Learn techniques for Photoshop across art, illustration, graphics and photography in these tutorials from the world's best practitioners.
Photoshop is a very versatile software tool, as flexible for seamlessly compositing disparate elements into a beautiful photomotage as it is making your photos look even more stunning. It also provides an effortless platform for creating dynamic graphics for both web and print - and let's not forget its pragmatic usefulness as a day-to-day tool for tranforming graphics and photos into the perfect format for your output requirements.
Here we've created a round-up of the best Photoshop tutorials from the past decade of Digital Arts, covering everything from collage and illustration to photography and typography. Some require a recent version of the software, such as Photoshop CC or Photoshop CS6 - but many will work in Photoshop CS, CS2, CS3, CS4 or CS5.
Photoshop tutorial types
Use the links below to click straight through to the different types of Photoshop tutorials we've rounded up here.
- Photo-illustration and collage: the best way to process and composite elements to create a cohesive whole.
- Illustration and art: techniques for artworks with a digital, handmade or mixed media feel.
- Photography: pep up your photos and apply effects including vintage looks.
- Digital painting: master brush and paint techniques.
- Typography: build elegant type art in Photoshop.
- Basics: brush up on your essential techniques.
The photomontage at the top of this feature was created by Serbian illustrator Becha for an haute-couture fashion editorial called Silent Spring that appeared in her home country’s Faar magazine.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to incorporate all these elements into one image and get a dreamy, surreal atmosphere inspired by nature. Becha explains how to make ceramic facial masks that match a model’s face and how to give vector lettering a three-dimensional look. She also looks at how textures can be used to enhance an atmosphere and how adjustment layers can integrate unusual elements.
Here Erik Herrström shows you how to add different lighting effects in Photoshop using brushes, the Lasso tool and adjustment layers. The goal is to create an image with a deep blue/magenta cast, in keeping with the cold outer-space backdrop.
You will also learn to add simple shadows. Finally Eric shows how to use adjustment layers and filters to get the look you want.
New York-based illustrator Kervin Brisseaux shares his techniques to create a super-powered athlete within an atmosphere that draws on the traditions of sci-fi art, as well as religious iconography such as stained glass windows.
Some of the key techniques we will be using include adjustment layers, blending modes, and even Illustrator to create some key elements (though it’s possible to follow this without using Illustrator). Feel free to be experimental with your colour values and hues to amplify the overall mood and depth of the piece.
Get sophisticated results from simple techniques in Photoshop CS5 or later. Markie Darkie shows you how to create a stunning photomontage. You’ll master repetition and layering of shapes, efficient use of simple colour palettes with the aid of Layer Style effects, or a file of vector elements.
This tutorial will show you how to create and control interesting compositions inspired by creatures of the night, decadence and magic. It will also give hints on ways to add depth to your artwork and how to use photographic elements to bring images to life.
The Number 1 album Immersion by drum n’ rockers Pendulum features a photo-illustrative cover by Polish artist Maciej Hajnrich (aka Valp), which was also used across the Collector’s Box Set, including double vinyl, postcards and a bunch of merchandise.
Here, Maciej shows off the techniques for photo manipulation, retouching and editing he brought to bear on the cover.
Fantasy art scenes are usually handled with a liberal sprinkling of Photoshop plug-in fairy dust – but you don’t have to slavishly follow that route. By creating your own brushes in Adobe Illustrator, and using scanned elements with Photoshop, it’s a simple process to create otherworldly scenes that are alive with glow effects and shafts of virtual light.
This masterclass takes a standard stock model and applies layers of light and vector shapes to generate the main image shown left.
During this masterclass, you’ll learn to wrap your source image into a multitude of layers that add a fantastical theme to your art. The key here is to tread softly. When recreating fantasy light effects, soft brushes and fine application is the order of the day. Anything that’s too heavy can ruin the look.
The use of Photoshop’s blending modes is not technically difficult. Where the magic lies is in the conceptual ideas you bring to their use. Jono Hislop wants you to have room to breathe your own inspiration into blending modes, so his tutorial makes repeated use of them.
Alongside techniques for Photoshop, Jono also reveals how he has trained himself to notice useful areas in photos that may otherwise not have grabbed the attention – and how to use these to add dynamism to an artwork.
Toronto-based Murilo Maciel will reveal how he used Photoshop to create a fashion illustration with lighting effects, based around themes of beauty and light.
Here Karim Fakhoury reveals how he composed an artwork that taps into the modern trend for intelligent horror – a montage of a hunched figure under a tree, circled by ravens, harbingers of death in North American folklore. It’s an image that could easily be combined with some elegant typography for a film or TV promo poster.
Creating vibrant, eye-catching images like this one needn’t be a complex or time-consuming affair. In this tutorial, James White shows how to add a vivid retro flair to a striking model shot.
Inject a depth of emotion into simple photography. Tom Starley uses basic colours, shapes and brush strokes to create a well balanced, euphoric image with a hint of the fetal about it. This isn’t a technically complex piece – the original photograph does most of the work, but its graphic accessories enhance the emotion that is hinted at in the original.
Illustrator and product designer David Mahoney explains how to create a ‘tradigital’ artwork such as that shown here. Entitled Mad About You, it features the photography of Bella Tokaeva.
Additionally, he’ll take you through the techniques you’ll need to compose a piece of work similar to the one shown here, while shedding light on how some of these can be transferred to a variety of principles.
Still as popular as ever, photomontage is initially one of the easiest techniques to learn. But achieving photorealistic results can be a challenge. In this tutorial, Mike Harrison shows you how, by blending a number of photos together. This kind of work always has a surreal edge, but with the images you’ll use, the environment and composition, you’ll endeavour to be quite subtle, too, which should add an extra intriguing quality to the piece.
The specific techniques you’ll learn will be how to specify a light source and apply realistic lighting and shadows to the objects, and how to use subtle effects like colour treatment, texture and adjustment layers to give a certain mood to the final image.
Sandra Dieckmann says that her approach to creating a piece is to “imagine a thing and bring it to life to share your inner vision”. She notes that when you are inspired by your dreams, sometimes it feels impossible to believe that what you see inside your mind will have the same power once it is in front of your eyes, but don’t fret.
By following her creative process, you will be able to combine an array of elements in a beautiful composition by keeping your layers separate and by learning how to tidy up your drawing, how to colour it, add textures – and through that really awaken the magic.
This tutorial from one of our favourite collage illustrators Ciara Phelan is all about mixing analogue process and digital photography to create a vibrant and playful photomontage. The theme here is this summer’s fashion: soft clean textures with clean lines to which we’ll contrast brighter vintage floral elements, pastel paints and vector shapes.
You’ll learn how to use a variety of tools in Illustrator and Photoshop to layer scanned elements with photos and hand-made textures, and how to use adjustment layers and masks to unite the colour palette and composition of an illustration.
In this tutorial, architect and illustrator Andreas A Tjeldflaat takes you through the post-production steps of an architecture rendering in Photoshop. The featured techniques focus on marrying a CG building constructed in Modo and rendered using Rhino into a base photo, as well as building up an atmosphere around the structure that supports the aim of the design.
The goal of this image was to blend a Brutalist prison tower into an urban landscape and calm down its overpowering presence. To do this, the image frames the building as a backdrop to an everyday morning scene. The scene is not intended to be photorealistic, but rather to capture the spirit of the construction and its context. Some artistic touches have been added that take the image beyond realism.
The following techniques are applicable to post-production of any CG rendering. Although it can be seen as a step-by-step guide, the process is not as linear as it seems. It inevitably involves going back and forth between layers; adding, adjusting and tweaking, until it feels right.