Polyscapes- Digital Imaging

Setting up your document

  • Click on this photo so it opens in another window
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  • Drag the full size image into Photoshop
  • Make a layer copy (command j)
  • Make the bottom layer invisible
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  • We are going to add guides in the next steps (if you do not want your design to be symmetrical, you do not have to do this process)
  • Go to View—>New Guide
  • Set it to 50% Vertical
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  • Press OK
  • Go to View—>New Guide
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  • Your document should look like the image below
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  • Go to View–>Snap To and make sure ‘guides’ have a check next to it (this way the shape we are going to make is perfectly aligned and snaps to place)

Creating your first shape

  • Add a new layer- this is not a layer copy! Press command shift n for the new empty layer
  • Select the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and hover the mouse at the intersection of the guides
  • Click and hold the mouse at the cross section
  • While pressing BOTH the ‘option’ and ‘shift’ keys, move the curser to make a large square shape (by pressing them at the same time, it will increase the height and width evenly)
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  • Once it is the size you want, let go of the mouse, as well as the option and shift keys
  • Go to Select—>Transform Selection and rotate it to a diamond shape. Press return/enter to release the shape
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  • Again, you want to make sure this is on a new and empty layer
  • Press ‘g’ on your keyboard to get to the Paint Bucket Tool (if the Gradient Tool pops up, click and hold on the Gradient Tool and then select the Paint Bucket Tool)
  • Hold your option key down and sample a color from your photo
  • Fill the diamond with a color by clicking the Paint Bucket Tool inside of the shape
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  • Go to your Layers Panel (the layer panel has all your layers on it)
  • Change your layer blending mode from ‘normal’ to one of your choosing (I chose soft light because I like the way it looks with the photo…overlay, multiply, and a lot of the others work well to. Experiment with the different modes and find one that you like)
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  • Press ‘command d’ to deselect (or go to Select—>Deselect)
  • If you want to add a border around you shape, click on the ‘fx’ icon at the bottom of the layers panel and select ‘stroke’
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  • Make sure that the preview box has a check next to it so you can see what you’re changing
  • Adding a stroke and changing the blending mode will help separate your image from the background photo. Changing the color of the stroke also helps (I changed mine to white). I also increased the stroke size. This step is not mandatory.
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Adding more shapes

  • Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool (also M on your keyboard…you’ll have to click and hold on the Marquee Tool to get to the Elliptical Marquee Tool)…this is the one that looks like a circle
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  • Hover the mouse at the intersection of the guides
  • While pressing BOTH the ‘option’ and ‘shift’ keys, click on the mouse to create a circle shape that is around the size of the diamond shape
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  • Click on Layer 1 (or the layer copy of the original photo)
  • Press command j to make a layer copy of the photo
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  • At first glance, it’ll look like nothing happened. Go to your layers panel and move that layer to the top
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  • Go to Edit—>Transform—>Flip Vertical
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  • In the next step, we’re going to remove the center of the circle. To do this, hold the command key on your keyboard while clicking the layer thumbnail of the circle layer on the layers panel to load the selection
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  • Go to Select—>Transform Selection
  • Press shift and option to decrease the circle in proportion.
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  • When you are satisfied with your selection, press ‘return’ on your keyboard to release the selection. Then, press ‘delete’ on your keyboard to take away the middle part of the photo
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  • Press ‘command d’ to deselect
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  • You can adjust the opacity and/or blending mode of the layer. I ended up making my circle thinner and altering the opacity.
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Adding a third shape and second photo

  • Press ‘u’ on the keyboard to select the Polygon Tool (you might need to click and hold to get to the polygon
  • Look at the top bar and change the ‘sides’ to 3 (it’s on the top left)
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  • Hover the mouse at the intersection of the guides
  • Click and hold the mouse
  • While pressing BOTH the ‘option’ and ‘shift’ keys, drag the mouse to create a triangle shape that is smaller than the circle shape
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  • Click on the photo below so that it opens in another window 
  • Drag the photo into Photoshop
  • Add the photo to your polyscape document (you can select it all, copy and paste it in)
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  • Make sure it is the top layer (if it is not, drag it to the top)
  • We are going to create a clipping mask. Hold your option key while hovering the mouse over the line between the new layer and the polygon layer. When you notice it change from a hand to a square with an arrow, click the mouse
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  • When you are finished, flatten the layers and save the file as a .jpeg. Attach the jpeg to the google classroom assignment


Websites for inspiration:


  • Blur the background photo by going to Filter—>Blur—>Gaussian Blur
  • Add adjustment layers! It does wonders!
  • Make a portion of it black and white

Requirements for your three additional polyscapes

Polyscape Project #1

  • Rotate a portion of the image. Keep the rule of thirds in mind.

Polyscape Project #2

  • Add at least one clipping mask inside a shape. Keep in mind the rule of thirds

Polyscape Project #3

  • Add at least one cut out to your project- Part of a photograph with the center removed. Think of the steps where you removed the center of the circle. You do not have to use a circle shape for this, you can use a square, rectangle, triangle, diamond…

Feel free to do more than three pieces! Keep in mind that you will need to use your own photography for at least on of the projects. If you see something on pinterest and you don’t know how to do, ask me. I can help figure it out!