Photoshop tutorials for professionals and beginners
Abstract digital art Photoshop tutorial

AfterLife – Abstract Tutorial

In this digital art tutorial I will show you how to create a nice abstract artwork using a few stock images and how to create your own custom elements using the Lasso Tool. I will also show you the “post editing” process where you enhance your final artwork and give it the final punch. Hope you enjoy this.

Final Result

Resources needed

Download contents

  • 1 PSD file
  • Stock images

This tutorial is written for intermediate Photoshop users so you need to be familiar with using Layer masks, and most Photoshop tools. That being said, let’s get started.

Step 1

Open Photoshop and create a new document 2000px wide by 1872px high. Open the girl model and paste it. Then, create a layer mask for the girl layer and use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a path around her and subtract her. This is not going to be the final size but I want to have room to crop it as I like later on.

Step 2

Get the Gradient Tool and draw a Radial Gradient using the colors: #091615 for the outside and #2b4b47 for the center.

Step 3

Add some texture to the background. I used sky textures but you can use any dirt or grunge texture you like. I used two sky textures which I turned into Black and White because I didn’t want the color of the texture to be interefing with the color of the background. For one of the textures I used Color Dodge and for the second one I used Overlay blend mode. See image below for more details.

Step 4

Start adding the first details. The first thing I added were some particles from the Media Militia particles pack. I used Color Dodge blend mode and I duplicated the layer a few times to increase visibility. I guess Overlay would also work just as nice.

Step 5

In order to blend to blend the girl in better with the background and give more depth, I used the Dodge&Burn tools to Burn the right side of her body and Dodge the left side. I also increased the Saturation to +14. If you want to know more about how I Dodge & Burn I wrote a separate tutorial about it. You can check it here.

Step 6

Add the Psychosis fractal image and paste it above the girl layers (or underneath if you want) and change its blend mode to Color Dodge. Use a layer mask and a smooth brush to mask parts of the image like in the image below. You can also change the Hue if you want to get different colors.

You can also add the humming bird now. I used Hue/Saturation to change it’s colors to something more interesting and I added an outer glow style with Color Dodge Blend mode

Step 7

The text details were made using a hard brush with a diameter of about 2px and white color. Create some straight lines using the brush like shown in the image below.

You can create perfectly straight lines by clicking on a spot then hold down the Shift key and click on another point. Then I used a bigger diameter hard brush to create the circular shapes you see on the joints. The blend mode used was Overlay or Softlight.

Step 8

The circular shapes you see on the image below were made using the Elliptical Marquee tool and the Gradient tool set to White to Transparent and then set the blend mode to Overlay.

Step 9

I also wanted to add some abstract lights and I decided to use a technique I learned long ago from a tutorial I saw on the internet. I created a square selection which I filled with black and then I wen to Filter>Render>Lens Flare and added a flare in the middle.

Then, I changed the blend mode of the layer to Color Dodge (or Screen) and then I distorted it from Filter>Distort>Shear. You can also use Polar Coordinates or Waves to get different distorsion shapes. Use Hue/Saturation to change the color of the light.

Step 10

I wanted to increase the brightness near the center of the image so I added some light effects with the Brush Tool. Select a fairily big soft brush and a dark tone green and on a new layer under the girl paint a couple of strokes, see image below. Then change the blend mode to Color Dodge.

Now create a new layer above the girl, change it’s blend mode to Color Dodge and use the same technique to create a few more lights. If they come out too bright, use a darker tone of color.

Step 11

Now I will show you how I created those colored shapes. Grab the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) and draw triangular or square shapes nad fill them with white. Then open the layer styles and apply a Gradient Overlay. I also enabled Bevel&Emboss for some shapes to crate a highlight around the edges and give the illusion of 3D on the shape. I used 0px of size on the Bevel options.

Once i had the first shape and the style created, I created more shapes with different sizes and I just copied the layer style to each of them and changed the gradient color. So I made each shape by hand.

Step 12

Create more depth of field by creating some smaller shapes on the background (fill them with a solid color only, no gradient) and apply a bit of blur on them so that they look a bit further away from the girl.

Then, create a couple of bigger shapes and apply some blur as well to make the illusion that they are further up front.

Step 13

If you’ve reached this step, you’re done. Now I will show you how to give this artwork the final touch to tighten it up and make it look better still.

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of all the layers on you palette. Select the default Blue,Red,Yellow gradient. Set the Opacity to 12-15% and change the blend mode to Color. Notice how cool the image looks now.

The last thing I do to all my artworks is to add the Lighting Effects filter. It makes all images look a lot better. Select the top most layer on the palette and press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E to create a stamp of the visible layers. Turn that layer into a Smart Object (optional) and go to Filter>Render>Lighting Effects. Add a directional light like in the image below. After that compare and see which one you like most.

For a bit more contrast I added another gradient map with black and white and set it’s blend mode to Softlight and Opacity to 25%.

Doing these final adjustments will greatly improve the look of your final image.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to stumble or share it on twitter or facebook. You can post your results on my Flickr group gallery or on my Facebook page.