For this tutorial, we’re going to be using some of Photoshop's oldest controls to create an old-school layered artwork.

See also: 83 Best Photoshop tutorials

A central element of this tutorial is the use of the Multiply blending mode in Photoshop. Part of the Darken family of blending modes, at its most basic it compares the blend layer’s pixels with the base layer on a channel-by-channel basis, but rather than simply choosing the darker of the two, it multiplies the base colour by the blend colour. A multiple of black will always be black, and anything multiplied by white is unchanged. Otherwise, the net result is always a darker underlying image.

Multiply can seem odd at first glance. The concept of mixing paints – red and blue, for example – is simple to grasp. Multiplying is similar to the leap between addition and multiplication in mathematics.

The key for this tutorial, though, is to focus on experimentation, especially with blending modes such as Multiply and Photoshop’s layer effects, and having a great starting image. While there is a lot you can follow directly along with – and the file is included in the download so you can do just that – an image such as this is heavy on creative fun.

Part of creating a complex image such as this is to be a magpie when it comes to images. From the base mono image through to hand-drawn elements, cutouts and scanned elements, our image is alive with points of interest and texture.


Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator

Time to complete

Two hours

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