Photography: Create a Hologram Effect
The day when holograms become real is coming closer and closer. But, in the meantime, Photoshop allows you to create a lot of effects, with holograms being one of them. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to generate this effect using layer styles, brushes and some filters. Ready to begin?
Before we begin, choose a picture to work with and a background that goes well with it. For example, we chose two images from Freepik; specifically this one with a skater, which you can download here, and a brick background, which you can download here and goes well with the picture.
Run Photoshop and click File → Open… or press Ctrl + O (Cmd + O in Mac). Select the picture you want to turn into a hologram and press Open.
Now that we have opened the image of the skater, we need to remove the background. It shouldn’t be too hard, since it’s just a solid color. If you chose to work with a different image, you can use the selection tools and a layer mask to remove the background. In our case, we can make a selection easily using the Magic Wand tool (W). Once the selection has been made, if you need to add more elements to it, don’t forget to press and hold the Shift key.
Create a layer mask and isolate the background. After you’ve selected the background and created the mask, you’ll notice that only the background is visible, but we actually want the opposite to happen. To do so, select the layer mask and press Ctrl + I (Cmd + I in Mac) to invert it. Now only the skater will be visible.
We could leave this for later, but we’re going to do it nonetheless so you can’t see how the effects are applied to this image on a new background. Drag the brick background to the document and place it below the skater layer.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that the clipping of the image is not perfect. However, it doesn’t need to be perfect, and we can polish the mask later on. Alright, let’s begin applying some effects to this skater.
Creating the Holographic Effect
We’re going to apply different effects to this character. We’re going to work mainly with layer styles and filters, so pay attention. Ready to continue?
Select the skater layer and turn it into a smart object. To do that, right-click the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object.
Hold the Ctrl (or Cmd) key and click the skater layer thumbnail to select its contents.
With this selection made, click Select → Modify → Contract… Enter a value of 10 px and click OK.
Keep the selection and click Select → Modify → Feather… or just press Shift + F6. Enter a value of 10 px again. With this, the edges of the selection will look feathered.
Invert the selection by pressing Ctrl + Shift + I (or Cmd + Shift + I).
Click Filter → Blur → Gaussian Blur… and enter a value of 1 px. The edges of the selection will be slightly blurred to better simulate the holographic effect.
Select the skater smart object and create two copies of it to have a total of 3 identical layers. We’ll use them to work with the lighting, the brightness and the motion blur separately. To duplicate the layer, select it and right-click → Duplicate Layer or press Ctrl + J (Cmd + J in Mac).
Hide the layers on top and apply the Linear Light blending mode to the bottom layer.
Now click Filter → Blur → Motion Blur… Leave the angle at 0 so the blur is applied horizontally, which is what we want. Regarding the distance, enter a value between 100 px and 120 px to make the effect noticeable.
Since we’re working with a smart object, this filter acts as non-destructive editing. We can also modify the amount of blur at any time.
Turn on the top layer and open the Layer Style panel.
Create an inner glow. Choose the following settings:
- Blend Mode: Color Dodge
- Opacity: 25%
- Color: #ffffff
Create an outer glow. Choose the following settings:
- Blend Mode: Color Dodge
- Opacity: 100%
- Color: #3f84c1
- Size: 250 px
Click OK to close this panel.
Reduce the fill of the top layer to 0% to see how the effect looks.
Select the middle layer, turn it on and set the blending mode to Luminosity.
Create a new layer on top of the others. Select it and press Shift + F5 to open the Fill dialog box (or click Edit → Fill…). Then, in Content, choose 50% Gray.
Let’s create some lines that simulate the holographic effect. There are different ways to do this, so the way we’re going to show you next is not the only one.
Click Filter → Filter Gallery… Open the Sketch folder and choose Halftone Pattern. Change the size to 2, the contrast to 32, and the pattern type to Line.
Select the three skater layers and create a group for them.
Go to the Channels panel, hold the Ctrl (or Cmd) key and click the RGB channel. Then hide the stripes layer. This selection will be applied to a layer mask for this group.
Duplicate the group. To do so, select it and press Ctrl + J (or Cmd + J in Mac).
We still need to work with the layer styles on the top layer to create a lighting effect for the skater.
Open the group, select the top skater layer and double-click it to open the Layer Style panel. Create an inner glow, and don’t forget to check Preview to see how the effect is taking shape.
Apply these settings:
- Opacity: 100%
- Color: #46bae1
- Source: Center
- Size: 20 px
Create an outer glow with the following settings:
- Opacity: 100%
- Color: #3f84c1
- Size: 110 px
Turn off the motion blur from the third skater layer.
Place this group we’ve been editing below the other one.
Create a new group and place the two we already have inside. Then select the bottom group and change its opacity to 75%.
Finishing the Hologram
Now we’re going to use different adjustment layers to give the final coloring and lighting to the skater. Don’t be discouraged. This is the easiest part!
Create a hue/saturation adjustment layer and place it on top of the entire skater group. Since we want to apply the coloring to the skater only, we need a clipping mask. To create a clipping mask, place the cursor between the adjustment layer and the group and click while holding the Alt (or Option) key.
Let’s set the correct values for the adjustment layer. The saturation must be set close to 100%, so the color is clearly visible, and don’t forget to check the Colorize box. As for the color, we’ve chosen a blue tone (195), but you may use any other blue tone. If you need so, increase the lightness of this adjustment layer. In our case, we reduced it to match the lightness of the background with that of the skater.
Create an exposition adjustment layer and increase the exposition value to +1.5.
Make a copy of the background and place it inside the skater group, at the bottom. Create a layer mask, press Shift + F5 and fill the layer with black.
After filling everything with black, select a brush with a diffuse border and white color, and paint around the skater to make some parts visible.
Keep polishing your work until you get a nice result.
If you think your image is too dark, you could also add a levels adjustment layer, applying it with a layer mask so that it only affects the lighting of the ground. You may set it up however you want, but if you wish to use the same values as we did, just look at the following screenshot.
Holograms tend to look somehow diffuse at the bottom, so we’ll try to mimic that using a layer mask. To do so, create a new group containing the two layers that constitute the skater and apply a layer mask. Then slightly erase the bottom part.
The design is pretty much done. If you want to adjust the lighting, you can do so. We hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found all the steps easy to follow. If you have any questions, please write them in the comments. See you soon!