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I'm trying to make a subtle/ambient/abstract background like the following:

enter image description here

I am not sure what the style is called, any instructions on how to make that background effect would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.

  • The background you looking at is called polygon background. Just get any of them, I'm sure there are many free on the web – Alex Satriani Mar 6 '16 at 21:30
  • Unless you want me to demonstrate to make your own just write me back here – Alex Satriani Mar 6 '16 at 21:30
  • Hey thank you for that lead. I would greatly appreciate you doing a tutorial or giving me a set of instructions on how to do that background. – downstream1990 Mar 6 '16 at 21:42
  • Ok , last question. Do you know how to use c4d ? – Alex Satriani Mar 6 '16 at 21:43
  • I would have to say no on that. I understand how to make that effect with the free stuff on the web, but I would really like to see how I can make it on my own. – downstream1990 Mar 6 '16 at 21:45
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Notice that the background is light in the center and gets dark towards the outside. That means it likely started with a radiant gradient fill that was light in the center and darker towards the outside, like a sun shining in the sky. Creating a gradient fill is a common way to get started creating a background like this.

So you would get started by creating a document of the right pixel dimensions (e.g. HD or 4K size) and creating a radiant gradient fill in a layer, with white at the center, fading to black towards the edges.

Once you have made a gradient fill, duplicate that layer and apply a filter to the duplicate. In your example case, the filter would have been a tessellation filter of some kind, which creates polygons across the layer. Depending on what tool you are using, of course you will have different filters available, so use the one that seems closest if there isn’t an obvious choice called “tessellation” or “polygon fill” or something similar.

In your example image, the polygons are not uniform. If your filter made uniform polygons, then at this point you might want to apply some kind of distortion to the polygon fill. That pushes them into the background further than if they were a repeating pattern with sharp edges.

Once you have applied the filter(s) to your top layer, use the blending mode and opacity controls for that top layer to allow some of the bottom layer with the simple gradient on it to shine through. For example, you can set the top layer to “Color Burn” blending and 50% opacity. Then adjust to taste. The lower the opacity, the less of your filtered pattern you will see. Experiment with different blending modes to get something that pleases your eye.

In your example image, there is also some color variation. So what you can do is duplicate your bottom layer again and move the duplicate to the top of the layer stack, and apply a filter to it that generates some noise like a cloud pattern in a couple of colors, and set the layer to 50% opacity. The variation from the noise will apply to the bottom 2 layers.

Lastly, you might want to apply a blur to your bottom gradient layer so that it is not so obviously a gradient. For example, apply a Gaussian blur and adjust the size until you can still see the glow of the gradient, but without the sharp center.

You might also want to add a little blur to your other layers because blur pushes the entire image into the background, and it is a background that you are creating. But be careful not to go overboard and make your image too muddy.

You can of course keep adding layers and filtering them (or painting on them) and compositing them (adjusting blend modes and opacity and layer order) as you see fit. Of course a very wide variety of abstract images can be created this way.

Once you are done (or at any point along the way) you can export a PNG of your image to use in another composition or in a Web app or wherever, and then save your master document so that you can create additional variations from it at a future time.

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Take your background image and make it a layer in Photoshop. Put a white or solid color layer under the background layer. Then reduce the opacity of the background to get the effect you want. Try different blend modes (e.g., overlay, soft light) to get subtle differences, or other blend modes for different effects. Your example may have used a "color" blend mode (way towards the bottom of the pulldown menu).

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