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Enhance Clip Art Using Photoshop

Photoshop can assist in enhancing your clip art from a flat image into one with depth and texture. To demonstrate some of the techniques to do this, I am going use a clip art image of a flower from my collection. This image came with CorelDraw. From CorelDraw I exported it as a Photoshop image. The flower has five different colors -- purple, yellow, orange, black and green. First thing to do is to create a separate layer for each color. To do this each color needs to be selected, copied and then pasted back onto the image. When it is pasted back it is as a new layer.

Selecting colors can be done one of two ways. One is to use the Magic Wand Tool from the Toolbox and select the color you want by clicking on it. Let's start with the purple petals. Since the black outlines in the image cut the purple into several pieces, by holding down the shift key you can keep selecting until all the sections are chosen. The second way to select each color is to use the Select drop down menu and choose Color Range. In the Color Range window you should see the flower. If you do not, make sure the Image view is selected. Using the eye dropper tool click on the color you want to select. To make sure you have the right color, click on Selection and what you selected will appear in white and everything else will be black. Then click on OK.

You will see white dashed lines moving around the color selection. Copy the selection and then paste. When you paste, the new layer becomes Layer 2. In the Layers box select Layer 1. If you layer box is not open, click on Window and then select Layers. With Layer 1 selected, pick the next color using either of the methods above that you prefer. Then copy and paste the selection creating Layer 3. Select Layer 1 again and repeat the process until all five colors have been selected, copied, pasted, and you have six layers listed in the Layers box.

Now for the fun stuff! In the Layers box select Layer 2, the flower petals. Click on the layer options icon to open the Layer Style box. From the image below you can see that Bevel and Emboss and Texture are checked. Under Bevel and Emboss the only thing changed was the Size under Structure, which was reduced to 3. For the Texture Carpet was chosen under Patterns 2. To change pattern choices click on the little double arrow in the dropdown patterns box. This will bring up a list of different options for patterns. Scale was then reduced to 50 percent.

To change the color of the flower, in the Layer Style box select Gradient Overlay. Click on the Gradient bar to edit the colors. There are combinations of gradient fills you can select from. Or you can create your own by clicking on the Color Stops -- the two little boxes on each end under the color bar -- and choosing the color(s) you would like to use. For this flower orange and orange-yellow were chosen. After clicking OK the Gradient Overlay window is visible again. For Style, Diamond was selected, and the Angle was adjusted to -36. Click OK when all selections are made. Depending what clip art image you are using you may want to make different choices than the ones chosen for this flower.

For the center of the flower I chose the larger section of yellow first and applied the Bevel and Emboss, Zebra Texture and a Color Overlay of orange set at a 62% Opacity. Reducing the opacity lets the texture show through. The remaining three colors had similar styles applied. Returning to Layer 1, a drop shadow was applied to give the flower additional depth.

Photoshop offers so many options to make changes to clip art, text and photographs. When I first started using Photoshop I would get frustrated, especially with the layers. But now that I have figured out the way to select layers and make changes to them, I really enjoy using the program.

When using clip art, whether it is a flower, animal, design, logo or whatever, it is always good to make changes to it to make it your own. You don't have to necessarily make all the changes as on this flower, but changing color, rotating or mirror-imaging it, adding a drop shadow, enhancing it enough so that it has your touch added to it giving your own unique look.


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Content copyright © 2013 by Laura Nunn. All rights reserved.
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