How to Create an Abstract Poster Using the Puppet Warp Tool in Adobe Photoshop


Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Creating posters is difficult when images are not of optimal size. Here is a trick to create an abstract poster when you either don’t have a good enough image or you want to create something outside the box!

What You Will Need

You will need the following resources in order to complete this project:

1. How to Create a Photoshop Document

Step 1

In Photoshop, go to File > New. Name the document Abstract Poster. Set the Width to 1270 px and Height to 1600 px. Set the Resolution to 72 Pixels/Inch. Click OK.

Create a new Photoshop file

Step 2

Let’s start by adding a black background. On the Layers panel, click on Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Solid Color and choose black as the background.

Add a solid black color background

Step 3

Drag the Building Exterior Wall from Envato Elements by Liufuyu into the Photoshop window. Double click to unselect.

Place the building image into the file

2. How to Use the Puppet Warp Tool

Step 1

For this tutorial, we will be using the Puppet Warp tool to create an interesting abstract image. Head over to Edit > Puppet Warp. This action will apply many triangle shapes to the image. These shapes are the density in which you will be able to edit. You can change this by going to the Options bar and clicking on Density. For this tutorial, we will be using Normal, so set the Mode to Normal and Expansion to 0 px.

Use the Puppet Warp tool on the building image

Step 2

When you hover over the image, you will notice a pin with a plus sign. This will allow us to add points to the image to hold them to a specific place. Click on the top left quadrant—anywhere is fine. 

At this point, nothing will happen. In order for this to work, we need to move these pins around, so we need to place several of them. Click in the opposite direction and move the pin around. 

Create more than two points with the Puppet Warp tool to edit the image

Step 3

Now that we know how the Puppet Warp tool works, add pins on the image and move them around.

Something to remember here is that there is no right or wrong—this is an abstract poster, and pretty much anything goes! 

Create multiple points with the Puppet Warp tool and move them around

Step 4

You can edit the points after you’ve moved them around. Simply head over to the Layers panel and click on the dropdown arrow on the building layer. Double-click on the Puppet Warp layer settings and edit away!

I ended up with the image below. Press Enter when you are done to set the image.

You can edit after youve set on your image on the layers panel

3. How to Use Clipping Masks

Step 1

On the Layers panel, click Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Black & White. We want this layer to be applied only to the one below, so while selecting the Black and White layer, Right click > Clipping Mask. To see if this is working, check that the layer has an arrow on the left side pointing down, meaning it will only affect the layer below it.

Add a new black and white adjustment layer and create a clipping mask

Step 2

Add a new layer on the Layers panel. We want to add color blotches on the building. On the toolbar, select the Brush tool. Right click on the page, and set the Size to 300px and Hardness to 0%.

Use the following color codes to create strokes over the layer.

  • Pink: #e21efc 
  • Cyan: #11fdfb
  • Blue: #0018ff
  • Green: #11fdc3
Add a new layer and use the brush to apply different color strokes

Step 3

Set the Blending Mode of the layer with the strokes to Multiply on the Layers panel. Again, we want this layer to be applied only to the two layers below it, and we can do this with Right click > Create Clipping Mask. To see if this is working, check that the layer has an arrow on the left side pointing down, meaning it will only affect the layers below it.

Let’s group these three layers by selecting them and dragging them to the folder on the bottom of the Layers panel.

Set the new layer to multiply and create a clipping mask

Step 4

We want to create a glitchy poster, so let’s move the Group 1 folder to the right side of the page. We want it to go over the margin. Duplicate the folder by pressing Command-J and rename it to Group 2. Then place it in the opposite direction. I am placing them at different heights to add movement.

Create a folder with the layers we created and duplicate it to place on the left side of the poster

Step 5

Let’s create a line between the objects to make it appear like a glitched image. On the toolbar, select the Line Tool (U) and draw a line vertically, holding Shift to draw a straight line. Head over to the Options bar, select white for the Stroke, and set the Shape Stroke Width to 3 pt and the Width to 6 px.

Yo create a misplaced glitchy poster draw a line in between the two objects

Step 6

On the Layers panel, add a new layer and, as before, use the Brush Tool (B) and add strokes of different colors to be applied to the line.

  • Pink: #e21efc 
  • Cyan: #11fdfb
  • Blue: #0018ff
  • Green: #11fdc3

When you are done, while selecting the layer, Right click > Create Clipping Mask.

Add different color brush strokes on a new layer and create a clipping mask over the new line we created

Step 7

Let’s add some more details. Add a new layer on the layers panel; the goal for this will be to add strokes with the same colors as above, but this time they will be applied to the whole poster.

Using the Brush Tool (B), create strokes on the poster. We will edit them in the next step.

  • Pink: #e21efc 
  • Cyan: #11fdfb
  • Blue: #0018ff
  • Green: #11fdc3
Create colored strokes on a new layer again

Step 8

While selecting the layer, choose Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.

Use the Motion Blur effect on the layer we created

Step 9

Move the layer below all the grouped layers. Using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), select the areas you’d like to delete. I am deleting things after/before the line we created as this poster is intended to look glitchy and displaced.

Move the layer below all the grouped layers and using the Marquee Tool delete some spots

Step 10

Add a Layer Mask to the strokes layer and use the Brush Tool (B) in black to erase and soften a few spots. Set the Opacity to 80%.

Set the opacity to 80 Add a layer mask and use a black brush to soften some spots

4. How to Add Text Details

Step 1

Let’s go back to the top of the layers. Use the Text Tool (T) to add text. I used Chinese characters to add more interesting shapes to the poster: 步步高升. I used Kozuka Gothic Pr6N in 47pt size, but feel free to use any font in any language! 

I am placing this initial text on the lower right side of the stroke.

Add text details

Step 2

Let’s duplicate these letters and place them on the background. I am placing two on either side of the stroke and changing the Opacity to 15%.

Multiply the text details and resize for prominence Move them to bottom of the layers

Step 3

As before, let’s add a new layer and add color strokes to it, and we’ll also create a Clipping Mask for both of these text layers. Start by applying the strokes on one layer, duplicate it, and then move them to apply a Clipping Mask as in the steps before.

Also feel free to use black on this layer to create a “barely there” look. 

Add a new layer with color strokes and create clipping masks to the text layers

Step 4

Let’s add more text, this time with words related to metamorphosis. I added this twice: “1. denoting a change of position or condition. Metamorphosis.” I set it in RNS Sanz from Envato Elements in 25 pt. 

Duplicate the text layer above by pressing Command-J, and while selecting the duplicated layer, Right click > Rasterize Type.

Add a few more text details and duplicate Rasterize one of the text layers

Step 5

Head over to Filter > Liquify. The Liquify option window will open. Use the Forward Warp Tool and set the Tools options: Brush Size to 300, Brush Density to 10 and Brush Pressure to 60. Click OK. 

Lower both the text layer and the rasterized layer to 40% Opacity.

Liquify the rasterized text layer

Step 6

Add one more text layer with the word “meta” to the left side of the poster to add balance. Rotate the layer vertically by pressing Command-T, and hold Shift for an even rotation.

I added one more word Meta to the top left side of the poster to add balance

Step 7

Let’s add some texture to the poster. Select all of the layers on the Layers panel and duplicate them by dragging them to the Create New Layer button. This action will duplicate all the layers and will keep them selected. While they’re selected, Right click > Merge Layer. 

Let’s add some noise by going to Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

Multiply all the layers and merge them to add texture add noise to the poster

5. How to Save a File

Head over to File > Save and save the file as you would normally. 

To save a JPEG file, head over to File > Save for Web or Shift-Options-Command-S. Select the file type you want to save the document in; I am choosing JPEG and setting 100 for Quality. Under Image size, you can change the pixel size of the image if you have any size constraints. 

On the bottom left-hand side, you can see a preview of the size of the file. This is useful when there are size constraints on a website and you need to lower the quality or the size of the image. 

Click on Save… to choose the location in the new window, and then click on Save again.

Save the poster

Congratulations! You’ve Finished This Tutorial!

In this tutorial, we’ve learned how we can make an image work for an abstract poster. Today we’ve learned:

  • how to use the Puppet Warp Tool
  • how to use Clipping Masks and how to apply them to specific layers
  • how to use layer styles
  • how to use the Liquify effect to add dimension to text

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