Create slick digital artworks and hone your use of colour and shape, with these brilliant tips from Photoshop guru Vincent Fraser.


Great compositions don’t just happen by accident. They take planning, patience, and a knowledge of all the visual elements at your disposal.

The great thing is, no matter how talented you are, you’ll always be able to improve your art by using the basic rules of good composition before you begin.

In this tutorial, we’ll give the piece some extra oomph by using a bold palette of strongly contrasting colours. Along the way, we’ll create a stunning composition using some simple but effective compositing and lighting techniques in Photoshop.

The model shot that the tutorial is based on was taken by the photographer Ignacia Gracia; she has kindly given permission for us to include it on the cover CD.

You can see more of her photos at tinyurl.com/paljvm. Please note that this image can only be used for this tutorial and not for commercial work; the copyright remains with the photographer.

We’ll also use a number of other images which can be downloaded for free from stock.xchng: before beginning the tutorial, download the images from the following links: tinyurl.com/otrmvr (an eye); tinyurl.com/pk9jrs (chopsticks); tinyurl.com/pubgjr (a sky); tinyurl.com/r5kpyz (the picture frame); and tinyurl.com/onglrh (the background).


01. In Photoshop, create a new RGB canvas at 300dpi in portrait orientation, measuring 2700- x-3508 pixels, with the Background Contents set to White. Open the image model.jpg from the cover CD and drag and drop it as a new layer into your working file. Using the final image as a reference, resize the photo of the dancer to fit the canvas.