- How to Make a Zombie in Photoshop
- How to Create a Horror Zombie Effect
- How to Make Zombie Eyes in Photoshop
- How to Create Dramatic Lighting in Photoshop
- How to Create a Horror Movie Color Grade
- Discover More Photoshop Tutorials and Resources
In this photo manipulation tutorial, we'll be learning how to create a "The Last of Us" zombie in Photoshop. We'll start with an old-school zombie for our base, and then turn it into a full-blown cordyceps infection.
While we won't be using cordyceps fungus, we'll be creating larger growths inspired by shelf fungus that grows on trees, and you'll often see it on the face of the zombies.
If you prefer to follow a video tutorial, then you can't miss this new tutorial from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel! Learn how to make a zombie in Photoshop inspired by "The Last of Us" TV show:
Looking for even more zombie resources or want to create a zombie in a hurry? Create them instantly using one of the hundreds of Photoshop add-ons and actions found on Envato Elements!
What You'll Learn in This Zombie Photoshop Tutorial
- How to create a "The Last of Us" zombie
- How to create a dead skin Photoshop effect
- How to create a Photoshop shelf fungus effect
- How to create zombie eyes in Photoshop
- How to Photoshop shelf fungus
What You'll Need
To complete this "The Last of Us" inspired zombie project, you will need the following resources:
Find more resources on Envato Elements!
1. How to Make a Zombie in Photoshop
Before we make our cordyceps zombie human, let's start with some quick and optional edits to the base image.
First, remove the skylights using the Patch tool. This will help make the environment feel dark and underground.
And second, add a Brightness/Contrast layer adjustment above the base image. Set the layer to -40 Brightness and +23 Contrast. This will darken the image slightly.
With that, we can move on to the best part: the cordyceps human infection! We'll be using this kind of tree fungus. It does an excellent job of replicating and creating a Photoshop shelf fungus effect.
When placing our fungus, we want to look for interesting shapes. So here, I liked how it fit around the eye and folded onto her forehead.
We can always move the fungus around later, but we definitely need some color correcting on our cordyceps zombie human. First, let's bring the Image > Adjustments > Saturation down to -70. I'll be using Smart Objects, but feel free to use clipped adjustment layers instead.
Next, let's darken the mushroom and remove some of its contrast using a Curves adjustment. Replicate what you see here:
With the mushroom matching her skin a bit better, we can add a new Layer Mask to the mushroom layer and further refine the shape.
Use a hard round Brush to remove larger pieces of the mushroom and a softer round Brush to slowly blend some of the edges into the skin.
You don't have to use a brush. If you prefer the Pen Tool or selection tools, then go for those. We just want to carve away and shape the mushroom so that it flows better with her face.
We're going to repeat that step at least twice more, further building up the fungus on her face. I'll be using the same mushroom, Duplicating it, Deleting its layer mask, and then adding a new fresh Layer Mask so I can mask it into a new unique shape.
This is looking perfectly fine for now. We're going to Duplicate our mushroom one last time, Delete any layer mask it might have, and bring it below the previous mushroom layers.
Next, set the new mushroom layer to Overlay and place it over the face of the zombie. This will bring the same colors and texture that the mushrooms have onto the face of the zombie, helping the mushrooms blend in with the skin.
We could stop here, but "The Last of Us" zombies have very distinctive mouths. So we're going to borrow the mouth and teeth from this zombie and paste it over our zombie's mouth, making it slightly bigger than the existing mouth.
Next, we're going to use Warp Transform to warp the mouth, making it fit the face better.
Don't be shy about wrapping and pulling the mouth into a zombie-like grin. We have a lot of room for stylistic choices here. For my zombie specifically, I want her mouth to start and go into the folds of fungus, so I'm making sure it warps into the creases on the right side of the face.
If you use Smart Objects, you can come back and adjust this later.
Let's finish off the mouth by blending away the edges with a new Layer Mask and soft round Brush.
And we're going to blend the mouth into the folds of the mushroom using a Normal layer placed above the mouth and a very dark red
#160000 color. This will create a quick shadow that will look much better once we add our color grade.
And we can help the skin tones match better by creating and clipping a Color Lookup adjustment layer set to 3D LUT TensionGreen into the mouth. And then set the layer to Multiply at 65% Opacity. This will make the mouth darker and more green-toned.
2. How to Create a Horror Zombie Effect
Now, we have a base zombie to add all kinds of details. More than anything, she's lacking color. So here is my go-to trick for adding color and detail to any character or image.
First, let's create a New Layer above all of our current layers. Let's set it to Multiply.
Now we'll take a grunge or textured Brush and paint brown
#5d4435 and red
#840000 all over the zombie's shirt.
Using Multiply will make any color you paint on it look darker, so if you want a darker red, choose a very vibrant medium red instead.
This looks good and dirty, so let's double-click the layer to open the Layer Styles panel and go down to Blend If.
We're going to use the Underlying Layer toggles to blend the dirt and blood away from the lighter values of the image.
So take the white toggles, hold Alt to split the toggles, and pull them to the left. The more we pull to the left, the more dirt blends away from those lighter values. And the further the toggles are from one another, the smoother the blend will appear.
Her shirt is pretty light, so we're bringing them over quite a bit. Just play with the toggles until you like how it looks.
We'll use that same method, Brush and red color, to create blood from her mouth onto the chin and shirt.
The only thing we'll need to change is our Blend If setting. Feel free to try to replicate mine, but it's best to play with the toggles until you land on something you like.
Blood and dirt aren't the only things this works with. We can use the same method to add colors to the zombie itself.
"The Last of Us" zombies have varying shades of blue
#f69f3a, and pale green
#caed93 in their skin tones. Using the same techniques we just learned, we can paint those same colors onto our zombie's face, skin, and fungus.
Now, we can finish off our details by adding some slime, spit, and goop. You can find brushes that replicate things like drool. Think brush packs that cater to making monsters, animals, or dragons.
But you can also paint your own by making thin lines of an off-blue
#cbd9dd color on a Normal layer.
The trick is to make it very, very thin and make some areas missing. Make it look as if the slime has stretched so thin it broke, or the light isn't hitting it.
This is easier with a tablet, but if you only use a mouse, you can use the Eraser tool to taper out our lines. Or drag them out using the Smudge tool. You just don't want solid lines.
You can also skip this step entirely. Some of "The Last of Us" zombies are slimy, and some aren't.
3. How to Make Zombie Eyes in Photoshop
Let's move on from color and details and talk about the eyes. "The Last of Us" zombies have typical glossy, milky zombie eyes, which I have a super fast technique for.
We just need a new layer set to Screen. Use a semi-soft round Brush at around 70% Hardness. Choose a pale yellow color
#ffeeb1, or whatever color you want the eye to be.
And finally, we want to set our Brush Size to the size of our subject's iris and place a single dot of that pale yellow color.
Let's bring the Opacity of the layer down to 30%.
Finally, take a soft Eraser brush and blend away the top portion of the eye to bring back some depth to the eye.
Depending on how much of the new eye color you blend away and the layer's opacity, you can get a few different effects, ranging from dead to glowing eyes. So it all comes down to personal preferences.
4. How to Create Dramatic Lighting in Photoshop
The lighting looks flat, so let's create a Curves layer and bring up the highlights.
Now, click on the layer mask and Invert it using Control-I. This will turn the mask black.
We want to use this layer and a soft round Brush to mask some light onto the subject's face and upper body. We are brightening up her face.
Once you're happy with the lighting, you can add some shadows also using a Curves layer.
We'll lower the highlights this time and bring up some of the shadows. We want her background to appear foggy, dark, and dusty.
Once the Curves layer is dialed in, we can mask it away from her face and upper body.
5. How to Create a Horror Movie Color Grade
We're going to finish up with a quick color grade using adjustment layers. Start with a Color Lookup set to TealOrangeContrast at 40% Opacity.
Next, add a second Color Lookup set to TensionGreen at 25% Opacity.
Add a third Color Lookup set to 3Strip, a layer mode of Color, and 100% Opacity. This will pump up the colors.
If the face is too dark, add some brightness using a Soft Light layer and a pale blue color to create a flashlight effect on her face and body.
You're All Done!
That's all there is to creating a cordyceps zombie from "The Last of Us"! There are literally millions of different types of fungus, all of them waiting for their time to shine and take out humanity. So don't let the cordyceps human infection have all the fun—play with different designs and colors inspired by different fungi! At least a small part of the success of "The Last of Us", both the game and show, is just how varied and creative the zombies are, after all.
Want to Create More Photoshop Undead Effects?
Create Photoshop undead in all different colors, shapes, and sizes instantly by using one of the hundreds of actions, graphics, and resources found on Envato Elements.
Zombie Halloween Photoshop Action (PSD)
If you're looking for the perfect dead skin Photoshop effect to give you a head start on your zombie, then this action is for you. It creates a subtle but classic zombie Photoshop effect that you can easily build upon and customize.
Zombie Photoshop Action (ATN)
Create an instant rotting zombie effect using this lighting-fast action. It adds everything from blood to a classic zombie Photoshop eye effect.
Creepy Photoshop Action (ATN, ABR, PAT)
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20 Zombie School Lightroom Presets and LUTs (LRTEMPLATE, XML, PDF)
If you create the cordyceps infection from "The Last of Us", then you should pair it with a cinematic color grade. After all, both the games and TV show were as beautiful as they were scary.
Animated Zombie Grime Art Photoshop Action (ATN, PAT)
Looking for a more pop art-inspired zombie? This quirky zombie action adds a cool dripping effect to the skin of the subjects.
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