Being Flexible

In Art Projects, How-to
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During the busy month of December, I experimented with a new technique that was easy and satisfying without creating an unnecessarily stressful project. If you’re not familiar with the concept of pixel stretching in Photoshop, you’re in for a treat.

Pixel stretching uses a selection of just 1 row or column of pixels in a photograph. There’s a selection tool that does it for you – it’s hiding in the left column just underneath the rectangular and elliptical marquee tools.

You can click anywhere on a photo to create the selection.

Next, you’ll switch to the move tool, found at the top of the left-hand toolbar. When you click on the line selection you made, you should get some anchor points to be able pull from.

If you don’t see the anchors, make sure that there’s a checkmark in the small box in front of “Show Transform Controls” at the top of your Photoshop panel. While holding the SHIFT key, click and pull the center anchor point to stretch out those pixels.

I love seeing how the stripes or columns change just by selecting a different line of pixels.

I’m pretty partial to the simple stripes and I’ve created a bunch of different pieces using different photos. You could easily stop here and have some great statement pieces, but there’s more fun to be had.

When you click on your stretched pixel selection, a new tool appears at the top right of your screen:

By clicking this button, it allows you to switch from transform mode to warp mode. It will change the anchor points on your selection from squares to circles.

Once they’re circles, you now have the ability to bend and warp your selection in any number of ways.

I was happy with this creation and decided to see what it would look like with a different colored background, so I just copied this selection (CMD + C on a Mac) and pasted it on a teal background (CMD + V).

I used some photo adjustment layers to make the colors exactly like I wanted and voila, my creation was complete.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, I had a lot of fun with this process and it was low-stress creative way to do something more with a photo. If you take a look at my Instagram feed, you’ll see my month of playing around with this technique. You might not believe it, but every one of those abstract creations came from the very same original photo.

Staying flexible – Angie


  1. I love the way you experiment and play. Thank you so much for sharing the behind the curtains on the technique that’s been lighting up your ig feed!

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