In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a dark gothic portrait photo manipulation in Adobe Photoshop.
First we’ll add a texture background, import the model, and do some retouching. Later we’ll add the frame, branches, and roses, and we’ll blend them together with adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. We’ll create a blood splatter effect using a splatter image and several paint stroke brushes. After that, we’ll increase the dark and evil effect with some cobweb brushes. We’ll use several adjustment layers to complete the final effect.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. Add the Dark Texture
Create a new 2000 x 2000 px document in Photoshop with the following settings:
Open the texture image. Drag this image into the canvas using the Move Tool (V):
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance and change the Midtones settings:
Make a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness, making the texture much darker.
2. Add the Model
Open the model image. Use the Quick Selection Tool (W) to isolate the model and add her to the middle area of the dark canvas.
Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to
this layer. Use a soft black brush to remove the shoulders area and the
higher hair part on her head.
Make a Curves adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask to reduce the
light on the middle of the face a little. On this layer mask, use a
soft black brush to paint on the shaded area of the cheeks so it will not be affected after this step.
To increase the evil effect for the model, create a new layer (non-Clipping Mask) and use a medium-soft brush with
#9d0909 to paint a dark red area inside the model’s eyes.
Make a Levels adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to darken these
red areas. On this layer mask, paint on both sides of the areas to reveal
the red and make the black only visible in the middle of the eyes.
Create a new layer and use a hard brush with a small size (2-3 px) and
#d9dce1 to paint the highlights on the top of the eyes .
3. Add the Frame
Open the frame image. As the frame is on a transparent layer, use the
Move Tool to drag it into the dark canvas and place it behind the model.
Also set the frame layer under the Color Balance layer (in step 3
of section 1).
Add a mask to the frame layer and erase the right half of the frame.
Use a Curves adjustment layer to make the frame a bit brighter.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to minimum (-100):
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Blue value of the Midtones to 16:
4. Add the Branches
the tree image and cut it out using the Magic Wand Tool (W). Select a
branch using the Lasso Tool (L) and place it on the right side of the model (the side without the frame). Set this layer under the model one (above
the Color Balance and Curves adjustment layers in section 1).
Add another branch and use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) with the Warp mode to tweak the branch following the form of the head.
Select different branches and add them to the main canvas using the same method.
Select all the branch layers and press Control-G to make a group for
them. Change this group mode to Normal 100%. Create a Curves adjustment
layer to darken the branches, and on the layer mask, paint on the middle
area of them to reveal the original light there.
5. Add the Roses
Isolate the roses from the original “roses 1” image, and place them beside the model’s cheek:
Use a layer mask to remove the part overlapping the face:
Duplicate this layer several times and arrange them around the model. You
should rotate them in different directions and change their size. Remember to make them appear different using a layer mask.
Make a group for these layers and use Hue/Saturation to desaturate the roses’ color.
Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:
a Curves adjustment layer and make the roses a lot darker. Paint on the
roses in the middle to reduce the dark effect on them.
the rose 2 image, after cutting it out, to the top of a branch. After that, duplicate the rose and make it smaller, and then place it beside the
Flip the smaller rose by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal:
Make a group for these roses and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to minimum (-100):
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:
Make the roses darker using a Curves adjustment layer. Reduce the dark effect on the middle area as we did with the other subjects.
6. Make the Blood Splatters
Create a new layer on top of the other layers and change the foreground to a
dark red color (
#810707). Use different paint stroke brushes to paint on the
model’s lips and the roses on the lower right and lower left. Change this
layer mode to Overlay 100%.
Open the splatter image. Isolate the splatter using the Magic Wand Tool and place it onto the face. Use a layer mask to erase the part overlapping the face and make it appear more subtle.
Select different parts of the splatter to add to the eyes and the roses.
Here is the result after masking out the unwanted parts:
Make a group for the splatter layers and change the group mode to Linear Burn 100%.
Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value
to -100. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush with a low opacity
(30-35%) to reveal some of the red of the blood and make the effect less flat and more realistic.
7. Make the Cobwebs
Make several layers on top of the layers and change the foreground to
white. Activate the cobweb brushes and lower the brush opacity to 50%.
Select different brushes (feel free to choose your favorite ones) to
paint on the roses on the top of the model’s head, the branches on the
right, and the cheek on the left. Use Control-T with the Warp mode to
tweak the cobwebs on the right a little, following the branches there.
Use a layer mask for the cobweb on the left to erase the part outside the frame.
8. The Final Adjustment
Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the
#00601b. Lower the opacity of this layer to 20%.
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings:
Add a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color
Create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the highlight a little.
Paint on the model areas as we need the effect to be visible only on the
Use a Levels adjustment layer to increase the midtones. Erase the edges
and the shaded areas around the model so they’re not affected by this
Congratulations, You’re Done!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my tutorial and learned something new. Feel
free to share your ideas or comments in the box below—I’d love to see
them. Enjoy Photoshopping!