Blending colors in Adobe Photoshop with the Liquify filter, the Smudge tool, and exclusive Creative Cloud brushes can yield vivid results. See how senior art director Lidia Lukianova paints textures on a still image to add a creative touch.

Lidia Lukianova is an artist and designer with a passion for illustration. She primarily works with the iPad to create illustrations, lettering, and animation. 


This sample file is an Adobe Stock asset you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample file beyond this tutorial, you can purchase a license on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file. 

Pick your subject

Lukianova opened an image of a grayscale flower. She held Command (macOS), Control (Windows), and clicked the flower in the Layers panel. Then, she clicked the Create new fill layer icon at the bottom of the panel, chose Solid Color, and selected black to fill in the flower.

Black and white picture of a flower. Shows before and after of a metallic flower with a Solid Color adjustment layer

Choose a brush or two

From the Brushes panel, Lukianova selected the Soft Round brush set to magenta. Before she painted on different parts of the flower, Photoshop prompted her to rasterize the layer. Next, she chose the Ultimate Pastel Palooza brush from illustrator Kyle T. Webster’s Dry Media brush pack and added cyan and yellow strokes. 

Brushes panel shows Kyle Webster brush. Flower on right is painted with strokes using 3 different colors

Swirl the colors

To create the marble texture, Lukianova applied the Liquify filter (Filter > Liquify). She adjusted the brush Size and Density. Then, she used the Forward Warp tool in the Liquify workspace to mix the colors.

Adobe Photoshop Liquify workspace shows Forward Warp tool selected, swirled colors on left, swirls applied to flower on right

Blend the texture

Lukianova set the Blend Mode of the texture layer to Color.

Canvas shows metal flower with swirled colors applied, Adobe Photoshop layers panel show Color blending mode selected

Expand the look

The Smudge tool allowed Lukianova to spread the colors and wrap the texture around the flower. She finished the look by adding in a black background.

Photoshop Smudge Tool selected, orange callout on flower shows smudge tool used to mix colors, layers panel shows new black background

Mix it up

Choose from a wide range of brushes to design new special effects. 

Final flower image projected on black wall behind a stage

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.

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