How to Make a Portrait with City Elements in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you how to make a portrait with city elements in Photoshop. This is a intermediate level difficulty tutorial and can be a bit tricky to complete, but why not have a try!

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Note: The Photoshop tutorial is done in Photoshop CC – therefore some screenshot may have slighting different layout as in the earlier version. Some brushes are exclusive to Photoshop CS6 or above.

Here is a preview of the final effect I have for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)


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OK Let’s get started!

To complete this tutorial, you will need the following stocks:


City Stock 1 by Allendra3

City Stock 2 by ChrisBeckerArt

City Stock 3 by fl8us-stock

Splatter Brushes

Cloud Brushes (Download a few from the list)

Step 1

Create a new document sized 907px*1380px with white background. Load the model into Photoshop. Cut out the model and paste it to our document:

1 paste

Use a cloud brush you downloaded as eraser, go through the hair, shoulder region of the model as shown below:

1 erase 2

Also use a soft eraser to remove the bottom right part of the model – we will place a few elements inside this later on:

1 erase

Step 2

Apply the following adjustment layers as clipping masks for the model layer created in the previous step:

Black and White

2 bw

On the layer mask of the black and white adjustment layer, use the splatter brush as eraser, remove some parts around the face and fingers as shown below:

2 bw mask

2 bw mask 2


2 curves

And here is the effect so far:

2 effect

Create a new layer below the model layer, use the cloud brush to paint some cloudy effect as shown below:

2 cloud


Step 3

Load the “City Stock 1” image into Photoshop, select the red building from the image:

3 sel

Copy and paste the building below the in between the model layer and the cloud layer, resize it to fit our canvas size. Reduce its layer opacity to around 80%:

3 paste

Use the Splatter Brush as eraser, remove some parts of the city building as shown below:

3 erase

Apply the following image adjustment layers as clip masks for this building layer:

Black and White

3 bw


3 lvs


3 curves

Here is the effect so far:

3 effect


Step 4

Load the “City Stock 2” into Photoshop and select the following building:

4 build

Copy and paste the building into the following area of our canvas, use free transform tool and eraser tool to fit the building into the model’s body shape:

4 paste

Apply the following adjustment layers to this building layer:

Black and white

4 bw


4 lvs

and here is the effect so far:

4 effect

Step 5

Load the “City Stock 3” image into Photoshop, select the road part with the direction sign:

5 road

Copy and paste the selection to our document and put it below the model layer, use the free transform to adjust its shape:

5 paste

Apply the following image adjustments to this road layer:

Black and White

5 bw


5 lvs


5 curves

and you will have the following effect:

5 effect

Step 6

We will be adding a couple traffic lights and street signs to our image. Go to “City stock 1” and select the following traffic light:

6 sel traf

Copy and paste the selection to our document, re-size and place it over to the city street:

6 paste

Apply the following image adjustments to this traffic light:


6 curves


6 lvs

and here is the effect:

6 effect

Go to “City stock 3” image and select the following street lamp and advertisement:

6 sel 2

Copy and paste it to our document and apply the following image adjustments:

Black and white

6 bw 2


6 lvs 2

Attach this element to the model as shown below:

6 effect 2

Step 7

We’re almost done! To finalise this photo manipulation, I added a couple of image adjustment layers on top to give it some colour:

Selective Color

7 reds

7 whites

7 neu

7 blacks


7 vib


and here is my final effect: (click to enlarge)


That’s it for this tutorial! Hope you enjoy it and find it useful! If you have any questions about the steps, please contact me or leave a comment below. I will try my best to answer them.

Till next time, have a great day!


  • My name is James and I have been using Photoshop since version 5.0 (long time ago!). PSD Vault is my spare time hobby and I write majority of the Photoshop tutorials and articles here. I hope you enjoy my blog, and feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

  • Show Comments

  • John

    Nice use of black and white adjustment. Curious why not layer blends, perhaps in combination with adjustment layers? As a middle school art teacher always looking for ways to let students expand their knowledge, technique, and curiosity. Tutorial reminds me a little of Tim Maars and his compositions.

  • The selective color realy great..

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