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Create colourful collages: Part One

by Adam Smith. 28 Dec 2012

Use Photoshop tools to build vibrant images, using stock and shapes

Your narrative

Decide upon the story you want to tell. Moving Target represents a tension between the idea of some fantastical brightly coloured birds that could come from a child’s book or animation, and the idea that they were prey to some unseen hunter’s gun.

Create colourful collages: Part One

Cut, cut, cut

All the birds in this illustration are created from really simple shapes that are cut from paper (sketch them if you find that easier). The birds’ bodies, for example, are all created from a single teardrop shape. Once you are happy, scan your shapes, and then import them into Photoshop. (They don’t have to be perfect as you can clean them up later).

Create colourful collages: Part One

Define your shape

Once you have your shape in Photoshop, use the Magic Wand tool to select the area around it and then delete the selected area. If there are any rough edges or you want to change the shape, just use the Circle or Straight Line tool to select areas and then use the eraser to delete the unwanted sections.

Create colourful collages: Part One

Gather your shapes

Gather all your shapes together as different layers in one Photoshop document. This makes it much easier for you to play around until you find the right combination of shapes to create your birds. As well as the teardrop shape, I also created circles, rectangles, and some other simple abstract shapes.

Create colourful collages: Part One

Make your birds

To create the owl, I took the basic teardrop shape and simply added two circles for eyes and cut out a diamond-shaped hole in the body for the beak. The wings were just abstract shapes. By using these simple shapes, you can easily create all sorts of different birds.

Create colourful collages: Part One

Layout

I based my layout on four bird shapes, which I balanced out across the page. I then added some circles (or targets) around selected areas to suggest the hunter’s view – lining up the prey with his gun.

Create colourful collages: Part One

Create colourful collages: Part One

Add some details

Add some details like legs and necks to your bird creations – now is the time to add some character to your birds’ shapes. I added some birds with long curved necks that mirror the curves of the target
circles.

Create colourful collages: Part One

Create colourful collages: Part One

Fill the gaps

There is still lots of empty space in the image and as I wanted to create a busy picture, I simply added some smaller birds. They don’t have to be entirely new creations – you can simply duplicate then resize some of the bird shapes you have already designed.

Create colourful collages: Part One

Spread your colours!

One easy way of finding colours and tones that work well together is to collect as many samples of papers of different colours and hues as you can. Spread them out on your desk and play around with them – it’s a great way of finding unusual combinations. We have already decided that we want to use the pairs of complementary colours for this illustration – the bright primary and secondary colours help the child-like feel.

Create colourful collages: Part One

Map your colours

A good way of planning how to use colour in your illustration is to simply drop colour swatches onto it, and see how they work together as a whole. We are going to create clusters of complementary coloured birds in different areas of the illustration and then link them up.

Create colourful collages: Part One

Discover part two of this tutorial, released 30th December.

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