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.
See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials
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
Time to complete
Click here to download this tutorial's project files
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.
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.
Create a new layer on top of ‘background1’ with a new layer mask, naming it ‘background2’. Fill it with the colour #020317.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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%.
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%.
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%.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
Open and cut out
element3.jpg and element4.jpg, and paste these materials behind those roses to give the design more balance.
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.
You can use the Gaussian Blur filter here to make the design more attractive (
Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur).
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.
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.