Got that psychedelic feeling? While the appeal and the concept behind psychedelic art and design can indeed be inspiring, few are actually artistically inclined enough to pull off psychedelic designs from the top of their head. Luckily, for those of us beginners wanting to jumpstart our own foray into psychedelia, there are some simple Photoshop methods to achieve our desired psychedelic effect.
The text in most psychedelic designs is distorted almost beyond legibility, often puffed-up in sort of gnarled balloon forms. Though of course there are many other textual deformations that lend a psychedelic undertone to designs. If you’re so inclined and your design concept can accommodate it, there are available psychedelic fonts in the Web you can readily make use of.
Of course, sometimes we need to make our own psychedelic text. To this end, Photoshop’s Transform > Warp tool is immensely useful. You can go at it without restrictions or you can set work paths – it’s all you. You can even use most of the other Transform sub-categories to lend more effects to the rendered text, such as a 3D aspect.
Colors are a powerful part of the entire psychedelic art concept. As such, how you use colors in your design would dictate how well the final outcome would appeal to your audience. In retrospect, that’s true for all design styles, but with psychedelic designs, you are more at liberty to let your imagination have its way. As for Photoshop, you might want to check out three things (and the effect of combining them):
Filter > Blur > Radial Blur. Most of the other blur sub-categories also work fine, but for working together with the succeeding Filter tools, radial blur works excellently. A simple noise gradient overlay of different colors can already have psychedelic aspects once radial blur is applied.
Filter > Stylize > Glowing Edges. The varied colors aren’t enough to denote the radiance of the psyche. Let each color in the spectrum glow at its edges with glowing edge. Glowing colors are more psychedelic.
Filter > Liquify. Liquify is the perfect tool for all the swirls and curves characteristic of psychedelic art. Our noise gradient overlay merged down into the background layer of the Photoshop document and stylized with glowing edges can be swirled into many different directions and in limitless ways through liquify.
Psychedelic Message or Motif?
More on the conceptual side of psychedelic design: did you decide to go for it because you had a psychedelic message, or you just wanted a psychedelic motif? For both concerns, the points mentioned above work well, but in the core of your design concept, you need to know if you’re delivering a psychedelic message, or a message through a psychedelic motif.
Depending on your core concept, you may not even need text in your design. Whatever the case, psychedelic design just for the sake of it is indeed fun, but smart print design always factors in why a certain style is used in the first place.