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Creating Stylized, Artistic Portraits with Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 4 of 6

Creating a Painted Backgrounds in Photoshop

Khara Plicanic

Creating Stylized, Artistic Portraits with Adobe Photoshop

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

4. Creating a Painted Backgrounds in Photoshop

Lesson Info

Creating a Painted Backgrounds in Photoshop

This next one is a bit more of a, I don't wanna say it's a doozy, 'cause it's totally doable, but it's a lot more involved. So we're gonna create this, this is the one with the dancer and the balloons and the sky and there's a lot of fun to be had with this one. So it's a composite of a lot of different images all at once. So I'm gonna select the sky, I'm holding down Command or Control to select the dancer, the cupcake, the flower, this handwriting. I don't know why I have two of those, but for some reason there's two in here. We only need one. So I'll select both of those, so that is about five images. And then we'll bring those into Photoshop. I'm just working with Bridge. Of course if you don't wanna use Bridge you can just go to File, Open or you can use your browser, your file browser. I like Bridge, because it's just, it's another Adobe thing and it plays so nicely with Photoshop. But if you have never used Bridge I recommend it. You can find it by going File, Browse in Bridge f...

rom Photoshop. File, Browse in Bridge will bring up Bridge. And so you see me using it a lot, 'cause it's handy. OK, so now we have these images, but yet we're gonna create a blank document also. So we've got our five images open that we're gonna take bits and pieces from and we're gonna put them all into a new document that we're gonna create right now. So we'll come up to File, New. And you might have it as a preset here, but you can also just come over to this area and we're gonna have eight for the Width, eight inches by 10 inches. A Resolution of 300 pixels per inch. And it's RGB Color. We can name it here if we want to. We'll call it Mixed Media Portrait. And then hit Create. So here's our blank canvas. And oh, now I get to show you one of my favorite Kyle brushes, several of my favorite Kyle brushes. So we're going to create the background first and we're gonna do that by making a spattery, messy paint layer. So we wanna keep our Background separate. It's always a good idea to be working in new blank layers when you add new elements to your artwork. So at the bottom of the Layers panel we'll click to add that new blank layer. And the color really doesn't matter here, but for something pretty on camera I guess I'll choose a purple. And gonna go back to our paintbrush, so B for brush. And instead of our Grass brush we're gonna go back to one of one of Kyle's brushes. So I'm gonna scroll back up here, close my Defaults, go to Kyle's, and the one I'm looking for is located in a collection called, where is it? It's called spatter brushes, here it is. So I'll open up spatter brushes and it's the second brush here, it's called Beautiful Mess. So I'm gonna double-click to select that and I'm gonna make, press the right bracket key next to the letter P to make my brush kind of big. Yeah, whoa, that's too big. And I'm just gonna paint a big, messy mess. And really the messier kind of the better. If you wanna clean up any of these edges, like maybe I decide, oh, I got too close to the edge here. One of the cool things about the later versions of Photoshop is I don't have to get my Eraser, like if I just pressed E and got my Eraser and I tried to erase this, I mean, that looks terrible, right? Because we have this cool spattered edge and now I'm erasing it with just a hard edged round eraser. So one of the cool things you can do with brushes now is with my Brush Tool still active I can just come up here and change the blend mode from Multiply to Clear. And then it keeps all the same settings, but it acts like an eraser now, but it's still the brush. So I can still get the spattery edges and I just love that feature. So I wanna make sure folks at home know about it. OK, so again, that was just using the Brush Tool, but instead of one of these other blend modes, in this case, Multiply, we just changed it to Clear and then it acts like you're clearing your painting using your same brush. OK, so now we have this cool kind of background texture, so let's find our picture with the balloons. Where did I put that one? Oop, not this. Oh, sorry, the sky, here it is. So I'm gonna grab the sky image and because it's kind of tricky to jockey back and forth between all these open tabs, we're gonna copy and paste it. So the first thing I wanna do is select all the pixels in this sky image. So I'm gonna do that by pressing Command or Control + A. Put marching ants around everything. And then I'll copy it by pressing Command or Control + C. And then to clean up our workspace let's close this document by pressing Command or Control + W. And now we can navigate back to our Mixed Media Portrait. So if you don't see it in the tabs up here you can go to the Window menu and clear down at the bottom you'll see all your open files and you can select the one you're looking for. Now we're ready to paste. So I'm gonna press Command or Control + V and I pasted in this sky image. And if I switch to my Move Tool by pressing V I can drag it around. I see that it's fitting pretty well, but I can reposition it anywhere in the image that I want. So I've sort of grown fond of putting it like here. So all the way over towards the left side. But you do what you like. And I'm gonna show you how these two things are gonna work together right now. Right now we just have the sky on top of our cool spatter layer, but if we want to, we can take that sky image and we can create what's called a clipping group and clip it, so that it only shows up on that messy layer wherever we have the messy layer. So it makes the sky look messy basically. So the way that we do that is we position the messy layer here, Layer 1, and then the sky is on top, and we just hold down Alt or Option on our keyboard, and when I hover my cursor in between those two layers I get this funky icon. And when I click it takes the sky layer and basically wraps it around this messy layer. So the analogy that I always use when I demo this is if you remember preschool, or you have kids who are in preschool, they might do those art projects where they take a paper plate, scribble a bunch of glue on it, and then dump glitter on top. It's very messy, but the glitter only sticks wherever there's glue and so that's how this works. So this layer up here is kind of like the glitter and it just sticks to the layer down here wherever it is. So this is the glue layer. And we can move them independently of each other, so I can grab the glue layer down here and with my Move Tool I could move it around. Or I could grab the sky layer and move it around within the messy glue layer. So there's a lot of different ways you can adjust this. But I'm gonna go with something about like that. One more nice thing we're gonna do to create some more texture and color in this piece is we're gonna add another Gradient adjustment layer. So from the bottom of the Layers panel we're gonna click and just like we did in our last example, we're gonna add a Gradient. But this time we're not gonna worry about what our colors are, we're gonna choose a different preexisting Gradient. So we're gonna click this drop-down right here and these are some presets. And whatever you see here, don't panic if it looks different than mine, we're gonna click this gear, and what you wanna choose is hm, I think it's Pastels. We'll just click OK. We don't need to save anything. That's right. So Pastels is the group we wanna choose from. And I'm gonna go with this yellow to pink to purple Gradient. OK, so I've got that selected. Down here we choose the Style of Gradient. So Gradients come in all kinds of different flavors. I'm gonna stick with Linear, but I kind of want it to be at a diagonal. So right now it's at a 90 degree angle, which means we have purple running horizontally across the top and then pink and then yellow down here. What I wanna do is kind of rotate the whole thing. So if I grab this little line and just spin it to the left a little bit I can kind of make so my Gradients are diagonal, which I think just is kind of fun. So we'll keep that. And everything else I think looks good, so we'll click OK. And let's take this Gradient, we only want it to show up, again, where this messy layer is. So just like we clipped the sky to that messy layer, we're gonna clip the Gradient also. So we're gonna hold down Alt or Option and again, we'll see that funky little cursor and then click. And now the Gradient shows up there as well. And if we change the blend mode up here where it says Normal, we'll change that to Soft Light maybe. Oh, no. (laughs) Just kidding. Oh, Lighten I think is nice. What else might be good? Color, oh, that's a different effect. I think I'm gonna stick with Lighten. So now we're seeing the texture and the sort of shape of our messy spatter layer down here, but we're still also seeing the clouds, so we can tell that this is a sky, but then rather than just a blue sky we've now put some new color on it. And if we wanna alter this at any time we can just double-click. Like maybe I wanna drag the Scale down, so I can get more of that yellow in there. Possibly. So you could play with it. But any time you wanna edit any of these you just double-click. OK, so that is how we create that background. We'll add one more texture piece and then our background will be done. The other image we're gonna work on is the handwriting image. So I'm gonna go up to Window and clear down at the bottom gonna find my Writing file. So I've got this one here. And just like we did with the glitter, it's nice, if you wanna be able to mix colors in later it's nice to desaturate the patterns. So let's get rid of the color in this. There's not a lot, but it'll just help. We'll press Command or Control + Shift + U to desaturate that. And again, we're gonna put a selection around this, Command or Control + A to select it. And then we're gonna define that as a pattern. So Edit, Define Pattern. And we'll call this one Writing, OK. And then we can close this out. Don't Save, OK. So let's go back to our Mixed Media Portrait. And yet again we're gonna add some, a pattern here. So down at the bottom we'll click to add a new adjustment layer and choose Pattern. And it should select this, just 'cause it's the most recent thing. And we'll say OK. Now this pattern is taking place over the whole image, so it would be nice if instead of showing this pattern everywhere we could just hide all of it, and then we'll reveal it where we want it to show up. So we need to edit the mask for this layer. So I'm gonna click to target the mask right here. Now remember that layer masks work by hiding or showing parts of a layer. So because this layer mask is white right now it's showing the whole pattern over the whole layer. So we wanna change that. So we wanna convert this to just be filled with black. So there's a couple different ways we can do that. One easy one might be to choose Image, Adjustments, Invert, and that will reverse the mask, so now it's filled with black. So now it's hiding. So we put this pattern on here and we don't see it yet, but we can reveal it using our paintbrush. So we'll press B to grab the paintbrush and come back up into the paintbrush options up here. And we could paint with a spatter brush or we could try a different one, maybe like Big Basic. We'll try that spatter brush. And we wanna have white selected here, so we're gonna be painting with white spattery Big Basic brush. So I'm gonna make my brush a little bigger and I think we have to change this blend mode from Multiply to Normal. There we go. And I'm gonna reduce the Opacity too down to like 25%. And just kind of randomly brush this in. So it's kind of a messy effect, but I think it adds a nice touch. So we can change the blend mode from Normal to maybe Overlay to soften it a little more. So here's what we have created. If we Option + click you can see the mask itself. So any place that's black is not letting the texture show through and any place that's white we're seeing some of that handwriting. And I got here by just Option or Alt + clicking on this mask. So that's why we see it in some places and not in others. So the more we paint with white the more that will show through. So I'm gonna keep it kind of subtle. We changed our blend mode to Normal and we reduced the Opacity, so it would kind of make it faded and a little bit messy looking.

Class Description

Part photo, part digital painting & mixed media, 100% fun. Join Khara Plicanic to learn how to create one-of-a-kind mixed media portraits using Adobe® Photoshop® brushes, textures, and patterns. You’ll be amazed with what’s already available and at your fingertips. Explore the hidden nooks and crannies of Photoshop that you never knew existed and wow yourself with what you’re capable of. Pros and novices alike will come away with a finished project to be proud of. 


Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 


liz palmer

I really liked this. I learned a few new tricks and got to practice others. I liked learning about the Kyle brushes, making a pattern preset and using it in pattern overlay. I was thrilled, really!, to see the eraser in clear mode. How great that will be. I am an intermediate user, lots of tutorials, but not a lot of practice. I watch them like soap operas. The pace was perfect for me.


Loved this class due to Khara explaining the steps so thoroughly. Pace is nice and easy and understandable for all levels. Great little course on creating a wonderful piece of multimedia in no time at all.

Karen Keegan

I learned so much in this class - so many tips and tricks. It's great to see different ways to do various tasks, including shortcuts I wasn't aware of. Khara is a great teacher - her pace is perfect, and it's easy to follow her steps. I really enjoyed this class!