This Psd tutorial will guide you step-by-step through the process of transforming your picture into the image of a Na’vi (based on the alien race in James Cameron’s movie “Avatar”). By combining texture and a few lighting techniques, you can create your own Na’vi image. This Photoshop tutorial makes use of basic tools, so you should be successful in reproducing it with any of the latest versions. Here we go!
Import a relatively large photograph of your choice assuring that the face has good lighting. For the purpose of this tutorial I will use this image from Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman to see how she would look starring in an Avatar movie.
Choose a “hard” brush from the”Tools” window – preferably a “Chalk” brush – and set its “Mode” to “Color”, and then the “Opacity” to 50%. Then select blue shade from your Color Palette and brush over the entire surface of the skin, paying careful attention to leave out the eyes, hair, and clothing. Repeat this a few times using different shades of blue. In order to get the kind of blue I wanted, I did this four times in total using these colours: #5d7a99 – #32576a – #3c6986 – #54809b. However, every photograph is different, so you may prefer the look of different shades of blue for your image.
When you’re finished it’s time to select a shade of purple. I used #472a50, with a small brush and its Opacity set to 10%. Paint the lips with it and then randomly brush all over the face with it as this blends in the coloring to give it a better, more natural look.
In this tutorial I worked with a picture of Natalie Portman. But your picture may be a male with facial stubble. The Na’vi don’t appear to have facial hair (apart from the eyebrows – but only if they are a human hybrid). You’ll want to remove the stubble with the “Clone Stamp Tool”. You have to zoom right in and press “alt” on your keyboard to select the source area, click once, then let go and paint as normal. It’s important to always pick a source area that closely resembles the color of the area you want to cover.
Now remove the ears! In my case Natalie Portman has long hair, so I just hid the ears by using the “Clone Stamp Tool” and copying hair over her ears. However if you have short hair this step could be tricky, since the Na’vi (and the hybrids) have their ears set higher up than human ears. In any case I suggest using the Clone Stamp Tool again.
You can either paint the Na’vi ears yourself or import a screenshot from the web – luck for us there are tons of Avatar images to be found. Save the image onto your computer and go to “File” then “Open…” and select the image.
To make your life easier I’ve prepared ears for you to download here.
Now, select the “Polygonal Lasso Tool” in the Tools window and create a mask around the ear you wish to import. Once you have done this, either drag the image over to your picture or you can go to “Edit” then “Copy” the ear and “Paste” it onto your image. It will now be on a new layer (which you can see in your “Layers” window). Now place the imported ear wherever you want it to be – you may need to re-size it by clicking on the “Move Tool”, and then click on one of the corners of your selection and select “Maintain aspect ratio” (which is the little “chain” icon in the menu). Next simply drag one of the corners of your selection outward until the ear is the size you want.
If it’s a frontal face shot you’re working on, you simply need right-click with your mouse on the layer with the ear, and select “Duplicate Layer”. Then right-click on one of the corners around the selection and choose “Flip Horizontally”, and move the second ear to where you want it to be. As you can see, the image of the ear that I had originally imported had the tip of the ear missing. I fixed this by painting the rest in, using the Clone Stamp Tool, and the Brush Tool set to “Normal” (use the “Eyedropper Tool” to select colours from the actual ear itself).
Now we’re going to enlarge the eyes. Normally you can try and do this by eye, but because Natalie Portman is looking directly at the camera in my picture, both eyes had to be enlarged identically. First of all, duplicate the overall main image you have so far, so that you have two identical copies lying on top of each other as layers. Then use the “Polygonal Lasso Tool”, with “Add to selection” selected from the menu (that way you can select several areas at the same time). Create two masks, one around each eye, including eyelids and eyebrows. Click on “Move Tool” from the Tool bar, then enlarge the selection until the eyes are the size you want.
Now click on “Move Tool” again and select “Apply” on the pop-up window. Now “Copy” and Paste” from the Edit Menu. The eyes should now be on a new layer. Duplicate that layer. Then use the Eraser Tool to erase the left eye on one “eye layer”, and the right eye on the other eye layer. Basically this means that you now have one layer for each eye, though both enlarged, their proportions to each other are still correct. Press “ctrl” on your keyboard and select both “eye layers” and use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move the eyes up and down, then select each individual eye to move it left and right, once again by using the arrow keys.
You can now use the “Eraser Tool” and brush around the eyes with it to remove what is overlapping and the border lines. Doing this will reveal the layer underneath, so don’t erase too much.
This is the most difficult part – the nose! This could potentially take quite some time, so don’t get frustrated. It may take practice to get the look you want.
Use the “Rectangular Marquee Tool” and generously select the nose along with its surrounding area. Select “Filter” from the main menu and go to “Liquify…”. A new window opens and you may want to zoom in a little. Select the “Forward Warp Tool” – with the “Brush Density” and “Brush Pressure” set to 100. And now “shape” the nose into that of a Na’vi’s. If you make a mistake you can use the “Reconstruct Tool”. It will probably look a little strange, but that’s ok, just click “OK” when it looks remotely like the one in my picture. If yours looks better, excellent!
Next, you will use the “Burn” and “Dodge” tools from the Tools window. Use both tools, with their “Range” set to “Midtones”, and the “Exposure” set to 5% and continue to “shape” the nose by carefully adding definition. “Burn” darkens, while “Dodge” highlights, so make sure you figure out where the light on your picture is coming from. Because this step is so tricky, it is okay to carry on with the next steps and return to the nose from time to time.
I also used the “Dodge” tool, set to “Midtones” and “Highlights” in order to brighten the irises of the eyes. And finally I dyed the tip of my nose pink, with the Brush tool set to “Color”, and the colour itself taken from the ears by using the “Eyedropper Tool”.
I continued to use the “Burn” tool – a combination of both “Midtones” and “Shadows”, to further add definition all around the face. Check out the differences between images 9 and 10. You may choose not to do this on your photograph. However, you might have noticed that I went back to “Liquify” the nose a little more….
My overall image had turned a little too dark in my opinion, so I went to my Layers window, and at the bottom I clicked on the “black and white” symbol that has the name “Create new fill or adjustment layer”, and selected “Levels…” from the menu. Now a new window opens up and and all I did was click on “Auto” and “OK”. However that option doesn’t always turn out a good image, so you may want to play around with the sliders. Alternatively, if your image is too light or pale, you can change this here too, using the sliders.
For the pattern and sparkles on the face, use the “Burn” tool – Midtones and Shadows, as well as the “Brush tool” – this time a circle shape – with its Hardness 50%, Opacity around 10%, so there’s room to build up colour depth, the “Mode” set to “Normal”. You’ll need to play around with this, as it can take a while to get it right.
Now it’s time to enlarge the irises of the eyes! Basically we’re repeating Step 6 here. So follow every single step, just apply them to the irises alone. Once you’re happy with their position, use the “Eraser Tool” to bring back the eyelids from the layer underneath.
And finally I did some additional lighting effects, by using the “Burn Tool” set to “Shadows” and the “Dodge Tool” set to “Highlights”. Check out the differences between Image 12 and 13. However this may not be relevant to your image. All done, I hope you are pleased with your results.
And there you have it! Now all that’s left is to compare the image with the Photoshop effect to your original image:
I really hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that you feel confident enough to attempt it on your own. Before you go, would you please help me spread this around the web on social media? (either on your own or through one of the links below) I’d really appreciate it =)