How to Create an Abstract Image in Photoshop

Abstract art may seem like a more difficult art form to master, but it involves the same concepts and techniques as any other style.  Naturally, abstract art requires creativity, time and practice, but ultimately, it can be mastered.  One of the hardest parts is developing a solid concept for the artwork.  Before doing this tutorial, Paul took a significant amount of time brainstorming ideas before coming up with the finished result you’ll find below.

This tutorial will show you how to create an abstract image in Photoshop, combining various shapes, colors and techniques to achieve a creative result.  You’ll not only learn the workflow for creating this image, but you’ll be walked through step by step so you can create a result of your own, and take away valuable tips and techniques to apply to future projects.

Tools Required:

  • Adobe Photoshop (Gimp should also suffice.)

Final Image Preview:

That’s what we are going to create:

Step 1

Open up the Photoshop and create a new document. My document is 860 pixels wide and 1050 pixels tall.

Step 2

Create a new layer. Set your colors to white (or light grey) and light blue (like #d3ece8) and use ‘Gradient Tool (G)’ set to ‘Radial Gradient’ to create a simple background. That’s one example but I’ll be using the one with grey instead of white.

Step 3

Grab ‘Ellipse Tool (U)’ and holding Shift/Option key draw a circle on a new layer. Draw another one next to the first one but smaller. Draw to more between those two (follow the image below). Grab ‘Rectangular Marquee Tool (M)’ and select the bottom part of your circles and delete it. You should get a nice looking cartoony cloud.

Step 4

Double-click on cloud’s layer and use the following settings for this layer.

Step 5

Once you are done duplicate this layer a few times and resize the copies (Ctrl/CMD + T). Place them as you wish in the top area of the image. Create even more copies of your clouds but remove their style this time, change their blending mode to ‘Overlay’ and lower their opacity a bit. Place them as you like. Once again that’s how it should look like now:

Step 6

Grab ‘Pen Tool (P)’ and create the following shape (you can actually create any other shape) (see my screenshot). Make sure it is white. Lower its opacity to make it look like on the screenshot below.

Step 7

Let’s now create an abstract bluish root…

Step 8

Create a three thin paths like on the image below. Right-click and choose ‘Make Selection…’. Fill them with white color and place each on separate layer. These will be wires. Apply them the following style (just choose different colors for each wire but rest of the settings stay the same).

Step 9

Now create some abstract animals. Again, I’m not using anything else but ‘Pen Tool’ and ‘Ellipse Tool’ (to draw some sort of an eye). Colors of these animals are #ecf59e and #7acabd.

Step 10

Create three circles on a new layers, each one on top of another and each 30% smaller than the previous one. Use the following settings to make them look differentiated (change the colors for each circle). You can see how do they look like in the 13th step.

Step 11

Create a new layer and draw a few circles on it (with radius like 5px to 20px). Use the following setting for this layer.

Step 12

Create another layer and draw even more circles (again see the screenshot in step 15). Follow the setting below for this layer (although I have selected ‘Color Overlay’ and ‘Bevel and Emboss’ there I didn’t use it so don’t worry that those two are not included in the final image.

Step 13

Here’s how it should look like finally.

Step 14

Grab you ‘Pen Tool’ again and create a shape like the one below. Right-click and choose ‘Make selection…’. Once you did it fill the selection with any color you like. After that draw a few wires coming out of this shape.

Step 15

Then go to styles of big shape and turn on ‘Gradient Overlay’. Use #8ca218 and #d0e45c for the colors (use two indicators on the opposite sides of the gradient bar). Afterwards go to ‘Bevel and Emboss’ and set the ‘size’ to 24px, ‘soften’ to 16px and decrease shadow opacity to 0%. For wires simply use the settings that I’ve mentioned about at the beginning of this tutorial.

Step 16

Create another shape on top of previous one. Again use here ‘Gradient Overlay’ and ‘Bevel and Emboss’ but with different colors. The rest of the setting are almost the same like in the 17th step.

Step 17

I consider the rest of elements of this construction easy enough to create so just take a look at the image below and try to recreate my shapes using ‘Pen Tool’ and then follow my instructions from the 17th step to colorize it. Once you have your shape merge all of its layers and hit ‘Ctrl/CMD + U’ to change its color. Choose anything that you like.

I’ve chosen a slightly desaturated light blue.

Step 18

Draw some bigger strange shapes like mine ones and fill them with light blue color. Duplicate some of them, move beneath the original ones and change their mode to ‘Soft Light’. This is kind of shadow.


Finally, draw a few more wires around the scene. I’m leaving the placement and colors up to you. You now know how to create some abstract and cartoony images in Adobe Photoshop. The final image has also applied a ‘Gradient Map’ with #b1c203 and #d8d8d8 colors, but you can choose whatever colors you like (see below for possible outcomes). That is all for now! I hope you liked it.


Final Result:



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  5. Looking good Paul. I feel getting an abstract image down can be quite simple, it’s the idea engineering behind the abstract piece that can really difficult to brainstorm and bringing it forward into a pragmatic piece. I especially dig the colors used in this and how it looks much like it used abstract 3d renders. Cheers

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