Photoshop tutorial: Give a gothic feel to Halloween photos

Discover how Tigz Rice lit, shot and retouched this vampire-based shoot for a darkly sumptuous feel with undead skin tones.

Intro


Halloween will be upon us soon, so we asked one of our favourite photographers Tigz Rice to reveal how to produce a sensual vampire-based set of photos.

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In this Photoshop tutorial, Tigz shows you how to give photos a luscious feel, avoiding the cheesy look of much Halloween-related materials. First off, she discusses how to get the lighting right on-location.

Tigz details how to make the most of shots captured in the dark, give skin tones an undead palour and add the right level of vignette that feels subtle.

Step 1

STEP 1

When setting up your vampire-inspired shoot, think dark. Vampires aren't usually fans of bright light, so think about using pools of light to create your lighting effects.

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This can be done using natural light from windows or dappling o shaping artificial flash through modifiers. Here, I've used natural light.


Step 2

STEP 2

If you do choose to shoot natural light, think about the weather and type of light. These images were actually taken during a well-timed lightning storm, so naturally have that softly lit, cool atmosphere.

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If you are shooting mid-summer – as inevitably you are when shooting for projects that will be going live in the run up to Halloween – you are more likely to have hard light and strong contrast. You may want to use a scrim or net curtain material to diffuse the light from your natural source.

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Step 3

STEP 3

Once you're chosen your favourite image from your shoot, bring it into Photoshop via Camera Raw. If you shot your images in RAW, Adobe Camera Raw should automatically open. Alternatively, if you shot in JPEG, go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter to access the Camera Raw dialogue box.

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Tip: if you are working on a series of images, you may find it easier to do steps 1-9 in Photoshop Lightroom using Sync Settings and then bring them into Photoshop for the rest of the tutorial.


Step 4

STEP 4

First, if you've shot to emphasise the darkness, you may need to up the Exposure. In the Basic Panel, move the slider to the right to up the exposure just a little.

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Step 5

STEP 5

Also in the Basic panel, move the Temperature slider to the left to cool down your image to taste. The amount will be dependent on the white balance of your original image as well as personal taste.

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Step 6

Step 7

STEP 7

Next, switch to the Detail panel, where you will find the Sharpening and Noise Reduction tools - both of which may be useful for shooting in low light at either low shutter speed or at high ISO.

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For a detailed look at both sliders, check out How to Reduce Noise and Sharpen Images in Photoshop tutorial.


Step 8

STEP 8

In the Tone Curve panel, click and drag on the sliders to manipulate the contrast of your image. Sliding right will lighten areas in that tonal region, whilst dragging down will darken. 

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Step 9

STEP 9

Once you're happy with the overall tone and exposure of your image, press OK to confirm your changes and head back into the main Photoshop window.

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Step 10

STEP 10

Now let's have a look at desaturating the skin to give a more vampirish look.

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For this, press Cmd/Ctrl + J to create a new duplicate layer and rename it ‘Skin’. Right-click on the layer and select Convert To Smart Object. This will allow you to do the next steps non destructively.


Step 11

STEP 11

Go back to Filter > Camera Raw Filter. In the Hue module, drag the red slider left to remove some of the healthy glow of the skin. You may wish to remove a small amount of orange too. Amounts will depend on your chosen image.

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Step 12

STEP 12

Next, switch to Luminance slider and again, click on the face to select skin tones. Move the slider right to add more shine and counterbalance the dulling of the skin tones. Once you're happy with skin tone, press OK to confirm changes. 

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Step 13

STEP 13

Choose a soft, black brush. On the Smart Filter mask, use it to brush over any non skin areas of the image that have also been affected by removing the red tones.

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Step 14

STEP 14

Press Cmd/Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E to ‘Stamp Visible’ all of the existing layers onto one new layer. Rename this ‘Corrections’.

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On this layer, clean up your image as normal, using the Clone, Heal and Dodge/Burn tools to remove any loose hairs or distractions from your image.

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Step 15

STEP 15

Finally, let’s look at creating a vignette to darken more of the image background. First, right-click on the Corrections layer and Convert To Smart Object to edit it non-destructively.

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Step 16

STEP 16

Go back to Filter > Camera Raw Filter… and click on the Radial Filter icon, which is the last icon along the top left of the Camera Raw Screen.

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Change the Exposure to -1 and click and drag outward from the focal point of your image to create a vignette. Adjust the Exposure of your vignette as required.


Step 17

STEP 17

Once you're happy with your image, press OK to head back into the main Photoshop window and save.

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And you’re finished. Muhahahahahahahahaha!

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