Language, intelligence and knowledge in Photoshop

In this lesson, the artist Igor Scekic will share with us his lesson on how to create the picture “Language, Mind and Knowledge” (Language, Mind and Knowledge). This illustration was used as a poster and brochure for the International Conference on Philosophy in Zagreb, the author’s hometown.

The illustration was created in Photoshop by combining several photos. In addition, the lesson presents an interesting web service Silk. This is an interactive online tool based on drawing with light. Thanks to unusual effects, you can revive any illustration and add interesting details. On top of that, Silk is free, which means it is available for anyone.

The author of the lesson warns that your knowledge of Photoshop should be average.

Note: All images that are used by the author are paid. To complete the lesson, you can use your own materials or use alternative ones.

Final result:

Step 1

Before starting work, draw a sketch. This is a very convenient way to compose the composition in general and determine the direction in which the project will develop.

At the request of the client, the basic concept was based on the theme of the conference “Language, Mind and Knowledge”. The author realized this idea by depicting a light bulb connected to the face of a person and the brain inside.

The brain represents the mind, the bulb represents knowledge, and the abstract light effects represent knowledge.

The initial sketch should not be detailed. It will be sufficient to determine the position of the main elements. You can draw it on a piece of paper, but the author decided to do it on a black background in order to get a vision of the final version.

Step 2

If you do not have a good camera and time for a photo session, then you will have to look for suitable resources. In the absence of time for additional work on the connection of the bulb and the face, I had to look for a ready-made version. Fortunately, on the website Depositphotos found the desired image. We will improve the outer part of the bulb with another image. We also need this image of the brain.

Open all the photos in Photoshop and separate them from the background.

Step 3

In a separate document, combine the two light bulb images. Arrange them on a black background. Name the layers “lightbulb” and “face”. In the Free Transform mode (Ctrl + T), fit both layers to the same size so that they fit well together. Place the “lighbulb” layer over the “face” layer and reduce its opacity to 60-70% to see what is below.

There are no rules on how best to connect objects. It all depends on the specific photos. In our case it will be enough to work with the modes. Free transform (Ctrl + T) to get a good result.

Step 4

Once both objects are in place, add masks. With their help, we will be able to hide part of the layers, without harming the contents themselves. In addition, at any time you can return what was hidden.

When you paint on the mask in black, the pixels of the layer disappear, when you paint in white, they return. But the mask can work as a tool. Brush (Brush Tool) (B) and tool Eraser (Eraser Tool) (E). If you use the latter, the colors will work the other way around.

It is better to use a soft brush with a slight opacity so that the transitions between the layers are as smooth as possible.

Step 5

Insert the brain into our document and place it under the layers of the lamp and the face. To make the brain translucent, set the blending mode Lightening (Screen). You will see how things change when we add gradients to the background.

Layers with face and lamp should also have blending mode. Lightening (Screen) so that only light areas are visible. This creates a glass effect: dark areas become invisible, and only that which is brighter than the background remains.

This technique only works for black background. If we had a light background, we would have to select and copy the metal part on a separate layer with a normal blend mode. Otherwise, the background would be visible through the metal.

Step 6

Using pure black background always creates a very strong contrast. Therefore, it is recommended to work on a dark background, but not pure black. It is also better not to add pure white, but replace it with any other bright color with a slight saturation. In this case there will be a balance between the elements and the background.

Create a new layer above the black background and fill it with the color # 000f1e. Then create another layer and create a radial gradient from # 1e5446 to transparent on it. Do not drag the gradient straight to the edges of the canvas, since the edges should be visible in blue.

Above the gradient layer, create a new layer and add another radial gradient from # d7ccb3 to the transparent one. Both gradients should be located approximately in the same place. The second gradient should be shorter than the first.

At the bottom of the canvas, you need to create another gradient using the same green color. If gradient fills contrast too much with the background, lower their opacity. In our case, only the lower gradient opacity was reduced to 66%.

Step 7

Now that all the elements are in place, we will work on the details. Set the layers for “lightbulb” and “face” mode Lightening (Screen).

The right side of the metal part of the bulb does not look good. Let’s make it the same as the left. Create a copy of the “lightbulb” layer (Ctrl + J) and turn it the other way (Editing> Transform> Flip Horizontal (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal). Add a mask and leave only the metal part visible.

Step 8

To improve the connection with the brain, you need to erase everything around the tungsten filament. Combine both layers of “lightbulb” into a group. Add a mask to the group and erase all unnecessary. Use a hard brush to keep the edges of the thread sharp. On the same mask, erase some reflections on the glass, but with a soft brush.

Step 9

This is what the illustration should look like.


Step 10

Need to improve the contrast of the brain. Create an adjustment layer for it. Curves (Curves) with clipping mask (Ctrl + Alt + G).

Step 11

Let’s make the brain colored. Create a new layer for it in mode. Chromaticity (Color) and add different colors with a soft brush: green, pink and yellow. You should not get too bright tones.

After adding color, some areas become darker. So add a new layer for the brain in the mode Overlap (Overlay) and a soft brush brighten it.

Step 12

Now we will work on the face. Return the “face” layer to the normal blend mode. Create a new layer for the face. Paint over the flaws on the face with a brush and again return to the layer mode Lightening (Screen).

Step 13

Need to change the brightness and color of the face. To do this, create two adjustment layers: Color balance (Color Balance) and Levels (Levels). On the layer mask Color balance with black brush paint over the area around the eyes, nose and lips.

Step 14

Under the face also need to show the glass part. Create a new layer for this and add green color.

So that everything does not look monotonous, add some other color to the face. Create a new layer with clipping mask in mode. Chromaticity (Color) and add a red / yellow tone to the nose.

Step 15

Now we will deal with a light bulb. Create an adjustment layer for the “lightbulb” layer Levels (Levels) to enhance contrast.

Step 16

Create a new layer for the bulb in mode. Chromaticity (Color) and add the yellow / orange, blue and pink color to the glass.

Step 17

On the glass part, draw the reflection tool Pen (Pen Tool) (P). Add yellow and green color to them.

Step 18

Reduce the opacity of reflections to 40.60 and 80%. Experiment and find the best option. For each reflection, add a mask and erase some areas. Also create smooth transitions between reflection and glass.

Step 19

Create a new group and inside it a new layer. Name the group “Additional coloring and lighting”. Create a copy of the “face”, “brain” and “lightbulb” layers. Merge copies into one layer (Ctrl + E). Select the resulting layer and add a mask to the new group. It will be flooded automatically. Turn off the layer containing the lamp, face and brain.

Inside the group set the layer overlay mode. Chromaticity (Color). Add on it pink, green, blue and yellow. Then create a new layer inside the group with the normal blend mode. Draw stains of different colors at the edges of the glass to make it brighter.

Create another layer in mode Overlap (Overlay). Add yellow color to the edges of the glass to make it even brighter. After that, add a bright red / orange to the right side of the metal part.

Step 20

Now open the Silk service website. They are very easy to use. On the panel, adjust the symmetry and try turning off and on the different parameters. Draw a pattern shown in the screenshot.

Step 21

The objects you draw should be saved in PNG format. Something from the fact that you draw, suitable for the current project, but something better to leave for others.

Step 22

Since the luminous objects are painted on a black background, we do not need to waste time and effort on their extraction. Just paste them into our document and set the blending mode to Screen.

Step 23

At the end of the work, you can try to improve the color a little. On top of all layers, create a Color Balance adjustment layer.

Step 24

Create a Levels Adjustment Layer:

Step 25

Additionally, you can draw auroras on the lamp using special brushes.

Final result:

Download the archive with materials for the lesson

Author: Igor Scekic

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