Abstract Glowing Backgrounds in Adobe Photoshop - A Graphic Design for Lunch™ Class | Helen Bradley | Skillshare

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Abstract Glowing Backgrounds in Adobe Photoshop - A Graphic Design for Lunch™ Class

teacher avatar Helen Bradley, Graphic Design for Lunch™

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Abstract Glowing Backgrounds in Adobe Photoshop -Introduction

      1:16
    • 2. Pt 1 - Make your brushes

      6:30
    • 3. Pt 2 - Make your Brush Strokes

      7:52
    • 4. Pt 3 - Add a star stream

      4:03
    • 5. Pt 4 - Finishing touches

      9:39
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About This Class

Graphic Design for Lunch™ is a series of short video courses you can study in bite size pieces such as at lunchtime. This course is all about having fun! You will learn to make abstract glowing backgrounds and planets with craters and you will make brushes, warp lines, work with layers and masks and much much more and most of all - you'll have fun making wonderful art.

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Helen Bradley

Graphic Design for Lunch™

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Helen teaches the popular Graphic Design for Lunch™ courses which focus on teaching Adobe® Photoshop®, Adobe® Illustrator®, Procreate®, and other graphic design and photo editing applications. Each course is short enough to take over a lunch break and is packed with useful and fun techniques. Class projects reinforce what is taught so they too can be easily completed over a lunch hour or two.

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Transcripts

1. Abstract Glowing Backgrounds in Adobe Photoshop -Introduction: Hello, I'm Helen Bradley. Welcome to this graphic design for lunch class, abstract glowing backgrounds in Adobe Photoshop. Graphic design for Lunch is a series of classes that teach a range of tips and techniques for creating designs and for working in applications such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and Procreate. Today we're going to create some glowing abstract backgrounds, and along the way, we're going to create our own line brushes with some warping techniques thrown in. We're going to look at some handy brush settings. We're going to use gradient filled layers and learn some tricks with layer masks. As you're watching these videos, you will see a prompt which lets you recommend this class to others. Please, if you're enjoying the class, do two things for me. Firstly, give it a thumbs up and secondly, write just a few words about why you're enjoying the class. These recommendations help other students to say that this is a class that they too might enjoy. If you'd like to leave a comment or a question, please do so. I read and respond to all of your comments and questions. I look at and respond to all of your class projects. If you're ready now let's get started making glowing abstract backgrounds in Photoshop. 2. Pt 1 - Make your brushes: To get started with our glowing abstract background, I'm going to create a document that's actually the size that I want my finished project to be. I'm just going to work in the same document. I'm going to make it 1920 by 1080 because then it's the size of my computer monitor. I'm using white as my background. You want white at this stage too. Open up the Layers palette. You're going to need the Layers palette visible for most of this, so you might as we'll open it up now, add a new layer. I have my default colors selected. You can get to these by just pressing this icon here or press the letter D. I'm going to select the Line Tool which is here underneath the Rectangle Tool. This is a shape tool, it's potentially a shape tool. You can use it as a shape, a path, or you can use it as pixels, and I'm using it as pixels. If you're using an earlier version of Photoshop, you won't have a drop-down list here, you'll just have three icons. Make sure you select the pixels icon. The weight of my line is going to be two pixels; that needs to be very thin. I'm going to click and start dragging. I still have my left mouse button pressed down. I'm going to hold the Shift key, now, so that I draw a straight line. I have a straight line on this new layer. I'm going to make sure that I do not have the Move Tool selected. It seems to get in the way for some reason. With this layer selected, I'm going to choose "Layer", "New", "Layer via Copy". I'll choose "Edit", and then "Free Transform". Now, I'm just going to press the down arrow key a few times to move the duplicate of this line down a little bit. You can see that there's a gap between them here. I'll click the check mark. What I'm going to do now is hold down Control, Alt, and Shift. On a Mac, I would be holding down Command, Option, and Shift. I'm going to tap the letter T. Every time I tap the letter T, I get a new one of these lines. This is a repeat transform command. It's actually doing two things; it's repeating a transformation and the copy at the same time. I've got a number of layers. I think I've got 32 here, so I must have 33 or 34 lines. I'm going to select the topmost layer, going to roll down and Shift click on this bottom most layer, not the background layer because I don't want to merge that. I just want to go as far as the lines are. I'm going to right-click and choose "Merge Layers". This gives me one layer that's got all layers lines on it. I'm going to drag that onto the New Layer icon. I'm going to do that two or three times. Then I'm going to turn off visibility on three of those so that I've only got one layer that's visible right now. I'm going to the Move tool because I can select that now. I'm going to choose "Edit", "Transform", "Warp". This is the fun part of the project because what you're going to do is to warp this shape. There are quite simply no rules for what you do at this point. You just want to end up with something interesting. If you're not really good with the Pen tool, this is a really awesome time to get some pen-tool practice because these are anchor points, and they respond to the same techniques as you would use with the pen tool. You can drag in these anchor points by just dragging on the point. You can shorten the handle to move everything closer together. You can spread out the handle or drag it to spread things apart. What you're looking at is just developing some interesting shapes. You can turn this inside out as well. You can wrap them over the top of each other, and that will give you some interesting results as well. Then you might find that these get a little bit blurry as you work, that's fine. They're not going to be so blurry when you're finished. Once you've got a shape that is nice and interesting, click on the check mark here. Then what you're going to do, because you've got the shape selected, is you'll choose, "Edit", and then "Define Brush Preset". Now, I'm just accepting the name that Photoshop has given this brush. Now, this point, I could trash this because it's been made into a brush, or I can go back and select, "Edit", "Transform", "Warp" and do some more warping on this shape as well. The end result that I want is a series of interesting brushes. I want these brushes that will go into interesting shapes that I can use in my background later on. If you get another interesting shape, just save it as a brush. At some stage, you'll probably be done with that shape, so you can just drag it onto the trash can. You don't need it any longer, and go back to one of your saved sets of lines. Now, for this one, I'm actually going to take a piece out of the middle. I just go onto the Elliptical Marquee tool here, and I've dragged out a marquee over this shape. What I'm going to do is just press the delete key. What I've done is carved a middle out of this shape, and I'm going to make a brush out of it. Again, edit, transform, warp. But you can experiment with taking pieces out of the middle of your shapes to whatever you like. All you're looking for is some interesting results. I'm really liking this shape here. With this Warp tool, you will find that you can drag on the points that are at the intersection of lines, or you can just drag on the shape itself and that will distort it. Now, I'm going to go ahead and create a few more brushes, and we're going to come back in the next video and actually do something with these brushes. 3. Pt 2 - Make your Brush Strokes: I've now used up all effects of lines that I had making brushes out of them. Now this one I just wanted to explain a couple of things that I did that might also be of help to you. For this one, when I had my series of horizontal lines, I cut a series of ovals out of the line so they have lots of holes in them. I warped it two or three times. Once I'd done that warp, I was looking at this pace here and I decided I didn't really like it. What I did was I went to the eraser tool and I selected a hard edged eraser. Selecting on this layer and sizing down the eraser using the open square bracket, I just erased it. Also went in then and I just zoomed into the area where this pace had been sticking out, and I just again, clicked once with my eraser, shift clicked here in a line just to erase off that edge. I ended up with something that I was happier with using for a brush. Don't be afraid to remove bits out of these designs if you don't like them, just with the eraser tool. Then you can just go ahead and make this into a brush. Now I've already done that, so I'm just going to trash that. We're ready to go ahead to the next step. Now for this, I'm going to select the brush tools. I want to make sure I'm working with brushes. I'm going to fill the background layer with black. It's currently my foreground color. I'll press "Alt Backspace" option delete on the Mac to fill that layer with black. I'm next going to add a layer and I'm doing this using Layer, New Fill Layer gradient. I'll click "OK." Now I'm going to drop down the gradient list here. These are the default gradients that are shipped with photoshop, but there's a whole lot more gradients that you can use. You would just click on one and just click "Append" to add it to the current collection. You don't want to click "OK" because you don't want to overwrite the current ones, just want to add it to it. I'm adding a few extras like special effects and some of these spectrums. Then we're going to use this one. I'm just clicking on it and then I'm going to click back on the "Gradient Fill" dialogue. You can change the type of gradient for angle or radio or whatever you like here. I'm just going to use linear, but I'm going to roll it round to come in at an angle and just click "OK." Now the reason why I use this special layer that was obtained by choosing Layer New Fill Layer gradient is this. If I double click on the thumbnail here, I can reopen the gradient dialogue so I can change the settings for this gradient. I can also click the drop-down list here and replace the gradient if I don't like it. This gives me a lot of flexibility. Next, I'm going to target the mask because this gradient fill layer comes with its own masks, so we don't have to create one that's already here. I've got this little border around the mask telling me that I'm now targeting the mask. Black is now my background color. I'm going to press "Control Backspace" command delete on the Mac because I want to fill the mask with black. I want my foreground color to be white. Because what we're going to do next is we're going to paint onto this mask. I'm going to open the brushes panel ongoing down to select some of the brushes that I have just created. I'm going to click on this mask layer making sure I'm painting on the math, making sure I'm painting with white. I'm just going to click on "My Workspace." What's happening when we're brushing on this mask with white is that, we're revealing the gradient in these areas. You can see that the gradient is obviously at an angle because we're getting blue here and blue through this. I'm just going to undo that and go and find a brush that I like a little bit better than that one for this starting point of my design, you can increase the size of your brush using the open and closed square bracket case. I'm just going to click once to apply this brush stroke. I'm going to make a duplicate of this layer by dragging it, dropping it on the New Layer icon. I'm going to turn the bottom most layer off. I'm going to target this mask. Black is my background color. I can press "Control Backspace" command delete to fill the mask with black. Now I'm going to the brushes palette. This is the tool that I'm looking for here. You can get to it by choosing Window and then Brush. It allows me to set up this brush. Now the thing that I'm most interested in right now is this width edges. Going to adjust the spacing on the brush just so it's wider spaced. But where the edges is going to make the edges of the brush a little bit more interesting. I'm going to click once on my workspace. Let's go and just see the difference. I'm going to Zoom in here so that we can see it. With width edges, you can say that each of these lines gets a lightened edge around it. That's not apparent when we don't use with edges. I think for this project, with edges is going to give a slightly more interesting brushstroke. You may want to do that for your brushes to set them up with wet edges to get this extra dimension in them. I'm going to turn this one back on, but I'm going to fill it with black with command backspace. It's very easy to erase the effect by just dumping black paint effectively back into your mask. I'm going to select my brush and I'm going to choose a different one of the brushes that I've created. This is an interesting one. Now for this one, I really want it pointing in the opposite direction. I'm going to my brush panel here and we can just increase the spacing. I'm only going to press it down once, but that allows us to see the brush. What I'm going to do is just turn around. It's going in the opposite direction. Well, I think I might take it in this direction and make it a bit bigger. I'm just pressing the letter V to get out of the brush so I can see things a little bit more clearly here. Now it's also possible to change the gradient. We've already seen that we can do that. I'm going to double click on this and I'm going to select a different gradient for this particular shape. I'm going to choose something a little bit softer. With this gradient, I can just turn it around as I place. I can put the other one back on top. I can also blur this. If I just isolated this particular mask, I'm looking at just this brushstroke here. I can choose Filter Blur, Gaussian Blur. I can blur this brush a little bit to give me a more of a background shape, something that's a little bit further away, a little bit blurrier. I'll click "OK". I can also reduce the opacity so that it darkens this a little bit more so that we can see this other shape on top. At this point, what you want to do is just build up a background effect using these brushes and using the gradients, you want to use a few of these brushes on your background. Then we'll come back in the next video and add some extra effects to this. 4. Pt 3 - Add a star stream: Now I've gone ahead and finish that first step of painting in some interesting effect brushes into the background. But before we go to the next step, I just wanted to show you one thing. I'm just going to bring this brush back, and this was a brush that I created. I'm going to brushes pan on this, I'm just going to set the spacing a bit further apart so you can say what the brush looks like. Now I wanted to paint some sort of a wing, so I change the angle of it so it would paint like this. Then having painted one side of the shape, I click "Flip X" and that took it round, so it flipped over the x-axis so I could paint the second side. It looks like a shape that was actually symmetrical, but it's actually done with the same brush, just flipped over. I just wanted to show you that. I'm going to my last palette. I'm going to just make a duplicate of this top layer and just fill the mask here with black. I'm going to target the mask and I'm going to press "Control Backspace" command "Delete" on the Mac to fill it with black. We're going to the brushes palette again, and we're going to choose a different brush. Now the brush that I want is not actually visible here. I'm going to open the group of brushes that it's in, it's in the natural brushes. I'm going to append these. Down the bottom of the natural brushes are a set of spray brushes. I'm using spray 56, it's just a really tiny brush. I'm going to the brushes panel because I don't want you to paint like this. I'm going to increase the spacing so it paints as a series of little sprays. I'm going to "Shape Dynamics" and I'm going to vary the size because I want some little ones and some big ones and can also vary the angle. If there is any sort of repetitious element in this brush, it's going to be rotated as it moves. It's not going to be obvious that it was a painted brush like that. I'm going to "Scattering" and I'm going to scatter it across both axes. I'm going to do a quite a high value for scattering and quite a high value for count because this is where I'm going to paint a little bit like a sort of star trail. I'm just going to adjust my spacing here. Let's have a look and see how it paints. I'm going to make sure that we're on the mask for this topmost layer, which we are. I'm just going to start brushing it across. We can say that it's giving us this sort of star trail effect. If it's not enough the first time you brush it on, you can just go and do a second line of it. I'm going to this mask here, and I'm going to choose "Filter", "Blur" and then "Gaussian Blur". Cause I'm going to blur this first run of the brush. I'm going to click "OK", but the blurs are only being applied to the brushstrokes that I've already created. I can go and create a second set of brushstrokes right over the top of the first. These are going to be at full intensity. They're not going to be blurred because we already did the blur and these are not part of that. You can build up a sort of effect, this way of color throughout the document. Each time that you finish doing a run, you can go to this mask and then just blur it. Now I must going to do this once more, but a slightly smaller blur this time. I am going to do a final run that I'm not going to blur at all. You can see that the colors in this layer are the same as we've got in this shape here. If we wanted to, we could reverse the color's going to the gradient. I'm going to double-click on the gradient, and I can reverse it. It's going to be hot where the other gradient was not, and it's going to be cooler where it is hot. You can say that we've reversed the colors through this. If you want to do that, that's a great idea as well. 5. Pt 4 - Finishing touches: Now, between the last video and this one, what I did was I added another layer here. This is a gradient field layer. It's got a pastel gradient on it. I used that same star brush but with a little bit of smaller size and a wider spacing. It wasn't quite so intense. What I've done here, is dial down the opacity of this layer to 34 percent. Since these little stars right away from the area that we're looking at here. If you're concerned that this starburst is too much in the front, you can also drop it behind some of these other shapes and that will again send it a little bit further back. So just think in terms of what aesthetically you would like to do with your background. I'm going to add a new layer at this point and I'm going to drag out a circle. I'm going to hold the Shift key as I drag with the Ellipse tool to create a sort circle. This is going to be a planet. I'm on a brand new layer, Control Backspace command, Delete to fill it with white. Now I'm going to My Effects icon, and I'm going to choose Inner Shadow. Now, with the inner shadow, what I'm going to do, is I'm going to make sure that I'm working with black as my shadow color. I wanted it to be a quite high opacity because I want it to be quite dark. I've got noise turned up here. You can see that this is no noise and that's not really suitable for a planetary look so I want a little bit of noise, which gives it a little bit of texture. I'm just using the standard contour. Now, the normal drop shadow would look something like this. I've got Use Global Light turned off, which allows me to Control the light, and I want to push distance all the way up. I want it to be quite a high value, and I want size to be quite a high value as well. Because that's going to give me this forced spherical shape. Their light is starting to suggest that this is actually a sphere, and with the combination of the angle I can make the light come from wherever I want and I want it coming in from this direction. I'm just going to experiment there. There's a point at which the distance is good and there's a point at which it's not good. You may want to experiment with that. You can always use the Up and Down Arrow Key or Shift Up and Shift Down arrow to just push that to where you want it to be. The size will also be important too as will the angle, and you can just drag on that. Just don't Use Global Light for this so that you can Control the slide yourself. You can also add a color overlay. I'm going to click on Color Overlay now. I've already sampled a color, so just going to show you how to do that. Just going to click on the color here, and then you can sample a color out of the image itself. You may want to sample one of the colors here, so that it matches the image itself. I've got multiply as my blend mode, so it's going to be darkened and the opacity, I'm just dialing it down a little bit, so it's a slightly transparent here so click "Okay. " I'm going to add another new layer. I'm just going to click on the New Layer icon again with the Ellipse tool, again, with the Shift key, I'm just going to drag out a circle over the shape here. Now, I want to fill it with a deep red. I'm going to double-click on this and sample the deep red from the colors here, and I can deepen it a bit more if I want to. I've got Saturation selected here, but you can choose anything you like in terms of saying the color that you want to use. Click "Okay." I'm going to fill this shape with red by pressing "Alt Backspace option Delete" on the Mac. I'm doing that because I'm using the foreground color and select "Control" or "Command D" to deselect the selection. Now I'm going to add a inner shadow to this. I'm going to click on inner shadow. Now I've got a black shadow, and I think that's going to be okay for now, but the opacity is really high and all these settings are just off. What I'm going to do, is start dragging in on the distance. You can see that I've got Use Global Light deselected and it's got a hard edge to this shadow. But watch how the shadow is moving around using the distance tool. Well, I want the shadow to be the opposite direction. I'm going to position it like this. Then, if I increase the size, I'm going to get a softer shadow. I've got a suggestion here that we're actually looking into a sizable hole inside this planet, and that's the look that I wanted to get here. We wanted to add a little bit of noise again to the shadow. I'm just going to click "Okay." Now, I may also want to blur this a little bit and perhaps even blur the planet as well. I'm going to right-click this layer and choose Convert to Smart Object because this will allow me to blur it, but in a way that I can undo the blur if I don't like it. I'm going to choose Filter Blur. Again, our go to blur is always a Gaussian blur. I'm just going to take this down to probably, about one pixel. Doesn't have to be much of a blur, but it's just a little bit, and that's just taking that sharp edge off the hole in the planets. I'm just going to click "Okay" and let's go and do the same thing to the planet. Convert it to a smart object, and then filter blur, Gaussian blur. Again, just about a one pixel blur on that and click "Okay." You could also finish off with some craters or bumps on your Planet if you wish. Just going to add a brand new layer here. I'm going to the Brush Tool and I'm going to select a Hard Brush here. Now, looks pretty good actually in terms of the size of it. I'm just going to click once to make a dot, and then I'm going to resize my Brush as I work. I'm going to add a few dots around this Planet at varying sizes. I'm not worried about the color at this point because the colors very easy to change. I'm more worried about the shapes that I'm actually making. Now, if you want to change the colors of your shape, you can just lock the pixels on this layer using this Locked Transparent Pixels icon here, we can go and sample a color from the planets. I'm just going to sample a color from the planet. Let's see if we can get something a bit lighter. That's pretty good. Then press "Alt Backspace option, Delete" on the Mac to fill the dots here with the color. Now, if you've gone too light, you can just change the color and do it again. You can experiment until you get it right. Again, we're going to use the fx icon. Again, I'm going to use inner shadow but, of course, I'm going to need to adjust the settings because these are much smaller dots here. Now, you can experiment with the inner shadow settings to get something that you like the look of. You may also want to try Bevel & Emboss. With Bevel & Emboss, you can actually create raised or lowered elements on your planets. You may want to try that. Well, actually I'm really liking that. I might just go and I'm just going to change the colors that I'm using inside here just to get the effect that I'm looking for. Again, Bevel & Emboss or inner shadow, either or both of those are going to give you a interesting effect for your planet. Now, with this, just before I finish, I'm actually going to move this dot over a little bit, and then I can take all the layers that make up the Planet and I can move them around so they don't actually have to be in that position. Once we've created them, we could even move them slightly off the edge of the art board. There's a way of creating some interesting abstract backgrounds. You've learned a whole heap of tools here. From Layer Styles to making your own brushes to using gradient filled layers and a whole lot more. I hope that you've enjoyed this class and that you've learned things about Photoshop that you didn't know before. Your project for this class is to just go for broke. Just go make some brushes and create some wonderful abstract backgrounds of your own and add some planets to it if you like, and make holes in your planet if that takes your fancy as well. Post an image of your completed project in the class project area. As you're watching these videos, you will have seen a prompt to recommend this class to others. Please, if you enjoyed the class, do two things for me. Firstly, give it a thumbs up and secondly, write in just a few words, about why you enjoyed the class. These recommendations help others to see that this is a class that they too might enjoy. If you'd like to leave a comment or a question for me, please do so. I read and respond to all of your comments and questions, and I look out and respond to all of your class projects. My name's Helen Bradley. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of Graphic Design for Lunch, and I look forward to seeing you in an upcoming episode soon.