Color Blending Effects Using Shape Layers in Photoshop

Photoshop Tricks for Designers: How to
Create Bada$$ Effects in Photoshop

By Corey Barker
Peachpit Press, 192 pages, $32.39

One of the toughest things about being a designer is getting a good idea. The next challenge is realizing that idea. This book will not only be a source of ideas , but will also show you how to create them step by step. You can even combine multiple effects to create other results—the book’s cover was designed by combining at least half a dozen techniques found within.

What follows is a cool commercial effect you can use on products. It utilizes simple color bars to create an interesting layout, and then blend modes to blend the product with the background.

STEP ONE: Press Command-N (PC: Ctrl-N) and create a new document measuring 2000 pixels wide by 1000 pixels tall at 100 ppi. Then, press Shift-Delete (PC: Shift-Backspace) and, in the Fill dia log, choose 50% Gray from the Contents pop-up menu and click OK. Press Command-R (PC: Ctrl-R) to make the rulers visible. Then, click in the vertical ruler, drag out a guide, and place it at the 500-pixel mark on the horizontal ruler. Place two more guides at the 1000- and 1500-pixel marks.

STEP TWO: Go to the Toolbox and select the Rectangle shape tool (U). In the Options Bar, set the tool’s mode to Shape and set the Stroke color to none. Click on the Fill swatch, then click on the rainbow-colored swatch at the top right of the Color Picker, and set the color to the green color I am using here (R=57, G=181, B=74). Click OK.

STEP THREE: Now, click on the first guide, just above the canvas edge, and draw a green rectangular shape over the entire first section. This will also create a shape layer automatically.

STEP FOUR: Next, draw a rectangle over the next section defined by the guides. Each new shape will create a new shape layer. The shapes should snap to the guides when you get close to them. If not, go under the View menu and make sure Snap is turned on.

STEP FIVE: Double-click on the second shape layer’s thumbnail to open the Color Picker. Set the RGB numbers to R=0, G=114, B=188 for a middle blue color. Click OK.

STEP SIX: Create another rectangle shape over the next area between the guides and change the color to orange (R=248, G=148, B=29).

STEP SEVEN: Create the final rectangle shape at the right end of your document, and fill it with black.

STEP EIGHT: Click on the topmost shape layer in the Layers panel, then Shift-click on the bottom shape layer to select all four, and press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to activate Free Transform. Right-click on one of the shapes and choose Skew from the pop-up menu.

STEP NINE: Press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key, click on the top-middle control handle, and drag it to the right. Skew the shape to around –20 degrees, and press Return (PC: Enter) when you’re done. Click OK in the warning dialog that appears.

STEP 10: Now, we have areas by the green and black rectangles revealing the gray background. So, choose the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow; press Shift-A until you have it) from the Toolbox.

STEP 11: Click on the green shape layer in the Layers panel, and use this tool to grab the top-left control handle of the shape, then drag it over to the left to cover the rest of the corner. Do the same with the black shape layer to cover the lower-right corner.

STEP 12: Next, press Command-O (PC: Ctrl-O) and open the product image. In this case, we are creating a fake headphone ad, so we have a nice headphone image here (available in the Chapter 7 archive on the book's download page). First, we need to extract it from the background. So, select the Quick Selection tool (W) from the Toolbox, and click-and-drag around the white area surrounding the headphones. Don’t forget the area in the middle of the headphones. Once you have that, go under the Select menu and choose Inverse (or press Command-Shift-I [PC: Ctrl-Shift-I]) to flip the selection to the headphones.

STEP 13: Click on Refine Edge in the Options Bar. Then, use the Refine Radius tool (to the left of the Edge Detection section) to paint over the bottom area where it touches the surface to select some of the shadows. When your selection is done, set the Output To pop-up menu to New Layer and click OK.

STEP 14: Go under the Layer menu, under Matting, and choose Defringe. Set the Width to 2 pixels and click OK. This will clean up the anti-alias noise around the edge.

STEP 15: We don’t need the headphones in color, so remove it by pressing Command-Shift-U (PC: Ctrl-Shift-U). This will leave the contrast a little softer than the gradient map method.

STEP 16: Now, switch back to the color bar image and click on the top layer in the Layers panel to make it active. Use the Move tool (V) to drag-and-drop the headphones onto the color bar image. Then, press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to use Free Transform to scale the headphones to cover the first three color bars like you see here. Press Return (PC: Enter) when you’ve got them the way you want them.

STEP 17: Change the blend mode of this layer to Difference and drop the layer’s Opacity to 75%. Magically, the color effect takes shape.

STEP 18: Go back to the headphone image and drag-and-drop another copy of the headphones over onto the color bar image. Then, use Free Transform again to scale this one down to fit in the black bar area. Also, while in Free Transform, Right-click on the headphones and choose Flip Horizontal and then move your cursor just outside the bounding box and rotate them a little bit. Press Return (PC: Enter) when you’re done.

STEP 19: Now, press Commend-L (PC: Ctrl-L) to run a Levels adjustment using the settings I have here (drag the highlights slider to 230, the midtones slider to 0.60, and the shadows slider to 59) to get more contrast in the image against the black background.

Finally, just use the Horizontal Type tool (T) to drop in some text (I used the font Futura Light here), or add a logo, and there you have it.

Photoshop Tricks for Designers: How to Create Bada$$ Effects in Photoshop by Corey Barker. Copyright © 2016. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.