PSDFan Extra

Design an Abstract Photo-Manipulation Using Adjustment Layers

Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Step 1

Create a new document (600X900px) and paste in this old paper texture.

Step 2

Now add a hue/saturation adjustment layer (saturation-40). This will reduce the saturation of your paper texture background:

Step 3

Paste in this image of a female portrait.

Step 4

On your layer palette select the ‘add layer mask’ icon.

Then use a soft black paint brush to mask off the edges of your woman’s face and hair until you’re left with an image like the one below:

Step 5

Now apply a top adjustment layer (hue/saturation). Reduce your saturation to -70 and increase your lightness to +20.

However, you will notice that this adjustment layer applies to your entire image. You want it just to apply to your woman’s face, so go to layer>apply clipping mask. Applying a clipping mask means that your layer will be masked to fit to the data on the layer directly beneath it (in this case your masked off woman’s face).

Step 6

Then apply another adjustment layer (levels), using the settings below. Apply another clipping layer mask, which due to the first adjustment layer being clipped will also only effect the woman’s face, and not the surrounding canvas.

Step 7

Paste in these images of fur:

fur photo 1

fur photo 2

Step 8

Select your first fur layer and then go to edit>transform>warp. Use your warp tool to warp your fur to the side of the woman’s face:

Step 9

Then warp your second fur layer. You’ll notice that there is a seam between your two fur photos. In order to fix this use your eraser tool (soft) on your top fur layer to subtly blend the two photos together. Then merge down your top fur layer to have both fur images on a single layer.

Step 10

Now apply a layer mask to your merged fur layer. Then use a soft black paintbrush to mask away the edges of your fur area. You want to create a hair-like effect from your hair, gradually blending it into the side of the woman’s face.

Step 11

Now create a new adjustment layer (levels) and apply the settings shown below. Then apply a clipping mask so that the adjustments only effect the fur part of your composition:

Step 12

Now paste in more fur to the right of your woman’s face. Make sure that these new images of fur are at the top of your layers in your layer palette. Then repeat the previous steps of warping, masking and adjustment layers in order to create a nice effect:

Step 13

Now apply another adjustment layer. This time do not apply a clipping mask, as you want this adjustment to apply to your entire canvas. Make the adjustment layer hue/saturation, and reduce the saturation to -40.

Step 14

Create a new layer called ‘eye color’. Use your lasso tool to select around the left iris of your woman’s eyes. Then fill this with a magenta color. Then change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ and reduce it’s opacity to 15%.

Step 15

Now repeat this technique to turn the right eye blue.

Step 16

Create a new layer called ‘sketch lines’. Use a 1px paintbrush to draw sketchy lines over your woman’s face. Then reduce this layer’s opacity to 15% to make the effect more subtle.

Step 17

Now create a new layer called ‘circles’. Use your circular marquee tool and create a few circular selections over your canvas. For each circle fill it with a neon color to transparent gradient. Finally, reduce this layer’s opacity to 20%.

Step 18

Create a new layer called ‘rectangles’ and repeat the same techniques as your circles layer, filling each with neon colors and reducing their opacity.

Step 19

Now create a new layer called ‘burn’. Use a soft black paintbrush to paint over the shadowed areas of your image.

Then change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ and reduce the opacity to 50%.

Step 20

Create a new layer called ‘dodge’. Repeat the same technique as your burn layer, but this time use a soft white paintbrush on the lighter parts of your image. Reduce the opacity of this layer to 20%.

Step 21

Create a new adjustment layer (gradient map). Apply the default gradient shown below, and reduce this layer’s opacity to 15%. Do not apply a clipping mask to this layer, as you want all adjustment layers from this point on to apply to your entire composition.

Step 22

Apply another adjustment layer (levels), using the settings below. Reduce this layer’s opacity to 50% to make the effect more subtle.

Step 23

Finally, apply a color balance adjustment layer (settings below):

And We’re Done!

You can view the final outcome below. I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and would love to hear your feedback on the techniques and outcome:

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. Ceane says:

    Haha good tut. That looks awesomely creepy. Time to get back at a couple ex girlfriends…

  2. Chris Ren says:

    Nice tuts, right soft hair effect is awesome. keeping great work!

  3. Gadget Guy says:

    Very nice tutorial, thanks

  4. Great tutorial, we do a lot of fashion artwork and this technique will come in handy.

  5. Awesome tutorial and I really like the finished effect. I’m sure the techniques used in this will come in handy for me and I like to learn new techniques to achieve different effects. Thanks.

  6. harly says:

    Hi, i already use some layers for the effects but this is very interesting. i really want to use this. some hair effects are great. i think everyone impressed with it.

  7. Steve says:

    Awesome tutorial …..
    Keep Sharing.

  8. great tutorial, very handy technique to know, thanks for sharing!

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