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Photoshop Projects

In all of the following projects you should keep a safe and unaltered copy of the original image, both because it is good practice and so that you can compare your final result with the original you started with.

Photographs for Web Pages

Take a digital photograph at high resolution and import a copy of it into Photoshop. Make the best possible version of the resulting image for display on a Web page with a strong blue background, such as hexadecimal colour #1238b4. Downsample as necessary and use any filters and adjustments you think appropriate to make the image fit more harmoniously with the background. Try changing the order in which you carry out the steps in your work to see whether it makes any difference to the result. Now place a new copy of the result on a dark red background (such as #7c1207) and another one on a pale beige background (such as #f5f0e1). Make subtle adjustments to the colours in each copy of the photograph to display it to best advantage on each background. Finally, export each version of your photograph at a suitable size and in the correct format for display on a typical Web page.

Low Resolution Photographs

Start with a low resolution photograph, for example one taken on a mobile phone, and import a copy of it into Photoshop. Make any improvements that you can, including changes to its dimensions, to improve its appearance when viewed on a Web page. Now start again with another copy of the same low resolution image – or a similar one – and make a “treated” version of it for a Web page, for example by substantially reducing the number of colours in it. Try to create an exciting and original result while still making it possible to recognize the subject of the photo.

Abstract Composition

Start with a blank RGB document in Photoshop and use a range of different brushes and different colours of your choice to fill the image area – you can leave some white spaces if you wish. You can use just a few or many brushes and colours, but do not attempt to produce anything recognisable – this work will be abstract. Once you have completed this stage, work with Photoshop’s adjustments and filters to alter your image until you have achieved an original and striking abstract design. You should consider colour, contrast and tone, as well as the possibilities for expressiveness conveyed by abstract shapes, their relative sizes and their spatial relationships. The final composition should suggest a mood, such as calm, exciting, happy, melancholy, angry, etc.

Greyscale with Spot Colour

Open a copy of a brightly coloured photograph, and start by desaturating the image completely so that only greys, black and white remain, but do not change its mode to Grayscale. Study the result and then choose one single “spot” colour which you feel will best enhance the image if you add it back in to selected areas. Carefully select the areas you want to colour, and colour them in by any means you like, but without altering their basic characteristics. Remember that you do not have to apply fully opaque colour – a semi-transparent fill is often more effective. Opacity of your spot colour could vary in different parts of your image.

Victorian Vignette

Open a copy of a portrait photograph of yourself or a friend or relation – it should show the head and shoulders clearly. Using just this photo and appropriate tools in Photoshop, create an image of a complete framed Victorian vignette portrait. You will need to make an appropriately feathered selection of head and shoulders, remove the colour and add a sepia tint, and create a frame, perhaps adding a mount too. (You may wish to alter the photograph before you start to make the vignette, to improve lighting or make corrections.) If you wish to complete the illusion at the end you could add the typical mottling caused by age.

Compositing Figures with Backgrounds

Open a copy of a general landscape photograph which has no figures in it, but does have a strong foreground, and also a photograph of one or more people. Use any selection method of your choice to “cut out” a figure from the second photograph and paste it into the landscape. Is the result at all convincing? If not, try to improve the blend of the two, by adjusting size, colouring, etc.


Using a range of different photographs, extract objects, figures, etc. from each to assemble a montage which strongly conveys a particular political, social or environmental message in a purely visual way – the subject could have a global relevance, or just a local one.

Before and After – Removing Blemishes

Open a copy of a photograph of any object or scene that has a substantial number of blemishes or significant damage – for example, an old car or bicycle, a building in need of painting or repair, a pavement (sidewalk) that needs renewing. Using whichever of Photoshop’s tools you find most useful for the task, try to “restore” or correct the object you have photographed so that it looks fresh and new. This could involve touching up or removing blemishes, adjusting dimensions and colouring, cloning textures and so on. Remember that to be convincing these adjustments need to be subtle and “invisible” – you must leave no evidence of the changes you have made. (This can be quite a difficult task). Now paste both your “before” and “after” images into one document, side by side, to demonstrate what has been achieved.

Layer Blending

Open an image, select all of it and then paste it back on top of itself on a new layer. Lower the opacity of the upper layer, alter it in any way that you find interesting (including using filters), and then experiment with changing the blending mode so that the altered image is combined with the original in an interesting way. The intention is that the composite image should include elements of both the original and the altered versions. Try adding a figure or object from another photograph to the final composition, using whatever layer blending mode works best for your subject.

Transforming Scenes

Open an image of an external scene that was photographed in the middle of the day and adjust its colours to make it look as if it was taken in the early evening. (Start by bringing up the yellows/oranges to simulate the glow of the sun low in the West.) What similar alterations can you make to scenes? Can you turn a sunny day into a dark, overcast one, or vice versa? Can you turn day into night? For each transformation that you make, save both a “before” and “after” copy, at a suitable size and in the correct format for display side-by-side on a Web page.

Image-based Navbar

Design a set of related buttons for a navbar for a Web site for a shop selling musical instruments. Each button should clearly suggest its subject, but should not simply be an image of the instrument it links to. Remember that the navbar needs to include at least a link “home” as well, and perhaps some other non-musical items. Think about colour and scale as well as shape and other design considerations. Be aware of the necessity to use good contrast, and to avoid colours which people without perfect colour vision may confuse (for further information see Now mock up a design for the home page for the whole site in Photoshop, including your navbar. Assume that the home page includes some basic information about the company, a company logo, the navbar, some images and some text.

Animating Movement against a Background

Use Photoshop to create a relatively simple animation involving movement of an object or character (with a transparent background), either by drawing each frame, or by starting with one drawing or an object extracted from a photograph and altering it (see the section on Animation in Chapter 4). Now choose a suitable, much larger background, and combine the two in a reasonably convincing way. The result can either be naturalistic or surreal. You may need to make alterations to your background’s scale, colour etc. in order to obtain a satisfactory result.

Subtly Animated Logo

Take a photograph of some distinctive object in your college, home or work environment – something which helps to identify the place (for example, a clock tower or other architectural feature, a statue, a doorway or gate, etc.). Extract the object from its background and create a very subtle animation of it, in which the object simply changes gently in some way – by altering colour or tone, or through applying an effect over time – so as to create an animated logo that would be suitable for use on a Web page. Ensure that the animation loops gracefully so that you cannot see any starting or ending point when it is completed. Save the result as an animated GIF.