Video icon 64
Upgrade your design skills with practical video courses from Tuts+. Start your free trial today.
Advertisement

Create a Dark, Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Stock Photography

by

In this tutorial we will be teaching how to integrate elements from different sources to create a realistic photo manipulation with dark and conceptual elements. You will learn some lighting and blending techniques as well as some interesting post-production tips. Let's get started!


Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.


Step 1

Open a new document, 3,000 x 3,000 pixels, at 300 dpi resolution. Drag and drop the model stock photo, resize to fit using Edit > Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) leaving some margins by the sides. Hold Shift to keep the aspect ratio. Name this layer "Model".


Step 2

Select the Pen Tool (P) to cut out the model from the background. Be sure that Paths mode is selected and that you are not using the Free Mode. To follow the shapes of the body, if you are not very familiar with this tool, you will have to click wherever you want to start, then, when you are going to do the second point, Click and hold, then move your mouse to adapt the path to the shape.

Once you are done, Right - Click and select Make Selection. Select a Feather Radius of 0 and check the Anti-aliased box.

Now go to Select > Inverse or Command/Ctrl + Shift + I and then press Delete. Put the image in Actual Pixels using the Zoom Tool (Z) and Right - Click, selecting that option from the emerging menu, or Double - Clicking on the Zoom Tool, to see if there are parts that have not been well cut out and use the Pen Tool (P) again to get rid of them. Now go to Edit > Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) again, hold Shift, and resize the layer to occupy an area similar to the one shown in the screenshot below:


Step 3

Add the Background image and Free Transform it (Edit > Free Transform or Command/Ctrl + T) to fit the canvas, again holding Shift to maintain the aspect ratio. Place this layer under the "Model" one. Name this layer "BG" and be sure that the "Model" layer is in the center of the Depth of Field of the "BG" layer, which is the most sharpened part of the ground.

Create a new Mask for this layer clicking on Add Layer Mask in the Layers Palette, then select the Brush Tool (B) and pick a 700 pixels size black brush, with 50% Opacity and Flow and 0% Hardness, and paint over the edges of the layer (inside the Mask) to blend it with the white background.


Step 4

Now we will blend the borders of the "Model" layer. This way, it will look more integrated with the sorroundings, because if the edges are too sharpened, it will look like pasted on the canvas. Select the Blur Tool (R) with 30% Strenght and use a 0% Hardness brush, 40 pixels size, over the edges of the image. The result will be unseen if the image is Fit to Screen, but it will help integration in full view mode as well as if the image gets printed.


Step 5

Now we are going to get rid of certain details of the "Model" layer that we do not want anymore, like the paper borders in the cone and the tattoos of the feet. Command/Ctrl - Click the "Model" layer to make a selection of the entire layer because we don't want to create new pixels outside the original shape. We are going to use the Clone Stamp Tool (S) selecting a 0% Hardness brush, 40 pixels size and 100% Opacity and Flow. Press the Alt key near the area we want to override to take that as a reference for the Clone Stamp Tool, and then paint over the paper border.

You should get something like the image above. To get rid of that darker shape, select a bigger soft brush (around 80 pixels size), and lower Opacity to 30%, and keep on painting over the dark line. Lower Opacity even more and paint carefully until the cone looks like the image below:

Repeat the process with the feet tattoos, except for using the bigger brush because you won't be needing that, since the area is not as regular as the cone is. Play with different opacities to get the desired result.


Step 6

Add the sky image and name the layer "Sky". Place it above BG layer and under the "Model" one. Click on Add Layer Mask in the Layers Palette. Select a 600 pixels size brush, 0% Hardness, 20% Opacity and 60% Flow, and paint in the lower part of the layer to blend it with the BG one.


Step 7

Go to Filters > Blur > Lens Blur and use the following settings. This way you are adapting this layer to the original Depth of Filed the BG layer has.


Step 8

Now go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation (Command/Ctrl + U) and drag the Saturation bar to the left like in the screenshot below, or input a value of -56, to lower the saturation of the "Sky" layer.


Step 9

Add a New Layer (Layer > New > Layer or Command/Ctrl + Shift + N) and name it "Blue". Place it above all layers. Select the Paint Bucket Tool (G) and pick the color #1a1664 (or a similar one of your liking) as a Foreground Color and click in any part of the layer. Set it in Overlay Blending Mode and lower its Opacity to 35%.


Step 10

Add the cigarette layer and name it "Ash". Place it above the "Model" layer and again, Free Transform it (Command/Ctrl + T, hold Shift key) to make it fit with the top of the cone.

Once the "Ash" layer is fitting with the top part of the cone, Free Transform it again, Right - Click and select Distort in the emerging menu. Expand the box by the lower corners and play with it until the borders of the cigarette fit perfectly with the cone shape. Do this in Actual Pixels mode (Zoom Tool (Z), Right - Click, then select Actual Pixels, or Double - Click the Zoom Tool icon) to get an accurate result.

Now we have to cut out the ash from the background. The obvious procedure with a solid background would be to select the Magic Wand Tool (W), but it will select some parts of the ash as well, so preferably pick the Pen Tool (P), Zoom In the image with the Zoom Tool (Z) selecting the ash area and start making the selection with the Pen Tool. Once you are done, Right - Click and in the emerging menu select Make Selection.. Then go to Select > Invert or Command/Ctrl + Shift + I and press the Delete key.

Select the Burn Tool (O) and choose a 30 pixels size brush, 0% Hardness, with Midtones Range and an Exposure of 10% and paint carefully in the left side of the cigarette to make the shadows fit with the ones of the cone. When you are done, pick the Dodge Tool (O) with the same settings and paint the right side of the cigarette to make the lighting fit. Then go to Image > Adjustments > Color Balance or Command/Ctrl + B and put the following settings in the Shadows Tone Balance panel: +10, 0, -14. And at last, select the Blur Tool (R), with a small soft brush and paint over the borders like we did in Step Four.


Step 11

Add the smoke image, name the layer "Smoke" and place it above the "Ash" layer. Select the Screen Blending Mode. Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate or just Command/Ctrl + Shift + U. Pick the Burn Tool (O) and select Shadows in the dropdown Range menu as well as an Exposure of 35% and paint over the white areas on the edges and corners of the layer to make the background completely transparent. Burn also a bit on the smoke "knot" in Highlights Range Mode with an Exposure of 10%. Use the Dodge Tool (O) in Highlights Range mode with an exposure of 15% in the base of the smoke to make it more visible.


Step 12

Now let's use again the Free Transform command (Command/Ctrl + T) and Right - Click selecting the Warp mode. Drag the upper part of the image so the cut borders go outside of the canvas.


Step 13

Duplicate "Model" layer and name this new one as "Shadow". Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation (Command/Ctrl + U) and in the Lightness bar drag it completely to the right, until it marks -100. You will get a black version of the model image. Place it under the "Model" layer and Free Transform it (Command/Ctrl + T). Then Right - Click and in the submenu select Flip Vertical and drag the layer until both feet get in touch. Now Right - Click again and select Distort. According to the model's lighting, it is coming from the upper right part, so we have to make the shadow take direction a bit to the left, so drag the bottom left corner of the transform box to the left.


Step 14

Duplicate "Shadow" layer and hide the original. In the new layer, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and put an amount of 20,5 pixels. Create a new Layer Mask and pick a big black soft brush with the Brush Tool (B) and paint in the Mask deleting the blur near the model, leaving only blurred the farthest part (chest and cone).

Now make the original "Shadow" layer visible again, Mask it and again, use the same brush to delete exactly the opposite parts you have kept in the duplicated layer, so it looks like this:

In "Shadow" layer, go again to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and put the amount in 3 pixels.

Merge "Shadow" and its copy, selecting the one that is above and going to Layer > Merge Down or pressing Command/Ctrl + E, applying the masks when asked. Then, create a new Mask in this new merged layer, select the Brush Tool (B), pick black color (#000000), 200 pixels size, 30% Opacity and 50% Flow and carefully paint in the Mask the parts that are farther from the model, being the cone the most erased part (but not deleted at all) and then the chest. Erase a bit also the knees shadows since they are farther from the body than the ones generated by the feet. The end result should look like this:


Step 15

We are going to add a lighting focus to equalize all elements in composition. Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Command/Ctrl + Shift + N) and name it "Light", pick the Paint Bucket Tool (G) and Click on the layer with white color (#ffffff) selected. Then go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects and use the following settings:

When you are done, put the layer in Overlay Blending Mode with 60% Opacity. It will look like this:


Step 16

Now we are going to adapt the "BG" and "Model" layers to the lighting we have just created. We will be using the Dodge and Burn Tools (O). Remember where the light focus is coming: the top right corner. Knowing this, we have to paint both layers with these tools. Everything has to look accordingly to the lighting source, so if we do this right, we will be near of doing a realistic photo manipulation: lighting is the key. We will be using the following method in all future compositive elements. In the screenshot below, you can find a sort of "map" of the lighting here. You have to use the Burn Tool (O) in the darker area of the image, first in Midtones Range and then in Highlighs Range. Use always big soft brushes, with no more than 20% Strength. Take as a reference the bottom left corner, which will be the darkest area of the ground, being the most highlighted the area before and after the right model's leg. Here, use specially the Dodge Tool in Highlights Range. In the "Model" layer, you should use the Dodge Tool first in Midtones Range and then in Highlights Range. Use a smaller brush size than the one you used with the Burn Tool but keep it being with 0% Hardness and less than 20% Strength, and paint over the right leg and arm, and lower by 10% the Strength to paint over the left leg and arm. There is no need to use the Burn Tool on this layer since the shadows are fitting with the overall lighting and are hard enough.

Keep on painting (but not too much) until your image looks similar to this one:

Now let's see a before/after example:


Step 17

Now we are going to start adding elements to the composition, that will add some conceptual depth to our image. First, add the teddy bear image and name this layer "Teddy" and place it above the "Model" layer. Then select the Magic Wand Tool (W) and use a Tolerance of 84 pixels and the settings shown in the example below. Then Click in the white background and in any areas of the shadow that might not be selected at first while you hold Shift Key to make multiple selections at once.

Now use Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) holding the Shift key to maintin the aspect ratio of the image. Resize it keeping the reality of proportions shown in the image, and then Right - Click and in the menu choose Flip Horizontal, since the original lighting of the "Teddy" layer is inverted according to the lighting we are applying to the composition.

So, we have some annoying white borders around the image. Double - Click in the "Teddy" layer to display the Layer Style window. Go to Inner Shadow and apply the following settings: Blend Mode Multiply, 29% Opacity, 120º Angle, 0 pixels Distance, 0 pixels Choke, 161 pixels Size. This is a good shortcut to avoid cutting out the image again, specially in this case where no max highlights will be used on this layer since it's far from the light focus.

Now select the Blur Tool (R) and as we did in Steps 4 and 10, blur a bit the borders of the layer for a better blending with the scene, using a very small brush since this element is smaller than the ones we blurred borders before. Then we are going to repeat Step 16 on this layer. Use the Burn Tool (O) with 20% Strength and with Midtones Range selected over the borders that seem to be lighter than the rest with a very small soft brush. Once you are rid of the borders, use a bigger brush to Burn Midtones over the dark areas according to lighting: full left arm, left parts of head, chest and both legs. Then use the Burn Tool in Highlights Range with very low Strength (between 5% - 10%) and paint over the same parts. Don't use the Dodge Tool this time. Sometimes using Dodge and Burn might end up in over saturated colors, so go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or Command/Ctrl + U, and drag the Saturation bar -30 pixels to the left. With all of this done, your "Teddy" layer should look like this:


Step 18

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Command/Ctrl + Shift + N) below the "Teddy" one and name it "Teddy Shadow". Pick the Brush Tool (B), select black color (#000000), 50 pixels size, 25% of Hardness, 50% Opacity and Flow, and paint carefully under the bear.

Now put Brush Hardness at 0% and decrease Opacity by 25% and paint around the ground where the bear is, specially on the left side.


Step 19

Add the pieces image, name it "Pieces" and place it above the "Model" layer. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) with 60 pixels Tolerance and click on the white background, then press Delete.

Now select the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) and make a selection of the grey areas created by the figure shadows. Then press Delete again.

Now use Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) holding Shift to keep aspect ratio and resize the layer to keep proportions with the rest of the elements. Place it near the right shoe. Lower the Opacity of the layer to around 70% and create a new Layer Mask. Now select the Pen Tool (P). You have to make a selection according to the rock shapes. Once you have the Path closed, Right - Click and select Make Selection. Paint it black with the Brush Tool (B) or the Paint Bucket Tool (G) in the Mask to make it disappear. Restore the layer Opacity to 100% when you are done.


Step 20

Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur and use the following settings. Again, we want to integrate this item within the Depth of Field of the image.


Step 21

Use the Burn Tool (O) to raise shadows in the Midtones Range on the left part of the layer as well as the bottom, then go to Image > Adjustments > Levels (Command/Ctrl + L) to raise a bit the lightings.


Step 22

Create a New Layer (Layer > New > Layer or Command/Ctrl + Shift + N), place it under "Pieces" and name it "Shadow Pieces". Use the Brush Tool (B), 60 pixels size, 0% Hardness, 25% Opacity and only 2% Flow, pick black color (#000000) and paint under the pieces just to darken a bit the area. Then take a smaller brush, and raise Opacity to 30% and Flow to 10% and paint the nearer shadows where the figure is touching the ground. You might need to paint also the borders of the near rocks.


Step 23

Grab the Toy1 image to the canvas, resize with Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) holding Shift key to fit the canvas, then select the Magic Wand Tool (W) with 50 pixels Tolerance and select the white background, then press Delete. Name this layer "Toy1".

Now place the layer under "Shadow" layer and Free Transform it again to make it smaller. Place it at the left of the model. The top part of this layer should be at the same height where the bushes start to grow. Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur and use the following settings:

Double - Click this layer to open the Layer Style menu, select Inner Shadow and put the following settings. This way, we will get rid of the white borders. We don't need them anymore since the item is placed in a dark area of the image.


Step 24

Create a New Layer (Layer > New > Layer or Command/Ctrl + Shift + N), place it under "Toy1" and name it "Toy1 Shadow". Use the Brush Tool (B) 80 pixels size, 0% Hardness, 25% Opacity and 15% Flow, pick the black color, and paint the shadows casted to the left. The nearer to the item, the darker it should be.


Step 25

Return to the layer "Toy1" and go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or Command/Ctrl + U and in the Lightness bar, drag it a bit to the left or put in the field a -10 value to darken a bit this layer.


Step 26

Take the Toy2 image, add it to the canvas, name it "Toy2", Free Transform it (Command/Ctrl + T, hold Shift key) to fit on screen, add a Layer Mask, then select the Magic Wand Tool (W) with 50 pixels Tolerance and select the white background. Grab the Paint Bucket Tool (G) with black color selected, and go to the Mask and fill the selection to make it disappear.

When we deleted the background, we also erased some parts of the toy base. We are going to do something that is not very fancy, but it will work combined with the next step. Go to the Mask in "Toy2" layer, pick the Brush Tool (B), 100% Opacity and Flow, 0% Hardness and select white color (#ffffff) and paint in the disappeared areas to make them come back. Don't worry if you end up painting a bit and revealing parts of the white background again.

If you haven't applied any Filter since the last time we did it, press Command/Ctrl + F: This will repeat the last filter we used. Or just go to the Filter menu. The first option should be to Apply Last Filter, which in our case was the Lens Blur we used in "Toy1" layer. Apply it again. In case this option is not available anymore (you might have closed Photoshop in between steps, etc), just use the Lens Blur settings of Step 23. You will now notice why we had not to worry about the base. When you are done, Double - Click the layer to open the Layer Style window, go to Inner Shadow and use the following settings to get rid, again, of the white borders... although not at all yet.

Use Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T), Right - Click and select Flip Horizontal. We do this because the original lighting of the layer is opposite than the one we have in the composition. Then go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation (Command/Ctrl + U), put Saturation -46.

Go to the Mask, select the Brush Tool (B), 15 pixels size, 0% Hardness, 40% Opacity and 25% Flow and paint carefully over the light grey edges, so we can get rid of them at last to enhace the layer integration. You can see the difference in the screenshot below.


Step 27

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Command/Ctrl + Shift + N), name it "Toy2 Shadow"and place it under "Toy2". Basically, what we have to do here is exactly what we did in Step 24 when we added the casted shadow of the "Toy1" item: Use the Brush Tool (B) 80 pixels size, 0% Hardness, 25% Opacity and 15% Flow, pick the black color, and paint the shadows casted to the left. The nearer to the item, the darker they should be.


Step 28

Take the robot image to the canvas. To erase the background, the best option here is to use the Pen Tool (P) with the same settings we have been using during this tutorial, so be sure that Paths mode is selected and that you are not using the Free Mode. Don't worry about the white/transparent thing on the robot's head... you are free to keep it, but in my case, I will just get rid of it.

When you are done, Right - Click and select Make Selection, then delete the background. Use the Pen Tool also to delete the white areas inside the clockwork. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) with 50 pixels Tolerance to select the space between the legs faster. Now Free Transform it (Command/Ctrl + T) holding Shift. Resize and place as shown below and name this layer "Robot":

We have to adjust the lighting of this item. Use the Dodge Tool (O) with Highlights Range selected, Exposure of 8%, and paint over the right parts of the head, right arm and right foot. Now use the Burn Tool (O), first in Highlights Range with an Exposure of 15%, with a soft brush of 100 pixels Size, and paint over the left part of the robot as shown in the image below. This shadow occurs because the robot is under the shadow casted by the model. To finish, set the Burn Tool Range to Midtones, and use smaller brush and paint the areas more oriented to the left.


Step 29

Duplicate the "Robot" layer, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation (Command/Ctrl + U )and use a value of -100 in the Lighting bar. Place this layer under the original one, use Free transform (Command/Ctrl + T), Right - Click, select Flip Vertical, drag it until both feet are touching, then Right - Click again and select Distort. Drag from the bottom left corner to make the shadow be casted to the left as usual and then drag from the bottom right corner to create a diagonal.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use an amount of 2.7 pixels.

Create a New Mask for this layer and pick the Brush Tool (B), 80 pixels size, 0% Hardness, 40% Opacity and 25% Flow. As we are doing with all casted shadows, the farther the shadow is, the less it has to be seen, so start erasing from the part on the left and keep darker the shadows under the feet.


Step 30

Drag the party blower image to the canvas, name it "Party Blower" and use the Pen Tool (P) to cut it out using the same method as with the rest of elements. Place this layer above the "Model" one.

Free Transform it (Command/Ctrl + T) holding Shift and resize it until it fits within the shape of the left hand, then rotate it a bit to the left to follow the direction generated by the posture.

Use the Blur Tool (R) to blur a bit the borders (20 pixels size, soft, 50% Strength) to integrate the image in the composition. Then hide this layer and use the Pen Tool (P) to make a selection of the fingers like shown in the screenshot below. Command/Ctrl - Click and Make Selection, then erase it and make the layer visible again.

Use the Burn Tool (O) in Highlights Range with 35% Hardness, 20 pixels size and 15% Exposure to darken the part of the item that is being held by the hand. Darken the bottom part of it as well. Then put the Burn Tool in Midtones Range to darken the bottom part of the party blower. When you are done, grab the Sharpen Tool (R) with 23% Strenght and with Protect Detail checkbox enabled, use it to sharpen the left part of the party blower which was a bit out of focus in the original stock photo.


Step 31

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Command/Ctrl + Shift + N) and place it under the "Blue" one. Name it "Confetti". Now we are going to have some real fun. We are going to throw some confetti over the area and we want it to be very realistic. Select the Brush Tool (B) and go to the Brush Panel by pressing F5. Select any normal brush and use the following setting to create the new brush we are going to use to throw the confetti all around. When you are done, pick the color #ff00f0.


Step 32

Paint over the model (but not the cone), especially over the areas that could allow the confetti to be placed without falling, like shoulders, upper part of the legs, etc. Paint some confetti also on the ground, but not behind the model. Put some as well on the teddy bear.

We might have ended up painting outside the areas we wanted to, since the brush had the Scattering mode activated, so use the Eraser Tool (E), 100% Hardness, Flow and Opacity and with a size of about 30 pixels, delete any painted part that is outside of the model.

Select the Burn Tool (O), with Midtones Range and a Strength of 15%. Now, according to the casted shadows and overall lighting of the image, paint over the confetti parts that are standing out too much and that are obviously out of any concordance here, for example in the model's shadows.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply it with a Radius of 0,4 pixels.

Double - Click the layer to open the Layer Style panel. Go to Drop Shadow and set it as follows:

Use the Blur Tool (R) with 50% Strength and start blurring the parts that should be affected by the Depth of Field, like the bottom of the image and behind the model.

Now with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) start selecting the confetti by areas. What we are going to do now is to apply some perspective so they won't look like pasted anymore. Do it by small areas. With every selection, use Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) and then Right - Click and in the emerging menu choose Distort, then drag from the bottom corners and open the field until they look adjusted to the perspective of the ground. Do this with all the confetti at the bottom of the image. When it's finished, if you find any confetti that, due to its roundness, looks strange, just take the Eraser Tool (E), 100% Hardness, Opacity and Flow and no bigger than 20 pixels and delete it.


Step 33

We can make the confetti we have just created a bit more realistic, so let's go to add some paper texture to it. Insert the paper texture and name it "Paper". Press Command/Ctrl + T to Free Transform it, Right - Click to open the menu and select Perspective. Grab any of the bottom corners and expand the box, then grab one from the upper side and make it smaller, like in the screenshot below, then press Enter:

Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate or just Command/Ctrl + Shift + U. Set the Blending Mode of the Layer to Soft Light, then Command/Ctrl - Click the layer "Confetti" to select all of its content. Invert the selection with Command/Ctrl + Shift + I or go to Select > Inverse and press Delete in the "Paper" layer. We are done with the confetti, at last!


Step 34

Grab the streamers stock image, name it "Streamer" and place it above the "Confetti" layer. Select the Magic Wand Tool (W), put its Tolerance to 50 pixels, and very important, uncheck the Contiguous check box if it is checked, then Click on the background and press Delete.

We are going to place all the streamers around the image, in separate layers and we will give different treatments to them. We will be getting them from its original layer ("Streamer"). Select first the blue one with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), and Copy/Paste it by pressing Command/Ctrl + C and then Command/Ctrl + V, or if you prefer, go to Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste. Name this new layer "Streamer2". Don't forget to hide "Streamer" layer now.

Free transform the blue streamer (Command/Ctrl + T, hold Shift as usual for aspect ratio maintenance) and place it under the robot.

Still in Free Transform mode, Right - Click and select Distort. Play with the image until it looks right with the perspective.

Take the Blur Tool (R), and with 50% Strength blur the right zone, and with 100% Strength the left one, to adjust the streamer to the Depth of Field. By the way, don't worry about the casted shadows for now: we will be applying them when all streamers are placed.


Step 35

Make the layer "Streamer" visible again, and with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), select the red streamer, Copy/Paste it again (Command/Ctrl + C and Command/Ctrl + V) and name this new layer "Streamer3". Hide "Streamer" layer again.

Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T, then hold Shift) and go to Image > Adjustments > Level or press Command/Ctrl + L. The arrow in the middle controls the midtones of the image, so drag it closer to the dark, to the left, or put a value of 1,51.

Place the item in the left knee of the model, lower its Opacity by 80% and create a New Mask. Use the Pen Tool (P) to make a path on the knee, Right - Click and select Make Selection, and fill it with black color using the Paint Bucket Tool (G) on the Mask. Restore the Opacity of the layer.

Select the Blur Tool (R) and with a 10 pixels size brush blur a bit the edges of the streamer in the layer, not in the Mask.


Step 36

Return to "Streamer" layer, make it visible, and again, with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), select the yellow streamer, Copy/Paste it (Command/Ctrl + C, Command/Ctrl + V), name the new layer "Streamer4" and hide "Streamer" layer as well.

Resize the image with Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T , then hold Shift). Blur the borders as usual with the Blur Tool (R), and then use Burn Tool (O) in Highlights Range with 15% Strength to darken all the area of the streamer under the casted shadow of the model. Change the Range to Midtones, lower Strength to 10% and burn the end of the streamer (the part more to the left).


Step 37

I guess it is obvious what we have to do now: Make visible "Streamer" layer, select the pink streamer with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), Copy/Paste (Command/Ctrl + C, Command/Ctrl + V), name the new layer "Streamer5" and hide "Streamer".

Resize (Command/Ctrl + T, hold Shift), rotate a bit to the left and move it to the right shoe.

Still in Free Transform, Right Click and switch to Warp mode. You have to adapt the streamer to the shape of the foot. Follow the directions of the arrows in the screenshot below. When you are done use the Blur Tool (R) to blur the borders.


Step 38

Make visible "Streamer" layer, select the green streamer with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), Copy/Paste (Command/Ctrl + C, Command/Ctrl + V), name the new layer "Streamer6" and hide "Streamer".

Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T, hold Shift), resize and place it near the teddy bear. Don't forget to blur the borders with the Blur Tool (R).

Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels or press Command/Ctrl + L and move the Midtones bar a bit to the left or put a value of 1,52.


Step 39

This Step is optional and up to you. What we are going to do is to put some more streamers in the composition. You can duplicate any of the streamers layers (Going to Layer > Duplicate Layer, or pressing Command/Ctrl + J), or extract them again from the "Streamer" layer. Due to some modifications in the streamers layers, some might not be useful for duplicating. Don't be afraid and get as creative as you wish, playing with different options to place your own streamers.

Now I am going to explain a quick guide of what I have done with the new streamers. The method to manipulate them is the same we have been using with the rest of streamers. Duplicate "Streamer2", Free Transform, then Right - Click and select Flip Horizontal, Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation (Command/Ctrl + U) and change the Hue bar to any color you like. Place it in the plushie's right leg.

Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels (Command/Ctrl + L) and move the midtone bar to the left or enter a value of 1,62. When you are done, Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T), select Warp mode and adjust the streamer to the plushie.

Duplicate (Command/Ctrl + J) "Streamer4", Change its color with Hue/Saturation (Command/Ctrl + U), use the Pen Tool (P) and cut the bottom part to make it look like our character is holding it.

Use the Burn Tool in Highlights Range mode and darken specially on top. This area is very dark according to overall lighting, so you will have to increase Strength while you get on top of the layer.

Duplicate (Command/Ctrl + J) "Streamer3", change its color (Command/Ctrl + U), Flip Horizontal and apply a Gaussian Blur with a 4 pixels Radius.


Step 40

Create a New Layer (Layer > New > Layer, or Command/Ctrl +Shift + N) and name it "Streamer Shadows". Place it under the original "Streamer" layer. Pick the Brush Tool (B) and select a 10 pixels Size, 10% Hardness, 30% Opacity and 15% Flow brush and start painting under the streamers. Creating a base shadow under them all will be enough, but always following the original shapes. Also, remember than in all cases shadows must be casted to the left.


Step 41

Now, we are done with the composition. In the following steps, I am going to explain some post-production techniques to give a fine high-end effect to our photo manipulation. Select the "Light" layer and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White or click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon on the Layers palette and select it. Use the following settings and put the Blending Mode of the layer in Soft Light with 37% Opacity.


Step 42

Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map. Click on the gradient image to open the Gradient Editor. In this new window, Double - Click on the left Color Stop marker (in the gradient bar, they are located below, in the right bottom corner). This way you will open the window of Select Stop Color. Choose #55bedc. Now Double - Click in the left Color Stop marker and choose #f5e70b. Click OK in the Gradient Editor. Set the Blending Mode of the Gradient Map to Overlay, and lower Opacity to 15%.


Step 43

Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color. We are going to enhace the natural colors of the image. For that reason, we have to change a bit its base colors. Choose one and start editing the settings. Leave Blacks unchanged.


Step 44

Let's give some blurry atmosphere to our picture. Stamp Visible Layers by pressing Command/Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E. This will create a new layer containing all the items in the rest of layers, without affecting them. Name this layer "BW". Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set an Amount of 48,6 pixels. Set the Blending Mode of the layer to Screen and lower Opacity to 42%. Desaturate this layer by pressing Command/Ctrl + Shift + U or going to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. Then Duplicate the layer (Layer > Duplicate Layer or Command/Ctrl + J) and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 45

Now we are going to add some noise to the entire image. This way, we will get a more photographic approach, because it will be visible both in sharpened and blurred areas and will make the image to be more homogeneous. Again, Stamp Visible Layers by pressing Command/Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E. Go to Filter > Sketch > Reticulation. Set Density to 1, Foreground Level to 2 and Background Level to 6.

Set the Blending Mode of this layer to Luminosity, and Opacity to 22%.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set an Radius amount of 2,1 pixels.

We are almost there. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Set an Amount of 12% and select Uniform Distribution.


Step 46

Create a New Layer (Layer > New > Layer or Command/Ctrl + Shift + N). Name this layer "Gradient". Use the Paint Bucket Tool (G) to fill this layer with the color #eba102. Press de Paint Bucket Tool icon until it shows a small submenu and pick the Gradient Tool. Choose from the top menu the Radial Gradient and Click on the Gradient bar to open the Gradient Editor. Now we are going to invert the gradient, so that way, when we create the gradient, it will affect from outside to the inside, so we will add color basically to the corners and sides and we will leave the center without changes. In the Gradient Presets, choose the second one (Foreground to Transparent). Double - Click the left Color Marker to open the Select Stop Color window and pick #845e0c. Click OK. Now, to invert the Gradient, grab from the left Color Marker and move it to the right corner, and then grab the right Color Marker and move it to the left corner. If you did it well, the gradient bar should look like the one in the screenshot below. Click OK.

Click and hold in the center of the canvas and drag the cursor to any of the corners, then release to create the gradient. It should look like this:

We still need one more gradient. Open again the Gradient Editor and Click on the Foreground to Transparent icon to get back to normal. Double - Click the left bottom Color Marker on the Gradient Bar and pick the color #f88e1c. Click OK and Click and hold on the center of the canvas, drag to one of the corners and release.

Set the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light. Now we are going to play a bit with the atmosphere. You can leave the colors as they are now, but if you are not into warm tones, maybe you will prefer to switch them a little. Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or press Command/Ctrl + U. Drag the Hue marker until you find a color combo that suits you well. In my case, I am choosing blues. When you are done, click OK and lower the Layer Opacity to 30%.

Let's adjust the lighting of this layer a bit. Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels or press Command/Ctrl + L. We have to darken a bit the gradient, so drag the Shadows Input Level marker to the right (more or less until it marks 88).

The center area of the image now looks a bit weird and out of tune. Use the Gradient Tool (G) with the last color we picked ( #f88e1c) and create a gradient from center to any of the corners, Clicking and holding from the center of the canvas. Now, the image looks more natural.


Step 47

Go to the layer "BW" and create a New Mask. Select the Brush Tool (B), pick black color (#000000) and choose a soft 130 pixels size brush, 30% Opacity and 65% Flow, and start erasing some shadows in the teddy bear and the model's legs that due to the latest modifications now are bad exposed.


Step 48

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Command/Ctrl + Shift + N) and fill it with any color you want with the Paint Bucket Tool (G). Set the Blending Mode to Difference and lower the Opacity to 13%. Name it "Difference".

Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation or Command/Ctrl + U. What we want is to tint highlights and shadows. I recommend to find a color that gives the highest contrast (in this case, deep blue or -163 in the Hue bar). Otherwise we will lose some contrast in the levels range.


Step 49

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance. We are going to give the final color touches to our photo manipulation. I recommend warming a bit the Midtones and set colder Highlights and Shadows:


Step 50

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or Command/Ctrl + Shift + N), name it "Fog", place it above everything, select the Brush Tool (B) and press F5 to display the Brushes Panel. We want to create a new brush to add some subtle fog to the scene. Use the following settings to achieve that effect:

Start painting from where the ground starts (not the bushes) to the bottom of the canvas to create a dreamy effect. Lower the layer Opacity to 25%.

It might happen that some shadows might get lost during this proccess. If that is your case, create a New Mask, pick a soft black brush and with an Opacity lower than 50%, start erasing parts that might look annoying, like deepest shadows (legs, chest, plushie, shoes).


Step 51

We are almost there! To give the final touch, we are going to sharpen up the image. Since it is very big, we cannot use the Sharpen Tool or the Sharpen Filters. So Stamp Visible Layers by pressing Command/Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E, set the Blending Mode to Overlay, and go to Filter > Other > High Pass. Set a Radius of 5 pixels and press OK. Name it "Sharpening".


Final Image

Advertisement