Having Fun with Vectors, Custom Brushes and Stock Images for a Nature-Themed Girl Composition in Photoshop

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Graphic design often involves mixing media and design styles to achieve a creative result, so it’s important to know how to use a variety of tools, techniques and resources at your disposal to create a coherent composition.  Without a coherent and well thought out composition, your artworks will not have the polished and memorable finished result that you’re hoping for.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to have some fun with vectors, custom brushes, and stock images to create a colorful and eye-catching nature themed girl composition in Photoshop.  You’ll see how to use various effects to focus the viewer’s eye, how to mix vectors and stock images so that it looks coherent, and find yet another application for custom brushes from our previous tutorials.

Let’s get started.

Tools used:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Various stock images
  • Custom brushes
  • Vectors

Final Image Preview:

Step 1: Document Creation and stock selection

To start off we will need a stock image to use as the base for our manipulation. I will be using a stock from shutterstock but if you do not want to use this stock you don’t have to. Just make sure you stock image of a similar view. My image looks like the below screen shot. For the rest of the tutorial we will assume that you are using the same stock image as me.

We should keep the size about as large as we can. I sized my image down to 3000*2000. Once you have sized your image down we should duplicate the layer and set it to multiply. Once you have done that, just erase everything on the left side. There’s no reason to darken her up, just the right hand side.

Step 2: Ink incorporation

Now we need to start incorporating other elements. For starters we will use some splatter brushes on the right hand side. Just drop them in and feather them (using a 300px soft edged brush) so that they fade into the hair.
If you don’t have any splatters they are covered in a previous tut located at: http://design.creativefan.com/combining-custom-brushes-for-wild-effects-in-photoshop/

Step 3: Vector incorporation

This step is optional but I think it adds in some much needed diversity. I will be using some vectors from http://wegraphics.net/ but you can use whatever vectors you find or have on hand.


Once you have your vectors just drop them in as we did the splats. Be sure to make sure they blend nicely! Blending can be done the same way we did the splats.



To finish off the vector work just grab another vector and drop it in on her face. Set it to multiply at 50% and then duplicate the layer, the duplicated layer should be set to overlay at 40%. Once you have done this just erase all the parts that go over the eye.

Step 4: Coloring

Now its time to start adding in some colors. To start off you need to figure out what kind of color platelet you would like to use. I went with pink, blue and green.
To start off create a new layer and set your brush up as mine is below. But really any brush size will work as long as you make enough of a mess.

Once you have set your brush up doodle in 2 colors all over the canvas.

Now we will apply a Gaussian blur with a radius of 250px. Now set your layer to overlay and erase anything that is not on her hair.

Once you have done this repeat this step with a different color setup or color, I went with green.

Now repeat this step one last time using the same colors you used previously. However this time set your layer to color dodge.


Once you have successfully added some much needed color to her hair its time to start contemplating her make up. So repeat the above step (creating the overlay layer) using one color, I went with green in this step since I thought it fit the design better. When doing this just make sure it flows with the eye as below.



My document now looks like the below screen shot.

Step 5: Vegetation implementation

Alright to start off you will need a collection of vines, leafs, twigs and other forms of vegetation. Below my explanation of how I did the implementation will be a list of stocks that you can use, some of which I used.
So the first stock image I will be using is from shutterstock. It is a image of some vines. They look like the below screen shot.

Now you will need to isolate the stock image out. Once you have done that you will need to start dropping the vines in. I started off by just dropping in one of the leafs from the vines and placing it by a long strand of hair so that it appears as if the hair is sprouting the leafs.

Next I dropped in an entire vine at the top of her head. Try to place your stocks as I have in the below screen shots, as if its going in and around her hair, like it is the hair.


Also take notice to the above screen shot. Notice that the vine fades to black just as the hair does. This will help to blend them together.

Now just continue on! Take notice I added in dead and alive vegetation, this will help to make the piece more dynamic. I also placed random leafs around to try and add a little bit of depth to the picture. These are both things to keep in mind when working on yours.



Also make sure that you vary everything as much as possible, for example, the below screenshots which offer both large and small vegetation as well as living and dead vegetation.

Step 6: Animal incorporating

To start off we will need to figure out what you want to add in. I went with birds, lady bugs and a dragon fly. But you can use whatever you like, for instance a butterfly would work fine.
So go ahead and grab the below PSD http://browse.deviantart.com/resources/applications/psd/?q=bird#/d1euik6 wonderfully provided by http://fairiegoodmother.deviantart.com/


Grab one of the birds and size it down. Once you have done that just drop it in so it looks tiny.

Next we will drop in the mayfly (dragonfly) which is located at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/147398

Change the hue to a blue and set the mode to multiply. This should remove the white from the image showing only blacks from the fly. Size the fly down and place it on one of the brighter areas of the model.

Next we can go ahead and grab a lady bug at: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=513002 Once you have it crop out the out of focus lady bug and isolate it the same way you isolated out all of our previous stocks.

Once you have it isolated go to “Filter” > “Stylize” > “Diffuse” and set it to “Anisotropic”. Due to the terrible quality of the image we will apply this filter twice and then press CTRL+SHIFT+L to auto level the lady bug. Size it down dramatically and just place it in! I dropped in about 3 ladybugs total at different angles and sizes.



My document now looks like the below screen shot.

Step 7: Finalizing and closing

Now we are done! To finish the piece off I duplicated some of my color overlay layers and color dodge layers (the ones created previously) to brighten up the document.

Once I had done that I sized it down and sharpened it, now we are done! My final image looks like the below screen shot.

I hope you enjoyed reading my tutorial and wound up with an image you like! Or came out with knowing a few new tricks! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Also, if you have any ideas for future tutorials please say so!

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