Usually, each edition of this column reflects the breadth of Behance by showcasing three projects made with three different Adobe Creative Cloud products. However, the projects in this edition of the column all rely primarily on the same application. And yet, each project is wildly different.
Whether they’re fabricating reality, performing simple color calibrations, or blending shapes and textures into painterly abstractions, the three Behance members featured here use Adobe Photoshop to express their visions. I hope you’ll find the creative diversity inspiring.
For years, Lee Howell worked in sales for various companies in the United Kingdom. Yet he never felt the jobs gave his creativity enough breathing room, so in 2009, Howell embarked on a new career as a freelance photographer.
He also studied at the University of Abertay Dundee, earning a bachelor of arts degree in professional photography last year.
This mixture of practice and pedagogy has served Howell well: He's earned several awards, including Best Student Portfolio 2013 from the British Institute of Professional Photography.
Howell excels at what he calls "creative retouching," in which he artfully mixes elements from several photos. "Sometimes I question whether I am a photographer or an image maker," says Howell.
One recent example is his Tribe series, a collaboration with costume designer Stacy Jansen and makeup artist Caroline Stewart (see Figure 1). While the resulting images may look like they were shot in Africa (and Mongolia in part two of the series), Howell actually captured the models in the United Kingdom while they wore Jansen's costumes. Later, Howell used Adobe Photoshop to place the models into backgrounds that evoke the Kenyan countryside. He shot the background photos in central Africa years ago while traveling for his sales job.
Howell begins his workflow in Adobe Bridge, where he makes a short list of likely frames. He makes initial adjustments to balance out the images in Adobe Camera Raw and then moves on to Adobe Photoshop CC. "Having Raw as a filter in Photoshop is a genius idea," Howell admits.
Howell is a fan of Curves adjustments, which he uses to help blend the color temperatures of the different elements of his composites. "I then dodge and burn with a black and white paintbrush on a gray layer," he says. "That way, it's totally editable and nondestructive."
When all the composite elements are in place, he manually blurs the edges of each component very slightly. "This obviously can be done by feathering a selection," Howell notes, "but for some reason, I find doing it manually helps cement the components together better."
As another way to bring it all together, he adds a color tone layer. "A favorite of mine is a faint yellow tone, which helps add that almost timeless quality to the image," he says.
In November 2013, Howell attended the Adobe Create Now tour in his hometown, Edinburgh. He reported that the functions and applications in Creative Cloud blew him away. "It's a true convergence of technology with future workflow practices being conducted across multiple apps to complete the finished piece of work," says Howell. The event also made him realize the importance of having a Behance presence. "The response to the Tribe project on Behance has been just amazing. It's another great step in gaining industry awareness of my work."
It started in the summer of 2012 when Javier Perez, a designer in Guayaquil, Ecuador, posted a funny little drawing of an owl with eyes made out of compact discs on his Instagram account (see Figure 2). Since then, he's posted about 60 more pieces that combine a line drawing with a physical object.
You'll find some of his favorites on Behance, including the Victroflower (see Figure 3). "It's special for me," says Perez, "because I had this idea in my head for some weeks, but I couldn't find a flower that could fit my purpose. One day, I found it on the street while I was walking, and it was perfect."
Perez says that he is inspired by the simplicity within common everyday items. "These objects are beautiful by themselves, and my work is to add a visual meaning to them. Every day, I discover these different meanings," says Perez (see Figure 4).
Perez keeps his processing as minimal as the images themselves: "I use Photoshop to open raw images and then I proceed to calibrate colors."
When he's not delighting followers with his whimsical art, he works as the cofounder of the digital agency Cafeína, taking on new freelance clients from around the world. "All this attention has brought me plenty of chances," Perez notes.
America's five-dollar bill isn't a design tour de force. Chances are that most people who spend it don't give a second glance to the bill's engraving of the country’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. But when Edward Feldman looked at the fiver, he saw beauty.
Feldman used only Adobe Photoshop to construct the rich blend of shapes, textures, and colors that make up "Lincoln," his interpretation of the Lincoln currency engraving (see Figure 5). Inspect it closely and you'll see that the work is surprisingly intricate.
To give his digital paintings their signature depth, Feldman uses layer upon Photoshop layer. Created with a Wacom Intuos tablet and pen, his brushstrokes have a pleasingly tactile quality.
Before falling in love with fine art, Feldman worked as a graphic designer in New York City and Philadelphia. He founded the Adobe InDesign User Group of Central Florida, where he now lives.