CEZ – 03

Home Assignment + Practice

This week your assignment is to look at all the videos and read/work through the Know How section.

Then for practicing (also on Thursday) create an Illustration that works with all of the techniques provided.
Use masks with textures in them. Work with blend modes. Add some Displacement to your image. Create patterns and use them in some way, either by brushing them in or adding them on top with layer styles or both. Also add some texture on top with a high pass. Try with your own photos of textures even.

Here are some inspirational images. Your work can be as simple as the one with the ice cream. It’s not about the complexity of the illustration, more about the techniques used. Maybe just use some text and simple geometric forms. Or go abstract like my example in the videos. And don’t forget to write down any questions, so we can talk about them on Thursday.


Sometimes we want to add more randomness or roughness to an image to make it look less “computery” (is that a word?).

To add more texture to your work you can do that while working on the different layers with either brushes and/or masks but also at the end with some layers on top, and overall effects. A creative mix of Smart Objects, Layer Styles, Effects can achieve quite dramatic yet flexible effects as well.

Masks, Displacement, Textures, Patterns

With a Layer Mask

Brushing into a Mask
Mask Texture with Filters
Copy/Paste Texture from Image to Mask

Rough Edges with Displacement Filter

Also see the Know How Section and the Exercises there.


Separate Texture on Top with Blendmodes and/or transparency

Image over content with Highpass or as PNG

Halftone and Patterns

Halftone Filter with Mask

Brushing Halftone

Patterns – Layer Style – Pattern Overlay
Patterns – Layer Style – Pattern in Bevel/Emboss

Know How


Noise can be used as a deliberate effect if you either want to recreate a papery texture or a photographic effect. Also noise helps to cover up bad details, image problems when upscaling and even with steps in gradients. In these cases its more like replacing one image problem with another one that is more pleasing to the human eye. You don’t need to add noise to an image, but you can if you want and know how to.

There are a lot of ways to add noise. One of my favourite is to add noise to a layer on top of everything and then blend it with Linear Light, Overlay or Soft Light.

The advantage is that you can still work on everything underneath → the noise layer is completely non-destructive.

The end effect looks something like this.

How to create it:

Start with an empty layer on top and fill it with neutral grey (RGB 128 128 128). A quick way to do this is to press Shift + ⌫ which opens the Fill Dialouge where you’ll choose 50% Gray.

Also make sure to have Mode: Normal and Opacity 100%.

You’ve now got a grey layer, yay! Put it into Blend Mode “Linear Light”. It will become invisible, because, remember, neutral gray has no effect in the Blend Modes that do both lightening and darkning.

No we’ll apply some noise to this layer. The nicest noise you’ll get by applying Filter → Blur Gallery → Field Blur. This is a bit of a workaround as we don’t really care about the blur but we’ll only use the Noise settings.

Make sure a little bit of blur is applied. How much does not matter, we are blurring a uniformly grey layer anyway.

Now you can adjust the noise sliders on the bottom right until you’re sattisfied with the amount of noise. Zoom in to 100% but also have a look at the whole image while you set these. Once you’re finished hit OK.

You can now fine tune by taking you Noise layers Fill value down a bit to make your noise less strong


With Displacements you can create everything from just a slight grainy offset to crazy glitch effects.

Displacement works on the basis of greyscale information in one image (Displacement Map) to stretch and move pixels in another. Where your Displacement Map image is dark, pixels in your working image will be moved one way; where your Displacement Map image is bright, pixels in your working image will be moved the other way.

Displacement with noise
Adding noise layer on top for texture
Displacement with paper as texture with high pass filter

Use this for:

  • roughening up smooth edges
  • glitchy effects
  • semi fake mapping images onto uneven surfaces
    (cloth, bags, tshirts, paper)
  • wavy effects
  • experimenting with your own painted images as Displacement Map


Create a seamless Pattern with Offset Filter
Pattern Preview – NEW in CC 2021
Patterns – panel

Blend Modes

We all have surely used them already but do we really know what exactly they are doing? Knowing your Blend Modes will let you work more freely and it will be less Photoshop telling you what looks good but more the other way round.

Blendmodes change the colours of underlying layers according to the lightness and colour values of the layer the blend mode is applied to.

The most important ones are these three groups:




More Know How & Inspiration

Bobby Chiu’s Youtube Playlist “Tutorials” has some nice tuts on brushes, drawing, painting and much more.

The 90 minute Art Challenge – 3 Artists paint an image twice a week and you can paint along for 90 minutes. Very motivating if you don’t know where and how to start practicing digital painting. And also just informative to watch.

Marco Bucci’s Youtube-Playlist “Painting Tutorials / Demos” ist quite extensive and has a lot of interesting tips in it.

Exercise Files from CG Cookie on Deviant Art. Very helpful and fun challenges and step by step instructions on how to create realistic digital imagery.

Neil Blevins (worked at Pixar) has an extensive of videos and articles on his website. For Example process steps for cencdeptual art, compositional balance, contrast. Super insight-full not only for concept artists.

Meybis Tuiz Cruz explains her process in details. Also very insightfull.