10 best Photoshop tutorials of 2015: in-depth techniques for illustration, digital colouring, painting and photo retouching

Take your Photoshop skills to the next level with these step-by-step guides to professional art and design techniques.


The dawning of a new year is a good time to brush up on your skills for the year ahead. Here we've brought together the most popular Photoshop tutorials of 2015 to inspire you for 2016.

These Photoshop tutorials span the range of what you can do with Adobe's software: photo-montage and manipulation, graphics, interactive deisgn, digital colouring of hand-drawn art, digital painting and photo retouch. All have been created by leading professionals in their field who've agreed to reveal their skills to us, so there's a lot to discover here

So let's get started.

Combine pictures in Photoshop seamlessly to create a stunning photo-illustration

In this tutorial, Croatian artist Igor Scekic reveals the process of creating his artwork Language, Mind and Knowledge in Adobe Photoshop using a combination of photo-manipulation techniques to composite the lightbulb, face and brain into the work.

Read: Combine pictures in Photoshop seamlessly to create a stunning photo-illustration

Create vector portraits in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial, Spanish artist Daniel Caballero explains how he creates his vector artworks from photo references in Photoshop. He details how he combines elements from different sources, and adds in graphic elements to create a detailed illustration, including tattoos, clothing, shadows and lighting.

You’ll learn to use the Photoshop’s Pen Tool to create clear shapes and lines, and then stylise them using Daniel’s signature style. He also explains how to add and change details and elements to give the piece a hand-drawn look.

Read: Create vector portraits in Photoshop


Use Photoshop CC 2015’s new Dehaze and Grain on Blur to retouch a photo

With the release of Photoshop CC 2015, Adobe have added some new features into the software that are helping to make retouching that little bit easier for photographers.

One such feature is Dehaze, a new slider for restoring colour to hazy outdoor images. This is perfect for landscape photographers and those looking to make use of the golden hour – as Tigz Rice demonstrates in this tutorial based on her recent shoot featuring Ruby Deshabille (in the headpiece) and Reducto W (in the bridle).

Read: Use Photoshop CC 2015’s new Dehaze and Grain on Blur to retouch a photo

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Paint digital portraits in Photoshop with these advanced techniques

One of the most important pieces of advice for painting a portrait is to draw what you see, rather than what you think you see.

It’s very easy as an artist to start drawing in details that you assume are there, altering the image without realizing it – however, this will leave you staring at a finished piece that bears no resemblance to your model, wondering why you can’t get a good likeness. If you constantly analyze your reference throughout, you’ll have a much stronger piece at the end.

Read: Paint digital portraits in Photoshop with these advanced techniques


How to design an app in Photoshop

In this tutorial, Ruaridh Currie from creative agency Serps Invaders will show you how to create an iPad Retina display-ready fashion app UI using Photoshop (and a little bit of Illustrator). During this tutorial, the focus will be on establishing a good foundation by choosing the correct grid, colour palette, fonts and images in order to create a modern, sophisticated user interface.

Read: How to design an app in Photoshop


Create a vintage design using stylish halftone effects

In this tutorial, Fabio Sasso will show you how to put together an inspired vintage design playing with the Color Halftone filter.

Halftones are collections of dots that, from a distance, appear to merge into shades between the colour of the dots and the background. They were first used for printing in the 19th Century to allow newspapers to show shades of grey, and have been popular ever since. Currently, halftones are often used for creating screenprinted projects, T-shirts, stickers and posters to make the most of a small number of inks – but the dots used are often so small that its use isn’t apparent.

Read: Create a vintage design using stylish halftone effects

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Create sci-fi art in Photoshop

In this tutorial, we’ll be creating abstract, science fiction imagery inspired by futuristic movies, geometric patterns and modern design.

Though you’ll be mainly working in Photoshop, you’ll also use a couple of other tools you get with your Creative Cloud subscription – After Effects and Illustrator – plus the Trapcode Form plug-in.

Read: Create sci-fi art in Photoshop


Apply photo filter effects using gradient maps in Photoshop

Photoshop is packed full of great features, although some are a little harder to find than others. One really useful hidden gem is the Photographic Toning presets in the Gradient Map adjustment, which offers a range of built in tonal effects inspired by traditional photographic techniques.

In this Photoshop tutorial, photographer Tigz Rice will show you how to access, apply and tweak these photo filter effects to digitally enhance your work.

Read: Apply photo filter effects using gradient maps in Photoshop


Blend a photo with vectors and smudges to create a bold illustration in Photoshop

Take one alluring fashion image – and add to its mystery using some clever photomontage techniques. In this Photoshop tutorial, up-and-coming creative Bram Vanhaeren shows how you can transform fashion photography into edgy, enigmatic illustrations in just a few steps.

Read: Blend a photo with vectors and smudges to create a bold illustration in Photoshop

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Colour a beautifully feminine portrait in Photoshop

Here Emma Leonard takes you through the digital part of her creative process. Starting with a carefully rendered drawing, she details how she colours it by employing simple techniques such as multiplying layers, altering opacities and adding swatches of watercolour in a restricted palette to achieve a soft and ethereal illustration.

Read: Colour a beautifully feminine portrait in Photoshop