photoshop creative

Blend textures into portraits

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
September 13, 2017

Combine the elements for a colourful and creative abstract portrait

1. Start building textures

Open your portrait image and insert a marble texture; set to Soft Light and duplicate to create the marbled wash to the portrait. Insert nebula, hit Mask and then invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I). Grab a white brush (B) and mask in over the hair. Do the same with some more nebula textures and set these to Screen.

2. Layer the effect

Start adding more textures: place marble textures and galaxy textures; set these to Screen too. Alt/Opt+drag to your start layer to the top of the stack and set to Overlay to bring a little more contrast back into the picture.

3. Create the marble

Insert another marble texture and set to Multiply. This will add more texture over the lighter shades of the image, and enable you to drop in some more nebula textures over the top to balance out the lights and darks of the image.

4. Tweak the colours

Alt/Opt+drag the start layer to the top of the stack: set to Overlay. Create a Curves adjustment as seen, a Vibrance layer (+20 Vibrance) and a vibrant gradient map set to Soft Light. This will boost colour; Elements users try Levels and Hue/Saturation.

5. Liquify

Merge everything into one layer at the top of the layer stack by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+Alt/ Opt+Shift+E. Go to Filter>Liquify (Elements users: Filter>Distort>Liquify) and drag the texture subtly to create an abstract marble pattern around the subject’s shoulders. Hit OK when you’re done.

6. Place another galaxy

Add another galaxy texture and desaturate, either by hitting Cmd/ Ctrl+Shift+U or clipping a Hue/Saturation adjustment to the layer. Set to Multiply, 60% Opacity and increase the contrast either with Levels or Curves to create this noisy effect. Mask so that it only appears in the background to the left behind the subject.

7. Work on facial texture

Insert a rock texture and set to Overlay. Resize and place over layer. Set to Multiply, 60% Opacity and increase the contrast either with Levels or Curves to create this noisy effect. Mask so that it only appears in the background to the left behind the subject. the subject’s face, before setting to Multiply, 40% Opacity. Insert mountains and clip to your rock texture. Mask the rock texture so it appears a little more on the more shadowy cheek.

8. Paint up the eyes

Insert a new Soft Light layer and paint #25baff over the iris, before adding another Soft Light layer and painting #5de573. Insert one more layer and create two white dots in each eye. Then mask a Curves layer to brighten the eyes.

9. Blend in comets

Insert an image of a comet on a black background and duplicate it twice. Position the comets as they are in the final image using Transform (Cmd/ Ctrl+T), then set the biggest to Screen, the second biggest to Color Dodge, 90% Opacity, and the smallest to Screen, 60% Opacity. Mask the smallest comet behind the subject’s shoulder.

10. Adjust the contrast

Insert another galaxy texture and set to Color Burn, 30% Opacity; duplicate and mask so the duplicate layer is only visible in the background behind the subject’s shoulder. Brighten the image again using Curves or Levels; this will bring a space-like contrast back into the picture.

11. Insert fire and sparks

Insert fire and sparks images and set both to Screen. Position each as you see them in the final image and Liquify the right of the fire texture to blend further. Place a watery texture, desaturate and set to Overlay too.

12. Make the 3D effect

Duplicate the sparks layer twice. With the first layer, nudge 20 pixels to the right and with the second, 20 to the left. With the first layer, hit Cmd/Ctrl+U and change the Hue to -40; change the second’s Hue to +180. Mask this effect over the subject’s hair and the body.

13. Blur the piece

Merge everything into a new layer at the top of the layers again. Go to Blur>Blur Gallery>Field Blur, choose 15px; increase Light and Color Bokeh (Elements users: use Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur: 30px). Merge this bokeh over odd sparks, the top-left corner and the smallest comet.

14. Texturise the piece

Insert a bark texture and again desaturate. Set to Overlay and position over the darker side of the subject’s face. Hit Mask and invert, before masking in the cracks. Insert a crack, set to Multiply and do the same again. Place broken glass set to Screen and mask around the eye as shown above.

15. Sharpen and reduce noise

Finally, merge everything into one layer again, and go to Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise. Set Strength: 10 with all other values set to 0. Now merge again, go to Filter>Other>High Pass and choose 6, before setting this layer to Overlay in order to sharpen your whole piece.