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Photo blending - Burning Flesh Effect

Photoshop Tutorial by Björgvin Guðmundsson


In this tutorial I'm going to show you step by step how to make a realistic burning effect on human skin. This tutorial features layer masking techniques, plus a few tips on color correction and tuning.
Some knowledge of basic tools such as brushes, layer masks and layer modes is needed as I won't go into detail on how these tools work.
Download the PSD file from this tutorial.

Step 1 - Finding the right stock photos.

For this tutorial we need 3 images. A photograph of the person/face we want to manipulate, a texture to illustrate the burning effect and a background image for the scene.

The first image is a portrait shot of a girl in a screaming position.
I think it originates from, but please correct me if I'm wrong so I can give proper credits.

The second image is a texture of a rusted surface with peeling paint. The selection of the texture is very important. You need a texture similar to this one, to archive the peeled flesh effect on the skin.

The third image is a scene with flames and a lot of dark areas. You can use a variety of different images, as long as you blend the face in properly.
Download imageDownload imageDownload image
Feel free to use the same images, or browse our gallery for similar images if you prefer.

- Visit our free photo gallery for thousands of free textures and images.

Step 2 – Masking out the face

Open up all the images in Photoshop. Select the image of the background scene and make the layer editable by double-clicking it.
Now select the image of the girl, and drag it over to the scene canvas.
The layer containing the face should now be on top of the background scene.

Tip Tip: How To apply a layer mask
Click the square icon with the circle in it ( ) at the bottom of the layers palette.

Apply a layer mask to layer 2 (face) and select a soft edged brush from the brushes palette. Turn off the “shape dynamics” in the brush properties palette and select black as your foreground color.
Now go ahead and brush the background away only to leave the head and hair left on that layer.

Your image should look like this:

Step three – Adding the texture

Select the texture image and drag it over to the scene canvas.
Move the layer on top of the current 2 layers, and place the texture as shown in the image below.

Set the layer mode to “overlay”.
Add a new layer mask to the texture layer and select the brush tool.
Now start brushing away the texture around the hair and face.
This is the tricky part. You have to play around with this until you are happy with the result. The outcome varies between textures, brush sizes and opacity.
Use the image below for reference if you wish.

Step four – Color Balance

Create a new adjustment layer and select “color balance”.
Adjust the “midtones” according to the image below.

Click “Ok” to apply the adjustment layer.

You will notice that the whole image has become more red which in my opinion fits the scene very well. However, the red color of the hair is not needed so we will remove that by adding a new layer mask to the color balance layer, and brush out the area of the hair.

Step five – Finishing touches

The image looks pretty good now.
The only thing I want to do before we finish is to make the background scene a little darker.

Tip Tip: How To duplicate a layer
Drag the layer you want to duplicate into the “new layer” icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

Select layer 1 and make a duplicate by dragging the layer to the “create a new layer” button at the bottom of the layer palette. Set the layer mode to “Multiply” and the opacity to “68%”. Feel free to play around with different layer modes and opacity to get the effect you desire.

And now the final image:


I hope you had a good time following this tutorial, and even picked up a useful trick or two.
Remember, it’s all about experimenting!

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