In this simple and fun Photoshop tutorial we’ll show you how to create striking abstract portraits using clipped shapes and repeating patterns that make an impressive photo montage.
Geometric shapes and repeating patterns are key to many forms of modern art, with lines and shades carefully positioned to capture the eye and draw people in.
Here, we’ll take this abstract portrait concept and apply it to giving a straightforward black and white portrait an unusual twist. It’s an on-trend device that you may see on cutting edge album and magazine covers.
This abstract portrait design plays with the concept of photo composition, moving the traditional focal points of the eyes into unusual alternative positions.
Our abstract portrait technique will incorporate a variety of duplicate layers and transformations to build up a slightly unnerving effect.
We’ll use shapes to create the triangles rather than selections as these can be clipped together with image layers – in effect, they’re acting as masks. This means that both editing the scale and image position is quick and easy and ensures that you get the right look and instantly add interest to your shot.
How to make your abstract portrait using geometric shapes
01 Select a triangle
Open your portrait. Select the Shape tool. In the Options bar, set Tool Mode to Shape in the top left drop-down, set Fill to white, set Stroke to 0. In the preview bar at the top, click on Shape and the small arrow at the top right to access the options and select Shapes, then Append.
02 Transform the shape
Scroll through the shapes and select the black triangle. In the colour swatches, make sure that you have white selected as the foreground colour. Draw the first triangle, making sure that you keep the Shift key pressed to constrain the shape’s proportions.
03 Add a shadow
Double-click the shape layer to bring up the Layer Style Panel. Highlight and tick the Inner Shadow option and decrease the Opacity to 40% and Distance to 10. You can leave the other options exactly as they are.
04 Duplicate the image
Click onto the Background layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate it. Click and drag the layer above the shape layer in the Layers Panel. Hold down Alt and hover between the shape and image layer until you see the cursor change, then click to clip the layers together.
05 Transform the face
Transform the duplicate image layer. Make sure that the duplicate image layer is selected in the Layers Panel then use Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) to adjust the scale and position. Remember to keep the Shift key pressed down to constrain the proportions and then hit Enter to confirm.
06 Finishing flourishes
Repeat the process of creating triangles and duplicating image layers for the rest of the montage, then use a Curves Adjustment Layer to improve the tones. If necessary, add a 50% grey layer with a Blend Mode set to Overlay to dodge and burn the final image.
54 Portrait Ideas: free downloadable posing guide
34 Photoshop effects every photographer must try once
101 Photoshop tips you really have to know
Best Photo Editing Software? 6 budget alternatives to Photoshop tested and rate
Photoshop Effects: how to mimic studio lighting for stylish portraits
17 posing tips and in-camera slimming tricks for shooting curvy models