Create Cool Triptych Using Photoshop and Akvis ArtSuite

Create Cool Triptych Using Photoshop and Akvis ArtSuite

In this post we are going to create very cool triptych for which you need Photoshop and Akvis ArtSuite as a Photoshop plugin installed. It is ok to have only ArtSuite but even better if you have and Akvis OilPaint on your machine. Beside that you will get a nice looking triptych, there will be and few tips along the way.

Steps to create triptych

This should be fun and easy task to accomplish for everyone. Dimensions, resolution and frame choice will be mentioned but you do not have to strictly follow instructions. Let's get started.

Step 1 Blank new document
I am one of those who have used File > New command more than anything else. For the triptych I will set 2:1 proportions. Exact dimensions can be: 1400x700 or 3000x1500 pixels for example. Resolution is up to you, I will type 72.

Step 2 Define 3 placeholders
Our triptych will have 3 separate pieces or areas (that's why we call it triptych). Middle piece should be X2 in width when compared with side pieces so we should divide space into 4 equal parts. That can be done using guides. You can skip hard math by using View > New Guide Layout.

Number of Column guides should be 4 and Gutter set to 0. Leave all other boxes and text fields unchecked or empty.
new guide layout


The next thing we will do is to define placeholders. That's my name for shape layers which will serve to clip the image. We are going to use the exact same image for all three pieces and clipping masks will make our lives much easier. Along the way we will put Smart Object layers in function by creating clones (duplicated Smart Objects) what means that once we replace image on one of SO that will update clones with the same image. In other words, we need to change (replace) content on one SO only and other two will be updated automatically.

Use previously created guides and draw three shapes using the Rectangle Tool where middle shape will take double space (2 columns). Name shape layers, make that your habit to speed up your workflow.
draw placeholders


Step 3 Frames
One of the cool things with Akvis ArtSuite is that this plugin will respect selection created in Photoshop and will generate a frame which fits inside the selection. This allows us to make a selection based on our defined areas or placeholder and to get frame in dimensions we need without doing hard math. So, create a blank new layer above the shape layer then Ctrl/Cmd + click on the shape layer below to generate selection and visit: Filter > Akvis > ArtSuite.
create selection using shape layer


Choose frame of your choice. I will use: Classic Frame > Antique > 5th frame.
akvis plugin choose frame


Do the same for a right side piece but not for the middle because it won't have same frame width. I will explain you below how to solve this problem.
left and right frames generated


For the middle frame follow these steps:

  • Create a blank new layer above middle placeholder.
  • Generate selection using either left or right placeholder shape layer.
  • Generate exactly the same frame as for side placeholders and move it into position to have left edge next to the left frame.

middle frame start


If you take a closer look then you must realize that frame is generated using same, repeating pattern. This will make our life easier to extend frame width without distorting pattern and to have perfectly clear frame with exact same height, frame width but different, doubled overall width.

With the middle frame layer selected (in case you are following naming conventions), use Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the right side of the frame including both corners.
select right side of middle frame


Press Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + J to cut and duplicate selected portion onto the new layer which will be created above currently selected layer in the Layers panel. Visually nothing changed, but we have one portion of the frame on a separate layer and we can move it to the right until it touch right frame.
cut and duplicate


So, move previously created piece on a separate layer to the right. Use Move Tool and hold down Shift while moving piece. Release when you see red guide on your screen (View > Show > Smart Guides function).
move right piece into position


Now we need to copy a pattern in the middle and to move it to fill the gap. Select middle frame layer in the Layers panel then select middle portion of the frame and press Ctrl/Cmd + J to copy content on a new layer above. Use Move Tool or arrow keys to move a copied portion to the right and zoom in to see if the pattern matches pattern which goes from the left toward inside.
move copied content and zoom in


Now duplicate layer (duplicated middle portion with pattern) and move it to the right. Again, you should zoom in to ensure that the pattern is matched.
second piece of pattern


We have successfully completed task and we have middle frame with exact same frame width what was our goal. You can merge now middle frame layer and 3 layers above (probably Layer 1, Layer 2 and Layer 2 copy) into a single layer (select them all then press Ctrl/Cmd + E) which is elongated frame in the middle.
merge layers to create middle frame


Step 4 Place image
Now we can place our image using File > Place Embedded or Place Linked what can reduce file size. You can start by selecting the middle placeholder layer in the Layers panel before placing image. After placing image ensure that it covers the entire canvas area and clip image to middle placeholder layer.
image in middle placed


Hold down Alt/Opt and click on placed image (Smart Object layer) and drag it above the left placeholder layer to duplicate SO or in other words to clone it then clip it to layer below. Make it habit: rename the layer to image left.
cloned left image


Do the same for the image on the right and your triptych is completed. Advantage of Cloned Smart Objects is, as mentioned above, that when you replace the content (right click on SO and choose: Replace Contents) it will update cloned SO with the new content. If you replace existing image with image which have the same dimensions and resolution everything will work fine, otherwise you may need to scale all 3 SO layers. Scaling percentage will not update automatically, but at least you do not need to replace image 3 times.
image right


Step 5 Keep improving composition
So far we have final product which looks nice and better than plain triptych with gap between pieces and nothing else. Our triptych reminds on real world triptych's. Do not stop here, you can improve composition in many ways. One of the ways is to convert the image to painting for what you can use Akvis OilPaint, for example, which by the way works with Smart Object layers. It already looks better, but please continue.
triptych with oil paint


You can use Layer Style to add dimension, depth or more realism as some users use to say. Add on the top and one Curves adjustment layer with Radial Gradient layer mask and you have something much more interesting.
triptych with layer style and adjustment layer


More interesting is, but not complete for me. With small separation of frames and hinge in between, you will end up with a composition which will be much more appreciated and more usable. Do not forget and other goodies like Hue/Saturation to manipulate frame's color and overall appearance. Play around and have fun!
final composition


Products used in this tutorial:
Adobe Photoshop CC 2015
Akvis ArtSuite
Akvis OilPaint

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