Quite often when I need to create artwork that requires images of people, I can’t always get a model, or I don’t know the right model for the project. In these cases, I often go to Adobe Stock, type in a few key phrases for the type of images I require, and then scroll through the results to find the right person or situation. This is great for adverts, flyers, brochures etc., but when you want to get creative, you might wish you had that person in front of you to try different poses or outfits.

One of the great little hidden features of Adobe Stock is the ability to find similar images to one you’ve found that you like, but you can even take that a step further. You can also search for more images in which that particular model appears. Obviously, this requires the stock provider to add and tag their images correctly, but more often than not this works and it’s an absolute treat. 

For this tutorial, I want to play around with a design for the cover of a scary clown book or movie. I want to create a split image showing the clown on one side and the face without the clown makeup on the other side. My first stop was to do some searching on Adobe Stock to find my model. 

Step One: Start by typing in “Scary Clown” in the Search field, and look through the initial results. To begin, we’re looking for a suitable face that’s looking straight ahead—something that has some symmetry to it and fills a lot of the frame. You can always crop, but you don’t want the face too small in the original image. Click on an image you like and then click the Show Similar button to see other possible versions of that style. 

Step Two: Now that we’ve found a good starting image, we need the same model without the clown makeup. Click the More from this Model button, and then click the See More button. It just so happened that this model also did some “hard man” type shots that are perfect; all we have to do now is find a matching pose to the clown. 

Step Three: Once you’ve identified a couple possibilities, make sure you’re logged in with your Adobe ID, click the down-facing arrow to the right of Save Preview to My Library, type in “2019 CLOWN PROJECT” in the Add Library field, and click the plus icon directly to the right to create a new CC Library. Now you can download the images to that library in your Libraries panel (Window>Libraries) in Photoshop so that you have them in one place. These are just low-res previews for now. Note: Initially, I downloaded several possibilities so I could compare positioning and lighting, but you can click here and here to go directly to the two images we’re using in this tutorial. 

If you’re confident that you have the right images, you can go ahead and license and download the full-resolution images, but the advantage of using Adobe Stock is that you can use CC Libraries to first work with preview images, then license them from Photoshop if you’re happy with your choices. 

Step Four: Now we’ve selected our two images, we can create our document (File>New). Make an 8×10″ document at 300 dpi. Keep the file as RGB for now; we’ll need this format later when we use the Lens Correction filter. 

Step Five: Next, we’ll place a version of our clown image in the new document. Locate the image in your Libraries panel, and click-and-drag the thumbnail onto the document. Place it in the center of the document, and press Enter to commit the placed image. We won’t resize it just yet. Now, bring in the regular face into the document by dragging it from the Libraries panel.

Step Six: Now we have the two images on top of each other, we need to resize the non-clown face and position it so it lines up with the clown face. To do this, reduce the layer Opacity of the plain face, switch to the Move tool (V), click on Show Transform Controls in the Toolbar, and drag it into position. Then drag outward from any corner handle to make the face larger (remember, if you’re using CC 2019 you don’t have to hold Shift to resize proportionally). Drag out the image until the faces are pretty much the same size and drag it into place to line them up as best as possible. It won’t always be perfect but that’s what filters are for, right? 

In this case, we can use some artistic license, as well, if the images don’t line up properly. You can hold the Shift key to resize the image non-proportionally to bring them as close as possible, but don’t overdo it and make it too unnatural. Once you’re happy with how they’re aligned, press Enter to commit the resize, but leave the Opacity reduced for the moment. 

Step Seven: We’re now going to resize both images together to fill the frame of the document. With the top layer active in the Layers panel, Shift-click the clown layer so both layers are selected. Drag out a corner point of the bounding box to resize both layers, and then drag them into position. Press Enter to commit the transformation.

Make sure you have Smart Guides on (View>Show>Smart Guides), and then turn on the Rulers (Command-R [PC: Ctrl-R]). Now drag out a guide from the vertical ruler until it snaps to the center of the document. You can now turn the top image back to 100% Opacity. 

Step Eight: We need to split the image into two halves: the left side will be the “businessman,” and the right will be the clown. Using the Rectangular Marquee tool (M), drag out a selection of the left side of the image up to the guide in the center. With the plain face layer active, click the Add Layer Mask icon (circle in a square) at the bottom of the Layers panel. Photoshop will use the selection to create the mask revealing the clown face on the right. 

Step Nine: We want to keep the arm with whisper gesture for the left side of the image, so we need to select it. There are several methods for making selections; I’m going to use a method that suits me for these kinds of projects, and stay as nondestructive as I can. First, click on the Eye icon next to the businessman layer to hide it, and then click on the clown layer to make it active. Switch to the Quick Selection tool (W), and click-and-drag along the arm and hand to select them. If it selects areas you don’t want, hold the Option (PC: Alt) key, and paint to remove those areas from the selection. 

Once you have a basic selection, hold down the Shift key and go to Select>Select and Mask to refine the selection (holding the Shift key will open the old Refine Edge dialog instead of launching the Select and Mask workspace). You can see the settings I used here. Make sure in the Output To drop-down menu that you select New Layer with Layer Mask, and click OK. Now, we need to drag this layer above the businessman layer in the Layer panel, and then turn the businessman layer back on by clicking where its Eye icon used to be. 

Using the Brush tool (B) on the mask set to a soft, round brush, do a bit of manual cleanup to the left of the center guide (remember, black conceals and white reveals). Don’t worry too much about the right side; we can always paint some of that out if it’s too distracting. This doesn’t have to be pixel-perfect; we’re just looking at using two images to make one. Plus, we still have a texture and a couple of effects to add. 

Step 10: Go ahead and turn the clown layer back on so that you can see where you are. There’s a little piece at the bottom of the arm that needs the sleeve replaced. Given that much of that lower area will be darkened, a really quick way to re-create a sleeve is to grab the Lasso tool (L), and draw a selection where the sleeve should be. Create a new layer, switch to the Clone Stamp tool (S), and make sure the Sample drop-down menu in the Options Bar is set to All Layers. Option-click (PC: Alt-click) an area of the suit outside the selection to sample it. Now paint inside the selection, which will clone the suit material into the selection, creating a makeshift sleeve.

Step 11: Let’s add a split down the middle of the image. Again, there’s a couple of ways you can do this. First, make the businessman layer active, and then Command-click (PC: Ctrl-click) the sleeve layer to select both layers. Right-click on one of the selected layers and choose Convert to Smart Object, and drag the smart object layer below the arm layer. Create a new layer above the smart object and below the arm layer. 

Using the Rectangular Marquee tool (M), draw out a thin rectangle selection centered on the guide from the top to the bottom of the image. Press D to set the Foreground color to black, and press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill the selection with black. Press Command-D (PC: Ctrl-D) to deselect, and convert this layer to a smart object. Apply a Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, set the Radius to around 15 pixels, and click OK. 

Step 12: Now that we have our two sides of the clown, we want to make it dark and grungy. First, select all the layers above the Background layer and covert them to a smart object. This just protects all the layers, but you can always go back and make adjustments within those layers. Just double-click the smart object layer thumbnail to open a temporary document with all the layers, make your changes, and then save and close the temporary document. 

Step 13: To make the image dark and grungy, I’m going to share with you where you can get a really cool set of grungy textures for free from RetroSupply Co. by clicking here. (You’ll have to enter your email address to get the freebies, but you can always use any texture you can find on a free resource site, on Adobe Stock, or even shoot your own.) Within the RetroSupply Co. set is a pack called the Concrete Essential Texture Pack, which has a cool selection of textures. 

Once you’ve selected the texture you want to use, go to File>Place>Embedded, navigate to the texture file (I used the Essential-Concrete-5.jpg), and click Place. Resize the texture to fill the image, and press Enter. If your texture has any white in it, make sure you select Multiply as the blend mode in the top left of the Layers panel, and then set the Opacity to 20%. 

Step 14: We can add a bit more texture by duplicating the layer and going to Edit>Transform>Rotate 180°. Then, select both texture layers and convert them to a smart object again. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to reapply the Multiply blend mode to the smart object. 

Step 15: Select both the image and the grunge layers and go to Filter>Convert for Smart Filters. Then, go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise, set the Amount to around 20%, and click OK to add even more destruction. 

Step 16: Let’s use the Lens Correction filter to add a large vignette to darken the image around the edges. Start by creating a new layer and going to Edit>Fill. Set the Contents drop-down menu to 50% Gray, and click OK. Now go to Filter>Lens Correction and select the Custom tab near the top right. In the Vignette section, drag the Amount slider all the way to the left (–100), and then drag the Midpoint all the way to the left (0) to create a nice dark vignette. Click OK. 

Step 17: Change the layer blend mode of the vignette layer to Hard Light. Duplicate the layer, change the duplicate’s blend mode to Saturation, and reduce its Opacity to around 40% just to kick out some of the color in the image. 

Step 18: Finally, we’ll add some text to the image to give it the look of a cover or poster. I used a Typekit font, Battery Park. Go to Type>Add Fonts from Typekit to launch the Adobe Fonts web page, log in with your Adobe ID, and type “Battery Park” into the search field. On the Battery Park page, click on the Activate Font switch. Back in Photoshop, click on the Foreground color swatch near the bottom of the Toolbar, and click in the image to sample a red from the clown side of the image. Click OK to close the Color Picker. 

Switch to the Type tool (T), and select the Battery Park font in the font drop-down menu in the Options Bar, and type out your text. I used a font size of 138 px. 

Step 19: With the type layer active, click on the Add a Layer Style icon (fx) at the bottom of the Layers panel and select Outer Glow. Use the settings shown here. Be sure to click on the color swatch and pick a red color that’s darker than the red text. Click OK. 

Add a new layer, and use the Rectangular Marquee tool to draw a selection a few pixels in on each side to “frame” the image. Go to Edit>Stroke, set the Width to 10 px, the Color to the same red as the text, Location to Center, and click OK. Deselect and apply a 20-pixel Gaussian Blur to the frame. 

And there you have it. Remember, this tutorial was about finding and using photographs of models to make a fun image. You can apply any effects to the image depending on which pairing you find for your project. There are many effects you can try from previous editions of Photoshop User magazine. And apologies to anyone who doesn’t like clowns!

This article originally published in the June/July 2019 issue of Photoshop User magazine.