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Want to be a zombie?

Become a freakin’ zombie!! All you need is a couple of photographs, photo editing software and time!


Let’s start off by gathering our images. I did a search for hysterectomy and found the exact amount of gore and disgust I was looking for. We will also be adding a bit of texture to the skin. You can use any texture you prefer of course, but for this project I used a photograph of cracked dirt. Ready? Let’s do this!

Step One. COLOR CORRECT. I will be using Adobe Photoshop CS6, but for this tutorial we will be working with the basics so earlier versions should be just fine. Open your portrait in Photoshop and color correct if you need to. My image is way too yellow so I’ll just simply add some red using the adjustment layer Hue/Saturation and changing the layer mode to Saturation. This is a quick solution for balancing and lightening the colors.

Zombie Hue/Saturation

Step Two. SHARPEN. Double-click on your background image to unlock it. Usually it is automatically renamed to Layer 0. Now duplicate Layer 0 (Ctrl + J) and rename it “Sharpened.” Make sure you are keeping the adjustment layer Hue/Saturation all the way at the top. Click on Sharpened and go to Filter> Sharpen> Unsharp Mask … I usually do 0 for Threshold, up to 3 for Radius and choose the Amount based on the image. Once you are done, click OK.

Step Three. BRAINS. Finally, we get to the fun stuff! Guts! Place all the disgusting and disturbing images you collected onto your document. Select an image and create a mask to eliminate any useless information. I recommend working with a medium-sized round brush with a Hardness of 0%, adjust the Hardness and Size for your needs, of course.

Zombie guts

Step Four. TEXTURE. After you’ve disfigured the face of the person, destroy it even more by adding some cracked texture. Place the image of the texture you will be using and duplicate it three times. In my case, I used a layer for the head, neck and arms. I recommend you rename each layer to its corresponding body part. For each layer I changed their layer mode to Overlay and used a layer mask to hide any texture outside the needed areas, including areas like teeth and eyes. Since I wanted softer cracks on the face I lowered the Opacity to 85%.


Zombie Texture

Step Five. EYES. Now for the step that makes the biggest difference. Really, it’s all in the eyes. While there are a couple ways to do this the best result is with the gradient tool. Create a new layer (Shift + Ctrl + N), rename it “Eyes White”, click the Gradient Tool (G) and select the Radial Gradient. Change your colors to the Default Foreground and Background Colors (D), which are black and white, and switch the colors making your Foreground color now white and background color black. Now make sure your Gradient Preset is set to Foreground to Background. Finally, select the layer Eyes White and create a radial gradient the size of the whole eye area, you can do this by dragging the gradient from the pupil to the middle of the nose. Create a mask for Eyes White and fill the layer mask with black (Alt + Backspace). Using a small round brush with a hardness of 0% and an Opacity of 30%, go over the whole eye once or twice and a couple more times near the pupil. We want a ghostly dab of white over the eyes not a white out. Once the eyes are done. We want to emphasize the sleep deprivation and blindness susceptibility when becoming a zombie so create a new layer and name it “Eye Circles.” Using the Brush Tool (B) go over the whole eye area with black. Change the layer mode to Overlay and duplicate the layer. Click Ctrl on your keyboard and while holding it drag the layer mask for Eyes White to Eye Circles.

Zombie Eyes

Step Six. FINAL TOUCHES. Let’s add a little kick to the image by adding some contrast. Contrast is like adding more salt before you finish cooking so let’s “spice” it up! Select Black & White from the adjustment layer and change the layer mode to Overlay. Adjust your colors more if you’d like, or not, either way you’re done!

Final Zombie