Neil Duerden takes us back-to-basics with this stunning tutorial on creating personal art in Photoshop without hundreds of layers.

It seems that everyone in the digital creative field is going technology mad at the moment, equipping themselves with machines running 32GB of RAM, 5TB hard disks and 1,000 plus layers to some pieces.

This tutorial is the opposite, and hopefully a breath of fresh air. We are going back to the basics of pen and paper to create a cool multi-layered piece with a personal touch. You’ll be hand-rendering loads of elements and integrating them in to your piece.

It’s a lot more personal and this shows in the end result. So, stop messing around with filters and digital trickery and let’s get our hands dirty.

Step 1
Image prepping is a very important stage and not enough people do this. But you wouldn’t go out and try heart surgery in a greasy spoon, so why do the same with your pieces? Start by selecting an image you like – I have chosen a pleasing face as the base to this piece, but it can be whatever you want. Remember this base image will dictate the other elements you use, so try to pick something that is flexible, like a face.

Step 2
Now, either clip out the background or mask it out depending on which method you prefer, then select the background and delete the area around the image to create a transparent background. Then duplicate this layer and select the top version.