Saturday, December 26, 2009


Keeping the rings of the mandala centered is crucial. Everything depends upon being within a pixel or maybe two of center so that we can maintain symmerty of design.
For me, the trickiest part is when I add my first new element to a ring and then duplicate it. I usually start at the top and rotate the first element 180° and then drop it to what I want to be the bottom of the ring. I will use my grids and design landmarks to get the new element into approximate position and then I will check my positioning by selecitng both elements in the move mode. This will give you a boundinng box around those two elements. Check that the central circle that goes with your bounding box lines up with the crossing of your central grid lines. Adjust and recheck as needed.
If you get this alignment precise, then adding additional layers to the ring is easy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I thought I'd use a square of gravel to create a backgroumd pattern, but could see right away that it was not going to create the same kind of symmetry as the other experiments I have done. I decided to continue on, however, thinking that I might come up with something useable.
After filling the page, I applied Gaussuan Blur to the image and some symmetry appeared, but it also got rid of the hard dividing lines that showed pepples being cut in half. I proceeded to darken and increase contrast until I ended up with the image you see here. I think this is interesting in its own right although not as dramatic as the last patterns I have shown.


Applesauce anyone? I'll bet you didn't know this was hiding in your applesauce.

Monday, July 13, 2009


We can use the same technique to make this pattern out of a close up of a slice of bread. The possibilities are endless.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Let's play with the patterned backgrounds some more. Here, I have taken an X and turned it into 8 radiating lines. By duplicating and repeating, we create this simple pattern. Now let's put Photoshop to work. We duplicate the pattern and shift it over and down until we get this more complex design.
We could probably make the lines thinner and repeat the process to create an even more intricate design; but I'll leave that up to you.

Now let's add a remake of our previous jumping cholla mandala. Each one teaches me something new. This one is about improving the spacing of the rings. I also did not expand the mandala off the page as far which left room to make the corner duplicates larger.

Friday, June 12, 2009


This mandala is made with bouganvillia flowers. I use what I call a wave effect in many of the rings. Rather than creating even concentric rings, I get the undulating motion you see in this composition.
In the corners, I have placed reduced versions of the central mandala.
Now, let's talk backgrounds. For posters on Zazzle, I use dimensions of 23" x 34.5". If I divide that up into four segments across, I get 5.75". If I divide the 34.5" by six down, I also get 5.75". So I can make a pattern of 5.75" squares. Here I created the blue circles and fit 4 in a square of those dimensions. I then duplicated across and then down, until the pattern filled the whole page. One can then play with color, contrast, brightness and so on to get the desired effect as a background.

Next, I did the same thing with these celtic knot designs. The possibilities are endless.
I then took the calendula mandala and put it over each of the backgrounds. Here, I show it over the celtic knots.One neat feature of this design involves the reduced mandalas fit into the corners. While the large, central mandala expands off the page; the smaller ones include the whole mandala. I am impressed by the software that allows that.


I liked the wave efffect I got with the bouganvillia clusters. The calendula flowers are small, and suited to curved combinations that work well for the waves. Because they don't grow in clusters, however, I needed to create my own combinations. Before assembling the mandala, I created this page with individual flowers and mirror image pairs. I then created a second page with a series of curved combinations as you see below. Together, the two pages offered a large variety of elements to work with in composing the mandala.My thought is that with large blooms with a lot of detail, the concentric circles of individual and paired blooms is best. With smaller blossoms and especially the clusters, then a larger number of concentric rings is called for, and the waves add interest to the design.

Here, I give you the same mandala over the circle pattern. You can let your imagination run wild with this stuff.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Here, we have used the flowers to create a mandala with the open star which you see here. I like the way the open area changes the rythmn of the concentric circles. On the other hand, the empty spaces almost beg to be filled. For that reason, I offer a second version with extra flowers added. I would appreciate getting feedback as to which you prefer as the star is something I can use in other designs.


I have reworked the daisy mandala to utilize the mirror image elements. I started by creating this page of flower elements to use in the design. To the individual blooms, I have added the pairs of mirror images.
In some cases, I have created double pairings in which I reverse the left and right images to create more than one version of the same pairing. By rotating the indvidual blooms and pairing them up in various ways, I could create and alost infinite number of elements to work with.
The page also includes some line elements. That too, could be expanded. Now with the photos of a single bloom, we have created quite a wide variety of elements to work with. It is enough to create an interesting design.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I have made enough changes in my technique to warrant an update as a new lesson. With this mandala, I created more symmetry and created interesting negative spaces. Instead of using individual blooms for the concentric rings, I paired mirror images all the way around.
I think this adds a whole new dimension to my designs and I will be doing a lot more of these. I have also started expanding the mandalas out to the edge of the page. I think this gives a suggestion of growth out to infinity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I used the star tool and the complex star tool in Corel Draw to create this star background. It could be done in Photoshop with the shape tools, but it would be more work. I created each kind of star in Corel and exported to Photoshop where I was able to duplicate, scale, rotate and change fill color to create the variety you see here. Just keep adding layers to the bottom of the layers palette so that new layers sit behind the previous ones.
This gets a little tricky with the parts that go off the page, but you'll be able to figure that out.
This kind of background is something I am sure to use again.


Going back one step, I created a star background and dragged our mandala onto it, but found that it was too light; so I created a new layer from backgorund and went to image>adjustments>hue/saturation. The bottom slider in the dialog box is for lightness. I slid it left -50 to darken the background to what you see in the previous post. I think you will agree that it is much better than this.


Let's revisit this mandala one more time, again. I created an alternate background and dragged our mandala onto it. Let's see how we arrived at this point.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I decided to revisit this mandala one more time. Sometimes, I wonder if I'll ever really be done with any of these. I added flowers inside the star points and darkened the background. I think this is an improvement.


We have one other option before class is dismissed. Here, I have superimposed text over part of the image. This is especially useful for card designs.
Visit my Brightlight Mandala site and see if you don't get more ideas and inspiration for ways to expand on what I have shown you here. If you have specific questions about how something is done, put it in an e mail, and I will be happy to respond.


The next step is to change our backgorund. We could just fill with a different solid color. In this case, I use a textured pattern with the gray to add a subtle effect that makes the flowers float on top of the background. Dark, neutral colors will bring out the color in the blooms well, but sometimes I like a brighter background to add color to the total image; especially when I am creating a card design.
I have also used foliage backgrounds and will do more of that in the future. I got a very nice effect with that on my poppy line mandala. You can take a small image of a piece of foliage and tile it to create an almost kaleidoscopic effect.
There is plenty of room for you all to add your own approach to all this and to create your own style of flower mandalas. I hope you have as much fun with it as I do.


Once our mandala is done, we have the problem of what to do with the rest of the page. We could do a square print, but if we want to go with standard size prints and not waste paper, then we have page to use up. I have worked with this in several ways.
In some cases, I have moved the mandala to the top of the page and added text below it. We could keep adding rings to the mandala so that they fill the whole page. With my first calendula mandala, I added just one extra ring that ran off the page. Photoshop has all the data to recreate the whole ring, including the elements that don't show on the page; truly amazing technology. If you create extra rings expanding off the page, you could even shrink them down to fit if you wanted to for some applications. The idea is that you would fill the entire page with mandala that simply gets cut off at the sides. It can be a nice effect. I have seen people do it with their fractal mandalas.

The solution I use the most is to add individual flowers or flower composites above and below the mandala in a symmetrical arrangement. It gives me a chance to give the viewer some large flower images to appreciate for their detail. I think it makes a nice balance to combine the pure beauty of the flower with the grace of the geometric mandala design. I'll let you be the judge.


OK. Let's shrink the mandala down enough to add some individual flowers at the star points outside the outer ring. We will label this as phase7.


This is phase 6. I have duplicated, saved, merged and labeled as usual. I began by expanding the polygon a little. We had created 2 lavender line elements, now we add 2 pink lines. We will use them to create a 12 sided polygon around the star. By now you know the drill on how to get that done. This completes the mandala itself, but we could keep going and add more rings, more elements and more complexity if we wanted. Our mandala has expanded beyond the sides of the page, but it is a simple matter to scale it down to fit. If we wanted to add another ring or two, we would scale this down as needed first.


Now, we are going to bring in a whole new element to create a star. So far we have been able to let Photoshop do most of our placement for us in creating perfectly concentric rings. This time, we need to give our program a little help. I use the polygon shape tool set to 12 sides to create a yellow polygon surrounding our outer ring.
In some mandalas, I will take a shape like this and make it a design element. In such a case, I will usually stroke it with a contrasting color so that it has an outline. We could create a series of such shapes concentrically, each with a different color; so as to add more color to our backgrounds. See some of my mandalas with figures.
We now take 4 flowers and create what I call a "line element". Arrange the flowers in a line as seen above and overlap them to create the line. Play with it until you get a design you like. You can then duplicate your image and flip it horizintally so that you have a pair to work with.
Scale the lines down and drag to the top of our outer ring. Rotate them, position and scale until you get the star point you need. Link the layers and duplicate. Follow the preceding process to complete the star all the way around. You may need to readjust if the points don't quite fit. In this case my points were spaced out too far, but came together as I wanted, so I linked all the star layers and scaled them down for a perfect fit.
If we wanted to, we could put a small flower at the tip of each point to create a sharper point. We could also place a larger flower in the center of each point and another between points. I am going to leave this more open look, but you are free to experiment.
When we are done with them, we can hide our line elements. Hidden layers will be deleted when we flatten our final phase.


This is developing nicely. The beauty of all this is that if you don't like how it is turning out, you can go back and change things so easily.
I like to set up a varied rhythm between the concentric circles. To do this, I vary the size and spacing of the rings and in this case; we are alternating between the pink and lavender flowers. We are going to create a ring of 24 blossoms and set them just outside our ring of 12.
We choose a pink blossom and place it above our previous ring. Proceed as before through the first 4 layers. Now duplicate and rotate 45° creating a set of 8 layers. Duplicate and rotate 30°. Repeat. This gives us a ring of 24. Amazing, eh?

How about we add a smaller ring of flowers and layer it behind the ring of 24? Now we have a double ring with 48 blossoms. Are you starting to get the picture and see the potential in all this?
Save, duplicate, merge and get set to tackle phase 5.


In this lesson, we will create another ring, but it will echo the cross shape as well. We have duplicated our image, merged the 16 layers of ring 1 and labeled this as phase 3.
We now select a lavender blossom and create a ring of 12. When I am tansitioning from a ring of 8 to 12, I like to leave sufficient space between the rings so that the eye is not offended. Proceed as previously duplicating and rotating through the first 4 layers. Now, however, instead of rotatin 45°, we will rotate 30°. Duplicate those layers and rotate 30° again. Presto! We now have a ring of 12 flowers. Again, we have some big gaps. We could adjust scale and positioning to convert this to a ring of 24, but I want to try something different.
Select anothe flower to fill in gaps and scale to a little smaller that our exixting blooms. Rotate so that it fits into ring. Duplicate and flip horizontlally. Duplicate and proceed as before to create the image you see here. We could duplicate our first smaller flower, rotate it to fit and fill in the gaps to create an unbroken ring. I am choosing to leave the gaps and create an echo of our central cross.
The mandala designs are about repitition and symmetry, but we need to add interest by breaking up the sameness and incorporating some elements of surprise.
After you get through staring in amazement at what you have just done; duplicate image, save original, label duplicate as phase 4, merge layers of ring 2, and fasten your seat belts for lesson 19.


We will start this lesson by duplicating our previous image and merging the 4 layers of the cross and label the resulting layer as cross.
I do this as I proceed with my mandala creation. We can keep the number of layers to a manageable level, but retaining all layers between the various phases, so that any step can be changed or recreated as needed. This takes a lot of memory, but gives us a lot of flexibility.
Label the new image as PH2 for phase 2. Now we will kick it up a notch. Let's create a ring of 8 blossoms. Select the flower you see here and positon it above the cross allowing some space in between.
We could choose other numbers of flowers for our ring, but 8 is the easiest to work with and we want to ease you into this. We could create rings of odd numbers, but even numbers are much easier to work with, so I usually use rings of 8, 10 or 12 and multiples thereof.
Duplicate layer, then go to edit>transform. You can rotate 180° or flip vertically. You could drag the duplicated layer to the bottom of the cross and it would be quick, but I usually use the arrow keys, because it maintains one axis of movement, which aides in positoning. So use the down arrow until you have your duplicate layer in positon. Use your grid lines to help in this.
Select these 2 layers and duplicate. Rotate 90°C. Now select the 4 layers and duplicate. Go to layers>transform>rotate. Up in the tool bar, enter 45° in the angle box. Watch the magic. We now have a ring of 8 flowers. Click the check button in the tool bar to apply the changes.
If the flowers overlap or don't have a symmetrical arrangement, then click on the cirlce with the diagonal slash in it to deny application. Go back and redo as needed. You may need to rescale the flowers up or down or positon closer to or further away from the center.
In this case, we have some pretty big gaps, so we are going to fill in with new blossoms and convert this to a ring of 16. Are you ready for this?
At this point, we need to create a circle to use as a guide. I go to the shape tool and select the ellipse tool. By alt shifting from the center, I drag out until my circle just surrounds my ring of flowers. I have chosen yellow, but there are other choices. This layer can be hidden and won't show in our final image. It can also be expanded to serve as a guide for succeeding rings.
Select a new flower and drag onto page. Position between the top flower in our ring and the one just to the left and roate so that it fits. We could scale these flowers down so that they don't touch or barely touch. We could also let this new flower overlap the first 2, but let's put this layer below the first 8 in our layers palette so as to position it behind the first 2. Our circle comes in handy in guiding our positioning of this flower.
There are a couple of options here. We could rotate 180° and proceed as before with duplicating and rotating layers as with the first 8 flowers. I want to show you and alternative, however.
Duplicate layer and go to edit>transform>flip horizontal. Use your right arrow key to position this flower just to the right of our top blossom. Now, we select the 2 layers and duplicate. Rotate 180° or flip vertically and move to bottom of the ring with the down arrow key. Select the 4 layers and duplicate. Rotate 90°. Now we have a ring of 16 blooms. Isn't this fun?

Saturday, March 14, 2009


So let's start the mandala. We will begin by creating a new page. I like to use 23"x34.5" because it is a good sized poster I can have printed through Zazzle. Another printer might use 24"x36" or similar size. I could probably go a little larger, but would start losing resolution if I tried to go much bigger or get into prohibitive costs. Choose the largest size you think you will want to use. You can always shrink images down.
We may want to reduce the image down for use as smaller prints, cards, bookmarks, etc. On Zazzle, we can even make such small items as pins, business cards and postage stamps. I am filling the background with cyan. We can and probably will change the background at the end. Use whatever color pleases you.
I add grids and guides. I like to use 1" grids for this size image. I use guides to divide in half vertically and horizontally. This also establishes your center which is essential. In fact, I zoom in so that I can match the guides up with the grids at the center. It will be critical that we and the computer know exactly where the center of our page is. Everything will revolve around that.
Next we will choose a flower for the center of our design. I like to use a round, symmetrical image for this. Click and drag the appropriate flower from our assembled page. Move to the center of our mandala page and reduce the size downt to what you see here. I like to zoom in to center our flower precisely.
Since we started with a pink blossom, let's choose a lavender flower with a side view for contrasting color and shape. Again, drag to the page and scale to fit. Zoom in to align precisely to the right of the central flower.
We have a variety of choices here. We can scale flower to the same size as the central one of make it larger or smaller. We can align our new bloom close to or touching the central one, or move it further out. We can also vary the number of blooms surrounding the center.
In this case, we will have our flowers barely touch the central bloom and create a cross by using 4 blooms.
Now comes the fun. Go to layers tab and choose duplicate layer. Go to the edit tab and choose transform. Select flip horizontal. Using the left arrow, move the duplicate to the left of the center. Zoom in as necessary to align accurately.
This is where it gets interesting. Use shift click in the layers palette to highlight these 2 layers. Using layers tab, duplicate layers. Go to edit and transform. This time, choose rotate 90° CW for clockwise as opposed to CCW for counterclockwise. Voila! We have our cross. Isn't this great?

Friday, March 13, 2009


Let's create a new page with dimensions of 13"x19", figuring that that we will be large enough to contain all our flowers. Just for the heck of it, I have put them on cyan again. On the right, we have extracts 1-5 in pink. On the left, we have our lavender bloosoms. As it turned out, we just barley have enough room to fit them all. I have also created a couple of "lines" of linked blossoms on a smaller scale. We will come to the how and why of that later.
Each flower will show up on its own layer and you can label each as you wish. We could, of course, combine these flowers with other kinds of flowers, portraits, figures, geometric designs, animals and all kinds of other images to create an infinity of designs. You could take one or two flowers and put them into a woman's hair for a portrait. Use your imagination.
Using this page, I will create flower compositions with various combinations of blooms with or without foliage for prints, posters or cards; borders/frames, bookmarks all with or without added text. I can also go to Zazzle or Cafe Press and make the designs into t shirts, mugs, buttons, ties, postage stamps and more.
In this tutorial, we are going to create a flower mandala. In it, you will learn all the skills you would need to create the other forms.


One other thing that can be done with color adjustment is to change the hue. I first did that with yellow carnations. I made a border of them for an early version of the Serenity Prayer. I liked it, but decided that I would like to have them in pink as well. I was able to do that by going to the hue/saturation window and using the hue slider until I got what I liked.
So let's see what we can come up with. Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation>Hue. By taking the hue slider 3 points to the right, we get a slightly more vivid pink. If we go further to the right, we start getting into orange which clashes with our pink. Going still further, we get a yellow which doesn't look good and I don't want to get into an unnatural blue or green. I also want to avoid bright red, so this lavender seems to be our best option. I make a note that I have adjusted the hue to a minus 32. This gives us two images of different hue which is going to add interest to our final image. Now, we can go back to extract 1 and create a lavender duplicate of that.
We now go on and use the same procedures to complete extractions 3, 4 & 5. As I worked with these, I settled on using a tolerance level of 11 or 12 in using the magic eraser.


Now, let's adjust the color. many of you may know more about this than I do, but let me share what I have learned.
Go to Image > adjustments.
For many photos, I find the levels command to be the most important tool I can use in adjusting the color. It is especially good with complex images like scenery. With these simpler, extracted images, it may not do much; still, I will check to see what difference it will make. Getting more color intensity is usually my goal, but I don't like to push until it becomes unnatural. The other choices under adjustments include brightness, contrast and so on, but I find saturation to be the biggest help.
I generally increase saturation by just a few points because I don't want to get into the unnatural look.
I try to take most of my photos in the shade. If you have taken one in full sun, you may need to make a gamma adjustment as well. In this case, I think we have found a nice vivid color without overdoing it.


This blossom was part of a bouquet that was getting old by the time I photographed it. If you look at the previous image, you will see some brown spots that are the result of aging.
I don't worry about small blemishes on the flowers, but there are often spots that need to be touched up; so this is an opportunity to show you that.

I use the eyedropper tool ( I ) to sample the color next to the spot and then use the brush tool (B ) to paint over the spot. That works well much of the time. The healing brush also works, but I find the spot healing tool to work the best ( J ). Simply select that tool and brush over the spot lightly. You may need to use a combination of these to clean up the whole image.


The other shortcut I use is X. With that, you can switch back and forth between the foreground and background colors. It is especially useful with a black & white image, but I often paint or fill 2 colors at a time because this is so helpful.


The healing brush & spot healing brush don't work well near defined edges, so I usually have to use the brush tool in those areas. Quite often, my flower photos will have an insect on a petal, and this method works well for removing them as well. Better than pesticides.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


My next step is to create another layer and fill it with black. I then zoom in a bit and use the standard eraser to take care of any spots which show up against the black that weren't evident with the blue.
You can hide the black layer at anytime by clicking the eye icon in the layers palette. I am giving a lot of detail in the tutorial, but I necessarily skip over some steps. If you have trouble with something and need more detailed instruction, e mail me and I will be happy to respond.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


After going all the way around the edges, we end up with this beautiful image. Extractions are the most time consuming part of the design process for these mandalas; so anything that can speed up the process will help. You will figure out your own ways to save time as you get practice. I understand that you CS3 users have other, powerful tools at your command. The process here in Photoshop, is very similar in Corel Photo/Paint. I have not worked with other programs, but there are other options out there.
To my mind, they are all magic. I look at this beautiful image and my heart swells with gratitude to have these tools. To be able to work with the amazing beauty of nature in this way is humbling.


I don't like erasing against the gray checkerboard, so I have created a new page with the dimensions of 6"x6". I then filled it with cyan. I like absorbing the blue color while I work. For most flower images it works well, but there will be times that another color will work better.
The shortcut for the fill tool = G. Another very useful one for our purposes.
You will need an electronic drawing tablet for this. That is how I got started in all this. My son bought me drawing tablet for Christmas and I had to see what I could do with it.

At this point, I zoom in to 66.7% or 100% and use the standard eraser tool at a diameter of 20-40 pixels. The idea is to clean up the larger areas around the image. I use the hand tool ( shortcut = H ) to move around the image.
The other very useful keyboard shortcult is to use the right and left brackets to increase or decrease the diameter of the eraser. I use this for the brush and healing tools as well.
Once I have the big stuff taken care of, I zoom into 300% and set my eraser to around 3-5 pixels to do the detail work. I use smaller diameters to get into tight spaces and the larger diameters where I can go faster.
With this image, we don't have a lot of background left; it is more about smoothing out the edges left by the magic eraser.
It is up to you how detailed you get with this. For the mandala, the edges don't need to be too smooth. Once you have the flower extraction done, however, you will be able to use it for all kinds of projects some of which may demand more detail, so it is worth taking the time to do a neat job.
Sometimes, as you work around the flower, you will come across an area where the extraction filter or magic eraser gouched out too big an area from the petals. Take the eyedropper tool ( shortcut = I ) to sample the color in the area and switch to the brush tool ( B). You can then brush in to fill the gap. If the area is large, you don't want it to be conspicuous by its uniformity compared to the rest of the image; so sample more colors and sort of dab them in to imitate the existing texture.
With this image,the edges are in relatively sharp focus. This is because the flower is a relatively flat, simple shape. With most flowers, however, with more complex forms; you will have areas of sharp focus and others with more fuzzy focus. In the areas of sharp focus, the edge will be well defined with little tolerance for variation in the line. In the more out-of-focus areas, however, the foreground and background blend into each other and exactly where to define the edge is a matter of choice, and there is more tolerance for varialbility in how you actually define the edge.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I then go to the eraser (shortcut=E). This is a very useful shortcut for what we are gong to be doing, for we will do a lot of switching from one tool to another. At his point, I select the magic eraser.
I leave anti-alias on to get smoother edges and leave it set to contiguous. We are working with only one layer at a time so we don't need sample all layers. Opacity = 100%. The variable choice is to set a tolerance level.
For most images, I set it between 20 & 30. Smaller numbers give you more control. Larger numbers speed up the process, but allow for loss of part of the image you want to keep.
Exactly how I proceed, depends partly on the complexity of the background and the amount of contrast between foreground and background. Here we have a relatively simple background, but not too much contrast between foerground and background.
Here we have a relatively simple background so that we can erase large areas at at ime, but since the contrast is not great; we have to be careful not to erase too much. This can be compensted by choosing a lower tolerance level, but I also like to zoom in a bit as I erase so that I can see if too much gets erased. By clicking and observing the results, we can catch it if the eraser cuts into our image.
If you spot it right away, it is a simple matter to go to edit and click undo. If you don't spot it soon enough, you will have to use the history palette to correct the damage.
Most of this has gone well, but I ran into trouble at the very bottom. This section of gray background is too close to the shaded petal. Using a tolerance level of 30 cut into the petal drastically. I had to go down to 5 to erase safely. At that, it is not clean; but we will use the standard eraser to finish up.
Strike your own balance and be flexible to adapt to varying circumstances. Experiment to find a compromise between speed and precision. Take large areas with the magic eraser at high numbers to speed up the process or use a small diameter on the standard eraser to maximize control and detail.
For our purposes here, we don't have to be too precise, but the perfectionist in me likes to get them pretty close. If we were going to blow this image up a lot and hang it in a gallery, then we would need more precision. The beauty of the mandala designs is that we can create poster size images without blowing up individual flowers so much that they start to pixelate. It is a big advantage if you are not a professional photographer with a lot of expensive equipment.
Let's move on to the next step.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Now let's take the second photo and see how it is extracted. Start by duplicating the image and labeling it as an extract of a certain type and give it a number.
There are other ways to extract images from their background. I encourage you to experiment to find what suits you best. The method I will demonstrate suits me, but may not be best for you.
If any of you have suggestions of better ways to do this, then please share them with us.
I then go to filters and choose extract using Photoshop CS2. You could take a lot of time to outline in detail. You could also use the "smart tool" function, but I find it kind of dumb; or maybe I'm just too dumb to use it correctly. I also understand that you lucky CS3 users have new options which are impressive.
I generally don't take a lot of time trying to outline in detail; rather, I make a broad outline, fill, preview, and OK the extraction. I wind up with this image on the checkerboard background which jpg won't show.


This is our first photo extracted from its background. We are going to do this for all five photos. The image has been touched up, color adjusted and put onto the cyan background. So let's see how this is done.


Here we have our final photo in the series. Between them, we have an interesting combination of shapes to work with. There is not much variation in color, but as you will see; we will take care of that through the magic of Photoshop.
You could do the same with Corel Photo/Paint which is the only other graphics software I have worked with. The instructions I will give are for Photoshop, but can be easily adapted to other programs. They are all magic in my view.
My aim in this tutorial is to share a process I have discovered largely by accident. I seem to have stumbled onto something unique for I don't see others doing a similar thing. I don't know why others aren't doing this. To my mind the results are beautiful and we are starting with the beauty of nature, so how can we miss?
I work mostly with flowers of the American Southwest, but the same could be done with other parts of this country, and the world.


This is our fourth photo that we will work with. I am not a great photographer and have a pretty simple digital camera, so I will not give much advice on photographing flowers except to say take lots of photos. The beauty of digital photography is that it doesn't cost more in film to take lots of pictures. Some will come out great and be at just the right angle, light and focus. Others will not, but they are easily deleted once downloaded to your computer. The other recommendation I have is to take pictures of flowers in shade whenever possible. In full sun, you get spots that will white out. Getting shade here in Tucso can be a problem, so when we get a cloudy day, I am out with my camera whenever possible.


You will want to create a folder to contain all the images we will be working with. You can subdivide it as needed. I am creating a folder that is labeled as pink daisy. I have subfolders for original photos, mandala 1, composites, borders, cards, and bookmarks. I often create more that one mandala from a set of flowers so I number them. I do the same with the composite images within the sub folder. In this tutorial, I am going to concentrate on the mandala. It will give you the skills you need to create the other products. If you ran into specific problems or had questios about creating other products, I wil be happy to help.

Friday, March 6, 2009


This is the second of 5 photos we are going to use in creating our mandala. All five photos are actually different angles of the same bloom. One can create more interesting designs by using photos of different flowers with contrasting shapes and colors or shades of color. As you will see, however, we can get a very pleasing composition with these simple elements.
I want to keep this demonstration simple, but it will be enough to give you the tools to go own and create your own awesome, perhaps complex designs.
For my flower mandalas, I like to start with 5-7 extracted photos. More can be used, but with diminishing returns. While variation is important for the mandala process, it is also about repetition. As in all things, it is about finding the balance.


In my first tutorial, I showed you how to create a digital mandala based on my Brighthawk Mandala. In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a flower mandala. I call this one Pink Daisy Mandala 1. It is my newest in a series of digital mandalas create with flower photos. This is the first of the 5 photos we are going to use to create our mandala. It is taken with a digital camera and downloaded to my computer.