I’m a huge fan of James White’s work. I love the way he plays with geometric elements and colors. It gives a retro feeling to the design, but at the same time he uses a modern approach. In an interview, he mentioned that he uses a Flash script to generate the vector shapes. Then he does the rest of the job in Illustrator and Photoshop.
Well, inspired by James’s designs, I decided to figure out my own way of creating that type of effect in Photoshop. In this tutorial, I show you how to mix cool retro geometric shapes into your photos.
Final Image Preview
Download the image at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/876777. Then place it in a new document in Photoshop. I used 1440px by 900px document size.
Go to Layer>Layer Style>Color Overlay. Use Soft Light for the Blend Mode. Apply a Brown color (#8b5c01).
Next, we’ll create a brush that will be used to make the shapes. Select the Rectangle Tool(U) and create a black rectangle. Then go to Edit>Transform Path>Skew. After that, go to Layer>Rasterize. Use the image below for reference.
Right-click on the thumbnail of the layer and choose Select Pixels. Then go to Edit>Define Brush Preset, and create a brush. Rename it to PSDTUTS. After that go to the Brushes Engine (Window>Brushes) and edit the PSDTUTS brush we’ve just created. Use the settings below.
Create a new layer and go to Layer>Layer Style. Let’s apply some styles to the layer. We will use Gradient Overlay, Drop Shadow, and Inner Shadow. After that, with the Brush Tool(B), click a couple of times to create some shapes.
Right-click the layer on the Layers Palette. Choose Copy Layer Style. Then create a new layer. Right-click the new layer again. Now select Paste Layer Style. After that, with the Brush Tool, click a couple more times to create additional shapes.
Repeat Step 6 again two more times.
Select all layers we used to create the geometric shapes and go to Layer>Merge Layers. Then go to Edit>Transform>Rotate. After that resize the layer as shown below.
Now go to Edit>Transform>Warp. Start moving the mesh in order to create a wave form. The idea is to make the lines pass in front and behind the legs. This adds to the dimensionality of the effect.
With the Polygonal Lasso Tool(L), create a marquee selection of the leg you want to stay in front of the shapes. Then select the shapes layer, and go to Layer>Layer Mask>Hide Selection.
Create a new layer above the shapes layer and right-click on it. Then select Create a Clipping Mask. After that, select the Brush Tool (B) and a basic brush with 0% hardness. We will create a highlight on the shapes layer. Click once where you want to start the line. Then while holding Shift, click where you want to finish the line. This will create a straight line with the Brush Tool. The Blend mode will be Normal with 60% Opacity.
Repeat Step 11, but this time use black, and from another position. Change the Opacity to 40%.
Create a new layer in front of all layers. Fill it with white. Then go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Use 4% for the amount. After that, change the Blend Mode of the layer to Multiply.
Place another image in front of the other layers but behind the Noise layer. You can find the image I used at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/982364. Then resize the image and change the Blend Mode to Multiply.
One of the best features in Photoshop is the Brush Engine. We can create lots of effects using it. In this tutorial we used it to create rectangular shapes similar to those seen in James White’s work. You can even use rounded corners or different shapes. Play with the effect and have fun.