Otter Head

    Please read my Terms of Use at the bottom of this tutorial. I hate having to state them, but in this day and age, it is necessary.

    I did the work for this tutorial in PSP version 9, but I am sure the technique would work in other versions as well. This is an Alpha Channel Selections tutorial, and I hope it is clear enough for anyone trying it. Remember to save often.

    To do this tutorial, you will need a basic knowledge of PSP and my Otter Head Supplies.

    Unzip the Otter Head Supplies into a folder of your choice. I usually make a folder with the name of the tutorial and put the supplies in there for easy access. Open the supplies into your PSP workspace.

    Remember to save often! You can save it as a pspimage in the folder of your choice. (This is another reason I have a folder with the name of the tutorial, so that I can also put my pspimages in it to save and "play" with later!)

    Step 1. Open the otter_head_canvas_ssg.pspimage, duplicate it and close the original. I will give directions for the colors I used, which are on their own layer in the canvas, but feel free to use your choice of colors. There is also a pspimage in there - minimize it on your PSP workspace. It is the whiskers_ssg.pspimage.


    Step 2. Activate head layer in the Layer Palette. Go to Selections/Load_Save Selections/Load Selection from Alpha Channel - load the head selection. Fill with color # 1. Selections/Modify/Contract 1. Fill with color # 2 on the same layer. Selections/Modify/Expand 1. Selections/Float. Effects/3D Effects/Cutout. Use the following settings. V&H 4; Opacity 75; Blur 20; Shadow color #69583a (which is color # 1). Reapply the cutout but change the V to 0 and the H to minus 4. Deselect by going to Selections/Select None, or by holding down the Ctrl key and the D key.

head cutout

    Step 3. Activate the mouth layer. Load the mouth selection. Fill with black. Deselect.


    Step 4. Activate the muzzle layer. Load the muzzle selection. Fill with color # 3. Deselect. Effects/3D Effects/Inner Bevel. Use the following settings. Bevel #2 (pie shaped); Width 20; Smoothness 2; Depth 2; Ambience 8; Shininess 8; Color white; Angle 315; Intensity 40; Elevation 36.

muzzle inner bevel

    Step 5. Activate the nose layer. Load the nose selection. Fill with black. Deselect. Effects/3D Effects/Inner Bevel. Apply the round preset. Use these settings if you don't have the preset. Bevel # 2 (pie shaped); Width 14; Smoothness 15; Depth 12; Ambience 0; Shininess 50; Color white; Angle 315; Intensity 70; Elevation 30.

round preset

    Step 6. Activate the nostrils layer. Load the nostrils selection. Fill with black. Deselect.


    Step 7. Activate the L eye layer. Load the L eye selection. Fill with black. Deselect. Apply the round preset inner bevel again.

    Step 8. Activate the R eye layer. Load the R eye selection. Fill with black. Deselect. Apply the round preset inner bevel again.


    Step 9. Activate the L inner ear layer. Load the L inner ear selection. Fill with black. Deselect.

    Step 10. Activate the R inner ear layer. Load the R inner ear selection. Fill with black. Deselect.


    Step 11. Activate the head layer. Activate the Lighten/Darken Brush with the following settings: Shape round; Size 40; Hardness 30; Step 18; Density 100; Thickness 100; Rotation 0; Opacity 45; Swap mouse buttons box checked - this will make your left mouse button do the darkening. Darken an area about the same place as shown in the screen shot. Make a second pass over part of the area to darken part of it a bit more. Use your own imagination and judgement - mine is just a suggestion of what pleases my eye!

lite dark brush

head darken area

    Step 12. While still on the head layer, I next moved my Lighten/Darken Brush up to just above the muzzle area. I changed the size to 20 and made the following darkened area.

L front leg cutout


    Step 13. Then I activated the Smudge Brush with the following settings. Shape round; Size 11; Hardness 100; Step 1; Density 50; Thickness 100; Rotation 50; Opacity 80. I smudged the area I just darkened to smooth it out some and then to narrow it into a more defined shape as shown in the second screen shot. I pulled the edges down and in slightly. You can follow the appearance of mine, or do as what you think it should look like.

smudge brush

smudged area

    Step 14. I reactivated the Lighten/Darken Brush and using the right mouse button, I lightened the center area of the area I had just worked on with the Darken Brush and the Smudge Brush. I then used the Soften Brush over the entire area to smooth and blend the edges. The following settings were used: Shape round; Size 15; Hardness 22; Step 26; Density 100; Thickness 100; Rotation 0; Opacity 100.

soften brush

lite over darkened area


    Step 15. Activate the muzzle layer, using the same settings recently used on the Lighten/Darken Brush, darken the upper sides of the muzzle, and carefully darken the very bottom area of the muzzle - you might want to lessen the size of your brush for this area.

muzzle darken

    Step 16. Activate the L eye layer. Effects/3D Effects/Drop Shadow - use the following settings: V&H 0; Opacity 90; Blur 14; Color black. Reapply the drop shadow.

eyes drop shadow


    Step 17. Activate the R eye layer. Apply the same Drop Shadow we just used on the L eye, and also reapply it.

    Step 18. Activate the head layer. Using the Lighten/Darken Brush, with the size at 6, darken the area at the edge of each ear - see screen shot. Then using the right mouse button, lighten the ears above the inner ear area. This gives the ears more definition.



    Step 19. Finally, I again used the Lighten/Darken Brush, with the size back to 40 and went down the right side of the head layer, pulling it in a bit at the base of the head onto the neck. See the screen shot.

final brushing

    Step 20. As an absolute final touch, we need to add some whiskers. You can either draw them yourself, however you want, or you can activate the muzzle layer in the layer palette. Activate the whiskers_ssg.pspimage and go to Edit/Copy. Activate the otter image and with the muzzle layer being highlighted, Edit/Paste as new layer. Rename the layer. I used a soft Drop Shadow of V&H 0; Opacity 35; Blur 4; Shadow color black - to emphasize mine. If you draw your own, use a line width of 2, and either the straight line or the curved. You can also add the Drop Shadow to your own.


    Congratulations, you are finished. Unless you want to add anything more to the image! Use your imagination!


      This tutorial was written May 22, 2009.

Terms of Use

    All the content on this Otter Head Tutorial site is protected by International Copyright laws. If photos or graphics were created by anyone other than Susie, it will be noted and the copyright will remain with the creator. Please respect these copyrights. Any similarity to any other tutorial is coincidental. You may download my tutorials for personal use. You may share them within a group, if you write and ask my permission first. The image you create from this tutorial is yours to do with as you please. I worked hard to create this image and to write the tutorial - it took many hours, so please respect my work.

      Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or questions. Send email to susie