The Last House on the Left

We just missed Halloween, but its always a time for scares on TutorialsBeware. We are going to take a look at some techniques that created this haunting imagery inspired by the cover of the American horror film The Last House on the Left

Above is a stock photo of a house at night that seemed to fit the mood. To the left is the video cover that inspired this piece.

It was difficult to find a photo of a girl walking away with the appropriate body language so I used a combination of these 3: A great shot of a lake with the figure in the middle, one of wet, disheveled hair from a back view, and another of a swimmer with arms to the side. (click the image for the source images or alternatively click here.)

The first thing I did was marquee select a portion of the house image and paste it over the lake picture. Ctrl+T was used to scale the image and center it. This effectively covered most of the figure that was unused anyway.

The shoulders and arms were cut out with the Polygonal Lasso Tool and the Clone Stamp Tool was used to sample skin areas and cover the pink straps from the source image. To clone, hold ALT to take the sample, then brush into the area.

Here’s what it looks like with the new torso pasted into the scene and scaled appropriately.

A new layer was created above all the others and filled with blue. I used color #2D466B. In the Layers window the blue layer’s blending mode was changed to “Color”. This turned the entire piece monochromatic and began to invoke the mood.

At this point I turned off the visibility of the house layer so that I could trace around the waist of the figure with the Lasso Tool. The house layer was made visible and active by clicking it in the Layers window. With the waist selection still animating, I pressed Delete to cut out, which revealed the full figure shape.

Image>Adjustments>Brightnesss/Contrast on the house layer with the above settings.

The house layer was right-clicked and duplicated. Then Edit>Transform>Flip Vertical was a function used to turn the duplicated image upside down. This layer’s blending mode was set to “Overlay” to create some translucency, which then resulted in a mirrored reflection into the lake.

The ghosted image also went over the girl. This was rectified simply by tracing along the figure and deleting on the reflection layer.

At this point I went into the wet hair image file. Ctrl+Shift+U was pressed to desaturate the image. Then Ctrl+L brought up the Levels. The above settings increased the contrast so that only the hair shapes remained.

The magic wand tool was clicked into the white space with the Contiguous option checkboxed OFF. This selected even the white areas in between hair strands. I then held ALT then marquee selected the lower half to, in effect, deselect the area. Delete discarded the white in the top half.

This layer was right-clicked and duplicated so that there were 2 identical layers. One layer was set with the blending mode on “Multiply”. This laid the wet hair flat on the girl’s back. The problem is that the head above her shoulders was now partially transparent. That’s why we made a duplicate. With no blending mode set on this one, (default Normal) the wet hair area with all the white still there was erased with the Eraser Brush.

One more trick for the hair. I duplicated the head layer again for a technique I devised to create some specular lighting on the hair since it is wet and the main light source is the moon in front of her. Ctrl+I was used to Invert the values. This created a bright white, negative version of the hair.

Some of the middle was erased out.

With the Lasso Tool I began to draw in some cuts and proceeded to delete sections out.

With some fine tuning and more brush erasing, the above was the result. Note that I repeated this technique on the arms as well.

The next detail was ensuring that the girl’s reflection matched, so I took the upper torso layer and flipped it the same way I did the house and matched it up accordingly. The Opacity on the layer is only 5-10%.

At this point the entire mage was flattened with Layer>Flatten Image. Above is the result of duplicating the flattened art and setting the new layer to Multiply. I feel that the vibrancy of the image was increased as well as the overall contrast.

Here are some large sections I erased on the Multiply layer to reveal the reflection a bit more and to give the house a haloed effect.

The final image with some typography.

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