Create colourful national icons with selections and brushes
We’re going to create a cohesive look from just a few colours: a strong blue (#38DFFD), greyish purple (#B5B4CA), green (#77FA5C), bright red (#E34554) and golden colour (#FDC46C). Go to Adobe Color if you’d like to pick your own colours.
Open an image of your country into Photoshop Elements. Head to Filter>Filter Gallery>Cutout and choose Number of Levels: 8, Edge Simplicity: 7, Edge Fidelity: 1. This quickly reduces the map to a low-poly block for us to build upon.
With your map created, select the white with the Magic Wand. Hit the mask to remove. Duplicate and with the lower map, nudge 30 pixels left, 20 down. Clip a Solid Color Fill layer of #3c3c3c to the lower map, your selected green to the upper, and fill your background with your blue. Clip by Ctrl/ right-clicking a layer>Add Clipping Mask.
Of course, a large block of land isn’t likely to be the same colour throughout. With a soft brush on a new layer, brush yellow around the hotter areas and grey in the colder areas, or areas with mountains. Reduce Opacity to 30% and clip these layers to the main green layer.
Let’s create some curved rivers. Select a stretch with the Rectangular Marquee and fill blue, then create a circle, as shown above, with the Elliptical Marquee. Ctrl/ right-click, choose Transform Selection and hold Alt/Opt to make a circle within the circle. Mask to create a ring, then delete the excess.
Trees are easy to create and can be scattered across the map. Grab a hard brush, hold Shift and draw upwards in the gold colour. Continue holding Shift and click diagonally. Use a bigger, green brush behind this layer. Select half this green area, hit Cmd/ Ctrl+U and alter the colour slightly.
Using the technique for creating a ring of colour in step five, start making the wheel for the London Eye in white. With a hard brush, hold Shift and draw to create a pod. Merge these layers, duplicate, Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) and Rotate. Repeat this around the wheel.
Using Marquees and the Polygonal Lasso, create a flag, clipping different colours to a main a rectangle. To give it the flying effect, go to Filter>Distort>Liquify, and Warp the left side of it downwards slightly, and the right side up, until it looks like this. Create the flagpole from brushes.
You can have fun scattering objects associated with the country. For an umbrella, make a curve as you did for the river, then make a big circle. Mask with the Elliptical Marquee as shown to complete the object.
Motion Blur can bring the likes of the London Eye to life, or this bow and arrow to represent Nottingham. This was created with a ring and hard brushes, before being merged, duplicated and then the blur being added from Filter>Blur>Motion Blur.
Using Soft Light clipping masks set to 25% Opacity, select black and white, and brush in soft colour over various objects to tone them a little, such as the buildings. The flag can also benefit from shading and lightening to make it stand out further.
If you wish to create a lens flare, make sure it’s a geometric one. Go to the Shape tool and drag pentagons and hexagons of various colours, overlapping, in a straight line across the image. Set to Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 20%.
Finally, make some adjustments. Merge all and go to Filter>Other>High Pass, select Radius: 2.5px and set to Overlay to sharpen. Go to the Fill Layer icon, choose Levels and use the RGB channels to touch up the reds, blues and greens as a whole.