I have had many requests for tutorials over the past months, but given that they are quite time-consuming to create I have stayed away from them to continue with my poster designs and freelance work.
Last week I posted a few images entitled The O Series. The process behind the images is fairly simple and I thought it would make for a good first tutorial post. There is nothing advanced here, and all you will need is a basic knowledge of the layers palette, blending modes and masks.
So, if you were at all interested in the creation of these pieces, here you go.
Start by creating a white circle in the middle of the canvas, and apply a radial gradient layer mask so the center is faded out. Drop the opacity down to 15%.
Duplicate the circle layer we just made, and move it up and to the left. Bring the opacity up to 100% and set the layer Blending Mode to Overlay.
Duplicate the layer we just made and drop the opacity down to 25%. Set the Blending Mode of this new layer to Color Dodge. Move the circle a bit to the right on the canvas.
Duplicate the layer we just made, bring the opacity back up to 100% and set the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Shift the circle to the left a bit, and this time scale the circle down a little.
Make a straight duplicate of the layer we just made, and shift it a bit to the right. Keep all the layer settings the same.
Now that we have all of our circles in place, it’s now time to add some shadows and highlights to bring a bit more definition to the shapes. Create a new layer, and set its Blending Mode to Overlay. Using the Brush Tool set to black, proceed to paint in a few soft shadows concentrating more on the lower-left portion of the sphere. Then on the same layer, set your brush to white and paint in a few highlights. Try to keep in mind where a light source might hit our sphere, and paint the shadows and highlights accordingly. I lassoed where I painted for the sake of clarity in the example image.
To make the shading and highlights a bit more dramatic, duplicate the layer we just made and set its opacity to 50%. Keep the Blending Mode at Overlay.
Now we need to make the highlights really pop. Create a new layer and set the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Then using the Brush Tool with a soft setting, paint in a few focused highlight areas building on where you placed highlights in step 6.
Duplicate the layer we just made and set the Blending Mode to Overlay.
Once again, duplicate the layer we just made and this time drop the opacity to 50%.
Create a new Adjustment Layer and select Levels. When the levels dialogue box appears, set the white side to 145 and the dark side to 15, and click Okay. Keep this new layer above all of the layers we have created so the level setting will be applied to all.
Finally, we can now add some color to our sphere. Create a new layer, and remember to keep it below the Levels Adjustment Layer we just made. Using the Brush tool on a soft setting, paint in some color highlights on the sphere. Do this for a few colors to add some interest to the composition, in my case I chose red and purple.
Set the Blending Mode of our color layer to Overlay. You can continue to add some color on this layer until it feels right.
After placing so many overlays on top of gradients you will notice some fragmentation or banding. To solve this, switch the canvas to 16-bit and everything will smooth out. Simply go to Image > Mode > 16-Bits/Channel. After saving your PSD as 16-bit, you can then flatten your canvas and switch back to 8-bit to save your work as a jpeg.
Have some fun and try a few different color treatments using the Brush Tool or some gradients. Also shift the circle layers around a bit for more diversity.
I tried to keep this is simple and straight-forward as I could, so I hope this helps out those curious about my process. I do a great deal of adjusting and experimenting with my work, so be sure to try new things as you go to see how the slightest of alterations can change how color and overlays react with one another. But most of all, have fun.