Creating Gruesome Undead People Using Adobe Photoshop

The first step is to find a good image with which to work. This tutorial will use this image of Catherine Zeta Jones:


The final image will appear like this:

Final Catherine

Step 1

First, extract the figure from the background. If you aren't sure how, check out the Difficult Extractions Tutorial.

Here is the extracted image.


Here is how the layer palette looks.

Extracted Mask

Duplicate this extracted layer by choosing Layer > Duplicate Layer...from the menu. And then apply it's layer mask. To apply the layer mask control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) on the layer mask in the layers palette and choose "Apply Mask."

Apply Mask

Then, turn off visibility for the bottom layer by clicking the eye icon next to it.

Visibility off


Step 2

The next step will be to make the figure thin and emaciated, like a zombie. To do this use the liquify filter. In the menu go to Filter > Liquify.

Liquify Filter

Leave the default settings as they are and choose the "pucker" tool.


Brush over areas of skin with the pucker tool, which will condense them, making them look thin. Do this for all areas such as arms, thighs, and shins. You can even do it for the neck and parts of the face. Be careful not to alter clothing too much.

Here is the final liquified image. As you can see, her arms and legs are much thinner.


Then, simply click okay in the liquify window.


Step 3

Load this image as a selection. Command/Control click on the image layer in the layers palette.

Load selection

Then create a mask from the selection by clicking the mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

Mask Icon

Use a brush with black as the foreground color, and on the mask for this layer, paint black over all areas that are not skin or flesh. This should hide everything but her skin.


Next, load this mask as a selection by Command/Control clicking on the mask. You should see the marching ants on your image.



Discard the layer mask. Right click or Control click on the mask and choose "discard mask". The mask is used to refine a selection only. Using masks allows you to alter and re-alter the selection with a brush.


You should then see the entire figure and have marching ants around just the skin.

Image With Ants

Create a hue/saturation adjustment layer by clicking the adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the layers palette and choosing hue/saturation.

Hue Sat

Adjust the settings in the pop-up window as follows:

Hue Settings

Then click okay.


Step 4

As you'll notice, some areas around the edges didn't get adjusted properly.

Bad Areas

Zoom in, and with a white brush paint on the hue adjustment layer mask to cover areas that are still not the proper color.

Here's how the image looks after fine tuning the hue adjustment layer:

After Tune


Step 5

The next step is to adjust the contrast of the skin to make it a little darker. Load the hue adjustment layer mask by Command/Control clicking on it.

Load Mask

Then, from the bottom of the layers palette, click the adjustment icon again and choose "Curves".


Here are the settings used in the pop-up window.

Curve Settings


Step 6

Create a new layer, above all the other layers, and with a white paintbrush zoom in and paint white over her eyeballs.


Once the eyeballs are covered, lower the opacity of this white layer.

Layer Opacity

This gives the eyeballs a translucent feel, as seen here:

Eyes After


Step 7

She looking pretty zombified but she's just way to smooth skinned to be undead. The next step is to break up the skin and make her look not so smooth. Create a new layer above all the other layers and merge visible from the layers flyout menu. Hold down the Option/Alt key when choosing "Merge Visible." This will leave all my other layers in tact while giving one layer with everything combined on it.


Then load the Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer's mask by Command/Control clicking on it.

You should see the marching ants on your image.

Create a new layer mask by clicking the mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

Mask Icon

Next, click the layer in the layers palette to be sure that you are going to be working on the content instead of the mask. To be certain make sure the little icon in the layers palette next to the layer is an eyeball, not a gray square with a white circle in it. If you don't click the layer contents, you will end up painting on the layer mask.

Click To work

Now grab the burn tool.


Settings in the options bar should be similar to this:

Burn Settings

Begin going over her skin making lines. Each pass of the burn tool will make a dark line. Continue to do this over her skin to give it a cracked feel. Draw the lines in a sort of haphazard manner but always try to keep in mind the direction of her body. Do not make a great deal of horizontal lines on body parts that are vertical in nature.

Face Burn

Once you are finished you should have a pretty zombified looking Catherine.

Burned Catherine


Step 8

This image was a little too bright at this stage, I brought up the Levels dialog and darkened the image overall a little.


This helped, but now she is a little to green and contained a bit too much color to be undead. So, one more adjustment layer was added by clicking the icon at the bottom of the layers palette and choosing Hue/Saturation, and these settings were applied:

Final Hue

This is the final image of Catherine Zombie-Jones.

Final Zombie

Step 9

With the proper background setting and a touch of blending, you can get a pretty realistic depiction of the undead Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Final Catherine Zeta-Jones

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