Halloween is almost here and what better way to be festive than update your social media profiles with ghoulish images of you and your loved ones? To do this, we’re going to pull from my photography bag of tricks.

You will need:

  • Camera,
  • Tripod,
  • Photo editing tools like:
    o Photoshop
    o Photoshop Elements (the consumer version of Photoshop)
    o Photoshop Touch App on iPad or Android tablet device
    o Photoshop Touch App on iPhone or Android Phone

The trick is how to quickly turn anyone into a ghost (well, they don’t actually become a ghost, but they become see-through in the way ghosts are usually portrayed in the movies, which actual ghosts would probably take issue with, ya know… if ghosts were real).

There are two parts to creating this ghostly effect — don’t worry, both are super-simple!

Step One:

Take two identical shots of the same scene; one photo including the person you want to transform into a ghost and the second shot will be the exact same photo, but without anyone appearing in the photo. The most important part of this step is placing your camera on a tripod. Your camera can’t move, even 1/10 of an inch, between the two photos you’re going to take.

This is my buddy Dave Clayton, and I asked him to sit there, staring out the window, in kind of a creepy way. Luckily for me, Dave says he does this exact pose numerous times so day, so he was a pro at it.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot (photo by Brad Moore) of how the set-up looked — pretty simple, just my friend Dave sitting creepily by a window, and my camera on a tripod.

Step Two:

After you take the first photo, ask the subject to move out of the scene. Make sure they are careful not to touch or move anything as the second photo has to look exactly the as the first. This is why a tripod is so helpful — both photos should be perfectly lined up with one another when you shoot with your camera on a tripod.

After I took the shot of Dave, I asked him to get up without disturbing anything.

Once you’ve taken the two photos, it’s time to move onto the fun part – turning your friends, family or even yourself into a ghost!

Step Three:

Open both photos in Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements). If you don’t have either, download Photoshop Touch for your tablet device.

*The steps below are for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. If you are using Photoshop Touch on your tablet, the steps for your creepy creation are at the end of the post.

Step Four:

Once both photos are open in Photoshop, click on the window with the photo of the person you are going to make a ghost.

Next, go under the Select Menu and choose All to put a selection around the entire photo of your subject.

Under the Edit Menu, choose Copy.

Now switch to the window containing the photo of the background.

Choose Paste under the Edit Menu to paste the photo with your subject on top of the photo of the background.

In Photoshop you’ll put a selection around the entire photo where your friend is in the photo, then copy it into memory (as seen here).

Now switch to the second photo (the one without your friend) and choose Paste to paste the photo in memory right on top. It will appear as its own Layer in Photoshop’s Layers panel.

Step Five:

The last step to create the ghost effect is to lower the opacity on the top layer.

To do this:

Click on the downward-facing triangle to the right of the word Opacity near the top right of the layers panel.

Drag that slider to the left and as you do the subject of your photo will become more transparent. The farther you drag to the left, the more see-thru (and ghostly) they become.


Step One:

Launch Photoshop Touch on your tablet device and open the image without anyone in it.

Click the Photo icon at the bottom of the window to locate the photo without your friend in it.

Step Two:

Click on the + sign button in the Layers Panel on the bottom right corner of the Photoshop Touch app. A dialog box will appear where you can choose which photo you want to bring in as a layer. Select the photo that has your photo subject in it and tap the Add button. Once it appears on screen, click the blue Check box to add this image at its own separate layer.

Bring in the 2nd photo. As long as you used a tripod, they should be perfectly aligned with each other, which is key for this to work.

Step Three:

Lastly, in the Layers Panel click on the icon that looks like two stacked square sheets of paper (shown circled here in red) and an Opacity slider appears. Drag the slider to the left and your subhect becomes see-through and ghostly.

Lower the opacity to make your friend appear transparent and ghostly.

And there you have it! You’ve successfully transformed your friends, family or maybe even yourself into a ghoulish ghost with just a few simple photo tricks! Happy Halloween!

Scott Kelby is the editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine and President of KelbyOne.com. This article was originally published on the global Coca-Cola Journey website. For more on Scott, see his blog www.scottkelby.com