Rik Oostenbroek created this image, which combines his abstract, organic forms with a photo of a nude woman, using Adobe Photoshop CC.

Blend the Abstract and Organic in Photoshop

By Terri Stone

Rik Oostenbroek draws abstract forms that pulse with life and color. Even though they're static images, they seem to flow across the screen. When I heard that Oostenbroek planned to combine his signature style with a grayscale photo of a woman from Adobe Stock, I questioned whether his style would adapt to the photographic medium. The answer: Definitely.

Rik Oostenbroek's final illustration blends forms he created in Photoshop with a grayscale photo.

Take a look at his techniques in the soundless video screen-captures below and, if you're inspired to try it yourself, download 10 images from Adobe Stock for free to get started.

PART1: CREATING THE INITIAL SHAPES

Oostenbroek says, "For my concept, I needed a lot of skin to play with." He searched Adobe Stock until he found an image he liked, then licensed it and opened it in Adobe Photoshop CC.

Using the Pen tool, he selected the woman's body and deleted the background, then duplicated the layer. The video below begins with Oostenbroek using his favorite, the Pen tool, to mask out curves that create the illusion of empty spaces inside the body. He then applies color by dragging transparent gradients into the masked areas.

A bit later in the screen-capture, he copies the original photo into a layer above over the colored parts to add depth. He also adjusts the original photo; "that creates contrast with the colorful parts and lets them pop even more," he says.

PART 2: BUILDING THE COMPOSITION

"The most important part of creating a piece of art is the composition," says Oostenbroek. "It's also the most challenging part of a piece most of the time. I could have kept this composition simple by not adding anything to the photo, but I felt that would be too boring."

In the 2x speed-up below, you can see Oostenbroek repeatedly drawing abstract shapes with the Pen tool and coloring them.

PART 3: SWEATING THE DETAILS

In the screen-capture video below, Oostenbroek is (mostly) satisfied with the composition and is ready to add details, including smaller elements and highlights, and to further tweak colors. 

PART 4: REFINING WITH ADJUSTMENT LAYERS

"I always add noise when I work with photos," Oostenbroek says. "It looks better printed." Because they're non-destructive, Photoshop's Adjustment layers are the smart choice when making color and tonal adjustments.

THE FINAL IMAGE

Oostenbroek spent about three hours creating the artwork; this is the final result. 

A self-taught designer, Oostenbroek has been using Photoshop since he was in high school 12 years ago. To see the varied illustrations, designs, and art direction he's done since then, visit his Behance profile.