Post-Processing Textures & Blend Modes: Zombie Pin-up

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Zombie Pin-up

This post is not going to be a detailed “how-to” for the use of textures and blend modes.

And I should note — you’ve no doubt already noticed — that the image here is “different” than what I normally post, in that it includes a nude model. I’ve applied a little censorship, since I’ve never used any of my nude work here in a blog post. If you want to see the uncensored version, it’s in the “Transformations (Nude – NSFW)” gallery. And that gallery is, as the title suggests, not safe for work. So you’ve been warned.

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One of my friends, a more traditional artist who actually paints, as well as does some pretty amazing (NSFW!) photography and videography, referred me to another photographer’s work, and asked if I knew how a particular thing was done.

The short answer: Yes.

The longer answer is why I keep encouraging other photographers I know that they should try to learn Photoshop’s Blend Modes, particularly with the use of Textures.

For me, learning how to use Blend Modes has been a slow, but amazingly fruitful, path to improving my photographic images. By using the Blend Mode of Overlay or Soft Light and a 50% gray fill, for example, I have a much-more-controllable, and less destructive, method for dodging and burning. (I suppose I’ll blog about that sometime. For now, you could watch this video.)

By combining Textures with the appropriate Blend Modes, I’ve been able to give expression to my artistic “voice.” Images can be made to look old, weathered, antique; you can spruce up a background to make it more interesting (as I did here); or, as in the image featured in this post, you can create Zombies. Nude Zombies, even!

In my Zombie Pin-up, I applied varying Textures to the skin (after coloring), including Textures of peeling and cracked paint. On the face, I used the Blend Modes with a human skull, along with some masking, dodging, and burning, to transform the model’s head. As you can see, I also added a peeling-paint Texture to the forehead, and the cheeks were made more gaunt — following the outline of the blended skull — by the use of a 50% gray fill set to the Overlay Blend Mode. Veins were added to the eyes (hand-drawn), and I added “blood splotches” throughout the image using a separate layer on Normal Blend Mode, but set to 5% opacity.

As you might guess from the summary of my techniques, you aren’t limited to using regular “Textures” such as peeling, scratches, or other things you might traditionally think of as a Texture. Again, I also used a human skull as a kind of Texture, both using a Blend Mode with it, and then by adding a 50% gray for non-destructive dodging and burning in Overlay.

There are many more techniques I used to create the Zombie Pin-up than what I can write about here, but those are the basics.  There are approximately 60 layers in this image. Many of the layers use different Blend Modes to add effect upon effect to get the look I was after.

Bottom line? If you’re a photographer interested in bringing a little more oomph, or going further to get creative with your images, you really should learn how to use Photoshop’s Blend Modes, with and without adding Textures.

For a more-than-excellent technical introduction to Photoshop Blend Modes, try “Photoshop Blend Modes Explained.”

For a detailed “how-to” on using Textures in Photoshop, you could do worse than “How to Apply Textures to Images Using Photoshop.”

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