It doesn’t take a wealth of graphic complexity to produce an image charged with meaning. In this design, self-employed artist 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.

The techniques in this tutorial will teach you how to subtly use Overlay effects and Selective Color to change the mood of your image. You’ll also learn how to place shapes to aid visual abstract design, how to use brushes to aid movement through the composition, and how to add depth to the foreground. We’ll also throw in a great trick to mask hair.

Step 1 First off, download the project files from the right of this article. Open the In The Moment brush set and double-click to install it. You’ll need a model shot, preferably one with a limited tonal palette. I’ve gone with a nude from iStockphoto that you can buy here:

Step 2 Double-click the photo to unlock it. In Photoshop, create a new layer beneath it. Fill this layer with white. Simple.