Abstract Photo Manipulation


In this really easy tutorial I’m going to be showing you how to turn a regular old photo into a really interesting, abstract piece of artwork! Just like the one shown below:

1. Stock Photo/Photo Edits

Well, first off you’ll want to start by finding a nice stock photo, or a photo of your favorite celebrity! I used a photo of the lovely Evangeline Lilly, of course. After opening up your stock photo, you might want to sharpen the photo just a little bit (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen) then if it’s to strong, go to Edit > Fade and use an input of about 50%.

2. Adding Photo Effects

Make your photo black and white by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map and using the black/white gradient in the settings.

Using a Gradient Map to make your image black and white is better than simply desaturating the image, as you’ll lose contrast that way.

3. Adjusting Photo Further

Duplicate the Background layer & move it above the Gradient Map. Set the layer mode to Color and the opacity to 40%.

Now make a Brightness/Contrast layer, use the following settings:

Again duplicate the Background layer and move it above all of the layers. Apply Filter > Blur > Gaussion Blur with a radius of 2.0. Set the layer mode to Soft light & the layer opacity to 40%.
Head over to TheDesignWorld.com and pick out a nice Abstract Render. I picked the Trace Render.
Move the render onto the canvas like so:

Change the layer mode for the ‘render’ layer to Lighten.

The result of changing the layer mode to Lighten will be like so:


It’s optional, but you can sharpen the render once Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen, I did.

Create a new layer and drag a bright gradient from one corner to the opposite corner like so:

The bottom left is #c7f92a & the top right is #4e9107.
Set the layer mode to Screen.

Make another Gradient Map, Black to White, change the layer opacity for that layer to 30%.

The final touches I added was some 2d ‘tech’ stuff with the pencil tool.


  • http://www.lifeofstrange.com Matt

    That looks really cool, great tutorial!

  • http://www.eliburford.com/ admin

    Thanks, Matt. I like your site lifeofstrange.com :)

  • Reluctant~

    This is an awesome and simple tutorial.
    The outcome of this are highly eye catching.
    The only thing i dislike is the ‘pencil line tech’ the bottom part looks out but its when its to ‘obvious’ when it gets tot the top part of her hair.
    Maybe fading it from bttom to top.

  • luvy

    FANTASTIC…….Its seems u r Evangeline Lilly fan n i am urs.

  • Anna

    Very cool, I’ve never used Renders before. Thanks for the tutorial!

  • ukrani

    looks good, i love the outcome, not so fond of the 3d but the other grid is tight

  • Shiykin

    Good Job ! WELL DONE.. (“,)

  • empty

    nice tutorial

  • Kaya

    I dont not understand 1 part.Create a new layer and drag a bright gradient from one corner to the opposite corner.

  • Jeannine

    Hi, sorry but got lost after the 1st step, is there a certain program im supposed to use or something? Ok, well plz try and get back to me, thank u.

  • http://www.eliburford.com/ Eli

    Kaya: You use the Gradient Tool to draw a gradient, any color would work as long as it’s bright. Note that the Gradient Tool is on the same button as the Paint Bucket.

    Jeannine: Photoshop, from PS 7, to CS 2.0.


  • Ida

    Wow, that was a lot of help. And itj was cool to xP Great idea!

    PS: If you don’t understand me, I’m Norwegian so… lol

  • Lakmal

    you are doing great help for us.we can learn lot of things about photoshop from your website. Thank you very much.
    Im from Sri Lanka.

  • Henk

    sorry, I don’t get what’s so good about it. Did I miss something, or do I have the wrong taste?

  • Mona

    Mine didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to but it still looked good :-)
    Nice guide

  • Silent Noise

    What’s with the sexy women try doing that on a male for god sake
    Nice anyway

  • Rakesh Bitla

    u have a great sense of colours…

  • shrminhossainmila


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