Designer Passport is back for another year of tutorials and creative design. In this monthly series, we take an opportunity to spotlight great designers from around the world. Each month, we bring you a new piece of art by a graphic artist we love (created from Shutterstock assets, of course), along with a step-by-step guide on how you can create it (or something equally awesome) yourself.

This design comes to us from Lucas Doerre of Germany. Titled “Singularity,” the piece is about the evolution and anchor of a human personality and perspective warp. In the artist’s words:

“It’s about being conscious of what exists today and what can exist tomorrow. It’s about birth and nature that attends to us throughout life. I believe that every person moves between different levels of life — my piece is an awareness of the levels you want to exist between. I see people as soft material that moves continuously through time and space.”

Photoshop 3D Warp Completed Project

Read on for a step-by-step guide to Lucas’ general process for creating “Singularity.”

How to Start the Singularity Project

Step 1:

First, I made a rough draft of my project. Since Photoshop can now function in 3D, I was able to include the 3D human in the draft, which allowed me to define the correct proportions and perfect the composition. Wavefront-data files can be opened and worked with in Photoshop by following this path: 3D > New 3D Layer from File > Select File.

Creating the 3D Layer Warp

Step 2:

Once I was satisfied with the Photoshop draft, I tackled the real 3D work and built the entire scene as I had envisioned. I brought the scene to life in Photoshop, where I was also able to add the details. For fonts, I used the Typekit tool. I placed the correct fonts directly into the Photoshop draft, which helped me properly compose the piece.

Editing a Butterfly Image in Photoshop

Step 3:

I opened a document in the following size: DIN A1 and 300dpi. After that, I took an overview and figured out which pictures I would need. I cropped the images that I needed by using a graphic tablet. One tip: crop pictures by using the brush and setting the hardness to 90%. This will make everything look more realistic. If the hardness is set to 100%, you get slightly angled/square cuts that are less realistic. I like to work with level masks, which simplify and quicken the workflow while you crop. Objects can be cropped with the mouse and the Pen Tool too. In this case as well, don’t set the selection to 100% (Select > Modify > Smooth).

Adobe Photoshop Gradient Map

Step 4:

After cropping all the objects, it’s time to take care of the colors and lighting. Some things that I find very helpful that aren’t used very often: Adjustment Layers, Color Lookup, and Gradient Map. Play around with these three and the level modes, which will help you create amazing effects.

Adjustment Layers, Color Lookup, and Gradient Map

Step 5:

To optimize the lighting, I used Levels. To create a vibrant atmosphere, I placed light and shadow by drawing black and white at the edges of the document. After that, I adjusted the level mode to Soft Light or Overlay.

Level Mode Soft Light and Overlay

Step 6:

For water, I opened all of the photos that I needed in Photoshop. Then I inserted the photos into the document and figured out which would be best to use for the ground level. It’s difficult to find a picture that fits perfectly into the right perspective, which is why the new Adobe Perspective Warp tool is very useful. It can be used to pull pictures into the right perspective.

I adjusted the ground-level perspective of the water into the existing scene by selecting Edit > Perspective Warp and then choosing the picture I wanted to use.

Editing Perspective Warp

Step 7:

After completing the ground level, I included more pictures of water and customized the perspective once again by using Perspective Warp.

Creating Customized Perspective Warp

Step 8:

Once satisfied with the composition and visualization of the water, I worked on the color and lighting, adjusting everything so that the water levels fit together almost perfectly. To get a realistic water level, I paid attention to the details, working very closely by overlaying different levels. The Clone Stamp was also really helpful during that process.

How to Use the Clone Stamp

Step 9:

I finalized the color and lighting of the water by the end. I wanted to be certain that the water level fit perfectly in the overall design of the scene.

Finalizing Water and Lighting

Step 10:

I wanted the umbilical cord to function sort of like a tree branch in this piece. As I did before, I cropped the photos that I wanted to include, then fixed the course of the branch and adjusted the photos accordingly. Once everything fit together, I deformed the branch, moving slowly through each part, then adjusted the photos to the color of the branches. To deform the branches, I used Pupped Warp (Edit > Puppet Warp).

Puppet Warp Tool in Photoshop

Step 11:

I repeated the procedure for step 11 and applied it to the whole branch/cord, while also adjusting the color and light to match the scene. I did this by using level masks. For the detailed bits of light, I painted the light again as a shadow in black on the branches. I set the level mode to Soft Light.

Shadows and Soft Light Creation

Step 12:

To give the piece more of an atmosphere, I blended smoke into the left border. I did this by scaling the photos I wanted to use and setting the level mode to Screen.

Blended Smoke Effects

Step 13:

I waited until the end to fix the color of the butterfly. I cropped that and used Adjustive Layers to help it fit into the scene.

Cropping with Adjustive Layers

Step 14:

The last and the most important step: finalizing the color and light scenery. With adjustment layers you can achieve a quiet, sensitive, but also strong and clear mood. For that, I prefer to use Color Lookup and Gradient Map, as described in Step 4.

View all of the images from this tutorial in our Singularity lightbox »

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