Scars (PHSH Effect #26)


Important: This is the 4th last article for 2023. I’ll be taking the last half of December and first half of January off from posting.

I’ll be back January 12th, 2024 with the first short story of the new year! (The first article will go up January 15th)

This month, I’ll be showing you guys how to add a scar to a picture. That’s right, I’m bringing you yet another ‘creepy’ tutorial to perfect just in time for Halloween!

As with most other tutorials, this one may seem complicated at first, but once we break it down, it’s actually not too hard to execute. And, like all the other tutorials: it’s fun!

Let’s get started.

Step 1

As always, Step 0 is to open a new PHSH document and to pick a base picture. Because this is a… let’s call it ‘dark’ tutorial, a picture that matches will make the effect look better. Look for something where a person is screaming, in some kind of pain or otherwise terrified.

I for example, found this one.

Feel free to use this same image, or one you find yourself. The steps should be the same, with maybe just a slight tweak of colours depending on the base picture. But don’t worry, we’ll get to that.

Once you find a picture you like, you’ll need to decide where you want the scar to be. On my picture, I’m going to put it on the left side of her forehead. After you decide on the placement, we’ll be drawing the scar.

To do this, first you’ll need to set the Foreground Colour to a faded red. #984A48 will work for the tutorial.


Step 2

Once the Foreground Colour is set, create a New Layer, then go over to your Brush Tool. With the Brush Tool selected, go up to the Brush Settings at the top and change Mode to Dissolve.

You’ll also want to change Flow to 50% and leave Opacity at 100%.

Once you’ve changed the Flow, you’ll want to also change the Size of your brush. The size of the brush will be the width of your scar, so make sure you choose one that isn’t too thick or too thin. 6 Pixels should work for today. But once you have the technique down, you can always experiment with different sized brushes to see how the different sized wounds look.

You can leave the Hardness of the brush at 100%. (Or, if it’s not currently set at 100, change it to that)

Now that we’ve got the brush set up, it’s time to make the cut!

Draw a line where you want the scar to appear on your model. Don’t forget that human faces (or bodies) aren’t completely flat, so your scar shape should reflect that.

For example, if you’re drawing the scar on the person’s cheek, the line should follow the curve of the cheek bone.

If you don’t like how your mark comes out, erase it and try again until you’re happy with it. This is why we’re drawing on the New Layer we made and not directly on the model picture.

You can also zoom in on your picture (using the CTRL and + buttons) if needed to help you get the shape you want. (To zoom back out, it’s CTRL – )


Step 3

Next, we’re going to draw over the mark again, but with an altered Brush. This time, change your Brush Mode back to Normal, double the brush Size (if you used 6px, make it 12px) make the Opacity 50% and change the Flow to 100%.

You also do not need to trace over the previous line perfectly! Having it a little skewed will help with the end effect. Scars are never perfect, right?


Step 4

In the Layer’s Menu, right-click on the scar layer and open Blending Options. Once opened, check-mark Bevel & Emboss to apply the style to the layer.

Once you apply the effect, click on it to open the options. We’ll be changing them to make the scar more life-like.

You’ll also want to apply the Contour and Texture boxes by check-marking the boxes next to them.

Now we’re going to start changing the Bevel & Emboss options. To start, change:

– Style to Inner Bevel

– Technique to Smooth

– Depth to about 285%

– Size to 5px

And Soften to 0px


After making these changes, your scar should look like a welt with a nasty line in the middle.

You can also change the Direction and Angle if needed, though 120 should work for a face. You’ll want to change these values depending on the lighting the picture you chose has.

Once you’re happy with how the scar looks, click “Ok” to apply the changes.


Step 5

Next we’re going to use the Smudge tool to get rid of any pixelated edges on our darker line.

Set the Strength to 50% and smudge the edges very lightly. We need just enough smudging to get rid of the pixelation. If you smudge it too much, the mark will end up looking more like a smear than a scar.

If needed, you can zoom in closer to help you complete this step.


Step 6

After you’re done smudging, make a duplicate of the model layer. The easiest way to do this is to hold down the ALT button on your keyboard while clicking and dragging the model layer in the Layer’s Panel.

If you were zoomed in on the scar to smudge, you can also go ahead and zoom back out now.

Once you’ve made the duplicate, you’re going to Merge the scar layer with it. To do this select both layers (hold down CTRL and then click on each layer) then right-click and select Merge Layers from the drop-down menu.

The option Merge Layers shouldn’t be greyed out if you have both selected. My option is greyed out because my computer is dumb sometimes and won’t show a click drop-down menu when I want it to. The picture above is my options while only having 1 layer selected.


Step 7

Now that the layers are merged, go to the Layers Panel and change the Opacity for the layer. You’ll want something fairly sheer so the scar looks faded. Something around 10% should work. For my picture, I made the Opacity 18%.

If you want the scar to look more pronounced, change the opacity to something higher.

Here’s how my scar looked when I changed the Opacity to 30%.

And this is what it looked like at 60%.

As you can see, the higher the Opacity is, the more pronounced the red is but that’s the reason it will start to look fake if it’s too bright.

If you think the dark line in the center of the scar still looks too pixelated, you can go ahead and use the Blur tool on it to smooth it out. Just like with the Smudge tool, you’ll want to do this carefully.

Though it is Halloween, so if you wanted to, you could throw subtly out the window and go in the complete opposite direction.

It all depends on the look you’re trying to achieve.

That’s it for this tutorial! Don’t forget to save your file both as a PHSH file so you can continue to practice and as a picture (JPEG, PNG, etc.) so you can share it with your friends and family.

Like this tutorial? Check out the rest of the series here!

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