Deke’s Techniques: How to create a Halloween-worthy headless stranger

Published by | Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

If last week’s Deke’s Techniques episodes on various ways to carve a pumpkin in Adobe Photoshop weren’t enough spooky spirit for you, then you’ll be pleased to discover that this week’s episode shows you how to create a headless stranger who haunts this eerie forest:

background photo of a misty forest

Deke begins with this unsuspecting gentleman whose head is still decidedly intact:

Photo of a person

Using the Calculations command (twice), he isolates his hapless subject in an alpha channel. Then, some devious hand painting and a cruel inversion of the channel result in this mask:

A layer mask of the figure outline

Deke then lops of his model’s head with a clever selection applied to the mask, and methodically reconstructs the stump by cloning the victim’s collar and scarf on a new layer:

The composite photo of the figure without a head

Next, he places his now headless stranger into the misty woods, tormenting his subject further by stretching him vertically with the Transform command:

A headless man in a misty forest scene

Deke then drains his victim of all color with an adjustment layer and dissolves away the legs with a gradient mask:

The stranger in the misty scene and the Layers panel

In his final act of imaginary Photoshop treachery, Deke uses the Save for Web command with the quality set to Low to degrade the picture (since you wouldn’t have a tack-sharp shot if your hand was trembling as you were ran running from a headless man stalking you in the woods!).

The final photo composite of a headless man in the woods

Don’t worry. The good-natured, benevolent Photoshop master Deke will be back with a less spooky technique next week. Happy Halloween!

Interested in more?

• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate
 Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

Share this:Share on Facebook2Tweet about this on Twitter3Share on Google+2Pin on Pinterest1Share on LinkedIn0 - start learning today


Leave a Reply