This tutorial aims to teach how to create an illustration, utilising different layer styles, blending modes, image adjustments and using shapes in photoshop.
Step 1: Removing background from images
Open the file image you want to work on, here we are using a monument. Under the tab “Channels”, duplicate the “Blue Channel” which is part of the image. You can duplicate the channel by selecting it and dragging it to the “Create New Channel” icon or through the shortcut “Control+Click+Duplicate Channel/Right Click+Duplicate Channel.” In order to easily remove the background from the photo, use the command image > Adjustments > Levels (shortcut “Command+L/Control+L”). Drag the sliders (the left slider corresponds to darker tones, the right slider to the lighter tones), until you start seeing the document change its contrast. The goal is to make the building in the photo an area completely dark and the sky an area completely white. You have to refine your selections and continue to apply the command previously described until the image is correctly outlined. Once you’re satisfied with the contrast of the channel, “Command+Click/Control+CLick” on the channel – that will highlight the white area of the channel. Invert the selection through the command “Select > Inverse” [shortcut “Command+Shift+l/ Control+Shift+l]. You can also use the Wand Tool [shortcut “W”] and click on the white area to make the selection active. Afterwards invert the selection using the command previously discussed. Select the tab “Layers” and copy and paste the selection in the layer you were working on. You should have the building separated from the sky background.
Step 2: Building the base elements of the illustration
Create a new document sized 1500 pixels [width] by 1500 pixels [height], with a white background. Create a new layer and use the Gradient Tool [shortcut G] to create a radial gradient that stretches from the center top to the bottom [foreground colour – Red:37, Green:127 Blue:127; background colour – Red:5, Green:51, Blue:47].
Step 3: Positioning the first elements
Place the layer you created from Step 1 at the top of the canvas you created. You will need to change the scale of that layer. Use the command Edit > Transform > Scale [shortcut “Command+T/ Control+T”]. Desaturate this layer using the command Image > Adjustment > Desaturate [shortcut “Command+Shift+U/ Control+Shift+U”]. Change the opacity of this layer to 55% and the blending mode to “Hard Light”. Activate the selection corresponding to this layer, through the command “Command+Click/Control+Click+Shift”. Create a new layer [through the command Lager > New > Layer, shortcut “Shift+Command+N/Shift+Control+N”] and use the gradient tool to fill it with colour [foreground colour – Red:0, Green:34, Blue:24; background colour – Red:0, Green:12, Blue:0]. Change the blending mode to “Hard Light” and move this layer beneath the one with the desaturated monument. Choose the Lasso tool [shortcut “L”], change the feather of this tool to 25 and with the monument layer selected, start defining an area that encompasses the right part of the element contained in this layer. Copy this selection with the command Edit > Copy [shortcut “Command+C/ControI+C”], followed bg Edit > Paste [shortcut “Command+V/Control+V”]. Name this new layer and change it’s opacitg to 60% and the blending mode to 55%.
Step 4: Enriching the illustration with different elements
Open any sky image and place it in the top left section of the canvas. Work with this layer the same way as in the previous step Using the Lasso tool [shortcut “L”] select an area containing clouds that you’re pleased with Copy and paste the section that you select. Name this layer and desaturate it following the command explained in Step 3. Change it’s blending mode to “Soft Light”. Copy this layer using the command Layer > Duplicate Layer. Increase the contrast of this layer with the command Image > Adjustments > Brightness 8: Contrast [place the values around -10 for Brightness and 10 for contrast]. This layer should have the blending mode set to “Soft Light”.
Step 5: Arm
Download some vector shapes we have used sun and gear shapes and draw it to the top right part of the canvas. Create a new layer using the command discussed in step 3. Activate the selection of the vector based layer through the command “Command+Click/ControI+CIick” [clicking on the layer]. Select the Gradient Tool [shortcut G] to create a radial gradient that stretches from the center of the selection [foreground colour – Red;102, Green;151, Blue;88; background colour – Red:5, Green:51, Blue:47]. Change the blending mode of the layer to “Screen” and the opacitg to 60%. Copy this layer using the command Layer > Duplicate Layer and use the command Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to give the layer an extra glow effect. Keep the blending mode as “Screen” and increase the opacity to 100%. Draw some lines on the shape.
Step 6: Working with Blending Modes
Draw another vector shape and place it in the left bottom side of the main document. Create a new layer using the command already discussed and activate the selection of the vector based layer through the command “Command+Click/Control+Click” (clicking on the layer). Select the Gradient Tool [shortcut G] to create a radial gradient that stretches from the center of the selection [foreground colour – Red;102, Green;151, Blue:88; background colour – Red;5, Green:51, BIue;47]. Change it’s blending mode to “Hard Light”. Add the effect “Drop Shadow” with the following values: Blend Mode – Multiplg, Opacitg – 75%, Distance – 2, Spread – 0 and Size – 35. Duplicate this layer, using the command Layer > Duplicate Layer, and change the scaling respectivelg to 50%, using the command Edit > Transform > Scale. Create another new layer, and with the wand tool [shortcut “W”] and the last duplicated layer selected, click the center of this element. Fill it with a gradient that has the same colors as the ones mentioned above. The blending mode of this layer should also be “Hard Light”.
Step 7: Draw more shapes
Using step 5 and 6 draw few more shapes.