How to create Gothic effects in Photoshop

How to create Gothic effects in Photoshop

Photoshop Tutorial – These basic techniques will help you get started in Photoshop and have fun creating gothic portraits with black eyeliner, gothic hair and undead skin tones while you’re at it.

1. Choose a good quality portrait

When you manipulate an image you need to get in close, the closer the better… so choose a high quality image of yourself or your subject. Remember: it’s high resolution not model quality that counts. Pictures taken on a proper camera (rather than a mobile phone, for example) will have a higher resolution – you need a picture that will stay sharp as you zoom in. If you do a friendly model photoshoot for this task, check your camera’s settings to ensure you have selected the highest quality.

2. Selecting areas in Photoshop

Familiarise yourself with the polygonal lasso tool (confused? hover your mouse over a button to see its name). This tool allows you to select areas of your photo that you want to change in some way. Once you’ve selected the lasso tool, and after your initial click on the starting point in your photo, click around the part you want to select until you reach the starting point like a game of dot to dot (you’ll get a shimmering outline when you’re done). You may need to double click if your points don’t quite join up. You can copy, cut, paste, transform and more when you’ve done this. If you want to grab the whole of the image to change it then plump for “Select All”.

3. Photoshop New Layer

Before making any changes, create a duplicate layer or new layer. You can toggle this layer on and off using the eye icon to see the change. Most importantly, you can delete the new layer and go back to the original! If you’re new to Photoshop and the programme isn’t responding properly, check you’re working on the layer that you think you are and that the layer is visible. If you have lots of layers you can always right click and merge down when you finish a change. Then the top layer will be the finished image.

By creating a new layer you can apply a change and use the eraser tool so that the change only appears on select areas of the image. For example if you were colouring the hair blue, but part of the forehead also turned blue, you could use the eraser tool to rub out the blue skin showing the original layer with flesh-toned skin underneath. Speaking of which…

3. Undead Skin

You can do this easily by desaturating the image. We don’t, however, want to click on ‘desaturate’; that will just turn the whole photo black and white and we need a little more control over the amount of saturation to decide just how dead your model should look.

Instead, click on: Image > Adjustments > Hue/saturation.

Lower the saturation bar until you’re happy with the results. You may want to use the dodge tool to further lighten some areas. Select your brush size and reduce hardness using the slider before you do this.

You can increase the brightness on the face alone (but beware of losing definition): Image > Brightness/contrast.

4. Gothic Eyes

Select both irises. Click Image > Adjustment > Replace colour. Use the pipette tool to select the iris. You will probably need to click on other points in the iris until the whole ring is selected – then use the sliders to adjust hue, saturation and lightness until you get the colour you want.

5. Gothic Hair

To colour the hair in a gothic fashion you can follow the same procedure as the eyes. If you prefer, you can also go into Image > Adjustments > Hue/saturation, then click Colourise and use the sliders to achieve a new hair colour. The hue will select the colour, the saturation is how strong that colour is and the lightness is self explanatory (but you may need to turn the lightness up or down to see the preview of your hair shade).

6. Gothic Make-up

To colour the lips you can follow the steps for hair or eyes. Use the burn tool to shade and hollow out those cheek bones. Make sure you turn down the hardness on your brush for shading. The all-important gothic eyeliner can be created by following the line of the eye with the burn tool until it is dark enough to be kohl. Do not use the brush and draw on in absolute black: it will not look convincing. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, our make-up is actually a dark grey.

7. Gothic Accessories

Adding piercings and jewellery is easy, but a few tips will help to make them look more realistic and less glued-on. Take the jewellery photo and remove the background using the eraser or magic eraser tool. Select All and copy & paste into your portrait. Use the Edit > Free transform option to resize and rotate. If you stop here the jewellery won’t be sitting right. Use the Edit > Warp and/or skew tool to bend the jewellery so that it wraps around the neck, finger etc.

8. Gothic Background

Another picture can make for a quick and interesting background. With ‘Ice Britney’ I’ve gone for broken glass, but you could use anything not subject to copyright. Lower the opacity down from 100% to something 50% or under; this will make it easier to blend with your image. Of course, if you’ve taken scenic shots you’ve done the work already and can select and paste your friend right into the frame.

If this has whetted your appetite, there are plenty of great YouTube Photoshop tutorials you can follow. Your version of photoshop might have a different layout (this how-to was written for CS3) but everything is basically the same.

These design basics can be applied to turn people into goths, demons or can even help you try out out a new look. Editing is addictive, though. Remember to emerge from your room before the missing person ads are posted.

Before: Brad Pitt

After: Gothic Brad Pitt

Before: Britney

After: Gothic Ice Britney