photoshop creative

Conquer layers and masks (part 1)

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
November 8, 2014

Break down and reconstruct a model into a vibrant spectacle of shape and colour

1. Go see-through layer

Open your subject. Lower the subject layer’s Opacity to 50%. This will allow us to see through her and create shapes below that flow along the contours of her face and body.

2. Colour Fill layer

Select the background. Click the New Fill/Adjustment Layer icon in the Layers palette, and choose Solid Colour. Since we’ll be using this as a clipping mask, it doesn’t matter what colour is used as long as it’s visible. Here we used white.

3. Hide the Colour

Click on the Colour Fill’s layer mask. With the Background colour set the black, press Cmd/Ctrl+Delete/Backspare to fill the mask with black, hiding the colour and giving us a blank slate. Now we’re ready to create a shape.

4. Lasso a shape

Select the Lasso tool and create a flowing fragment (make sure to create a completely enclosed shape). Press Opt/Alt+Delete/Background to fill the mask with white. You can do one or multiple shapes. From here on out, deselect (Cmd/Ctrl+D) when finished with a selection.

5. Clipping mask

Bring the Opacity of the subject layer back to 100%. Hold Opt/Alt and hover between the Colour Fill and subject layers. Click when the cursor changes. The subject will now be confined within the shape.

6. Drop shadow

Apply a drop shadow to the Colour Fill. Recommended settings are Opacity: 75%, Distance: 21, Spread: 6, Size: 46. Drop shadows will help add depth and dimension when things start to stack up.

7. Duplicate the layers

Select both the subject layer and the Colour Fill layers (Cmd/Ctrl+click). Drag the pair to the Create a New Layer icon. This is an efficient way of keeping up the shape creation process.

8. Resetting

To start anew with the shape creation, fill the Colour Fill’s mask with black, Opt/Alt+click between the two layers to undo the clipping mask, and lower the subject layer’s Opacity to 50%.

9. More shapes

Create more shapes by using the previous steps. You don’t need to make too many at this stage. Try to get some fragments of the subject. When done, select the background.

10. Background shapes

Click the New Full/Adjustment Layer icon and choose Solid Colour. Pick #1a101b. Fill the mask with black. Use the Lasso to create a shape, fill with white. Add a drop shadow. Create more shapes across several Colour Fill layers.

11. Vibrant drops

Add a teardrop shape. Use the Move tool to situate, and Opt/Alt+drag to create duplicates. Use Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to scale and/or rotate as needed.

12. Jagged ribbons

Select the topmost subject layer and press Cmd/Ctrl_J. Use the Lasso to create a jagged ribbon streak. Press Cmd/Ctrl+J. Reselect the subject layer and repeat to create several ribbons, then delete the Model layer. Arrange the ribbons and transform if needed.

Come back tomorrow for part 2!