Science fiction movies are all that right now… Star Wars, Star Trek, the Marvel universe and DC comics all have at least one exotic character. I thought it might be fun to create one here on the Photofocus blog. Best thing is, you can use any portrait you’ve made where the subject is facing the camera. Open the image in Photoshop and play along.

Thin & thick of of a face

Arra by Kevin Ames
Arra Castro looking directly into the lens.

Unless your subject is a super model, one side of the face will be thicker and one will be thinner. Asymmetry is what being human is all about. As a rule of thumb, good aliens are the thin side while the darker evil versions are made with the thick version. Here is a portrait of the model Arra I made a few years ago while I was in Manila.

As you look at the photo the left side of her face is thinner than the right. That’s the side I’ll use in this tutorial. I want this alien to be on the good side of the universe. It takes some practice to learn to see the difference in the two sides of a face. It’s really useful in portraiture. I usually light the thin side of the face which makes the thicker side fall into shadow. This technique slims the subject for the camera. I explain more about in this post.

Splitting faces in two

Once you’ve picked the thin side, use the Rectangular Marquee tool in Photoshop to draw a selection of it. One edge will go right through the subject’s nose. Once the selection is made, press Command (WIN: Control) + J to put it on its own layer. Label this layer “thin side.” Hide the background layer. In this case it’s name “Layer 0.” Look at the Layers panel in the screenshot below to see more.

Arra by Kevin Ames-002
The thin side of Arra’s face.

Copy & flip horizontal

Next, I duplicate the layer “Thin Side” by typing Command (WIN: Control) + J to duplicate. Next I press Command (WIN: Control) + T to open the Edit menu’s Free Transform options. I right click on “Thin Side Copy” then choose Flip Horizontal. Now I go to 100% view–Command (WIN: Control) +0– then enter the Move tool by hitting V. I drag “Thin Side Copy” until it touches “Thin Side.” The result will look like the photo on the left. To show the difference, I made a thick side version to how how an villain’s portrait might start.

Arra by Kevin Ames-004
Thin sides.
Arra by Kevin Ames-003
Thick sides.







Add some lashes

Arra by Kevin Ames-005

When a model sports great eye makeup, I make sure to make an ‘eyes closed’ photograph. It came in handy for making my alien queen. I use the Lasso tool (L) to draw a selection around Arra’s closed eye on my right. I type Command (WIN: Control) + J to put the selection on a layer. Next I select the Move tool (V) and with the new layer of the eye shadow and lashes highlighted in the Layers panel, I click inside the photograph on Photoshop’s screen then drag it to the tab with Arra’s two thin sides. I hold for a moment and the preview changes to the thin side photo. I add the Shift key then release the mouse. The lashes are centered on Arra’s face.

Arra by Kevin Ames-006

Positioning & shaping

Using the Move tool (V) I position the lashes on the upper right part of her forehead. I use Free Transform to size and position them.  Next I click on the Warp button in Free Transform’s Option bar and shape the lashes so they conform to the shape of her head. Shaping is easy. I click inside the grid created by the Transform’s Warp button, then drag until it lashes look like they fit. Sometimes I’ll drag a grid line or direction handle as well. Last, I add a layer mask and blend the edges into to her forehead and hair.

Duplicate & transform

Once the first set of lashes looks good, I duplicate that layer by hitting Command (WIN: Control) + J. In the Move tool (V) I drag the new layer to the left side of Arra’s forehead. Then I enter Free Transform, right click and choose Flip Horizontal. I can use Transform Warp here too. AFter committing the transform and warp, I finalize this set of lashes’ position using the Move tool. Finally I add a couple of touch ups on the layer’s layer mask to blend the lashes into Arra’s forehead.

Coming in part 2

Now that I have the Alien Queen’s face complete, a suitable crown and background is needed. In the next installment, I’ll show you how to use photographs of incense to create a mystical crown and how I use some sunrise photographs made on the island of Corregidor as an otherworldly location.

The Alien Quean so far...
The Alien Queen so far…