Deke’s Techniques: Creating a Ninja Turtle tattoo in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

At first glance, it seems like this week’s free technique is just about chasing down a recent Internet meme, the Ninja Turtle nose. For a while, way back at the end of 2011, this fun little trick of turning celebrity noses into ninja turtle characters was quite the rage. So Deke decided, rather than risk offending any of his friends, he’d set out to apply this technique to his own proboscis in Photoshop. (Turns out Deke’s nose is perfect for this effect. Destiny!)

Example of Photoshop "Ninja Turtle nose" effect

But, as mentioned, this technique isn’t just about learning how to create a specific effect that’s undoubtedly soon to be replaced by something that has something to do with cats. Deke’s technique for making this effect will take you way beyond the next great Internet amusement. By picking a color from his portrait to colorize the turtle outline, using some layer effects to “bleed” the outline into his skin, and then applying the appropriate adjustments and blend modes to the color fill, Deke actually reveals some key concepts that could be used for any digital tattoo effect. He also walks you through the simple but vitally useful step of adding to your polygonal lasso selections on the fly. And, of course, you get to learn all of this while listening to Deke—with all gravity, expertise, and sincerity—draw a cartoon turtle on his own nose. A lovely combination of the useful and the ridiculous.

And for meme-loving members of, Deke’s got a couple of exclusive videos, one called Putting a tongue on a duck, and another called Mapping a dog face onto a duck that plays with an effect you’ll never be able to un-see once someone has pointed it out to you—the fact that ducks wear dog masks:

Mapping a dog face onto a duck with Photoshop

So meme your creative memes this week, and Deke will be back next week with another free technique.

Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects
Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
• Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects
• Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Advanced Blending
Infographics: Area Bubbles

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