photoshop creative

How to create a ghost in Photoshop, part 1

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by The Photoshop Creative Team
March 21, 2014

We show you how to turn stock images into an aged and faded photograph with a ghostly presence… it’s enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine!

Download all the files you’ll need for this tutorial here


Open the image of the road to start. To create the sepia tone, add the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer in the Layers palette, and in the adjustments menu, tick the Colorize option and reduce the Hue slider to 30 for a brown tint.


With the Hue/Saturation menu still open, set the Saturation slider to 10 to soften the effect. Boost the Lightness slider to +10 to make the photo seem faded and old. We’ll increase the overall colour later on.


Make a new layer below the Hue/Saturation adjustment and set its blend mode to Screen. Select a soft round brush and lower its Opacity to 50% in the Options bar. Use a Diameter of 750px to paint on top of the road to form the misty glow. Lower the Opacity of the layer to 70%.


Download (free from the image of the woman and choose the Quick Selection tool (or Magic Wand as an alternative). Select Auto-Enhance in the Options bar and select the woman from the background. Open up the Refine Edge menu in the Options bar (or use Select>Modify).


Increase Smooth to 77, Feather to 3.8px, Contrast 12% and Radius to 3.8px in the Refine Edge menu. Use the white preview mask in this menu to see the edges of the selection around the woman. The selection should be soft and blurry.


When you’re happy with the selection around the subject, go to Layer>New>Layer via Copy (Ctrl/Cmd+J). Then go to Layer>Duplicate Layer and in the pop-up menu choose the start image under Destination. Hit OK and go back to the start image.


A new layer should now be visible containing our model in our start image. Hit Ctrl/Cmd+T to open the transform controls, and resize the woman so she looks a normal size in the foreground on the road.


Change the blend mode of the woman to Screen and lower the layer’s Opacity to 70%. This forms our ghostly figure. To hide the feet of the ghost, add a layer mask and use the Brush tool set to black to paint them away.