Photographic Abstraction II


1. In photographic abstraction, you need to pick some random images. However there is a trick in doing this. Not all images will go together so you need to choose images that kind of fit the same theme. So lay everything out in Photoshop of all the photo’s you’re going to use.

2. Now you have to choose a picture that will be your “BASE” photograph. In another words, your background or static core image. This is done to bring out the first rich tone of merging layers or pictures. Whatever the canvas size, you might have to resize the picture. It might pixelate a little but it’s okay. We’re going to distort the hell out of it anyway.

3. After you have your base photograph covering your whole document, you need to select the second image you would like to use. And this is where all the fun begins. Try doing different layer effects and see what you come up with.

4. I used hard light for my layer effect option. Now it creates that little transparency effect. Now we need to erase the edges so just get the eraser tool and erase your layer you applied the layer effect to. You can always do quickmask, but I like it the hard and rough way of erasing things. Now you see how I erased the borders that came with it? Now it looks like it belongs there. The “BASE” photograph really comes into play here. You can get your first abstract effect by doing it this way.

HINT: You can create your own BASE photograph by just appliying a background color of anything except white and black. But photographs work best.

Make sure you don’t stick with just one type of eraser brush. Remember to try different brush sizes, hardness, roughness, shapes, texture, etc. It will make a BIG difference.

And not everything should be erased in ROUGH ways. Some photo’s or objects may look better if they are erased by using quickmasking or using rough edges.

5. Now another cool thing you can do is by placing the same photograph over and over again. Try rotating some photo’s and apply the same photo over again and have this cool repetitive abstraction going. After you paste the rotated photograph into the canvas, erase the edges again.

6. Now the hardest thing sometimes is trying to make things look like it belongs there. One of the coolest tools in Photoshop that allows you to get close to that field is the stamp tool. Use the stamp tool in certain places to get the right texture merging together. But in some places, all you need to do is just simply erase the edges of that photograph. Now the last pictures shows me deleting the edges off the swamp photograph. Doesn’t it look really good now?

7. Sometimes adjusting brightness and contrast really helps out the feel of unity. For instance you see how one of my photo’s next to the leaf is translucent and you could see the texture behind it? Well, open up the brightness and contrast control (Image > Adjustments > Brightness and Contrat).

8. Now check it out. We adjusted the brightness and contrast, and we’re ready to go. I put my little machine picture and adjusted the contrast on that as well. Erased the borders a bit with the HARD brush eraser and then it looks much more united.

9. Now this next *OPTIONAL* step is adding something you created in Photoshop. Create a new layer, and add the filter “CLOUDS” on it. And then apply the layer effects of SCREEN.
Now you have applied that layer, you can clearly see how the smoke effect is applied to your abstraction. You might want to try it couple of times to get different positioning of clouds. Just press CTRL + F (Command + F for Macs) to reapply the filter.

10. Now just erase the clouds that you don’t need and keep the parts you want. Another thing you can do is apply smoke on your own. The best way is to use the air brush tool, a soft brush, and a dark color grey. You will need to apply layer effect settings of either SCREEN or HEAVY LIGHT so make sure the layer that you are going to air brush does have that setting.

11. Now let’s apply the final color touch.
NOT EVERYONE HAS TO DO THIS. It really depends on your image and how it’s working out for you. It’s also based on your artistic taste as well so if you don’t want to apply an color tone on your final abstraction, to hell with it!

12. But just as an example, I am going to apply a color tone. After your abstraction is complete, you make a new layer, and then fill the whole canvas with one solid color. For mine I used brown. And then use the effect HARD LIGHT. And then adjust the opacity settings a little bit if it’s too bright or the contrast is too much.

One Response to “Photographic Abstraction II”

  1. Enamul Hoq said:

    All tutorials are written in simple language and its very descriptive i want to give you many thanks for your post

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