How to Simulate Cubism in Photos with Photoshop

Cubism is a unique art form that can be simulated in Photoshop. Start with a simple photograph, because complex images can get messy as you proceed.  The basic steps are simple, but repetition is the key to this effect.

Step 1: Create a Cube

Choose your Marquee tool and use it to select a portion of your image. It will be a simple rectangle for now. Hit ctrl + J and Photoshop will place a copy of this section into its own layer. At the bottom of the layer window is an icon with an "f". Click on it to open the "Add a Layer Style" window. Here, set the "Blend Mode" to "Multiply" and adjust the "Opacity" and "Size". Now ctrl + click on the layer to select the visible pixels. Go to "Edit", "Free Transform".  Using the many arrows, you can stretch, rotate, and move your selection as you choose. To skew the selection, place your cursor over a corner, then ctrl + click and drag the corner.

Step 2: More Cubes

You can repeat step 1 as many times as you like in order to get all the cubes to make up your image. One shortcut you can use is to right click on the first layer and choose "Copy Layer Style". You can then paste that style onto your new layers. When you have all the cubes, you can drag them up and down the layer window to get the right stacking pattern for your taste.

Step 3: Extra Nuggets

You can add some text or icons to get a more synthetic feel. The text tool has many wacky options for you to play with. You can find the "Custom Shapes" tool under the text tool in the tool palette. Find something appropriate and apply it somewhere on your image. Find a blend mode and opacity that will suit your style and apply the changes in the layer window.

Step 4: Distort the Colors

You may want to give the whole image an antique feel, so click on the icon at the bottom of the layer window to "Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer". Select "Hue/Saturation" and check "Colorize". Play with the sliders until you find a setting that you like. You can drag this layer to any position in your layer list. Adjustment layers will always affect everything under them. Now, create another "Hue/Saturation" layer with different settings.  You can add a layer mask by clicking on the corresponding icon at the bottom of the layer window. Fill the mask with black. Hold down shift and ctrl while clicking on the layers that you want to apply this adjustment to. Once they are all selected, fill the selection with white. This way you can control how much of your image to manipulate with each effect.

Your cubist masterpiece is now complete. This process is by no means linear. You can go back and make changes freely without getting off track.


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