Utilise the Pen tool and Curves to create metallic skin, then combine with parts to construct a mechanical marvel
Open your subject image. Select the Pen tool and set to Shape in the options bar. Click and drag to create smooth points. Continue to plot smooth points until you arrive back at the first point. Note: it doesn’t matter which colour you use.
Move the shape layer below the model in the Layers palette. Opt/ Alt+click between the two layers to create a clipping mask. The model is now contained within the shape. Free Transform (Cmd/ Ctrl+T) the shape if needed to scale/rotate/ distort to get a better fit.
To refine the shape, use the Direct Selection tool. This is a very handy tool which allows you to move the anchor points and adjust curvature by fiddling with the Bézier handles that emanate out from the points.
Click the Layer palette’s fx button and choose Bevel & Emboss. Set Technique: Chisel Hard, Size: 68px and Soften: 6px. Choose Drop Shadow on the left. Set Opacity: 60%, Distance: 60px, Spread: 30% and Size: 75px. Click OK. Select the model layer.
Select the Custom Shape tool, pick the Arrow6 preset. Create the shape. Press Cmd/Ctrl-T, right-click, choose Rotate 90 degrees Clockwise and Confirm. Option/Alt+click and drag the Model layer to the top. Option/Alt+click between it and the arrow shape layer to create a clipping mask. Adjust the shape if needed.
Option/Alt+click and drag the shape layer down to create a duplicate below. Repeat to create another duplicate. Use the Move tool to position, staggering the shapes. Let’s now style these shapes.
The Styles palette offers a great start to combining layer styles. In the palette menu, load Web Styles (Append). Try the Chrome, Slick Chrome, and Mercury styles on the arrow shapes. You can also customise by editing the individual styles (double-click to edit). Select the top layer.
Select the Pen tool. Trace the final shape, which we’ll turn metallic. Duplicate another model layer, place above the shape, then clip. Select shape. Apply a Bevel & Emboss, Technique: Chisel Hard, Size: 10px, Shadow Mode Opacity: 18%. Apply a Drop Shadow, set Size: 188px. Select the top layer.
Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Levels. Opt/Alt+click between this layer and the model to add to clipping mask. Set options under the histogram to 25, 1.12, 238. Paint black with a Soft Round brush at 40% Opacity to tone down.
Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button and choose Curves. Clip again. Plot points and create a curvy W shape. Select the Brush tool. Paint black at 90-100% Opacity to remove from the eye and lips.
Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button and choose Gradient Map. Pick the Black, White preset. Paint black in the eyes to restore colour. If using CS6+, you can follow the side steps now to add rivets. Next, we’ll add some parts.
Find an image or 3D render of a nozzle or engine such as this one. Use the Quick Selection tool to make a (you guessed it) quick selection of the object. Press the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers palette. Save and return to the main document.
Add the nozzle into the mix. Move, scale and rotate before confirming the place. Move down below the shapes. Duplicate (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and move/transform to add more among the shapes. Bring in ‘Gear.psd’ and add some drop shadows if desired.
Select the top layer. Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button and choose Solid Color. Pick #21c1f6. Set to Overlay blend mode. Click the mask, then press Cmd/Ctrl+I to invert. Now paint back with white at 40% Opacity to enhance the eyes. Alternatively, use these eye-enhancing actions free on the FileSilo. Save the file.
Open a steampunk-style background. Go to File>Place and choose the file you just saved. Scale if you like, then position and confirm. Add a Drop Shadow, set Opacity: 35%, Distance: 4px, Spread: 10% and Size: 207px.
Place a few more nozzle and gear parts above or below the model. Since these are not under the jurisdiction of the Gradient Map we placed at the top of , the parts will retain their colour, adding some nice variety. Select the very top layer.
Use the Ellipse tool (set to Shape) and create an ellipse around the eye. Pick one of the presets in the Styles palette. Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate. Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T), and hold Opt/ Alt+Shift as you drag a corner handle inward to shrink. Confirm and repeat multiple times. Adjust the styles.
Place textures to add to the picture. Set the blend mode to Overlay. Add a layer mask. Paint black at 40% Opacity to reduce the texture from the facial area.
Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button, and choose Gradient Map. Set to Soft Light, drop to 90% Opacity. From the preset menu, load Photographic Toning presets (Append). Choose Sepia Antique. Paint black in the mask to remove a bit from the face.
Click the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer button, choose Solid Color. Pick #83a9d9. Set to Hard Light, invert mask. Paint with white at 60-80% Opacity. Duplicate to intensify. Optionally, add a Levels adjustment and slide midtones leftward to brighten. Fiddle with the composition if needed, otherwise pat yourself on the back!