Making a Modern Abstract Scene



We will use an image of a glass staircase (taken by Chris Borrell) and Vector Brush Set 2 from PaulW.

Click here to download the brushes.
Click here to download the image.

All rights of these resources belong to their respective owners.


Step 1 – Setting Up Background:

Create a document of size 750 by 550px.

Fill the Background layer with #41432B.


Step 2a – Adjust Brush Settings:

Open up the Brush Palette by pressing F5.

Check on Shape Dynamics, Scattering and Other Dynamics.

Under Shape Dynamics, key in the values as shown in the diagram.


Step 2b – Adjust Brush Settings:

Under Scattering, key in the values as shown in the diagram.


Step 2c – Adjust Brush Settings:

Under Other Dynamics, key in the values as shown in the diagram.

What these settings does is actually to duplicate brush shapes of different sizes and scatter them around your cursor during painting.


Step 3a – Painting Shapes:

Create a new layer and call it as Shape 1.

Set your foreground color to #48180A and select Brush 4. Paint around the document and you can see shapes appearing like the ones I got here.

There is no fix way on how to move and paint with the brush. Everything is random (and that’s what makes it cool).


Step 3b – Painting Shapes:

Create another new layer above and call it as Shape 2.

Set your foreground color to #EEF4DA and select Brush 25.

Paint around like what you did earlier in Step 3a. Maybe you can reduce the number of shapes generated so there is a better focus on the brighter color


Step 4 – Grouping Layers:

Create a new group folder and call it as Patterns. Drag both Shape 1 and 2 layers into this folder.

Draw a vertical white line of 2px around the position shown in the diagram.

This is to define an empty area on the right where you may wish to add texts in later on.


Step 5 – Masking a Group:

Using the Rectangular Marquee tool, make a selection on the left half of document separated by the white line.

Select the Patterns folder and make a layer mask on it with this selection.


Step 6a – Adding the Stairs:

Crop out part of the stairs image using the Pen tool. You do not have to be very precise on the path as long as it looks straight and neat.

Place the stairs layer into Patterns folder and align it to vertical center of the document as shown.


Step 6b – Adding the Stairs:

While on the stairs layer, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels.

Key in the values 60, 1, 180. This is to increase contrast between brightness and darkness of the image.

These values may vary when using images other than the one used in this tutorial.


Step 6c – Adding the Stairs:

Change the Blending Mode of the stairs layer to Multiply.

Bring up Shape 2 layer to be above the stairs.


Step 7 – Adding More Details:

Repeat Step 6a, b and c to insert more details to your design.

You may tweak around the values of Opacity and Levels to achieve better results.


Step 8 – Drawing Boxes:

Draw in a few layers of color bars with different heights at the bottom of the stairs.

The colors I chose here (from top to bottom) are #4C0C02, #A3CA9D, #3B2F19 and #000000.



Now you can start to type your texts in with different sizes and opacity. I will suggest you to use pixel fonts since they blend in better to this form of design.

The font I used here is called Visitor. You can visit to see more choices.

Click here to view the final image.

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22 Comments | Write a Comment

  1. I appreciate the info shared here. Please keep up the good work. Best wishes to you..

  2. MiaK says:


  3. Yatin says:

    Thanxxx dude 🙂

  4. Marco says:

    great web site. thanks for all. i link your web site in my link’s list

  5. Johnson Koh says:

    Thanks balaji! 😉

  6. balaji says:

    hwllo Mr. jonson, wat a woderful creations………….

  7. Johnson says:

    Thank you pals. This is actually a simple experiment made and am very happy that you guys love it. Will share again if I come up with something better!

  8. That was just fun. Simple, really. Makes my brain tingle with the possibilities. Thanks-

  9. Paul says:

    Can you explain setp 5 with a little more detail? There are some options when I attempt to create a layer mask that aren’t in this tutorial so I’m a little confused.

    Also, what do you mean “make a selection”. I know I’m probably stupid but could you please dumb it down for me a little? Thanks a lot man, you’re very creative!

  10. siva says:

    great work dude

  11. Dshiz says:

    I cant wait to go to my moms basement and work on it

  12. TC says:

    Followed this excellent tutorial (until the customizing step 😉 )

    made this:

  13. Johnson says:

    Thank ericb! 😉

  14. ericb says:

    AWESOME! Thanks for this tutorial. Helpful for beginners like me. Btw, I find your website very helpful and informative. *tagged in*

  15. Johnson says:

    Thanks Alexis 🙂
    You can check out my other tutorials on this site.
    Hope they are useful to you. Cheers.

  16. alexis says:

    nice tutorial,. its good for people like me who are starting out,. do you have any other tutorials for me to study on?

  17. Johnson says:

    Thanks des. Glad you like the stuffs here.

  18. des says:

    can always see something new from you 😀

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