Join Nigel French for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating an abstract desktop background, part of Photoshop for Designers: Working with Illustrator.
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So here, we're going to see a simple and very effective interplay of Photoshop and Illustrator to create this abstract desktop background. This is the finished version in Photoshop and I'm just going to take it apart to see how it works. At bottom we have a Gradient Fill. Above that, we have a Vector Smart Object, this was created in Illustrator. To this, we have applied several layer affects. An Inner Glow, a Color Overlay and the Drop Shadow. On top of this is a copy of that element. Rotate it, so that we have that interplay of the two. And the copy does not have any of the layer effects applied to it. But it does have clipped to it a Rainbow Gradient.
And then at the top of the whole layer stack, we have a layer of film grain just to add some texture. I'll now switch over to Illustrator, create a new document, 1024 by 768, with a Web Profile. And then, using my pencil, drawing parts that have no fill but do have a black stroke, I'm going to create 3 wavy paths. There's one and there's a second one (SOUND) and a third one. Then I will switch to my Blend tool.
And I'm going to blend from that point to that point to that point. Double-click on my Blend tool to specify the number of steps. (SOUND) There's some trial and error here, but I'm going to go with 75 steps. Now, as well as having the blend from one shape to another, I also want to blend my stroke weights. So I'm going to select one of these, the topmost stroke, like so, and I will change its stroke weight to 0.25.
And then I will select the second stroke and make its Stroke Weight 0.5. And I think the last one I will make 0.75. Now what I want to do is make these strokes overlap. And that's when it gets interesting. And of course, it's a bit unpredictable as well. So, obviously, the result I'm going to get this time will be quite different to the result that I got the first time.
Okay. I could carry on but I'm just going to go with this. I now want to select it, copy it, move over to Photoshop, where I will start a document at the same dimensions 1024 by 768. And I'll paste that in as a Smart Object, and if necessary scale it, so that it goes all the way to the edges of my canvas. I'll now come to my Background layer. And above my Background layer, I will add a gradient. I want to change the color of that gradient.
We'll go from a blue, like that, to a similar sort of blue, so I'm actually going to duplicate that blue, but then change its color to a darker shade, and we'll make the Opacity 100%. And I want it to run the other way. And I will dither it as well. Okay. So there's my Gradient Fill. I'm now going to add some layer effects to my Vector Smart Object. And we'll start out with a color overlay, which is going to cause the biggest change.
I'm going to change that to white. I will also add, add inner glow. But I need to change the blending mode to a darkening blending mode, and that will give me that effect. I think I want to just temper that a bit, bring that down to about 50%. And then, on the original I had added a Drop Shadow. I think I'm going to omit the Drop Shadow, in this case, I don't think it needs it. But you can add whichever of these layer styles you wish. Okay. I'm then going to duplicate that Vector Smart Object by pressing Cmd or Ctrl+J. Cmd+T to transform it.
I'll hold down my Shift key and I'll just spin that round through 180 degrees. And I'll rearrange it on top of the one we already have. And I will throw away the layer effects. going to change it's Blending mode to Multiply, which doesn't make it a lot of difference. But I think it might when I do the next thing. And the next thing is that I want to put a gradient on top of this. And I want this gradient only to apply to the topmost copy. So I'm going to hold down the Option or Alt key when I choose Gradient from my list of Adjustment layers. That gives me the option to check use previous layer to create clipping mask. The type of gradient I want is this one, a Transparent Rainbow. Of course, I can reduce the opacity of that if I wish. And then finally, I will add a layer at the very top. And when I add this layer I'm going to hold down the optional Alt key. When I click Create New Layer, that will give me the option of changing its blend mode.
In this case, to Overlay, and then filling it with Overlay-neutral gray. To give myself the option of changing my mind about exactly how much grain I add, I'm going to convert this to a small object and come to my Filter menu> Atistic > Film Grain. And if you don't have your filters arranged in this way, you can also get Film Grain in the Filter gallery. And I will use these settings 2, 6, and 8. For the Grain, Highlight Area, and Intensity, respectively.
And you can see that just makes a slight difference there. And if you want to revisit the amount of Grain, you can just double-click on that and change it if you need to. But there we have a simple abstract desktop background created from a simple blend that was started in Illustrator, and then copied over into Photoshop, to which we added some layer effects. We also made a duplicate of it and we added the Rainbow fill to the duplicate.
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- Creating an abstract background
- Adapting a Photoshop custom shape into a symbol
- Experimenting with transformations
- Creating frames, backgrounds, and type
- Duplicating, scaling, and arranging elements
- Modifying Illustrator symbols in Photoshop
- Adding and styling type with Offset Path