photoshop creative

Face paint with the Displace filter in Elements

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Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
December 30, 2016

Learn how to apply digital face paint to spice up any ordinary portrait


1. Prepare the displacement


Open your start photo and go to Enhance>Convert>Black and White. Choose the Newspaper preset. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, and set Radius to 20. Go to File>Save As, call it Displace and save as a PSD. Go to File>Close.

2. Position the graphic


Go to File>Open and re-open the start photo. Go to File>Place, open the graphic you wish to displace over the face and enlarge it to fit over the face. Lower its opacity to be able to position it accurately. When in place, increase its opacity back to 100%, then hit Enter.

3. Displace the graphic


Next go to Filter>Distort>Displace and hit OK. Set both Scale figures to 15, choose Stretch to Fit and Repeat Edge Pixels. When you hit OK a window will open. Choose the ‘Displace.psd’ file created earlier. The graphic will warp. Hide the graphic layer.

4. Convert to monochrome


Click the Background layer and use the Quick Selection tool to select the face. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/ Saturation. Move the adjustment layer between the graphic and Background layer. Reduce Saturation: -100. Zoom in to the eyes and with a black brush set to 100% Opacity, paint over the eyes to reveal their colour.

5. Reveal the graphic


Set your Foreground colour to white, and brush around the hairline to blend the areas in better. Cmd/Ctrl-click on the adjustment’s mask to load the selection. Unhide the graphic layer, make sure it’s selected, and click the Add Layer Mask button.

6. Make it look like paint


Change the layer’s blend mode to Overlay 70% Opacity. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, and set Radius between 2 and 5 to make the graphic look painted on. You can also go to Enhance>Adjust Lighting> Levels and alter the contrast by sliding the middle grey point.