Painting Clouds

Here is a simple cloud painting method.

  • Begin with a document preset size of your choice. I used 500×500. Set Foreground color to a blue. I used #498ccb, and Background of White : #ffffff

    A. Select the Layers Palette New Adjustment Layer icon and from the list choose Gradient.
    B. Set the desired properties of the gradient so that the blue fades into white from top to bottom.
    C. The new gradient layer is reflected in document view.
    Note: Blue to Transparent gradient will also work if the background layer is white.

    Painting Clouds

  • Next:
    A. Set the Foreground color to White #ffffff
    B. Select the Brush Tool from the Toolbar. From the Options Bar, choose a Soft Edge Brush Preset. I used Tip Size of 30 px/Hardness 32%
    C. Create a new Layer above the Gradient Layer and Paint a random area that covers the width of the document as I have captured
    Note: Your brush strokes will not be exact to mine, obviously, so some variations will occur.

    Painting Clouds

  • Next:
    A. Create a new empty Layer above Layer 1 to get Layer 2.
    B. Select the Smudge Tool from the Toolbar.
    C. From the Options Bar, use a preferred Brush Preset and enable ‘Use All Layer’.
    Then smudge the top portion of the random white area in small circular motion from edge to edge. (I went from right to left)
    This will give it a soft blur to the edge.

    Painting Clouds

  • Rework the same area with a smaller brush size (I used 10 px this time), ensuring to alternate your click and drag to onto the blue and push toward the white. And vise versa, push from white to the blue.

    Painting Clouds

  • Continue your way down to the bottom edge. If you over do it with pushing (smudging) the white, change the Blend Mode to Darken with the Blue as the Foreground and rework that area.

    Painting Clouds

  • Explore with the Dodge Tool, Burn Tool and Sponge Tool to provide a lift to the previously pushed (smudged areas).
    Below I applied a Sponge/Desaturate to the upper edge, hence some of the grey tone values.
    I also applied the Burn Tool on Mid Tones in the mid section of the clouds to provide some bright spots. Other examples included below, from simple sunny day scattered clouds to a sormy day.

    Painting Clouds

    Painting Clouds

    Painting Clouds

Summary:
The above examples are nothing more than Smudge Tool, with Use all Layers enabled.
Random rotation/movements of a choice Brush Preset combined with Dodge, Burn and Sponge Tools.

Galactic Orbs

A simple method of creating fairy or galactic orbs using varying gradients and blend mode combinations.

  1. To begin, I created a new document using Background Color of White and width/height dimensions of 345×435, then created a Color Fill Adjustment Layer using #00394d, then adjust that Color Fill 1 Blend Mode to ‘Hard Light’, as captured below.

    Galactic Orbs

  2. Next, set the Gradient Options:
    A. Create a new empty Layer (Layer 1)
    B. Set Foreground/Background Color Swatches to Black/White.
    C. Select the ‘Gradient Tool (G)’ from the Toolbar.
    D. Set Gradient Tool Options Bar features.

    Galactic Orbs

  3. With the above Gradient settings in place, draw four (at least an even number) of ellipse shapes as captured below.

    Galactic Orbs

  4. Then change the ‘Blend Mode’ of ‘Layer 1’ to ‘Color Dodge’, as captured below for the changing effect.

    Galactic Orbs

  5. Create a new empty ‘Layer’ (Layer 2)…

    Galactic Orbs

  6. … repeat process.

    Galactic Orbs

  7. Finally:
    A. Create a new empty Layer (Layer 3) above the Color Fill Layer
    B. Set Foreground/Background Color Swatches to Black/White.
    C. Select the ‘Gradient Tool (G)’ from the Toolbar.
    D. Set Gradient Tool Options Bar features.
    Choose Reflected Gradient – encircled in Red, then draw a few of them from left to right direction.

    Change Layer 3 Blending Mode to ‘Vivid Light and reduce it’s Opacity to a low percentage.

    Galactic Orbs

Here is the final version.

Galactic Orbs

Experiment by adding more gradients for vary effects such as the following.

Galactic Orbs Galactic Orbs

Simulate Water Bubbles

Using the ‘Creating Surface Water‘ tutorial image, I’ll show you how to add bubbles effect, as captured below.

Simulate Water Bubbles

Download the zipped .psd file here.

  1. Create a Gradient
    A. Select the New Adjustment/Fill icon and choose ‘Gradient Fill’.
    B. Set the Gradient Fill options as I have captured..
    C. Click the Gradient Editor Map to open the Gradient Editor and use #294e8e | Transparent for the end stops.
    D. The new Gradient Layer is created as well as in the document view.
    Simulate Water Bubbles
  2. Next: Add Bubbles to Gradient Mask
    Select the ‘Gradient Fill 2’ Mask Thumbnail, encased in red below.

    Simulate Water Bubbles

    Then go ‘Filter/Render/3D Transform’.
    Click the ‘Options’ command button (in red), then deselect ‘Display Background’. (in Green)

    Simulate Water Bubbles

    Then select the Sphere Tool (N) (encased in red) and click and drag to draw multiple/random spheres below the half way point.

    Simulate Water Bubbles

    Then select the Track ball Tool (R) (encased in red) and click and drag onto the view from (your) left to right for a complete rotation of the spheres.

    Simulate Water Bubbles

    Click OK to commit the 3D Transform changes, and change the Gradient Fill 2 Blending Mode to ‘Screen’ (encased in red) and your bubbles should resemble the below.

    Simulate Water Bubbles

  3. Next: Repeat above 3D Transform process to create more bubbles to the existing mask
    A. Keep the ‘Gradient Fill’ Layer Mask thumbnail active, go ‘Filter/Render/3D Transform’ again.
    B. Click the Options command button.
    C. This time, Select the ‘Display Background’ option, then OK.
    D. Select the Sphere Tool (encased in red) again and draw multiple/random spheres.
    E. Select the Track Tool (encased in green) and click/drag from (your) left to right to rotate the previously drawn spheres. Use the Pan Tool (encased in blue) to move into position if needs be.
    F. Click OK to commit 3D Transform options.

    Simulate Water Bubbles

  4. Your effect should be similar to the below image.
    Note: Repeat the above 3D Transform process for as many bubbles as you desire. However, if you untick the ‘Display Background’ you will loose your previously created bubbles on the mask.

    Simulate Water Bubbles

  5. I applied the above step three more times to get the following.

    Simulate Water Bubbles

  6. Finally, warp the bubbles with the Liquify Filter
    Still on the Gradient Fill 2 Layer.
    Go Filter/Liquify and with the Turbulence Tool create some irregularity to the bubbles as I have captured below.
    With the ‘Show Mesh’ active you can see the ‘push’ directions I used on some of the bubbles.
    Click OK to commit Liquify changes when content.

    Simulate Water Bubbles


Retro Art Style

A few simple vector layers to make compelling retro art, such as the one below

Retro Art Style

  1. Start with a new Solid Color Fill to represent the background sky.
    A. Select the New Fill Layer icon and choose ‘Solid Color’ from the list.
    B. In the ‘Pick a Solid Color’ Color Picker dialog set the color to #ece9a2, then click OK to commit changes.
    C. The new Color Fill layer is apparent in the Layers Palette & is visible in the document view.

    Retro Art Style

  2. Next add the grass areas:
    A. Select the Pen Tool from the Toolbar.
    B. Activate the Shape Layers on the Options Bar for the Pen Tool.
    C. Set foreground swatch to a shade of green #009c4b. Then click to add anchor points until to you come full circle as I have in the lower case c area.
    D. Set foreground swatch to a another shade of green #51bf86. Then click to add anchor points until to you come full circle as I have in the lower case d area.
    This will give it a soft blur to the edge.

    Retro Art Style

  3. Next add Custom Trees: Set the Foreground ColorSwatch to a brown color #77513d
    A. Select the Custom Shape Tool, ensure Shape Layer Options bar feature is active.
    B. Click the Drop arrow Shape Preset Picker and from the icon list choose the tree (encircled in red).
    C. Click and drag (Hold Shift key to constrain proportions) to draw the shape to the left edge as I have captured nelow. Also this new shape should now be the upper most layer in the Palette.

    Retro Art Style

  4. Keep the previous Custom Shape Tool options, but change your Foreground Swatch Color to a green #51bf86 and draw a few smaller ones on the edge of the perceiving background areas, as captured below. Also, I dragged this new tree shapes below the two hill layer (Shape 1 & 2). Note: Hold the Shift Key to Add Multiple Shapes to the same Vector Mask Layer, as shown in Shape 4 Layer.

    Retro Art Style

  5. Next add Sun and Sun Rays
    A. Select the Add New Fill Layer icon and choose Gradient from the list.
    B. At the Gradient Fill Dialog CLICK the Gradient map preset.
    C. At the Gradient Editor Dialog, create a Custom Gradient by setting the two end Colors (encircled in red below) two an orange variation. I used #fa8616.
    Add varying Opacity Stops. The Black Symbol indicating 100%, while the White Symbol indicates 0% opacity.
    Once complete, click OK to commit the Custom Gradient Editor.
    D. Back to the Gradient Fill Dialog set the Style, Angle, Scale and other properties as captured, then Click OK to commit those changes. Note: Did you have difficulty creating that Custom Gradient in step C.

    I saved the preset for you.
    1. Download SunRay Gradient Preset, reopen the Gradient Editor (step C above)
    2. Click the ‘Load..’ command on the right and locate the preset you just downloaded
    3. It should now appear as the last preset in your current set (entitled SunRay when you mouse over it). Click it to activate it. Then OK to get back to the Gradient Fill Dialog and continue with step D above.

    Retro Art Style

  6. Position the new ‘Gradient Fill 1’ Layer as I have captured so that it appears behind all other layers except the background. Also, by default your Gradient will appear dead centre once created. Follow the below steps to reposition it in the main document.

    Note: To position a Gradient:
    1. Double click the ‘Gradient Fill 1′ Layer Thumbnail to open the ‘Gradient Fill’ dialog again.
    2. Once that is open, Click and drag ON the document view to re-position.
    3. Then click OK in the ‘Gradient Fill’ dialog to commit changes.

    Retro Art Style

  7. Next:
    A. Click the LAYER MASK thumbnail (encased in red) of this Gradient Fill Layer.
    B. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool.
    C. Hold the Shift Key and click and drag to draw a small selection in the area where we want to position the sun.

    Retro Art Style

  8. Finally:
    A. Hit the Shift + F5 keys to bring the Fill Command to the foreground.
    B. Select ‘Use : Black’, then OK to commit changes.
    C. Hit Ctrl + D (Mac: Command + D) to deselect.

    This will Knock a hole directly onto the Layer Mask in the area of our previous elliptical selection, allowing the underlying background color to show through, as captured below.

    Retro Art Style

  9. Final touch:
    A. Right Click on the Gradient Fill Layer and choose Blending Modes.
    B. Set ‘Stroke’ parameters as captured. (Color: #f5a019)

    Retro Art Style

    Note: All colors used in this tutorial are optional. Substitute them will your preferred colors.

Creating Surface Water

Combine a Gradient Fill with Smudged Layer Masks to create the following water image.Creating Surface Water

Begin by creating a new document, I used 378×600, with a White Background Layer.

Creating Surface Water

  1. Next: Create a Gradient
    A. Select the New Adjustment/Fill icon and choose ‘Gradient Fill’.
    B. Set the Gradient Fill options as I have captured..
    C. Click the Gradient Editor Map(highlighted in red) to open the Gradient Editor and use #021f7b | #a4ebff for the end stops.
    D. The new Gradient Layer is created as well as in the document view.Creating Surface Water
  2. Next: Stroke the Mask
    A. Select the ‘Gradient Fill’ Layer Mask thumbnail. (Encased in Red)
    B. Set foreground to Black.
    C. Select the Brush Tool from the Toolbar.
    D. Select a rough edge Brush tip from the Options Bar.
    E. Then make a random ‘s’ stroke from left to right as I have captured below.
    Note: The above random stroke is applied to the Mask, and allows the underlying ‘White Background’ to appear.Creating Surface Water
  3. Next: Smudge the previous stroked mask
    A. Select the ‘Gradient Fill’ Layer Mask thumbnail. (Encased in Red)
    B. Select the ‘Smudge Tool (R)’ from the Tool Bar
    C. Select a Soft tip Brush, no Hardness and set the ‘Strength’ to 90%.
    D. Apply Smudge (blurring) from left to right, to achieve the a similar below result.Creating Surface Water
  4. Next: New layer with the an inverted previous mask
    A. Create a new empty Layer (To get ‘Layer 1’)
    B. Select the ‘Gradient Fill 1’ Layer Mask, hold the ‘Alt’ key, then drag and drop it onto ‘Layer 1’ to duplicate it.
    C. Select the ‘Layer 1’ Layer Mask, then hit ‘Ctrl + I’ to invert the mask.Creating Surface Water
  5. Next: Apply Layer Styles
    Select ‘Layer 1’, right click and choose ‘Blending Options’ from the list as captured below.Creating Surface Water

    In the Main Blending Options:Custom panel, untick the ‘Transparency Shapes Layer’ as captured below.

    Creating Surface Water

    Set the Drop Shadow properties as captured below. (Color:#00398a)

    Creating Surface Water

    Set the Satin properties as captured below, then click OK to commit Layer Style changes. (Color:#00abc2)

    Creating Surface Water

  6. Your Layers Palette and document view should be similar to the below capture.
    Note: Your Brush Stroke and Smudge may vary.Creating Surface Water

    Another Variation:

    Creating Surface Water

 

Water Color Retro Art Style

What you will need to begin is a high resolution image. (Not supplied – below is just a sample of what I used for this effect.)
Note: Image courtesy of AbsolutVision Photo Gallery.

Water Color Retro Art Style

The above image is a nice one in and of itself, but what I would like to focus on is just a portion of the face.
So I zoomed and cropped a portion, as captured below. Duplicate the original, to work on.

Water Color Retro Art Style

  1. With the above captured ‘Layer 1 copy’ selected:
    Go to the ‘Filter/Artistic/Cutout’ menu command.
    The idea is to simply isolate the photography feel from the picture and using desirable ‘Cutout’ preferences to create solid colors at the same time retaining a striking pose.
    Note: Depending on your choice of image and resolution, your Cutout Preferences will vary from mine.Water Color Retro Art Style
  2. Next lets add a prism of color with a simple Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer:
    A. Select the ‘New Fill/Adjustment Layer’ icon and from the list choose ‘Gradient Fill..’.
    B. In the ‘Gradient Fill Dialog’ click your current Gradient Preset picker to open the ‘Gradient Editor’ and from the default preset list select the ‘Transparent Rainbow’ preset.
    Hint: Mouse Over the Gradients and it’s name will appear as a tool tip description.
    Set the remaining desirable Gradient properties as I have captured, then click OK to commit the Gradient Fill changes. C. The Gradient Fill now has it’s own layer.
    D. Set that new Gradient Fill layer Blending Mode to ‘Overlay’.

    Water Color Retro Art Style

  3. Next select painting tool and Brush Tip:
    A. Create a new Empty layer directly above the previously created ‘Gradient Fill 1’ Layer, as captured below.
    B. Select the ‘Smudge Tool (R)’ from the Tool Bar
    C. On the Options Bar select a wet edge brush tip preset. I used ‘Oil Medium Wet Flow’ as captured below.
    D. Still on the Options Bar, set this brush parameters to ‘Normal’ mode, a low ‘Strength for Stroke’ integer and ensure ‘Sample All Layers’ is ticked.
    Note: Ultimately, you choose a Brush Tip that simulates your desired effect.

    Water Color Retro Art Style

  4. Finally with the above settings, click and drag in short motion strokes around any desired areas.
    In my example below, I quickly worked on all the outer edges. (Image right, below)

    Water Color Retro Art Style

    A complex examples, but nothing more than re-applying the motion strokes described above, except alternate the ‘Strength For Stroke’ integer.

Water Color Retro Art Style Water Color Retro Art Style