Taking a picture of a pretty girl and giving it the wow factor with some clever details is one of the most popular uses for Photoshop. In this tutorial, Photoshop guru Rob Shields shows how to execute the style with real flair, applying digital painting techniques, compositing and layer masks to stunning effect.

We will explore how layer masks can be used to refine the dripping paint effect and why digital painting is essential for cutting out the model’s hair successfully. You will also create custom gradients, learn perspective blurring to add depth, as well as applying background textures.

The goal is to create an image that is based in photo manipulation with accents of airbrushing and digital paint. You’ll find a graphics tablet very useful for the finer detail.

The model shot and background texture have been kindly provided by Photostogo; download them from digitalartsonline.co.uk/downloads (registration is required) before starting the tutorial. The stomach image is by NotSchockSchwere at DeviantArt (bit.ly/a5NaGo), and strawberry images are available for free from Stock.xchng (bit.ly/ave11u).

Step 1 Open 23810987.jpg (downloaded from our site). Using the Pen tool, carefully outline the girl. Be sure to follow the shape of her body exactly but at this point don’t worry about being exact around the hair. Once the outline is finished right-click (Ctrl + click) anywhere on the screen and select Make Selection. Then select the Marquee tool (M), right-click and select Layer via Cut.