All posts tagged Inspiration

Tutorial: How to Create a Visually Striking Text Portrait in Photoshop

by Caroline Mercurio on September 15, 2016 5 comments

As many Adobe users know, sometimes the fastest way to learn the ins and outs of Photoshop is to teach yourself. That’s why we’ve put together this tutorial to show you an easy way to create a visually striking portrait using our royalty-free library of stock photos.

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but when you combine a picture with text, the impact can be exponential. This technique is fun and useful—whether you’re a budding graphic designer looking for inspiration for your blog or business, or are just trying to master as many tools as possible in Photoshop.

Customizing stock photos is a great way to enhance your online presence. Follow along this tutorial to see how we create this high-impact graphic using an image from our library.


Step 1. Choose A Portrait That Inspires Greatness

Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
You can either complete this tutorial with the fitness photo we’ve chosen or browse through our stock photo library until you find a portrait that fits your needs. The subject of this photo is well-lit and her body easily contrasts with the background. Try to look for these features in your chosen photo and open it in Photoshop.


Step 2. Edit the Composition of the Image

Although the image is already visually well-balanced, we need a closer crop to achieve our desired effect.

Choose the Rectangular Marquee tool (M).

Change the style to Fixed Ratio and adjust the width ratio to 1 and height to 2. This is a good ratio for Pinterest graphics since that platform favors height, but you can choose the ratio that works best for your purposes.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Drag and drop the marquee around the area you wish to keep.

Go to the Image dropdown in the Menu Bar and choose Crop.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop

Step 3. Select the Background of Your Image

Next we will use selection to chose the background of the image. We recommend starting with the Quick Selection tool to begin selecting.

Adjust the size of your Quick Selection brush and click and drag on the background of your image.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
To add to your selection, hold down shift while selecting.

If you added too much, hold down alt while selecting in order to deselect.

If the Quick Selection tool isn’t precise enough, try making the size of the brush smaller.

Pro Tip: To quickly zoom in, out, and around your image, it’s easier to learn keyboard shortcuts. You will need to zoom in close at times to be sure your selection is precise.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Remember to use the ctrl key instead of the command key when using a PC. Here are some to get you started:

Zoom In: Command + =

Zoom Out: Command + –

Fit To Window: Command + 0

Hand Tool (to grab and drag): Spacebar, click and drag


Step 4. Isolate the Subject of Your Image

Now that you have the background selected, we actually want our selection to wrap around the subject and really refine the edges.

Invert the selection by typing shift + command + i or by right clicking the selection (with the Marquee tool activated) and choosing Select Inverse.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Choose the Select and Mask option.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Change the view to Overlay. The parts that aren’t selected are now shaded in red. This helps clarify the area that is selected.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Now you should be able to play around with each of the sliders. The best way to understand what each one alters is to experiment with them until you get the settings you desire.

An easy fix is to check the Smart Radius option and edit from there. We also chose to feather the radius a couple pixels.

Be sure to specify the Output Settings to New Layer with Layer Mask before clicking OK. Need more help? We cover it in greater detail in our selection tool tutorial.


Step 5. Create a Black Background

So now you have your original layer with the image, and a new mask layer that isolates your subject.

Create a new layer and drag it below the masked layer.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
We renamed the new layer to “Black Background.”

Fill it with black by first hitting the D key (this makes your primary color black and the secondary color white).
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Then hit the G key to select the Paint Bucket tool. If the Gradient tool shows up instead, then click and hold the Gradient Tool and drag the mouse over the Paint Bucket Tool.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
With the Paint Bucket tool selected, be sure you have the Black Background layer activated and click on the canvas to fill it.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop

Step 6. Convert To Black and White

Select Your layer with the layer mask, and type Shift + Command + U to desaturate the image or you can go to the Image dropdown in the Menu Bar, click Adjustments, and then Black and White.

You can play with those sliders and presets to configure your desired look and click OK. There is no need to be too precise because we will play with this a little later.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop

Step 7. Add a Black Layer On Top

Similar to how you added a black background, we also want to add a topmost layer filled with black, but we also want to hide it for now.

Create your new layer, make sure it is dragged to the top, and fill it with black. Hide the layer by clicking the eyeball to the left of that layer.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
We renamed the layer “Black Cover.” We will come back to that layer later.


Step 8. Create Dramatic Shadows With Levels

The final look we are trying to achieve is dramatic, blending our subject into the black background. Right now, she sticks out like a sore thumb, so we are going to edit the levels of this photo to achieve the striking-yet-blended look we want.

Make sure your layer with the mask is selected (but not the mask itself) and type Command + L.

The settings you choose will be a matter of personal preference, however in the screenshot below are the numbers we chose. From the left to right we entered 100, .85, and 245. Click OK.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Now the image as a more dramatic look to it and blends nicely into the background.


Step 9. Position and Add Text

Previously we added a black cover layer and hid it. Now we will unhide the layer so we can start adding text.

Drop the opacity of the layer down to 50% so you can see what is underneath.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
The text we will be adding is “I’m going to make you so proud -Note to self” and we chose the typeface called League Gothic, which can be downloaded with your Creative Cloud Account through Adobe Typekit.

Hit the X key to switch your primary color to white.

Then hit the T key to open the Type tool.

Type in your message and align it with the subject’s body.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Notice how we typed in each line of text on different individual type layers.

The goal is to align the majority of the text with the shape of the subjects body and/or face. In this instance, we left the face mostly free of text for readability.

When you type in one line of text such as “You So” you can then use the shortcut Command + T—which is the shortcut for the Transform tool—to drag and drop the corners of the text box to be the size you wish.

This is where it is fun to have creative freedom!

Be sure to hold shift while dragging the corners of the text box so your proportions remain true. Press enter after you resize it.


Step 10. Subtract from the Black Cover Layer

As you can see, we avoided covering the subject’s face with the text. Let’s adjust the Black Cover layer so it doesn’t cover the entire canvas.

Activate that layer, type Command + T, and drag the left edge of the rectangle so that it almost aligns with the text.

We chose to have the left side of the text “hang over” the edge of the box, if you will—meaning it is not perfectly aligned.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Now comes the exciting part!

With your Black Cover layer activated, hold down the Command key and the Shift key simultaneously, while clicking on the “T” on each text layer in the layer window. This will select the area of each text layer.

Keep those keys held down until each text layer has been selected. You will notice the dotted lines around your letters.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Be sure that the Black Cover layer is activated and all your text area has been selected and hit Delete on your keyboard.

Hide all of the type layers by clicking each eyeball.

Bring the opacity of the Black Cover layer back up to 100% and type Command + D to deselect the area of the text.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
It will resemble something very similar to the image above. See how close we are getting?


Step 11. Emphasize the Text

So, we’ve basically deleted the text we arranged from the Black Cover layer to reveal our chosen image underneath, however, we run into the issue that not all of the text is legible.

That’s OK! You’ve made it this far and your Photoshop skills have just increased exponentially. Isn’t it neat how tutorials can open up your mind to the possibilities of Adobe Photoshop? You just have to know its capabilities.

Let’s edit parts of the image underneath the Black Cover layer with the Dodge and Burn tools.

Activate the layer with the mask and select the Dodge tool (O).
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Adjust the Size of the tool to about 400px to start and adjust as needed. Change the Hardness to 0%, the Range to Shadows, the Exposure to 100% and make sure Protect Tones is checked.

You can easily adjust the size of your tool by typing either the [ key to make it smaller or ] to make it bigger.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
Now with your image layer activated, start brushing over the areas you want to lighten. If you go too far, you can easily undo with Command + Z and redo with Shift + Command + Z.

Next, change the range to Midtones and repeat until you achieve your desired lightness.
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
While much better, it is not quite perfect. So now I’m going to create another layer above the image itself and below the Black Cover and start playing with the Brush tool (B) with a lowered opacity white.

After some tweaking, I should get the look I am going for:
Tutorial How to Create Striking Text Portrait Photoshop
And there you have it!

You can create a whole series of graphics for pinterest or posters with this dynamic and engaging style. There are endless possibilities to customize the royalty-free stock photos from our library and to make them your own.

Are you ready to give it a shot? Get the image we used here or check out other inspiring portraits for inspiration.

Start Creating


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Caroline MercurioTutorial: How to Create a Visually Striking Text Portrait in Photoshop

Where Designers Learn: The Best in Tutorials, Tools, and Classes

by Caroline Mercurio on December 29, 2015 No comments

Searching for creative inspiration—or education? We’ve got you covered with the best of the web’s design resources: thirteen of our favorite online destinations for courses, tutorials, and tools to support your inner muse (and help you get the most out of our unlimited library of stock images).

Classes and Tutorials from the Pros

Lynda is a one-stop-shop for design and technology classes, all suited to a variety of digital skills and experience levels. Currently, it hosts more than 600 courses in design with nearly 30,000 video tutorials available. These courses range in topics from broad fundamentals like composition or how to use Adobe creative software to more specific interests like logo or typography design.

For aspiring photographers, KelbyOne is the go-to site for online courses, as taught by many of the best photographers in the field. Some focus on composition fundamentals or tutorials for making the most of your camera, while others delve into learning the ins and outs of digital lightrooms and Adobe Photoshop.

Digital Arts Tutorials
If you’re looking to upgrade your Photoshop game, make sure to check out the design tutorials from British-based design magazine Digital Arts. Specializing in focused, step-by-step tutorials, Digital Arts is the perfect resource for the designer looking for tips on how to create specific effects, such as turning photos into hand-drawn “illustrations” or adding bokeh or snow effects to your images.

Creative Blogs to Inspire

Featuring the latest in editing tips and tricks, expert interviews, industry news, and photographic inspiration, PetaPixel is a must-read blog for designers who regularly work with or manipulate photographs.

Brown Paper Bag
A carefully curated blog of Pinterest-worthy photos, Brown Paper Bag highlights innovative uses of design, from textured prints and watercolor tattoos, to 3D paper sculptures and laser-embossed cookie rollers.

With a minimalist layout, Collate lets imagery speak for itself by focusing on the intersection of advertising, functional design, and pop art. The result is a collection of cutting edge design pieces sure to inspire your inner Warhol or Lichtenstein.

Books and Magazines for Offline Design

Universal Principles of Design
Considered by many as the definitive, all-in-one reference book and primer for creatives, The Universal Principles of Design clearly explains 125 fundamental concepts, from The Golden Ratio to Attractiveness Bias. Written by designers William Lidwell, Jill Butler, and Kritina Holden, the book covers principles essential to all disciplines of design, from illustration and web graphics to commercial advertising and gallery curation.

Before & After: How to Design Cool Stuff Magazine
Before & After is a magazine on a mission to make graphic design concepts and techniques accessible to everyone, especially beginners. With editions available in print, PDF, or video tutorials, the magazine features a useful mix of articles on aesthetic fundamentals and “sprites” or quick tricks to make your projects visually pop.

Print Magazine
Founded in 1940, Print’s bimonthly magazine has a long, respected history of delving deep into design culture and theory while showcasing the best of international and regional artists. You can also find many of the magazine’s articles online in addition to its daily blog, which focuses on equal parts design trade and creative inspiration.

Workshops and Conferences for Creative Communities

Creative Mornings
Think TED talks crossed with a breakfast series for imaginative and innovative minds. Creative Mornings sponsors speaker series in many urban hubs around the world—and if you can’t make one of their sessions in person, you can always listen to their podcasts online. 

Photoshop World
Hailed as the biggest and best photography and Lightroom event of the year, the annual Photoshop World conference is the perfect place for photographers and designers of all skill levels to learn new techniques and network with other design professionals.

The Photoshop Conference
Similar to Photoshop World but for less photography-oriented creatives, the Photoshop Conference focuses on learning sessions and networking events for graphic designers, production artists, illustrators, and publishers.

Royalty-Free Content with Unlimited Downloads

There’s only one place to find royalty-free stock photos, graphics, and vectors with unlimited downloads, and that’s with us here at GraphicStock. Get inspired with these creative images or explore more in our unlimited library.

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Explore stock graphics!►
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Caroline MercurioWhere Designers Learn: The Best in Tutorials, Tools, and Classes

Inspire Your Inner Artist with These Watercolor Projects

by Caroline Mercurio on September 20, 2015 No comments

Inspired by the existing watercolors in our library, we called upon our inner artist to spin them in new directions. Asking ourselves What would Georgia O’Keefe do? we found a few ways to add the delicacy of watercolors to some of the digital images in our library. With an hour of free time, an image editing program and several hundred thousand graphics at your disposal, it’s easy to create custom watercolor graphics—all without the need for a brush, pallet, or paint-stained clothes.

Adding Texture to Shapes and Silhouettes:
Limitless combinations from our library can come together to make even the most mundane shapes pop with the painterly effect of watercolors. In just a few minutes, we took this existing watercolor and masked it onto this tree outline. To make the watercolor effect even stronger, we then lowered the opacity, giving it even more of a painterly tone.


Creating Faux Watercolor Paintings:
One of the simplest ways to really get the watercolor effect across is to create a faux painting. Watercolor painters know well that their paints don’t just lie on top, but instead seep into the canvas, and this natural “color bleeding” is what really gives an image the feeling of a watercolor. To accomplish this, we masked this scalable EPS watercolor onto this flower—then added feathering and a Gaussian blur to soften the edges.


Making Patterns More Dynamic Using Watercolors:
Watercolor patterns are a great way to use a variety of colors while still preserving a natural, “matching” feel. To create the pattern below, we simply repurposed this robust vector as a background and cut diamond shapes to create a pattern.


Adding a Watercolor Background to Enhance Text:
Another subtle but effective technique is using the watercolor effect as a text background. Using two stock images from our library, we masked this bright vector background to this seamless pattern and created the “Pumpkin Spice” style you see before you. Remember to go easy on the watercolor when it’s under text; you don’t need much to get the point across and you don’t want to take away from the message of the text itself.


Want to try your hand at watercolor images? Look no further than our Unlimited Library, which has more inspiration than the Louvre, and no museum ticket required.

Download the images and start painting now►
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Caroline MercurioInspire Your Inner Artist with These Watercolor Projects

Beach Design Inspiration

by Maddie Stearn on July 31, 2015 No comments

The summer isn’t over yet, and there’s still plenty of time to hit the beach—and create some beach-themed graphics! We recommend bringing your warm weather memories into your next brainstorming session and coming up with some fun summer design ideas. To get you started, we put together a gallery of beach-themed graphics. Go ahead and click on the images below to find a little summertime inspiration.

Blue waves vector image

Blue waves vector image

Nautical Themed Vector Images

Nautical themed vector images

Stock image of kayaks on a beautiful beach

Stock image of kayaks on a beautiful beach

Stock image of surfer on the beach

Stock image of surfer on the beach

Download the images now►
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Maddie StearnBeach Design Inspiration

Eco-Friendly Vector Graphics Gallery

by Caroline Mercurio on April 2, 2014 No comments

Eco-Friendly Vector Graphics Gallery

Celebrate being green in style! These eco-friendly images look amazing on the computer screen, no need to print them out! Colorful inspiration for cards, websites, 70-480 exam or any professional presentation. Download these eco-chic vectors with your GraphicStock account to customize the colors, text, font, and layers to match your graphic designs! To view all these go-green design elements and more, check out this Shareable Lightbox. Don’t have A GraphicStock account? Get started with a free trial and get started downloading today. Get them today and watch as your friends turn green with envy!
[portfolio_slideshow id=1059]
Eco-Friendly Vector Graphics Gallery

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Caroline MercurioEco-Friendly Vector Graphics Gallery

Retro Design Hacks: A Photographer’s Tutorial Part II

by Caroline Mercurio on March 20, 2014 No comments

Retro Design Hacks: A Photographer’s Tutorial Part II: We’re Going to Need Some Bokeh

Step 1: Blurring Backgrounds

Similar in some respects to lens flare, bokeh is a Japanese term used to describe the blur quality of out-of-focus photography elements.

YouTube has some great tutorials on adding and creating bokeh in Photoshop, but you can also download pre-fab royalty-free versions available via Graphic Stock:


Why bokeh?

a) It’s as coveted among photographers as is retro design—if not more so.

b) It lends itself to associations with professional-level photos and videos, as good bokeh requires the large apertures (and aperture control) that often come only with higher-end cameras and lenses.

c) Its being, by definition, out of focus means it eliminates distraction and retrains focus upon the forefront. This is precisely why it’s so useful in photography—to make in-focus subjects pop against blurred backgrounds—and the same holds true for general design.

Step 2: Returning to Roots

Remember all that work we did in Part I to lighten the palette more toward white than brown?

It’s probably best not to undo all of that by using such a dominantly dark (in areas) background image. There are many ways to get around this (including just doing another image search), but this is a great photo worth some quick strategic adjustment.

All that’s required, really, is a little transparent overlay (based on, perhaps, the off-white from Part I) to draw the eye toward the brighter areas and help the icons pop:


Step 3: Knowing Your Surroundings

Playing around with design—particularly that involving the light and dark contrasts covered above—can be tricky when focusing too closely on your existing content and not enough on its destination.

This is why it’s always a good idea to anticipate the end result.

Now if only there were a quick and easy way to achieve this:


Expert tip: the use of stock templates like that above is as useful in the client approval process as it is in the design process. Think the content created so far looks better overlaid across a digital display? Your client probably will too . . .

Check back for Part III: Details and Development

*All graphics sourced from the Graphic Stock library
**All design work courtesy of DiGuiseppi Studios


Matt Siegel writes about design, leadership, branding, and pop culture for Video Blocks and Graphic Stock. Follow his coverage @MattSiegelMedia.


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Caroline MercurioRetro Design Hacks: A Photographer’s Tutorial Part II

Creative New Years Resolutions

by Caroline Mercurio on January 13, 2014 2 comments

So you’ve made a new years resolution. Good for you! Now the big question… will you keep it?

Maybe you’ve made a resolution to hit the gym more, quit smoking, or cut back on those five cups of coffee you’re currently consuming on a daily basis. However, instead of those regular resolutions how this year you get creative.

You know you’ve always wanted to create your own website, learn how to use Photoshop, and get more into media design, so why not! Let this year be the year that you really break into the graphic design scene.

Here are some easy steps to help you start making moves:

  1. Research the types of jobs that Graphic Designers do. See what sorts of design projects spark your interest.
  2. Use tools that are easily accessible to you such as online blogs and forums for designers
  3. Signup for Treehouse. This online learning community offers tons of useful tutorials and videos that will really take your creative knowledge to the next level.
  4. Keep thing simple. Remember this is a step-by-step process. Don’t take on more projects than you can handle or you
  5. Stop procrastinating! You can do this.

Your first project should keep you inspired about your graphic design dream. Check out these inspirational graphics to use towards putting together your website, to use on your blog, or inspire others on an online community. New year, new you!

frames_1000004253-120713int-1213int businessman show a creative box with 3 d streaming images
4404-abstract 245-1013-A0248
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Caroline MercurioCreative New Years Resolutions