PSDFan Extra

A Beginners Guide to Photo-Manipulation and Ani-Morphing

Final Image

This is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Images Used

These are the images used in this tutorial:

Different Format

For the purposes of this tutorial I’ll be explaining things in a slightly different format. I’ll be running you through the basic steps like usual, but will also be dividing the tutorial in various headings, that better explain my thought processes and methods.

Section 1: Composition

Step 1

Open up your pigeon photo in Photoshop. As we want our photo-manipulation to be the main area of focus, I crop my photo down to make the pigeon central. To do this I select my rectangular marquee tool, and click/hold and pull out from the center of my pigeon, whilst holding shift+alt. Holding shift creates a perfect square, and holding alt ensures that where you first clicked remains the center of your square selection.

Step 2

Before I look for a suitable second image, I must first make sure that I’m happy with my original image. The image is very nice, so doesn’t need much work, but I wouldn’t mind giving some extra focus on my pigeon. I zoom in using my magnifying tool, and then use my lasso selection tool to carefully select around my pigeon. Then I copy/paste onto a new layer. This new layer then contains only my pigeon part of the image. (You can see the contents of this layer below).

Step 3

Set this isolated pigeon layer’s blend mode to ‘hard light’ in your layer’s palette. And then reduce this layer’s opacity to 50%. Then duplicate this layer and change the duplicates blend mode to ‘soft light’, keeping it’s opacity at 50%. Then merge down these two layers with your original, by pressing option+e twice if your top layer is selected. What this does is give your pigeon more contrast, and emphasis, but without giving this same emphasis to the rest of your image – thus your pigeon stands out more. I used only 50% opacity in my two duplicate layers as you want your image to remain realistic and believable at all times, you don’t want to overdo anything.

Step 4

Now, my first pigeon image should allow me to select a suitable second image, in terms of composition. Looking at my pigeon, I can see that it’s head is pretty much at a profile angle, if not looking slightly towards me. Therefore, I must bear this in mind when looking for a second image to manipulate with the first. I eventually find a good image, of a dog’s head, at a profile angle.

First Photo Prepared – Second Photo Selected

With my first photo looking how I want it to, and a second photo at the ready, it’s time to put the two together!

Section 2: Merging the Two Photos (Initial Stages)

Step 5

Looking at my dog photo, I can see a lot of detailed edges due to it’s hairs sticking out. These would be extremely difficult and time-consuming to cutout using the lasso tool or path tool, so Instead I’m going to try to extract the dog image from it’s background using the Extract Tool.

First I duplicate my dog photo layer, so that I can retain the original below the duplicate. Then I hide my original, and select my duplicate top layer.

I go to filter>extract and funny enough the extract window pops up. Your dog photo should be in the center, and you should see a brush shape waiting for you. Brush carefully over the edges of your dog, trying to include all the stray bits of hair and fur. The best way to use the extract tool is to have half of the brush staying on the inside of the solid dogs shape, and half covering the stray hairs and details you want to capture. You’ll be able to see all this as the extract brush is a semi-transparent green, that will show through parts of the original image.

Once you have given your image a green highlight, look to the tools bar in the left of your extraction window. You should see a paint bucket icon, which is your fill tool. Select this and then click on the area you want to fill (in this case your dog inside your green border.). The fill tool should fill this area with blue.

So to sum up, the green marks the edges you want to try and keep the detail of, whilst losing some of the background, and the blue section marks the area you want to keep entirely. Once you’ve done this, simply hit ‘OK’ to extract your image from it’s background.

Step 6

You’ll return to your original dog image, and see the results of the extraction. As you can see from the image below, most of the edges were extracted nicely, but some parts of the image got a little destroyed.

Step 7

To fix these edges we are going to start by erasing bits of stray hair that we don’t really need. I can see sections of this particularly above and behind the dogs head, so I select a small, soft eraser brush at around 40% and start erasing these areas.

Step 8

Now if you notice small parts of the dog’s face and the hair on his forehead are missing, as these got extracted by mistake. For some reason the history brush wasn’t working for me, so I chose another method to restore this areas.

First of all I made my original photo layer (not the extracted one) visible again. Then I noticed that my dogs face did not really have many stray hairs on it, and therefore was fairly easy to select using the lasso tool. I selected around just my dogs face, not the surrounding hair, and then copy/pasted onto a new layer above my extracted layer. This filled in the deleted parts of the face in my extracted layer, leaving just the forehead hair to restore. For this, I returned to my original layer again and selected my clone stamp tool. Then I alt clicked on hair from the dog’s forehead, and returned to my copied face layer. Then I simply brushed in the cloned hair where it had been lost on the extraction layer.

Finally, I merged my copied face and extracted layer’s together, resulting in a fully extracted dog, with face completely in tact.

The images below show my top face/cloned hair layer on it’s own, and then the result of merging this with my extracted layer.

Step 9

Now I paste my extracted dog image back into my original pigeon image.

Step 10

Now we want to resize the dog’s head to fit with the pigeon’s body. To do this accurately, hide your dog layer, and then create a new layer called ‘pigeon outline. Use a brightly colored brush (roughly 2px in size), and paint in the outline of the pigeon. Then return to your dog layer, making it visible again, and resize it to fit the outline as best you can.

Section 3: Merging the Two Photos (Later Stages)

Step 11

Now with your dog layer selected go to image>adjustments>desaturate. This will make your dog black and white, to match your pigeon.

Step 12

As you can see, the contrast of the dog is not matching that of the pigeon image. To try and fix this I repeat the technique that I used on the pigeon image. I duplicate my dog image layer and set the duplicate blend mode to ‘hard light’ and the opacity to 50%. Then I duplicate this and set the duplicates blend mode to ‘soft light’. This is getting closer, but the shadows aren’t quite as intense as the original pigeon image. To fix this I up the opacity of both the hard and soft light layers to 80%.

TIP: To try and match different images, try to make the darkest shadows and lightest highlights of each image roughly match.

Step 13

Now as you can see parts of the dog image aren’t matching up with edges of the pigeon image. To start fixing this we’ll focus first on the large area of white hair hanging down below the dog’s neck. There is also white hair forming an unnatural border between the dog and pigeon images. Despite having extracted the dogs fur to the best of our ability, we’re going to have to go in with the lasso tool and cut away all of the white areas of fur manually.

Step 14

There is still too much fur covering the pigeon’s wing, so I go in with a largish eraser brush (10% opacity, 30% hardness) and erase away most of the dog’s fur covering the pigeon’s body.

Step 15

This step is quite important in the blending process. Use your magnifying glass to zoom in to your image. And then grab the smudge tool. Set your brush size to 1px, and set the strength to 88%. With your dog layer selected, smudge out individual strands of hair over your pigeons body.

Section 4: Final Touches

Step 16

Now identity the light source of the original pigeon image. I can see the it is coming from the top-right of the image to the bottom-left.

Step 17

Grab your paintbrush, and set the blending mode to ‘color dodge’. Then reduce the brush opacity to 10% and make the color white. Then make the brush size 40px. Brush over the areas of the dog’s head that should be lit by the light source.

Step 18

Now create a new top layer called ‘color overlay’. Select your whole canvas ‘option+a’ and then apply a gradient ranging from 373B3F to 1B1C1D. Then change your layer blend mode to ‘multiply’ and reduce it’s opacity to 10%.

And We’re Done!

I hope that you liked this tutorial. The steps are quite basic, but hopefully this can provide a start to basic photo manipulation for Photoshop beginners.

What did you Think of This tutorial?

In writing this tutorial I tried to cater for the requests for photo-manipulation and tutorials aimed at beginners. Please let me know if you liked it, or if you’d like to see something different either through the comments to this post or the poll below. I’ve got a couple more ani-morphing tutorial ideas lined up if you want to see them. They are more complex and in full color etc…

Download Source File for this Tutorial

About the Author:

Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.

Leave a comment


  1. Nice, Never seen a pidgeon-dog before.

    Great technique!

  2. Matt says:

    Interesting tutorial, nice work!

  3. Shaw says:

    Awesome tutorial Tom. Great techniques used here. I think the tutorial would look alot better if it was in colour. Other than that, great work!

    Oh and btw i have left you a tutorial suggestion in the suggest a tutorial post :)

  4. LBrother says:

    I like that one! Although it’s easy I like the outcome but it’s true – with color it would look better. I definately want to see some more about this technique! Maybe some more complex tutorials, I’m quite interested in that.


  5. Tom says:

    Thanks guys! I’ll probably write another ani-morphing tutorial soon, as I’ve got some great color photos lined up.

  6. nice tutorial serve in here.keep them coming Tom:)

  7. Indeed really nice tut – interesting birdie-dog effect :) )

  8. DesignNerd says:

    Wonderful technique! Great post Tom! You know what kinda tut id like to see – you know those ones when people make an elephant with zebra stripes or something like that….that would be cool!

    Also i have added you to my friends and links list :)

  9. Tom says:

    Thanks for the kind words everyone :) I’m glad to see that this tutorial was so well received.

    DesignNerd: I’ve actually got another ani-morphing tutorial planned, and I’ll definitely try to integrate some texturing techniques like you mentioned.

    Everyone: If anyone else has any more tutorial suggestions I’d be happy to try them out.

  10. DesignNerd says:

    Yeh they are expensive but they are sooo worth the money. I love mine so much i want to marry it lol.

  11. aprils says:

    hey hey…. i’m no good pothoshopper, but i still able to see the over white around the head of the dog, i think… u should just make it lesser white to make it look more natural…. right?
    however it’s good… thanks….
    no offense… hehe

  12. RUGRLN says:

    Great stuff…nice one, gotta try it with other animals too!

  13. Vincenzo says:

    ehehee really nice! lovely result.

    tnx the tut, it’ll be usefull ;-)

  14. Tom says:

    DesignNerd: What’s that sorry?

    Thanks for the comments guys. Aprils: Yeah I agree with you on that, maybe slightly less dodge brushing.

  15. Charlane says:

    Wow, :D
    I like the result very much!
    Tahnk you

  16. Tatyana says:

    Hi! I am glad to see the photo of my dog, used in this work :) This is Sheltie, Swanlake Rolling Stone, “Rony” at home. Rony is very intelligent and handsome dog, and we love him very much!
    Thanks for using his photo (made by me).

    • Tom says:

      Hi Tatyana. Thanks for posting such a great photo online, it’s great to hear from you. I’m glad that you liked the end piece, and I gotta say your dog has an awesome name :)

  17. Adam says:

    That’s an interesting use of photo-manipulation – what can be difficult is getting images at the right angle and making them blend together seamlessly.

    I’d love to have the time to create a collection animal hybrids in Photoshop!

  18. taryarL says:

    i’ve been looking for so long to this kind of tutorial
    thank a lot! u ROCK!!
    more tutorials pls :)

  19. majid says:

    It was great .
    I am looking for the same tutorial but in different colors.actually I want to learn balancing two or more colors together .
    I am looking forward to hearing from you .

    ps:It is better to contact me in my blog (my email dose not work now)

  20. jim says:

    you’re emphasizng the face of object? why it seems too light.? maybe that’s how i look at it. :D

  21. chazeartz says:

    try diff. lightning effect.

  22. vicknesh says:

    its amazing its job really very good

  23. Aaron Stone says:

    Great Job tom. I like the way you morphed that bird with that dog. Must have taken awhile out of your great life to make such a wonderful creation. Keep the animal morphs coming man. I am gnna name my kids Tom so they can be as great as you at photoshop. Do you use tumblr cuz u seem like you do. Anyway have a wonder day. No life <3 OFWGKTA Swag Golf Wang Wolf Gang Free Earl

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