Propaganda Art Beginner Photoshop Tutorial

 Download files for this project [freak.zip 1.1MB]

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In Photoshop, open freak.tif and go to Select > Load Selection. Set the source document as freak.tif and the channel as alpha 1. Now set the Operation to New Selection and click OK. Copy the selection (Edit > Copy) and paste it so that the Freak’s head is on a new layer. Select the background layer and then create a new layer using Layer > New Layer and fill it with the colour white (Edit > Fill).

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Select the top layer with the new head. Go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold and adjust the slider so the image looks a little like the screenshot above. Yours may vary slightly as the way you rendered your figure with lights in Poser will affect the result. Now click OK. Save this Photoshop file as freakhead.psd.

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Now clean up the head by filling elements with black. Create a new layer in the Paths palette and rename it Touchup. Use the Zoom tool to magnify the left eye that faces you and select the Pen tool.

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Apply the tool to selected edges of the eye and black areas to clean up the jagged edges and define the black areas. As you can see, we’ve given the black edges a more angular look. Once you’ve drawn a Clipping path with the Pen tool. create a new selection and fill it with black.

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Now do this for the rest of the face. Pay particular attention to the way the edges are straight and angular. Also, add highlights to the eyes to give a spark of life to the face. The above is only a reference, so feel free to experiment. Remember to save the file.

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Now extend the canvas background so that you can apply hair. You can see that we’ve extended the back of the head – because this will bleed off the left-hand side of our final illustration. [See freakhead2.psd in the download for reference.)

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Create a new Photoshop document with the following settings: width 1338 pixels, height 1500 pixels, colour mode RGB, background contents white. Afterwards, Cut and Paste the head into the new document. For now, as you start to add layers, make sure it stays at the top of the Layers palette.

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Create a new layer and fill it with R:222, G:36, B:20; to generate a vibrant red. Create another layer above it and, using the Gradient tool, make a Gradient at the top and bottom of the image so that both fade into the middle. Save the image to your hard drive and call it propaganda.psd.

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Again, create a new layer above the Gradient layer and, using the Polygonal lasso tool, create three sunbeam shapes that radiate from the middle of the figure’s head and expand outwards. Using the colour R:243, G:178 and B:107, combined with the Gradient tool, create a gradient that starts from the figure and fades out to the top-right.

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Create a new layer. Make a circular selection with the Elliptical Marquee tool and fill it with a sunbeam-like colour. Go to Edit > Stroke and draw a thick black line of 15 pixels around it. Use the Pen tool to create a cog-like profile, as shown. Turn the Blending mode for this layer to Overlay.

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For the next layer, use the Rectangular Marquee tool to create a silhouette of a building. Now, using the Gradient tool and the colour R:219, G:61 and B:35, start the Gradient off at the top of the building, fading to the bottom. On the sides, use a darker red and make a selection with the polygonal tool. Add depth with the Gradient tool.

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On a new layer, use the same tools to create the shapes and gradient as shown above, so it looks as if the building has a number of windows. Again, you don’t have to be restricted to just one building. Add more and make it more like a cityscape or a factory, if you prefer.

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AS a near-final touch, create a shape like this to suggest that our man is wearing dungarees. Use the Polygonal tool to create the selection, then fill with black and set the Opacity for this layer to around 48 per cent. This will knock the image into the background a bit.

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Using the above as guide, add a few borders and rectangular shapes, both above and below the head. Only the main block at the bottom of the illustration should be a Gradient; all the rest should be solid. Apply a variety of reds, then save the file.

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Create a new layer at the top of the Layers palette. With the Pen tool, design a basic computer monitor. You may need to do this over a number of layers and then merge them together to create a single layer. Afterwards, make an icon shape for the computer screen and some more icons to illustrate the hard drive casing.

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With the Type tool and a font of your choice [in white]. add text to your design – use our words if you like, but feel free to experiment. As a rule of thumb, always use either a strong, simple font or something quite raw and dirty. Don’t opt for anything overly decorative.

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As the final touch, add a white keyline around part of the design. This will tie the figure in with the computer. Starting from his forehead, create a clipping path around his head, going along the top the illustration and then down and around the computer, using the Pen tool. Add two bullet points to finish it off.

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