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Adding Fake Blood

As photographers and retouchers, we don’t always have the luxury of using a make-up artist at the time of a photo shoot to create effects such as cuts and bruises. But here is how you can create them in Photoshop.

The blood and scratches are added using a series of brushes, but rather than creating them we’ll download them. Places like have an enormous database of brushes available for free, but be sure to read the terms of use (Figure 4.46).

Figure 4.46

Figure 4.46 Results from typing “blood spatter brushes” into deviantART’s search

Installing the Blood Brushes

When you download brushes from the Internet, you’ll generally be downloading a set containing brushes with different looks, giving you many creative possibilities. There’s no particular set of brushes that I recommend; I suggest you download and try a variety. Once they’re downloaded, they’re easy to install.

  1. With Photoshop open, choose the Brush tool (B) and then click to open the Brush Preset Picker from the options bar at the top of the screen. Click the cog icon in the upper-right corner, and choose Preset Manager (Figure 4.47).

  2. In the Preset Manager, click Load (Figure 4.48), navigate to the blood brushes you downloaded, and click OK.

    You’ll see all the blood brushes in the list of brushes in the Preset Manager.

  3. So that all the blood brushes are easy to find, organized, and available to use at a later date, it’s good practice to create a set that contains them all. In the Preset Manager, click the first blood brush, Shift-click the last brush, and then click Save Set (Figure 4.49).

  4. Name the set Blood Brushes, save the set onto your hard drive (Photoshop > Presets > Brushes), and click OK (Figure 4.50).

Using the Blood Brushes

First we need to get the color of the blood right. In the real world, blood isn’t the color of tomato ketchup, as we see a lot, but is actually much darker.

  1. Click the foreground color in the toolbar to open the Color Picker.
  2. In the middle area we have a vertical line made up of different colors. To choose the initial color, move the pointer up or down (Figure 4.51).

  3. Now that we’ve chosen the initial color, we can target a specific area. Click inside the large square, and drag the circular pointer. In Figure 4.52 you can see what changes certain areas of the square make. You can see the color in real time in the preview box. Once you’re happy with the color, click OK to close the Color Picker.

  4. Add a new blank layer to the top of the layer stack, and name it blood.
  5. Choose one of the blood brushes from the Brush Preset Picker, and then click the Brush Panel icon (Figure 4.53) so you can make adjustments to how the brush behaves.

  6. In Shape Dynamics, I set Size Jitter to 75% and Angle Jitter to 100% (Figure 4.54). In Transfer, I set Opacity Jitter to 100% (Figure 4.55).

  7. In Figure 4.56 the blood effect looks very two-dimensional. To remedy this, change the blend mode of the blood layer from Normal to Overlay and then adjust the opacity of the layer (Figure 4.57).

    Figure 4.56

    Figure 4.56 The blood painted on a layer in the Normal blend mode.

    Figure 4.57

    Figure 4.57 The blood looks much more realistic in the Overlay blend mode.

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