How to create a cyborg from photos in photoshop

Near future. Are you ready for the world of cybernetic organisms?

Learn how to turn your photos into cool cyborg in this lesson. I will show you how to use such a method as a frequency decomposition technique to eliminate skin imperfections before revitalizing our cyborg!

  • Note: The author used paid materials. In the archive you will find an alternative version of the images to perform the lesson.

1. How to find inspiration

Each great photo manipulation requires a collection of good stocks, as well as some inspiring examples of collages. Creating this cyborg, I was inspired by the ideas seen in the works of the artist Michael Oswald.

So, to create our cyborg, we need to remember a few important notes:

  1. Cyborg has clear human traits.
  2. Their bodies are usually divided into several bionic components.
  3. In their design, they use modern technology.
  4. They can be of any skin color.
  5. And someday, they will take over the world.

Be careful in choosing a model. For my work, I chose this girl. Although the image is no longer available, you can find many beautiful images on the Envato Market.

The reason I chose this photo is the gaze of the model. It is also important to find images with the largest possible areas of open skin, where you can draw the lines of the joints of the cyborg details. Beautiful and glamorous photography is great for this, although you may have to deal with simple changes, such as removing skin cream from your face.

2. How to use the airbrush technique of your photo

Cyborgs, which we saw in the films, have a smooth, perfect looking skin, most likely because they are made of metals or other advanced materials. Therefore, to achieve this look in photography, we turn to the technique of frequency decomposition.

Step 1

Open the model image in Photoshop by changing the dpi value to 300. Create a new group called Retouch. Create a duplicate of the layer with the model: Layers (Layer) – Duplicate layer (Duplicate Layer) or Control-J, and place a copy in the group.

  • Translator’s Note: To place the layers in a group, click the sign at the bottom in the layer panel “Create a new group”, drag the desired layers into the group that appears.

Step 2

Before we smooth the skin of the model, we will need to remove the white dots of the cream on the face. Therefore, select Tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Tool) (L) and make a selection on the left side of the face.

Copy and paste this area to a new layer and flip it: menu Editing (Edit) – Copy (Copy) – Insert (Paste) menu Editing (Edit) – Transform (Transform) – Flip horizontally (Flip Horizontal). You have a new layer with a piece of clean skin from the cheek. Place it on top of the white dots, use Eraser (Eraser Tool) (E) to soften hard edges.

Merge the layer with the cheek piece and the model layer in the group together. Cleanse your skin with Stamp (Clone Stamp Tool). Select the tool and hold Alt to clone a skin sample, then correct the skin defects at a level opacity (Opacity) 30-50%.

Step 3

Now we will use the technique of frequency decomposition to improve the appearance of the skin.

  • Note: Read more about this technique you can learn from the lesson of Eugene Kartashov “Skin Retouching”, which is devoted to the use of this method.

Duplicate the retouched layer with the model: Layers (Layer) – Duplicate layer (Duplicate Layer) or Control-J. Name the top layer Top frequency and bottom layer Lower frequency. Hide the visibility of the upper frequency layer, and then select the lower frequency layer and go to Filter (Filter) – Blur (Blur) – Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) by setting the radius to any number that blurs the details of your portrait. Here I set the value to 7 pixels.

Turn on the visibility layer Upper frequency. Standing on this layer, go to Picture (Image) – External channel (Apply Image) and enter the following settings:

Make sure the blending mode is set to Subtraction (Subtract), in the layer window, the Lower Frequency layer is selected. Then set the values: for Scale (Scale) put 2 and for Shear (Offset) 128. After you click OK, set the blending mode for the Top Frequency layer Linearshine (Linear Light).

Step 4

Now we can apply airbrushing to the skin to make it smoother.

Select the upper frequency layer, take Polygonal Lasso tool (Polygonal Tool) (L) and select the skin on the face, setting the shading radius to 25-30 pixels. Go to Filter (Filter) – Blur (Blur) – Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur), setting the Radius to a number that blurs the large pores of the skin, making it smoother. Continue to separate parts of the face, changing the Radius each time depending on how much you want to soften the skin and reduce the appearance of the pores.

Combine the Upper and Lower frequencies together when done with the blur.

Here is a model with much smoother skin. We will continue to adjust it as we continue.

3. Create a cyborg sketch

Step 1

Let’s go to the sketch! It is important to note that you will need a graphics tablet, as we will use digital drawing technology.

Choose a tool Brush (Brush Tool) (B) and, using a hard opaque brush, opacity (Opacity) and by pushing (Flow) pen 100%, start drawing the cyborg details. Make sure that the option for opacity is on. Pen pressure (Pen Pressure).

Translator’s Note: to create a sketch, create a new layer above the Retouch group and draw lines on it: Layer (Layer) – New layer (New Layer) (Ctrl + Shift + N).

Draw simple gray lines above the model, indicating the areas where you want to place your robotic components. Try to understand how the human body relates to certain parts moving or connecting together.

Explore other work with cyborg or robots to better understand where the connecting elements are located.

Step 2

Now draw the required lines with black color, opacity and hardness of 100%. Starting from the face and the hand, make these lines much clearer.

Continue to draw, making some of these lines thicker. We are starting to turn our model into a real robot.

The arms and neck have components that are painted black to create the illusion of space needed for moving parts. This will give our work a more plausible result.

Use Eraser (EraserTool) (E) to erase portions of the gray sketch that are still visible from below. Focus on creating super clean lines to the best of your ability, because this is a machine with strict and clear lines.

To create a great illusion of robotic facial expression, paint your eyes black with the tool Brush (Brush Tool) (B).

This is what our cyborg looks like at the moment. Let’s go to the background scene.

  • Translator’s Note: Create a new layer, above the patterned layer, and paint the eyes and eyebrows black, lower the opacity of the layer to about 50%.

4. How to create a background for a cyborg image

Step 1

It’s time to separate the model from the background. Use the tool Magic wand (Magic Wand Tool) (W) to select the white background on the layer with the model in the Retouch group, and click Delete (delete) on the keyboard to delete it.

Then copy and paste the metal texture onto a new layer below the model layer. Adjust the position so that the round part is behind the model’s head.

Standing on a layer with a metal texture, go in filter (Filter) – Blur (Blur) – Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) and blur the background with a radius of 5 pixels.

Step 2

Copy and paste the image of the electrical circuit on a new layer, above the layer with the metal. Adjust the position so that the lines extend beyond the head of the model, and set the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay).

Just as on the layer with metal, perform the blur: go to Filter (Filter) – Blur (Blur) – Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) and blur the background, with a radius of 5 pixels

5. How to add details and color to the image

Step 1

For a more expressive look, let’s get rid of the blond hair model. Create a new layer: Layer (Layer) – New layer (New Layer) and select tool Brush (Brush Tool) (B).

Install hardness (Hardness) at 50-80% and start painting with a black brush over the hair. Set the layer blending mode to Darkening basics (Color Burn) and adjust opacity (Opacity) up to 87%.

Step 2

Let’s get skinned again. Create a new layer and use a soft round brush with an opacity of 30-50% and 0% hardness. Hold down the Alt key on the skin of the model, set this color as the foreground color, and then start drawing with it in the adjacent areas on the face.

Keep doing this with the rest of her face and body. Imagine that her skin is made of hard, reflective materials. Try to make her skin as silky as possible, but don’t get too carried away.

Step 3

Add to the work of fantastic technology. Open the USB port image using Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool) (L), separate the USB port from the background, copy and paste it into our work on a new layer and create two more copies. Place each port next to each other and merge the layers together.

Step 4

Let’s add color! Create a new Adjustment Layer Color search (Color Lookup) above all your other layers: Layer menu (Layer) – New adjustment layer (New Adjustment Layer) – Color search (Color Lookup) – Install the 3DLUT file in Crisp_Winter.look.

  • Translator’s Note: The Color Lookup adjustment layer is available in Photoshop CS6 and higher. If you do not have such a function, you can skip this step or use adjustment layers Selective Color Correction or Photo Filter.

Now, to enhance the lighting and shades of blue, create a new adjustment layer above all the others: Layer (Layer) – New adjustment layer (New Adjustment Layer) –Levels (Levels) and set the settings for the RGB and Blue channels as in the image below.

Create another Correction Layer Color search (Color Lookup): menu Layer (Layer) – New adjustment layer (New Adjustment Layer) – Color search (Color Lookup) – this time install the 3DLUT file in Crisp_Warm.look. Place it above the adjustment layer. Levels for greater contrast. Lower the opacity to 70% and set the blending mode to Darken (Replacing dark)

The colors in our work are getting pretty intense.

Step 5

Open the blue gem image using the tool Rectangle selection (Rectangular Marquee Tool) (M), select a fragment of the desired shape, copy it, and paste into our work, above the triangle on the model’s forehead: menu Editing (Edit) –Copy (Copy) – Insert (Paste). Add a layer mask to the gem layer and paint on the mask with a black stiff brush to turn the stone into a triangle.

Set the new layer as a clipping mask to the stone layer. Use dark blue color, # 00197a to draw the inner shadow along the edges of the triangle.

Step 6

Fill the rest of the metal parts with a solid color. Feel free to experiment with which colors you like best.

6. How to finish a photo manipulation with a cyborg

Step 1

The next series of steps includes a lot of pictures, so you need a graphics tablet. We will have to create new layers for clarification and shadow.

Step 2

Choose a hard round brush with 80-100% opacity to make the cyborg details clearer.

Notice that I added bright highlights with the color # ece6f0 around the black robotic components. This will help increase volume and shine. Keep shading and brightening your cyborg, paying attention to the edges of the skin surface. Paint dark skin tones with the color # 6a4f65, especially in dark spaces on the fingers, so that they look as if there is real thickness in the material used to create them. Continue this effect with the rest of the body, especially with the chest and arm.

  • Translator’s Note: Paint over # 6a4f65 in these places:

  • Set the blending mode to Multiplication (Multiply), and reduce the transparency of the layer to 40-50%. For color # ece6f0 also create a new layer, set the blending mode to Lightening (Screen), or Overlap (Overlay) on this layer will be bright highlights. Draw light around the joints of the parts.

Step 3

Create a character with unique details. Create bolts for the forehead, make the stone more voluminous, and even draw symbols for the USB port.

Step 4

Now, to increase the light intensity and shades of blue, create a new adjustment layer above all the others: Layer (Layer) – New adjustment layer (New Adjustment Layer) – Curves (Curves) and set the settings for the RGB and Blue channels as in the image below.

Let’s add some warm colors to our work. Create another Correction Layer Color search (Color Lookup): menu Layer (Layer) – New adjustment layer (New Adjustment Layer) – Color search (Color Lookup) – Install the 3DLUT file in FallColors.look and lower the opacity to 25%.

Step 5

Finish the image of a cyborg, having worked the details. Draw shadows and highlights in the neck and collarbone to give them more volume.

Switch to a hard round brush with 100% hardness (Hardness) to clean up the fuzzy edges.

I also suggest that you add some robotic parts in black spaces inside the cyborg’s body in the neck and fingers.

Step 6

Finish with another backlight. Create a new layer: Layer (Layer) – New layer (New Layer) and set the layer blending mode Overlap (Overlay), use a light pink color, # cfc0e1, to draw soft highlights on your chest, shoulders, and arm. Arrows indicate areas that need to be painted.

Congratulations, you did it!

This lesson will require you to carefully go through all the stages of work, including photo retouching and digital drawing technology, and as a result you can create an incredibly realistic cool human-like cyborg. Make the lines of the joints of parts very sharp, so that the girl seemed more like a machine than a man.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I wish you success!

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