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Create colourful collages: Part Two

by Adam Smith. 30 Dec 2012

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

Linking colour combinations

We can use certain birds to help link the different pairs of complementary colours together. The owl, for example, is going to be patterned using blue and green. This links the green from the green and red pairing to the blue of the orange and blue pairing. Blue and green also work well together as they sit next to each other on the spectrum.

Create colourful collages: Part Two

Neutral tones

Another method of harmonising the illustration is to pick some neutral shades which link the birds together. In this illustration we can use some tawny off-white shades as the ‘canvas’ on the birds which works as a foil to the bright colours.

Create colourful collages: Part Two

Background

Once you have dropped all your swatches in, it’s time to choose a background colour. Because there are already lots of different colours being used in this illustration, we are going to use a neutral but dramatic black. This will help emphasise both the simple shapes and bright colours.

Create colourful collages: Part Two

Patterns – triangles

One way of creating simple effective patterns is to line up rows of triangles of a few different colours – some different shades of red for example – against a neutral off-white background. You can then build up ‘stripes’ of different triangles – this is how the pattern on the long bird’s neck was created.

Create colourful collages: Part Two

Patterns – circles

On the owl I wanted to create some circular patterns on the eyes to emphasise their round shape. So I simply created lots of different circles and semi-circles in blue and green and played about with them until I found a pattern that I was happy with.

Create colourful collages: Part Two

Repeat your patterns

Because there are already quite a lot of different things going on in this illustration, we don’t need to create too many different patterns. The patterns on the wings of the birds, for example, are repeats, just in different colours. This again helps to unify the illustration.

Create colourful collages: Part Two

Add eyes

Once the birds have been coloured, you can add a bit more character with eyes and other small details. Sometimes it can be good to introduce a contrasting or new colour into the eye so they really stand out.

Create colourful collages: Part Two

Add shadows

To give the illustration a sense of depth I added some shadows between layers. On the owl, for example, I added some circular shadows to emphasise the eyes and I also added a shadow under the front wing to make it stand out against the owl’s body.

Create colourful collages: Part Two

Blur

As the illustration was capturing some birds in flight, I used the Blur tool in selected areas so that the edges were not too defined and sharp. You don’t want to overdo the Blur as it might become distracting.

Create colourful collages: Part Two

Step Back

Take a step back and look at your finished illustration – does it feel ‘right’? Sometimes it is good to leave the work alone for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Create colourful collages: Part Two

Click here for part one of this tutorial.

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