Campus Colors Day Photoshop Tutorial

Today is September 2nd, otherwise known as National College Colors Day! We at the Scholarly Commons have a lot of Illini spirit, and thought we would show it by showing you a quick way to Photoshop a little Illini spirit onto anybody.   If you’re interested in learning more about Photoshop or using it, head to the Scholarly Commons. Our computers all have the full set of Adobe products on them, and there are resources here to help you. If you want to try learning on your own, you can use your Illinois NetID and password to log into, which has fantastic tutorials on Photoshop and other useful software.

The photo I chose was a Library of Congress photograph of William Howard Taft, my favorite president.

Bain News Service, Publisher. [Taft, Beatrice Nebraska]. 10/1/08 date created or published later by Bain. Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed September 01, 2016.)

I started by opening Photoshop and creating a new project. In order to get my Photo into the project, I created a new layer [Layer -> New -> Layer] and copy pasting my photo of Taft into it. When you’re done, it should look something like this:

Taft 1

The layers panel is on the right hand side of the screen. Notice that I have separate layers for my background and for my photo.


Now, if you’re finding your photo is a little small compared to the background, you can transform your photo by pressing Control T. If you decide to use the transform option, make sure that you lock the proportions of your photo, buy clicking the lock icon on the upper toolbar.

Tutorial 5 Updated

The lock command ensures your photo will maintain its original proportions.

When your photo is sized to your liking, you can start with the fun stuff. First, we’re going to create a new layer to draw on our orange with.

You can name your layer whatever you like, or keep the automatic layer name. I like to keep things simple, so I named my layer "Orange."

You can name your layer whatever you like, or keep the automatic layer name. I like to keep things simple, so I named my layer “Orange.”

Next, you’re going to choose the brush tool, by pressing its icon on the left hand toolbar (it will be the eighth icon down) or simply pressing the letter B on your keyboard. Before we do anything else, make sure that you have the “Orange” layer selected on your layers list — it’s important to keep things separate to keep editing easy! In order to edit how your brush works, you’re going to need to see the brush controls. To do that, go to Window -> Brush on the upper bar of your screen. When you click brush, a menu of options will appear near your left tool bar.

Taft 4

There are almost limitless brush options in Photoshop — play around and see what you like!


Choose the settings you’d like for your brush strokes. For the purposes of this edit, I want a brushstroke that’s got straight edges and hardness to it, so I chose the second brush option and moved the hardness rate over to 100%. I also chose my color on the upper right corner of my screen. Now, I chose the “Swatches” tab to easily grab my colors, but if you’re comfortable using the gradient, go ahead! Then, I began to draw over Taft’s face.



Taft 5

What an opaque brushstroke looks like.

I chose 40% opacity for this specific project, but choose what looks best with your picture, and what kind of effect you'd like to have!

I chose 40% opacity for this specific project, but choose what looks best with your picture, and what kind of effect you’d like to have!

Now, the brushstroke is in the right place, and has the right feel to it, but it’s also opaque. When I draw, Taft is completely covered up, which is not what I want. So I go to the top of my layers panel on the right side of my screen to the Opacity percentage. Changing this will make this brushstroke, and anything else I create in this layer, more transparent, so that you can see Taft beneath it.

Once you change the opacity of your layer, you’ll see that you can see your photo underneath the layer you’re currently drawing on, like this:


Taft 6

Because who would ever want to cover up that charming smile?

Continue to cover one side of your subject’s face with orange. You can always zoom in (Ctrl + Z) to get a better view of your subject, and change the size of your brush, by pressing the left bracket ” [ ” to make the brushstroke smaller, and the right bracket ” ] ” to make it larger. If you want to make a straight line but have a shaky hand, don’t fear! Just click the place you want to start the line, press the shift key, then click where you want it to end. Photoshop fills in that straight line for you. When I was done with these steps, President Taft looked like this:

I opted not to color in his mustache because I'm going to do something else with it later.

I opted not to color in his mustache because I’m going to do something else with it later.

Next up? Create a new layer and follow the same steps with the brush set to blue.

Taft 9

Almost done! Hang on!

Now you have a face that’s got some Illinois pride. But, I wanted to go a step further with President Taft. So I created a new layer, named it “Facial Hair,” and started in by using the straight line shortcut (click + shift + click) to stripe Taft’s mustache with blue, then orange.

Taft 10

Not exactly the fashion in 1913.

Taft 11

Hail to the orange and blue!

And voila! We have a photograph with some real Illini spirit. But before you do anything else, make sure you’re saving correctly. Saving in Photoshop can be a bit confusing, so I’ll take you through the simple steps to saving your Photoshopped image as a JPEG, a more universal kind of file than the Photoshop PSD file.

First, click File -> Save As on the upper bar. You’ll reach a pretty normal save screen on PC or Mac. But it’s very important that you change the save format from PSD to JPEG in the “Save as type” bar. Don’t click or unclick on any of the options below — in order to save as a JPEG, the program will automatically click the “As a Copy” button.

Tutorial 15 Updated

When you click save, there will another pop-up asking about JPEG options. The qualities you can choose range from 1-12, and Photoshop will almost always automatically choose 8. You’ll probably want to move that number up to 12 to get the best quality file as you can. Since JPEGs are much smaller files than PSDs, you don’t really need to worry about the file size unless your computer is running out of space. When you change the quality option, click “OK” and you’re done!

Tutorial 16

Congratulations! You now have an image that’s full of Illinois pride. Photoshop is an incredible tool, and is fun to use, but also looks great on a resume.

Taft 12

My finished product!