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Photography: Create an Ice Effect

Beginner level Adobe Photoshop Adobe Photoshop

Introduction

In this tutorial, we're going to learn how to easily get an ice effect on our photos. To do so, we'll use preset filters in Photoshop, masks to separate areas and some adjustment layers for colors. It's pretty easy so, let's get started!

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Image Selection

Before starting, we need to choose an appropriate image to work with. We have to make sure that its shadows and lighting effects are noticeable, especially in the area we want to create an ice effect. 

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Isolating Areas

Once we've selected an optimal image to work with, the next step will be separating the areas we want to frost. In this picture, we're going to apply the ice effect on the arms. 

Step 1

Let's duplicate our image pressing Ctrl/Cmd + J or right click > Duplicate Layer. Then, insert a layer mask by pressing the button below. Now, with the brush in black, remove the area around the arm until we isolate it. 

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Step 2

We're going to duplicate it once again and repeat the same process with the other arm until both areas are isolated. 

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Step 3

After that, we're going to apply layer masks in both arms again and cut them out. To do so, just right click on the mask and select Apply Layer Mask.

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Step 4

Once both arms are completely isolated, let's duplicate them (Ctrl/Cmd + J) to create two copies. It's important to save these copies and keep them in case we make a mistake and we need the layer with the arms isolated again. 

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Adust and Apply Artistic Filter

Step 1

Let's begin with the layer of the left arm. What we are going to do is desaturate it but... how? Well, with the layer selected, press Ctrl/Cmd + Mayús + U or simply go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.

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Step 2

Now, go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Artistic. Select the Plastic Wrap filter and, then, adjust the parameters Highlight Strength, Detail and Smoothness to get a crystalline effect on our arm. You can tweak the parameters, depending on the image you're working with, in order to get the desired effect. 

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Step 3

After applying the filter, select the mask and invert the color by pressing  Ctrl/Cmd + I. You'll get something like this:

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Step 4

Finally, we're going to put our layer in the Screen blending mode, with which we'll get smooth and white lines similar to light flashes caused by ice.

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Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers

Step 1

Once the layer is selected, we'll create a group by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + G or by pressing the button below, the one that resembles a folder. 

Step 2

After that, press the icon of the circle in the panel below and then select Hue/Saturation... to create an adjustment layer that we'll place inside the group previously created. This step is very important since we're going to link it to the group afterward. 

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Step 3

Let's clip our Hue/Saturation layer to he group. this means that all the changes introduced regarding hue and saturation will be applied to all the layers included in this group. To do so, press and hold Alt and then click on the line between the group and the Hue/Saturation layer. Right after clicking, an arrow must appear on the left side of the layer, which means that it has been linked correctly. 

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Step 4

Once all the elements are organized correctly, we're going to adjust the hue and saturation layer. Let’s double-click on the icon on our layer in order to open the Properties panel. Check the option Colorize and adjust the color. In this case, we're going to pick light blue. Also, we’ll need to lower the saturation and keep lightness at 0. You can tweak these parameters as you prefer depending on the result you’re looking for.

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Adjust and Apply Distort Filter

Step 1

Let’s rename our group as “left arm” and duplicate the layer of the arm (Ctrl/Cmd + J). Then, we’re going to add a distort filter to this new layer. Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Distort > Glass. With this filter, we're going to get a texture on our arm similar to glass. As we did previously, now we need to adjust the texture parameters, which are Distortion, Smoothness and Scaling.

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Step 2

After applying the filter, we’re going to adjust the opacity and the fill of the two layers. In this case, I’ve set the fill at 80% and 30%. Also, remember to set both layers to Screen blending mode. In case we’re working with other blending modes, the result we get will be different. So you’re free to change it and select another mode if you want a different result.

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Refining Edges

As we did previously, we’re going to create a layer mask, this time inside the group. Select a black brush and adjust the opacity. Then, blur the arm until we get a gradient effect in the edges. This will help us to get a more realistic aspect which fits better in the image and creates an ice effect on the skin. 

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Repeat the Procedure

Now, we're going to repeat the same procedure with the other arm, so it’s important we use the same layer hierarchy and get a similar effect in both arms. The hierarchy must always be as follows: Hue/Saturation > Group > Two layers for the arms. Also, don't forget to adjust opacity and fill

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Final Details

Step 1 

In order to add the final details, we’re going to select one of the groups, right click and then press Blending Options. Now, let’s select Outer Glow, select a blue color and adjust the opacity to set it at a proper intensity. We’ll follow the same steps for our two groups. 

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Step 2 

Let’s adjust the opacity and the fill of our groups. In this case, I’ve set the fill at 60% in each group, and this is the result I got. You can adjust these parameters depending on the result you want to achieve. 

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Step 3

It’s also possible to create this ice effect in other body parts, if and when they have marked shadows and lighting effects. In this case, we’re going to select the abdomen with a layer mask and follow the same steps than before using similar filters and hierarchy. 

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Step 4

Lastly, let’s add two adjustment layers: a curves layer and a gradient map. Then, we’re going to bring them at the beginning of the project, above the rest of the layers. I’ve used a blue and green gradient map and I've set opacity and fill at 50% in both of them. We’re going to use the curves layer to adjust the final shadows and lighting effects, which will contribute to lighten up the picture and increase the contrast a bit more. 

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Try out different gradient maps to get different color effects!

And...we're done!

Just follow the same steps for all the parts. I encourage you to practice this effect on pictures downloaded for free from Freepik or with your own images. If you have any doubt, don’t hesitate to write it in the forum. We’re looking forward to seeing your project!


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Create this amazing ice effect in your photographs and leave everyone FROZEN! In this tutorial, you’ll learn to turn a normal image into something amazing using only a few tools. Ready?

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