Create a bright and abstract wallpaper in Photoshop

Welcome to the lesson on creating abstract work in Photoshop. In this tutorial, I will show you how to create simple and beautiful wallpapers using an image of a model, several abstract elements and shapes that you create yourself.

You will learn how to use blending modes to create beautiful lighting effects, as well as learn how to create backgrounds and abstract shapes.

Final result

Source materials:

STEP 1 – Create the Background using the Gradient

The dimensions of the document that I used to create this lesson are 2500 x1667px. I like to use a simple background for this type of wallpaper, so I usually use a filter Correction of Distortion (Lens Correction) or Radial gradient (Radial Blur gradient) to create a smooth gradient. This time, I used a radial gradient, for this, I applied a large soft gradient to the background, a type of gradient from Gray (# d3d3d3) -> to White (#ffffff).

STEP 2 Add Noise to the Background

I also like to apply textures to the background, so I decided to add some noise. At the beginning, I converted the layer with the background into a smart object (this action is optional), and then go Filter – Noise – Add Noise (Filter-> Noise-> Add Noise). I added Gaussian noise (Gaussian Noise) 2%, and also put a tick in the box Monochrome (Monochromatic).

STEP3 – Select Model and Hair

At the beginning, I selected the model with the tool Pen (Pen Tool) and applied the option Refine edge (Refine Edge) to model hair for a clearer separation of hair from the background using the option Smart radius (Smart Radius).

I wanted to keep realistic, so to the model layer, I added Layer styles (Layer Styles) option Shadow (Drop Shadow). The parameters that I used Opacity (Opacity) 25%, Bias (Distance) 57px and The size (Size) 79px. These options will depend on the size of your working paper.

To select hair, create a rough selection around the hair, and then select the brush tool. Refine edge (Refine Radius brush) in the settings window Refine edge (Refine Edge). Paint over hair to remove patches of background.

STEP 4 – Contrast Masking

I decided to add even more realistic effect to the shadow, for this I used the original image of the model. I decided to use the original image shadows, for these purposes, I used the technique Contrast masking (Contrast Masking).

The main actions of this technique include: creating a duplicate of the layer with the model, bleaching, inversion, replacing the blend mode with Multiplication (Multiply) application Curves (Curves) to hide the background. I have already created a lesson on the use of this technique (See video below).

Next, apply inversion (Ctrl + I) then click Ctrl + L to activate Levels (levels), using this action, we make the background darker and the shadow is lighter. Next, click again (Ctrl + I). Next, add a layer mask to the layer and change the blending mode to Multiplication (Multiply), Do not forget, the layer with the original image of the model should be the same size as the selected image of the model.

Next, activate the levels again to hide the background. And on the layer mask modify the black soft brush to hide the extra areas that have been preserved after the correction. To use this technique, try to select images with a monotonous background.

Create a bright and abstract wallpaper in Photoshop

STEP 5 – Add Shapes to the Background

I used the tool Pen (Pen Tool (P) to create some abstract color shapes that we add to the background. Create a new layer, place it below the layer with the original shadow. I drew several arbitrary shapes with smooth rounded corners.

STEP 6 – Add Colorful Abstract Elements

I added colorful abstract elements using a set of elements that I downloaded from You can use any 3D abstraction, you can find many free resources on the Internet.

STEP 7 – Create Shapes with the Pen Tool

I drew several shapes with the tool Pen (Pen Tool). I used bright saturated colors, and then I darkened the edges with a tool Dimmer (Burn Tool), using a large soft brush, and also used the lightening inside the shapes. You can learn more about this technique here.

STEP 8 – Add Color Glare

Add color highlights with a medium and large soft brush. Create a new layer on top of the model layer and the layer with abstract shapes, change the blending mode for this layer to Lightening (Screen). On a new layer, I painted several color highlights in different places. Play with the saturation and brightness of the color when you use the color palette. In fact, bright colors will not look very good. Also, for this layer, reduce the opacity to 60%.

STEP 9 – Model Image Correction

After I added abstract shapes and light effects, I noticed that the skin of the model looked unbalanced, not the way I wanted it, so I added adjustment layers to make the model look better. I used adjustment layers Gradient map (Gradient Map) and Levels (Levels) as clipping masks.

STEP 10 – Particles

As in many of my other lessons, I used the Media Militia particle kit to add them, as well as textures to our work. I placed new layers with particles below the model layer and above the original shadow layer. This time I used textures to create color particles, as clipping masks, so that the particles were of different colors. You can use this image.

STEP 11 – Add more details

Using the stock image of leaves, add different leaves to our image. I suggest you use different types of leaves, rather than duplicate them so that there is more variety. In addition, expand them, apply scaling to the leaves were of different sizes.

For some leaves, add layer styles. Shadow (Drop Shadow) to give more depth. You can adjust the shadow blur by adjusting the option The size (Size). Reduce the shadow opacity to about 25%. You can also add layer styles. Gradient overlay (Gradient Overlay), gradient type linear (linear) from black to white (black to white) blending mode Overlap (Overlay) to move the lighting and so that one part of the leaf is more illuminated and the other is darker.


I used one of my highlights to add more light effects. You can use images with highlights, blend mode Lightening (Screen) to remove the dark background.

STEP 13 – Combine Light Effects

I created the final light effects with a soft brush. Create a new layer on top of all layers (I called this layer the effect of lightening the base) and on the new layer, draw a soft light effect, as shown in screenshot No. 13 below, the color shade that I used # 803600. Change the blending mode for this layer to Lightening Basics (Color Dodge), and slightly reduce the opacity of this layer to 72%.

Then, I created another new layer, which I called the lightening effect, for this effect, I used a smaller brush and the color tint # f76900 to paint over a different color on top of the previous effect with a brush and combine the two color shades to create a beautiful effect. For this layer, use blending mode Lightening (Screen). Blending modes Lightening (Screen) and Lightening Basics (Color dodge) together effectively create beautiful lighting effects using different color shades on separate layers.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

Final result

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