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Ten steps to creating a poster illustration with Adobe Photoshop CS6
set up the final design for both print and web.
Figure 1. The sample project is composed of photographs, typography, and effects.
Step 1: Create a new file at print resolution
Create a new file and get familiar with the Photoshop workspace:
Step 2: Import artwork
You can import photographs, artwork, typographic elements, and 3D objects in Photoshop to use as building blocks for the design. This is common practice when creating illustrations from composite images, and it's a great way to quickly create special effects and color themes.
In this step, you'll import two photographs.
Open both of your images (one space objects and one with a space background) and create your text using the filters so it is original.
Import artwork for your design:
Figure 3. Scale the sunflower (your space image) image to be two-thirds the size of the canvas.
3. Import the sunflower_text.ai file. This file contains text set along a path in Adobe Illustrator. Position the text above the sunflower.
4. Save the file.
At this point, you've imported the primary graphics for the composition.
Step 3: Work with layers to organize your artwork
Layers are an important component of the Photoshop workspace. They enable you to keep your content separate so you can edit each element individually. Layers are used to define the stacking order of the graphics in the image and to lock and hide graphics while working with overlapping elements. Layers can also be used to apply editable color corrections, filter effects, and masks to graphics. Photoshop CS6 introduces an improved Layers panel, enabling you to filter large stacks of layers by type and manipulate multiple layers at once. These improvements enhance support for drawing vector shapes by adding a new type of layer called a shape layer.
Keeping your content organized with named layers is an important best practice. Notice that the layers containing the imported images inherit the filenames of the images. In this step, you'll hide the imported images and add two new layers.
Prepare the layers for drawing:
1. Click the eyeball icon next to each of the image layers in the Layers panel to hide the graphics.
2. Click the Create A New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel (or choose Layer > New > Layer) to add a new layer. You'll use the buttons at the bottom of the Layers panel routinely throughout this tutorial. Notice that the panel includes controls for adding effects, masks, and adjustments as well as adding and removing layers and layer folders.
3. Double-click the new layer's name and rename it Border.
4. Add another new layer and name it Sky. Select the Sky layer and drag it to the bottom of the layer stack. Layers on the bottom of the stack appear behind other layers.
5. Save the file.
At this point, you've created two empty layers that are ready for artwork (see Figure 4). Take a moment to get familiar with the controls at the bottom of the Layers panel.
Figure 4. The Layers panel shows the imported graphics plus two new layers.
Step 4: Work with tools to create content and navigate the design
The tools in Photoshop can be used for a wide range of tasks. For example, you can use the Pencil and Brush tools along with new erodible brush tips to simulate sketching or painting. Use the shape tools to create rectangles and ovals, and use the Text tool to create text. Use the selection tools to select areas by shape or color. Use the Clone, Blur, and Sharpen tools to correct damaged areas in an image. Use the Eyedropper and Pain Bucket tools to sample and apply color. And use the Zoom and Hand tools to navigate through your work at high resolution. You typically use these tools together to control the workspace and see the details of your images.
In this step, you'll add some simple compositional shapes to the illustration.
Draw a background rectangle and outline:
1. Select the Sky layer (your background layer) in the Layers panel.
2. Select the Rectangle tool (press U) located near the bottom of the tool bar. (Be sure to select the Rectangle Shape tool and not the Rectangular Marquee tool at the top of the tool bar.) Notice that the Rectangle tool properties appear in the Properties panel. In Photoshop CS6, you can choose whether the rectangle shape has a fill color, a stroke (outline) color, or both. Click and drag from the top left of the canvas to the lower right to draw a rectangle. Notice as you're dragging that the new rich cursor feature shows you the width and height of the shape. The rectangle should have about a half-inch margin from the edge of the canvas.
3. Select the Border layer. Draw another rectangle the same size as the first. Set the fill color to no fill, and set the stroke color to black with a width of 5 (see Figure 5). Notice that the rectangle shapes look crisp and clean due to the new Snap To Pixel Grid option. The Snap To Pixel Grid and Align Edges features snap the edge of the shape to pixel boundaries when you draw or move shapes.
4. Save the file.
Figure 5. The rectangles are the foundation of the design.
Step 5: Work with selections, channels, and masks
Selections are another important concept in Photoshop. Selections enable you to isolate specific colors or areas within an image so they can be manipulated independently of other parts of the image. Selections appear as a series of moving dashed lines called marching ants. You'll most commonly create a selection using the Marquee, Lasso, or Magic Wand tool. When you create a selection that will be used repeatedly, you can save it in a channel. Channels by default appear as a black and white representation of the selection shape in the Channels panel.
Masks are another important concept. A mask is a selection applied to an image so that it appears to crop the image. For example, you can create a selection that isolates a person from the background and apply the selection as a mask. The result makes the background disappear as if it were deleted. The best part is that you can turn the mask off to see the entire image again or edit the mask as needed.
In this step, you'll create a selection, save it in a channel, and load the channel to create a mask.
Remove the background from the photographs using selections and masks:
1. Select the Sunflower layer and click the eyeball icon to show the image.
2. Select the Magic Wand tool (grouped with the Quick Selection tool). Hold down the Shift key and start clicking the blue areas of the sky to create a selection. Be sure to select as much of the blue as possible.
3. Choose Select > Inverse to invert the selection so that it defines the area of the flower instead of the sky. Select the Rectangle Marquee tool, hold down the Alt key, and click and drag near any areas that you do not want to appear in the selection (see Figure 6).
Figure 6. Isolate the sunflower to create a mask.
4. Choose Select > Refine Edge. In the dialog box, you can use several tools to refine the edge of the selection, including Contrast, Feather, and Smooth. You can also output the selection directly to a layer mask.
5. Take a moment to experiment with the Edge Detection and Adjust Edge settings.
6. Change the Output To field to Layer Mask and click OK. Notice that the background of the sunflower image is masked from view (see Figure 7). Also notice that the Sunflower_text layer now includes a linked mask. You can click the mask icon on the layer and open the new Properties panel to modify the mask or show or hide it.
7. Save the file.
Figure 7. The sunflower photograph now has the background masked out.
Step 6: Work with color and color corrections
Working with color and color corrections is a common task in Photoshop. You can sample colors using the Eyedropper tool, add editable color adjustments to apply corrections and create special effects, and blend colors across images using blend modes.
In this step, you'll add a gradient color effect to the rectangle on the Sky layer and blend the cloud image with it using a blend mode.
Create special effects using gradients and blend modes:
1. Select the Sky layer.
2. Select the Rectangle tool. In the Properties panel, click the Fill button and select the Gradient option at the top of the fly-out panel. This changes the fill from solid blue to a gradient.
3. Double-click the color box below the left side of the gradient to launch the color picker. Enter the following RGB values:
· R: 102
· G: 175
· B: 210
4. Click OK to change the left side of the gradient to light blue (see Figure 8).
Figure 8. The new gradient defines the rectangle's fill color.
5. Change the color on right side of the gradient to:
· R: 1
· G: 44
· B: 95
6. Select the Cloud layer and click the eyeball icon to show the image.
7. From the Blend Mode menu at the top of the Layers panel, choose the Overlay layer. Notice that the cloud image blends with the gradient.
8. Save the file.
At this point, your graphics blend together nicely (see Figure 9).
Figure 9. The photographs appear to have the same monochromatic color adjustment.
Step 7: Modify images with filters
Photoshop is all about special effects. Perhaps the most fun way to create effects is to use filters. Filters are used to distort a graphic or change how it looks. For example, you can use the Twirl filter to give an image a twirled look, or you can use the Oil Paint filter to make a photograph look like a painting.