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Dying Mermaid: Create The Demise Of An Underwater Princess

Photo Manipulation is image editing. It manipulates images, optimizes color, brightness and contrast of digital images. It brings enhancement to the original image. In this tutorial, we will combine few images to yield an impressive photo manipulation result.

Simple techniques will be required in this tutorial such as Cut and Paste, layer Masks, Transfer and Adjustment Layers. Enjoy!

This is our original image:

Image ID: 2189405 © iofoto,

We’re going to manipulate and obtain this end result!

Step 1: Creating the Mermaid’s Tail

Open the image and duplicate the layer.

We’re going to use this fish scale image detail from another photo:

Image ID: 7150955 © Daniel Nudelman,

Open the next image, select the fish scale that will be pasted onto the lady’s leg. Transform the scales into the leg’s shape by using Transform (T) and the Warp Tool. Remember to set the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Duplicate the Body Scale layer again, and make sure that the leg and torso portions are covered evenly by fish scales.

Next, merge the scales layers. After that, remember to set the Blending Mode to Overlay so that we can preserve the highlights and shadows of the base color.

Then erase unwanted areas by applying a layer mask. layer masks allow us to make amendments without affecting other areas.

Step 2: Creating cut and slitted wound

Create a new layer call Wound. Use Lasso tool to draw a slitted wound and fill in Red color.

Then, use the Burn and Dodge Tool to create more realistic looking wound. With the burn tool, deepen the blood of the wound by making it darker on critical spots which should be located around the middle. Refer to our image to see how we did it.

You can dodge and burn either the highlights, the midtones or the shadows, with different exposure levels. Draw with the dodge tool along the edges of the wound. And use the burn tool in the shadow areas of the wound.

Experiment with different exposures, different brush sizes and different ranges to achieve the desired effect.

Choose Lasso Tool and now draw a “broader blood shape” and fill it red color as well.

Next, place the Blood layer under the Wound layer. Soften the edge using the Blur Tool and also Smudge Tool ( R ).

Make the blood darker by using Adjustment Layer – Curve.

And again dodge and burn the edge of the wound to create a more realistic feel.

Use the Transform tool ( T ) and Warp the wound shape on the neck. Make it crescent shaped to follow the curve on the next area.

Now we’re gong to create the Blood flow. Use the Lasso Tool to draw a shape of flowing blood and follow the shape of the breasts. Pay attention to the curvature of the breasts. Note that Blood changes direction as it reaches a curve.

Then fill in Red color again and Transform it a little.

Set the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Use different opacity of brush and create blood stains. And paint some blood onto the water surface as well.

Darken the red color so that the blood looks real.

As we can see, now the wound and the blood looks flat and does not have any texture. We suggest experimenting with the Dodge and Burn Tool ( Shadows / Midtones / Highlights ) to create texture (blood coagulated around the wound ) with light reflections.

The idea is to obtain something like this :

Step 3 : Adding a Tail

A mermaid must have a tail! We’re going to import a tail from another photo.

Image ID: 4638877 © Cathy Yeulet

As usual, select the area that we want it to be pasted. Transform and warp it into the shape and perspective that we want.

Erase unwanted areas by applying a layer mask.

Step 4 : Adding Fish Net

I will add a fish net next to the Mermaid (the story here is our ill-fated mermaid was caught by a fisherman’s net and she tragically did not survive…) Again, we’re importing the net from another image we found on

Image ID: 4775085 © Oleh Marchak

Paste the fish net image ans transform it. Then, erase the unwanted areas too.

Set the Blending Mode to Overlay. So that we can get the results of the net dipping in the water. Don’t worry bout the floaters, as we’re going to make the floaters float on the water’s surface, as what you can see below.

Next, duplicate the Net layer. This time we set the Blending Mode to Normal to get the floaters floating again. Erase or paint over the net to get back the original net.

Step 5: Adding color to the Mermaid

We always use Adjustment Layers to get the color for the image, as we can always adjust or change the color again if we not satisfied with the results.

We can employ Color Balance, Curve or Hue and Saturation.

First, we apply adjustment layers – get the wanted color – Ctrl + Backspace to inverse the masking and paint the areas that you want. Repeat and feel free to experiment around with Adjustment Layers.

We want to add some special color effects for mermaid tail. Use Lasso Tool to select mermaid tail part. Apply Feather : 20 pixels. Then Ctrl + J to duplicate the tail selection.

Name the layer as Scale. Next double click on the layer and go to Blending Options.

Follow the setting as below, or you can choose other color that you prefer.

Set the Blending Mode to Overlay, so that we still can see the texture of the scales.

Duplicate the Scale layer, this time we set it to Soft Light Mode to get more solid feel of the scales.

Add the Blood by brushing Red on the surface of the water. Remember to create a new layer for it. Then de-saturate the blood and make it blend into the water as well.

Next, we’re going to add a fish’s body pattern on the mermaid. From this image right here:

Image ID: 6259864 © Dave Willman

Paste around the mermaid body wherever you want it to be. Remember to set blending Mode to overlay. Remove or erase the unwanted area.

Lastly, we can adjust the color and play around the mood of the final output. This is what we got after getting the mood and feel just right.

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