Create an amazing face-paint effect with Photoshop Elements
1 Create a new file
Once you’ve chosen your image and opened it in Elements, you’re going to need to make a copy of it. Do this by using File > Save As. Give the file a new name and make it a Photoshop PSD, then reopen the old file. PSD files are native Photoshop files and enable the application to do interesting things with them. Leave your other file as a JPEG – this is the file you’ll work with mostly.
2 Blur it
Open the PSD, and make it black-and-white using Image > Mode > Grayscale, then head up to the Filter menu and choose Blur > Gaussian Blur. You don’t need to blur the image so it’s unrecognisable, but enough that the detail is gone and only areas of light and dark remain. This will vary depending on the pixel dimensions of your image file. Save the file and close it.
3 Select it
Back on your other file – the one that’s still in colour – make a selection around the face of your subject. New in Elements 2018 is the Auto Selection tool, and it’s really clever. If you’re using an earlier version or a different app, you’ll need to use wands, lassos or maybe the Pen tool – make sure it’s just the face you select, placing your line around stray hair that’s fallen over the face.
4 Refine it
To refine the selection open Refine Edge using either the button at the bottom of Elements 2018’s interface or the Select menu. On the Refine Edge floating window change Output To from Selection to Layer Mask. Your chosen face should now float freely in chequered space. Save using Select > Save Selection, so you can load it later without having to re-select the same pixels.
5 Remove the colour
In the Layers palette, add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer above your image layer, pull the saturation slider all the way left, then drag the Layer Mask up to the new layer. If you’re asked whether you want to replace the Layer Mask say ‘yes’. You’ve now moved the ‘hole’ created by your selection onto a layer that removes all the colour from the image.
6 Fine tune
Zoom into the eyes of your image, and with the Layer Mask selected on your working layer in the Layers palette, paint black over them with the Paintbrush tool and a suitably sized brush. This will bring back the colour from the layer below, meaning your final image won’t be left with grey, lifeless eyes. Do the same to the teeth and gums, and you’ll see the colour coming back.
7 Import your graphic
You’re now ready to import the face-paint graphic. This can be anything, although simpler designs work better. Sports team logos, which tend to be round, are a good choice, while animal prints are also popular. Use File > Place to import the file, and it will appear as a new layer with resizing handles attached. Resize it so it fits, then click the green tick to commit to your changes. 8 Stretch to fit
Drop the new layer’s Opacity to around 30 percent, and use Edit > Free Transform to distort your paint layer so it fits the face below. Don’t worry too much about the edges – the Layer Mask will take care of those – but concentrate on getting the eyes lined up, and the mouth too if that’s important to your image. Drag the Layer Mask up to your top layer to see how it will look.
9 Use the Eraser tool
Drag the Layer Mask back down to the Adjustment Layer, and change the top layer’s Blend Mode to Color Burn. Use the Eraser tool on areas that shouldn’t be face-painted, such as the eyes and mouth and any parts of the hair that have been covered over. If any areas of mono appear, remove them by repeating Step 6. Now use the black-and-white image from Step 2…
10 Fit the face-paint graphic
Load the selection you saved earlier (Select > Load) and ensure the top layer is selected in the Layers palette, then go to Filter > Distort > Displace. Elements doesn’t have a preview for this filter, so you may have to try several times. Enter ‘20’ in both Distance fields, then press OK and select the PSD file as your map. It bends the layer around the the face below for a natural look. ■