Walking Skeleton with Photoshop

I think the most important tool in such works is the availability of basic knowledge about the structure of the human body. The bones and muscles shown in the figure in unnatural places spoil the whole effect, turning the “experimental” into a real mutant. Therefore, I advise you to find some good schemes of the body structure before starting work on such effects. This will improve both the work process and the work itself as a result.

Open the selected source image and prepare it for work. In my case, I had to restore part of the tire and remove some unwanted shading. This will be our background.

Step 2. Body shaping

The method described below does not claim the laurels of the fastest and easiest way to achieve a similar effect, but, in my opinion, this is the highest quality method that preserves the structure of the skin, as the natural form of individual parts. Using the tool Liquify (Plastic), which is certainly faster and easier, you destroy the whole structure; as a result, the skin looks plastic and the bones look rubber. The technique is the same for all parts of the body, so I will show only some of it.

Highlight the longitudinal half of the body you want to work on and select LayerviaCopy (Copy to new layer). In this case, this is the forearm.

Select Move (Move) and move the new layer closer to the center of the forearm.

Having opened Transform (Transform) and choosing a function Wrap (Deformation), Focusing on the background layer, position the top and bottom of the layer so that they match the original.

Depending on the complexity of the background, you may have to use CloneStamp (Stamp), to fix disturbed areas. In this case, I would advise to correct the errors with the lines on the machine, without departing from the cash register.

Having chosen a soft eraser, correct the inner edge that overlaps the middle line. So we will make the transition between layers smooth and invisible.

Repeat the same action with the other side of the arm.

With the right thigh will have more difficult – will have to restore the background. Work on this, repeating the same steps that we used when working with the forearm. So you’ll have something like this:

Select a layer with a background. In order to recreate the background behind the thigh, I used the tool Smudge (Finger) , taking as a sample some colors of the car and the skin from the other thigh I used colors from shorts to roughly recreate the reverse side of the fabric with a soft brush with 100% Opacity (Opacity). This should provide only the basic form, so do not try to draw everything in detail.

* I hid the layer with the thigh, which we created earlier, so that you can see everything better.

Make the thigh layer visible again and – voila! – everything is beautiful and neat, nothing gives our work.

To create a texture, copy the highlighted sector of the top of the short and move it to create a lower edge. Use the tool Burn (Dimmer) to darken to the extent necessary.

We did not work with the textures of the car, because they will cover the shadows, and it will not be evident. Repeat to process the upper thigh.

To shrink breasts, select CloneStamp (Stamp) and, using the texture of the vest, process the brightest and darkest colors to remove the volume and make this area “flat”. If necessary, use a brush to hide the traces of our work, slightly finishing the edges of the “cloned” areas.

As with the forearm, highlight the edges of the vest on the other side and move closer to the center using the function Wrap (Deformation).

Repeat the same steps with the other side of the vest.

Use CloneStamp (Stamp) again to remove the shadows and highlights from the skin of the chest, thus making it “flat”.

Continue to work using the same techniques. With very small arms and legs, you can use the tool Liquify (Plastic) without losing structure – it will facilitate your work. You should have something like this:

Now that the formation of the body is complete, it’s time to get the bones to “go out of their way” to finish the work on the anorexia effect.

Step 3. Working with volume

To make the bones bulge, as is the case with anorexia patients, we must add shadows and highlights, so we will give volume and realism. There can not do without knowledge of the location and shape of the bones in the human body – as I said, you can find all the information on the Internet.


Take a Soft brush with 100% transparency, choose a color approximately approximate to the basic skin tone in your example. Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication). Use the anatomical diagrams you found to let you know where the bones should be located. I changed the color of the brush to bright green so that you can better see – you do not need to change the color. Paint along the areas around the bones to create a depth effect.

Use the tool Smudge (Finger) to make more subtle adjustments, and also use a light Blur (Blur).


Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Screen (Lightening). Using the same technique as in the previous step, draw highlights. In this case, the shadows were full enough, and I did not paint a lot of glare, but in your case, everything can be different. I changed the color to purple so that you could see better. You do not need to do this.

So, the final touches. Create a new layer with overlay mode. Multiply (Multiplication). Using a gray-green color and a soft brush, paint the veins, lowering the Transparency level to the desired level.

With the tool Levels (Levels) and adjust as you like.

Here’s what I got in the end:

Have a nice work!

* Author’s note: I used PhotoshopCS3, but if you work on CSfive, you can use a new tool PuppetWarp(Puppet Warp) when forming the body.

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