I'm wondering how they actually achieved this kind of effect?

enter image description here image from http://www.thecapitol.pn/

Could you give me some suggestions: are there any techniques to get the same effect? I tried many ways in Photoshop. I have more than 5 years of experience in Photoshop, but my results are not the same?

What should I do?

  • 1
    My hunch is that it's a 3D sculpture - probably ZBrush or something like that.
    – bemdesign
    Dec 22, 2014 at 0:04
  • I know it is created in zbrush However can I achieve similar effects in any colored photos?
    – Shaxrillo
    Dec 22, 2014 at 0:07
  • 2
    Desaturate and convert to black and white, use levels/curves to pull details out, carefully bump up the luminosity (i.e. remove blacks except in shadow areas), and then careful dodge and burn to pull out details as needed.
    – bemdesign
    Dec 22, 2014 at 1:45
  • Related, almost a duplicate: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/50918/…
    – Rafael
    May 17, 2017 at 13:26

2 Answers 2


Your sample is not a sculpture. It's actors, in make up, in front of a camera. There may have been some post processing. However I'd wager that 80-90% of the work is actually in the photography and not in software. People do still take photographs. Not everything is created in software.

If you want something even close to similar you'll need ninja-style 3D modeling skills and then great texture creations for surfaces.

You could spend a huge amount of time on something like this with just a raster image editor and never match what the camera does with real life and makeup. However, if you've got great photo-realism painting skills you may be able to pull it off. As for "how to paint photo-realism" I wouldn't know where to begin explaining.


I was writing this answer for some other recently asked question but it was closed later for being duplicate, so instead I'm writing it here.

Although not sure about the technique used to achieve this but I think it's quite not impossible to achieve similar effect if you can spend some time in Photoshop. Further you'd need a lot of masking and separate layers, especially for visible body parts which are dark, like hair, mustache etc.

The technique I'm going to use is gradient mapping and can work better for visible body parts if:

  1. Image has high resolution
  2. Hair and mustache are not dark (in my example hair were black, so I had to do separate adjustment for hair and eyebrows.

All other stuff, like clothes, objects are relatively easy to approach for this effect, but again you'll have to separate them into different layers if they have color differences. For example, I've separated trouser and shirt as they had different colors and it would be difficult to use same effect layer on them.


  1. First of all, separate measure components of the photo like trouser, shirt, face and hands.
  2. You may want to adjust contrast/brightness or Levels of the photo a bit
  3. Add a Gradient Map for each of them. You'll need to adjust them for each layer. Here are a couple of samples and Layers preview:

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

  1. Do hair and eyebrows fixes by adding another gradient map on the top and masking (you can create separate layers too for them, if it's easy to mask them)
  2. Add any photo filter layer on the top (used to make the overall look a bit yellowish/warm)

enter image description here

Further, final result (sculpture look) also depends on the objects inside the image, type of clothes they are wearing, original contrast and lights etc. For example, I would also possibly remove the tattoo on the hand of the guy.

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/9QW52RyBLao

  • 1
    That's a pretty good result! The tones look very similar to the given example. Now it also becomes obvious that part of what makes the Hunger Games image look so good is the lighting itself. It has an almost satin like look but still with very sharp details. Can't easily be achieved digitally if your image doesn't have these qualities to begin with.
    – Wolff
    Mar 21, 2021 at 9:58
  • @Wolff yes, if image had more resolution and we spend some more time, result would be even better.
    – Vikas
    Mar 21, 2021 at 10:03
  • 1
    Instead of gradient mapping, i would have used black and white adjustment layer, to control the white and black on each range of color (in skin tone, red and yellow will be down for example). But on your example, gradient map work really fine, nice idea.
    – TheSqu
    Mar 21, 2021 at 13:02
  • @TheSqu, that was also my initial thought, but Black & White doesn't let you control neutral colors and you can't lighten really dark areas and end up doing some masking anyway.
    – Wolff
    Mar 21, 2021 at 17:17

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