Wow, I never thought I would miss doing these so much. I have a lot more ideas that I've been saving up since I hurt my hand/arm a few months ago. This was the simplest one I had, so I opted to try it first.
Here's a quick way to make a cool abstract background. Use it as a desktop wallpaper, a texture overlay or whatever you want. It involves using a single circle brush and the brush variance palette.
This is going to be an intermediate level tutorial. My hand's not up to all the explanation involved in a beginner's tutorial It's not difficult at all; it will probably take 15-20 minutes. It assumes you have a solid working knowledge of Paint Shop Pro. If you're a beginner and you'd like to try it, feel free to comment with questions.
Notice: Tutorial content is copyright Rose B. Fischer and may not be republished in any form without permission.
Program: Paint Shop Pro (Any version)
Difficulty: Intermediate (Tutorial assumes a good grasp of program menus and basic functions. If you need more detailed help, feel free to ask questions.)
Translatable: Will work in any version of PSP; concepts should be translatable to most other imaging programs, but I don't know.
1. Create a new transparent document.
I used 2000x2000 @ 300 PPI. This size and resolution is enough to useful for big projects, including print, but still small enough to work as a tutorial. You can choose your own settings, but some of the steps may need to be adjusted accordingly.
2. Flood fill with a base color
I used a medium gray (#606060). I usually choose neutral colors for making a texture base. That way if I want to add color later, the base colors are less of a pain to work with.
3. Use a soft round brush and paint some large circles. Example.
I used a gray and white gradient (fore-ground background with #FFFFFF foreground and #808080 background.) Grays work well for overlaying, but you can do this with white or any color that you like. Put each circle on a new layer so that you can move them around to your liking. You can also change the blend modes and opacities of the circles to get different interactions.
4. Create a new layer and change your foreground color to a solid dark color.
I used #202020 which is almost true black but will pick up effects and coloring better.
5. Press F11 or go to View>Palettes>Brush Variance. In the brush variance palette, move the "size jitter," and "position jitter" sliders up.
I won't give settings here: What you want to to do is paint some small circles, change the settings, and paint some more. You may also want to play with the opacity settings.
6. Make a couple layers with different circle patterns and set them to different blend modes. What you'll have at the end is a complete mess, but it will look fine as we go on. Example.
7a. On a new layer, make a rectangular selection going down one side of the canvas. 8b. Flood fill with another, lighter gray.
7b. Go to Effects>Artistic Effects>Halftone.
To get the diagonal stripes I chose "Line" halftone pattern, screen angles 45, color white, blend mode soft light. Play with the blend modes until you find something you like
7c. Take your eraser brush with any brush tip you like. Go back to your brush variance palette (F11 if you closed it) and put everything back to 0 EXCEPT position jitter. Erase portions of the stripe layer until you like it. You're going for something rough and used looking. Example.
8a. On a new layer, flood fill with the "gray" gradient that comes standard with PSP.
8b. Go to Effects>Texture effects>Blinds. Set to hard light
I used the "On TV" preset to quickly get scanlines. If you don't have it, the settings are:
Light from Left/top: Checked
8c. Erase parts and change the opacity or blend mode until you are satisfied. Example.
9. Add color. Example.
Make some new layers and fill them or paint on them with different colors, gradients or even patterns.
If you find the canvas is too big to paint effectively with the paint brush tool, try making selections in different areas. Flood fill your selections and then use gaussian blur to soften the edges.
You can also try using multiple color layers and blending them together for different effects.
I used the "duotone light blue" and "duotone lavender" gradients that come standard with PSP to achieve my colors here. I chose them because everyone using PSP should have them and because I happen to like the color combination.
10. Finishing touches
The texture doesn't look quite finished to me, so I added another layer and went back to "Blinds," this time adding vertical stripes and erasing parts of them with the same method as earlier. I set the layer to overlay and added a slight gaussian blur to make it a little more subtle.
Then I added some more circle brushstrokes and some random streaks with a small circle brush at a low density.
For the second result, I added 2 layers of the "rainbow" gradient that comes with PSP. The first layer is set to screen. The second is set to "soft light". Both have different random parts erased.
Here is a gallery containing several variations and another texture I made using the same techniques.