Author: Petra Easton

Warping reality with photoshop

Design ideas and design process


Idea 1

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For my first idea I wanted to keep things relatively simple, the brief needed me to create an image that combines black, white and colour. I started by using pixabay to download a picture that included a lot of bright colour that would stick out from a black and white background. I opened it in photoshop and duplicated the image, setting the layer underneath to greyscale by converting all the colours to black and white. Then I focussed on the image overtop, erasing all of the colours except the red and orange shades, I did this using the eraser tool however I realise I could have done this with the quick selection tool to make the process a lot quicker.


Idea 2

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idea 2

Idea 2 was based around the changing an image’s background task. Again, I chose some images and pasted them in from pixabay, one of space and one of someone sitting on a bed.. I wanted it to look like the person was floating in space so I added a layer mask to the photo and used the black paint tool to hide the background of the original image, again I could have used a different method to hide the background to make it slightly quicker. To blend the two images together I created an adjustment layer with a star texture using the lighten effect. I don’t think I was able to make the image fully believable, also overall I think the result is a bit boring.


Idea 3

idea 3

idea 3

idea 3

I had to alter reality in idea 3, so I decided to create an image using a laptop and jellyfish. Again I got these images off pixabay. I used the same methods as before, using layer masks and adjustment layers. Although in this one I used the paintbrush tool at a low opacity to draw in the reflection of the jellyfish onto the laptop screen. I had some fun experimenting with adjustment layers although eventually ended settling with a simple one using the soft light setting. I probably could have rotated the image of the laptop to make it more realistic as it still looks like it’s sitting on a table despite being in the middle of the ocean.



Software tutorials


Resources for research and inspiration, I used a lot of the provided tutorials. The first one I looked at was the combine black and white with colour in a photo made by adobe. It helped with a lot of the basics for my first design, I had a slight idea of how to do this already however this tutorial put it into a much easier format that helped decrease the time it took to make my image. The second tutorial I used was a youtube video on how to use layer masking on photoshop, I hadn’t really understood what layer masking was before this, but it turns out that it is a key skill for photoshop if you want to do any editing that includes putting to images together, or even adding effects to one image. The third one was another adobe tutorial about accurately selecting image areas, it introduced me to the decontaminate colours option which was particularly helpful for when changing the background dramatically on tiny, difficult shapes such as hair.


I found the last one myself, they are both youtube videos. The first one was about simplifying and understanding blend modes, it helped me to add a watery effect to the jellyfish image.


Breakdown of blend modes:



Resources for research and inspiration


The first place I usually go for inspiration is Pinterest, just searching for interesting things people have made in photoshop. I quite like the darker, spacey images I found and I thought it would be fun to try and create something like this. The only exception to this was the first design, where it was required to combine black and white, and I was still learning how to use the tools correctly. I saw this image with jellyfish in space that I quite liked, however I was worried about copying the idea too closely so instead I turned my third idea into deep water, still including the jellyfish. When looking at images on pixabay to add to my design I found I also really liked the watery marble texture that appears on the surface of waves, I tried implementing this into my third design, although did not end up going with it as I felt it obscured the actual focus of the image, those being the laptop and jellyfishes.


A Bright Typography Sticker

Ideas and process

This project involved getting to know Illustrator and using the new skills to create three designs for a Typography and Graphic Communication sticker.

Idea 1

I knew I wanted to make a small illustration of a pencil to keep in the theme of my other projects to include in all of my sticker designs. I did this through using shape tools, and setting the stroke to be quite thick as I like the look of the chunky outlines. When I was finished I grouped the design together so I didn’t keep accidentally moving parts of my work around. My first design was primarily inspired by my photoshop final design, so I tried moving the pencils around into a way that would look good, this was unsuccessful at first but I did get a chance to experiment with envelope distort. Eventually I found a composition that I liked. Then I had to add some text, I did this by drawing a circle (holding shift so it was perfect) and using the type on a path tool to make the type curvy. Then to make the type stand out I drew a red shape behind it using the paintbrush tool (turning the accuracy down so the result would be very smooth).

Idea 2

For my second design I reused the pencil I made, keeping just one this time for simplicity, I used it as a line to base my text on. One thing I struggled with was making the text fit, I originally wanted it to be bigger than this but instead I had to settle with smaller text, to compensate with this I used the envelope distort tool to warp the last word so it would be a bit more interesting. I then added some drips using the paintbrush tool. To finish off I made a gradient in the background so it wasn’t just one flat colour. I think if I had more options available to me I would make the background shiny, too make it more fun. Hopefully the gradient can replicate this.

Idea 3

I wanted to change up the colour scheme a bit with this one so I decided to make a rainbow come out of a broken pencil. I used the knife tool a lot in this, to cut the shapes in half so I could change their colour individually. I experimented with making the type flow out on the rainbow using the type on a path tool, but ended up deciding not to do this as it wasn’t very easy to read. I added a flat background to not complicate the design too much. Whilst I still like this design, it is my least favourite out of the three, looking back I should have definitely increased the stroke width of the outline.

I knew barely anything before starting this task so I learned so much more than I did in my indesign and photoshop tasks. I improved my skills with creating images and icons myself, I usually rely on just drawing things freehand and on paper, but having to work in a completely digital format was difficult, although I soon figured it out. I’d like to try working like this but with a less geometric shape, maybe seeing how far I can go with using it illustrator as a tool for artwork. I think to improve my work I should experiment with the different brushes and textures that illustrator provides rather than sticking to one. This will make me able to achieve a more interesting (and less flat) design in future.


Software tutorials

I used the tutorials recommended to us, I found the using layers videos helpful, even though the things being discussed weren’t too different from using layers in photoshop it was still good to get a refresher. One interesting thing I found was that the layers aren’t just one big group, you can expand the layer using a drop down arrow in order to interact with all the different elements, this is different from what i’m used to in photoshop, where the layers are one thing rather than individual groups. I think I prefer the way it is set out in illustrator as it means I can interact with each individual element on the layer (for instance, lock it) without affecting the other shapes.

Whilst creating my designs I encountered some issues that I had to fix, when this happened I found some tutorials online to help me. It’s difficult to find quick tutorials on youtube when i’m looking for knowledge about how to do a specific thing because they are usually longer than they need to be so it can be a time waster, but the ones I found were quite good. I think in future I should definitely watch a full tutorial as whilst I have learned the basics, there are still so many tools in illustrator that I have not yet used, meaning there are still some gaps in my knowledge that stop my designs reaching their full potential.
I found this one helpful when making my first design as it taught me about the type on a path tool.
this one wasn’t as helpful as it was made on an older version of illustrator, i got the main ideas from it though, and it helped me create the rainbow’s outline in my third design.
this one was useful as the polygon tools in photoshop and illustrator are slightly different as it isn’t quite as obvious in illustrator how to change the settings. Although I did only need to watch a couple of seconds of this one before I realised what I was doing.


resources for research

The resource we were recommended to look at for inspiration was Adobe’s ‘Design a brand system’ with Javier Garcia. This was helpful to me because it was interesting to have a look at the design process, sketching out ideas and turning them into a simple illustration that will somehow convey the ideas of the brand, or in the case of this project, Typography and Graphic Communication. It was good to start with, however I know I wanted to add more detail to my designs than was shown in the tutorials, so I had to look elsewhere.

However, I wanted to find some more inspiration that was more specific to sticker design, I started by looking on Pinterest and google images for a start. I am quite inspired by a cartoonish, simplistic look so the first designs that caught my eye the most were bright ones that had very strong outlines, almost childish but in a good way. I thought it would be best to go with that kind of look, because it meant I could still have fun whilst making smooth looking designs that weren’t too busy, also they would stick out, which is a good thing considering stickers are usually quite small and stuck among a group of other stickers (for instance, on the back of a laptop) so I wanted to make sure my designs wouldn’t get lost.




En dash!

For this project we were set to design our own movie listings flyer, sized A5. The aim was to understand hierarchy or text and to appropriately apply this through spacing, colour and extrinsic features of type. It took me a while to get started with this because there were so many different paths I could take, for instance, I had to decide which pieces of information to prioritise over others.

I ended up putting the movie title as the most important by making it the largest text size (other than the main title) as well as making it bold. I differentiated between other pieces of text by using italics, different weights and sizes. In an attempt to stop the repetition of information I decided to make each column correspond to a different month, however due to lack of space on the second column I had to be a little more creative with my placement of November, making it vertical and sit on the side of the column. I’m still not to sure if this was the right thing to do because I’m slightly worried that it isn’t too clear that the second column belongs to November or not.

It was helpful to go through some critique with the class on some examples of work, this reminded me that I had been hyphenating wrong and had to go through and change everything to an en dash.



This was my first time using Indesign, I found it interesting how you can attach certain elements to text (in this case, lines) that would move with the text depending on what was written. I decided to base my second Penguin cover off the 1960 psychological horror Psycho. I played around with different ideas at first, for instance adding blood splatters across the cover or some sort of water damage effect to highlight the shower scene but I ended up going with a much more subdued look, just adding some drips down the title (although I am worried this makes it look slightly tacky and halloween-ish). I also changed all the colours to greyscale because the film is in black and white.

An exploration of protest

For this task we were challenged to create two similar images- one that perfectly encapsulates the keyword and another that would change the meaning. My word was ‘Protest’. At first I had difficulty figuring out where to go as protest could mean so many different things, it meant I found it hard sticking to an idea. Eventually I decided to explore two variations of protest, one being huge organised protest in which large groups of people come together, and the other being a more individual and vulnerable protest. The oppressive force in both of these images would be the policeman, due to the recent examples of police brutality throughout the world as well as that same brutality but on a much more personal scale (for instance, domestic violence). Both images include the policeman in full riot gear, with one of them having silhouetted protesters in the foreground, and the other having a mother and child. I definitely think I could have detailed these images better to perhaps push further the idea as I don’t think it is easy enough to understand without the explanation with it.

There’s something in there…

I chose the theme ‘Noise’, the story was about a brother and sister slowly getting trapped inside their house due to strange noises making them move to smaller and smaller rooms. I made the front cover a door to show that the book was representative of a house. When looking through the book the pages get smaller and smaller to give a sense of claustrophobia as well as the fear of being trapped, leaving the last remaining pages tiny.

The back of the book is a window which is where the siblings escaped from- the window is completely see through which allows the reader to look back into the book at the pages left behind (and hopefully notice that the pages have been cut to make it look like the floor plan of the house).