So, i wanted to create a dramatic image, dark (i like dark) and sad/painful/insert your own interpretation here. When i set out to make an image, i really only start with a very vague idea. I typically shoot a very simple image and then build on it in Photoshop (no, i haven't upgraded to CS6 yet; i'm still using CS5. I'll upgrade soon, though; i always do.) using pretty simple techniques. (Yes, you can do this, too!)
Okay, so i knew i wanted dark and moody/scary, so i shot (errrrr, in this case, i had Todd shoot) just a simple image with a shallow depth of field and a teeny bit of flair coming in at top left. I took it directly to black and white in Lightroom because i have a little tan goin' on right now and tan = happy in my mind, so rather than desaturating the skin in Ps, which also would've worked, with a slightly different result, i just went straight to b&w. What, i'm lazy. <--true story.
So, b&w, with some skin smoothing. I went overly smooth on the shadow side of the cheek, not caring that i was losing detail, b/c i knew i was just going to cover that with texture later anyway. I cropped to a loose square, just because i like squares. From here, i just look at the image and say, "Okay, where do i want you to go?" Sooooo....
Next, i decided to add a little carnival looking color, as my friend Kev said, like a "scary f'n clown." Haaa! That's exactly right! I simply took a soft round paintbrush and painted color on half my lips, one cheek and eye. I set the layer blending mode to "color burn," so it blended in with the skin, rather than just sitting on top of it like heavy, opaque paint.
Theeeen, just for grins, i added some fake lens flare. Seriously, it's so random. Did i mention i just throw things together and see if i like it? I do. I liked it, so i kept it. ::shrug::
Nextly, i scrolled through my brush pallet and grabbed some fake eyelashes and added them to the right (camera right...you know what i mean) eye and brought the opacity down just slightly from pure black to make it look like they were coming out from the photo. Oooo, creepy! Then, i added a few birds to the bottom right. Again, just randomness. And birds are creepy in silhouette, right?! Sure, why not! I enjoy an image that has little things here and there for the eye to explore. With this image, i'm not trying to force your eye to one particular area, but rather to be free to roam. Wheeeee!
So, i was getting pretty happy with it, but it was still just kinda "meh" for me, so i grabbed a texture (this particular one is streaky concrete i shot while out and about) and added it to the top layer of the image and played with the blending modes until i found one i liked. I removed it only from the cam-right eyeball (by blurring it out and masking the eyeball out with the blur, rather than just erasing the texture from the eye, which would've left the eye a different tone/contrast from the rest of the image). So, i was feeling it more, but it still wasn't quite there (i'm never sure where "there" is, until i'm there). So i grabbed a paintbrush...
...and painted on a little sugar skull-ish darkness about the left eye/nose/lips/cheek. I used a black brush and controlled the amount of softness/hardness and opacity with my Wacom pen. I love that thing, despite our rocky start.
So, yeah. In the end, this is where i landed:
And that's how i build an image.