Photoshop tutorials for professionals and beginners
Futuristic portrait retouching photoshop tutorial

Hydra – Advanced Photoshop Tutorial

This is the most advanced tutorial I ever written and also the longest. Since there are many important things to show, I will not entertain myself on showing how to crate a mask or how to make a clipping layer, I assume you already have a medium-advanced skill with Photoshop.

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Designing this took me about 20 hours because I had to search for all the stock images and figure out how to combine them. I downloaded about 81 stock images and in the end I used about 16. You will be able to make this much faster, depending on your skill.

I worked with high resolution images because I wanted to keep all the details.

Materials needed

There are a lot of images used to make this artwork so I included all the necessary stock images on a single pack, In the zip file you will find all you need to follow this tutorial and also a text file with the credits to the authors of the stock images.

Authors of the stock images:

Download PSD file and original stock

Step 1

Open the Anya_stock_II_by_Dxlogic image in photoshop and use the Pen Tool (P) to subtract the girl from the background, do this on the original size image. Exclude the ears and the bun. There is no need to make a layer mask. Just make sure you cut it out precisely. After you did that, reduce the size of the image to 2000×3000 pixels. Name this layer girl.

Step 2

Use the Patch Tool (J) and the Clone Tool (S) to hide the bones on the chest. On the areas close to the dress straps use the Clone Tool. Also hide the major flaws on the skin using the Healing Brush.

Step 3

Open the background image and paste it below the girl layer. If you use the resolution that I used (2000×3000) you will have to increase the size of the background image in order to cover the width of the canvas. Duplicate the image, flip it vertically and drag it below to cover the height of the canvas. You can use a soft eraser to blend the two images.

Step 4

Use the girl layer as template to make another shape below it. The best way to do that is to load the girl layer transparency (Ctrl+Click) and go to Select>Contract 50-70 pixels. Fill the contracted selection with any color and reduce Fill to zero. Add an outer glow with Blending Mode Vivid Light and a light blue color.

Step 5

Use the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) and draw an oval like in the image below. Fill it with any color, it will not be visible anyways.

Step 6

Here is where we will start making the bionic arm. Use layer masks or clipping layers whenever you need to hide things. Use the already existing objects to load their transparency and create the layer masks easier.

Step 7

Add more elements using the stock images provided. Use the pen tool to cut out the parts that you need.

The objective is to make it mimic some connections and bones. You can add them as you like or add more if you thing it looks better.

Step 8

Add more mechanical parts to make the shoulder connections. Cut out using any method you like, I used basically the Magic Wand and the Pen Tool.

Step 9

Still working on the shoulder connections. Add two more connections and then the shoulder “bone”.

Step 10

We are done with the shoulder, let’s go and make the arm now. Use the same tools and techniques. Cut out the parts that you need and put them in new layers. The way you organize your layers is up to you.

Step 11

On step 10 we made the main arm “bones” now let’s add some details.

Step 12

Add some wires and another “bone” using the exhaust pipes stock. And the bionic arm is done.

Step 13

Open Engine_1_by_FoxStox.jpg and cut it out like in the image below using the pen tool. Place it below the girl layer and add a drop shadow effect using the settings in the screenshot. I named this layer engine.

Step 14

Create a copy of the girl layer as you have it now. In case you screw it up you will not have to subtract her again.

Make a layer mask for the girl layer and using a soft brush try to blend the skin with the engine.

Step 15

Now that you have the mask created we can ad some details on the shoulder. Place a metal texture right below the girl layer. Use a rough brush from the Photoshop’s default brushes set, on the layer mask to brush along the edge and expose some of the metal texture below.

Step 16

Now I will show you how to make the colorful liquid devices that you see above. I will only show you how to make one of them and then you have to use the same steps to make all four. We will make several layers for each color so you should put them inside a group in order not to overcrowd the layers palette.

The first thing you need to do is to get the Pen Tool and paint shapes along the lines that you see on the white tanks (or whatever those white things are). The color of the shape doesn’t matter, it will not be visible. For easier identification you should name each shape layer according to the color. For example, I named this one green.

Once you draw the shape like in the image above, apply Bevel & Emboss using the following settings.

From now on, we will only use clipping layers on the green layer because we only want to affect this shape. Open beer_bubbles.jpg and paste it as clipping layer over the green layer. Reduce the size and use the Hue Saturation to change the color to green.

To make this look like a more realistic glass, paint some white rectangles using the Polygonal Lasso Toll (L) on a new clipping layer. Try to make the rectangles parallel to the tank edges. Change the blending mode of the rectangles to Soft Light or Overlay and reduce opacity to 25-40%.

To make it look more realistic still, add a some shadows on the edges using the Gradient Tool (G) and the preset Foreground to Transparent. Set blending mode to Multiply and opacity to 50%. Not it has more depth. Don’t worry about the loss of contrast, we will deal with the overall effects later on.

Now apply the same technique to make the other three tanks. When applying effects don’t stick to what I shown here, experiment with the values and blending modes and apply color or contrast adjustments if necessary. Designing it’s also experimenting, there are no written rules.

Step 17

Making the top part of those tanks is a lot easier. Open the stock image Crystal_ball_2_by_chop_stock.jpg and subtract the ball from the background. Paste the ball on a new layer below the engine layer and reduce the size until the ball fits on each of the tanks. Rotate the ball a few degrees on each of the four tanks because otherwise they will all look the same.

Use Hue/Saturation to change the color of the ball and activate the Colorize option, otherwise you will not be able to change its color. See screenshot below.

Step 18

Open Technical_Metal_Part_for_a_Car_by_FantasyStock.jpg in photoshop and crop the triangular shape as in the screenshot below. Increase contrast using Levels and add Drop Shadow using the settings shown.

Copy the blue glass balls that you made on step 17 and reduce its size and place it in the middle of the triangular shape. Add a blue Outer Glow with Vivid Light blending mode.

Step 19

We have almost everything done but before anything else we must make color and contrast adjustments to the girl. We will use only clipping layers to make these adjustments.

The reason why you should use adjustment layers is because they are non destructive, in other words you can make changes to the settings later on without affecting the original image.

Color Balance

Gradient Fill

Color Fill

Step 20

Now we have to apply color adjustments to the robotic arm parts and to the engine as well. On the robotic arm we cannot use clipping layers because there are many layers. In this case I applied the adjustment layers with a black layer mask and than I used a soft brush to reveal only the parts that I needed.

I placed all the adjustment layers of the arm on a separate layer group for easier identification.

Robotic arm adjustments

Step 21

Now we have to do the same for the engine. The reason I didn’t adjust all the image at once is because there are elements with very different amounts of contrast and it wouldn’t look good. These are the adjustments made to the engine on the girl’s head. This time I could use clipping layers.

Engine adjustments

Step 22

Another cool detail that we will add now are the two veins on the girl’s neck. Open Leaf_Veins_by_Jonathan2478Resource.jpg and copy a sample of the veins as shown on the screenshot below.

Step 23

Load the girl’s transparency (Ctrl+click on her thumbnail on the layers palette) and use a big soft brush to paint with the color indicated in the screenshot on a new layer. Then, change the blending mode of the layer to Vivid Light.

Step 24

Now we will make the light coming out from that device that we placed on her chest on Step 18. Make a big circular or square selection and fill it with black. Add a lens flare and set blending mode to screen. On top of the lens flare layer make a new layer and paint another light using a cyan color and low brush opacity of 30-40%. Set blending mode to Vivid Light.

Step 25

There is one more light we need to make.  Select the girl’s edges like you did in Step 23 (Ctrl+click the thumbnail) and get a big soft brush. Set color to 2f71cb and paint on the lower part of the face: chin nose, cheek edges and neck. See screenshot below.

This is the result after applying all the lights. If you get dark spots on the chest, use the Dodge Tool on the girl layer to lighten and even the skin tone.

Step 26

Lets make the eyes more interesting. Use the Dodge Tool to lighten the left eye. Then open tribal.jpg and subtract it from the white background using the Magic Wand Tool (W). Copy part of the tribal shape and paste it on the side of the eye. Change blending mode to Soft Light.

Step 27

Let’s move on to the right eye. Draw the eye shape using the pen tool and black color. As you see, there are some highlights over the black area, the reflections. You can do that pasting a picture of windows or creating some white shapes with the Pan Tool and reduce the opacity.

Use the same glass ball again and make it smaller. Change the color to orange and apply this effects.

Use the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) and create a circular selection holding down the Shift and Alt keys. Stroke the selection with 2px yellow. Set the layer to Overlay and duplicate it. On the duplicated layer add the following effects.

The last thing we need to add to this eye is some random dots using the Brush Tool (B). Activate scattering and use a 2px hard brush. Paint with white and after that apply Sharpening to make the dots sharper. Change the blending mode to Overlay.

Step 28

Use the same tribal shape as in Step 26 and cut the middle section. Paste it over the forehead, reduce Fill to 0 and apply the following effects.

Step 29

Create a new layer and change it’s blending mode to Color Dodge. If you still have the brush settings from the previous step increase the size a bit and activate the Size Jitter in the Shape Dynamics on the brushes editor (F5).

Use a hard brush, small size (5-10 pixels depending on the resolution of your canvas) and color 59ffff. Paint some random dots on both sides of the face and apply Outer Glow. If the dots are too close together increase spacing in the brushes editor. See screenshot below.

Select the Line Tool (U) and set weight to 1px. Draw one line and apply Outer Glow with the settings shown in the screenshot below. Once you apply the effect, it will be applied automatically to all the lines that you will draw. Connect some more dots.

Step 30 – Post production

The design is ready but now we have to make some general touch ups and adjustments to give it a more polished effect. Select the entire canvas with Ctrl+A and go to Edit>Copy Merged. Copy your artwork on a new document and, if you want, this is the time to reduce the size. I resized it to 1000×1500 px. Use levels to increase the contrast a bit,

Duplicate the layer, apply a 4px Gaussian blur and set the blending mode to Lighten.

Applying this blending mode will make the highlights glow and you will get a nice soft effect. But some areas don’t look good. Use a layer mask or soft eraser brush and erase the eyes and face skin. Keep the light dots on the face and the lights on the background.

Final result

I hope you liked this tutorial and I hope it wasn’t too difficult. For any doubts or to report anything please post a comment. Below you have two links to download the PSD of this tutorial which is quite big, 100MB. As I always say, share this article and help other people, I did my job, now it’s your turn. See you on the next tutorial

1 comment

  • hello, it seems i cant find the pics in the links that you put for this tutorial, like the girls pic and the head engine

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