Undressed Vampiress...

I am challenging myself to pick a shot from each shoot I do and create a more advanced edit that I would normally do. This will keep my Photoshop skills up and I can learn new techniques as I work.

On the 12th of June I was asked to shoot for the House of Burlesque at the Electric Carousel in Piccadilly. It was a standard shoot of the show with a few shots of the stage and audience thrown in. Images were sorted, edited and delivered the next day. I then looked for which of the shots I would like to edit beyond the standard.

I choose a shot of performer Trixie Kixx. There were a number of things that I wanted to change from the original. I was going for a ‘vampire’ type vibe as an end result. This was taken with my 70d and the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8.

  • The red curtain needed to be removed in favor of the better right hand side of the frame.
  • Skin needed to be smoother and somewhat waxier.
  • Remove distractions.
  • Reduce the overall redness.
  • The lighter and darker parts of the clothing needed to be enhanced.

If the above worked I should be looking at something that may have been shot in a crypt rather than on a stage.

One of the first thing I did was to clean up the image, using the spot healing tool in Photoshop CC 2015 to remove scrapes, blemishes and other pieces that I knew would be trouble and stand out later. On the inside of the coat there looked to be stains of some sort. These turned out to be flower patterns woven into the fabric. I didn't think flowers were very 'vampish' so these were removed.

The next stage was to tidy up the curtain on the left hand side. I used a shot a couple of seconds after this one where there was more of the right hand side showing. I add this as another layer and used a mask to remove the parts of the shot I didn't need. The mask followed the line of Trixie's arm and right leg.

I then decided it would be a good idea.to blend the two layers together to make a background layer and then create a mask of Trixie herself to aid in edits further on. I darkened the Background layer a little to reduce the red glow.

I made a copy of the Trixie layer and used a slight Gaussian effect to blur the skin. Again a mask was used and brushed back the clothing and necklace. This smoothed out the skin and allowed me to also add a brightness layer to brighten the skin and make it stand out from the background.


A Trixie layer was exported back to Lightroom and opened in Topaz Glow. I had an idea to enhance the clothing and necklace. Choosing a preset and saved back to Lightroom, opened back into Photoshop and copied to the main project.

The whole of that layer was effected by the Topaz Glow effect so I added a mask and brought back only the areas of the clothing that I required. However this had the effect of making the highlights look like diamonds. It was a nice effect but not what I needed here. So I used and Curves adjustment layer and reversed the effect.

This had the effect of darkening and reddening the detail which fitted the vampish effect I wanted. I darkened the rest of the clothing to make it darker than it's original color.

The final TIFF was saved with ZIP compression to layers so the overall size was around 600mb rather than 1.4gig.

Final adjustments were made in Lightroom were used to sharpen the red highlights of the clothing and headpiece. With slight darkening around the edges of the arms and legs just to blend Trixie in a bit better with the background.

Adjustment brushes were used to lighten and De-saturate the skin where needed. I didn't want the skin to look to undead like but not quite 'alive' if you know what I mean.

Finally I used a custom preset to darken and add a slight blue tint to the background. This needed removing from Trixie again so back whet both the darken and normal images as layers and the the dark parts removed.

The final image is below along with the original for comparison.


Before and After... no vampires were harmed in the making of this image.

Trixie Kixx is a Neo burlesque artiste with all the curves and all the moves!

Follow Tixie on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trixiekixx/, Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks to Trixie for allow me to feature her performance in this blog post.