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When Photoshop Is Your Paint and Paintbrush

By Terri Stone

Ingrid Tsy’s art is full of color, energy, and sweeping movement. It grabs your eye from far away, yet the closer you get, the more you can appreciate the detail she pours into every piece. Watch the videos below to see her transform three images from Adobe Stock into a new original artwork.

Download 10 images from Adobe Stock for free and try Tsy’s techniques yourself.

Tsy begins by placing an Adobe Stock photo of a sandstone slot canyon in a new Adobe Photoshop CC file. Using the Magnetic Lasso tool, she selects and cuts out shapes from the photo, copying and pasting them on new layers to build a fuller composition. To visually join the selections, she smoothes their edges with a brush at 20% opacity and a layer mask.

Next, she brings in two abstract swirl graphics. Again making selections with the Magnetic Lasso tool, the graphics become her digital paint, as she grabs bits of the swirls and places them around the background like a painter dabbing a brush in a palette and making marks on a canvas. She moves the selections until they follow the folds and dents of the canyon, and she smoothes harsh edges with a feathered brush and a layer mask.

In this clip, you can see Tsy experimenting with warping (Edit > Transform > Warp) and the Liquify filter to alter shapes. She also plays with Hue/Saturation and Levels to change the pinky-orange sandstone to blue.

Tsy brings more bits of the two original swirl graphics into the composition, relying on the Warp tool to bend them into what looks like the right perspective. She sets the smaller swirls at 70% opacity. Later, she switches to the Brush tool and begins to paint, flipping between 35% black to create shadows and white to emphasize the highpoints of the canyon folds.

To unify the flow of the swirls, Tsy again applies the Liquify filter. Later, she opens the Spherize filter (Filter > Distort > Spherize)and pinches the center of the image to create an illusion of a deeper space.

For stylistic purposes, Tsy adds a halftone effect by going to Select > Color Range, picking the color red, copying the range selection to a new layer, and opening the Color Halftone dialog (Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone). You can see her settings in the above video.

Tsy says her favorite part of creating the image was the detailing. In this excerpt from the hours she spent on the composition, you’ll see her add a Tilt-Shift effect (Filter > Blur Gallery > Tilt-Shift) and fine-tune shadows and highlights until she’s satisfied with the results.

Tsy's finished artwork.

To experience more of Tsy’s work, visit her Behance profile.