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15 Creative Photoshop Ideas to Try Yourself in 2021

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Photography isn’t just about what you can do with a camera. There are some great ways to get creative and try new things in post-processing. You can add different effects and take your work in a whole new direction using Photoshop.

If you want to get creative with Adobe Photoshop, we’ve got a whole list of creative Photoshop ideas for you to try! Read on for some of the best Photoshop tutorials to get stuck into.

over the shoulder view of man using editing software
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

15 Creative Photoshop Ideas

Here’s our list of the best creative ideas for Adobe Photoshop. Take a look, and you’ll be able to find some great techniques for photo editing and post-production manipulation.

1. Turn Your Colour Photos Black and White

Colour photography has been around for more than 70 years. And yet, black and white photography still entices photographers today.

With black and white photography, you can’t rely on colour to make your images impressive. You’re looking for something different. You need to look for textures and patterns. You need to think about content and composition.

These days, you don’t need to go out and buy new rolls of film to create excellent black and white images. You can use some simple Photoshop editing tools to turn your colour photos into amazing monochrome images.

The process is straightforward, and you don’t need to be a Photoshop master. Click the link above and follow our easy tutorial on making black and white images in Photoshop.

black and white sand dunes
Photo by Eugene Ga

2. Add Lens Flare to Your Photos

Lens flare can often be an inconvenience. And Photoshop is often used to remove it from photos in post-processing. But these days, you can use Photoshop to add flare, too.

Adding lens flare is a great way to give your images a dreamy glaze. It can add mystery and romance to golden hours scenes and sunsets.

Lens technology is constantly improving. High-quality lenses have an anti-flare coating. It’s a benefit to a lot of photographers. But it means achieving a flare effect naturally is becoming more difficult.

Thankfully, you can get a great flare effect with a bit of photo manipulation. We have a simple Photoshop tutorial for adding lens flare in post-production. Click the link above and give it a go.

lens flare in a surreal forest scene
Photo by Benn McGuinness

3. Use Photoshop for Double Exposure Effect

Double exposure is a great experimental photography technique you can try yourself. You can make unique images.

Double exposure used to be a feature of film photography. It’s where one section of film is exposed twice. Originally, this was considered a malfunction. But the double exposure effect became something photographers wanted.

With a film camera, you have to rewind the film roll to expose the same piece of film a second time. It was a risky process. You never knew what the final image would look like until it was developed.

Thanks to Photoshop, you can add the double exposure effect to a digital photo. And the process is simple.

You need two images. And using different adjustment layers, you can merge them on Photoshop for a splendid double exposure effect.

And the beautiful thing about digital double exposure is the creative control you have. You no longer need to experiment with your film shots. You can now get the exact effect you want without the waste and risk.

Click on the link above for the full Photoshop tutorial.

double exposure image of a woman with trees in the background
Photo by Tiffany Combs

4. Brighten Your Photos with a Double Light Effect

A double light effect can give your images a professional look without needing a full studio setup. The effect is very popular with portrait and fashion photographers.

Using Photoshop, you can create realistic lighting effects. You can give your shots a double light effect with colour treatment. Adding two colours to your shots can create warmth and a certain mood.

There are a few steps involved. But you will learn a few extra Photoshop processes along the way. All you need to start with is a digital photo that has two light sources. Then with a bit of Photoshop work, you can transform your image.

You can learn the full process by following the link above. It’s a great Photoshop tutorial with a complete step-by-step guide.

double light effect used to add blue and red to portrait
Photo by Fotis Fotopoulos

5. Create Surreal Miniature Portraits in Photoshop

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be really small? With a few Photoshop techniques, you can put yourself into the world of the tiny.

You can take inspiration from our contributor, Joel Robison. He’s a master of surreal miniature portraits. He creates fantastic scenes full of fun and imagination.

Once you’ve browsed Joel’s gallery, you can check out the tutorial at the link above. Learn the specific techniques, then let your imagination run wild.

You can use these amazing effects to introduce elements of fantasy. You can experiment with self-portraits, like Joel. Or you can use friends and family for surreal portraits.

This type of photo editing does involve some advanced techniques. But even if you are new to Photoshop, you can still give it a go. It’s a great way to experiment and learn new editing methods.

miniature scene of a man catching coffee beans with a cup
Photo by Joel Robison

6. Create Amazing Cinemagraphs with Photoshop

Cinemagraphs are a great way to add magic to your photography. No matter what your style of photography, Cinemagraphs are a great way to impress.

Cinemagraphs are photos that feature one moving element. It could be snow falling or hair moving in the breeze. It’s not a GIF, as the majority of the photo remains a still image. It’s only the one element that moves.

Our contributor Anya Anti has some excellent cinemagraphs in her collection. She uses them to enhance the level of magic and wonder in her fantasy photography.

Once Anya’s amazing cinemagraphs have inspired you, create your own using a few Photoshop actions. You need a short video to work with. Then, with only a few steps on Photoshop, you can turn it into a cinemagraph.

Check out our tutorial by hitting the title link.

swirling coffee cinemagraph

7. Add a Retro 3D Effect to Your Images Using Photoshop

3D comes in and out of fashion all the time. And we’re all familiar with the strange images that you need retro glasses to look at. But you no longer need any film studio technology to get that effect.

If you click on the link above, you’ll find a video tutorial that will teach you how to get this cool Photoshop effect.

You can turn any digital photo you have into a retro 3D image. With a few blending modes and adjustment layers, you can impress your friends. And you’ll be ready for the next 3D trend.

portrait with retro 3d effect
Photo by James Bak

8. Create a Watercolour Paint Effect Without Washing Brushes

You can transform your digital photos into beautiful watercolour images. It’s a great way to make portraits even more special.

This photo manipulation technique uses watercolour brushes to create a digital painting. You start with any digital portrait you have. And by adding some textures and a bit of brushwork, you can make a digital work of art.

This isn’t the easiest of photo manipulations on Photoshop. But learning this technique will give you plenty of knowledge to can apply elsewhere.

Hit the link above. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to achieve the watercolour effect in Adobe Photoshop.

image of a smiling woman with a watercolour effect
Photo by Bunty Pundir

9. Create Pop Art with Photoshop

Awaken your inner Andy Warhol and turn your images into some fab pieces of pop art. Take any digital image you have. And with a bit of photo manipulation and painting techniques, you can make something bold and bright.

You can change the graphic elements of your photo, turning a standard image into something retro and vibrant.

The Photoshop tutorial will teach you how to desaturate your images. And how to create halftone patterns. These will be useful techniques for other types of photo manipulations.

The link above will give you a step-by-step guide. Click it and create your own stunning artwork today.

pop art effect on a portrait of Scarlett Johansson
Photo by Bunty Pundir

10. Give Your Digital Photos a Retro Feel

Over the years, digital photography has overtaken film. It’s cheaper and more convenient. But many photographers still want that grainy texture you get on film photos.

You don’t need to run out and buy a new roll of film for your old camera to achieve this look. We’ve got a Photoshop tutorial that will give your digital images the film photo effect.

It’s a simple process with only a few steps to follow. Even if you’re a Photoshop beginner, you can give this photo manipulation technique a go. And if you love the look of old photos, you won’t be disappointed.

There are plenty of Photoshop tutorials online for this photo effect. But the one above gives you detailed, step-by-step instructions.

farmer's track through a green field
Photo by Nick Page

11. Create Composite Images With Photoshop

Composite images are a creative photo manipulation technique anyone can try. You can start by combining two photos. Then you can introduce more to create stunning images.

The images you use to create composites don’t have to be photos. You can play with mixed media to achieve different effects in your final image.

Anna Maghradze is one of our collaborators who loves creating composite images in Photoshop! Be sure to check out her gallery for inspiration.

If you’re experienced with the Adobe program, there won’t be many Photoshop actions that you haven’t seen before. But if you’re a beginner, that’s no problem. Combining images on Photoshop is easier than you might expect.

The link above will take you to one of the best Photoshop tutorials you’ll find. Each step of the process has its own video tutorial.

composite image of a moon in a night sky over a bright desert scene
Photo by Eriks Abzinovs

12. Create a Cool Droste Image on Photoshop

The Droste effect is having a picture within a picture. Usually, it’s the same picture repeated to create a surreal and dream-like effect. Often, it will be the same picture repeated several times.

It looks surreal and technical when done when. But the Droste effect is easy to achieve with a bit of photo manipulation in Photoshop.

Your main image needs to include some kind of frame. That can be a painting or a TV screen. This will be where the image is repeated. If you get the angle correct, you can have your image repeat an infinite amount of times. Or at least until it gets too small.

The link above will take you to the Expert Photography tutorial. It shows you how to create the Droste effect in Photoshop. And it’s full of extra tips and tricks.

Droste effect using a picture frame
Photo by Josh Dunlop

13. Try The Multiple Exposure Effect

Multiplicity is a great Photoshop effect that adds surrealism and humour to your work. The multiple exposure effect is where you include your subject more than once in the same scene.

You can use two images to start with, which is easier as you’ll be using different layer masks. Then once you get the hang of it, you can experiment with more layers.

The images will need to be of the same scene. The composition needs to be exactly the same. Then you take several photos of the scene where your subject is in different positions.

You bring the images together using Photoshop CC. Hit the link above to see one of the best Photoshop tutorials on the multiple exposure effect.

multiple exposure effect to show the same person in multiple poses
Photo by Photoshop Roadmap

14. Go For a Unique Look With an Infrared Effect

Giving you images an infrared effect is a great way to make them stand out. You can completely change the feel and purpose of a set of photos with a few changes on Photoshop CC.

Adding the infrared effect is simple but can have a big impact. And there’s a lot of flexibility too. You can introduce subtle effects. Or you can completely change the colour palette, making them more dramatic.

The process is easy. If you’ve played with adjustment layers and blending modes before, then you’ll soon get the hang of it.

There are some excellent tutorials out there. But if you click on the one above, you’ll get a great Photoshop tutorial that is full of extra trips.

infrared effect on a scene of the sky over a rolling field
Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann

15. Apply a Dreamy Bokeh Effect to Your Photos

The bokeh effect is when your subject is in focus, but your background is out of focus. If you set to have a shallow depth of field, then the background will have a soft blur.

You can achieve this effect in-camera. But if you didn’t get it quite right at the shoot, then you can add the bokeh effect in post-production using Photoshop.

There are a few steps involved in the process. But you’ll be familiar with most of the Photoshop tools you need.

If you click the link above, you’ll get an excellent tutorial for adding the bokeh effect to your photos. And there are some extra Photoshop Tutorials too.

bokeh effect on a tree branch with berries
Photo by Aaron Blanco Tejedor

Conclusion

Creativity with photography doesn’t end when you turn your camera off. There are so many ways to change and added effects to your work with Photoshop CC.

You can use the program for removing blemishes or touch-ups. Or you can completely change your photos by using the tutorials we’ve provided in our list.

Even if you’re a beginner with Photoshop, there are some creative Photoshop ideas here you can get started with. Good luck on your journey to becoming a Photoshop expert!

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