Fluid abstract effects
1. Make a New Document with dimensions 4.5 inches square.
2. Use Gradient tool and set Yellow, Violet, Orange, Blue preset. Set to Diamond Gradient style and the Normal mode, and then drag diagonally from the lower-right corner of the image to the upper-left.
3. Enable Rulers (Ctrl+R/Cmd+R). Drag a horizontal guide to the 3-inch mark. Drag a vertical guide to the 1.5-inch mark and another to the 2-inch mark. These guides will help you to place the next gradient accurately.
4. Use the same gradient settings and drag from the top of the 1.5-inch vertical guide to the point where the 2-inch vertical guide intersects the horizontal guide.
The second gradient completely obliterates the first one. You fix it in the next step.
5.Use Edit > Fade Gradient at 40% in Normal mode. After use the View menu to clear the guides.
Now 2 gradients blend together. One more fill-and-fade sequence will give us more complexity and smoother blends.
6. Continue with the same gradient color preset, but switch to the Radial style. Begin the drag at a point 1 inch from the right edge and 1.5 inches from the top. Drag horizontally to the left edge. Use guides again, or just eyeball it. Constrain your drag to a perfect horizontal with the Shift key. Fade to 40%, using Overlay mode this time.
7. Choose a Gradient preset from the Pastels Library and drag a gradient in Color mode. The example uses the Brown, Tan, Beige preset with a diagonal drag in Linear style.
Another way to reduce color is with Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. Then use Edit > Fade to bring back some subtle color.
8. Choose Filter > Liquify. Use the Warp tool with a 1-inch brush. Drag various curving strokes to suggest the look of draped fabric. When you are satisfied with this stage, click OK and save the image.
9. Apply Liquify again and work with the Reflection tool. It works great for adding crisper folds and silky highlights.
10. Return once more to the Liquify environment to touch up any problem areas with Pucker and Bloat. Use a 200-pixel brush. Switch to other tools as needed.
11. Use the Eyedropper tool to sample a medium brown from the image. Or use these RGB values in the Color Picker: R 133, G 91, and B 36.
12. Use Edit > Fill, using foreground color in Color mode at about 40% opacity.
13. The entire image could use more highlights. Use Image > Adjust > Levels. Reduce the 255 Input Level to about 205, or drag the white triangle to the left until you like the result.
14. The area I worked on with Pucker and Bloat is still a bit too dark. If you have a similar problem, select it with the Lasso tool and apply a 20-pixel feather. Use Levels to brighten the selection.
15. There is a greenish cast to the selection now, so use Image > Adjustments > Color Balance to increase red and yellow slightly.
Adjustments to Color Balance are frequently necessary after Levels adjustments.
16. A few strokes here and there with the Blur tool, and you’ve got a lovely and sensuous background: