Creating a Leaf-based Graphic Identity for a Biotechnology Corporation

Dateline: December 2, 2005
Version: Photoshop CS

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Sebastián Guerrini amplified the contrast and shape of a leaf into a symbolic graphic for a biotechnology corporation’s pamphlets, folders, posters and displays.
Guerrini scanned a linden tree leaf into Photoshop, chose Image > Rotate Canvas > 90° CCW, and used the Crop tool to clip a section from the leaf.
The leaf’s tonal values were almost within the same range, so Guerrini chose Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map. In the resulting dialog box, he clicked on the gradient bar to open the Gradient Editor. Then he double-clicked the far left Color Stop (shadows) on the gradient bar and chose green from the Color Picker. He did the same to the far right Color Stop (highlights), choosing a similar green, and click-dragged both stops inward. Guerrini clicked between the stops on the bottom border of the gradient bar to create a new Color Stop. He double-clicked it, chose a dark green, and created another Color Stop directly to the left to add a medium-dark green.

Gradient Map is similar to Curves in that it alters tonal values, but it also replaces the values with the colors in a gradation. The green values on the ends would be applied to the highlights and shadows of the leaf, and the dark-green colors would affect the three-quarter midtones. To broaden the contrast, he added a light-green Color Stop on either side of the dark-green center stops.
Due to the gradient’s complexity, the image sharpened and would visually compete with the company’s logo, so Guerrini softened the contrasts. He duplicated the leaf layer twice, selected the bottom duplicate layer, chose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and set Radius to 4 pixels. He added a mask, clicked the layer mask thumbnail, selected a large Soft Round brush at 15% Opacity, and painted on the leaf’s veins to hide them from the blur. With the top duplicate layer, he applied the Motion Blur filter with a –70 Angle and a 63-pixel Distance, and set the layer’s Opacity to 80%. To reveal the motion only in the veins, he added a mask to the layer and painted on the leaf to hide it.
Guerrini wanted the leaf’s veins to have a stronger presence, so he selected the Gradient Map Leaf layer, and chose Image > Adjustments > Replace Color. In the resulting dialog box, he clicked Selection, then clicked on a vein in the image. He adjusted the Fuzziness slider to select the majority of the leaf’s veins, and moved the sliders in the Replacement pane to make the veins darker.
To symbolize the company growing on a global scale, Guerrini flattened the image, then chose Filter > Distort > Shear. He moved the top point to the left, clicked on the grid to add a center point that he pulled to the right, and clicked OK. He then chose Spherize from the Distort menu and set Amount to 52%. This rounded the leaf’s veins and bulged the overall shape for an impression of a globe’s meridians and parallels.
Guerrini flattened the image again, converted the Background to a new layer, and duplicated it. He chose Image > Canvas Size and clicked the top middle arrow box to set the Anchor. After setting the Height units to percent, he entered a Height of 200, and pressed OK. Guerrini added to the global shape by pressing Command/Ctrl-T for Free Transform, and while holding Shift, he click-dragged the top middle bounding box handle to the bottom of the image to mirror the top leaf. The final treatment is shown at left.

Sebastián Guerrini is an Argentina-based designer.