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Photoshop yourself into a centaur

Some time ago, I was looking on Google for an image of a centaur. Guess what, I saw nearly more Photoshopped "human" centaurs than original drawings. Mostly stuff like this and this. Clearly, a lot of people find it fun to make themselves into a centaur, but as you can see, they're not all that experienced with Photoshop. But, that's not necessary, you can just follow this easy tutorial, and you're the Photoshopwizard of the gang

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Read on:

1. Find yourself a nice picture of a horse. In this example, we'll use this picture from SXC (a free stockphoto community, where I get most of my images).

Open it in Photoshop, and start with renaming the layer to "horse" ( click two times on the "background"-layer in the layers-palette. And save the file as centaur.psd.

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2. Open the picture of yourself or another person, I took this photo from Martinno, an SXC-photographer.

Drag the photo into the centaur.psd work file.

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3. Now we must position the body of the woman in a correct way, and in the right scale. Therefor, use a reference image from the internet of a drawn centaur, like this. Copy the image and paste it in Photoshop.

Change the layer mode for this image to "multiply", so you can "see trough it". Then scale this drawing by pressing ctrl-T ( or edit>transform>free transform ) and then hold shift while scaling to maintain the proportions, till it fits over the actual horse. In this way, we get an idea of how big we need the woman to be.

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So, with ctrl-T, adjust the size of the body to that of the drawing.

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4. Ok, all our source pictures are in position and have the right size. Still one essential step to take before we're gonna blend them together: We must decapitate the horse.

Set the "woman"-layer to invisible by clicking the small eye-icon before it in the layers-palette. Now, we should remove about the area bordered by the red line.

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Make a selection like this with the lasso-tool image 7 ( keyboard: "L" ).

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Then, grab the clone stamp image 9 ("S") and start cloning away the head. Alt-click on a piece of greenery next to the head and then click or brush over the head to make it dissapear.

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If it's all gone, ctrl-D to deselect.

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5. There we are, with a decapitated horse and half of a woman, time to mix them together. Make the "woman"-layer visible again ( click on the eye-icon ) and go into Quick Mask-mode by clicking this icon in the bottom of the toolbox.

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In Quick Mask-mode, you can define a selection by brushing image 13 around with different brushes and colors.

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Keep it (stupid) simple and stick to black and white: everything you paint black, turns red in this mode. This areas will form the actual selection. Correct with white (tip: you can switch between black and white by pressing the "X"-key), this parts won't be selected. Thus, paint around the body, and fill the areas in between.

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If you're done, apply a fine blur to soften the edges: filter>blur>gaussian blur and pick a value of about 1,7. Return to "normal mode" by clicking on icon left from the "Quick Mask"-icon.

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6. Add a "mask" to the woman-layer, by clicking the round icon image 17 at the bottom of the layer-palette.

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Remember: in a mask, everything you paint black, turns invisible, white recovers it. So pick a brush ("B") with a soft tip, size 100 and opacity about 30% ( set lower to make the fader softer ).

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Start brushing slightly over the edge between the woman and the horse, you can see it blend nicely (make sure to lower the opacity for a smoother transition).

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7. If you've got a picture that fits perfect to the horse, you're done at this point. But probably, like in our exemple, there are some parts missing and the edges of the horse don't go perfectly into the edges of the woman. In that case, you need to create some extra pieces of "horse" and "woman".

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We'll start with the right side of the horse. (Set the woman-layer to invisible to work easier) Make a lasso-selection ("L") around the part that you want to fill up.

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Then, get back to your clone-stamp-tool ("S") and stamp with white horse-texture - that you cloned by alt-clicking on an piece of the horse - in the selection, untill it's filled.

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Repeat this at the other side, in the woman-layer to fine-tune the left transition. You recreate some "human skin" and then get back in the vector mask to brush it away with the soft brush.

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8. Et bien voilá!

There we are:

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9. If you like it, add a little extra "magical" touch. Press ctrl-A to select all, ctrl+shift+C to copy the selection trough all layers and then ctrl-V to paste everything on a new layer. We're going to apply some filters now: filter>blur>gaussian blur>4 and afterwards filter>other>maximize>4. Set the blending mode of this layer to "overlay".

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Gives it a "fairytale"-look, doesn't it?

Or place a picture of a leaf on top of the layers, with blending mode (=layer mode) set to "hard light" for a grunge-effect

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