The essence of abstract art is movement – of your hand, your eye and each element within the piece. In this tutorial, Rob Shields takes you through the necessary steps to create a balanced abstract image.

Balance within an abstract piece of art is not a simple matter of ratios or obeying hard-and-fast rules. Instead, it has more to do with finding harmony among each of the elements competing for the viewer’s attention. By giving certain elements more prominence, you allow the viewer’s eye to move purposefully through the work without becoming lost or jaded.

What you will not see in the following pages are all the mistakes that were made en route to creating this image. We mention this because making mistakes is an essential part of the process.

When you create an abstract image, you never get it right first time – it is all about trial and error. To get the most from this tutorial, you should experiment, explore a few dead ends and ultimately turn the piece into one that bears your own distinctive stamp.

On the Download Zone Rob has included some elements for you to use. The tutorial also makes use of some of our stock artwork from Photos To Go. Make sure to download both before you start.

Step 1 To create the background, start with a new document in Photoshop and add a black-to-white radial gradient with an Angle of 143° and a Scale of 150%. Open Stone Texture.jpg, copy it into your document and change the blending mode of this layer to Soft Light and its opacity to 12%. Now create a new layer, and with a large soft brush, paint black into the corners and set the blending mode to Soft Light and the opacity to 50%.