Body smudging is a useful technique for image manipulation. It can be used to improve the appearance of a poor quality stock image or to e.g. make a horse’s coat look smoother. Body smudging really isn’t very difficult at all, but you do want to be careful not to over smudge because that can make an image look blurry and unprofessional. Smudge carefully, it’s always better to smudge too little than to smudge too much.
I will be using this stock image in my body smudging tutorial.
Cut out the horse, resize it, and place it on a bright colored background. In my example I chose blue. The cutting really isn’t the most important aspect about this tutorial so don’t worry if your cutting isn’t perfect. You can fix the minor blemishes later.
Now select the smudge tool, the one next to the water drop that looks like a pointing hand. Pick a large brush size, for example ‘Circle (19)’, and set the opacity to 30% and the rate to 65. Duplicate the horse layer and begin smudging the top layer. I always try to work on a copy instead of making any changes to the original. That way, if something goes wrong I can always go back and start over.
Smudge the horse until the coat looks soft and almost painted. Make sure not to miss anything, especially around the face and the legs. I like to zoom in to about 200% so that I can get a better look at what I’m smudging. You might need to use a smaller brush on the legs, face, ears, and any other small areas so that you don’t end up over blurring any of the details. Avoid smudging the eyes. This is what your horse should look like at this point.
If you want your horse to have a painted look then you can leave it as it is after step 4. Personally I don’t like it if the horse looks too blurred so I usually fade the smudged horse layer a little to make it look more natural. In my example I faded the smudged layer to an opacity of 60%. That way the horse looks soft and glossy but most of the muscle tone from the original cutout layer is still intact.