I'm trying to make an image in which I edit someone's arm to look like it's robotic, with the fingers turning to frayed wires at the tips. It's for a college photo manipulation class, and the assignment has to be made with real life photos, but the professor linked this artwork here as inspiration for us, so she must think it's possible to create this effect in Photoshop. I'm trying to recreate a similar effect where one set of shapes (branches in the example, wires in mine) are manipulated into the shape of another object. I've been trying to do my own research to find tutorials on how to create this effect, but I must be guessing at all the wrong terms for it because none of the results I'm getting are even close.

I just want to know what a photo manipulation technique that would produce similar-looking results would be called so I can look up tutorials for myself, but if anyone has a direct link to a tutorial as well I certainly wouldn't complain.

It's for a school assignment, so absolutely no AI-related answers if it can be avoided.

  • 3
    it is not an effect. it is a drawing. Lots of hand-work.
    – Yorik
    Apr 16 at 18:15
  • I'm aware that the example image is a drawing. But the teacher provided it as inspiration for photo manipulation, so I'm seeking a way to create a similar effect when manipulating other images. Apr 16 at 18:20
  • 2
    There is no one technique for this. Three people may use three widely different approaches Apr 16 at 19:39

1 Answer 1


The name of the technique is "compositing".

Compositing is the process or technique of combining visual elements from separate sources into single images.

So you have two images: A photo and a fake arm. The detail is where that arm comes from.

Option 1. Model a 3D shape, define light shadow and perspective. Export the asset and make a photo editing with it.

Something like this:

enter image description here

The most important thing to integrate an element to a photo are the projected shadows and reflections. Like on the floor on this case.

enter image description here

enter image description here

For the specific wire armature look at tutorials. You need to be very specific on what you want. For example this:


Be ready to enter the rabbit hole of 3D procedural modeling.

Option 2. Paint individual wires When you paint over a video it is called rotoscoping. Paint reflections consistently, the same as shadows.

Look at tutorials like this: Drawing Wires Ps

Option 3.

But there are some other techniques like frequency separation, blending modes, transparency, masks, etc. There are tons of tutorials, just look for the right words.




  • I'm a bit lost. Why 3D model an arm if you're going to paint the frayed wires in photoshop? Isn't it easier to just forgo the 3D part and paint directly on top of the photo?
    – Luciano
    May 17 at 9:27
  • "I edit someone's arm to look like it's robotic, with the fingers turning to frayed wires at the tips" I would make a robotic arm in 3D. That is just me. Another option is to paint it of course.
    – Rafael
    May 17 at 18:11
  • I agree that 3D is the best route for this, I thought the question was about doing it specifically in PS.
    – Luciano
    May 21 at 8:26
  • 1
    The photo manipulation technique is compositing and can be done in Photoshop. n_n
    – Rafael
    May 21 at 16:03

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