Published on July 21, 2022
In this blog I’ll show you how to create a colored and black & white dripping paint effect for portraits in Adobe Photoshop.
Rather watch the video with instructions? Click here or scroll down to the end of this page!
Step 1: Prepair photo
Open the photo you want to edit. Use the quick selection tool to select your subject.
When the selection is done, press CTRL+J to duplicate the selected area. You now have a new layer with the subject and a transparent background.
Select the background layer and again press CTRL+J to duplicate it. With this copy selected, navigate to ‘Image > Adjustments > Desaturate‘ or press SHIFT+CTRL+U to desaturate this layer.
The background (background copy) is now black & white and the subject (layer 1) is colored.
Step 2: Add paint layer
Open an image with dripping paint. The image should have a transparent background. If your image doesn’t have a transparent background, you need to remove the background first. Click here if you want to learn how to remove a solid background.
Select the move tool and drag the paint image towards the file you’re editing. Place the paint over the photo. Drag the paint layer above all the other layers (this should be the top layer).
With the move tool selected, press CTRL+T to activate free transform. You can now resize the paint layer and pick the correct placement. Make sure the paint layer covers your entire subject at the top. If you hold CTRL while moving the anchor points at the top of the paint layer, you can stretch the paint layer to fill the entire area.
Step 3: Dripping paint effect
Hold CTRL and click on the thumbnail of the paint layer. Make sure you click on the thumbnail and not on the layer itself. If you do this, the paint shape will be selected (you can tell the paint is selected by the dashed line around it).
You can now make the paint layer invisible (click on the eye icon). The selection of the paint is still active (the dashed line should still be there).
Select the layer with the cut out subject (layer 1, in this case) and add a layer mask. The dripping paint is now colored and the rest of the subject is black & white!
If you select the layer mask and you click ‘invert‘ (or press CTRL+I), the paint will be black & white and the rest of the subject is colored. Click on it again to turn it back around.
And that’s how you create a black & white and colored paint drip effect for portraits in Adobe Photoshop! You can see the result below.