Saturday, October 23, 2010

How I Work in Photoshop

Teri asked in my last post if I created my Wedding Alphabet in Photoshop.  While I usually paint my art traditionally to start out, I always use Photoshop at some point, even if it is only to adjust the colors and clean up brush hairs, leftover pencil marks and unintentional spots (you know, where the paint isn't completely dissolved, I dropped my brush, spilled my coffee, whatever.)

However, I also use Photoshop a great deal to create new art out of already existing art.  This works especially well for making coordinating patterns for fabric designs, or reformatting a design into a line of party goods.  Or, in the case above, creating a new design altogether.

My husband says I have a "deep portfolio", and in this case, I started out with this:

This purple background is probably my most handy piece of art.  It turns up everywhere!  All it needs is a little color adjustment.  In Photoshop, it's the IMAGE-- ADJUSTMENTS-- HUE/SATURATION menu.  Play around with those sliders and you can get almost any color.  So above it became a yummy muted brown.

Next I needed some bread.  The main image came from my Name Above All Names Alphabet, and all that was necessary was a little cropping and sizing:

For the large background bread I used a section of my Gourmet Alphabet.  There are many ways to separate an icon from its background, but I find it easiest to use the eraser tool.  Crop closely, zoom waaaay in, and use a small size.  (Of course, use the largest size possible until you get close to the edge, silly!)  

Since I always scan and save my art at at least 600 dpi, enlarging this tiny bread for the large central image was no problem.  I used EDIT-- TRANSFORM-- ROTATE to change it to horizontal, and then adjusted its opacity over in the upper right corner of the layers menu.  I didn't want that big bread stealing the show, just hanging out quietly and unobtrusively in the background.  (Kind of like me at a party!)

Next came the wheat flourishes along the edge.  They came from this one:

 But, as you can see, they aren't painted in the top design!  HA!  I found a sneaky little tool called the graphic pen.  It's on the Filter menu.  FILTER-- SKETCH-- GRAPHIC PEN.  You'll want to select a color on the tool bar first, and experiment a little with the contrast (IMAGE-- ADJUSTMENTS-- LEVELS or IMAGE-- ADJUSTMENTS-- BRIGHTNESS/ CONTRAST) to get the detail you want.


You will need to flatten it, select an area of white with the magic wand tool, then SELECT-- SIMILAR to select all the white, then SELECT-- INVERSE to move only the graphic pen area over to your main image.  You'll notice I used the rotate command above here also.

The little white wine glass was created the same way and once moved over, changed to white by using IMAGE-- ADJUSTMENTS-- HUE/ SATURATION and moving the slider to the end of LIGHTNESS.  I'm sure there are many other ways to do that, this worked well in this case.  Same goes for the white diamond border, which originally came from here:

(OK, maybe just disregard all I've said up until now, because I just deleted the actual painting that I took this crop from-- from the Maxtor, which is our main storage.  Hmmmm... I believe it may still be on my old computer, or in another folder, or at least I can re-scan the actual art, because this one was painted straight-up traditionally!  Save your files MULTIPLE TIMES, folks!)

Now that I've regained my composure, the last step was adding type using the type tool, and some opacity adjustment.  Save it all in layers, for revisions later!

(Just in case you were wondering, I don't really memorize keyboard shortcuts. Lots of times I have a cat on my lap, which means one-handed clicking is easier.  And I switch back and forth between the wacom tablet and the mouse, because each one makes the tools work slightly differently.)

After all that,  I didn't really answer Teri's question, did I?  The answer is, No, the Wedding Alphabet was only minimally processed.


  1. wOW, this is a fabulous post. I am bookmarking it for reference. Thank you SO much Krista. I keep learning by bits and pieces and hopefully someday it will be one piece.
    My biggest problem with PS is saving the work in jpeg. Maybe I will email you.

  2. love seeing how you work with your images Krista, you get so much use out of every illustration you do, I love that!

  3. I have to say, I really enjoyed this blog! Thank you so much for sharing how you do it! I'm still bedazzled and bewildered by what you shared, but I will ponder upon it awhile then start experimenting. lol

    Thank you again--your artwork is phenomenal and inspiring!

  4. Well Krista that's very kind and generous of you to share your work flow and methods - thankyou so much!

    see you when I get backfrom blogaholidays

  5. Hahahahahaha. Quite the long way of answering the original question, but I'm glad you did. Very enlightening. And it highlights the fact that there is soooooo much about PS I do not know yet.

    By the way, the far corner of any party is already occupied by me. But I'd gladly share it with you. :)

  6. It is always such an inspiring thing to know the techniques used. Thank you for so generously sharing. I enjoyed reading this post and learnt much.

  7. Wonderful share. So fun to see some of your creative process. :)

  8. Thanks for all the great info, Krista!

  9. You are so creative with all the work you make - even 'recycling' your art to create fabulous new art.

  10. Thanks for sharing your work process. Beautiful work!

  11. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before but your work always makes me think of quilts, and this justifies it! Always fun when artists talk about how they work :)