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Photoshop yourself into an Avatar!

                       Everyone who has seen the new movie Avatar  has fallen in love with the characters. Written and directed by James Cameron, the modern day Pocahontas story with 8 foot tall, sexy, blue aliens made 504,868,451 in the box office, has the critics favors, such as the Chicago Sun Times famous critic Robert Ebert called it "...an extraordinary film" , and created quite a large base of fan art. The latest rave: Photoshopping yourself into an avatar!

                       Fans are swarming forums trying to find out for themselves how to do this. Well, this examiner is pretty handy with photoshop, and I am going to teach you how!

Step one!

Choose a good quality photo of yourself. It should show your face clearly without pixelation or blown out portions due to lighting. Always remember, you lose pixels with photo manipulation, so when editing you want to work with as many pixels to start with as you can.

Step two!

Drag the background layer to the "new layer" icon to create a copy layer. Rename that layer "color" or simply "blue". It's always a good idea to get in the habit of naming your layers. Select the "brush" tool and change the brush mode from normal to color and drag the occupancy down to about 50%. Then search google for pictures or screenshots of the avatar characters, and save one to your computer so that you can open it in photoshop. Use the eyedropper tool to select the color of the real avatar, and then carefully color in your face and skin. Then use a shade of red to dye the lips, and a shade of yellow to dye the eyes.

Here's what we got so far!

Ok, step three!

The ears can be tricky. Use the  "Polygonal Lasso Tool" to copy the ears from the screenshot you took and place it onto your image. You may have to pay a bit with the size of positioning. 

Step four!

The hardest part is the nose. Open the "liquefy" tool under the "filter" menu and mold the nose using the screen shot as a reference. This can be quite difficult, so make short small changes at a time. Once you've got the nose to your liking, select the "brush" tool again, and change the mode to "darken" and pull the occupancy down to about 15-20%. Then carefully brush in the lower part of the nose to make it darker.

Step Five!

Flatten the image, and then create another background copy. Label this one "darken". Then change the layer mode to "darken" and create a layer mask by clicking the layer mask button. Then, with the brush tool selected, change the color to black, and the foreground color to white. Select the layer mask, and brush back in the background, clothes, eyes, mouth, and hair, leaving only the skin darkened.

Create a new blank layer and name it stripes. Then, with the brush mode to "color" and the occupancy at about 15%, carefully brush in stripes on the skin.

Then create another new layer and name it specks. Change the brush mode to "vivid light" and pull the occupancy up to 25%. Then, sporadicly place specks around the face concentrating on the nose and cheeks.

And there you have it!  You have successfully created your "avatar!"

Author: Ashley Gompert - Anchorage Alaska Photography Examiner, Follow Ashley on twitter , become a fan of her work on Facebook , and friend her on Myspace

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