Create a Harmonic Model Illustration in Photoshop

  • Tutorial details

    Photoshop CS
    3-5 Hours
  • Premium Content

    Project Files

Heavy tutorial (46 steps) in which you will learn how to draw awesome looking hair in no time! We will create a beautiful model composition to exercise our mad Photoshop skills!

Step 1 – 21

Complete the tutorial Create Flowing Harmonic Fibers in order to create the background graphics for this tutorial. If you want to get started quickly and just follow along in this tutorial, go ahead and download the Photoshop document file for the project instead.

Step 22

Click the top layer to activate it, click the bottom layer while holding down the Shift-key on your keyboard to select all layers. Right-click on Layer 0 and choose “Convert to Smart Object”. Rename the Smart Object to Background.

Step 23

Right now the background is a bit to “busy”, so we will have to do something about that…

Create a new layer Purple gradient. Set the Foreground color to a dark purple, like #e45dbc. Use the Gradient Tool with a Foreground to Transparent setting, and drag a gradient from the bottom left corner somewhere to the top right corner.

Lower the Opacity of the layer to about 60% to choke the effect.

Step 24

Download the wonderful Bird – 1 photo by sparky-stock. Open it up in Photoshop.

Step 25

Clean up parts of the skin using Dodge & Burn Tools. The main purpose of this technique is to remove unnatural studio lighting. You will mainly have to use the Burn Tool on this photo.

Tip: Holding the Alt-key will switch between Dodge & Burn while using either of the Dodge and Burn tools.

Before, After and Difference

Step 26

I really did not like the feather-like makeup for her lashes on this photo. If you agree with me, use the Clone Stamp Tool to remove it.

Use the Smudge Tool to slightly extend the eye-liner effect.

Step 27

Use the Spot Healing Brush Tool to remove any unwanted spots or wrinkles.

Step 28

Duplicate the layer and apply some Gaussian Blur. Add a layer mask and start brushing with low opacity to partly blurring the skin of our model.

Step 29

Merge visible (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E). Go to Image > Calculations to create a high contrast Channel of the photo. Select the newly created Channel and grab the Brush Tool. Brush with white on the parts you want to keep, and brush with black on the parts you want to remove.

Step 30

Load the Channel as selection, navigate to Select > Modify > Contract — set it to about 2px. Copy the layer contents and paste it in our background document. Rename the layer to Model.

Step 31

Add a layer mask to the Model layer. Use a soft black brush to mask out most parts of her hair.

Step 32

Set the Blending mode of the Model layer to Luminosity.

Step 33

Select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels. Name it Brighten. Check “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask” and click OK.

Step 34

Repeat the previous step to add a Black & White Adjustment Layer, still as Clipping Mask. Set the Opacity of the layer to about 45%.

Step 35

Now we will create the brush that we are going to use to draw the hair.

Create a new document, like 500 x 300px. Use the Ellipse Tool to create a black oval shape.

Step 36

Load the shape as a selection, then use Image > Crop to crop the image. De-select and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset.

Step 37

Press F5 to open up the Brushes palette. Find your brush and tweak its settings as follows…

Step 38

Now it is probably a good idea to start grouping our layers. I made one group for the Model and one group for the Hair.

For this step you will actually be required to have some artistic talent. Do not worry if it does not look very real in the beginning, just keep on brushing and I promise you it will turn out good in the end!

For the hair layers, set the Blending mode to Overlay. Then start working with our custom hair brush. Use short strokes from the top working down (in the direction of the hair). Use black as foreground and white as background, then use the X-key on your keyboard to switch between the two. You should use more black in the base bottom layers and more white in the top layers.

Continue to add layers and create more hair. As long as you set the Blending mode to Overlay, the hair will blend nicely.

Change the size of your brush to add details.

Draw strokes in different directions to build up the hair cut.

Keep on going, this is quite time consuming but the more strokes you do — the better it gets!

Step 39

When you are happy with the hair cut, add a new layer Highlights. Use Normal blending mode and draw some final highlight strokes (use only white).

Step 40

Add a Layer Mask to the Highlights layer. Use the Gradient Tool to create a reflected gradient (Black > White) so that the highlights falls off nicely.

Step 41

Select the Background layer and apply a Gaussian Blur filter. Set the radius to about 40 pixels. Then use the Gradient tool to fade the effect with a reflected gradient.

Step 42

I was not very happy with the Purple gradient at this moment, so I decided to change it to a more cold color. I also moved the model a bit to the left — thought it looked better this way.

Step 43

Create a new layer Lashes and use a very small sized brush to enhance the lashes. Use semi-gray colors (50-80%) and set the Blending mode of the layer to Luminosity.

Step 44

Stamp visible (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E). Then select Filter > Other > High Pass. Set the value to about 12.

Change Blending mode of the layer to Overlay. Add a Layer Mask, fill it with black and use a white brush to define some details in the girl’s face.

You can duplicate this layer to add even more definition to the eyes.

Step 45

The background is still to busy IMO. To fix this I used 3 radial gradients (Color > Transparent).

I also added 2 adjustment layers. One Black & White, set to 44% and one Curves adjustment layer to make the image a bit brighter.

Step 46

Merge visible and add Gaussian blur, then mask to partially blur the corners of the image.

To create the lighting effects go ahead and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, set its Blending mode to Color.

Then on top of that — a Black & White Adjustment Layer. Use the Layer Mask to partially B/W the image.

To balance the colors, use add a Color Balance Adjustment Layer on top of that.


For my final image I modified our brush a bit. To create the flowing white lines in the Background I changed opacity jitter to Fade and did same for Size.

Click to View Details

Did you enjoy this?

Support us by sharing this article with your friends. This way we will be able to produce more content like this, and in the end we are all winners!

Comments and Feedback

PixelTango Original © 2010-10-07 | Usage

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.

Sorry to interrupt, but...

It seems you are using AdBlock to block our advertisement (yes, 1 tiny ad). Displaying ads is essential for us to keep good quality of our posts here at PixelTango.

Please unblock, so that we can keep this site alive!