Crazy Creatures in Photoshop

It’s easy to use Photoshop to make crazy creatures.

Here is an abbreviated version of the sequence (in Photoshop 6 and 7) you’ll use for copying and pasting:

1) Crop your photo so that you have about half a face. Then, in Photoshop, Select > All.

2) Edit > Copy.

3) Image > Canvas Size. In the New Size b area of the canvas size box, click the left center anchor square. Put in an amount that doubles the width. This creates new space to paste in your copy.

4) Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical if you’re pasting the copy above or below.

5) Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal if you’re copying to the right or left

6) Use the move tool to position the copy in place, then check the photo by zooming in 400 % to make sure the two halves are seamless.

7) Layer > Flatten Image to combine all the layers into one. (If you skip this step, any filter or corrections will apply only to the pasted layer.)

Start with your favorite photograph or scan of any animal. Simply choose a fascinating face (like I did here with the OLD GNU). Next, copy about half of the face, using the Edit > Copy command, and paste the copy.

When you paste the copy, flip it horizontally and then slide it seamlessly into place. (The process will be easier if you increase your canvas size before you paste.) After you paste the copy, both sides of the animal will be the same, and you’ll have a symmetrical crazy creature. For example, in the photo above, I took a picture of a gnu at the zoo. To make a crazy creature, I used a close-up of half the gnu’s face. Then, I made a copy of that and pasted my copy onto a new, blank canvas area on the right side. In Photoshop, this addition creates a new layer automatically. Thus, when I flipped the new layer horizontally, there were still two layers. I flattened them in the last step. The tricks were fun, because the Old Gnu became cross-eyed!

Wolf Spider

When you copy a piece of a picture to make a reflection, as with the wolf spider photo here, all you need to do is to use Edit > Transform to flip the copy layer upside down. For example, the Wolf Spider you see here was selected using Select All, and then copied.

To make more space, I used the Image > Canvas Size commands and doubled the picture area, leaving space to paste the copy on the bottom half of the frame. I blurred this half before flattening the layer to make a reflection. (You can also darken the reflection if you like using Levels.)

Gator on Your Windshield

The idea for creating the wide smile of “Gator on your Windshield” (above) came to me while I was a passenger on a long drive. Fortunately, I had access to Photoshop in the car. Crazy creatures can surprise you. When an image is copied and flipped in Photoshop, faces and beings can suddenly appear from two identical sides put together.

I began with a close-up photograph of a captive alligator in a glass cage at the zoo. My photo became the left side of the picture. For the right side, I simply copied and pasted the copy to a new layer on the right side. Next, I flipped this new layer, a layer which Photoshop creates automatically whenever you use the Edit > Paste command, using the Photoshop commands: Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. The direct overhead sun was a single light source, so the shadows were in the right place.

Rastaman Of The Sea

For Rastaman of the Sea (above), I used six different images. On a trip to the Smithsonian, I photographed a sea creature called a nautilus (a spiral shelled mollusk that measures about ten inches across). You can’t really see the nautilus in the photo, but when I copied and pasted parts of its white body, the image reminded me of a human face. I copied human eyes from some close-ups of a human face and put them inside the Nautilus. Four other pictures helped me piece Rastaman of the Sea into a unique image: wet dock lines that had frozen for the hair, a nautilus for the white face, and eels from the seafood market for ears. All were layered in Photoshop to create another crazy creature.

To offset your images, you can also add surprising elements on one side only. Here’s a crazy creature called “Horseshoe,” made from my photograph of a horseshoe crab. As you can see, my foot appears on the left side only and was not duplicated.


To manufacture this result, I took two pictures of part of a horseshoe crab. In the first, just the horseshoe crab was in the picture. For the second, I stepped in next to the horseshoe and photographed my foot with half of the crab. Manipulating the first picture of the crab alone, I used Photoshop to copy and paste the picture. (You can see the dividing line down the center of the picture.) Next, I dragged the second picture (the crab plus the foot) over the top of the first picture by employing the move tool, lining the second picture up with the layer below, and erased everything but the foot.

After doing portraiture for twenty years, I enjoy seeking out creative ways to invent faces. In Photoshop, you can use the cut-and-paste process with any portion of your photograph. Part of the fun of making crazy creatures lies in letting your imagination run wild.

Text and Photographs by Jim Austin

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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