Produce creative portraits using geometric shapes and Photoshop colour adjustments
In the second part of this tutorial, we’ll show you how to work from a model photo, combining both Photoshop and Illustrator to create exciting shape styles.
Here we’ll explore how to make overall colour changes to our rendered design, using Gradient Overlay, Levels and other colour adjustments to achieve a fantastic final image.
Applying a gradient
From the upper-left corner of the Gradient palette, drag the Gradient swatch to the Swatches Palette. Click on a triangle and then the new swatch; this applies it to the triangle.
To specify the location and direction of the gradient, select the triangle, hit G and click where you want the gradient to begin, then drag the cursor to the end point.
Repeat this click-and-drag process in different locations, adjusting the gradient slider, until it represents the photo’s colours.
As we fill our grid shapes with colours and gradients, we need to ensure we can clearly distinguish
all of our triangles.
If any start to merge together, then the image will begin to appear flat and lack that third dimension. Colour hues, colour values or gradient angles may need to be adjusted.
Refer to the base photo for reference and remember; you should always be able to distinguish the edge of every side of every triangle.
Begin work in Photoshop
It’s time to add some colour adjustments and lighting effects in Photoshop. Hit Select All, then Copy. Now open up Photoshop and create a new document by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+N. Photoshop will automatically set up the file to fit the dimensions of your illustration.
Once again, if you want to get this printed, then set your workspace to Image>Mode>CMYK. If you want this illustration to be used online, select Image>Mode and then choose the RGB colour mode instead. Apply ‘Paste as ‘Pixels’ and press OK.
Bring hair into Photoshop
We’re going to change the model’s hair so it includes vibrant purple tones. In Illustrator, lock the photograph by selecting it and pressing Cmd/Ctrl+2.
Select all of the shapes that form the hair, except the buzzed area around her ears. Individually select each triangle with the regular selection tool; hold down Shift and click on each desired triangle, continuing to add to the selection.
Once you have the hair, hit Cmd/ Ctrl+C. Switch over to Photoshop and then paste.
Back in Photoshop, we now have two separate layers. The complete illustration should be on the bottom layer and the layer with just the hair should be set at the top of the stack.
Change the hair layer’s name from Layer 2 to Hair by double-clicking directly on the layer’s name. A white box will appear around it. Type in Hair and then press the Return key.
It’s always good practice to keep all layers intuitively labelled, no matter how few layers a file may contain.
Now that we have an editable hair layer, we can make colour changes to it. Double-click just to the right of the Hair layer’s name and the Layer Style dialog will appear.
In the left-hand column of options, there are a lots of different Layer Styles. Select Gradient Overlay. Photoshop will default the gradient style to black-and-white, which will be previewed for us.
If you don’t see the applied gradient overlay, tick the Preview checkbox under the New Style button.
Apply Color Burn
Set this Gradient Overlay’s blend mode to Color Burn. This creates an interesting effect by looking at the colour channel information, then darkening the base colour. It does this by increasing the contrast between the base and blend colours.
The next thing for us to do is click on the gradient slider to activate the Gradient Editor. Here, we will specify which swatches to use.
The first thing to do is to click on the small black swatch at the bottom-left of the gradient slider.
This will activate the colour stop at the bottom-left of the gradient, which you’ll find under the Stops section at the very bottom of the window.
Ours is a black stop colour, as seen in the upper of the two windows shown below; click on it to activate the Select Stop Color dialog, which defaults to red.
Long hair becomes purple
Click and select an area of purple in the Select Color Stop colour swatch. Notice how the woman’s hair now looks slightly purple. Click OK twice to continue.
We don’t want the purple to stand out too much – it will look more realistic to dial the opacity back a little bit. In the Layer Style dialog, set Opacity to 70%, Style to Linear, Angle to -100°, Scale to 75% and check the Align with Layer tickbox.
Adjust buzzed hair’s colour
The polygons are beginning to pop now as these vibrant gradients work with the defined edges. Next,
we’ll make the model’s buzzed hair a darker purple.
In Illustrator, copy these areas, then paste into Photoshop. Now we apply our new Gradient Overlay to this.
Set the Gradient Overlay’s blend mode to Color Burn. Set Opacity to 85%, Angle to 140°, Scale to 115%, and then set the stop colour’s RGB values to R:83, G:0, B:136.
Adjust the ring’s colour
We’re going to make the ring a baby blue colour. Go to Illustrator, then copy and paste the ring into Photoshop.
Set the Gradient Overlay’s blend mode to Overlay, then set Opacity to 100%, Angle to 119° and Scale to 150%.
In the Gradient Editor, set the left-hand swatch’s RGB values to R:168, G:209,
B:255 and the right-hand one to R:58, G:146, B:255.
To finish, head to the bottom of the Layers palette and click the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon, then select Levels.
Holding down the Alt key, click in-between the Ring Levels layer and the Ring layer. Any edits you make in the Adjustments palette will now be applied to the layer below it.
Change the first Output Level value to 45, as shown.