Ten steps to creating a poster illustration with Adobe ...Ten steps to creating a poster...

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  • Ten steps to creating a poster illustration with Adobe Photoshop CS6 Dan Carr Adobe Photoshop is a powerful design tool used to manipulate photographs and create illustrative graphics. Photoshop can be used for tasks as simple as applying color corrections to a photograph or as complex as combining multiple images and special effects into an illustration. If you are a photographer or designer interested in creating high-end designs for print, web, and mobile, Photoshop is a tool you cannot live without. Photoshop CS6 introduces a range of performance improvements and tool updates, including new brush features with stylus support and improved photo editing filters and adjustments, just to name a few. Photoshop CS6 Extended now provides enhanced support for 3D text extrusion and video editing in the new Timeline panel. In this article, I guide you through some of the main features in the Photoshop workspace and introduce you to a basic workflow for creating an illustration. The expressive features in Photoshop can be used for many possible workflows. This tutorial is designed to help you take your first steps as a designer. You'll build a poster illustration by combining photographs, an imported typographic element, and graphics created in Photoshop (see Figure 1). You'll also learn how to create an editable master Photoshop file using composite elements as well as how to set up the final design for both print and web.

  • Figure 1. The sample project is composed of photographs, typography, and effects.

    Step 1: Create a new file at print resolution Design projects created in Photoshop use an editable master file called a PSD file. The PSD file separates elements with layers, saves color selections as masks, and preserves the ability to edit many of the effects applied to images and text. You can always return to the PSD file to make changes as needed. Photoshop is primarily used to render bitmap graphics. Unlike vector images created in Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Flash Professional, bitmap images are composed of a grid of colors. The colors appear as dots side by side in rows and columns. The number of dots per inch (dpi) defines the resolution of the image. The higher the resolution, the more detail and clarity the image contains. Tip: Photoshop CS6 introduces a new set of real vector drawing tools, enabling you to work with both photographs and vector shapes in an easy way. Photoshop projects are usually created in high resolution at 300dpi for print design or in low resolution at 72dpi for web and mobile design. High-resolution projects produce a larger file size but enable you to publish for both print and web. Tip: If you're working in 3D without bitmaps, you'll see the best performance if you start at a low resolution (150dpi or lower). In this step, you'll create a new high-resolution PSD file. Before you get started:

    1. Download the project files (ZIP, 5 MB) and unzip the archive. Save your published files in this folder and use the project assets to follow the steps in the tutorial.

    2. Download the completed project files (ZIP, 45 MB) to use as a reference. You can deconstruct these files if you run into problems.

    3. Download the free trial of Photoshop CS6 and install the application if you haven't already done so. You can use Photoshop CS6 for all the steps in this tutorial except for Step 9, which requires Photoshop CS6 Extended. Step 9 demonstrates an optional enhancement that is not required to complete the composition.

    Create a new file and get familiar with the Photoshop workspace: 1. Open Photoshop and choose File > New to create a new PSD file. 2. Enter the following information to set up the file:

    o Name: SampleIllustration o Width: 5 Inches o Height: 7.5 Inches o Resolution: 300 Pixels/Inch o Color Mode: RGB Color

    3. Take a moment to explore the Photoshop workspace (see Figure 2). The canvas is the white area of the screen that defines the boundaries of the image and the space in which you view and edit graphics. Tools and properties work together to enable you to paint, select, or otherwise manipulate your graphics. Layers and channels enable you to keep graphics separate and editable as well as save selections.

  • Figure 2. Get familiar with the Photoshop CS6 workspace (click to enlarge). Tip: Use the workspace switcher pull-down menu in the top right corner of the Photoshop workspace for a preview of how the Photoshop panels can be configured for different tasks. Select the Essentials workspace for this tutorial.

    Step 2: Import artwork You can import photographs, artwork, typographic elements, and 3D objects in Photoshop to use as building blocks for the design. This is common practice when creating illustrations from composite images, and it's a great way to quickly create special effects and color themes. In this step, you'll import two photographs and a typeset vector graphic for your design. Import artwork for your design:

    1. Choose File > Place. Navigate to the clouds.jpg file in the project folder. Click the Place button to import the image. Note that the image appears with size handles. Use the handles to make the image the same size as the canvas.

    2. Import the sunflower.jpg image from the project folder. This time, scale the image to be about two-thirds the height of the canvas (see Figure 3).

  • Figure 3. Scale the sunflower image to be two-thirds the size of the canvas.

    3. Import the sunflower_text.ai file. This file contains text set along a path in Adobe Illustrator. Position the text above the sunflower.

    4. Save the file. At this point, you've imported the primary graphics for the composition.

    Step 3: Work with layers to organize your artwork Layers are an important component of the Photoshop workspace. They enable you to keep your content separate so you can edit each element individually. Layers are used to define the stacking order of the graphics in the image and to lock and hide graphics while working with overlapping elements. Layers can also be used to apply editable color corrections, filter effects, and masks to graphics. Photoshop CS6 introduces an improved Layers panel, enabling you to filter large stacks of layers by type and manipulate multiple layers at once. These improvements enhance support for drawing vector shapes by adding a new type of layer called a shape layer. Keeping your content organized with named layers is an important best practice. Notice that the layers containing the imported images inherit the filenames of the images. In this step, you'll hide the imported images and add two new layers. Prepare the layers for drawing:

    1. Click the eyeball icon next to each of the image layers in the Layers panel to hide the graphics.

  • 2. Click the Create A New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel (or choose Layer > New > Layer) to add a new layer. You'll use the buttons at the bottom of the Layers panel routinely throughout this tutorial. Notice that the panel includes controls for adding effects, masks, and adjustments as well as adding and removing layers and layer folders.

    3. Double-click the new layer's name and rename it Border. 4. Add another new layer and name it Sky. Select the Sky layer and drag it to the bottom of the layer

    stack. Layers on the bottom of the stack appear behind other layers. 5. Save the file.

    At this point, you've created two empty layers that are ready for artwork (see Figure 4). Take a moment to get familiar with the controls at the bottom of the Layers panel.

    Figure 4. The Layers panel shows the imported graphics plus two new layers.

    Step 4: Work with tools to create content and navigate the design The tools in Photoshop can be used for a wide range of tasks. For example, you can use the Pencil and Brush tools along with new erodible brush tips to simulate sketching or painting. Use the shape tools to create rectangles and ovals, and use the Text tool to create text. Use the selection tools to select areas by shape or color. Use the Clone, Blur, and Sharpen tools to correct damaged areas in an image. Use the Eyedropper and Pain Bucket tools to sample and apply color. And use the Zoom and Hand tools to navigate

  • through your work at high resolution. You typically use these tools together to control the workspace and see the details of your images. In this step, you'll add some simple compositional shapes to the illustration. Draw a background rectangle and outline:

    1. Select the Sky layer in the Layers panel. 2. Select the Rectangle tool (press U) located near the bottom of the tool bar. (Be sure to select the

    Rectangle Shape tool and not the Rectangular Marquee tool at the top of the tool bar.) Notice that the Rectangle tool properties appear in the Properties panel. In Photoshop CS6, you can choose whether the rectangle shape has a fill color, a stroke (outline) color, or both. Click and drag from the top left of the canvas to the lower right to draw a rectangle. Notice as you're dragging that the new rich cursor feature shows you the width and height of the shape. The rectangle should have about a half-inch margin from the edge of the canvas.

    3. Select the Border layer. Draw another rectangle the same size as the first. Set the fill color to no fill, and set the stroke color to black with a width of 5 (see Figure 5). Notice that the rectangle shapes look crisp and clean due to the new Snap To Pixel Grid option. The Snap To Pixel Grid and Align Edges features snap the edge of the shape to pixel boundaries when you draw or move shapes.

    4. Save the file.

    Figure 5. The rectangles are the foundation of the design.

    Step 5: Work with selections, channels, and masks Selections are another important concept in Photoshop. Selections enable you to isolate spec