Made With Envato: How to Become a Self-Taught Photoshop Artist with sb. editing__

Want to know how to create digital art like a pro? Talented artist sb.editing__ shows us how he uses Envato Elements & Photoshop to produce his surreal work.

Made With Envato: How to Become a Self-Taught Photoshop Artist with sb. editing__
Portrait for Kelsie RimmerBy Kelsie Rimmer  |  Updated October 28, 2021

Known for his dreamy, out-of-this world creations, sb.editing__ has made the visual world his playground. He takes viewers on a unique journey through his imagination, and his work often features surreal scenes, whimsical details and curious image compositions. The talented French artist was inspired to start creating digital art a year ago by fellow Photoshop Master Benny Productions. He’s since amassed over 10K followers on Instagram, and his work has been featured by Adobe and Envato. Using tools such as Photoshop and Envato Elements to create everything from surreal concept art to minimalist masterpieces, sb.editing__ aims to transport his followers into a new dimension. 

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Want to create digital art but not sure where to start? We asked sb. editing__ to choose one of his favorite artworks made with Envato Elements, and walk us through his creative process so you can try it for yourself. Let’s go!

1. How did you come up with the idea for this artwork?

I created “Path to Stars” to celebrate reaching 6k followers on Instagram. I wanted to create something to thank my community for helping me get to where I am. I’ve developed my style in the surreal art realm, and I’m also passionate about space, so naturally I was inspired by this theme for the creation of this piece. 

2. What Elements items did you use to create it?

Made With Envato - sb.editing__ summary of materials used on Envato Elements

First, I found this 3D item of a bus shelter which I decided would be the main element of my design. I like centering my design around one single object. It makes viewers wonder, how did this scene come to be and what does it represent? It evokes a lot of questions which, to me, is the mark of a successful artwork.

After finding my foundation image, I still had to build the rest of the scene and add the little details which help to give my designs a magical vibe. I went for a beautiful twilight sky and a glade. I always look for images with similar color grades – it’s way easier to merge them together. I would advise beginners to look for photos with similar color compositions, it’s a quick fix if you haven’t mastered color grading techniques yet.

3. What tools and programs did you use?

I use Adobe Photoshop to create all of my compositions. I don’t have any plug-ins installed, and my edits are all done using the stock images I find either on Envato Elements or on other stock sites. 

In terms of brushes, I mainly use the soft round brush. It is probably one of the most powerful tools in Photoshop as you can create almost anything with it. To edit my Instagram Reels, I use Adobe Premiere Pro. I can’t say a lot about video editing as I only know a few basics, but who knows? Maybe one day I’ll have a YouTube Channel for my work. 

4. Could you walk us through how you created it step-by-step?

As a rule, I never make sketches before beginning an artwork – I just let my creativity flow. 

Made With Envato - Step 1

For “Path to Stars”, I began the composition by creating the sky. I start with this important element as it creates the mood and colors of a composition. Only when the sky is complete do I add other elements. After adding the background and making color corrections, I wouldn’t say there’s a specific order in which to add objects – every artist has a different workflow. 

Made With Envato - Step 2

I add details randomly, however it’s usually the same process: I add an object, adjust the luminosity to match the background, move on to the colors and finish with highlights. For beginners, having a specific structure or outline in mind can create a feeling of security and can be a good way to learn. It helps you to see the progress of the piece you’re creating. However, the more you practise and improve, the less you’ll be attached to structure.

Made With Envato - Final Product

I then added little details to make the scene come alive – from the long grass in the foreground to add depth, to the street lamp. I finished off the composition by adding the astronaut and planets. The objective of these details is once again to make people wonder, why are these objects are here? How did this scene come to be? This is one of the advantages of surreal art – you can create whatever you want without needing to worry if it’s realistic or not. 

5. What were the main skills and techniques involved in creating this piece? 

There’s no secret techniques involved in the creation of this artwork. I mainly use basic color and light corrections, adjustment layers and the soft round brush in Photoshop. The main skill I’d identify in this artwork is experience. Understanding how light and color works takes a lot of time and requires a lot of training.

I’m a self-taught artist. I learnt everything thanks to YouTube tutorials, and through watching hours and hours of Photoshop artists at work to understand how they make their art. For newcomers interested in photo manipulation, I highly recommend watching Benny Productions, Phase Runner, PiXimperfect, Letsencreate, and ns_photography

6. What’s the secret to creating captivating photo manipulations? 

My style of art is often associated with my “single object” compositions. A lot of people ask me how I manage to create such magical moods with standard, everyday objects – my answer to this question would be “less is more”. Creating simple manipulations is way more efficient than creating an artwork with dozens of stock images. 

Most of the time, the magic of an artwork begins even before I open Photoshop! The secret to making this style of art is using good quality stock photos. It makes up about 70% of the final render. Another trick is to use the rule of thirds for your artworks. It’s a pretty simple technique that helps you to produce balanced and dynamic edits. Simply divide your artwork into thirds, vertically and horizontally to ensure your elements are balanced.

8. What are your top tips for creating high-quality digital art? 

My must-have software is obviously Photoshop. There are so many ways to use it – even after a whole year of regular use, I’m still only aware of about 30% of its features. These are my tips for creating high-quality digital art:

  1. Use only the best stock photos. This simple rule will increase the quality of your work, but it can take a lot of time. I’d advise not rushing an artwork, as having the right stock photos are essential for a good end result. Quality over quantity! 
  2. Create what you like. This will make it easier for people to identify with your style and understand your message. People follow you not only for the art you make, but also for the person behind the artwork.
  3. Get ready to spend a lot – I mean A LOT – of time learning new skills and features. It’s impossible to improve in digital art without practising regularly. When I began, I tried to practise for at least an hour every day. However, it’s important that you don’t force yourself to create – creative blocks are normal, so if you’re struggling to find inspiration, do something else and come back to it later. 

9. What’s the biggest learning you’ve had from becoming a digital artist?

My biggest learning would simply be all the skills I’ve acquired through creating photo manipulations. But, beyond the skills, I’ve learned to be patient. I love making things quickly, but I soon discovered that this is incompatible with digital art. I also want to add that you don’t need to know everything about art to give it a try. I started from scratch on Photoshop! If you put effort and passion into your work, you’ll be able to make your dream come true.

Feeling inspired? There’s more where that came from! Whether you want to learn How to Create a Composite in Photoshop, or read up on the digital trend of Photo Manipulation, you can find tons of creative content here on the Elements Blog. Or, for more interviews, check out this Made with Envato Interview with Cosmic Creator Aron Visuals, explore imagination with Emilio Rios or learn more about Creating Photo Manipulation with Jose Francese

Having access to the right tools and resources is absolutely essential for creating consistent, high-quality content and digital art. Envato Elements is the ultimate creative subscription for digital artists, illustrators and designers, offering unlimited access to over 50 million creative assets. What are you waiting for? Start creating today!

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