Forms of Nature #17: Flowers & Flutterbyes

Forms of Nature #17: Flowers & Flutterbyes by Kenneth Rougeau

By request, here’s an Intermediate level Photoshop tutorial showing you the basics of how I create the “Forms of Nature” digital collages. It is assumed that you are already familiar with basic Photoshop tools, layers, commands and menu items.

It is also recommended, though not necessary for this tutorial, that you understand how to create selections and how to mask images in order to extract them from their backgrounds. For this tutorial, I am providing pre-extracted source materials as PNG files for your use.

There are quite a few simple steps and I’ve tried to keep the tutorial fairly fast & loose, so if you need more specific information on any step, or have any questions in general, feel free to leave them in the comments section at the bottom and I’ll try to address your inquiries as quickly as I can.

Personally, I’m using Photoshop CS5 on a Windows 7 PC, but almost any copy of Photoshop should work for the purposes of this tutorial (in fact, almost any decent image editor should be able to pull this off, so long as it has the capabilities for layers & shadows). Hopefully those of you using Macs know alternatives to the shortcuts I’ve included.

To download the source materials, right-click and Save each of the following files to a folder on your desktop:

Source materials:

1) To begin, create a new blank document with the following settings:

Width: 11 inches
Height: 14 inches
Resolution: 300 pixels per inch

2) Create a new layer and fill it with black.

3) Drag and drop flower001.png and flower002.png onto your canvas.

3a) (because I missed a line when numbering, lol) Right click the flower layers and choose Rasterize Layers.

4) Scale the two flower layers down to about 50% while holding your Shift key (this will keep the image in proportion).

5) Double click the flower002 layer on your Layer Palette to open the Layer Style window.

6) Apply a Drop Shadow with the following settings:

Opacity: 75%
Angle: 51
Distance: 42
Spread: 0
Size: 42

7) Right click flower002 on the Layer Palette and select Copy Layer Style.

8 ) Select flower001 from the Layer Palette.

9) Right click the flower001 layer and choose Paste Layer Style.

10) With the flower001 layer selected, Flip it Horizontally.

11) Hold Shift and move flower001 out to the right side of canvas from the other flower.

12) Rotate each flower as needed until the ends of their stems almost touch.

13) Select both flower layers on the Layer Palette and Merge them together.

14) Duplicate this new layer.

15) Flip the new layer Horizontally and then Vertically.

16) Hold shift and use the Move tool to move the new layer downwards on the canvas until the top and bottom stems are nearly touching.

17) Merge the flower layers on your layer palette together.

18 ) Duplicate the flower layer.

19) Select the bottom flower layer on the layer palette and Rotate it 90 Clockwise.

20) Duplicate both flower layers on the layer palette.

21) Select the bottom two flower layers on the layer palette and Flip them Horizontally.

22) Duplicate the two flower layers that you just flipped.

23) Rotate these new layers left or right a few degrees until the pink flower with the yellow center appears at the center of the top, left, right and bottom of the image.

24) Move the two flower layers you currently have selected up to the top of the Layer Palette so that they appear in front of the other flower layers.

25) Select all of the flower layers on your layer palette.

26) Hold Ctrl and press G on your keyboard to Group these layers together.

27) Right click Group 1 and choose Merge Group.

28 ) Duplicate Group 1.

29) Move Group 1 copy so that only part of it appears in the upper left hand corner of the canvas.

30) Duplicate Group 1 copy.

31) Hold shift and Move Group 1 copy 2 so that only part of it appears in the upper right hand corner of the canvas.

32) Duplicate both Group 1 copy and Group 1 copy 2, moving the new layers into position in the lower right and left corners of the canvas.

33) Merge the four corner flower layers together.

34) Duplicate Group 1.

35) Move the new layer down on the layer palette so that it is beneath all of the other flower layers.

36) Scale this new layer up roughly 25-30% while holding Shift to maintain the image proportions.

37) Center the new layer beneath the original Group 1 layer.

38 ) Rotate the new layer a few degrees to offset the flowers on this layer from those on the original Group 1 layer.

39) Repeat the following set of steps until you no longer see the black background peeking out anywhere in the image (Hint: you can test this by turning the black layer’s visibility off and on and watching for places in your image that flash from black to white as you turn it on and off):

  1. Duplicate the bottom-most flower layer.
  2. Select the bottom-most flower layer.
  3. Scale the bottom-most flower layer up a bit.
  4. Rotate the bottom-most flower layer left or right a few degrees.

40) Once you have the entire canvas filled and have left no holes, select all flower layers on your layer palette and merge them together.

41) You should now have a nifty kaleidoscopic looking flower arrangement. Let’s add in some insects to spice things up a bit!

42) Drag and drop moth001.png onto your canvas.

43) If it’s not already, position moth001 near the center of the canvas.

44) Right click the moth001 layer on the Layer Palette and choose Rasterize Layer.

45) Double click the moth001 layer to open the Layer Style window.

46) Apply a Drop Shadow with the following settings:

Opacity: 60%
Angle: 51
Distance: 174
Spread: 0
Size: 75

47) Apply an Inner Shadow with the following settings:

Opacity: 60%
Angle: 51
Distance: 2
Spread: 0
Size: 35

48 ) Apply a Stroke with the following settings:

Size: 1px
Position: Outside
Blend mode: Normal
Opacity: 50%
Color: Black

49) Duplicate moth001.

50) Scale moth001 copy down to roughly 25% of the original size.

51) Rotate moth001 copy so that it’s tail end points towards the upper left corner of the canvas.

52) Move moth001 copy into position near the upper left hand corner of the canvas, leaving a bit of distance from either edge.

53) Duplicate moth001 copy.

54) Flip moth001 copy 2 Horizontally.

55) Hold Shift and Move moth001 copy 2 over to the upper right hand corner, roughly equidistant from the edges as the original moth001 copy layer.

56) Duplicate both moth001 copy and moth001 copy 2.

57) Flip these new layers Vertically and then Move them into position near the bottom edges of the canvas.

58 ) Merge the four corner moth layers together.

59) Drag and drop moth002.png onto your canvas.

60) Right click and Rasterize the moth002 layer.

61) Scale the moth002 layer down roughly 25-30% and rotate it so that it’s tail end faces the lower left hand corner of the canvas.

62) Right click the original moth001 layer (the big one in the center) and select Copy Layer Style.

63) Right click the moth002 layer and choose Paste Layer Style.

64) Move moth002 towards the middle left of your canvas and then Move it up a bit until it’s roughly the same distance from the wings of the moth in the center and the wings of the moth in the upper left corner of the canvas.

65) Duplicate moth002 and Flip it Horizontally.

66) Hold Shift and Move moth002 copy to the right side of the canvas.

67) Duplicate both moth002 and moth002 copy layers.

68 ) Flip these new layers Vertically and then Move them down a bit past the center point of the canvas.

69) Drag and drop moth003.png onto your canvas.

70) Rasterize moth003.

71) Scale moth003 down a bit by 25% or so.

72) Rotate moth003 90 degrees Clockwise.

73) If it isn’t already, move the moth003 layer to the top of the Layer Palette.

74) Move the moth003 layer to the left-center edge of the canvas so that it’s tail is near the edge. (It’s wings should also overlap the green moths on the layers below it.)

75) Right click the moth003 layer and select Paste Layer Style (if you need to copy the layer style again, copy it from the original moth001 layer).

76) Duplicate moth003.

77) Hold Shift and Move moth003 copy to the right edge of the screen.

78 ) Drag and drop moth004.png onto your canvas.

79) Rasterize moth004 and scale it down by roughly 50-65%.

80) Right click the moth004 layer on the layer palette and select Paste Layer Style.

81) Rotate moth004 so that it’s tail end points towards the bottom right corner of the screen at roughly a 45 degree angle.

82) Move the moth004 layer down to the left of the bottom-center pink flower (the one directly under moth001′s tail).

83) Duplicate moth004 and flip it Horizontally.

84) Move moth004 copy to the right of the bottom-center flower.

85) Duplicate both moth004 and moth004 copy.

86) Flip these new layers Vertically and place them to the left and right of the upper-center flower (the one directly above moth001′s head).

Congratulations! If you’ve made it this far, you should have something that at least resembles my original digital collage “Forms of Nature #17″.

If you have any questions, comments, critiques, criticisms, witticisms, random gibberish, or anything other than spam to add, please do so in the comments area below :) Thanks!

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 9th, 2012 at 6:39 pm and is filed under Photoshop, Techniques & Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 comments so far


WOW! Thank you sooo much! I am so glad I stumbled onto this site, absolutely fascinating artworks! And just as I am thinking “I really wish I knew how to do something like that”, A tutorial shows up below. How great! I am going to go through your digital collage sheets as well and am certainly going to buy several of them!

Really lovely site,


April 21st, 2012 at 1:11 am

I was looking for a site with Dali’s illustrations for Alice In Wonderland and found so much more. Thankyou very much! I am going to enjoy working through the tutorial.
Such a wonderland here, an amazing site to explore. Wow! Best wishes

April 30th, 2012 at 3:28 pm

So glad you’re enjoying your visit Jane :) Thanks for stopping by!

July 12th, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I love what you are doing here really gorgeous. I was trying to work through the tutorial and I got stuck on the secound step. flower001 has a white background, how do I make that transparent.

September 3rd, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Hi Anita,
Thanks for writing. I’m sorry to hear that the tutorial is giving you difficulty. I’ve double-checked the flower001 file and have confirmed that it is a transparent PNG, so that leaves me wondering what else might be the matter.

What image editor are you using to complete the tutorial? If you’re using Photoshop, is there a white Background layer on your Layers palette? Did you Flatten the image at any point perhaps? Let me know as much information as you can and I’ll be happy to assist you.

Thanks again & have a great day!
- Ken Rougeau

September 5th, 2012 at 10:48 am

I did the black fill as you instructed, but when i drag the flower002 file there is a white background. I haven’t flattened the image or anything. I am using and older version of photoshop, photoshop 5.

September 7th, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Hmmm… Well, I can only assume it’s a difference between the older and newer versions. To make things relatively quick, try selecting your Magic Wand tool from the Tool Palette and setting the Tolerance to about 20 (tool settings – top bar, under the File menu). Click on a plain white area to select that color range and, if it’s not cutting into the flower too much, press Delete on your keyboard. If it is cutting into the lighter parts of the flower more than you would like, you can try lowering the Tolerance setting and selecting the white area again to see if it helps. I hope that takes care of it for you :) If not, let me know and I’ll do what I can to set you on the right path. Thanks!

September 7th, 2012 at 8:18 pm

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