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This Halloween, I had wild ambitions to DIY our costumes. But, projects have gotten a little too stacked up, and we just couldn’t get our shit together in time. Womp, womp.


charlie sees a ghost

Even though it was a little disappointing not to break out the glitter and special effect makeup like last year, we still found a way to have a little fun thanks to Photoshop!

K and I have been obsessed with the new Netflix show The Haunting of Hill House, and it inspired me to create a few “hidden ghosts” of our own.

I’m pretty new to Photoshop, so this was more or less a great way for me to learn some new tricks and figure out the basics (that I know I’ll use for normal photo needs again and again). I shared these pics on Instagram earlier today, and just thought it would be fun to go ahead and share these with you, along with my notes on how I did it. My only regret is that I didn’t take screen shots while I was figuring things out (that would have taken a LOT more time and I wasn’t expecting to write this up at the time). But if it will get you even halfway there, I’ll pass on my notes!


(I’ll circle back to this post when I have the chance and recreate one of the photos if I get more questions on this and it seems like people really want it.)

How to add a “hidden” ghost in a photo with Photoshop

  1. Select a photo with a main subject that can have a ghost somewhere in the background — under a chair, in the reflection of a mirror, half-behind a wall, etc. We obviously took the couch photos with this in mind.
  2. Turn the image to black & white and bump up the contrast.
  3. Find a stock photo of a figure that would be good to turn into a ghost (either by purchasing a stock photo or finding one on a reputable free image site, such as Unsplash or Pixabay — do NOT steal photos from Google image search!). I used this one, but there are lots of great options.
  4. Open the second image and use the lasso/magic wand/quick selection tools to isolate the outline of the “ghost”, then copy and paste it into the first image (will create a Layer)
  5. Stretch/shrink the layer to fit to scale with the rest of the photo. Bump down the Opacity (to make the ghost see-through), change to black and white, add noise to make it look grainy, etc.
  6. Duplicate the ghost layer and all of the effects so there are two duplicate layers (there’s probably an easier way to do this, so please ignore if there’s a better way).
  7. Add a “warp” to one of the ghost layers to get it to overlap-but-not perfectly-overlap the other ghostly layer. This is what adds the there-but-not-there creepiness, as if the ghost is coming into focus.
  8. Add a “glow” effect to the other layer (either outer or inner… I tried both). This makes things a bit more fuzzy but you can still make out features.
  9. Play with the opacity and other layer effects until it looks like a ghost.
  10. Since I did multiple sizes and had to remove part of the figure to look like it was in the mirror, I also used the Elliptical Marquee Tool (default is the rectangle, but you change it to a circle selection) to cut out everything but the part that overlapped the mirror. I also used the Lasso tool to follow along the line of the top of the couch and delete the bottom of the ghost’s dress.

ghost in the garden

I’m sure if I worked on it for a few more hours, it could look even better. But it was a lot of fun to do, and a great way to pick up some new techniques. The fact that K was so enthusiastic to join in on the fun was also pretty awesome, since K is understanding the “my life is on the internet… a lot” thing more and more.

In hindsight, I’m now even thinking that I should have instead put a spooky face in the narrow doorway area you can see past the stairs for an even subtler look, but there’s always next year (and we had so much fun trying to snap photos with the dogs that I can’t imagine not doing something like this again). I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween! Tomorrow, for me, begins the Christmas frenzy; I know that there are plenty of people who won’t want to see Christmas posts yet, but it’s just the nature of the Pinterest/blog world. I’ve gotta plan early to decorate early to edit and post in time, and a longer planning period means I get to both do the work and enjoy the holiday, too. I’ve got some exciting stuff on the way, including a new cross stitch series that I’ll get into tomorrow. These will be a busy few weeks, so it’s very likely I’ll continue my same tradition of posting more frequently until the new year. Have a great one!

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    1. The most popular comment of the day! My mom said the same thing, ha! Unfortunately, all she seemed to do was cut eye holes in my sheets. ?

  1. Cool, Photoshop work, looks really good. Anyone ever tell you that your “boyfriend” looks like Wil Wheaton? Maybe next year he could do Halloween as a grownup “Wesley Crusher”, from “Star Trek The Next Generation”. :D

    1. Haha, I don’t see it (I actually have an ex that looks a lot more like him!) but I’ll pass the ideas along! ?