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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photoshop Actions
Design

How to Create a Funny, Creepy Photo Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create an amazing, creepy, zombie photo effect. I will explain everything in so much detail that everyone can create it, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time. 

The effect shown above is the one I will show you how to create in this tutorial. If you would like to create the even more advanced creepy, zombie effects shown below, using just a single click and in only a few minutes, then check out my Creepy Photoshop Action.

Action final results

What You'll Need

To recreate the design above, you will need the following resources:

1. How to Start Creating an Action

First, open the photo that you want to work with. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, just check a couple of things:

  1. Your photo should be in RGB Color mode, 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
  2. For best results, your photo size should be 2000–4500 px wide/high. To check this, go to Image > Image Size.
  3. Your photo should be the Background layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.

Checking image size and mode

2. How to Create the Base

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the base that determines the subject in our photo. Choose the Quick Selection Tool (W), and select the background of the photo. Use the Shift-Alt buttons on your keyboard to add or subtract some areas from the selection. After you've made a perfect selection, press Control-Shift-I on your keyboard to invert the selection.

Making a selection

Step 2

Now go to Select > Modify > Smooth and set the Sample Radius to 5 px. Then, go to Select > Modify > Contract and set the Contract By to 1 px. After that, go to Select > Modify > Feather and set the Feather Radius to 1 px as shown below:

Modifying selection

Step 3

Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Base.

Creating new layer

Step 4

Set the foreground color to any color that you like. Then, go to Edit > Fill and set Contents to Foreground Color, Mode to Normal, and Opacity to 100%. After that, press Control-D on your keyboard to deselect the selection.

Filling selection with color

3. How to Adjust the Photo Saturation and Tint

Step 1

In this section, we are going to adjust the photo saturation and tint. Hide the Base layer and select the Background layer. Then, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White to create a new black & white adjustment layer and name it Photo_Saturation.

Creating new black  white adjustment layer

Step 2

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Color and set the Opacity to 80%.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer, name it Photo_Tint, and choose the color #735e50 as shown below:

Creating new solid color fill layer

Step 4

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light.

Changing blending mode

4. How to Create the Splatter Textures

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the splatter textures. Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it ST_1.

Creating new layer

Step 2

Now set the foreground color to #000000, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick the Sampled Brush 32 brush from the link, adjust the Diameter as you like, and brush as shown below:

Brushing onto layer

Step 3

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Linear Burn.

Changing blending mode

Step 4

Now select the Photo_Tint layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it ST_2.

Creating new layer

Step 5

Set the foreground color to #000000, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick the Sampled Brush 33 brush from the link, adjust the Diameter as you like, and brush as shown below:

Brushing onto layer

Step 6

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Linear Burn.

Changing blending mode

Step 7

Select the Photo_Tint layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it ST_3.

Creating new layer

Step 8

Now set the foreground color to #000000, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick the Sampled Brush 36 brush from the link, adjust the Diameter as you like, and brush as shown below:

Brushing onto layer

Step 9

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Linear Burn.

Changing blending mode

Step 10

Now select the Photo_Tint layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it ST_4.

Creating new layer

Step 11

Set the foreground color to #000000, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick the Sampled Brush 41 brush from the link, adjust the Diameter as you like, and brush as shown below:

Brushing onto layer

Step 12

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Linear Burn.

Changing blending mode

Step 13

Select the Photo_Tint layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it ST_5.

Creating new layer

Step 14

Now set the foreground color to #000000, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick the Sampled Brush 13 brush from the link, adjust the Diameter as you like, and brush as shown below:

Brushing onto layer

Step 15

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Linear Burn.

Changing blending mode

Step 16

Select the ST_1 layer, go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer, name it ST_1_Color, and choose the color #b62121 as shown below:

Creating new solid color fill layer

Step 17

Now press Control-Alt-G on your keyboard to create a clipping mask.

Creating clipping mask

Step 18

Repeat the same process to color the remaining splatter texture layers.

Creating new solid color fill layers

Step 19

Now select the ST_5 layer and Shift-click on the ST_1_Color layer to select all layers between at the same time. Then, go to Layer > New > Group from Layers to create a new group from the selected layers, and name it Splatter Textures.

Creating new group fromlayers

Step 20

Control-click on the Base layer thumbnail to make a selection of this layer. Then, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection to add a layer mask that reveals the selected area of the layer.

Adding layer mask

5. How to Create the Textures

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the textures. Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Texture_1. Then, drag this layer just below the Base layer in the Layers panel.

Creating new layer

Step 2

Now press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches. Then, go to Filter > Render > Clouds and then Filter > Render > Difference Clouds.

Adding clouds and difference clouds filters

Step 3

Control-click on the Base layer thumbnail to make a selection of this layer. Then, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection to add a layer mask that reveals the selected area of the layer.

Adding layer mask

Step 4

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 25%.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 5

Go to File > Place Embedded, select the texture from the link, and click Place. Then, set the Width and Height of the texture to 26.39% as shown below, and name this layer Texture_2.

Placing texture

Step 6

Now Control-click on the Base layer thumbnail to make a selection of this layer. Then, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection to add a layer mask that reveals the selected area of the layer.

Adding layer mask

Step 7

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light. Then, drag this layer just below the Texture_1 layer in the Layers panel.

Changing blending mode

6. How to Reveal the Subject Details

Step 1

In this section, we are going to reveal the subject details. Control-click on the Base layer thumbnail to make a selection of this layer. Then, press Control-J on your keyboard to create a new layer using the selection, and drag this layer just below the Base layer in the Layers panel.

Creating new layer using selection

Step 2

Now press Control-Shift-U to desaturate this layer. Then, go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to 10 px.

Adding high pass filter

Step 3

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 67%. Then, name this layer Subject Details.

Changing blending mode and opacity

7. How to Create a Vignette Effect

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create a vignette effect. Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it Vignette.

Creating new layer

Step 2

Now press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches, go to Edit > Fill, and set Contents to Foreground Color, Blending to Normal, and Opacity to 100%.

Filling layer with color

Step 3

Press Control-A on your keyboard to make a selection of the whole canvas. Then, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide Selection to add a layer mask that hides the selected area of the layer.

Adding layer mask

Step 4

Now click on the link icon between the layer thumbnail and layer mask to unlink them. Then, press Control-T on your keyboard and set the Width and Height of the layer mask to 85% as shown below:

Transforming layer mask

Step 5

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 200 px.

Adding gaussian blur filter

Step 6

Now set the Opacity of this layer to 50%.

Changing opacity

8. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

In this section, we are going to make some final adjustments. Press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map to create a gradient map adjustment layer and name it Overall Contrast.

Creating new gradient map adjustment layer

Step 2

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 27%.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels to create a new levels adjustment layer and name it Overall Brightness.

Creating new levels adjustment layer

Step 4

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, in the Properties panel, enter the settings below:

Adjusting levels

Step 5

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves to create a new curves adjustment layer and name it Color Look.

Creating new curves adjustment layer

Step 6

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, in the Properties panel, enter the settings below:

Adjusting curves

Step 7

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance to create a new vibrance adjustment layer and name it Overall Vibrance/Saturation.

Creating new vibrance and saturation adjustment layer

Step 8

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, in the Properties panel, set the Vibrance to +32 and Saturation to +22.

Adjusting vibrance and saturation

Step 9

Press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a screenshot, and then press Control-Shift-U to desaturate this layer. Then, go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to 2 px.

Adding high pass filter

Step 10

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Hard Light and set the Opacity to 78%. Then, name it Overall Sharpening.

Changing blending mode and opacity

You Made It!

Congratulations, you have succeeded! Here is our final result:

Final result

If you would like to create the even more advanced creepy, zombie effects shown below, using just a single click and in only a few minutes, then check out my Creepy Photoshop Action.

The action will create scary, highly detailed effects from your photos with no work at all from your side! You simply fill in your subject with a color and just play the action. It’s really that simple! The action will do all the work for you, leaving you fully layered and customizable results that you can further modify.

The action also creates 20 preset color looks that you can choose from.

The action comes with a detailed video tutorial that demonstrates how to use the action and customize the results to get the most out of the effect.

Action final results

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