May 16, 2014

Create an Amazing Cracked Skin Effect in Photoshop (Part 2)

Creating a Cracked Skin Effect

In this episode we creating a cracked skin effect in photoshop, making it look more three-dimensional and adding blur. Be sure to check out Part 1 where you will learn how to wrap the texture around a subject’s face.

How to Give the Cracks Dimension

To apply the cracks in the first part of this tutorial we used the Multiply blend mode, making the darks interact with the photo and the lights invisible. Now we want to add highlights on the edges of the cracks to give them more dimension. We do this by duplicating the original crack layer, inverting and desaturating it, and changing the blend mode to Screen. Now we have have white cracks on a transparent background. Next we use Blend If to make this layer invisible where the underlying layer is darker, removing it from the cracks. This section of the tutorial is pretty complex but will make a huge difference in the final effect. Next step is to move this layer so it matches the lighting on the original photo.

Create a Peeling Effect on the Cracks

Next step is to make the skin look like it is peeling up in some places just as paint would. To do this we use a soft edged brush, painting white on a Soft Light layer. Painting around the cracks and the using the lasso tool to remove the highlights from unwanted areas makes the skin look as thought it is peeling up. After creating the highlights we do the same thing with the shadows, painting black on a soft light layer. In this tutorial we cover a small part of the image because of time restrictions.

Add a Blur to Blend into the Image

The original image was photographed using a shallow depth of field meaning that some of the face is in focus and some of the face is out of focus. To complete our cracked skin effect we have to duplicate this gradual blur. To match the blur we use the Blur Tool on a new layer. Be sure to check the option “Sample All Layers” and set your strength to about 50%. This will allow you to add the blur on a new blank layer, not effecting the layers underneath.


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  • user image

    I believe you can upload up to 10 hours on youtube now so take all the time you need Aaron lol. This video series was so great that you could of made it a Pro. Never think of the small detail like you do, which is why I love your stuff. Everyone should check out the Pro Blending In also if you want another cool effect.

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    So this is my first, amateur attempt to do some compositing like this, but I am having trouble getting it to look convincing. Especially where the head meets the neck. Also the bird’s head seems a little off angle, and the light isn’t quite right. Can you cover something like this?

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    Hey Phlearn,

    Just wanted to say thank you all for the inspiration I find here and the lessons of editing photos. I watched the above episode ages ago and last night decided to give it a go… and would like to share the final result with you. You really make photography and editing fun!!! Thank you all again!!!!

  • user image

    Thank you for this tutorial!
    This is one of my work 🙂
    Photo: David Moratilla
    Retouch: me – MicroCinnamon_photography

  • user image

    Awesome tutorial!Was just perfect!Loved watching and was happy trying it myself!

  • user image

    First thank you for all of your tutorials I’ve been watching for months now, and which really teach me how to manage to get nice images.
    I have a suggestion about the final step (applying a blur in order to fit with the original picture) : what about hit apply an image on a new layer then apply a gaussian blur to the whole layer and finaly put a layer mask ? You just have to take a smooth brush sized to fit with the visage and the gradient blur will be much more realistic isn’t it ?

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    Thrasivoulos Panou

    Hi , really great tutorial !! I would love to hear your opinion about my image .