Create Unique Photo Effect with Abstract Brushes and Coloring Techniques in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the processes I used to create this unique photo effect with abstract brushes and coloring techniques in Photoshop. We will also go through some interesting layer blending and filter tricks, to achieve the final effect. Have a try!

The PSD file of this tutorial is available to buy on PSD Vault Shop, or via the PSD Vault VIP members area.

This is an intermediate level tutorial and some steps can be tricky.

Note: The Photoshop tutorial is done in CS6 – therefore some screenshot may have slighting different layout as in the earlier version. Some brushes are exclusive to Photoshop CS6.

Here is a preview of the final effect I have for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)


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OK Let’s get started!

To complete this tutorial, you will need the following stocks:

Wall Texture


Ice Texture

Hair Brushes

Deharme Brushes

Step 1

Create a new document sized 800px * 1135px with white background. Load the wall texture image into Photoshop and select the following portion with the rectangular marquee tool:

1 sel

Copy and paste the selection over to our document. Re-size the texture to fit the width and height of the canvas, reduce the layer opacity to around 70%, and use a big soft eraser to remove the following portion: (this will be add variety and depth for our background)

1 erase

Step 2

We will work on the model in this step. Load the model image into Photoshop and cut out the head/neck/shoulder portion of the model, and paste it over to our document.

Re-size this new layer and position it to the centre of the canvas, then use a grunge brush from the Deharme Brushes set we downloaded as an eraser, work on the edge of the model. You will have the following effect:

2 model erase

Add the following adjustment layers as clipping mask to this model layer:

Black and White

2 bw

Apply the following layer mask on this black and white adjustment layer to reveal the eyes:

2 bw mask

and here is the effect:

2 after bw


2 lvs


2 curves

Add some splatter effect around edge as shown below:

2 effect

and paint some hair with the hair brush you download over the model’s face:

2 paint hair

Step 3

We will add some abstract patterns into our image. I found this great ice texture image and thought I could do something with it. So let’s select a portion from the image:

3 sel

Copy and paste the selection over to our document, place the layer below the original model layer and distort it as shown below:

3 erase rotate

Apply the following image adjustments to this layer:

Black and White

3 bw


3 lvs

and here is the effect:

3 after bw rotate

We can duplicate this layer once the reduce its size to a smaller scale, and move it to a lower position to add some variety to this abstract pattern:

3 smaller

We can use the set method to add another one of the left side, as shown below:

3 effect

Step 4

We will apply some brush painting effect in this step. Use this brush from the Deharme Brushes we downloaded:

4 glace

Paint some abstract pattern around as shown below:

4 paint

Add some particle effect to the top and bottom of the model as shown below, make sure you use a soft eraser to fade the edges to create some depth for the image:

4 paint 2

and here is the effect so far:

4 effect


5 erase model

Step 5

We’re almost done! For final touches, we can flatten the image and duplicate the background layer, apply the following Oil Paint (CS6 only) filter on the duplicated layer:

5 oil paint

Apply the following layer mask on this duplicate layers to reveal the original layer below:

5 mask

Create a new layer mask on top and use a light blue soft brush to paint some blue colour over the face area as shown below, make sure you set the layer opacity to around 30% for this new layer:

5 after oil paint

Let’s add some more colors for the image with the following image adjustment layers:

Selective Color

5 sel white

5 sel neu


5 vib

and here is the effect so far:

5 effect

We can further utilise the ice texture to create an overlay for our image. Go back to the ice texture image and select a piece, copy and paste the selection over to our document as shown below, make sure you place it in an angel like this:

5 paste

Change the blending mode of this new ice layer to “Hard Light” and reduce its opacity to 60%:

5 hard light

and this is my final effect: (click to enlarge)


That’s it for this tutorial! Hope you enjoy going through it and find it useful. Drop me a comment below if you have any question.

Till next time, have a great day!


  • My name is James and I have been using Photoshop since version 5.0 (long time ago!). PSD Vault is my spare time hobby and I write majority of the Photoshop tutorials and articles here. I hope you enjoy my blog, and feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

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