Creating a Full-Color Hedcut Effect

Deke's Techniques by Deke McClelland

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke returns the color to his hedcut effect project from last week. Rather than just use the color from the original photo (courtesy of, by the way), Deke uses some Lab color-based, levels adjusted channel operations to create this file which he then overlays with the Hard Light blend mode.

Levels-adjusted Lab color channel in Photoshop

This allows much more refinement than a simple Multiply-blended layer of color, resulting in those outlines around the face getting some color of their own.

If you’d like to get into the guts of Deke’s hedcut effect yourself, and you’re a member of, you can download his sample file at the bottom of this post.

Meanwhile, I’ve been seeing some other similar effects around the webs, and I thought this one from Phototuts+ was pretty cool: a Wave pattern-generating action does the heavy lifting to create this American currency type effect.

A phototuts+ tutorial on using a Wave action to create an engraved effect

Dekesters, you’ve seen similar effects (or customized one for yourself) please feel free to share them here. Members can upload images in the comments.

Deke’s Techniques, making things that try to look like other things then adding color!

Related downloads

  • Exercise Files for DT 723 - 725 Hedcut

Next entry:Creating an E.T. Moon in Photoshop

Previous entry:Creating a Faux Hedcut in Photoshop


  • I don’t know if it’s still not working for you Vectorgeek, but you can watch it (even without membership) here:
  • I have a subscription but that episode wasn’t showing up there yesterday. It’s all good now! I love this technique because it’s so flexible. I was using a great action from Chris Spooner of Spoongraphics but it isn’t quite as flexible as Deke’s technique. You can check it out here:
  • I love collecting variations on technique themes. It’s instructive to see how different people approach different challenges. Thanks!

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