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A Simple Corpse Effect

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 12:26 PM

Kathlib the Prophet

    Luck. Runs. Out.

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A Simple Corpse Effect
A tutorial by Spawn of Cthulhu

This tutorial will teach you an easy way to turn a person into a corpse. It may seem long, but that's because I'll try to explain everything as clearly as I can. This technique should only take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete in Photoshop (excluding reading this tutorial and doing Step Three). Step Eight is optional.

Step One:
Locate a suitable image of a person you would like to turn into a corpse. For this tutorial, I will be using a picture of Elisha Cuthbert. This technique usually looks best if you can see a lot of skin, so I recommend having legs, arms, or other areas of skin showing, but it's not a necessity. Here is the original image I started out with.

Step Two:
In this step, we will adjust the colors of your image to look better. With some images this step won't be necessary, however, the one I chose to use had dull colors. It's best to use an image that looks realistic and vibrant. Be sure to check the link above to see what the original picture looked like, that way you can see the difference this step will make. This step, however, will not be the same for all images. Some images won't need to be touched up, others will, and in different ways. The screenshot below shows the different tools you can use to strengthen the colors of your image and make it more vibrant. Unless you're an advanced user and already know what you're doing, you'll probably be more comfortable just using Auto Levels and tweaking the Brightness/Contrast (moving the contrast up just a little bit should do the trick). This step, besides making your image more colorful, will also make the person easier to extract from its background, which we'll need to do in the next step.
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Here is what my image looks like now that I've adjusted its colors.

Step Three:
You will need to extract the person from the background of the photograph. This part will not be covered in this tutorial, but you can find tutorials on how to extract an image from its background here. There are easy ways and there are hard ways, it just depends on how complex the image is. It's much easier to extract a person from a plain background, like the image I chose to use.

Step Four:
Here's where the fun starts to begin. First, save this pattern to your computer. Open it in Photoshop and go to Edit>Define Pattern> and then name your pattern and choose OK. Close the pattern document and bring back up your person you wish to transform into a corpse. On your Layers Palette, right click on the layer with your extracted person on it and choose Duplicate Layer.
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Now, right click on your new duplicate layer and choose Blending Options, it's directly above the Duplicate Layer option. Lower the Fill Opacity to 0%.
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Then click on the tab that says Pattern Overlay. You should now see a little green checkmark to the left of the tab. Click on the small arrow beside the thumbnail image of the pattern currently in use, then scroll down until you find the pattern that you added at the beginning of this step and click on it. Finally, input the settings provided in the screenshot below. You can change the Scale and Opacity percentages if you need to, as they will need to look slightly different on different images, but you can do that later after you've completed the next step. Click OK.
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Step Five:
In Step Two, we adjusted the colors of our image so that they were more vibrant. This also served to enhance our shadows and highlights, which will start to look a little more prevalent. In this step, we'll be adjusting our colors even further, but this time with an intent to change the person's colors to a blue/green hue. Click on your original layer with the person in it (not the one with the pattern). Then go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation. Change the Hue until it's in the blue range, and then lower your Saturation a little bit. The settings will be different depending upon the image being used, so you'll just have to use your best judgment. Tweak the Hue and Saturation until you get a look resembling this:
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After you've done this, you can refer back to Step Four and change the Opacity and Scale percentages of the pattern, if it needs it. By changing the Scale, you can make blemishes larger, smaller, and sharper. By changing the Opacity, you can make the skin's color tone darker or lighter, which also affects the darkness of the blemishes.

Step Six:
In this step, we will be ripping Ms. Cuthbert's eyes from her sockets. Sounds like fun, no? There are ways to make the eyes look dead and zombie-like (lowering the Saturation is a big help), but I won't be covering that in this tutorial. I usually just take out the eyes completely, which is what I'll show you how to do now. First, zoom in on the eyes a couple hundred percent. Then, use your Lasso Tool to select the eyes.
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Now go to Select>Feather> and type 1, then click OK. Create a new Raster Layer above the pattern layer. To do this, click on your pattern layer and then click the little square-looking button beside the trashcan on your Layers Palette (see the screenshot below). Then, select your Paint Bucket Tool and fill the selection on the new layer with the color black. Finally, go to Select>Deselect. If the eyes aren't perfectly blacked out, don't worry about it. You can either use your Brush Tool to fill any uncovered space, or you can wait till Step Eight and use the Burn Tool to darken the area surrounding the eye sockets.
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Step Seven:
We've taken care of the eyes, now it's time to fix the hair. The hair is now a dull color not much different from the skin, and so it makes the corpse look fake. To remedy this, we'll need to brighten up the hair a bit and make it have a more realistic hair color. Use your Lasso Tool to select the hair. Then create another new Raster Layer above your black eyes. Go to Select>Feather> and choose a radius of 1 pixel again. Then, using the Color Picker Tool (the big black/white squares in the screenshot above), choose a light shade of the color you want your hair to be. For my hair color, I chose #FDF082, a light shade of yellow. Next, use your Paint Bucket Tool to fill in the selection with your color. Go to Select>Deselect. Then, on your Layers Palette, change your hair color layer's Blending Mode from Normal to Color, and lower the Opacity to 40% (see the red box in the screenshot below). You may want to adjust the Opacity for your image.
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Step Eight:
You're technically finished now. This step is optional, but can add some lighting effects and decay to your image if it needs it. I didn't feel I needed to on my image, so I didn't. In the Layers Palette, select your original layer (the one with just the person in it). Now, at your discretion, use the Dodge (highlights) and Burn (shadows/decay) Tool to add effects to your image. You may want to use the Burn Tool to go around the eye sockets. The Dodge Tool might be useful in highlighting areas where you want any external light sources to be. You could go even further and use grunge brushes to add a dirty look to the flesh, but that's beyond the scope of this tutorial.
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You're Finished!
This was a pretty long tutorial, but the technique is actually short and easy to remember after you've done it once or twice. It's possible to make a corpse using this technique in less than two minutes, if you've already got the person extracted from his/her background.

Here is my final image.

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