Photo Manipulation

Create an Abstract Portrait in Photoshop

On this tutorial we will create abstract photo artwork of a girl portrait with disintegration effect on it. We will learn to create disintegration effect in a handy and practical technique, adorn the photo with stunning lighning and then complete it with color adjustment. Throughout the tutorial, we will have fun to learn simple and handy tricks to create photo artwork in photoshop.

What you’ll be creating

On this tutorial we will create an abstract scene of a girl with disintegration effect on face and body. We will use some essential techniques in doing photo manipulation. We will work with paths, brush tool, some filter, color adjustments and textures all through the steps in this tutorial.This tutorial is done with photoshop CS 3. Don’t forget a glass of coffee and optionally a pack of cigarette for your companion. Ready..?

final result

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Well, start by opening the girl image in photoshop. Grab magic warn tool (W) located in tool panel on the left side of the photoshop. Set the value of tolerance to 32.


Click the white background of the girl image to make selection on it indicated by blinking small dots around the white background.


Let’s inverse the selection by hitting Shift+Ctrl+I. Now hit Ctrl+ J to duplicate the girl. Hide the original image by clicking the eye icon beside it.



Step 2

We will alter the tone of the girl’s skin by giving it some new layer adjustments. Firstly, while being active on the layer 1 (the extracted girl image), go to layer > new adjustment layers > brightness/contrast. Set this adjustment layer to these values:


Give more two others adjustment layers: Curves and selective color.



Given the tree adjustment layers, the look of the image should like the one in the screenshot below. Select the layer 1 and the tree adjustment layers, hit Ctrl+E to merge them into a new single layer. Name this layer, say, girl.


Step 3

Now let’s start create the main canvas for the scene we are going to create. Hit Ctrl+N to create it. Set the canvas/document to the size given below:


Next, open the girl image to the main document and convert it into Smart Object layer by going to layer > smart objects > convert into smart object. Take free transform tool (Ctrl+T) and scale down the size of the image to fit the size of the new canvas. Here is the position and size of the girl for your reference:


Step 4

From this step on, we will create texture to which we are going to clip the girl image to make disintegration effect on it. We will just create many dot lines as the texture. To create it, we will use pen tool (P) to make random paths and stroke them with brush (B). Well, start by setting the brush stroke first. Grab the brush tool (B), choose hard round brush. Set the tip of the brush in the brush preset (F5) as below:


Create a new layer (Shift+Ctrl+N). Take the pen tool (P) and create random path. Below are examples of the path:


On the new layer, stroke the path and choose the brush as the tool of stroking with black color.



Duplicate the layer as many as needed to create tangled random dot lines. Vary the size of the dot lines to create desired texture. Select all the duplicate layers and merge them (Ctrl+E) into a new single layer. Name this layer, say, texture. Here is sample of the texture we can create:

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