Photoshop is arguably one of the most popular pieces of design software, used by over 90% of professionals. In the industry, photoshop is primarily used for small clean-ups and corrections, but what can we do with it when unrestrained and opened up to a new plane of imagination?
Design ideas and design process
For the first edit I wanted to make sure I had a good grasp on the tools I learned from the ‘Editing Images’ task. I decided to make a collage style image so that I could focus on each of the individual elements, and then putting them together. To begin, I created a new fill layer on the document, and set the colour to a dull yellow colour. Then I needed to create the arch shape, in order to do so, I used the shape tool to draw a rectangle and circle then combined them to create the arch. Next, I created a new layer and made the fill a light sky blue and used a downloaded brush to paint clouds, effectively making a sky background. To apply this only to the arch, I masked it by selecting the blue layer and holding down option (alt), which gives the option to create a mask that only applies to the layer below it, in this case the arch shape. Now that the background was complete, I inserted the main subject. I did this by using the select subject feature on the original image, then copying the selection into my main document. To get his elbow outside of the arch, I created a layer mask and used the brush tool to erase the corresponding mask area. For the flowers, I decided to go with pink and white as they provide a nice contrast to the background while also complementing the subject’s shirt. I places the flowers in and arranged them in a way that frames the subject. To create some depth, I repeated the same steps as before the bring the areas of some of the flowers forward. As a finishing touch I added some text as there was a lot of lank space, as the subject is a member of a group I like, I added some text relevant to that aspect.
After refining my skills with my first edit, I decided that I wanted to try and create something more complex and more diverse in terms of the tools that need to be used. Whilst looking for tutorials I came across one on how to make a flower face cut out image and chose to follow this one. I started by importing the photo into photoshop and using the pen tool to draw paths around the areas that I wanted to cut out. Then I right clicked on the path and chose ‘make selection’ then pressed M for the marquee tool make the path into a selection, after this I right clicked again and chose ‘copy via cut’ to separate the selection from the main photo. I also created a solid black layer under the original photo to serve as a background for the cut out areas. Next I used a bevel & emboss effect in the cut out areas to give them more depth. I then placed in the flowers I wanted to use and changed the hue and saturation of them so that the colours and brightness would match well with the purples and blues in the photo. I arranged the flowers as I wanted them to appear in the edit, then went to the main photo layer, held down control and clicked on it to create a selection, then went to my flower layer and created a mask on it and pressed control + I to invert it. This allowed me to then use the brush tool to paint over parts of the flower that I wanted to appear i front if the photo, to create the effect that the flowers are growing outwards. To finish it off, I reselected in the visibility for the cut out parts and readjusted them in a way that was distinguishable from the rest of the face, but not too isolated.
This edit is far simpler in comparison to the first two, however I thought it was important to not only focus on changing the main subject if the image, but also pay attention to the background and how it can alter the impression a photo makes on us. I started this edit by cropping the original image and placing it into photoshop as well as the new background on another layer. I then went to Select > Select and mask, then pressed select subject, this selected the person in the image, I could then use the sliders to refine the selection if I wanted to. This then created a mask which isolated the subject and brought it in front of the new background. Now I had to change the lighting of the subject to match the background. I did this by going to Filter > Neural filters > harmonisation, which analyses the two images and adjusts them to match. However after applying the filter I wasn’t satisfied, so went back and adjusted the saturation and CMYK sliders until I was happy.
As I have no prior experience with photoshop, I mainly used lengthier Youtube tutorials that went into more depth and explained each tool. I had no confidence with the tools, however after watching and following the tutorials, I feel that my skills have made a significant improvement.
As the first edit built practised knowledge I learned from a different task, I did not use a tutorial so that I could make sure I actually understood what I was doing.
This tutorial on how to make a flower face image guided me through the second edit. It mainly utilises creating masks from specific selections so that they can be added to or subtracted from, for example when choosing how much f the flowers I wanted to have ‘outside’ of the face. The tutorial was very clear and showed the progression through each step well, so it was easy to follow along and see the effect of each step which was a major aid in learning about what he use of each step was.
Changing a background of an image was much easier than expected thanks to Adobe’s analysis software, Adobe Sensei. This has made things such as selecting the main subject or the background of an image much easier, and needing less fine tuning from the designer themselves. This also applies to matching the lighting of the subject to the new background using the neural filters. Even though this technology is making these editing process much easier, it is still important that we implement our own flair and opinion, for example when using the harmonisation filter, I did not think Adobe’s result worked, so had to make adjustments myself.
In future projects, I would like to begin using tools that I have not used in this task, and explore further into the full range of photoshop’s abilities.
Design resources and articles
My sources of inspiration for these edits were these projects that I found on Behance while looking through the ‘Photoshop’ tag. I really liked the first two images as they caught my eye straight away with the bold colour palette and layering of the different layers. This helped inform my decision to implement this effect in my own design, as well as the the bevel and emboss feature that is used on the skin cut-outs.
The second two photos are my inspiration for my third edit. I found the one with the mushroom was so fun and really tells a story just from one picture. On the other hand, the cloud edit is dramatic in a way that leaves you to think, and the way the lighting matches both the person and the background made me want to try and achieve that effect in my own work.
Learning across the module
As a whole, this module has immensely improved my design skills and sparked new interests in different softwares. The first part of the module began to develop our understanding of each piece of software, and now we have developed our skills and are practicing them as professional designers would. I think this development is really shown throughout my work, not only in the final piece but especially in the process, the steps that I am taking to reach the end goal have become more refined. This shows me that I have achieved one of the goals I set for myself at the end of the first submission: “I feel that I need to improve my efficiency in using the program by learning more keyboard shortcuts past the realm of basic ones like the selection arrows and the pen tools”. The other goal for myself, “I would also like to improve on the way I view my own work, because at times I find myself being caught up in details that don’t end up being necessary, and trying to overcomplicate designs to make them look more complex when they don’t need to be.”, I think I have improved on this, but have yet to fully conquer it, though this only means I have more opportunities to learn.