How to Scatter Leaves… digitally

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How to Scatter Leaves… digitally


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November is here. The beautiful, vibrant colors of Fall will soon be a distant memory.  Mother Nature brings cool air and the leaves fall – scatter everywhere.

This Photoshop tutorial will teach you how to “digitally” scatter leaves.  You will need Photoshop CS6 to use this tutorial. It consists of several parts, so get ready, set, GO!



The leaf shape is in the NATURE custom shape set which comes with Photoshop. If it is not already in your shape menu, then all you have to do is add it.

1. Click on the shape preview thumbnail in the options bar to open the shape picker.
2. Click on the small arrow in the top right corner of the shape picker. This opens a menu with many options. In the bottom is a list of additional shape sets that were installed on Photoshop.
3. Choose the Nature set. and click append, and OK. Now the Nature set will be in your shape menu.




  Why would you want to do this, when you could easily use the shape tool?  Because there are many more ways you can use it in brushes, such as scattering, color dynamics and more.

STEPS: click to download PDF steps howtomakeabrush with screenshots
1. Open PS, go to file>new. Since I am going to make a leaf brush, I am going to make a square size: 2500 pixels by 2500 with transparent background at 300 dpi.
2. Ctrl j to duplicate layer. Click on shapes tool in tool presets. find leaf that you want to use. draw leaf shape as large as you can on your layer Fill: black. no stroke see screenshot.
3. Go to edit>define brush preset, name it, click ok it is now in your brush pre-sets.




 We will make the background paper first by adding color, using a layer mask and stamp with leaf brush the border, and then clip a plaid background to the colored paper.

STEPS:  click to download PDF steps leafbackgroundtutorial Part 1 and 2 with screenshots
1. file>new choose what size you want it to be. I suggest you use the dimensions that you need for the image you plan to put the border on.  I used 20×16. The image I have in mind has dimensions 10×8 so it will fit perfectly.  Enter Width: 20 in, Height 16 in, res 300, Set background as transparent
2. Ctrl>j to duplicate layer, then choose layer>new fill layer>solid color. choose color from color picker, OK
3. Press D to set foreground color to black, click on layer mask to activate layer. Click brush tool in tool box.
4. Go to window>brush to see brush presets. choose leaf brush. set size to 1500, spacing to 25%. check the boxes for shape dynamics, scattering, transfer and smoothing. Begin stamping design around edges to create design.
5. To add additional pattern choose layer>new fill layer>pattern. ok, choose pattern ,ok
6. To inlay pattern to solid color area only, leaving leaves transparent, you must create a cliiping mask. To do this click in the empty area of the layer to bring up the layer menu, click create clipping mask. I use the opacity slider to lighten my pattern.To make the pattern larger you can doubleclick the pattern and increase the scale. In the image, I scaled my pattern up to 800 and decreased the opacity to 15%.  Save in psd format. close window.




Almost there… get ready for some magic!

1. Open image you want to add background to. Then to preserve your original, ctrl>j to duplicate layer.
2. Go to bridge, find background psd file that you just created. drag background file from bridge and drop on top of your working image, hit enter . This will bring your image in as a smart object which will be helpful later.
3. Click on background, decrease opacity so you can see image below.
4. Click to add a layer mask on the background paper layer. It is at the bottom of layers palette. see picture it is the rectangle with square inside it. hit D, set foreground paint color to black and use soft edge paint brush tool approximate size 500 pixels, hardness 0. decrease paint brush flow to 50%. begin to paint your underlying image back, adjust paint brush size and flow accordingly to fade edges and achieve natural look.* If you have painted away too much and want to bring back some of the background, simply hit the x to flip your paint color to white and paint it back in. this is not an exact science, have fun with it!
When you brought in your background from bridge, it brought it in as a smart object. This means you can double click on the background layer  and change the color orange to another color, or even the pattern, if you wanted to choose another pattern. Double click the pattern background. it will bring up a new window with the background and its layers. Double click the color orange and choose new color. click file>save and it will automatically update the smart object to the new color. Do same with pattern if you want to change its scaled size, or pick a new one. If you don’t like what you just did, use the history button to go back.

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