photoshop creative

Apply liquid paint effects

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
July 20, 2016

Combine paint splash and fashion photography using everyday Photoshop tools, resulting in extraordinary effects


1. Apply quick selection


Double-click the Background layer to unlock, then select the Quick Selection tool (W). Set Size at 7px, Hardness at 100% and Spacing between 15-20%. Zoom in at 100% and apply to your model. Where selection spills into the background hold Option/Alt and subtract from selection.

2. Remove the background


Holding Cmd/Ctrl, select ‘Add Vector Mask’ from the foot of the Layers panel, hiding the background and showing your model only. Drag and drop into a new document, sized 310mm x 230mm. Tidy any obvious edges using the layer mask, use a black Brush to add and white to subtract.

3. Mask the dress


Select the Quick Selection tool (W) and zoom in at 100%, applying as before with settings from step 1 to the dress. Hold Option/Alt when you need to subtract from the selection. Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate the dress to a new layer.

4. Remove paint stock


Select the Quick Selection tool (W) and with the Marquee Selection tool, Ctrl/right-click your image and select Color Range. Set Select: Highlights, Fuzziness between 20-25%, Range at 180 and click OK. Hold Option/Alt with the Lasso tool activated and subtract selections from paint highlights.

5. Mask in paint textures


Now with only your backdrop selected, hit the Backspace key to delete then drag and drop this layer into your artwork file. Next, Cmd/Ctrl+click your duplicated Dress layer thumbnail. With your selection live, activate your newly imported Paint layer and click ‘Add vector mask’ from the foot of the Layers panel.

6. Combine paint textures


Once the Paint layer has been targeted to our Dress layer, align and merge it. Repeat this step, dragging and dropping other paint textures, masking them as in step 5. Click on the layer’s Lock icon to deactivate, then click the Layer Thumbnail to reposition. Blend noticeable edges using a soft, black brush at 40% Opacity.

7. Add flowing skirt


Adding the flowing ruffles of our model’s dress is a familiar process. Repeat techniques applied in steps 4 and 5 to remove the paint areas indicated in our thumbnail, from stock images of red paint. Drag, drop and position. Simply press V then Cmd/Ctrl+T to rotate and place.

8. Merge layers using masks


Cmd/Ctrl+click your duplicate Dress layer thumbnail. With your selection live, apply a layer mask to the layer made from the red paint. This reveals the model’s right hand. Activate the layer made from the ‘Red paint1.JPG’ and apply a soft, black brush to this to merge any visible edges.

9. Apply a Gradient Overlay


With the layer made from red paint still active, apply Gradient Overlay from the ‘Add a layer style’ options. Set blend mode to Multiply, Opacity at 77%, activate the Reverse option and set a red to black Gradient. Also set Angle at -108 degrees and Scale at 86%. Elements users: check the box on the next page.

10. Clone out glare


We now want to clone out any excessive patches of glare in our merged paint layers. Press V to activate, hold the Cmd/Ctrl (Photoshop) or Option/Alt (Elements) key and click on a layer to find it in the stack. Activate and apply the Spot Healing Brush tool to clone these out of the image. Repeat and clone as you go!

11. Create dress contours


Duplicate your dress layer, setting the blend mode to Hard Light, Opacity at 75%. Place this new layer above all others. Cmd/Ctrl+click the Layer Mask thumbnail to create a selection. With the Layer Thumbnail activated, select Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set Radius to 10 Pixels before clicking OK.

12. Apply painterly effects


Paste some more paint over the image. Cmd/Ctrl+T) to place in position then match the curves of the dress contour by applying Filter>Liquify (Filter>Distort>Liquify in Elements), applying the Forward Warp tool. Now integrate by applying Gradient Overlay and merging edges with layer masks.

13. Apply a gradient backdrop


Select your whited-out background layer and select Gradient Overlay from ‘Add a layer style’ options. Set blend mode to Multiply, Opacity at 100%, activate the Reverse option and set a red (#b52f34) to black Gradient. Also set Style to Radial, Angle at 90 degrees and Scale at 132%.

14. Paint in back light


Select a large, soft brush at 30% Opacity, light pink in colour. Paint to a new layer set at 90% Opacity, placed behind your model layer. Create a new layer above this, with an 80% Opacity and Screen blending mode applied, and paint using a decreased brush size thus creating strong back lighting.

SS-Liquid-portrait-Step-15-Paint-contour15. Paint in contour


Add and merge other paint layers using previous techniques. Add Levels adjustment layers, dragging the black slider to the right to create shadows, white slider to the left to create highlights. Cmd/Ctrl+click layer masks to invert Levels layer masks and apply a soft, black brush at 20% Opacity to heighten areas where highlights and shadows should exist.