Learn how to create this contemporary portrait with a color accent war paint. You’ll learn techniques for combining images, add some war paint that conforms to the face, then finish it off with a subtle color effect.

What you’ll be creating

Today we’ll be diving into photo manipulations. Here I will be introducing the basic methods and tools you can use to create your own as well as some tips about working with different textures. You’ll need Photoshop CS3 or newer to follow this tutorial.

Tutorial Resources

  • EagleFreeImages.com by doc_
  • Lion FreeImages.com, a great resource by ltshears.
  • Woman Shutterstock – However free sites can offer similar results.
  • Brushes A nice set of dry paint brush brushes from Blog Spoon Graphics.
  • Dust Texture A Great texture pack from PSDBox by Andrei Oprinca! Check out his stuff!
  • Concrete Texture – Feel free to use the one you like best in combination with your color scheme.

Step 1

Let’s start by making a new document. We’ll go to File > New and set it up to 11in X 17in and 300 Pixels/Inch. But remember these are just my settings and others will work! Then we’re going to bring in the concrete texture (or any similar texture you may want to use). Rasterize the layer if its not already (right-click on the layer and click rasterize) and then we’ll blur it to give is a nice soft background with some dynamic to it. Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur, you can see the settings I used below but different backgrounds may require some changes. Also, we’re going to create a new layer above the blurred concrete layer and run a white to black radial gradient from bottom to top setting that layer to overlay on top of the blurred texture. This will give us a nice little background to work up from, go ahead and group these layers together by Shift+Clicking on both of them then Layer > Group Layers and name and even color the group. When working in big documents its good practice to keep stuff organized.
Step1

Step 2

In this next part, we’ll start by actually extracting our subjects from the stock photos. We’re going to start with bringing in the woman. This process can be done a few different ways but I’ll be covering the way I usually prefer because of the control it offers. We’re going to start by giving the layer a new layer mask by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. This is very useful compared to actually deleting layer data in-case you mess up somewhere. The next tool we’ll be using is the pen tool, we’re going to be using this to outline the subject, utilizing a combination of curves and points to get a nice tight outline, this can be tedious but taking the time to do it right will make a huge difference. Now once you’ve got your subject nicely outlined right click and choose “make selection”, then switch to the wand tool (W) and right click then refine edge. This little tool is very very useful for cleaning up edges using the settings as well as the brush it uses especially with hair. The best way to understand how it works is to try it out! My Refine Edge screen from the woman can be seen below to give you an example of how it might look. This process is the basis of any photo manipulation so it’s important to experiment and figure out what tools you like and don’t like. Once you’re happy with your edge, click ok and it will apply it with the “crawling ants”. You can then (making sure you have the outside of your figure selected, Select > Inverse can be useful here) and paint in your mask, thus extracting the figure! Go ahead and make a Black & White adjustment layer above the woman’s layer and apply a clipping mask (Right-click on the adjustment layer and click on make clipping mask, these can be very useful later on. Clipping masks can make one or more layer only affect the layer they are masked too) Go ahead and make another layer in between the Black & White and woman’s head, again making sure the clipping mask goes down to the woman’s head. Now on this layer use a 10%-20% black brush to make a shadow on the right side of her face if you’d like, shadows are an awesome way to add realism to your works, these can be simple one layer things or multiple layers with different blending modes, try some out and see what you can come up with!

7 thoughts on “How to Create an Animal Portrait of a Human in Photoshop”

  1. Lucas Campau

    Hmm, very interesting take on this. I think a person would have to be quite creative to even have an image like this in their mind.

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