Semester One Final Project: H. R. Giger Portrait

Giger portriat by Robert Barnett

Who or what have you always wanted to be?

Transform yourself using the power of digital imagery! Welcome to the Giger Portrait Project where each student will use a digital self-portrait and imported textures and objects to become angels, demons, mythical figures, vampire, werewolf, rock star, or characters from popular culture…

artist: H.R. Giger

Giger portrait by Allison Williams

Students will complete a portrait that demonstrates everything they have learned about photography and editing techniques in Photoshop, based on the work of artist and creature designer of the aliens from the movie Alien, H.R. Giger!

Students may choose any inspiration they wish from popular culture, to movies or books.

Items you need to gather for this Project:

  • Four new digital photos of your face taken by you for this project
  • imported or taken digital photos of animals eyes, fur, parts of faces
  • sunglasses?
  • costume/headgear?
  • One 3D item to scan/photograph and insert into your head or face
  • Two photos/scans of textures from indoors/outdoors
  • wig/makeup/face paint/props?
  •  Image(s) for background

Using paper if you do not have access to a computer, or using Microsoft Powerpoint or Word- create a ” Mind Map” or a “Brainstorm” to help you develop your ideas. Fill the page with all of your ideas, and draw a web of lines to connect these ideas as they develop.


Mind Map by Angel Cruz


sem 1 final-robert barnett

Here’s how the project works: In the photo above, the student was photographed by a partner wearing the black suit he brought in for the project. He also put product in his hair to increase the effect. Many (10-12) shots were taken to get the look of the “Smith” character from the Matrix. Choosing your inspiration can help you make the choices on how to proceed with your work.

How did he choose the circuit board? He brainstormed textures and things that he associated with the character “Smith” from the Matrix movie. He also brought in circuit boards to scan and/or photograph, to use to create a textured look over his own actual skin. His face was converted to grayscale, then painted in Photoshop. The blood was painted on using the brush tool. The background was imported from an image (also from the Matrix movie) found on the web that was not 72 DPI, but much larger.

Again, here is an online resource for inspiration in creating your transformation:



Only one quarter of each photo will be used for the final image!


With 4 photos of you masked together, we have the base for our Giger Portrait.


  1. Start by taking four (4) photos of your own face, with four different moods or looks. Each number respresents another photo that will be masked together to create the composite image that is the Giger portrait. Here is a diagram of where your photos can be masked together:
  2. Choose the layer that has the photo of you (in color) and make sure that layer is selected and Rasterize it by right clicking on the name of the layer. Now choose Image-Adjustments- Hue/Saturation and slide the saturation slider all the way to the left until your photo is Black and White.
  3. When taking photos of textures, use your transformation as inspiration. If your looking to turn yourself into an angel, what textures do you think of when you imagine an angel? It could be something soft, like feathers. If you wanted to re-create yourself as a gory, disgusting monster, you might take pictures of slimy textures like grease or mud.
  4. Now find two objects to photograph in a clean environment (put them on a sheet of white paper or on an empty tabletop so masking them is easy).
  5. Import all four photos of your face and the two objects into one Photoshop Document, then mask out the parts you do not need. Name and organize your layers so they are easy to find and work on. Be sure to mask the edges of the objects cleanly so they appear to really be part of your image. Save the file as FinalLastFirst.psd
  6. Paint on your face as needed to colorize your transformation, just like when you colored your hair, skin, and clothes in Exercise Two. Think of creative ways to really alter your appearance. You may also choose to use the Brush Tool as long as you lower both the Opacity and Flow so that you do not paint over yourself.
  7. Experiment with the Filter tab to alter or enhance your textures or parts of your image by selecting areas, then applying a filter to them to see the effects. Be careful with filters- don’t let them dominate your image, just enhance it.
  8. Find a way to import your textures into the image of your face, altering the quality of your skin or hair perhaps. Once the images are imported, mask them over the area you have chosen and change the layer mode to Overlay so that the texture blends over your skin (or hair or eyes).

    Giger Portrait by Tyler Treves

  9. Free transform (Control + T, then right click) and move the masked objects and insert or place them in the image so that they somehow belong there (like the circuit board or the scissors).
  10. Find or shoot a background image to use to complete your transformation, making sure that it is high resolution (not 72-96 DPI).
  11. Add any final touches you think your transformation needs…
  12. Turn it in to your Edmodo as GigerLastFirst.psd (photoshop document) with all layers named and organized. This project is worth 200 Points! Here is how you will be graded, click on the link to download your dig photosemster1-final-grading-rubric!

50 points- masking more then one shot of your face

50 points- masking in 3D objects, background

50 points- creative use of textures overlayed

50 points-effort and participation in class

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s