I tried colour blend mode to create a gradient like in the picture, in Illustrator and Photoshop too, but the output was not like that. If anyone knows how to create this kind of design in Photoshop or Illustrator, please help me...

source link : image Original source link



6 Answers 6


To create such organic looking shapes, it's IMO best to use some randomness as a starting point for your design. Thankfully some design tools (e.g. Photoshop) come with a handy "Clouds" effect, which renders some random noise, that looks initially a similar to clouds:

  1. From the main menu, choose Filter -> Render -> Clouds Result of rendering clouds

Now that you have some dank random light and dark areas on your canvas, your next step is to get them to look a bit more like the organic "blobs" in your reference images. To do this:

  1. From the main menu, choose Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur (~100px) Clouds with a 100px Gaussian Blur applied to them

Now, admittedly, we did get the result to look a bit more blobby, but the contrast is low. So what we want to do next is:

  1. From the main menu, choose Image → Adjustments → Brightness/Contrast*, and crank the contrast to maximum and set the brightness to something that looks nice in your opinion. Blurry clouds with 1st contrast adjustment

  2. Repeat step 3. as many times as it takes (always cranking the contrast up to max., and adjusting brightness to "taste"), until you start getting more defined blob shapes. This is what I got after about 7 repetitions in total: High contrast blobs

Now this is starting to look a bit more like blobby! Unfortunately as a result of cranking the contrast to max. so many times, the blobs don't have enough grey-levels to be smooth and organic looking.

  1. What we want to do next is once again apply a gaussian blur, but this time a bit less strong. So Filter → Blur → Gaussian blur (~50px) Blurred blobs

Now the blobs are a bit too blurry again! Thankfully we now know what to do. Just repeat step 3. until it starts looking like your reference images again.

Here's what it looks like for me after 5 contrast adjustments: Pretty much final blobs

Not too bad, eh?
"But these aren't colorful like my reference", you might say. .

  1. Create a new layer on top of your blob layer, and just fill it up with whatever gradients you think would look nice with your blobs. Here's what I came up with: Dank gradients

  2. Set your gradient layer's Blending mode → Linear burn, and voilà! (Also adjust the blob layer's contrast and blur to match your final wishes) Organic blobs with gradients blended in

Basically that's it.
Now of course at this point you can freely repeat the whole contrast/blur cycle again with your blob layer if you wish to adjust it some more.
And playing with different blending modes on the gradient layer can give you some more cool effects.

Also, keep in mind that by just inverting the colors in your blob layer, you can swap the places of your blobs/gradients, like so:

  1. (Bonus) Select your blob layer, and do Edit → Adjustments → Invert, or (CTRL + I)
    (Can't add more images to this post because not enough reputation, but you get the point.)

And there ya go. Organic looking blobs embedded in gradients.

*: Or really any tool that you want to use to fiddle with the contrast. Levels, Curves, B/C, etc. all works.

  • 1
    Nice answer! Welcome to GDSE
    – curious
    Jul 10, 2021 at 3:10
  • eyyy, cheers m8
    – User
    Jul 10, 2021 at 3:21
  • 1
    You should be able to replace the repeated contrast and brightness adjustments with a single levels adjustment. Just pull the black and white input sliders close together. Jul 11, 2021 at 15:17

If you follow your own link and scroll a bit down, it's explained and exemplified how the patterns were made.

It seems that the patterns are in fact closeup photographs of Poison dart frogs.

So you need to find some free images of poison dart frogs online. Like this one from Wikimedia Commons (by Ltshears and in the Public Domain).

It's easy to find a crop which has that pattern you like:

Scaling the image up, blurring, correcting the colors and adding some noise gives a little better result:

The pattern is there, but the quality of the image leaves a lot to be desired. I believe the examples you link to were made using high quality closeups which probably have been manipulated a bit in Photoshop afterwards. It's hard to tell since all we have is images of seemingly offset printed materials.

  • 3
    Didn't check the source, but well spotted. +1. Very interesting . . . they're so colourful. The natural world can be so beautiful, and cruel at the same time. Being colourful in nature often means "don't eat me, I'm poisonous". Thank goodness that doesn't apply to strawberries though.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jul 8, 2021 at 23:12
  • 2
    @BillyKerr. Sadly I'm "go ahead and eat me"-colored myself. 😅
    – Wolff
    Jul 9, 2021 at 7:53

You need a high resolution image of a thin piece which has holes. You can draw it as a vector, but that's said already in an earlier answer, so I try something else.

This is a photo of a commonly used piece of not so organic material. It had white background and unfortunately only low resolution - good enough for webshop. I lifted the width to 2000px with Smilla Enlargener (it doesn't make borders blurry, freeware) and erased the white background:

enter image description here

All surface details are useless. They vanish by changing all pixels to 50% grey with Curves:

enter image description here

Layer spare is a copy of the original.

The well machined geometric form probably is not wanted. It vanishes by applying Edit > Transform > Warp or Puppet warp and Distortion effects:

enter image description here

Warp is easy, but Photoshop's distortion effects are difficult to control. I inserted a slight Pond ripple. It created a couple of holes and blurry edges which had to be fixed manually.

Illustrator's Envelope Distort with Mesh would give more freedom. It works well also with photos. Transparent background stay in Illustrator if one opens a photo file. Pasting directly to Illustrator removes the transparency. See NOTE1!

Some 3D light and color are useful. I used Photoshop's Layer styles as a shortcut. Manual painting would give full control, but Layer styles are easy. This is Bevel&Emboss:

enter image description here

Layer style Color Overlay made it blue. In the next image a black background is added and the image has got perspective distortion (Edit > Transform > Perspective and Scale)

enter image description here

NOTE1: Instead of using a photo of cylinder head gasket or other object which has holes one can as well make a selection, fill it and make holes by making more selections and deleting. If the selection forms are drawn irregular from the start no warping nor distortion are needed.

One can get smooth selection edges with Select > Refine Edge > Smooth. Apply no feathering, the edges must have high contrast. You can always make them less sharp later if you find it useful.

ADD: If you want a pattern which can be used to fill areas you can start differently. Here's a 100x100 pixels image which is filled with yellow and freeform black shapes are drawn with a pencil. The idea was to have one big black block and a few smaller ones:

enter image description here The edge zones are about 50% thinner than the yellow areas between the black blocks.

The image was selected, defined to be a pattern (Edit > Define Pattern) and a bigger rectangle was filled with it by using the Pattern Stamp:

enter image description here

That's too regularly repeating pattern when compared to your examples. But it can be distorted with Filter > Distort > Waves:

enter image description here

To test how it works the result is mapped with 2 a little different scalings onto donuts in a CAD program:

enter image description here

Just to show the difference here's one donut with the regular pattern which is not distorted One can see at a glance it's repeating.

enter image description here


In Illustrator you can use the Appearance panel to apply an opacity mask to a raster image. Here's how you could do it:

  1. Make an image like this in Photoshop, I painted some colours then applied a blur. Select all (Ctrl+A) and copy it (Ctrl+C). Of course you can use any image you want. It could be anything.

enter image description here

  1. Open Illustrator, and paste (Ctrl+V) the raster image.

  2. On top of this draw a black shape using the pen tool, and add some white filled circles/ovals, or any kind of shapes you want like this. Group these drawn object by selecting them and doing Ctrl+G (Group).

So now there is a group, and under the group is the raster image.

enter image description here

  1. Select both the group, and the raster image, using the Selection tool (V).

  2. Open the Appearance panel, and click on Opacity, then click Make Mask. Choose the "Invert mask" option

enter image description here

  1. If you want, you could draw a black filled rectangle, and do Object > Arrange > Send to back to create a black background

enter image description here

If these shapes are too regular for you, it is possible to use Effect > Distort and Transform > Roughen to the artwork before creating the mask.

enter image description here


You can combine results from both Illustrator and Photoshop to create things like this.

Illustrator part:

  1. Create a symbol and make a pattern like this with Symbol Sprayer Tool

enter image description here

  1. Using other Symbol tools like Sizer, Screener, do this:

enter image description here

  1. Expand the symbols. Apply Object > Envelop Distort > Make with Warp

enter image description here

  1. Apply Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. You can try some other Distort & Transform effects too, in addition to this.

enter image description here

  1. Expand everything. You should see something like this.

enter image description here

Photoshop part:

At this stage, I'll paste everything in a Photoshop document. It will create a smart object. It would be our pattern/shapes layer. Then:

  1. Add a gradient layer for background.

enter image description here

  1. Apply Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to pattern layer and mask it like this to give an illusion of variable focus.

enter image description here

  1. Duplicate this layer and rasterize it. Set the fill of the layer to 87% (so that the black dots/shapes won't be fully opaque)

enter image description here

  1. Then merge the layer obtained from above step with the background gradient layer, so they become part of same layer. Apply Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. Make sure to add some noise too in Blur options. You can try different kinds of noise separately later.

enter image description here

  1. In a new blank layer, Filter > Render > Clouds with sharp intensity like this. Change its Blend Mode to Hard Mix and lower the Fill value.

enter image description here

enter image description here

  1. At this point, I felt it is too bright. So I added a dark yellow solid layer and changed blend mode to multiply and set Fill to 18%.

enter image description here

Further, you can use Levels or Curves or Selective Color or Hue Saturation layers for more tweaks.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

This should give you a basic idea how you can achieve effects like this. Different Blend Modes, Noise, Gradients, Colors, Opacities, Symbol Shape, Symbol Sizer etc. will give you different kinds of results. And you actually don't need to follow exact same steps.

Layers Panel overview:

enter image description here


As @Wolff points out, the images that you posted were derived from photographs of poison-dart frogs. What wasn't mentioned is that the kind of pattern that one can see on poison-dart frogs, zebras, conch-shells, and other biological specimens are usually modeled mathematically as reaction-diffusion processes.

Fortunately, you don't need to understand the details of reaction diffusion equations to produce great Photoshop mimicry of the process. There are several web-based tutorials and YouTube pages to guide you. Just search on Google, as I did, for reaction diffusion Photoshop.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.