Brush it away

Today I stumbled across an article on Shutterstock offering a free set of 20 ‘Grunge’ brushes for Photoshop and suggestions for how to use them for creative effect. Having never used brushes like this before, I downloaded them, loaded them up into Photoshop and had great fun playing around!

This blog post showcases some of my new creations as a result of these experiments, and talks through what I learned about Photoshop as I went along.

Here’s the first graphic I created:

Go easy on yourself.  Whatever you do today, let it be enough.
“Go easy on yourself. Whatever you do today, let it be enough.”
Text borrowed from #PeacefulMindPeacefulLife on Twitter

In this graphic I chose a radial Solid Colour layer for the background, with brush effect on top of that layer, using blending options (“Soft Light” or “Overlay”, I can’t remember which) to soften the brushes and blend the colours with the background.

Then I experimented with drop shadows around the text to lift it off the page.

Happy with that but eager to experiment further with the brushes, I picked another inspirational quote from a catalogue of quotes I’ve collected…

"Mourn the end of an era, but honour the start of a new one.  For in this new era lie the lands of hopes and dreams, growth and new beginnings."
“Mourn the end of an era, but honour the start of a new one. For in this new era lie the lands of hopes and dreams, growth and new beginnings.”
Text courtesy of #TheStreamOfHumanConsciousness on Twitter

In this graphic I started with a tan background, as the Shutterstock article suggested. Applying the same brush multiple times with different colours, then using different blending options for the brush layer, gave me this papyrus-effect for the background.

I thought this script-style font complemented the text and the background. Adding an Outer Glow effect around the text helped to separate it slightly from the background and make it more legible.

Moving on from plain backgrounds, next I selected a photograph of Hadrian’s Wall that I had taken back in January and created this:

"Photography is putting one's eye and one's heart on the same axis." - Henri Cartier Bresson
“Photography is putting one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis .”
– Henri Cartier Bresson

Using the photograph as a background, I applied one of my new “Grunge” brushes to give a ‘vintage’ sort of effect, then on top of that I added a quote I had seen online.

With my creative juices now flowing, I clicked on to another Shutterstock article which gives away 20 free celebration and bokeh backgrounds.

My first thought when I saw the background images in this set was “I can add snow”! So I dragged out one of my pictures from earlier this year that I’ve been thinking would make a good Christmas card and added a snow effect on top. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the original versus the snow effect one?

Original:

Lechlade in Winter

With added snow effect (and removal of the telephone wire):

Lechlade in Snow

Finally, I combined the brushes with a confetti background and created this graphic:

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
Text courtesy of Cole’s Classroom

As per the instructions in the article, I used a Clipping Mask to put confetti behind the text. I’ve never quite understood Clipping Masks, but it worked a treat in this situation!

This type of digital art & graphic design marks a departure from the ‘pure’ photography I’ve focused on up until now, but I must say I enjoyed the exercise! So there you have it. From photographer to graphic designer??

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