Create a Futuristic Portrait Poster in Photoshop

  • Tutorial details

    Photoshop CS2
    2-5 Hours
  • Premium Content

    Project Files

Super sweet tutorial that explains in detail how to create a futuristic looking portrait poster. Learn how to combine a good set of techniques to create a crisp piece of art ready to be printed!

This is a detailed Photoshop Tutorial for the more advanced Photoshop user. You will learn how to combine a bunch of cool techniques to create a fantastic portrait poster with a touch of the future (aaah see what I did there?).

Am I still rabbling? Let’s get started!

Step 1

For the purpose of this tutorial you can use the same photo as we did, or you can just follow along with another photo of yours. Go to and download Stock 44 by The1stGrape-stock. Then open it up in Photoshop – put it on a new layer, named Original.

Step 2

Now, this girl’s face is actually pretty clean. But if you want you can go ahead and remove any strawberry-marks and the scar in her forehead using the Spot Healing Brush Tool or the Clone Stamp Tool. Use the Clone Stamp Tool at low opacity if you also want to remove some of her make-up. Then use the Smudge Tool and add some noise if necessary to make the edits seem more natural.

Step 3

In the coming steps we will make the girl’s hair a bit brighter, more like pure white. Duplicate the Original layer, so that you do not mess things up 😉 Now working on the copy, go to Image > Calculations. Use the settings below to create a new selection. Then create a new layer Hair and fill the selection with white.

Step 4

Create a Layer Mask for the layer Hair. Fill it with black and start brushing the Layer Mask with a white color to reveal the white stand of hair. Duplicate the Hair layer to balance the effect (adjust its opacity to a good level). Group both the hair layers, then click the eye to hide the group.

Step 5

Right-click on the Original Copy layer and click “Convert to Smart Object”. This will allow us to apply filters in a non-destructive way (which is way cool). If you do not have CS3 or later, you will have to apply the filters in the classic way. Start with Filter > Stylize > Glowing Edges, then Sharpen > Sharpen.

Step 6

Add a Levels Adjustment Layer to balance the contrast, place it below the Hair group. Add a Black & White Adjustment Layer on top of everything.

Step 7

Duplicate the fx layer (Original copy), set its blending mode to Screen and lower the opacity a bit. If you used Smart Object, then change the Edge Width of Glowing Edges to 2 for this layer.

Step 8

Hide both Adjustment Layers, then create a new layer on top of everything and Stamp Visible (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E). Name the layer FX Masked. You can now group Original copy and Original copy 2 into FX and hide this group. Also, show the Hair layer.

Step 9

Add a Layer Mask to FX Masked. Using a black brush, start brushing the mask so that the girl’s face is becoming visible. Also, all the hair should be masked out so that it does not look so unreal. This could take some time to get it right. Use soft brushes of various sizes. You can use the Smudge Tool to smudge the mask a bit in some places to get a better transition effect. Continue until you have something that you like. I am going for a half man (woman) / half robot kind of thing here.

Step 10

Add a new Layer just under the top Black & White Adjustment Layer, name it Black Fills. Grab a soft brush with low opacity, start brushing areas to indicate shadows. This will make her face “pop” a bit more in the picture. Below are my drawn areas indicated in red.

And here it is in black.

Step 11

Now you can extend the canvas size if you would like to. Do this by going to Image > Canvas Size. I changed the width to 4000, so that I get some room to work with.

Hide the Hair group, the Original layer and make sure the background layer is all black. All that is showing now is the white outlines, right? Good! Go to Channels and click the icon in the bottom saying “Load channel as selection”, then go back to the Layers palette, create a new layer and fill it with white.

Double-click the layer and add a bit of white outer glow to it. Duplicate the layer, increase the size of the outer glow and lower the opacity of the layer. Group the two outer glow layers into Outline Glow.

Step 12

Generate a fractal using Apophysis, or simply download a brush pack with fractals  from DeviantArt. Place it in line with the hand, wrap it with the transform tool and use the Smudge Tool to fine tune the bends.

Adding more fractals (both white and black will give you some really cool results).

Step 13

Now for the coloring, add a Color Balance Adjustment Layer. Place it just below the Outline Glow group.

Step 14

Create a new layer Giant Light, below your fractals layers. Set the Blending Mode to Screen and Opacity to about 10%. Set the FG color to a bright blue. Use the Gradient Tool to create a huge Radial Gradient that extends from the left hand bottom corner way out the scene (bright blue to transparent).

Step 15

Use this technique with Radial Gradients and Blending Mode set to Screen to add some more light effects. I suggest you put each gradient on a separate layer and put them all in one group.

Step 16

Create a new layer on top of everything and Stamp Visible (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E). Then select Filter > Distort > Glass.

Step 17

Set the Blending Mode of the Layer to Screen. Add a Layer Mask for the and mask out everything except for a wide stripe to the left of her right cheek.

Step 18

Use the Free Transform Tool (with Warp) to bend the light so that it gets thinner towards the left edge of the image. Use the Gradient Tool (black to transparent) to fade the effect.

Step 19

Click the layer icon and pick a soft brush with the Blending Mode set to Hue. Pick a color from the light coming from her finger, then draw some light to the wall texture.

Step 20

Download some Bokeh Textures, make a pattern of them and blend/mask as we did in Step 11.

Adding some random shapes on the right hand side of the image will add some interestingness to it. Go ahead and add some random stuff. Distort it, blend it – repeat and yeah… you know the business by now 😉

Finally, add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top of everything to lower the saturation a bit.

Final Result

For my final image I just made a new document and composited the image with simple cut and paste. Tell me what you think about the effect using the Comment-section below!

Click for Full View

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About the Author

Mickel is a web creative that is constantly looking for new challenges and ventures.

He is the founder of PixelTango, as well as a interactive web design agency. He also likes to DJ and produce music under the name Allic.

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