15 Photo Manipulation Ideas for Beginners and Professionals

By Tata Rossi 22 days ago, Inspiration

If you want to diversify your photo processing workflow or get a competitive edge over colleagues, you should definitely try to realize these creative photo manipulation ideas. I have compiled a list of the most popular and trendy manipulations that are bound to impress your followers. Here you can find ideas of different complexity levels, so both beginners and experts can add unique touches to their works.

1. Funky Extrude

photo manipulation ideas funky extrude

This is one of the winning manipulation editing ideas for portrait pictures. In such a way, you can create an interesting headdress or even apply this effect to a model’s face. In this case, it is important to jazz up the background, especially if the original one is plain. You can easily do it with the help of free Photoshop textures.

photo manipulation ideas funky extrude

There are no restrictions when it comes to choosing a new background. You can choose any surface, be it wood, shriveled paper, brick, old paint, etc. The more creative you get, the better result you’ll achieve. If you don’t know how to achieve this effect, you can find lots of detailed Photoshop manipulation tutorials on the net and follow step-by-step instructions.

2. Fire Manipulation

fixthephoto photo manipulation before after fixthephoto photo manipulation before after

Using fiery images and layer masking can result in very spectacular fiery portraits. Such manipulation is particularly suitable for photos with moving objects. However, to get a realistic outcome, you need to add glow to the frame.

Though this effect is awesome and can embellish any image, you may experience problems if you have little editing experience. If this is relevant for you, don’t hesitate and delegate the task to our post production service. We will listen to your requirements and bring the boldest ideas to life in a quick way. You can look through our before and after retouching examples to understand what we can do. You are sure to be pleased with the quality of our works and photo editing prices.

3. Dispersion Effect

photo manipulation ideas dispersion

After Marvel Avengers Infinity War film appeared on a large screen, this has become one of the most popular Photoshop manipulation ideas. The essence of such manipulation is in visually breaking a photo up on one edge so it seems that a photo consists of thousands of tiny pieces.

photo manipulation ideas dispersion

The flying particles can be of any shape – pieces of glass, feathers, geometric shapes, smoke, and whatever you can think of.

4. Cracked Skin

photo manipulation ideas cracked skin

If you have extensive experience in portrait retouching and are looking for cool ways to edit photos, this idea can work just fine. The main idea and simultaneously the main complexity is to combine the original variant of the photo with a texture that contains the cracked effect. By adjusting the opacity of the texture, you may regulate how apparent you want the cracks to be. Note, that usually these changes look great on skin, but not eyes. 

photo manipulation ideas cracked skin

You can apply this effect to the whole face or just its part, creating the illusion that the cracks have just begun to appear. You can also use it in combination with other effects, e.g., the dispersion effect described above. But remember to perform headshot retouching beforehand to get more polished results.

5. Double Exposure

photo manipulation ideas double exposure

This effect is extremely popular nowadays and you have surely seen 2 overlapping images on covers of music albums, in magazines, and ads. Double exposure photography has a long history, rooted in old film photography techniques, and this approach is extensively used in image editing nowadays. If you are just learning how to create double exposure in Photoshop, I recommend using a dark base photo with a rather neutral background and few details. In most cases, retouchers use dark portrait pictures for the base.

photo manipulation ideas double exposure

As for the second photo, you should opt for a bright shot with many abstract patterns, intricate elements, captivating textures, and whimsical details. For instance, you can choose a landscape image, pictures of flowers and vegetation, forestry, trees and urban architecture for layering on top of the base photo.

6. Glitch Distortion

photo manipulation ideas glitch

Many photo manipulation artists are in love with the glitch effect mainly because of its unobtrusive yet interesting way of changing images. This effect is frequently used in social media posts, music clips, and you can also see it as an unexpected sequence of malfunctions in video games, recordings, and image files.

photo manipulation ideas glitch

In photography, you can create glitches of different shapes and sizes. Besides, you can experiment with colors, textures, and even dimensions of an object in a picture to create a really unique effect. The most typical glitches are static lines and even sections that are arranged in the wrong order.

7. 3D Red Cyan

photo manipulation ideas 3d red cyan

This is one of those photo manipulation ideas that originate from the anaglyph effect, which is actually a 3D picture made up of several integrated images of the same object captured from 2 different perspectives. It resembles retro 1950’s 3D movies and you need to wear 3D glasses to scrutinize such photos.

photo manipulation ideas 3d red cyan

Another option is to mimic software shift with red and blue colors involved, using a so-called “depth map”. With the help of the RGB Color Mode, you can experiment with 3D looks to fully reveal your creative vision.

8. Halftone Pattern

photo manipulation ideas halftone pattern

If you are after retro-inspired manipulation editing ideas, creating a halftone pattern is a great jump-off point. It appeared in the 20th century as a printing technique, when images were made of patterns of dots. At that period, the printing process was just developing and the halftone was a way to create the appearance of colors and shades. Nowadays, image editing experts like simulating halftone effects to spruce up pictures with retro vibes.

photo manipulation ideas halftone pattern

The most pleasing thing about such manipulation is that you can use it while editing portrait, wedding, and even landscape photos. If you deal with color pictures, the halftone will also be in colors. As for B&W images, you’ll get the monochrome halftone.

9. Crt Screen

photo manipulation ideas crt screen

This effect shares the same base with the above-mentioned option. It allows transforming your digital images into visuals from an old TV set. Thanks to a special pixel texture, luma glow, and chromatic aberration, the Crt Screen can totally overhaul the look of your pictures. Besides, you may complement your photos with interleaved lines or “Scan Lines” for a very authentic feel.

photo manipulation ideas crt screen

Besides, you can apply such an effect if you want to make your photos look like screenshots from a video game. You will get the most eye-catching result if a source photo features neon elements.

10. 3D Glitch

photo manipulation ideas 3d glitch

This glitch effect is unique as it combines with a 3D effect. It resembles glitches typically present on VHS tapes.

11. Cartoon Portrait

photo manipulation ideas cartoon

One of the most creative ways to edit photos is to turn portraits into cartoonish images. Currently, it is very popular to use such cartoon versions of shots as profile pictures on social networks. So, if you are experiencing a hard time, trying to figure out how to have a successful Instagram, you can start with realizing this idea.

photo manipulation ideas cartoon

If you don’t want to make manual changes, you can use special image cartoonizer software or cartoon pictures apps for streamlined transformations. They allow transforming images based on a comic-book style, adding pop art cartoon effects, turning people into anime characters, and more. Or, you can go even further and apply Photoshop zombie effects for an absolutely jaw-dropping look.

12. Ink Smudge Effect

photo manipulation ideas ink smudge

Those searching for unusual photo manipulation ideas, should have a closer look at this concept. Though it may seem complicated, in fact, you can achieve the desired result if you have proper ink smudge and smear brushes at your disposal. The process will take several minutes.

By blending the smudges with the original photograph, you’ll receive a sense of fluidity, movement, and abstraction. The result is a visually captivating and unique image with an artistic touch.

13. Head Smoke

photo manipulation ideas head smoke

Adding smoke to pictures is a simple yet wonderful way to complement images with a mystical and enigmatic atmosphere. It is better to apply this effect to half-face portrait photos with a neutral background. Use free Photoshop brushes to realize this idea.

14. Human Robot Hybrid

photo manipulation ideas hybrid

Though the concept of a cyborg (half human – half machine) isn’t new, we still like examining such images, wondering about things that are hidden inside their bodies. This effect is best suited if you want to create a futuristic photo. Add a techno background and neon lights, and perform moody color correction to end up with a lifelike appearance.

photo manipulation ideas hybrid

To create a cyborg or robot effect in Adobe Photoshop, you need to mask out some part of the face/body where you want the changes to show through. Then, go to the Layers Effects panel to add inner shadows for a natural result.

15. Paint Splash

photo manipulation ideas paint splash

Filling your images with splashes can totally change the way they are perceived. First of all, they acquire a dynamic component, which will make viewers inspect photos longer to grasp the concept. It is advantageous to turn splashes of paint into stylish clothes pieces. Dresses and skirts are particularly suitable for such alterations as they will look flowy.