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Halloween Photoshop: Stitches Tutorial


Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Title PostWelcome to Part 3 of our 4 Weeks of Terror tutorial series, in which we’ll create torn flesh effects with basic digital painting techniques. My Wacom tablet has been gathering dust in the wardrobe for a couple of years now, so it’s great fun putting it to good use again. This walkthrough is written with tablet users in mind, however with a bit of patience – all effects can be achieved with a mouse also. Let’s go!


The Stock

The source image used in the example is Tophat Unknown Expression by eyefeather-stock (DeviantArt). For your version go for a high res portrait, as the horror is all in the details with this one ;)

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Stock Image

The Method

The realism in this effect is achieved by using the Wacom to slowly build up the depth of the torn skin with ridges and furrows. Once the dark regions are complete, a number of techniques are used to brighten the raised areas, further enhancing the illusion.

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Before and After

Prep Work

Before we start tearing into skin, it’s best to prepare the stock image by creating a more macabre environment. The first thing usually done in this type of composite is to remove the background from the stock model image.

In this instance the Pen Tool technique was used for sharp areas such as hat, side of the face etc. The Refine Edge technique was used for the jacket fur and hair. I usually combine different masking approaches when working with a stock image that has edges of varying density.

Photoshop Stitches Background Removal

The next step in creating a morgue-like appearance involves accentuating the eye sockets and cheek bones of the face. A dirty blue was used to highlight the creases (layer set to Overlay, 100%), the eye socket shadows were painted in using black with a large Soft-Edged Brush (B) (layer set to Soft Light, 30%).

The blue eye effect was created using the Evil Eyes technique.

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Eye Sockets

At this stage we mute the healthy tones of the skin using Adjustment Layers, for the example Gradient Map and Hue Saturation gave the desired results. The adjustments were selectively applied using Layer Masks, see image below:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Muted Skin Tones

The eyebrow was removed using the Patch Tool (J) – I didn’t mind that the edges were ‘rough and ready‘, as that area of the face is about to get a whole lot messier! Lip gloss is achieved with the use of a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer, set to Soft Light (100%).

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Eyebrow and Lips

Setting the Wacom

To paint the wounds / stitches a standard Brush (B) was used, with just two settings applied to make use of the pen pressure sensitivity. The buttons highlighted in red control the following:

• Tablet Pressure Controls Opacity (Overrides Brush Panel Setting)

• Tablet Pressure Controls Size (Overrides Brush Panel Setting)

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Wacom Settings

Painting the Stitches

Phase one involves creating the overall shape of the skin-join. There are small gaps where the stitches aren’t pulling the skin taut as well as small wrinkles. Brush size set to 2px, layer mode and the colour used is shown below:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Skin Join

On a new layer, darken the gaps, wrinkles and recesses using a smaller width brush (1px):

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Recesses

Again, on a new layer with a 1px brush – further enhance the recesses and lines using a dark red for a wound-like appearance:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Red Lines

Another layer, and more red applied with a 2px brush to dirty up the edges:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Dirty Edges

New layer. For this step, we can increase the ‘soreness’ by using a much wider brush (25px), and very gently going over the edges of the wounds. This is where the opacity and size brush settings really come into play:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Soreness

Building  up the soreness with another layer. Brush size 25px:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial more Soreness

More of the same:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Soreness Ctd

Finally, some small details on the wrinkles with a 1px brush to bring them out a bit:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Wrinkles

Highlights / Speculars

Without illuminated regions and specular highlights, things tend to look flat and not that tactile. A small 1px brush was used to manually paint in the highlights on the raised regions, like so:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Highlights

Some tiny speculars added, to give the illusion of subtle moisture:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Speculars


With the main tears in place, it’s time to add some details to enhance the overall effect. The first step is to desaturate the ‘patch’ a little, indicating that bit of skin is a little bit ‘deader‘ than the rest of the face!

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Dead Hue

Another round of beefing up the soreness, this time with a large brush around 40px:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Soreness Ultra

At this stage, the hues start to get a little too vibrant, so a new layer is used to reign them in – using a grey / blue tone for a colder look:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Cold Look

Stitches added using a 1px brush: Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Stitches


I pulled in a couple of textures from Mayang’s Texture Library, some dirty rust images that I tweaked with Hue / Saturation (Image > Adjustments > Hue / Saturation):

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Rust Stock

Using Layer Masks, the textures were selectively applied to the image where required:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Texture Overlay

Final Punch

I like things to be sharp, so I added a little special recipe ‘HD-Raagghh‘ and an unhealthy dose of Unsharp Mask (Image > Adjsutments > Unsharp Mask) for good measure:

Photoshop Stitches Tutorial Unsharp Mask


I can’t determine whether this lady is a Voodoo Priestess or Bride of Frankenstein’s Monster – who knows? Keep your eyes peeled for part 4 of our horror series folks, coming very soon..

Conzz 8-)

Follow on Twitter >> @Conzpiracy


• Halloween Photoshop: Slenderman Walkthrough (Level: Advanced) >> Use photomanipulation and digital painting techniques to create the creepy Slenderman character.

• Halloween Photoshop: Skull Face Tutorial (Level: Advanced) >> Create a ghoulish Skull Face effect with this Halloween flavoured Photoshop Walkthrough.

• Halloween Photoshop: Evil Eyes Tutorial (Level: Intermediate) >> Use Photomanipulation techniques to create creepy evil eyes in this Photoshop walkthrough.



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31 Responses to “Halloween Photoshop: Stitches Tutorial”

  1. Karen says:

    Very cool tut, and perfect for Halloween. :)

  2. Wow man, just stunning! I’m totally going to give this ago!

  3. denJazzer says:

    great work and tuts you have here!! Been busy for hour already ;-)

    Thx for sharing !!

  4. Caro says:

    Thanks a lot for pointing out Mayang’s Texture Library, that what exactly what I was searching for. Such amazing textures!

  5. marvin86 says:

    Simply amazing…a perfect source of inspiration for Halloween

  6. WaHaB KhAn says:

    sir u r great i lik u r tutorial.

  7. [...] Halloween Photoshop Stitches Tutorial [...]


  9. chan cruz says:

    @_@ !! I really love your work!! I’m inspire!!
    but i have a hard time working on the stich part!! i still dont get it!!


  10. Meraj says:

    Great post …. Your post inspiration me so tried this tutorial ..almost get 90% Halloween .. :)

  11. Your style is really unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from.
    I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity,
    Guess I will just bookmark this web site.

  12. Abasyyx says:

    One of my favorite tuts in a long time. It brings a new dimension to my ideas. :) Thank you.

  13. [...] Un ottimo aiuto in questo caso può essere l’uso della tavoletta grafica. Via: SurrealPSD [...]


  15. [...] 2Halloween Photoshop: Stitches Tutorial [...]

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