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  1. Interview: Erik Johansson
  2. Tutorial: Milky Bride in Photoshop
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Tutorial: Milky Bride in Photoshop

Photo manipulation is all about mixing images in a way that they don’t look like they’re from different sources. You can create some bizarre effects like Erik Johansson does by playing with photos to achieve unexpected and often funny results.

In this tutorial I will show you how to create a bride with a wedding dress made out of milk. The purpose of this exercise is to show you how to mix images in the most realistic way possible.

Step 1

To begin, open Photoshop and create a new document (1). Fill the background layer with black using the Paint Bucket tool (G).

Step 2

Next, add a stock photo. The one I am using comes from Shutterstock, and you can download it here: Using the Lasso tool or the Pen tool and paths, select only the bride and delete the background (2). Remember that Photoshop CS5 has a super-improved Refine Edges tool that makes it much easier to extract the background.

Step 3

Once you have removed the background and isolated the bride, choose Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. Then, using the Brush tool (B) and a very soft brush with black selected as the color, paint over some parts of the dress to hide them (3).

Step 4

Choose Image > Adjustment > Levels. Change the white input to 226 and the gray input to 1.53 (4).

Step 5

Duplicate the bride’s layer (5).

Step 6

Choose Filter > Other > High Pass. Use 3.0 pixels for the Radius setting. Then change the Blend Mode setting of this layer to Soft (6).

Step 7

Now let’s import some more stock photos, this time using images of milk splashes. The images I am using are all courtesy of Shutterstock, and you can find them at the following URLs:

Isolate the milk splashes from the background and them place them directly below the bride (7). The idea is to create a new dress made out of those splashes.

Step 8

Import another milk splash and position it on the other side. You can select Edit > Transform > Warp to distort the splash to achieve the effect you want (8).

Step 9

Use one more milk splash here to finish the dress. Note that you will have to use the Eraser tool (E) to make the transition of the milk and the bride’s dress smooth and realistic (9).

Step 10

Now let’s import another image, this time of a hand pouring a glass of milk. You can find the image here:

Place it in front of the other layers (10). Notice that the transition of the milk and dress is not right, so now it’s time to use the Eraser tool (E).

Step 11

Using the Eraser tool (E), delete parts of the milk of the hand layer so both images are blended together realistically (11).

Step 12

Choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue and Saturation. This adjustment layer has to be on top of the other layers. Change the Hue value to 34 and the Saturation setting to 23 (12).

Step 13

Select all layers and duplicate them by using the keyboard shortcut Command/Ctrl+Alt+ Shift+E (13).

Step 14

Select the new layer with all the layers merged into it and choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Use 15 pixels for the Radius setting (14).

Step 15

Change the Blend Mode to Soft Light, and then duplicate the layer. Select the layer that is on top and change its Screen setting to 50%. This screen layer will create a nice glow effect that will help blend together the parts of your composite image (15).


The purpose of this tutorial was to show you how to mix photos to create an unexpected effect, such as a wedding dress made out of milk. As you can see, the most important challenge was to find the right images and to make the adjustments necessary to blend them together in the most realistic way.

Blend modes and adjustment layers are key for this type of effect. Keep working with these tools to become comfortable using them and don’t stop practicing.

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