Create a Horror Movie Poster in Photoshop

August 10, 2010 • By

We’ll be creating a gory image of a hand for a movie poster in this tutorial. I was inspired by a movie poster created by Swedish designer Marcell Bandicksson for the film titled, The Ruins. Here, we’ll employ the use of Layer masks and a combination textures
for a gravely image. Lighting and tone of the final picture would also important for an atmospheric effect.

Step 1

We’ll start by creating a new document with its dimensions set at 950 px by 1200 px and a resolution of 200 pixels/inch. Below is a saturated photo of a hand I shot myself (the amateur photographer that I am). You could also use your preferred picture of a hand as along as it has shadows casted on the palm and fingers.

Step 2

Select the Magnetic Lasso Tool (L) or any selection tool of your choice and make a selection around the hand and wrist. Right-click and choose Layer Via Copy to extract the selected hand from its background to a new layer.

Name the layer ‘hand.’

Step 3

Download this picture from www.sxc.hu by Cynthia and drag it into Photoshop.

Step 4

This is such as large picture and so we’ll need to have it cropped and resized as required. Select the Crop Tool (C) and have the part of the image cropped and then resize afterwards.

Step 5

With your selection  tool of choice, extract the main part of the tree – its trunk. That done, use the same tool to make a number of selections within the tree and hit Delete for each selection.We have the result below:

Step 6

Place the ‘tree’ layer under the ‘hand’ layer and go to Edit > Transform> Warp or hit Ctrl+T and select the Warp option. Dragging the corners inwards for the top mesh and outwards for the bottom mesh, endeavour to shape the tree trunk like a forearm. (I only made the hand transparent to show the tree trunk for the time being).

Step 7

Have the tree trunk duplicated (Ctrl+E) and placed under the ‘trunk’ layer. Also have some of the branches trimed off with a selection tool. Use the Warp Tool to extend it a little wide.

Step 8

For another layer, use the Pen Tool (P), to select a branch (or root as for this kind of tree; its confusing). We intend to create a network of branches both in front of the ‘hand’ layer and behind it.

Step 9

In Free Transform mode, use the Warp Tool to bend each individual branch you select and still within this mode, right-click to select the Rotate Tool to change the angles of each branch as desired.

Step 10

Select and extract some more branches and use some of the same ones and have them warped, resized (some to shorter lengths) and rotated until you have the image below. I however created three layers of root; ‘roots’, ‘root 1’ and ‘roots 2’.

Step 11

Select the Color Replacement Tool and make sure its set to a hard brush. Holding the ALT key, select a light part of the hand and go the ‘trunk’ layer and paint. Do so for other branch layers but leave some branches unpainted most especially the green covering of algae and scattered leaves.

Step 12

For the crucial part of this tutorial, we’ll now apply a Layer Mask to the hand by clicking on the the icon from the left. For the brush, select a Soft Round Brush with its color #ceececand paint to reveal the branches partially. Follow up with other shades of grey; with the black brush, reveal more of the center part of the hand and also the dark lines in between branches.

Work some more to reveal more of the branches.The wrinkles shown below shouldn’t be so vivid.When through, press Ctrl+E to merge the smaller strands of branches, the hand and the main trunk together.When done, press Ctrl+E to merge the ‘hand’ layer with the first ‘root’ layer.

Step 13

Download this texture Deadcalm (coincidently, a name that tallies with the theme of this tutorial) from graphicmania.net.

Step 14

Have the wood texture desaturated and rotated. Then place it over the hand and scale if necessary to cover up the hand.

Step 15

Click in between the wood texture layer and the ‘roots’ layer while holding down the Alt key to apply a Layer Clipping Mask.

Step 16

For the wood texture layer, set its Blend mode to Vivid Light and reduce its opacity to 65%. You may name this layer ‘dead wood.’

Step 17

Now to add another texture to make the composition grungier. I got this Stone texture from a cover disk of my 3d Arts magazine (2005) which was supplied by www.mega-tex.nl for free use. If you can lay your hands on a rougher stone texture the better.

Step 18

Place the ‘stone’ layer over the ‘dead wood’ layer and apply a Layer Clipping Mask as done previously with the ‘dead wood’ layer. Set the layer’s Blend mode to Overlay and its opacity to about 50%.

Step 19

Now to make the composition a lot darker and gritty. Select the Burn Tool (O) and in its Options bar, set the Range to Highlights and Exposure to 45%. Now go on ahead to burn the edges of the hand and most part of
the branches/roots concentrating particularly at its base area.

Step 20

We’ll now lighten up the specific parts of the image with the Dodge Tool (O) as highlighted below:

The result:

Step 22

In our attempt to make the image horrific and detailed, we’ll use a set of Blood Splatter brushes from qbrushes.com.

I saw these brushes put to use in the Zombify your photos in less than 20 steps tutorial from psdfan.com

Step 23

These Blood Splatter brushes have large dimension and so endeavour to reduce their sizes when selected. For a new layer, use a selected range of these brushes as you see fit. Also have the brush color set to #120303 and reduce its opacity to 80%.

Step 24

Set the ‘splatter’ layer’s Blend mode to Overlay and opacity to 75% as this would reveal some reddish brown undertone of the color.

Step 25

Use the Stone texture for the background and go to Image > Adjustment > Contrast/Brightness. Increase Brightness to +54 and Contrast to +5.

Step 26

Add a filter effect to the background texture which would be the Sprayed Strokes by going to Filter > Brush Strokes > Sprayed Strokes and set the parameters below:

Step 27

Go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects and adjust the size and direction of the ellipse in the preview window.

The result below:

Step 28

We’ll now add a shadow to the underlying roots (not the top ‘roots’ layer). By double-clicking the ‘roots1’ layer, the Layer Style dialog box pops up. Select the Drop Shadow Style and set its parameters below:

We now have a subtle shadow casted that corresponds with the direction of light. You may also add a Drop Shadow Layer Style to the ‘roots 2’ layer.

Step 29

For the shadow of the hand itself, create a new layer and then select a black Soft Round Brush. Set the brush opacity to 90% and paint the rightmost side of the hand and sparingly around the last three fingers. Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Blur Radius to about 8 px and add Noise (Filter > Distort > Noise) with its Amount set at 5.05.

Step 30

The image needs a little color adjustment and so we’ll be creating a new Adjustment Layer. By clicking on the Adjustment Layer icon below the Layers Palette, select Hue/Saturation and add the settings below:

Step 31

We’ve made the composition a little pale or bleeched if I may use the term and now the overall tone of the image needs to set with a Levels Adjustment Layer as depicted below:

And we have here a macabre dead hand (or is it?) image for your grimly delight if of course you’re a fan of such a genre.

For a complete movie poster, I added more details such as metaphors (the bleeding hand and blood splattered flower signifying love, life and death). I also included some text for the title and sub titles.

By David Ella Ella