How to make that skin look real.

foolscircle asked “That’s awesome! I just found your blog, and I love the effect. How did you achieve the effect on her skin?”

Well here goes, I was walking through the desert one day and I saw a lady with really bad skin and… well ok not really. It basically involves the use of three stock images, some steady hands, and a lot of spare time.

1. I first removed unwanted elements from the models picture and placed her on top of the desert background using free transform to get the model to the correct proportions.

2. I next chose a texture to place on her face that would have similar colors to the models skin. in this case I choose an image that was of dried mud with cracks. I then placed that layer on top.

3. reducing the opacity to 20 or 30 percent so that I could see the image below I began erasing large areas that were not needed of the texture leaving a rough outline covering the models face and hair. Next I went back to 100% opacity and then changed the blending mode to overlay to allow the colors of the lower level to show through to the top. (Depending on your texture you may want to experiment with your blending mode to find what works best)

4. Now comes the steady hand and spare time part. Select the eraser and remove all unwanted texture from the hair, eyeballs (not the eyelids), clothing, and any other part that isn’t related to the face. It’s very important to be exact here to give the allusion that the lines are a part of the face and not just laid on top. Zoom to 200% and reduce the erasure width to 1 or 2 pixels to get individual strands of hair cleared.

5. Now that fun was done you’ll notice that some of the lines go straight over areas that curve away like the bridge of the nose or ear canals. These straight lines must be broken by placing a 3 pixel gap just after the point that the curve happens. This give the allusion that the line curves with the skin and then continues on after it comes into view again. Look over ever part of the image, it will only take a few missed lines to ruin the whole effect. Once your certain you got the details done (triple check) merge the texture with the model.

6. Ok, we’re getting close to the end now. Put on your surgical mask because we are becoming Photoshop cosmetic surgeons. Go into Filter>liquefy and select bulge. Choose a small size (only a few pixels wide) setting for the brush and slightly poof out the edge of the bottom lip. This will give dimension and curve to the lines that cross over the mouth. If you feel like changing the eye color magic wand the eye color and then change the saturation.

So there you go in a nut shell, that is how you make a perfectly good model have a really bad skin condition and radiated eyes. In all this picture took me about three or four hours to complete. The biggest help to you will be to find a texture that somewhat matches the skin tone of the model so that the overlay blend matches and doesn’t wash out.

Have fun and don’t forget to blink when your working on the hair.

copyright 2008 Mark Birks All rights reserved

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About Mark Birks
Professional photographer specializing in fine art photography and portraiture.

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