Photoshop tutorial: Add an Eastern twist to your art

Fuse East and West - and sharpen your Photoshop technique

Intro


In our increasingly globalized, online world we have access to all manner of creative styles and influences at our fingertips. In this tutorial, we’re going to focus on Chinese traditional art, looking at ways to integrate this style with contemporary Western elements. 

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Chinese art places a lot of value in the skilful depiction of set elements, such as mountains, clouds, and flowers, as well mastery of watercolour. 

Here, Peter Lin shows you how to create a piece that successfully blends Chinese and Western art styles without being cheesy, using Photoshop. 

You’ll learn how to create soft, Chinese-style clouds using Photoshop’s Brush tool, and how to master the painting textures that are typical of Chinese art. You’ll also hone your layer masking and gradient control for an elegant, subtle finish.

The rose that Lin used is from Shutterstock; you can buy it from here – or use one of your own.

Software

Adobe Photoshop

Time to complete

2 hours

Project Files

Please visit the desktop site to download the project files.

Step 1

STEP 1

Open a new document in Photoshop measuring 3,750-x-4,961 pixels. Create a new layer, name it ‘background1’ and fill the layer completely with the colour #000222. 

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Select the Brush tool, choose a Soft Round brush in #131b53, and set the opacity to 30%. Use the brush to paint the central area. 


Step 2

STEP 2

Create a new layer on top of ‘background1’ with a new layer mask, naming it ‘background2’. Fill it with the colour #020317. 

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Select the Brush tool and, using a very large Soft Round Brush with 30% opacity, select the colour #1cif3c. Paint the central area of your canvas with this colour. Then create a layer mask at the centre of this painted area.

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Step 3

STEP 3

Now we’re going to create the sky. Create a new layer, naming it ‘background3’. Select the Rough Round Bristle brush in #003cff, setting the opacity to 8%, and paint in a soft centre to your canvas. Don’t worry if the changes you’re making don’t have much visible effect: you’ll see the benefit of these later.

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Step 4

STEP 4

Create another new layer, call it ‘background4’, and using the same brush and colour, paint in the top left-hand corner of the layer. Create a layer mask and soften the layer, this time using the Soft Round brush.

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Step 5

STEP 5

Open the file texture.jpg, and desaturate it (Image >  Adjustments > Desaturate). Create two new layers in your working document, naming the first ‘background5’ and the second ‘background6’. Paste the image into both layers, at the bottom for ‘background5’ and at the top left for ‘background6’.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

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Step 6

STEP 6

Create layer masks for both layers and grab a Rough Round Bristle brush set to 80% opacity. Use the brush to mask the layers as shown, then set these layers’ blending modes to Multiply.

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Step 7

STEP 7

Create a new layer and name it ‘background7’. Set the Rough Round Bristle brush to black and paint at the bottom left of the canvas, setting the layer’s opacity to 7%. 

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Create another new layer and use the Rough Round Bristle brush in white to paint at the top right. Create a layer mask and soften the edges by using a Soft Round brush in 60% opacity. Set the opacity of the layer to 60%. 


Step 8

STEP 8

Create a new layer and name it ‘background8’. Using the Rough Round Bristle brush in black, paint at the top left and centre of the canvas, setting the opacity to 100%. Set the layer’s blending mode to Overlay, then set the layer’s opacity to 7%.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

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Step 9

STEP 9

Open texture.jpg again, and paste the image onto a new layer, naming the layer ‘background9’. Create a layer mask and grab the Rough Round Bristle brush, setting its opacity to 50% and the layer’s blending mode to Multiply. Paint some large blotches in the area shown here.

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Step 10

STEP 10

Create another layer and name it ‘background10’, then select the Rough Round Bristle brush in black. Set the brush’s opacity to 70% and paint at the top of the canvas, as shown here. You now have a background in the style of a Chinese painting. 

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Step 11

STEP 11

Now use the Pen tool to create a white moon shape, then select Layer > Layer Styles > Outer Glow and enter the following settings: blending mode – Screen; opacity – 75%; technique – Softer; size – 163 pixels; range – 50%. 

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Open element1.jpg and paste it on top of the moon, setting the blending mode to Multiply. Create a layer mask for element1.jpg, then soften the layer around the moon shape.

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Step 12

STEP 12

Open the rose image that you downloaded, and cut it out. Paste it into the image and tweak the colours using the Color Balance sliders (Cmd/Ctrl + B), and position it as shown. Create a layer mask, then use the Rough Round Bristle brush to mask around the edges of the roses.

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Step 13

STEP 13

Open element2.jpg and cut out the element, then paste it onto a new layer, setting the blending mode to Multiply. Move the layer so that it’s behind the roses, and soften it with a layer mask. Create another new layer and select Rough Round Bristle bush in white at 40% opacity, and paint next to the moon as shown here. 

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Open and cut out element3.jpg and element4.jpg, and paste these materials behind those roses to give the design more balance.


Step 14

STEP 14

Open element5.psd, and element6.psd – these are images of bubbles – and element7.jpg, then cut them out and work them into the composition around the moon and roses. 

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You can use the Gaussian Blur filter here to make the design more attractive (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur).

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Step 15

STEP 15

Create the waterfall for the rose using the Pen tool by tracing the edge of the rose and drawing in the drip, then adding a layer style with Outer Glow, as in step 11. Select a small Soft Round brush and use it to highlight areas, varying the colour and opacity.

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Step 16

STEP 16

To finish the piece, we’re going to use a Noise filter to add a paper effect to the piece. Select Layer > Merge Visible, then select Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Set the amount to 6%, distribution to Uniform, and tick the Monochromatic box.

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