OK, I know I’m late. I missed Halloween and it’s probably a bit obvious to choose an evil pumpkin head for a topic, but this tutorial is not just about making scary looking vegetables, the main point is how to make special effects with blending options and layer effects. This Photoshop tutorial originally appeared in PhotographyBB magazine.

1. In Photoshop, open up your pumpkin photograph.


Image Credit: DawnAllen http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1092859

2. Pumpkins don’t look too scary during the day, so we’ll need to make the picture look a little darker. Click on the Add Adjustment Layers icon (centre) at the bottom of the Layers Palette. From the menu choose Levels. When the Levels dialog box opens, drag the black triangle to the right. Drag the grey triangle to the right. Make sure you have the preview box checked to that you can see how it is affecting your image.


The image should be looking a bit darker and possibly the colours look a little stronger.


3. We’ll make it just a little darker. On the Layers palette, click again on the Add Adjustment Layers icon and this time choose Brightness/Contrast. Drag the brightness button to the left to darken the image, and drag the contrast button to the right to increase the contrast.


Your image and your layers should look a little bit like this:


4. Now it’s time to put a face on the pumpkin. You can do this with a paintbrush or with the pen tool. I used the pen tool to draw a couple of shapes that look like eyes and a mouth and filled them with a light yellow.


You can make the face look any way you like as long as all the light yellow shapes are on the same layer. My pumpkin is looking pretty cheery.

5. To make it look like the face has been carved out rather than just sitting on top of the pumpkin, we’ll add a few layer styles. We also want to give the impression of light glowing from inside.

Select the face layer and on the Layer palettes, click on the Fx icon at the bottom. From the pop-up menu choose outer glow.


Now the options I’m setting up for the layer effects and blending work well with this photograph. If you’re using another picture, it might be a different size and you might need to tweak the numbers. Don’t be afraid to play around with the effects, you won’t break anything.

6. For outer glow I used the following settings:


This gives a slight glow around the edges of the shapes.

7. With the Layer Styles dialog box open, click on Inner Glow (click on the words on the left hand side), and use the following settings:


This gives a thin slightly darker glow on the inside of the face shapes.

8. Next, still inside the Layer Style dialog box, click on Gradient Overlay. We’ll use this to give the impression of light from within. We’ll need to set up the colours for the gradient first though. Click directly on the gradient to open up the gradient editor.


To change the colours on the gradient, double click on a “stop” under the gradient and choose the colour you want from the colour picker. Set up the gradient similar to what you can see above with white going to yellow-orange.

Set the following:


9. The final style we need to apply is a Bevel and Emboss so it looks like the shapes have been cut out of the pumpkin. Still inside the Layer Style dialog box, click on Bevel and Emboss and use the following settings:


Click Ok to apply all of the settings. The image should look a something like this.


And that’s it. Pretty straight forward and easy to do with layer effects and blending. ­I’m thinking my pumpkin might be looking a bit to happy, so I go back and draw the shapes again another time to make him look more evil. That’s the joy of working on something like this in Photoshop. It’s so easy to change any of the layer styles (just click on them in the layers palette) and if you change your original shapes, the styles are applied immediately.