second design. I first cropped the woman out and change the background to full white. After that, I applied the halftone pattern with dot size 3. I increased the brightness and shadow level to create a much stronger contrast. I also changed the background to red and filled in the colour of the character in a comic style.

Design 3

The last one was designed for the 1960s. I tried to make the picture look like an actual oil-painting by editing its contrast level and setting different blending modes like dissolve or multiply. I also added a mask on top to create the light and shadow parts. For the colour adjustment, I increased the hue and saturation to the point that the image looks vibrant enough.

These designs came out great but the choice of imagery was not appropriate to the topic, which made the whole design not relevant to what I was supposed to achieve. As a result, I started to think about changing the image to another choice that would fit better with typography. I was searching for something vintage and representable to the theme at the same time. Finally, I decided to use a typewriter and applied the same effect on it as my last design.


Software Tutorials

For the whole task, I watched six different videos online. The most memorable one was what I watched for my last design. It was about creating a retro imagery style. One of the reasons that made this video especially unforgettable to me was because I reviewed it at least ten times. As a Photoshop beginner, it was really hard to follow his instructions when he only used short-cuts to control, so I had to pause after every step he made. In the video, he taught me to use the filter gallery from the effect panel, and the filter gallery can only be available in RGB mode, but my design task was in CMYK, so I needed to use an alternative way to achieve a similar result. Instead of applying a filter gallery to the picture, I edited the levels of the image and also extra blurred the picture to make it look more like an oil painting. Even though the outcome looked a bit different from the video, I think it still presented the retro atmosphere in the design.

Another video resource I used was about making pop art. This one was not that difficult as the previous one. Having my last time experience of struggling between the RGB and CMYK mode, this time I started editing directly on the original picture rather than placing and edit the image on the CMYK preset. For this tutorial, it was much easier to follow because those short-cuts were clearly shown on the subtitle. This effect also required me to use the filter gallery, but with a different filter pattern, called the halftone pattern.

These two videos helped me to learn using different editing functions in Photoshop and guided me to explore how powerful it can be. I had no idea about this software before, but now I can do a few interesting photo editing after watching those tutorial videos. In the future, I would like to learn more about how to edit pictures apart from using filters, such as combining pictures by cropping or blending them.


Resources for Research and Inspiration

Before having the whole idea of what to create, I had a look at a bunch of existing podcast covers from the internet. I found out that most of them are simply an image and the podcast title. Instead of using or combining many pictures, they only have one focused imagery. Therefore, I mainly used one individual image in each of my designs. At first, I wanted to refer my design to some old podcast covers, but it was hard to find them because people before did not use podcast covers at all, they usually advertised the podcast by posters or leaflets.

In this task, I aimed to create designs in a vintage or retro style to relate to my podcast title. I compared the difference between a modern design and a ‘traditional’ one. It is common to see that nowadays podcast covers tend to have a simple and basic layout, meanwhile, texture or extra decoration is generally used in vintage design. Typography wise, I used serif fonts instead of a san serif, as it gave out an old style. A serif at the end of each typeface can also have a decorative purpose which made the font look much more fancy and elegant.

I also got inspiration from a 20th-century artist, called Earl Moran. His artworks were mostly pin-up paintings and they really gave out a vintage style. Pin-up art was first introduced as attractive pictures to men back then, so nearly all pin-up art had women to be the painting subject. Unlike any other art, pin-up art tends not to focus on the background of the painting. They might just leave it blank or using a few colours to create shades as the background. Therefore, when I was designing my cover, I did not add any fancy stuff at the back, instead, I paid more attention to edit the imagery.

Lastly, Photoshop still has many functions that I have not yet explored but I am really willing to know more about it. In my opinion, learning Adobe software is just like mining, the deeper I dig in or investigate, the more and precious skills I can learn from it.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The Original Version

For this task, we were asked to copy exactly how the book cover from Penguin Books looks like by using InDesign. I have heard about adobe before but never really use it at all. This was my very first time trying this software, and I found it is quite difficult to understand how it functions at the beginning, it took me about an hour to figure out its basic controls.


My Version of the Book Cover


The drawing process of each character IMG_2542

I used the penguin logo as the body of each character, including snow white and those seven dwarfs. I drew out their representative clothes to make them look more identical to readers. I found out that many fairy tale book covers are generally in dark colours, I believe it is probably because this colour scheme can create a mystical sensation. Therefore, I chose to use dark green as the background colour and added the pale yellow frame as a decorative purpose.


I really enjoyed doing this task, because it gave me a chance to create or design whatever I wanted. It was indeed a cool working experience with InDesign, it is not easy to use and it takes time to learn. When I was using the software, it felt much more professional compared to any apps that I have used before. I cannot wait to try other software from adobe later the term and create works from it.

Eyes on the Little Things

Taking Picture from the Surrounding

The Best 3 Images

  1. A tiny corner from a mental fence

2. The parking label on the floor


3. The building name of Contraction Management and Engineering

When I was searching around the campus, instead of taking pictures of large scale objects, I chose to look at some converted places. I took the above image from an undertaking area where they fenced up the whole building. I started looking closely at any objects and I found that so interesting I would never see those fonts on the fence if I was not standing in front of it at a certain distance. Not only did the distance matter, the angle of how you observe the thing also affect the look of the font. For example, I took the first picture and the third one in a side approach, rather than facing in front of the object. This way can show the depth of the font and create a three-dimensional effect. I liked how these fonts are carefully and neatly done for the second image. It was also interesting to see which strokes got written first, as the texture of its paint shows the layer of brushstrokes.


Grouping those Pictures in Different Category Orders

1. Angle (Looking downwards)

2. Material (Mental)

3. Colour scheme

4. Object (Building’s names)

Classifying is an action to grouping up things that share some same characteristics. I tried to find their obvious similarities between each other, such as the first one, all of those pictures are taken in a downwards angle, from top to down, overlooking at those objects. This in fact shows no depth but only plainness. Another example, some images share the same colour palette, the blue sky, the redness from those signs and the green grass.


This one-day project was really a fun time to experience around the campus. In fact, we seldom have time to hang around and observe things in detail, but today I finally got a chance to have a closer look at anything else in the surrounding. Moreover, I learnt about how letterings corporate with the environment. Some of them with only the intention of decorating purpose, some of them being particularly legible to readers, all letterings have their own function. Overall, it was such an interesting project to do individually or with classmates.

The Hardship of Being a Woman


mind map


My word for this task is woman and I wanted to show how the society criticises women in general. Not only do women experience in gender inequality, women also always get objectified by others. Therefore, I decided to put on frame to it, just to make it look like a displaying item of an exhibition.

Moreover, people usually describe women as beautiful, pretty or elegant, so I think it will be a great idea to use a goddess to represent the image of a female. As the sky symbolises freedom and the residence of the gods, I used a picture of the sky that i took before as the background.

For my final, I did different hand gestures and took a few pictures of them, I then outlined and coloured them on my ipad. Those hands represented people in the society, all gestures mean their own way of rudeness and criticism. Also, I painted some blood near the intimate part of the statue, to portray the situation of woman being shamed on their period.

The animated version IMG_2409


As this is not my first time doing this kind of task, I have my past experience to help me avoiding some unnecessary mistakes. However, it has been a while since the last time I made a graphic design, so I feel like this is a nice chance to warm myself up before my real classes start. Overall, the task was fun to do, I enjoyed spending the whole day on editing images and drawing on my ipad.


Adventure Time with a Book



Unlike any other regular shapes, noise has no restricted form. I used an ink pen to draw out an irregular shape and used dots to create a fading effect, just like how noise travels and vibrates in the air. This also showed its volume is gradually decreasing from far to close and formed a sense of distance.

In the next page, I cut off the centre of pages in different sizes. I grouped around 20 pages as one layer and trimmed a smaller size after each layer, which created a depth to the plain page. Moreover, I made a tiny window at the corner of the page. Instead of just drawing it out, I decided to make the window moveable to make it less dull and increase interaction between the reader and the book, because they need to mover the window by their own in order to progress to the next scene.


To me, books are always meant to be stored or treated in a nice way, I never cut or destroyed a book until this project. It was an absolute amazing time to experience something that I have never done before. As it was my very first time trying this, I made a few attempts before my final one.

For example, I was supposed to create layers (shown above) but I did not get enough pages and thickness, so it still looked so plain. I even blackened some areas to make those layouts more obvious, unfortunately it did not really work out.

Overall, I enjoyed the whole process of thinking ideas on how to portray the plot and theme by cutting the book. Indeed, the project provided me an opportunity to explore new methods of expressing idea.