Easy Double Exposure Image Techniques

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Lets start with a new canvas. I like making all of my work as big as possible, so we’re going to make this 12x12 inches at 300DPI, setting our background color to a pale yellow/tan. I used this specific color - #f4f2e3.

Lets drag our background layer onto the canvas. Place it wherever you think fits best and drop your layer opacity down to 30%. You can find this option in your layer palette right next to your blending modes. You might need to erase the top of the image with a soft brush to blend it into the background a little more.

Next we’re going to add a subtle vignette to draw the eye more towards the center of the image. Select your elliptical marquee tool from your layer palette and drag your curser from the top left corner down to the bottom to create a circled selection. 

Once you’ve made your selection, navigate to the “select" option in your menu and select “inverse”.

With the outside of the circle selected, create a new layer and navigate to your paint bucket tool and fill this new selection with black. 

We want to blur this out so it fades into the image. To do this, deselect your selection and head to filter > blur > gaussian blur and set your radius to 647. This will blur the black layer just enough to still leave the center alone but will fade all of your corners to black. Once you’ve blurred it out, drop your layer opacity to 30%. You should have something that looks like this so far.

ext - We’re going to drag in our cutout.

ets go back to our mountain image and bring it in again on a new layer. This will be the layer that we use to cut out the mountain shape on the side of our cutout. Highlight your new mountain layer and select the free transform tool (CMND+T) and rotate it -90 degrees so the mountain horizon lays on his left side. I dropped the opacity of this layer so i could see where i was placing the mountains in relation to my cutout. Once I’ve found a good placement I brought my mountain layer opacity back up to 100%.

avigate to the magic wand tool, set your tolerance of this tool to 68, and select the sky from your mountain layer and delete it (Backspace). You can find the tolerance option right below your main menu for PS.

With the sky deleted, you should have something that looks like this:

 

Next - we’re going to cut out the mountains horizon shape into the cutout. Head over to the layer palette, hover over the mountain layer, press command and click on the image of the layer palette to make a selection of the image without the sky. Use the step we applied above and select the inverse of this shape. Click on your “cutout” image and hit backspace. This will delete the space outside of the mountain image and will give our cutout the mountain horizon shape on his left side. Your image should look something like this:

Now we need to get our mountain layer selected in the same shape that our cutout is in. To do this, hover over the image of the “cutout”, hold command, and click on the image in the layer palette to highlight the cutout shape. Click above on your mountain layer, select the inverse, and delete the outside space. 

Set this mountain layer to “screen” as your blending mode.

Now to start coloring. Click on the black/white circle below the layer palette and create a new gradient map. We want this to have even blue and white hues so were going to set our shadow color to blue and highlight color to white. The specific color we used for this blue is #0e0e38. 

nd to top it off we’re going to add a light leak to give the image a bit more color contrast. Head over to our warehouse section on our website and download the “Light Leak 2.0” pack and drag the 4th image on top of your canvas. Set this layer to screen and free transform the layer to fill the image. 

And VIOLA, You have a double exposure image! Remember that these techniques being applied to this image can be applied to ANYTHING as long as you know how to implement them correctly. It just takes a little bit of imagination and creativity.

How To Paint Traditional Tattoo Flash

A lot of people try and paint tattoo flash without much grasp on how it actually works. Here's a step by step on how we paint tattoo flash.

 

First, get a rough sketch of what you want to do. We tend to use red pencil on tracking paper, but you can do it with any color on any paper. Some people draw directly on the water color paper and do the lines over top, but you're better off doing it on tracing paper as its generally easier to draw on the smoother surface, and it feels more forgiving if any errors are made along the way.

After you've gotten down what you want to paint, lay another piece of tracing paper over top and re-line it. We're doing all of this with a 1.0m micron pen. We do this just to get a much cleaner drawing to transfer over with all the extra details that you want to add.

After you've got it all lined out how you want it, cut it out to fit the paper size that You'll be painting on (in this case 5x7), and tape it to the back to avoid it moving around when lining it out.

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Once you've done this, bring it to your light board and patiently and slowly line it out, ensuring it's as clean as possible. You can also tape your drawing against a window during the day or position a light behind the glass to shine the image through. 

 If you have any changes you may want to make, do it with red pencil so you can see it better, and just erase it after you've lined over it. In this case, I wasn't happy with the waves, so I redrew them with my pencil.

Make sure to WAIT for the lines to completely dry before trying to erase the pencil. If you try and erase it immediately after lining it, it'll smudge everywhere and ruin what you have so far. Here's my lines after erasing the pencil.

When you're ready to paint, make sure to ALWAYS do the blacks first. With water color, black paint won't run after it's dried when its hit with water, but colors will. So if you were to do the colors, then try and shade blacks, it would lift up the color and everything would run. So do the blacks first, shade everything out how you want, then move to the colors.

To achieve the black fades, or fades in general, we used a technique called spit-shading. How you do this, is you have 2 different brushes, and 1 cup of water with just clean water. With your color brush, you lay down a line of black paint. You then grab your water brush, dip it in the clean water cup, pull the excess water off of the actual brush with your lips (just pull it through your lips to pull out excess water so it doesn't drip but leaves the brush wet) and use that brush to smooth out the color. Just start at the edge of your black line, and brush it out until it's a smooth fade!

 

Once the blacks are done, move one color at a time. There have been many times where we've tried to switch colors, and forgot to wash the green off the brush and dip it in red and make a mess. So to avoid problems and make it go smoothly, I'd stick to one color at a time. Here's mine after I've done the reds.

 

And a few more colors added.

After I was finished, I decided to add some more detail until I was happy with it. I added some gray wash (an almost full cap of water with a small drop of black is what I used) and some red for the sunset. Once I wrapped that all up, I added my stamp and was finished! Just remember, practice makes perfect. Im still no where near where I hope to be, but every painting you do you'll notice them getting progressively better!

How To Create A Shirt Mock Up From Scratch

There are thousands of designers in the world today creating KILLER designs and weirdly enough - most decide to use pre-made mock ups that others have made. Our main question is this - WHY? If you're talented enough to create a design worthy of getting printed hundreds of times and worn around the world, why would you use somebody else's platform to showcase your hard work? The simple answer is this - creating a professional mock up seems daunting, time consuming, tedious, and requires professional photography with proper lighting, etc. 

Heres a hint - THATS NOT TRUE. I'm going to give you the rundown on how to create a mock up from scratch that is unique to you and your brand and can create originality in what you're trying to portray with your design style. You're better off trying to borrow a friends DSLR if you have one available - but for this reference i shot the image with my iPhone 6 to show how simple this process really is.

Start by taking any blank shirt you have laying around and run it through the wash. Once its dry, hit it with a lint roller to avoid any annoying post work you might have later in PS. For this, I cleared out a spot in my living room and laid the shirt down about 5-10 feet away from the window. Try to avoid harsh lighting as this will throw off the look of the final image.

Using the magnetic lasso tool (or any cutting tool of your choice) go around the edges and cut the shirt away from the background. This is going to help you in the next few steps when creating the shape layer for deciding what color you want to make your mock up.

Since i took the image at a slight angle, I went ahead and squared it up to give is the true head-on feel for the mock. I also desaturated the cut out so were only working with black-white pixels. I also dodged the upper-right corner of the shirt where i lost some detail in the shadow of the image. This balances out the light so I can get an even selection on the next step.

Navigate to the menu and click Select > Color Range and click on one of the darkest areas of the shirt, This step is really going to require your eye to gauge what your selection looks like. The goal is to get an even selection of shadows across the shirt to place over top of your shape layer that you'll be using to color the mock. Create a new layer and fill this selection with black. This is going to be the layer that goes over the artwork and will sell the effect of a true printed shirt. Rename this layer to "shadows"

Hide the shadow layer and select the cutout below it. Duplicate the layer and select the color you want your mock up to be. If you'd like the mock to be black - aim for a darker grey color as the shadow layer will prove the full black shadows to finish the look.

Activate your shadow layer and viola! You have a mock up! Now all you need to do is add your artwork. navigate to the image you'd like to display and drag it into your mock up PSD. Put your artwork layer underneath your shadow layer and adjust your blending options to either screen or multiply if necessary.

Once you're done - you can change your shirt color using the blank shape layer underneath the artwork. Double click the layer and select color overlay and color until you find what you need.

Why Time Blocking is Important for Designers

Do you ever find yourself constantly getting distracted by all the little tasks you have going on during the day? Between staying in contact with clients, looking for new jobs, maintaining current client relationships, AND all the work that comes between, you really don’t have as much time to just be a designer that you thought you did. Thats pretty normal for most designers still finding their groove in their workflow. Time blocking your day and actually sticking to it is probably the most surefire way you can maximize your productivity without changing much other than your routine. This can also help with a few other areas of your job that you might not even realize yet. Time blocking helps you stick to the task at hand because you’ve given yourself a definitive start and stop time. You know that even if you don’t get done with a project 100%, you’ve got a break coming up and that can sometimes incentivize your subconscious to work quicker to try and reach a stopping goal that also falls in your time block so you don’t fall behind on your master schedule. Are you finding yourself giving clients estimated due dates and falling behind by a few hours, or even days? Time blocking will help in two ways - you give yourself a time “budget” to stick to during the day. You KNOW when you’re supposed to stop so you become more eager to finish certain projects so you can stick to your schedule. You also have a definitive schedule that you can send to clients so they understand your availability during they and when to expect work from you and your team. If you let them know that you’re going to shut off at a certain time - they can expect your contact and work to come in for their review at a specific time of day, AND they will be more understanding if something is unfinished and WHY you will need to pick it back up in a few hours or the next day.

 

How to get started:

Spend a week taking note of your work habits. Find what times you feel more creative. Are you a night owl? You’re probably better suite to block your time later in the evening when your energy is there so you can truly feel that you’re in the groove you need to be to produce the work you want to show off to new clients. Maybe you want to get things done in the morning and spend your evenings relaxing or going out to get away from the house. In this case you should find what times of day work best for you (in the morning) and block your work times around those and create a solid schedule to follow. Create some time in the morning to fall into your natural groove, but don’t leave so much that you’re just turning out to be lazy until its time to work. Grab some coffee, browse the web, get inspired, and then DIVE IN. 

 

Staying On It:

If you have a digital calendar (I use my iCal on my macbook), USE IT. That might be THE best tip that I’ve learned from my partner recently. Block out your time during the day and set up reminders and have it repeat daily. Send the reminders to your computer and your phone so you’re alerted no matter where you are. This creates accountability in your subconscious that helps you stick to it. don’t forget to time out breaks in your schedule as well so you know when you need to stand up and stretch and grab a drink so you can come back to your current project with fresh eyes before sending out to your client. Small 5-10 minute breaks can really help you decided if you actually needed to add a certain element to your design or if you were just staring at it for too long. 

 

Don’t just stop block time for work:

Time block multiple elements in your day to really stick to your design blocks. Block out time for your personal activities like reading, watching your favorite show (Ahem.. Game of Thrones or True Detective?) riding your bike around your neighborhood or city, working out, hanging with your cat, grilling out, all of that. Its way too easy to get consumed with work to the point where you find yourself ALWAYS working. That isn’t good for the mind or soul. You need to spend time with the things you like outside of your grind to keep perspective of why you’re freelancing in the first place.

 

Let us know how YOU like to time block your day and how it helps with your grind. We love hearing new ideas and feedback that others are doing!

Finding Creativity Inspiration In A Dry Spell

We've all been there before. You've just been approached by a new client that has a different vibe and style than your normal customer and they want something specific, from you, and want to hear your thoughts and ideas. You want to be the go-to designer for all of their needs but don't even know where to begin on something in this genre of design. You willingly but somewhat reluctantly take on the task and hope that you're able to find your way through to make sure they are happy with your final result. So the question is - Where do you begin?

I've been in this situation MANY times before - I can tell you that there isn't one clear answer for inspiration for all designers and projects. You need to find what works for you. However, there are a few methods we can all practice to approach new situations and tasks that will keep our brains sharp enough to piece together what your client is asking for regardless if it's "your style" or not.

1. READ

As trivial as it may seem - reading has been a huge source of inspiration for me recently. It requires your full imagination to really see the story that you're interpreting. You'll often come across new words, phrasing, dialogue, metaphors, similes, and analogies that will open up how you see other elements in your everyday life. Applying this imagination approach when reading the requirements from a client will give you a decent head start as you already have a sharpened ability to visualize someone else's dialogue. With this, things in your everyday life will start to tie into the situations you recall in your previous read which may lead you to things you've never though about before, or you may be able to connect your client's phrasing/description of what they'd like to see with something more familiar in YOUR life. Connecting these pieces of information from your client to something that you can relate to will automatically give you the upper hand in these types of situations.

 

2. THINK GLOBAL

Whenever you're stressed, out of patience, though about every possible approach to a certain project and you just can't seem to make it work, take a step back and look at it for what it is. You are being hired to do something that you most likely started out doing for fun. Why stress about coming up with "the new best thing" in a genre of design you're unfamiliar with? If you're in an industry anything similar to Enlighten - your clients come to you because they like what you do and trust your judgment. Keeping a light hearted approach when talking with clients who don't have the same ideology as you or perhaps are insanely picky, will help both parties in the long run. If you can't come up with an idea right off the bat - that's totally okay. Stand up from your desk and walk outside. Look around and take note of what you see. My personal approach is to remind myself what I am and where I'm at, physically as a person and as a human being. When you look at a photograph of the earth, you see water, land, clouds, etc. Come closer to earth and you start to see cities established on land, ships in the ocean, Airplanes in the sky. Come closer and you start to see everything that inhibits the earth like people, animals, trees, etc. This goes all the way down to microscopic examination where you can literally observe cells, viruses, and anything else. Use this same "sight" to look at a project. In order to grind a new style of design, you might need to "zoom out" and simplify your approach to the design and only worry about the "clouds and water", where in other projects you might need to do the exact opposite and show the fine detail of the trees, and how the colors integrate with the rest of the scene, etc. It 100% depends on what your clients message is to their fans/market and how they want it to be seen. Some want to show the whole world, others want to highlight how the waves move. It is all about interpretation and how you represent the message.

 

3. STAY CURRENT - BUT DON'T FORGET THE HISTORY OF THE ART

In my daily routine, i dedicate the first 45 minutes of my day strictly to research and observation. I don't take phone calls, my email is closed, and I focus on absorbing. Some mornings I'll look into the newest cameras and software coming out, and others will be spent looking back at old school design when things were really starting to boom. Hand lettering, cutting out images and scanning them for composites, all of that. Imagine living in a day before the internet, getting phone calls for artwork requests instead of emails, and you basically got the run down though verbal communication. Visual references weren't possible over the phone, and you had to go strictly off of someone else imagination. Honestly, that's badass, and I will always have respect for designers who were able to do what we do back in the day. How did they do it? Simple - they were able to assess the project for what it was and approach it in their own creative way instead of worrying about the hundred possibilities they could throw into it and they took pride in creating something unique to them. It wasn't as easy back then to hop on Instagram and see all of the thousand possibilities on how to draw the earth. They heard the description, used their imagination, and went from there. Applying this approach where you disregard all of the competition and do what you set out to do will 9/10 get you a killer result if you trust yourself.

Ultimately – you need to figure out a way to disconnect from what you find is holding you back and push through the barrier of doubt when approaching a new style/task. Just because you haven't done it before doesn't mean you can be great at it – but how would you know unless you put your full heart and mind to it to see what an end result looks like from you.