Tansforming People With a Ghost Effect in Photoshop

Ghosts cannot be photographed easily, but you can create a ghost effect in Photoshop. Find a picture of a person acting rather spookily and open Photoshop.

Step 1: Desaturation

To get the person to look dead, you need to remove the color from him. So, copy your background layer by going to "Layer", "Duplicate Layer".  Name this layer "Desaturated".  To actually desaturate it, go to "Image", "Adjustments", and select "Desaturate".  Though it is black and white now, you can bring color back in at the end of the process.

Step 2: Blur

Ghosts are usually whispers of light, so we will we add some motion blur to the image to apply that idea. Duplicate your "Desaturated" layer and name it "Blur". Make sure that it is the top-most layer in your layer window. Now go to "Filter", "Blur", and select "Motion Blur".  Set the "Angle" to 0 and then play with the "Distance" to find something you like. Don't be afraid to overdo it.

Step 3: The Face

The motion blur has now made your ghost indistinguishable, so apply a layer mask to the "Blur" layer by clicking the icon at the bottom of the layer window that looks like a gray square with a white circle. Go get your paint brush tool and set the foreground color to black. Then, adjust the "Opacity" in the options bar to around 10%. Using a relatively large brush, select the mask and paint where you want to get more detail. Now, merge all three layers by selected all of them then hitting Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E. This should create a new layer that blends all your previous ones.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

There are a couple of things that can make this even better. Select your merged layer and go to "Filter", "Distort", and choose "Diffuse Glow". Play with the sliders until you find something that works for you. This should add a soft quality to the ghost which will help imply translucency. Finally, try to pull the image out of strict black and white. With the top layer still selected, click on the ying-yang looking icon at the bottom of the layer window. This will "Create new fill or adjustment layer" and will provide you with a list of options, choose "Solid Color". When the window comes up, pick a color that will give your ghost an appropriate tone. Do not be afraid to choose something vibrant. Then, go to the drop down at the top of the layer window and change the blend mode to "Color".  It will still be too intense, so use the "Opacity" control to bring it down to your liking.

You should now have a pretty spooky ghost.  This process can be modified with different filters and settings, but basically you need to desaturate it, blur most of the image, and get the subject to glow softly.

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