Photoshop Creature

Open Photoshop.

Your file should be called “Creature” and should be 8 inches by 10 inches OR 10 inches by 8 inches. Your resolution should be 300 pixels/Inch. I like a transparent background for this one.

As always, we should save the project right away. Go into the File menu and Save As… (NOTE: You only need to Save As… the FIRST time. After that, you just Save (Ctrl + S)

As always, save your work in your OneDrive folder. If you have a Graphic Tech folder or a folder for work for this class, you should use that. You should NOT put it in your hand-in folder until you are finished!

Make sure you are saving On your computer:

I like using the Essentials workspace

I always like to have my Layers panel open, especially for this project:

The first job is to place the photo of the person you are working with. In Photoshop, it’s best to choose Place Embedded so all of your files are together:

You can start with whatever photo/person you like, but make sure it is HIGH QUALITY.

You may wish to start from a photo of me, which you can find HERE

or you could just go to UNSPLASH and find your own photo

The photo will pop onto the background and look something like this:

You do NOT need to fill the entire background (yet), so just hit Enter on your keyboard or click the checkmark near the top of the window:

You need to remove your Subject from the background. The simplest way is to go to the Select menu and choose Subject:

You should see a flashing line appear around whatever you’ve selected. It’s often called the “dancing ants.”

If you need to refine your selection (it didn’t perfectly select the subject), you may need to use one of the other Selection Tools to either Add to Selection or Subtract from Selection. See the previous post about those tools HERE

Now what we’ve got is just the person selected, no background. We want to take the person and put it on a separate layer without the background. To do this, we need to go into the Layer menu and choose New then Layer via Copy (Ctrl + J)

If you look in your layers panel, you should now have a separate layer.

In Photoshop, you often end up with a lot of layers, and sometimes it can get really confusing figuring out which layer is which. For this reason, I want you to get in the habit of renaming your layers as you add them. To change a layer’s name, all you have to do is double click on  it in the Layers panel and then type in a new name.

Name your bottom layer “Original” and the new one “cutout”

You can turn off a layer so that you can’t see it by clicking the eyeball icon next to the layer. Do this with your “original” layer so you can see your cutout.

The next fun thing to do is to change your character’s skin colour.  For this one, we’ll make sure the Quick Selection Tool is activated

That tool isn’t always as precise as we’d like, but it lives up to its name as a Quick Selection Tool. Just go draw on the face:

You should see the Dancing Ants around the whole face. If not, or if you select too much, you may need to adjust by switching your tool to either Add to Selection (if you miss a piece and want to add on – like if your arms or hands are showing in the photo and you want to add those on)

Or you can use Subtract from Selection if it grabs too much. I like to remove my hair, eyes, and lips from the selection with this:

I also like to remove my mouth from the selection and leave that alone.


If that tool isn’t working well for you (it doesn’t really do a good job for everyone), you might want to switch to the Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand Tool selects an area of a similar colour. You can control how many shades of that colour you select at once by adjusting the “Tolerance” slider. For my skin, we’ve found that a number around 67-70 works well.

Now all you have to do is click on my face to select just my skin.

If your number is too high, you’ll select too much. If it’s too low, you won’t select enough. No matter what you choose, you’ll likely have to fix up a few areas, like for example my many chins.

Here it might help to zoom in a bit to get a closer look.

Some of the most useful shortcuts I know are:

  • Ctrl – (control and the minus key (next to zero)) to zoom out
  • Ctrl + (control and the plus key (next to backspace)) to zoom in
  • Ctrl 0 (control and zero) to zoom out to see the whole image

You could also use the Zoom Tool (looks like a magnifying glass)

It can either zoom in or out, so make sure to select the right function.

With the Zoom Tool activated, just click on the area that you want to zoom in to.

There are a few selection tools that could help us here but we’ll stick with the Magic Wand Tool for now. It would be wise to turn down your tolerance for now though.

These selection tools can do 4 things. Start a new selection, add an area to an existing selection, subtract an area that you don’t really want selected, or merge selections.

You could also try the Quick Selection Tool

You may have to play with the size of your brush though

Depending on whether you want to ADD parts in that the initial selection missed or SUBTRACT things that shouldn’t be selected, you may need to adjust the buttons at the bottom.

I like to make sure that the eyes are not included (leave those alone)


Once you’ve perfected your selection, you may wish to zoom out. You can use the Zoom tool OR use the shortcut Ctrl + 0 (I use that one a lot)

Now it’s time to give your creature a new skin tone. Go into the Enhance menu, choose Adjust Color, and then Adjust Hue/Saturation (Ctrl + U)

Make sure that the new box that pops up isn’t blocking your creature’s face. Grab the top of the box and move it over so you can see the face.

Now basically you just play with those sliders and have some fun.

Hue changes the shade. Move it one way and the face should turn red/purple, the other way it turns green

The Saturation slider makes the face more or less colourful (it adds in or removes colour)

The Lightness slider does exactly what you’d expect. It makes it brighter or darker.

Please do NOT go crazy with any of the sliders. If you adjust any of them too much, you will lose detail and won’t be able to recognize the person any more.

The ones below look TERRIBLE:

Once you’ve got your sliders adjusted the way you like, click OK

Now we’re going to turn off that selection (those Dancing Ants.) To do that, we need to go into the Select menu and choose Deselect OR Ctrl + D

Now for the most fun part! Go into the Filter menu, choose Distort, then Liquify.

There are 3 tools that I really like, but feel free to play around with all of them and see what they do. The first (top) one is called Warp.

For all of them, you may have to experiment with different brush sizes. Warp looks better with a bigger brush, but don’t make it too big!

Once you have a decent brush size, click on an area that you want to stretch and pull on it!

It’s that simple. That’s a lot of fun, but again, don’t get carried away. We always want to at least recognize the person.

Another fun one is Pucker, which closes an area in

Again, experiment with your brush size

Click on an area and hold down your mouse to close that area in. THis works great on open eyes or mouths.

Bloat is the opposite. It works the same way, but expands an area. Again, great for eyes and mouths.

You can also twirl an area clockwise or counter clockwise. It just takes something and twists it either way.

If you get carried away, you can press Revert (try again) or Cancel (no thanks.) If you like your work, though, press OK!

Make sure you’re zoomed out (Ctrl + 0) and you have nothing selected (Ctrl + D)

Click on your original (background) layer

We’re going to put your creature into a new habitat. Figure out what type of environment might be suitable for this character.

I highly recommend a photo site called Unsplash (  There, you can download Creative Commons images that you can legally use in your projects. This one is great because you don’t always have to even give them credit for the photos, which works really well for projects like this.

If you wish to use another photo site, please use a Creative Commons site. You can find many on my website on the Links page, under Copyright Free Content.

If you go to Unsplash, all you have to do is search for whatever background you want. Keep it general. Things like “mountains,” “trees,” or something like that will give you good results, but something very specific (George Waters Middle School) will likely not show up.

Type in your search and look for a good image. If you find one, you just have to click the little downward arrow at the bottom of the photo to get it:

When you use someone else’s content, you’re usually supposed to give them credit. Most Creative Commons sites make this easy. Normally you’d follow the directions below, but we don’t really have anywhere to put the credit, so we’ll skip that step.

Make sure you Save your photo. It’ll likely go in your Downloads folder.

Now you just Place the image into your file in Photoshop.

Use the Move Tool to stretch it out and fill up the background

Rename your picure layer to represent what is on it:

You should also use the Move Tool to move your cutout layer into the best position on top of the new background.

If you want to, you could add some neat effects to your character as well.

On the bottom of your Photoshop window, look for Styles and click it.

This gives you a variety of effects that you can add. It opens on Bevels (which are neat rounded edges) but there are many others hiding underneath. My favorite for this part is Outer Glows:

This is a bit of a common (overused) one:

Try some others:

If you like the style but don’t like the colour, you can adjust it:


The last real thing that we have to do is figure out what this creature will be called. You’ll have to come up with a clever name for your new creation.

Switch to the HOrizontal Type Tool (looks like a T)

As with anything else, I always want you to make your own choices about how your text should look, so make sure you take your time and choose a font that looks good to you. Never just go with the font that the program recommends.

Choose a colour that makes sense with your background and creature.

I chose one that was close to the colour of my creature:

It doesn’t stand out very well yet and is somewhat hard to read.

Again, switch to Styles down at the bottom

And look at your various options for making your text look better. Feel free to play around with any of the options and see how they look. You can always Undo (Ctrl + Z) if you don’t like an effect.

The two I like most for Text are Stroke and Drop Shadow. Stroke creates an outline around your text, making it much easier to read:

See, much easier to read!

But maybe you don’t want it black or want to adjust the size, or something else. Click on the little wheel at the top right of that panel (right below Share)

Here you can adjust the colour, size, position, or kind of fade out the effect

Drop shadows also make your text stand out. It kind of raises the text off of the page and gives it a bit of a 3D effect:

And that’s pretty much it! Just check that everything looks good.

Open your Layers panel

And make sure that your layers are named properly. Make sure that there are no extra, unnecessary layers. If you want to get rid of a layer, just highlight it and press Backspace or Delete or press the little trash can above the layers.


When closing/saving your work, make sure that you save it in your OneDrive folder!


Once you’ve got all of that done, DROP IT OFF!

OneDrive login

Drop Off instructions

I have some videos that will show you how to do this but they are with a different version of the program. All of the same tools exist in our version, things just look a little different:

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