99webinar: Use stock imagery to create your best design yet

Sasha Manusama

In this webinar, Platinum designer Llywellyn returns to teach you the basics for manipulating images using several features on your image-editing software.

For the complete webinar, scroll directly to the bottom of this post. Download the class transcript and presentation slides to follow along.

1. The importance of editing stock images

By Proi

It’s a no-brainer, but the stock image you find won’t always match the project you’re working on perfectly. It could be that the image doesn’t match your client’s branding colors – or the main character in the client’s book is brunette, but you found an image of a blonde that fits all other criteria.

So, naturally, editing is your best friend.

There are quite a few image-editing applications out there, but for this particular example we’ll focus on Photoshop.

2. Non-destructive editing

Nondestructive editing large image

The number one tip for editing an image is to never save over its original form!

Editing and compositing photos involve a lot of trial and error, so it is always preferable to edit non-destructively where you always have the option to go back and start over without losing valuable changes.

The following three options are great for non-destructive editing:

Adjustment layers

Working with layers on Photoshop certainly has its perks. Like the title says, you are merely applying adjustment to the layers, not to the image itself. Simply remove the layer if you make a mistake – simple!

Another perk of using adjustment layers is the ability to add as many as you like to get the effects you desire. Access the options by going to Window > Layers.

There are several types of adjustment layers:

Color Fill Large Image

Color and fill layers affect the color and pattern fill of your Photoshop canvas. Working with solid color layer may sound strange, but once you pair it up with some blending options, you’ll see it can quickly transform your image!

Brightness large image

Another adjustment layer option is the brightness and contrast. It helps adding extra character to your image, and you can tweak as you please to discover what kind of effect you like best.

Color Intensity Large Image

To take it even further, an option in adjustment layer is the color intensity, which gives you control over the color saturation of your image. Every designer knows that a little tweak goes a long way, so play around with this adjustment to create a different mood in your image!

The fourth adjustment layer option is the special effects. Can you guess what it does? Jump to 4:23 of the webinar video to find out!

Blending modes

Blending Large Image

Once you get acquainted with the adjustment layers, the next step is to control how much these layers will affect your photo. Blending modes to the rescue!

Using blending modes, you can emphasize shadows, light, color and more. All you have to do is play around with them to see the effects take place. To access the blending modes, you need to first open your layers panel by going to Window > Layers.

One option for blending is lightening, by dodging the highlights and turning your brights even brighter. Another is to adjust the color and light values of your image – overlay, soft light and hard mix are some of the options available.


Jump straight to 5:39 in the webinar video to see Llywellyn’s pro-tips for working with brushes.

3. Combine and conquer!

Final copy

Now that the basic building blocks have been hashed out, the next step is to combine all these new options to tweak a stock image.

Want to see how it’s done? Go directly to minute 10:01 of the webinar video below.

To gain the full insight in creating a truly original design of your own, scroll down to watch the webinar in full.


About 99webinar

At 99designs, we always strive for quality designs. We believe there’s no better way to achieve this than helping our designers thrive, and get access to the best tricks of the trade. So we’ve created a few series of webinars that delve deeper into design categories, and now you can access them right here on the blog!

The author

Sasha Manusama
Sasha Manusama

Sasha is part of the Designer Marketing team, based in Melbourne, Australia. Aside from developing content that helps 99designers to upskill and have fun designing, she also provides support for the Indonesian community. She was born in Indonesia, before moving to Melbourne at the age of 13. When not procrastinating, she likes swimming, writing and cooking.

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