Sin City Effect Photoshop Tutorial

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I got an idea for this tutorial on one of the photography forums, where I found a topic “Sin City Challenge” (or something like that, I don’t remember exactly). I liked idea of the challenge: take a common photo and try to recreate atmosphere of the “Sin City” movie and posters.

All keyboard shortcuts are for PC. I don’t have a Mac, but as far as I know the main difference is use of the COMMAND key and OPTION key on a Mac instead of the CTRL key and the ALT key on a PC.

Step 1. Analysis.
Before trying to recreate any effect it is always good to make sure that you really realize what you have to do. I always ask myself some questions like “What makes that (mystic, scary, fairy, comic etc.) look?” “What colors, contarast peculiarities, type of composition, additional effects are used?” and so on.If you have not seen “Sin City” movie, you may visit their site for reference. Main components of “Sin City” movie┬ástyle are:

  • b/w images with high contrast
  • glow effect
  • it is pouring!
  • lots of “special effects”, mostly white in color
  • Sin City logo :)

Some images include combination of color and b/w, some are pure b/w. in this tutorial I will work with “pure” b/w “Sin City” effect.

Step 2. Converting to B/W.
First of all, create new layer for b/w. Press CTRL-J (that will duplicate “Background” layer) and rename new layer to… “B/W” :)We need a lot of contrast and details for the b/w image. So take a look at the channels (press CTRL-1, then CTRL-2 and CTRL-3 for R, G and B channels and at last CTRL ~ to return to RGB). Channels with most contrast and most details are Red and Green. Blue channel quality is poor.To take advantage of the details in R and G channels, use Channel Mixer. Select Image – Adjustments – Channel Mixer and use settings like this:

You may experiment with these settings to get the result you like most.

Step 3. Turn day into night – 1.
To turn day into night at first we have to invert the sky. Select sky using Magic Wand Tool (press W). Good chances are that you will get many unnecessary areas selected. Choose Rectangular Marquee Tool (press M) then hold ALT key and deselect unwanted ares.After finished selecting, press CTRL-I to invert the sky. It will turn black. Deselect (CTRL-D).

Step 4. Turn day into night – 2.
We have black sky now, but the roof is still filled with sunlight. Use Burn Tool (press O) to partially darken the image.

Step 5. Add some clouds.
The sky is completely black now. To add some clouds to it, first select the sky, then create new layer, rename it to “Clouds” and then use Filter – Render – Clouds. Reduce “Clouds” layer opacity to 15-20%.

Step 6. It’s pouring!
Use technique described in “Snow Effect Tutorial” to add rain (adding snowfall is very similar to adding rain). I used three layers: one for “spot” rain drops and two for “falling rain” using Motion Blur filter. The trick is to create one motion blurred layer, then duplicate it and press CTRL-T to slightly rotate and move. Then use Eraser tool to remove rain in unnecessary areas.

Step 7. Add some FX.
Well, my effects are rather “descent”. First I created new layer, , renamed it to “FX”, changed its blending mode to “Screen” and used Filter – Render – Clouds. Then Image – Adjustments – Threshold to convert clouds to B/W and decrease their density a little. Then CTRL-T to transform and scale horizontally approximately twice and move to the bottom of the image. And at last, remove unnecessary clouds with Eraser tool.Then I created new layer, renamed it to “Frame” and used “Rough Ink” brush from “Wet Media Brushes” set to draw the frame.

Step 8. Add “Sin City” logo.
Image after adding logo and some slight final editing:
Sin City Photoshop Tutorial Result

The image is best viewed on white (or black), thats why you see white background :)

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  1. wim says:

    looks really nice, i defenitely will try it! thanks

  2. Tav says:

    This looks really good. So far the best tutorial in this topic i’ve seen.. I will defenitely try it.. Thank you!

  3. sheffboialex says:

    dis tutorial is da best! i wernt even lukin 2 make a pik like dis, infact dis is da 1st iv seen of dis website! i just wantd 2 get some sin city piks off google lol but now thanks 2 dis iv got a r8 pik! =D

  4. Chris Jones says:

    I LOVE Sin City

    + now i can be in it!

    excellent work my friend

  5. stephy says:

    i tried it and my photo turned out amazing! thanks so much!

  6. Jim says:

    she is very sexy i would tap her all nite

  7. tulsi says:

    thanks for tutorial. its really wonderful.

  8. taio cruz says:

    How are you, awesome writing.

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