Creating the Urban effect on your pictures

I’m a big fan of dramatic urban-stylish pictures and today I tried out a few new tricks I learned in Photoshop. It’s actually a rather easy process to give your pictures that Urban look.

The first thing you’ll have to do is find a picture you like and open it op in Photoshop (if you’ve taken the picture in RAW you’ll have a benefit, however I won’t be discussing the process of RAW today). I used a picture of Angelina Jolie I found on google.

Once you’ve opened it in Photoshop duplicate the layer (CMD + J on Apple, CTRL + J on Windows). Once you’ve duplicated the layer you’ll have Angelina (or any other image) twice. Next we’re going to desaturate the top layer (CMD + Shift + U) and we’ll have our image in black and white.


Next duplicate the top layer again and if you’ve done everything correctly you’ll have 4 layers.
Screen shot 2009-10-23 at 11.06.58 AM

Select the top layer again and set blending mode to soft light, and set the layer below it to screen. This will take out a lot of color information but it will increase the contrast quite a lot (and that’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve!). The next step is to merge all the layers together on to a new layer leaving the other layers intact (CMD + Opt + Shift + E on Apple, ctrl + alt + shift + E on windows). Select this layer and set the blending mode to multiply

If done everything correctly you’ll have the following picture

Next create a new curves layer (Layer => New adjustment layer => Curves) and add some more contrast to the image. I’ve made the dark areas of the image slightly darker and highlighted some of the light areas with the following curve:
Screen shot 2009-10-23 at 11.23.58 AM

And we have our result!

Of course there’s a lot of tweaking you can do your self and it’s far from perfect, however it gives you an idea on how to give your dull images a more urban feel to it.

See before and after on flickr

    • maureen
    • October 27th, 2009

    Hey Jeff!! Mate!! I’m impressed…we need to sit together soon
    maureen [jaja, in Oz nog steeds]

      • Jeffrey Wilcke
      • October 29th, 2009

      We should! 🙂

  1. November 17th, 2009

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