Focusing on a simple approach and execution, this tutorial will teach you tips and tricks to creating professional and dynamic poster ads for your portfolio.
Let’s get Started with Step 1
Open up photoshop and bring out your canvas. You’ll want a lot of space to work with, so don’t be shy to start with a fairly large canvas. Each project will differ, so you’ll need to be the judge on the amount of space you want (I went with a 940 x 710 canvas).
Pic a solid colour for your background, and used the bucket tool (quick-key: ‘G’) to fill it in. If you want lighting to show, try picking a dark colour, as it will be much easier to show it than in bright backgrounds. For this piece, we will choose the colour black
Now grab a fancy brush set, and use it to create a vector/pen-tool like effects around the centre of the canvas. If you don’t know how to install brushes, read the next section at of this tutorial to get some help with that you that. If not, just skip to the next part.
After you download the brush set (it should come in either a .abr file, or a .zip. If it’s a zip, unzip it to be able to get to the .abr file).
After you have that ready, go back to photoshop, and select the brush tool (quick key: ‘B’). Click on the drop down menu for the brushes in the top bar:
Now click on this button () on the top right corner, and go down to load brushes. Select the brush set you want (the .abr file), and click ok. The brushes from that set should now be found at the end of you current brushes, and ready to be used!
Step 2 (Continued…)
As for brush sets, the one I used can be found here: http://axeraider70.deviantart.com/art/Winter-Breeze-Brushes-44617350, and full credit goes to the maker of the set.
If you are familiar with the Pen-tool, however, draw a few line shapes flowing outward from the centre of the canvas, as well as some small circles spread throughout. You will want a similar effect as shown below:
As for what colour to use, again, it depends on what you want your final product to look like. If you want something fiery and exciting, use warm colours (red, orange, yellow, etc…); if you want something more cool and sophisticated, pick colder colours (blue, green, purple, for example). You will have to keep these decisions in mind throughout the tutorial, but make sure you stick to a certain type.
After you have your layer of the vector shape, you will want to duplicated it (right click on the layer > duplicate), and flip it horizontally. One way to do this is to press Ctrl/⌘+T while editing the layer you want to flip, then right click and choose Flip Horizontally. Make sure it centres nicely, as shown below:
Now we’re going to be playing around with a few brush settings. Get out the default “Soft Round 9 pixels” brush (it comes pre-installed with photoshop), then open up the brush settings. Now use the following settings on your brush:
Brush around a bit in your canvas until you get a suitable effect. You’ll want this to cover a good area of where you’ll be working. Also, make sure to brush in the colour white. Leave this layer in Normal, and set the opacity to around 85%
To start out our techy look, grab the pentool, and draw some shapes that come out of the centre of the image and are a techie shape. This can be hard to do with the pentool/default brushes alone, so downloading a brush back is recommended. You can utilize whichever one you prefer, but for reference, I used these in my artwork: http://wizard-studios.deviantart.com/art/Technetronic-Brush-Set-40742521. Use a soft brush eraser to erase around the edges of some parts:
Before we start the next part, we’ll have to go over a new type of outside tool that can be used in graphics for photoshop: C4D renders.
If you know about these, and know how to use them, then you can skip this paragraph. If not, follow along my friends.
C4D is a 3D render program that allows people to create virtual images in very detailed 3D. The most common use of this program is for models, but some people also make these renders to be used in photoshop, to add an amazing effect to a piece of art. There are two main types of C4Ds we will be dealing with: Effect C4Ds, and Render C4Ds. Effect C4Ds are used for lighting, and they’re just mainly glows and reflections.
An example can be found here: http://ess3nce.deviantart.com/art/C4D-Effect-Render-4-35285672. Render C4Ds, on the other hand, are abstract renders used to implement a particular art work with extra effects.
Another example can be seen here as well: http://drugi.deviantart.com/art/Underwater-c4d-54685612. Again, all credit goes to the creators of the individual art works. I won’t be able to tell you exactly which ones to use, as it is impossible to recycle C4Ds for every need. The best places to find them, however, are http://www.deviantart.com/, http://planetrenders.net/, and sometimes even google.
All the C4Ds I used can be seen in the .psd file provided along with the tutorial, so if you wish to use them, or want to see what they look like, just check the layers.
Now to move onto actually using these. Find a nice and flowy Render C4D, and make sure it is in a bright colour. You’ll want it to flow along with the direction of the previously drawn red Pentool shapes. Resize it, and erase parts of it that don’t fit, to get something like this:
Just as it was done with the red Pentool, flip it horizontally and place it to that it flows nicely off the middle of the canvas:
Now it’s time to grab another c4d. Pick one that flows nicely with the image, and has a colour you want for the final product. Make sure it’s a compact one, and doesn’t have too many parts flowing out of it. Place it in the centre of the image, then set the blending mode of the layer to Lighten. To change blending modes of layers, there is a drop down bar in the layers window:
The just go down the the layer mode you need, and select it. This will be a technique used throughout the tutorial, so make sure to remember how to do it. Next, go Filters > Distort > Ocean Ripple, and use these settings on it:
As always, erase what you don’t like with a soft brush, and the result should come out something like this:
You guessed it: it’s time for another C4D. However, this is an important one, so much sure you chose it wisely. You’re going to want one that sort of acts like a case for your product. We’re going to be placing the iPhone on the centre of the canvas, so the “shell” C4D must appear to sort of circle around the product. It’s hard to explain, but if you look at the .psd file and the image below, you will see what I mean.
If any part of this C4D is going to be erased, you should use a Hard brush instead of the Soft brushes we’ve been generally using.
Once you have your C4D picked out, place it properly in the canvas, while trying to envision where your product will be placed. You should have something like this:
To help with picking out your shell C4D, here’s a view of only it on a black background:
It may no seem like we have much now, but it’s all about to come together soon. This is the important step where you will place your product. To prepare the product, first take a nice picture of it on a plain background.
After you open this in a different file, first thing you should do is right click on the only layer (should be labelled background), and go to Layer from Background. Click Ok, and you will now be able to use transparency in your picture. Grab the crop tool (C), and make a selection around the picture you want to use. After you’ve selected, simply right click and go to crop. You should have the area around your product now
Now, if your picture is in a plain background, you may be able to get away with just using the magic wand tool (W). Play around with the Tolerance (the more tolerance, the more of different colours similar to the one you picked it will select. After your selection is done, erase it. You should now have an image of your product on a transparent background now. If your image is not just a plain coloured background you can erase, you’ll have to use the pen tool. Grab it, and then make points around the product to select only it. Make sure you hold down shift and click and time you want to make straight lines, and hold down and drag after making the point to make curves. A finished path should look like this:
Now right click on any of the points (with the pen tool), and click on Make Selection. Press ok, and you should have a selection around the product. Press ⌘-⇧-I (Ctrl+⇧+I) to reverse the selection around the product, and then erase it.
Now place your product into your image. Try to get it as centreed as possible, so that the product will be the centre of the ad.
Now, remember the shell C4D discussed above? Well this is where it comes in. With a very small soft brush eraser (make sure you’re zoomed in), erase certain parts of your product that the shell C4D goes over. This will give your ad a much more dynamic view and effect. It may help to lower the opacity of the product layer so that you can see which spots overlap. After erasing the parts you want, you should have something like this:
An alternate method is to simply duplicate the C4D shell layer, and bring the copy layer above the iPhone. Now just erase the parts you DON’T want. Some people find this much easier to do, so it’s up to you
You can see that it looks a lot more professional now, doesn’t it? However, we’re not done yet. It’s time to spice it up and give it some flavor! Grab your pentool, and use it to make some shapes around your product. These shapes will be coloured in black, and will be used to settle down the crowded look of the piece. Your shapes should look something like this:
After making some of these around one side, just simply flip them horizontally and place them symmetrically on the other side as well. As always, replacing the pentooling with brushes is also a good idea
Now we’re going to be adding some lighting and some more vector shapes around the product. Grab a 200 px soft brush, and pick a light cold colour. I personally used a light shade of purple. Put the opacity of the brush down to around 40-50%. Brush softly around the bottom area of the product, as such:
Put this layer blending on colour Dodge, and play around with the opacity until it looks good.
Time to bring out your trusty pentool out again. Much like the pentool layer in black, we’re going to make another two sets (or more if you want to add to your piece). Use solid bright colours on these. You’ll also notice I played with the opacity of some of the shapes as well, so give it a more dynamic look. As always, brush sets work fine as well. Also, remember to use symmetry (copy the stuff you made on one side to the other). These are the two sets of shapes I made:
You can use a large soft brush to erase if you want as well.
Time to add some gradient maps to our image. To do this, click on the button on the bottom of the layers window, then click on Gradient Map. We’ll be adding two maps in this part. They are as follows:
Soft Light; 25 - 35% Opacity
Luminosity; 90 - 100% Opacity
This should give a nice effect to your image. You should have something that looks a bit darker and more shaded now. Don’t worry about the orange-redish tint; we’ll fix it later.
Grab a large (around 200px) soft brush, and pick about 2 - 3 light colours, and 1 - 2 darker ones. We’ll be adding points of lighting around the image now. If there was a step that the .psd file really helps with, it’s this one, so make sure to check it out if you’re having any problems. You want to make some brushing around corner and side areas of the product. Here’s a couple of examples:
After you’re all done, you should have something like this:
Change all these lighting layers to Linear Dodge (Add) blending mode, and play around with their opacity until they each look good and fit. Your result should be:
This step is optional, but can really help out with the look of your outcome. Find two C4Ds that are the same style as the shell C4D we used before. Place them in the corners of your product where you didn’t add lighting. Resize these to a fairly small size, and set them to a blending mode of screen:
Add another one of those Black & White gradient maps we added above, except leave it at 45 - 55% opacity in luminosity. Next, add a colour balance layer (you can do this the same way as adding Gradient Maps). Make the more prominent colours in your piece more heavy oriented using the bars. For example, green and cyan are the colours we want this piece to represent, so the settings below were used:
Now is also the time to add any other pentooling or shaping you would like to, since the piece is nearing completion. After you are all done, you should have something like this:
Make a new layer, and go to Image > Apply Image. In this new layer, click Filter > Blue > Gaussian Blur. Set this layer to colour Dodge, and 70 - 80% opacity. Erase all the parts that don’t look good/are too strong, and come out with a result like this:
Here’s the part where you add text. You may want to do so, you may not, it’s up to you. This tutorial isn’t really meant to convey advanced text techniques (that is for another day!). So for the sake of simplicity, we will add some simple text. You can look at the .psd to see how the text was done. Either way, make a new layer, and grab a soft black brush (or whichever other colour you chose as a background). Brush around this new layer to ‘erase’ parts you don’t like about the piece. This is an important step to cleaning up the overall product. This is what I came out with at the end:
Now it’s time to make a reflection. Apply the image to another layer, and flip it vertically the same way that you flipped the image horizontally a couple of steps back. Set this image in a position when a reflection would be believable. Set this layer to screen at around 15 - 20% opacity, and you should have this:
Apply a Gaussian blur of around .3 on it, then erase most of it with a soft brush, set to around 60% opacity. This is just for extra effect, not a real reflection (for real reflections to work nicely, there’s a lot of steps involved which won’t be covered here). Your end result should be this:
One last thing we must do. Apply image again, then go Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen. Leave this layer on normal, and change the opacity of it until it looks good. Also, use a soft brush to erase parts that you don’t want sharpen. This will add the final touch to the product, so make sure to take your time. Add anything else you want along with the image, and we are done!
I hope you enjoy the tutorial, and I hope you learned plenty from it. If there are any questions or concerns, I’d be happy to answer you if you contact me. Ways to reach me can be found on the provided jpg. Well, until next time, farewell!