Realistic Bruising in Photoshop

Extreme bruising also includes swelling, especially at the point of impact.
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A bruise temporarily discolors the skin as blood becomes trapped below it from vessels damaged by the impact of a blow. More vividly visible on lighter rather than darker skin tones, bruising changes color as it fades from red to green to yellow. To simulate a bruise in Adobe Photoshop, use image and adjustment layers, separating your effects from the background layer to gain access to options you can't use if you attempt to alter the original layer itself.

1 Image Layer With Brushed Detail

Adobe Photoshop's Brush tool includes options that feather the edges of the area it paints, creating the soft-outlined illusion of a fading bruise. To make these effects look plausible, paint them on a new layer above the main layers of your image or composition. Choose a suitable color -- an olive green, dark blue or dark red, for example. Change the blending mode of the layer to Soft Light, Pin Light or Overlay, and adjust the layer opacity until you're satisfied with the result. These blending modes intensify or replace color, but don't disturb the basic details of the image.

2 Photo Filter Adjustment Layer

The Photo Filter adjustment layer applies allover color toning to an image, simulating the effects of attaching a filter to a camera lens to add a coloration to a photo. If you make a loose, feathered selection before you add the adjustment layer to your image, it applies only in the area you selected. Use a Warming or Cooling preset, and set the blending mode of the layer to Soft Light or Hard Light, producing the grainy texture of a bruise accompanied by tiny scabs over the pores of the skin of a face. This effect only works well when you apply it over the beard pattern of shaved skin.

3 Color Balance Adjustment Layer

With a soft-edged, irregular selection active, add a Color Balance adjustment layer in Soft Light blending mode, and alter its shadow and midtone settings. Drag the sliders all the way to the end of their settings to exaggerate the effect. Because the adjustment layer alters the tones of the existing image rather than superimposing new color on top of it, it creates the appearance of an alteration of the skin tone. To simulate a bruise caused by an object other than a human hand, start with a selection that approximates the shape of the part of the object that contacts the skin.

4 Levels Adjustment Layer

A Levels adjustment layer enables you to control the overall darkness or lightness of a selected area, as well as the mix of color that appears within it. Although its primary purpose lies in correcting images to balance tone and remove color casts, it can also produce creative effects. Make a selection before you apply the adjustment layer. In the Master channel, drag the leftmost slider to the right to darken the shadow detail in the selected area. You can also adjust individual color channels to add to the results.

5 Version Information

Information in this article applies to Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe Photoshop CS6. It may differ slightly or significantly with other versions or products.

Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.