ART PROJECT #1: Renaissance Man Book Cover

Photoshop + sissy background + gilded frame + handsome fellow

This project is based on an old copy of Photoshop CC: Classroom in a Book (no affiliation). I took a few classes at art school, and I was shocked that they taught straight out of this book. I could have saved a lot of tuition by self-teaching! Oh well, maybe some of you can save some coin on my mistakes. It’s time for a brush up on Photoshop and Illustrator.

Let’s turn up the difficulty to 11, shall we? I’m going to look at the “Final” image from each chapter and try to recreate it without reading the instructions! Oooo! Exciting, right? Right?


  • Get a photo of a handsome fellow.
Photo of myself using a selfie stick. Oooo! Sexy! So sorry, ladies. Settle down. He’s married. Am I blushing? Stop it!
  • Go get a photo of a gilded frame from a copyright-free site. I used one from Unsplash (the preferred image site of Medium… cough… SELL OUT!)
Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash
  • Cut out the frame and save it as a Photoshop file with a transparent background. Use this as your main document. SAVE THIS FILE! You would not believe the number of graphic artists who have to do the same exact project again from scratch because they didn’t save their work. I’ve um… never done that?
  • Find a frilly, sissy, floral background.
Photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash. Yeah, that’s the one. It makes me wanna puke.
  • Drag the handsome fellow layer underneath the frame. I lowered the opacity of the frame so I could get things in the right position. Position it so it captures the subtle nuance of his handsome, rugged good looks.
  • I knocked out the background using a path (it’s the only way to be sure). I have a second path for the inside of the frame. Use the frame “outside” path to create a clipping mask on the photo. First select the transparent background. Make sure that the checkbox for “contiguous” is checked. Next you will select the “Inverse” of the background. Under the menu “Select” pick “Inverse” (or do it the lazy way of Ctrl+Shift+I). Last, use the “Quick Mask” button on the layers palette to cut out a frame shape of the handsome fellow. Make sure this layer is under the frame layer. Resize to fit.
My own personal screenshot. QuickMask and Opacity for the win!
  • Add a drop shadow to the frame. That will give it some depth. The handsome fellow will look like he is inside the frame, and the frame will look like it is casting a shadow on the background.
Drop shadow is hard to see without the background. Feel free to tweak it to taste.
  • Drag over (Hrgh!) the flower background (Urck!). Sorry, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
  • Using the rectangle selection tool, drag a square over the top of the image. On a NEW layer, fill this selection with a solid color. We’ll pick a shade of pink so it matches the (Hic!) roses.
  • I’ll add some fatty text at the top of our “book cover.” I want this to be in a contrasting color to the red we picked. This will make our words POP off the cover. Use your eyedropper tool to pick a green color from your image.

    I found this tool from our fine friends over at Canva. You’re welcome. I saved you from doing the search yourself ( This tool will let you pick the perfect-looking, complementary color.

    I used some class looking serif font (that’s a technical term for letters with thingies on the end—another technical term). Generally, we use serif fonts (like Times) for body copy and smart-looking headlines.-
  • Our final touch, our pièce de résistance, is to add the author name in eenie, teeny, weenie type at the bottom.
Top and bottom text added. My own, personal screenshot, yo.

And here’s our finished piece!

The wistful look in his eye really speaks to me.

I made this guy at 72ppi, for screen display. If this were really a book cover, it would need to be at 300ppi or even higher. That’s a bunny trail… There’s other things to think about if this were an actual book cover. For now, this is ART!

Per·fec·to! And… I’m spent.

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