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Good and Evil Photo Manipulation Tutorial

Good and evil photo manipulation

Split a photo into two distinct sides

In this tutorial, we’ll be taking a photo and splitting it in two. One side of the photo will be light and colorful while the other in contrast, will be dark, evil and brooding. This is a complete re-write of my popular tutorial. With the new design, I figured it was time to update the tutorial and improve some of the confusing steps.

I’m assuming you have general knowledge of Photoshop, know how to use various layer blending modes and applying brushes. If you have any questions or have problems with a step, be sure to leave a comment and let me know.


This tutorial was completely re-written and just made a lot clearer in general. Be sure to consult the newly revised edition. This post will remain online for archival purposes. However, comments on this post are now closed. Please refer to the new edition.

Step 1

Getting started with a good stock photo, managing layers

The foundation of any good photo manipulation is to find the photo that suits your needs best. For this tutorial, I chose Stock-33 by Liquid Venus simply because it offers a front-facing shot, because she’s, quite frankly, very pretty, and the lighter eye color and contrasting eyeliner will simplify some of our work later on.

After you’ve grabbed and opened the photo in Photoshop, resize it to 800×690. Since we’re splitting the image in two, let’s create two layers from the two halves. Select your Marquee Tool and change the Style to Fixed Size. In the width and height boxes, enter 400×690 respectfully. Make your selection along the right edge of the photo, thus selecting half the photo starting from the right. Hit Ctrl+C to copy the selection followed by Ctrl+V to paste it in a new layer. If you need to, move the layer back into it’s proper location. Do the same for the left side as well.

Now would be a good time to rename your new layers so we don’t lose track. Rename the new layer to Right Side and the other to Left side. Set both layer’s blending modes to Soft Light to enhance features.

Create one more layer on top and rename it to Line. As its name suggests, we’ll make our separation line on this layer. Select your Single Column Marquee Tool and create a black line on the split.

Step 2

Desaturate the evil side

Select the Left Side layer and grab your Sponge Tool. Make sure the mode is set to Desaturate and at 40% flow. Select the Soft Round 100px brush and make a few passes on the layer, focusing on the skin and lips. Don’t go overboard. We’re trying to go for an “undead skin” look.

Take out the eye

While we’re working on our dark side, let’s go ahead and remove that pretty eye. Create another new layer above Left Side and rename it to Evil eye. Select your Brush Tool and choose the Soft Round 35 pixels brush and select black as your foreground color. On this new layer, carefully brush over the eye in solid black. Set that layer to Overlay and create another layer above it. This time, will in the white area using a soft brush with color #200505 and again, set the layer Blending Mode to Overlay. Rename this layer to Eye Red.

Adjust your Hue for enhanced evil-ness

Select the Left Side layer and head into the Hue/Saturation panel. In the sliders, move the hue slider to the right up to 155, the saturation level to 20 and the lightness to -30. Accept those changes and let’s keep going.

Step 4

It’s texture time!

Let’s start by grabbing an appropriate texture from a photo. I chose Concrete Texture Thing by Cranial Bore. Save the texture and open it in Photoshop. Place it in a new layer, above all of the others, but right under the Line layer. Rename this new layer to Texture and change its Blending Mode to Hard Light. Lower the opacity to 80% and apply a layer mask.

We now need to mask away parts of the image we don’t want to texture. To do so, click on the Layer Mask to active it and choose Black as your Foreground Color. Select the Brush tool and using the various round brushes, mask away the hair and the lips. You mask away the entire right side using a 400×690 rectangular marquee and filling the select in black.

Finally, open the Hue/Opacity Panel and drag the Saturation slider all the way down.

Burn ‘er

Select the Left Side layer and grab the Burn Tool. Set the Range to Highlights and the Exposure to about 80%. Select a large, round brush and pass over the skin to create dark “burn” spots. I basically made one pass that covered the entire area, and a second one to target around the eyes and the lips. You can repeat the same process over a few select spots using the Highlights and Shadows Ranges as well.

Step 5

Brush me gently

Now that we have the texture in place and darkened the skin a bit, it’s time to get some detailing done. We’ll be using a variety of grunge brushes to create various effects.

First, let’s create a new layer right above the Left Side and rename it to Brush 1. Set the blending mode to overlay and reduce opacity to about 30%. Using a soft, round brush in black, brush around the eye to create a wound and make an outline around the left side of the face to create depth.

Create another layer, this time renaming it to Brush 2. Grab the Messy Makeup brush set and open them in Photoshop. Using the second brush in the set, place a run of makeup under her eye. Use the same brush scaled down to create another small drip under her lips on the Brush 3 layer.

That should be enough for now. You can add more detail if you’d like now that you have a good idea of what to go for.

Move to the light side

Let’s get some work done on the light side by adding in some sparkles. Start by creating a new layer above Right Side and rename it to Sparkles. Select the Brush tool and from the default brush set, select the 14px star brush. Open the Brush panel and apply the following settings to your brush:

Brush Tip Set
Spacing: 100%

Shape Dynamics
Size Jitter: 100%
Angle Jitter: 100%

Scatter: 1000%
Both Axes Checked.
Count: 3

Set your foreground color to white and brush a couple of strokes around the face and eye area. Once you’ve got something, apply a white outer glow to the sparkles to make ‘em shine.

Step 6

Lighten up the eye

While our model already has beautiful eyes, we’re going to go ahead and make them even better. Select the Right Side layer and select your Elliptical marquee tool. Create a selection around the colored portion of the eye, then create a new layer from the selection. Rename it to Eye color and open the Hue/Saturation panel.

Tweak the Hue and Saturation sliders until you find something you like. I made it purple and changed the Blending Mode to color, then masked away the extra material.

Making it all warm and fuzzy

Select the Right Side layer and change the Blending Mode to Overlay and apply a Gaussian Blur of 10 pixels in strength. Notice how soft and smooth our light side now looks. Drop the opacity down to 50% to complete the effect. If you’d like to enhance the lightness effect, open the Levels panel and move the right-hand slider towards the center to increase white levels’ intensity.

Step 7

Wrapping up

We’re done. In a few short steps, we’ve taken a perfectly innocent picture and created an evil side and a light, soft side and maximized their respective attributes through the use of various tools, image adjustments, brushes and textures. If you have any questions regarding this tutorial, be sure to post a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out whenever possible.

Last but not least, throw in a frame by increasing your canvas size and filling the empty space in black and call it a day


This tutorial was completely re-written and just made a lot clearer in general. Be sure to consult the newly revised edition. This post will remain online for archival purposes. However, comments on this post are now closed. Please refer to the new edition.

Photoshop Tutorials

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  1. Portwood
    July 25, 2010 at 11:07 PM

    Nice work, used it as a full remake for a picture of a friend for a poster, just skipped the left good side and went from there, thanks for making this light work instead of uberhard.

  2. topek
    July 26, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    i like it

  3. Geo
    August 2, 2010 at 5:50 AM

    I did the tutorial, but i didn’t get the same pale color and the same texture… i think i did a decent job… the only thing i couldn’t do was the tear drop (the smeared makeup) can you tell me in more details how to do this effect. I’m using Photoshop cs2. Thank you

  4. AlphaDrama
    August 7, 2010 at 3:06 AM
  5. jesse
    August 13, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    Thank you for this, it looks amazing but I keep getting lost in the directions, I know adobe photoshop but this kind of seems east but I get lost in your directions. Right now I’m lost in the texture part, I don’t know if I’m suppose to mask the whole picture of the lips and hair of just the left side.

  6. liri
    August 20, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    Steel frog nice tutorial,
    But it seems i am doing something wrong mine doesnt look that good.

    Could you maybe pleas make a video tutorial,

    Would be really great.

  7. Max
    August 20, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Hi there, nice tutorial
    Just a question… when I do the part that’s called “Adjust your Hue for enhanced evil-ness” The girl’s face becomes a strange blueish colour… is this normal?

  8. Qinq
    September 20, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Great tutorial, I’m currently working on a similar photo. I found a lot of useful tips that will help me finish my work faster. Many thanks

  9. Daniel
    October 3, 2010 at 7:42 AM

    Hey, this looks like a good tut. But when I have to select the left side layer and select the sponge tool and everything. When I want to start brushing over her lips and skin nothing happens. All the settings are the same as in the tut. Please anyone help!

  10. Daniel
    October 3, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    It is selected, i all ready tried to uninstall photoshop and reinstalling it, but nothing works. Is there something ells i have to make sure about?
    PS. i couldn’t comment on your comment, sorry.

  11. julius wainaina
    October 8, 2010 at 8:15 AM


  12. Alvin
    October 12, 2010 at 2:00 AM

    For some reason im not noticing any changes with the sponge/desaturate part i have all the settings right according to your layout and the left side is selected?

  13. Alvin
    October 13, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    Umm i figured it out i had to change the hardness setting for it to work for anyone that doesnt know how to do this just right click :) btw awesome tut!! sorry bout the confusion earlier.

  14. home t-shir design
    October 19, 2010 at 4:52 AM

    bisa dicoba

  15. Riotking
    October 20, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    I’m teaching my Photoshop class how to do this.
    I think they will love it, But the only thing I need to ask is
    What were your adjustments to the white outer glow to make them shine like that?

    • Steel Frog
      October 20, 2010 at 1:41 PM

      As far as I can remember, there were no special tricks applied to the “sparkles” except a plain old white outer glow. Try setting a greater size value and increase the spread by just a little bit.

      This should give is a more opaque look towards the middle.

  16. devina
    October 26, 2010 at 3:50 AM

    when i try mask in left side, i don’t understand how to mask the hair and lips??

  17. opallux
    October 31, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    really great tutorial :)

    But if you make a video it would be even better ;)
    My Engish is not the best so a video would make it easier for me to follow your instructions.
    Maybe you could do this.


  18. Alice Graphix
    October 31, 2010 at 6:41 PM

    Great tutorial. I wanted to let you know I included a link to this in my blog post here @

  19. Heather Buckley
    November 1, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    Very interesting, I have just written some Flash Photography Tips and I thought you might find them useful.

  20. Mustafa
    November 6, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    thanks for the tutorial.. this is what I ended up after utilizing this tutorial.. :-D

  21. white
    November 9, 2010 at 7:57 PM

    good tip

  22. renra cikatos
    December 4, 2010 at 12:59 AM

    this amazing tutorial….

  23. anderson
    December 24, 2010 at 4:18 AM

    very good i like it.

  24. ouizebabe
    January 6, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    Brilliant tutorial!
    How do you create the scratches over the ‘dark side’ and is there anything i could do instead of the Messy Makeup as i cannot download the brushes :/

Get a Dropbox!