Blend the Abstract and Organic in Photoshop
Rik Oostenbroek draws abstract, organic forms that pulse with life and colour. Even though they’re static images, they seem to flow across the screen. When I heard that Oostenbroek planned to combine his signature style with a grayscale photo of a woman from Adobe Stock, I questioned whether his style would adapt to the photographic medium. The answer: Definitely.
Take a look at his techniques in the soundless video screen-captures below and, if you’re inspired to try it yourself, download 10 images from Adobe Stock for free to get started.
Rik Oostenbroek’s final illustration blends forms he created in Photoshop with a grayscale photo.
Part1: Creating the Initial Shapes
Oostenbroek says, “For my concept, I needed a lot of skin to play with.” He searched Adobe Stock until he found an image he liked, then licensed it and opened it in Adobe Photoshop CC.
Using the Pen tool, he selected the woman’s body and deleted the background, then duplicated the layer. The video below begins with Oostenbroek using his favourite, the Pen tool, to mask out curves that create the illusion of empty spaces inside the body. He then applies colour by dragging transparent gradients into the masked areas.
A bit later in the screen-capture, he copies the original photo into a layer above over the coloured parts to add depth. He also adjusts the original photo; “that creates contrast with the colourful parts and lets them pop even more,” he says.
Part 2: Building the Composition
“The most important part of creating a piece of art is the composition,” says Oostenbroek. “It’s also the most challenging part of a piece most of the time. I could have kept this composition simple by not adding anything to the photo, but I felt that would be too boring.”
In the 2x speed-up below, you can see Oostenbroek repeatedly drawing abstract shapes with the Pen tool and colouring them.
Part 3: Sweating the Details
In the screen-capture video below, Oostenbroek is (mostly) satisfied with the basic composition and is ready to add details, including smaller elements and highlights, and to further tweak colours.
Part 4: Refining with Adjustment Layers
“I always add noise when I work with photos,” Oostenbroek says. “It looks better printed.” Because they’re non-destructive, Photoshop’s Adjustment layers are the smart choice when making colour and tonal adjustments.
Rik Oostenbroek is a self-taught designer and has been using Photoshop since he was in high school 12 years ago. To see the varied illustrations, designs, and art direction he’s done since then, visit his Behance profile.