How to Apply a Plastic Mask Effect to a Portrait

How to Apply a Plastic Mask Effect to a Portrait

In this tutorial, we will show you how to quickly and easily create a beautiful, futuristic portrait by applying a plastic wrap effect or mask to a portrait using Cinema 4D and Photoshop. Let’s get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial. Please download them before you begin.
Editor’s note: Special thanks to Martin Higgs, Stefka Pavlova, and Shonagh Louise for allowing us the use of their photo in this tutorial. The high resolution image is available on Shutterstock but the low resolution image can be downloaded below for use in this tutorial.

1. Creating 3D Human Head

Step 1

Open Cinema 4D. Open Content Browser (Window > Content Browser) and go to Presets > Humans. Double click on Lisa to add it on the stage.

Open woman body

Step 2

Remove the unwanted body parts. Select all nested layers below the body layer and press Delete.

Delete unwanted parts

Step 3

Press Enable Axis Modification from the left toolbar and select the blue dot at the bottom (Anchor point). Move the Anchor point of the body from the bottom to the center of the head by dragging.

Move anchor point
This step is required for future control of the head pose.

Step 4

Rotation check. Don’t forget to disable Axis Modification. Press Rotate tool (Top toolbar) and rotate the figure just to check the Anchor point position. After the check Undo (CMD/CTRL + Z) Rotation.

Rotation check

Step 5

Press Polygon mode from left toolbar and select Rectangle Selection from the top toolbar. Uncheck Only Select Visible Elements. Draw a rectangle from legs to the neck with Rectangle Selection tool and press Delete.

Only the head is needed.

Step 6

Switch the camera view to Perspective by pressing the square icon on the top-right corner of the window.

Switch camera

Try to adjust the position of the head using Move, Scale and Rotate icons on the top-right corner of the window. The position of the head must match the pose and perspective of the photo.

Adjusting tools

2. Adding Materials

Step 1

Create new material for the head (Create > New Material) from Material Manager panel.

Adjusting tools

Step 2

From Material Editor check Color and set:

  • Color to black.
Material editor color setting

Step 3

From Material Editor check Reflection and set:

  • Color to white.
  • Brightness to 10%
  • Max Strength to 35%
Material editor reflection setting

Step 4

From Material Editor check Reflection and set:

  • Texture to Fresnel
Material editor reflection setting - Fresnel texture
This will make the reflections more realistic.

Step 5

Add the new material to Lisa layer with dragging it from material manager. Select default material and press Delete to remove it.

Delete default material

Step 6

Add Sky object (from top toolbar)

Add Sky object
The Sky object is needed to create environment for cool reflections. Otherwise the head will stay black.

Step 7

Creating sky material. Open Photo_Studio.jpg in Adobe Photoshop. Make one copy of the Background layer (Layer > Duplicate layer).

Open Photo_Studio file

Extend the visible area using the Crop tool.

Extend the canvas

Move upper layer to the right using Move tool. Save the image as Photo_Studio2.jpg

Move duplicated layer

Step 8

Go back to Cinema 4D. Create new material for the sky. From Material Editor check Luminance and load Photo_Studio2.jpg as a Texture.

Create Sky material

Drag the new material to the Sky layer.

Create Sky material

Step 9

Press Render view (Top toolbar) for quick preview.

Create Sky material

3. Render Settings

Step 1

Press Render settings (Top toolbar) to set:
Output settings:

  • Width: 2000px
  • Height: 1500px (Use the same height as Mask.jpg)
  • Lock Ratio: checked
  • Resolution: 300 DPI
  • Frame Range: Current Frame
Render Settings Output

Step 2

Save settings:

  • Format: PNG
  • Alpha Channel: checked
Render Settings Output

Step 3

Anti-Aliasing settings:

  • Anti-Aliasing: Best
  • Min Level: 1×1
  • Max Level: 4×4
Render Settings Anti-Aliasing

Step 4

Press Render > Render to Picture Viewer to save the rendered image.

Rending and save

4. Placing the Mask Over the Face

Step 1

Go to Adobe Photoshop and open Mask.jpg (File > Open). Use Crop tool to crop only the face.

Crop the face

Step 2

Open Mask.png (File > Open) and place it over the face.

Place the mask

Step 3

Select the layer with the rendered mask and set the Blend mode to Screen.

Blend mode to screen

Step 4

Go to Edit > Transform > Wrap (CMD/CTRL + T) and try to adjust the mask over the face. Try to match the jaw line, eyes and outline.

Transform the mask

Step 5

Go to Filter > Liquify.
Set from liquify settings:

  • Show Backdrop: checked
  • Use: Background
  • Mode: In Front
  • Opacity: 43%
Liquify settings

Step 6

Correct the position of the eyes, nose and mouth using Medium Brush Size. Keep Low Brush Density and Brush pressure.

Geomethry correction

Step 7

Correct the neck outline to fit the shape.

Neck correction

Step 8

Create new Adjustment layer > Levels

Adjustment layer Levels

Step 9

Push-up the lights by moving the sliders to the left side. Create clipping mask by clicking click to clip the layer icon.

Click to clip the layer

Step 10

Select the clipping mask and press CMD/CTRL + I to invert it. Select Round Soft Brush and white foreground color.

Invert the clipping mask

Step 11

Start to paint over the mask to reveal the lights over the mouth, cheeks etc.


Step 12

Create new Adjustment layer > Hue/Saturation.

  • Saturation: -100

and create clipping mask.


Step 13

Select Layer 1 and add Layer mask.

Add layer mask

Step 14

Select the mask of Layer 1. Use Round Soft Brush with Opacity: 20% and start to paint with black to hide some unwanted parts from the rendered mask.

Hide parts from the mask

Step 15

Use Color Picker to take a sample from the image background color.

Color Picker

Step 16

Make one New layer and start painting over the visible anoying hair and eyelashes.

Paint to hide

Step 17

And finaly remove the large reflections of the nose.

Hide parts of the mask

Congratulations! You’re Done.

In this tutorial we managed to create a beautiful, futuristic portrait using Photoshop and Cinema 4D. You can experiment with different lights, environments and material settings in Cinema 4D. Try to experiment with this technique and apply what you learned from this tutorial to your own ideas.
Final Image

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