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Monochromatic portrait effects Photoshop tutorial

Business Man – Awesome Black&White Effect in Photoshop

In this manipulation tutorial I will show you how to create a cool looking black and white artwork and several other thinks like how to create rainy scene in Photoshop and how to effectively use the Dodge/Burn and lighting effects. And of course will also show you how to create a stunning Black&White image.

For this tutorial I used only free stock images and I did this in about 3 hours with all the fine tunning and searching for the actual stock.

Final result

Business man Tutorial Preview

Stock used

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  • PDF tutorial version
  • Original PSD file
  • Stock images

I saw similar artworks on the internet but I don’t know if there’s actually a tutorial about this so that’s mainly why wrote it. Download the stock needed and let’s get going.

Step 1

Start by opening the background image in Photoshop and use the Crop Tool (C) to crop the image as shown in the image below. I did this because I wanted the car and the left edge of the building out of the frame.

Step 2

In this step I will show you how to turn the background layer into black and white and make it look cool. In this step I will show you everything you need to do to set up the background layer. I use adjustment layers for all the adjustments and you shoud do that too. Add a Black&White adjustment layer and input the settings shown in the image below. The goal is to create a contrasty black/white image.

Create a new layer and add a Gradient Fill adjustment layer (you can draw it with the tool if you want but I have greater control with the adjustment layer). Use a linear Black to Gray (#d6d6d6) gradient and arrange it as in the image below. Change the layer’s Blend Mode to Overlay.

After applying the gradient I noticed some white parts of the building on the top right corner which I hid using the brush tool.

Now, for the final touch, create a Gradient Map adjustment layer with Black/White and leave the Blend Mode to Normal. That will greatly increase the contrast and make the image look better.

Now, we can move on because we’ve finished with the background layer. The reason why I made the top daker than the middle and the bottom is because I want to draw attention to the center of the image where the man will be. If you want you can group all the layers and call the group background.

Step 3

Download the man stock image if you didn’t already, open it in photoshop and use the Pen Tool (P) to subtract it from the background. Paste it on a new layer above the background layers (or above the group if you groupped the layers) and name it Man. Notice that I didn’t cut the hair precisely, I left some space. I will show you how to mask the hair next.

Since there are not long strands of hair we will use brushes to mask it, it’s the easiest way. Create a mask for the Man layer and get a spray brush from the default brush set. Zoom in and start making brush strokes to mask the hair.

masking hair with brushes

Step 4

Now, just like we did with the background layer, we have to turn the man into black/white. This time I only used a Gradient Map and Levels. The difference between the Grandient Map and the Black&White adjustment layers is that with the second one you can specify the luminosity values for each color so you have more control over how much contrast you have on the image.

Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer with Normal blend mode and then a Levels adjustment layer. See image below for more details.

Add the first light effect on the man’s body using layer styles. Use the inner shadow style as shown in the image below to create a halo of light on the man’s back and head.

Step 5

This is the most important step of this tutorial. We are going to use Dodge/Burn heavily here. That will give you that punchy effect that you can see on final result. We will use the Dodge and Burn tools non-destructively as I explained in this short tutorial: Dodge& Burn – Manipulation Secrets.

For this tutorial I’ve set the Exposure of the tools to 20% and Range to Mid-Tones. Go over the shadows and highlights several times. I used separate layers for the man and the background but you can use a single layer if you want. Than, for a stronger effect I duplicated the Dodge/Burn and reduced the opacity a bit because the effect was too strong.

Dodge/ Burn layers (Normal mode so you can see where I used the tools)

Before and after using the Dodge/Burn

Step 6

After I achieved what I wanted, I made some touch ups on the highlights. Select the top most layer on your palette and press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E to create a stamp and set the blend mode of the new layer to Luminosity. Call the layer highlights.

Now get the Dodge Tool (O) again and set the Exposure to about 15% and Range to Highlights. Use a medium size brush (about 160px) and paint a few strokes over all the highlights on the image. Don’t overdo it. Now get the Burn Tool and do the same for the shadows. That will increase the contrast and create a very subtle glow effect on the highlights.

Luminosity layer to enhance highlights

After doing this I also used levels to increase highlights and darken mid tones a bit more. This is totally optional, judge for yourself if you image needs it or not.

Step 7

Now let’s move on and create the rain and the water splashes on the man’s body. First let’s create the falling rain. For that you will have to create a custom brush but don’t worry, it’s very easy.

Create a new document 500×500 pixels. Get the brush tool and set the color to Black. Select a solid round brush and set the Hardness to 100 and Diameter to 4px.

Now open the Brushes window with F5 or from the menu Window>Brush. Activate Shape Dynamics and change the Control option to Fade and the fade amount to 60. Set all the other sliders of the Shape Dynamics tab to 0.

Photoshop rain brush

Now, create a new layer and click and draw upwards while you hold the Shift key pressed. Now, duplicate that layer, flip it vertically and join both shapes.

When you have both shapes like in the image above, go to Edit>Define Brush Preset. Give it any name you want, save it, close the document and come back to your artwork.

Select the brush tool and the brush preset you just saved and open the Brush window once again. Now we are going to set the randomness of the falling rain.

Activate Scattering and set it to 1000%, activate the Both Axes option and set the Count to 1. Also activate Shape Dynamics set Control to Off and Size Jitter to 20% so that you have some size variation on your rain.

Now go to the Brush Tip Shape and increase Spacing to 1000% and set the Angle to -5º.

That took a lot longer to explain and illustrate than to it took to do it. Now that your rain brush is ready, create a new layer above all your other layers and stroke one time horizontaly. If your not happy with the distribution, undo and try again. Avoid stroking twice because you will have too many drops of rain. Just try until you get a stroke that covers most of the area.

After you get something you like, go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and apply a blur with a distance of about 350 pixels. The Blur angle should match the angle that you set on your brush settings a moment ago which was -5 degrees so here you should type 85º (that’s 90º – 5º you set previously. 90º would be straight vertical and your blur would not look good)

After you apply the blur, you may have to duplicate the layer to make the rain more visible.

Create another layer and repeat the process but at a slightly different angle, just 2 degrees more on the same direction and this time do not duplicate the layer so that you have like a background rain which is less visible. I repeated the process yet again at a different angle but when I applied the blur I reduced the Distance to about 200px and reduced the opacity. The purpose of this third rain layer is to fill in the existing rain. You can add a very subtle Overlay Outer Glow to the first rain layer.

Step 8

Now we have to create the effect of the water hitting the man’s body. In order to accomplish that you have to download some splash brushes or draw that by hand if you have the skills.

Create a new layer and name it water splash. Now, scroll down and locate the Man layer you created on Step 3 and Ctrl+Click its thumbnail to load it’s selection and use it to create a mask on the water splash layer. Now load the water brushes and stroke along the man’s back and head to create the water splash effect. I also used the water splash stock image in screen mode to add a more realistic splash on the shoulders.

Next I created the water spray created by the splashing water. I used the spray default brushes (the same ones used to mask the hair on Step 3) on a new layer and Overlay blend mode. I also used a soft brush to draw a subtle halo/water spray effect over the man’s head, using Overlay Mode and 60% Opacity. Take a look at the before and after.

Step 9

The final addition was a Clouds layer (Filter>Render>Clouds) set on Overlay at 40% Opacity and the water drops on the man’s forehead. To add the water drops on the man’s face, open the water drops stock and scale it down to fit the face of the man and desaturate the image. Set the blend mode to Softlight and use Levels for fine tunning the blending and a layer mask to hide the edges and parts you don’t want.

And you’re done. The only thing I did next was create a new stamp and applying the Lighting Effects to it which I always do as a final step.

This is the final result

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. As always, if you have any questions please post a comment. Feel free to share but please don’t rip or steal my work. See you next time.