Well the first thing we have to do is find the images we want to use. This is the normally the most important and difficult step. You’ll need the image you want to crack and peel (I picked a portrait of a woman), you’ll need an image for the texture you want to use for the cracks (I picked the dried and cracked mud picture), then you need the image you want to reveal underneath the peels (for this I picked a circuit board). I got all my images from http://www.sxc.hu. If you click on the thumbnails of them below it will take you to the full size images I used. First off lets open the image with the circuit board (in photo shop of course). What we are going to do here is blend the circuit board into the holes in the rust. So open up the image of the rust and use the Move Tool to drag a copy of the rust over the circuit board. Position it over the circuit board where you will have the most flakes. You can also resize it to just cover the circuit board. I want to achieve an effect of a large peel so I didn’t resize it. In the image below I have reduced the opacity of the rust layer so you can see how I positioned it over the circuit board. You DO NOT have to do this. Now what we want to do is let the Circuit board show through beneath the areas where the rust has peeled away. We will do this by using a layer mask as it is easy to fix mistakes as we make them. Click the Layer Mask Button at the bottom of your Layers palette. Now select a soft brush that will fit in the rust hole hole and begin to paint black to reveal the circuit board beneath as in the above image. You may have to adjust the size of the brush as you go. I like to use the [ and ] keys to change the size as I go. Try to get close to the edge, if you go over switch to white to remove any part of the circuit board that extends outside of the rust hole. Pay attention to not reveal the circuit board on the inside of the flakes that are hanging there. I first take a small soft brush and go along the edges, once I have all the edges done I select a harder larger brush to fill in the center. Clicking on the Brush Drop Down allows you to change the hardness or softness of your brush. Take your time doing this masking, the more attention to detail you give it the better the end result. Above is my masking almost complete. Once your masking is done go to Layer > Merge Flatten Image. Its a good idea to save this image at this point so we can use it later. Now if you haven’t already opened the portrait picture and the cracked earth picture in photo shop, do so now. Again using the Move drag the cracked earth image over the portrait image. I then used the handles to transform it to fit completely over the woman’s skin. Go to your Layers Palette and select Multiply in the blending mode and adjust the opacity to about 50%. Now if you look at the above image you’ll see the color just doesn’t seem right and some of those cracks don’t look realistic. First lets start by correcting the color hit Ctrl +L to bring up the levels adjuster. Now how you set your levels will depend greatly on the images you are using. Dragging the far left slider will darken the image, using the far right slider will lighten it. In my case I needed to lighten it a fair bit. Now we have to fix some of those cracks. I don’t want to have cracks through the eyes, or the lips. So once again I use a layer mask by selecting the layer mask icon . I paint the eyes with a soft black brush to remove the cracks. If I screw up I just go over that area with white. Now because a real face is 3D and a picture is 2D we have to turn our attention to the areas of the face where the height would change in 3D. For example the neck, and nose. We can’t really have a crack continue from the neck onto the chin. So zoom in to these areas and mask off the continuing cracks so they look as below. Alright now we have achieved a cracking effect on the face. It is now time to use the rust peel image we created. Using the Move Tool drag your peel image on the portrait. Now I changed the Opacity of this layer so I could better resize and position it. I want the main peels to be on her fore head and top of the face so by resizing and moving the peel image around I can achieve this. Once you have placed the circuit/rust layer and resized it to want you want hit the Enter key to accept the transformation. Now turn your Opacity up to around 90%, and select multiply from the blending level. Just as with the cracks you now have to hit Ctrl +L Now if you look at the above image you’ll notice a few things glaring at you. Firstly some of our peels don’t seem to blend very well. Secondly we got a bit of the blue stripe from our rust image showing. So to fix this we once again as we did with the crack image use a layer mask. Select the Layer Mask button. Using a large soft brush and having your foreground color set to black, (TipI you press the D and then X keys it will change your foreground color to black) paint out the areas you don’t want and blend the edges. Now you can use levels here to blend the colors and make the image appear more realistic. But in something like this I like to use color over lays. I find if can give a really nice effect. So create a new layer by clicking on the New Layer Button . Now double click on your foreground color to bring up the color picker. If you want to use the same colors I did type b79631 by the number sign in the color picker. Select the Fill Tool and click on the image. Change your Blending Mode in your Layers Pallet to color. Next add another new layer, and fill this layer with the same color. This time however set your Blending Mode to Overlay and adjust the Opacity until you achieve a sort of film look. Now you should have been able to get your image to look something like the image above. Feel free to experiment using different colors to achieve a different look. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you have some time look at some of the other tutorials on this site by clicking here.
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