Playing with the Abstract: Create Unique Designs in Photoshop | Sophie Willard Van Sistine | Skillshare

Playing with the Abstract: Create Unique Designs in Photoshop

Sophie Willard Van Sistine

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6 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Introduction: Creating Abstract Designs

    • 2. Step 1: Gathering Materials

    • 3. Step 2: Transform Your Photo

    • 4. Step 3: Creating an Abstraction

    • 5. Step 4: Adjusting the Color

    • 6. Final Project and Extensions


About This Class

In this class you will learn to create unique, abstract designs in photoshop using randomization and playfulness. This tutorial is perfect for beginner Photoshop users. I'll introduce a few simple concepts which will allow you to experiment with color, form, and style. The process is a fast, fun, and easy way to create something completely original and unexpected. 


1. Introduction: Creating Abstract Designs: hi, everyone, and welcome to playing with the abstract a fast and fun way to create unique designs and Photoshopped. My name is Sophie, and I am a cartoonist and an artist in college, all of that fun stuff. And today I'm going to show you some really easy ways to make designs that you wouldn't be able to make otherwise, because you're going to use methods of play and random ization, and I think we're gonna have a lot of fun. First, we're going to take a photo, and I'm going to show you how to alter that photo into something that looks completely posterized geometric and has really interesting shapes. I'll show you fun ways to transform it. Adjust the colors and shapes you see until it's something completely unrecognizable from what it started. As also go over cool ways that you can use this in the real world from creating logos to textile designs and all of that for the class project will make your own design. I can't wait to see all the creativity that you bring to it 2. Step 1: Gathering Materials: to begin. All we're gonna do is take a couple photos of things that we find interesting. Things can be plants outside things in your house. What you really want to look for is interesting shapes, colors, angles, anything like that. So I'm just walking around my house and I'm taking pictures of a few things that I think would work well solely based on shapes and images or shapes and colors. But the main image doesn't really matter because it's gonna become abstracted. So once you have that, I'm gonna use the's photos I'm gonna pick from these. I'm just gonna air drop them to my computers that I can put them into photo shop and then from there will start working with the images and creating are abstract designs. 3. Step 2: Transform Your Photo: Okay, so now that I've air dropped my photos onto my computer, say they showed up in my download section gonna open up photo shop and to make a new document the size doesn't really matter. Can be whatever you want. I usually go for about 10 by 10. That's just the standard one that I use. So I'm just gonna create, and then I'm gonna take a look at my photos so some of these might work better than others . I'm thinking I'm going to try. This one just has a lot of color, and then maybe this one, because I really like the shapes. So I'm going to drag this into my photo shop window in a press return so that it places it and then I'm gonna make one more for that other one. So make heading, create, and then I will drop this into their Okay, so we're all set. There's a couple of ways you could begin to alter your photos. So what I like to do is you have this basic photo. It doesn't really matter if it's good resolution or anything like that. You're gonna go to image adjustments on then posterized and So, as you can see, it sort of gives it this cool sort of flat effect where it's reduced it down to a couple different colors. So if we look at the levels just by hitting the arrow keys, you can bring it up and down. So as you bring it up, you see it becomes more like a normal photo. And the farther down that you go, the more it starts to look like a poster or like it's a little bit cartoony. If you call the way down to two, it reduces it down to three colors. I think I think I wanted to have a bit more color just to start with, so I'm gonna look between 34 and five. I think I like four because it still has some interesting colors. It has this pink, but you also have tones of purple, a little bit of blue, and then I like this yellow and what's happening around here. So I must say okay, and then what you can do is there's all these different filters you can play with. So what I like to do is I go to filter gallery so it opens up your photo within this little gallery where you can look at all the filters that you can put on it. So I'm just gonna make it smaller so we can see the full thing. So this is the image that we have now that we just posterized What I like to use is I go into the artistic folder and then I use cut out, and so you can see it shows up over here what you're using. And if you just turn the eyeball on, which makes it makes the layer that you're putting over it the cut out later, it makes it visible so you can see that it's kind of made the edges a bit more a bit more smooth, and it kind of flattens the image even more. This area, not so much, but I really like what's going on here. This is some interesting sort of flat geometric shapes, and I really like the ways that it really just flattens the color and makes it really, um, saturated. So what you can also do is over here, you can play with the levels, so to start with the number of levels, you bring it all the way down. Let me make this small again for you. You bring it all the way down versus all the way up. It's going. Teoh, reduce Thea amount of colors so levels in this. It basically has, like some brown white yellow, a little bit of green. And then as we go up, I'm just hitting the up key again. It's adding in some other colors. And as you can see, it starts to change the colors, too, because all these colors air sort of layered on top of each other, based on how the light was hitting everything in the photo. But it's still trying to flatten it, so it gives it this really cool effect So you can sort of play around with this. Find an area that you like that has just some interesting colors and shapes. Sorry, that's my dog. That's all you're really looking for right now is just interesting abstract colors and shapes. I think I like it around six, cause I really like this what's going on in this area? And then if you play with EJ simplicity, if you bring it all the way down versus on the way up, you can see that it really makes it have more simplified, jagged edges. So it it kind of makes it look as if it's like a paper cut out if you bring it all the way up because it's just taking all the information from the image and simplifying it. So the edges air just thes jagged sort of things on. Then the farther down you go, it becomes more like it was before. So I think I do want the edges to be pretty jagged. I like the idea of these nice clean lines, and that sort of abstracts it more so. It's becoming less of an image of pillows and more just thes interesting shapes. Kind of looks like, yeah, paper cutouts, things like that and then edge fidelity. I'm gonna zoom in so you can see how it affects the edges. If we bring it all the way down to one verse, it's all the way up to three. You can see that it becomes more grainy and textured when it's at 3% 1. It does have that simplified geometric look, which is what I'm going for. I would recommend trying that to start with just cause That's what I'm teaching in this tutorial. But as you sort of get more familiar with this, you can play around, think you out. You know what works best for you? What, you prefer what's most aesthetically pleasing. So I think I'm going to stick with this. Um, there's lots of other different filters you can explore. Another one I like is stained glass, but yeah, So I think I'm gonna stick with cut out. So let me turn that back on. Yeah, cut out. That's where I had it. Yes. So then you're just gonna hit okay up here and now we have this sort of cool looking, flattened geometric image, and it just has these cool shapes and colors. More quick tip is that instead of going to post drives right away, you can take your photo and using the path tool, create geometric shapes on top of it so that it's sort of like a opportune ized version of the photo. And what I'm doing here is I'm not I'm not selecting every part of the photo, just shapes that I find interesting. I'm trying to look at the pictures if it's flat and I'm just selecting shapes that I think look cool. This one happens to have a lot of straight edges. What you can do. Photos with curved, uh, curved pieces as well, cause that looks really cool as a lot of visual interest. So I'm just selecting shapes that look interesting. I'm feeling them with color, and the color doesn't matter at this point because it's going to go through a lot of changes and you'll be able to adjust color later. So it's really just blocking out the different shapes so that you can distinguish them. And you should create this on a layer on top of your photos so that when you're done, you can turn off the photo layer and you have your graphics. 4. Step 3: Creating an Abstraction: So now I'm gonna show you some cool tricks to warp your photos even more and sort of zoom in on a specific area that you find most interesting. Now, before we do that, I just want Teoh show you how to convert it to a smart object. So you're gonna go to the layer of your photo, You're gonna right, click it or click it with two fingers and then you're just going to go up to convert to smart object. And what that does is you can zoom in and out and it won't become pixelated. It'll always have these nice, clean edges, and then we're also just going to Rast arrive it. So now that we have that done, I'm just gonna do it for both of my photos And with this one, I want this to all just be one layer now because I created all these different paths for the different shapes on different layers. But I just wanted to be flat now. So what I'm gonna do is all right. Click on this again and I'm just gonna say flatten image and it's fine to discard layers. So now we have this. We're gonna unlock it, so we converted it. And then if you right click again, you're gonna convert to smart object and then you're going to Rast. Arise it. So now we have our two images that we're gonna work with. So what I like to use is a three D mode because it gives you some really cool new ways to look at your photos. So you're gonna go to three D spherical panorama and then new panorama layer from selected layer and guess you want to enter the three D workspace. So this is basically going Teoh give you a new view of your image. It's gonna give you this three d view, and it's gonna zoom in a lot. And then over here, you you have some settings you can use. So just to show you briefly what it does, it sort of turns it into this three d image, and you can sort of look at it in a new way. So already I'm seeing that I really like the way that these lines air working. I also think that there's some visual interest in other places, like right here. I like what's happening with this red and pink, so you can also edit your field division, which is basically how close it is. So if you do this, you have a different view. So you make your field division basically almost 1 80 and that gives you a really different viewing experience than, say, if I kind of like this, I really like that area. If you were to make it say, 10 it's basically just one color you con's. Zoom out a little bit to around 50 and you have these really nice close ups of your shapes . And so you could kind of just play around with it and find an area that you like. I'm really interested in these pinks and yellows. I kind of like What's going on here? Somebody see if I can find an interesting angle to look at this from all right for me? I like to not have it be too busy, Like, I think if I did this, there's just too much going on there with all these shapes. So I like tohave some sort of negative space or just big open spaces like this yellow. So I'm gonna focus in on that. I like that. There's some smaller details down here. I kind of like that White peaking in. I don't know if I'll keep it. I'm gonna see what happens if I zoom in just a little bit more and then I'm just gonna play around. So I think I'm gonna use this. So what do you want to do from here? Is your basically going to exit the three d workspace? So you're gonna go to this little panel up here, and this gives you the options for all the work spaces, and the one that you're usually in the sort of default is essential. So I'm just gonna go back to that, make it look a little more familiar, and then to go out of the three d workspace. I'm just going to select a different tool. So now I have this new image which came from this image of pillows and a blanket on my chair. So that's pretty cool. And it's not just zooming in on a certain part of it, because since we use three D, it's sort of bended and warped, and it's given it this really cool appearance. So now I'm gonna convert it to a smart object one more time, and that's sort of just gonna make it a regular flat object. Will Rast arise again? And so I'll show you one more time with this. Um, and you can just sort of see what it looks like to experiment with something that you created using the path tool. And then there's, ah, couple more things you can do to just sort of play with the composition. If you want, you can experiment with the other filters. Liquefy is interesting. I really like that one because you can just sort of move shapes around. You can change the size of this brush. So you wanted to be really small. I tend to not like such small details, but maybe you do. Maybe you think that's interesting and you want to even just zoom in on a section. I'm pretty happy with how it is, though I'm not going to do that. You could even posterized it again, which sometimes changes the colors and just gives you a new, interesting look. It's not gonna change the composition too much because it's already pretty flat and poster like, but if you do like the way that it changes colors, you can certainly go with that. I'm not sure that was my original. I don't think it waas gonna go with that. Feel free to just look through all of the different options under the filter category. Stylized has some interesting ones Can make it look like oil painter tiles. It all depends on what you like, but I really like mine to look very flat color blocked, geometric. And I think that works really well for this method. But once again feel free to experiment because there's lots that you could do. So I'm just going to play a little bit with this one, see if I'm satisfied or if there is something more than I want to do with it. And then, of course, you can always use the transform tool Sukhumvit Command T. And then you right click. There's all these options you could use warp, and it gives you this sort of grid and then you can drag different points. I kind of liked how this had a lot of straight edges, so I might not mess with that, Although it might be interesting to just give it a little bit of curve in one area or another feel free to play around because you can always just undo Just gonna accept that and then undo it. Command Z, I'm gonna stick with what I have. So in the next video, I'm gonna show you want to play a little bit with colors? 5. Step 4: Adjusting the Color: all right. So looking at colors one thing that you can do to change the colors is just use your paint bucket tool and change any colors that you want. So say, I wanted to see maybe a little bit more purple in this. I could go ahead and just try changing the colors of something's gonna do it if you don't like it. Another thing you can do to adjust the color is you can try just inverting the color, which is command I and it just switches every color to its opposite. So that's just a fun, easy shortcut you contrive. You really just want to see like the total opposite view. A cool option, though, is if you go to this lasso tool, you could make a free hand selection so you could try just taking a section of it, selecting it, whatever you want. It could be random. Random is probably better, and then you get command I and inverts only that section that might add more visual interest if you want. Then you just hit command D to de select, and it's really interesting if you just keep going over certain areas, inverting those If this is what you're going for. So I kind of went back and just played it that a little bit more messed up my settings. So I had to just right back to a few older versions. But that's the cool thing with this is that it's really just about playing with it, not getting too attached to design, knowing that it could change and just going with those changes. And I even I like this even better. So I'm gonna stick with this. And I think this process is also very user friendly to people that aren't that familiar with photo shop. If you just follow in a few guys that I showed you like how to get to three D mode where the filters are and you can really just play with it and thats gonna make it look more unique, more random, more just fun. The other thing you can dio is, and I recommend this is go to image adjustments, color balance, and this will just help you make your colors work together a little bit more plums. You can sort of just adjust, you see, like this makes it more read. This makes it work scion kind of blank out. Looks up there. So I just play with these levels until I find something that I like. You can sort of play with this for hours. So I wouldn't I wouldn't think about it too hard because there are so many options and you're just gonna start analyzing it, which is the best. And when you're playing in being so random like this, there isn't a best option. So just find what you like and sort of go with your gut. And don't Don't question it too much from there. So I'm just gonna play with this for a few minutes, find something that I like, So I'm just gonna play with this a little bit. Markets. Now, I'm curious to see what else I can do with it. Like I said, don't get carried away like I'm doing right now. So this will be the last. The last bit of editing that I do. You kind of just have to pick a place to stop 6. Final Project and Extensions: So once you have your final compositions and their saved, I just want to talk a little bit about things you could do with them. So what idea I really like for where you can put these patterns is using Red Bubble or any website that sort of similar to that? As you can see, this is where a lot of people published patterns. So I just went to the add new work section of Red Bubble. You don't have to use red Bubble. You could use cafe press anything like that. I just want to show you some things you can put your designs on. So I'm going Teoh, select one of my designs and you could see that you can put it on T shirts. I think it would make really cool Graphic tees. I love the idea of a white T shirt with a square of something really random but visually interesting on it. Full dress makes really cool. IPhone cases, stickers. I mean, there's so many options. So now I'm just on Pinterest. I'm looking at one of the boards. I have just artists that I like. That really inspired me with their illustration styles and a cool thing to do with these patterns would be You could overlay them as textures on something jaw, or you could use them to create a really interesting background for a photo, like instead of using this type of city in the background, it could be an abstract design. I think that would look really cool if you had something like black and white in front of it. You can really just get creative. You see a lot of artists that sort of either choose not to have a background or don't want to deal with backgrounds because they take too much time there too complicated. So this is really a simple fix, and you could make the backgrounds as simple as you want. And they're still interesting and they won't take away from the main image. I'm just looking at logos now on Pinterest. If you're an artist trying to create your own brand and you want an interesting visual for your own logo to brand yourself, these patterns could also be a really unique design because, as you can see, a lot of what I'm looking at is just words, names, some stuffing, a little bit of color and abstract design that would make it look really unique. You also see a lot of abstract portrait. It's on Pinterest. It would be really cool to crops. Take a photo of a friend and use this method to really abstract the photo, and that would be a really unique gift. Once you have this digital version made, you could use it to inspire riel life. Artwork like you could paint the exact design, but it would be painted instead of, you know, created with the computer. There's lots of other things you could do. You could leave your pattern into something. You could use it as a design for printmaking, for example, a multilayered woodcut print. You could knit a pattern that looks like the digital design you created. You could make a quilt. You could even just recreate it using cardboard or construction paper. They would also make really cool textile designs or could do embroidery feeding. There's lots of ways that you could bring these designs toe life. It would make a great gift, a great piece of art Dang in your house, a great personal branding logo. There's lots that you could do with it so thanks again for watching. And I hope this inspired you to be creative and just added another tool to your tool chest . It's a really simple, fun way to create unique patterns, and you don't have to have many skills and photo shop at all. And it's it's fun because you just get to play. So your final project should look something like this. You could even upload one of the extensions I talked about. If you wanted Teoh, embroider your pattern or create a logo out of it. Or use weaving or printmaking anything you want upload. Um, I'm really excited to see I can't wait to see how creative you guys are and the fun ways you play with your computer. So thanks again for watching, and I'll see you next time.