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Create a Fun Fairytale Illustration in Photoshop CS6

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Most of us probably grew up with fairytales of one type or another. When we grow up however, we start to notice the hidden messages, and sometimes, not so nice messages in the stories. In this tutorial we will re-interpret the popular tale of the frog and the prince with a fun and ironic twist. In the process, we’ll explore some of the new tools available in Photoshop CS6. Let's get started!


Tutorial Assets

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


Step 1

Let's start with the specifications of our file. Create a new document at 300 dpi, 4500 x 3000 pixels in RGB color.



Step 2

Drag the Forest stock pic to the canvas and make it fit to the size of our file. Hold Shift key while you are transforming to keep the aspect ratio. Press Enter when you are done and name this layer "floor".


Drag the Jungle stock pic and fit it to the canvas as well. Name this layer "background" and keep it above the "floor" one.


Use the Move Tool (V) to place this layer as follows. Add a New Layer Mask by pressing the mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette.


Use a 0% Hardness Brush (B) on the Layer Mask, black color picked with the settings below to merge the jungle with the floor. Follow the shapes of the moss and organic things. You might need to switch to smaller sizes, for what you can use the "," key.


Make sure that both layers are well blended. Lower the Opacity of "background" layer to see if you are missing any elements such as the rock on the left.


Let's go to use a new blur option available only in Photoshop CS6: The Field Blur. Go to Filter > Blur > Field Blur. With this very powerful tool we can recreate artificial depth of field without having to create several layers with different blurs. Just click in the area you would like to blur and move the white color inside of the circle to set the blur amount. Click more or less over the center of the image to set an overall blur of 19 pixels.


Now the game consists in putting several points all over this layer to set different blur values, so we can get a rich and believable depth of field. Each point affects a smaller range as there are more points set on the layer. When you put more points in an area of the image it gets collapsed by near blur points so this way it's easy to have the job done. Just follow the scheme shown in the screenshots below to achieve the effect:

And this is how our layer should look at the end. Keep in mind that the branches at the top left area are closer to the audience's point of view than the very background of the image. Lighter areas under the trunks should remain blurrier than everything else.



Step 3

Select the "floor" layer and go to Filter > Blur > Tilt Shift. This is also a new feature in Photoshop CS6 that allows us to create blurs at the edges of an image leaving the center intact (It really depends how you place and customize it at the end, anyway). Click on the sharpest area of the layer: This will be the sharpest area of all our composition so it's important to make it clear. Set a blur amount of about 60 pixels and move vertically the white points above and under the circle to expand the depth of field: We want the first plane of the image to be as blurred as the first plane blur of the "jungle" layer. Leave the rest of settings of the filter unchanged.



Step 4

Drag the Frog stock image to the canvas and name this layer "frog". Do not resize it very much - we need it big!


We have to get rid of the background behind our little prince so select the Pen Tool (P), which is a marvelous tool to mask out elements from photos. It is not the easiest or the fastest, but it's the most accurate tool you can use for this matter. Be sure that the "Path" option is selected in the Pen Tool options menu at the top left area of the interface. If you are new to this, the Pen is very intuitive but it requires some direction: We will be clicking over the borders of the shape of the frog and moving our mouse to adapt the paths. So click over any area of the border that you want to set a start point, then click in a near area and move your mouse (in the example below, a bit to the left) and you will see that the line between both pointers, which is called "path", gets adapted to the shape we are looking for.


If you have understood these basics, this will be a piece of cake. Remember always to move your mouse in the direction you want the path to be adapted to. Don't forget to Zoom In (Alt + mouse's wheel) to get a more accurate selection.

As you can see, there are plenty of shapes all over the edge of the frog, so take your time and zoom in as much as you need to get it done.


Be careful with tricky areas such as the double chin: Zoom in to discover the real intricate shapes to select them accurately; otherwise you will have to refine your selection later. When you reach your starting point, just click on it again to close the path.


Right - click and select Create Vector Mask, then go to the layer and right - click on the mask icon and select Rasterize Layer. Voilá!


Now right - click on the mask icon again and choose Refine Mask to make our selection more accurate.


In the new window menu, check Smart Radius and use the settings depicted in the screenshot below. This way we will have our borders blended in a better way: a bit blurred, because no the entire frog is in the sharpest area of the image, hence further edges of its visual volume should be blurred according to the depth of field we are using.


Once you are satisfied, press Enter and on the Paths tab in the Layers Palette, right - click and select Delete Path if you are not going to use it any longer.


At the end, borders should look more of less like this example:


But now, if you Zoom Out (Alt + mouse's wheel), you will notice that there are some areas in between the legs of the frog that need to be cut out as well. Select the Pen Tool (P) again, and just like we did, create a path over the areas we want to get rid of. Then right - click, Make Selection and use a Feather of one pixel because we want these borders with more blur than other areas of the image, since they are closer to the first plane of the depth of field. Don't forget to Deselect (Ctrl/Command + D) once you are done with each selection.


 


 



Step 5

Now that we have the frog masked, press Ctrl/Command + T to Free Transform the layer and rotate it about -22º (to the left).


Move it a bit to the bottom and the left side of the canvas.


So at the end it's placed this way.



Step 6

Although our borders are well blended with the surroundings, they still look ugly. The fact is that due to the original lighting of the stock photo, the orange of the original picture has taken into the lighting of the borders, and that doesn't fit at all with the rest of our composition. So take the Sponge Tool (O) and in the top menu pick Desaturate. Now use a small, soft brush to paint over the orange borders. They won't look fantastic anyway, but we will be fixing that right away.


Ctrl/Command - click on the Layer Mask icon to load its selection and press Ctrl/Command + Shift + N to create a New Layer. Name it "green borders". We do this because we are going to paint over the borders, so this way we won't paint outside of the frog.


Zoom In and and use the Color Picker Tool (I) to select a color near to the now desaturated borders.


Choose the Brush Tool (B) with around 100 pixels Size, 0% Hardness, 100% Opacity and 30% Flow and paint carefully over the borders. Then switch the blending mode of this layer to Screen and set Opacity to 55%.


Take a closer look to find all the borders and paint over all of them. You might need to change your main color by picking other one near the area you are painting. Press the Alt key to select a new color.



Step 7

To enhance bit the "frog" layer and adapt its sharpness to the scene, go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen and use these settings.



Step 8

If we analyze the perspective of the frog, there is something that isn't harmonious at all comparing to the ground perspective. We can sort of fix it by deleting the hand that is right under the double chin. Select it with the Pen Tool (P), right - click to Make Selection and use a Feather of one pixel. Don't forget to Deselect at the end (Ctrl/Command +D).



Step 9

As we did with the "background" layer, we are going to use Filter > Blur > Field Blur to adapt the bottom part of the frog to the depth of field of the first plane of the ground. First of all, click on the area that should be sharpest and set the Blur amount to 0. This way we will avoid blurring an area that must remain sharp.


Then we will click on the area that should have more blur, the bottom leg/foot and set the Blur amount to 11.


We will set near of it a Blur of 0 since that area of the frog had already enough blur.


Set 1 point of blur in the area between the legs.


Just a few touches more and we are ready to go:


 


As you can see, now the bottom area of the frog looks better according to the depth of field.



Step 10

Lower the Opacity of the "frog" layer to 40%. What we want to do now is to integrate the frog with the little branches and things that were already on the floor, so we can achieve a more tridimensional look.


Use the Pen Tool (P) to select this piece of branch. Right - click, Make Selection with a Feather of 0.5, and in the Mask of this Layer use the Brush Tool (B) with black color picked to paint over the selection. This way the branch will look like it's above the hand of the frog.


 


Use the Blur Tool to blur a bit more the borders on the Layer Mask.


Repeat the process with this tiny bit of green under one of the fingers:


We will also get rid of other finger, so the pinecone behind can be seen. As it is now, the position of the finger is very weird and doesn't match with the perspective of the pinecone. It will be easier to select it with the Pen Tool (P) as usual and fill it with black on the Layer Mask to delete it.


For some very tiny bits like this piece of branch you might need to use the Brush Tool (B) with black color picked (0% Hardness so we won't get hard edges) on the Layer Mask and erase more than needed. Then switch to white to correct any details. Sometimes this is faster than playing with opacities.


Use a black soft brush to erase bottom areas of the hand following the volume of the moss rocks.


Select the corner of the longest finger with the Pen Tool (P) and give it a more rounded and natural shape. Remember to right - click, Make selection, use a 0.5 Feather and fill it with black color on the Layer Mask, then Deselect (Ctrl/Command + D).


Switch to the Burn Tool (O) in Shadows Range, with an Exposure of 25% and paint a bit over the hand to enhance shadows.


Change to Dodge Tool (O) and use the Highlights Range (25% Exposure) to paint over the same area. This way we are giving a tiny bit of volume to the hand, which was looking very flat.



Step 11

Duplicate the "background" layer by picking it and pressing Ctrl/Command + J or going to Layer > Duplicate Layer and drag it to be above the "frog" one. Name this layer "rays of light".


In its Layer Mask use a big, soft white brush to restore the bottom area.


Head to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur. In the mess square drag the center to the top left corner and set an Amount of 41 pixels in Zoom mode.


We want to add some rays of light coming from between the branches on top of the frog. This way we are emulating the light direction.


Put this layer in Screen Blending Mode.


Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels (or press Ctrl/Command + L) and use the following settings to darken a bit this layer so it doesn't get so visible above the frog:


Add a New Layer Mask to this layer and use a big, soft brush with black color picked to start painting over the top right area of the image so we get rid of the excesive lighting over there.


Ctrl/Command - click the mask on the "frog" layer to load its selection and start painting over the mask on "rays of light" again with a soft, black brush over the frog area so the lighting doesn't get too excesive. Keep in mind the volumes of the frog to delete certain areas


Keep on over painting until it looks more or less like this. It has to have a subtle approach at the end:



Step 12

We are going to add some atmospheric light that will orientate its direction in a subtle way. Create a New Layer (Ctrl/Command + Shift + N) above "rays of light" and name it "lighting". Select the Gradient Tool (G), Radial Gradient selected, and pick the colors black and white.


Click on the bottom right corner and bring the gradient to the top left one and then release your mouse.


Set the Blending Mode to Overlay and Opacity to 35%.



Step 13

Talking about lighting, you will notice a light border on the right side of the frog's head. Use the Burn Tool (O) in Highlights Range with 25% Exposure, with a small, soft brush to decrease the highlights of that area until they adquire the same lighting range as the background behind it (on the "frog" layer).



Step 14

Still in the "frog" layer, go to Filter > Liquify, so we can draw a nice smile on its face by morphing it. Select the Forward Warp Tool and drag the left side of the mouth upwards.


Take a look at the screenshots below to know which areas of the face you have to drag a bit to create a sort of smile. Apart of doing the shape with the mouth, you will have also to drag the cheek upwards to get the smile expression in the eye.



Step 15

Create a New Layer (Ctrl/Command + Shift + N) name it "frog light painting" above the "frog" layer and Ctrl/Command - click the Layer Mask on "frog" to load its selection. We are going to manually adjust some lighting to our light focus by using the Brush Tool (B). For this processes a graphic tablet is really recommended. If you are using it, press F5 to open the Brush Settings Panel and, select Shape Dynamics and check Pen Pressure on Size Jitter if your tablet supports it, so we can control the size of the brush using the pen instead of having to change it manually. First, pick the black color and use 80 pixels Size, 0% Hardness, 20% Opacity and Flow brush and paint over the natural shadows of the face present already on the original image to accentuate them.


Decrease your Brush Size ("," key) to paint over the line of the mouth.


Increase again the brush Size ("." key) to keep on elevating the natural shadows on the face. It's important to keep subtle strokes to do not make the black color recognizable.


Basically you have to repeat this process over all the area where the frog is present. Always keep in mind where the light is coming from (top left), so in any different elements shadows shall be located at the right side, bottom side or both. Anyway, this is just to create an orientative light map, as we will return to keep on painting light several times in this tutorial.


Once you are done with shadows, switch to white color to paint the lighting the same way we did with the rest. It is more prominent in the top and left areas os each frog element. Don't forget to emphasize the natural lighting of the original image to add some volume.


Switch Blending Mode to Soft Light, so what we have painted remains subtler.


Duplicate this layer by pressing Ctrl/Command + J and then merge it down with the original layer by pressing Ctrl/Command + E. This way, we are increasing a bit the volume.


It doesn't matter if your painting isn't that great, because we will go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, with a Radius of around 10 pixels, to shade this layer and make of it something more homogenous.


Decrease the Opacity to 80% - 85% and we are done with this by now.



Step 16

Let's going to make the frog stand out a bit by changing its color. Press Ctrl/Command + U for Hue/Saturation and move the first bar to the left until the frog gets a kind of golden / yellow tone on the skin.


Now press Ctrl/Command + B to open the Color Balance dialogue box and use the following settings to get the perfect color for our character:


 


 



Step 17

To correct the lighting without destroying any pixels on the "frog" layer, we are going to use a less aggressive method using the Patch Tool (J) and the new Content Aware feature on CS6. We will patch areas of shadows that do not fit exactly with the light projected from the trees. Draw a selection over the area show below and once its closed drag its content to a lighter area and it will get substituted and blended with the surroundings. The Adaptation should be put on Very Loose; otherwise you will get harder edges. Be careful and do your selections following the organic lines of the frog.


Repeat the process in all of the frog's back and its irregular volumes. In the following screenshots you can see some examples:


 


 


 


 


 


Now switch to the Clone Stamp Tool (S), 200 pixels Size, 0% Hardness, 45% Opacity and 100% Flow. We will use a similar patching technique but this time to get a diffused blending of some on the undesired shadows.


The areas inside white circles in the following screenshots show parts on which you should clone from near lighter areas.


Depending on the area, you might need to switch to smaller brush sizes. This way we are eliminating a bit unwanted contrast where the light is directly hitting.


 


At this point lower the Opacity so the change is less aggressive:


 


At the end of this process of restoration, our frog should look more or less like this one, with a smooth and clean skin.



Step 18

Let's paint the real lighting that should be hitting the frog now that we are rid of the original volume of the stock photo. Use the Dodge Tool (O) in Midtones Range, 25% Exposure a soft big brush and start painting a diffuse light over the back of the frog where the light should be hitting.


Switch to smaller brushes to light up the details of the face. Make stronger the original lights and volume to the mouth and eyes specifically.


Keep on adding bigger strokes on the back and eventually over the upper areas of the arm and leg.


Also enlighten the borders at the left of the frog, which still look a bit weird.



Step 19

Select the "green borders" layer and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to make them smoother:


Duplicate this layer by pressing Ctrl/Command + J and set the Blending Mode to Normal.


Press Ctrl/Command + U to open the Hue/Saturation window. Lower the Saturation and Lightness and switch the Hue bar to make this green more appealing by substituting it by a similar yellow color:


Now go to the Layer Mask of "frog" and select the Brush Tool (B), 20 pixels Size, 0% Hardness and black color picked, and start erasing the edge of the frog, so what remains is the copy of the "green borders" layer. This way we will get rid at last of the annoying orange borders.


Be careful not to erase so much. If you commit any errors remember that you can restore the layer by painting with white color.



Step 20

Return to "frog" layer and use now the Burn Tool in Midtones Range mode and 5% of Exposure to paint over this layer to create some dark areas. Start painting over the already darkened areas of the face to enhance the contrast.


Don't forget also to pick a bigger brush size to darken the entire leg.


Refine some details here and there where shadows are already present, like in the arm and the back, but don't darken them up too much.



Step 21

Create a New Layer (Ctrl/Command + Shift + N) under "frog" and name it "frog shadows". We are going to paint a soft and diffused casted shadow. First of all, grab the Brush Tool (B), 0% Hardness, a Size between 70 and 100 pixels, 60% Opacity and 20% Flow and start painting right under the areas of the frog that touch the floor, as depicted in the series of screenshots below:


For the left area increase a bit the brush Size and give some few strokes to darken a bit the floor.


The frog's head has to cast a very subtle shadow in the floor area underneath of it. Our light isn't hard at all, so there is no need to create a concrete shadow with defined edges... we just have to darken a bit the surrounding areas, specially the right one:


Duplicate this layer (Ctrl/Command + J) and merge it down with the previous one (Ctrl/Command + E) to increase opacity. Then switch the Blending Mode to Multiply, 75% Opacity.



Step 22

Select "green borders copy" layer and use the Burn Tool (O), Midtones Range, 80% Exposure, to darken up the borders.


 


Then use the Brush Tool (B), soft and black, less than 40% Opacity and Flow, to accentuate on this layer the dark areas of the leg nearest to the ground.



Step 23

Select the "frog" layer and use the Burn Tool (O) in Midtones Range with 20% of Exposure to paint deeper shadows on our character. Increase them over the very bottom parts of legs and arms, and also on the reliefs of the back.


 


 



Step 24

Let's keep on fixing wrong lights. Use the Patch Tool (J) again with Content Aware option selected, to select around the brightest areas of the frog (where you can find some maximum whites or so) and replace them to parts of skin near of them.


This way we know that we do not have anymore lighting coming from the viewer, but from the top left corner.



Step 25

Before anything else let's give some color atmosphere to our scene. First of all, go to the "floor" layer and press Ctrl/Command + B to load the Color Balance window and use these settings:


Do the same with the layer "background".


And finally, repeat the process on the "frog" layer.



Step 26

At last, it's time to let our little prince to rest a bit. Meanwhile we are going to place our princess on the canvas. Drag the model stock photo to the canvas and make it fit vertically. Name this layer "model."

Note: This stock photo is a paid stock photo, but you can get it for free creating a try-out account on its website. More info here.


First of all we have to mask the model out from the background image. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the background areas you want to get rid of by holding Shift key to pick multiple tones.


Obviously our selection won't be perfect, so let's see how to solve some tiny details. In the case of masking the right arm flounces, use the Pen Tool (P), to create a path / selection and then right - click, Make Selection and check Subtract from Selection.


Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) in Subtract from Selection mode to select small areas unselected by the Magic Wand like the ones following:


When you are done, press Ctrl/Command + Shift + I to Invert Selection.


Go to Select > Refine Edge (Ctrl/Command + Alt + R). On view select On Layers and use the following settings to enhace the border our layer will have after we mask it out.


Press Enter and click on the Add New Layer Mask icon to have our layer almost cut out.


Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) again, uncheck Contiguous mode and click on the color that is in between the feathers' fringes, then Invert Selection (Ctrl/Command + Shift + I): we are going to refine the selection over these very tiny details:


Go to Select > Refine Edge and use these settings:


Invert Selection again (Ctrl/Command + Shift + I). Now in the layer mask, use a soft, black brush to paint over the areas between the fringes in all the feathers. Be carefull to not erase more than you need.


Do it also in the fan. You might need to Deselect (Ctrl/Command + D) and erase the rest manually with the Brush Tool (B).


Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. We want our model to be near the frog, and, also, the lighting is coming from the opposite, so this is a must.



Step 27

Press Ctrl/Command + T to Free Transform our layer, then hold Shift key and make it smaller, to the size you can see in this screenshot, then press Enter.


Ctrl/Command - click the mask of the "frog" layer and use a black brush to erase in the mask of the model the area of the feather that has got selected, so it looks like it's behind the frog, adding a very tiny bit of more depth and realism to the image.


Now we are going to use a very, very interesting and almost unknown feature of Photoshop. Go to Edit > Puppet Warp. With this tool you can transform the image only moving the areas you want, it's more useful than Warp or Liquify when you want to morph something. The result, if well done, is usually very natural and accurate.


First of all, click on the center of the body: that will be our reference point so the image doesn't get displaced while morphing it. Add a new one in the same vertical but at the very bottom of the mesh:


Now the fun begins: What we want to do is to make the dress more curvy. Click on the right side of the tablecloth, over the corner, and bring it down.


 


Do the same with the opposite corner:


Click on the bottom central point we did at the beginning and bring it down.


Add another point near the left tablecloth corner and bring it down and to the left a bit.


Then move the torso to the right and bring upwards the bottom left corner of the dress:


And here we are:



Step 28

Decrease the Opacity of the "model" layer and select its Layer Mask and pick the black color with the Brush Tool (B). As we did with the frog, we are going to add some depth by deleting tiny elements from the floor to make them look in front of the model, like the small branches and the pinecone. Use around 20% Hardness and increase and decrease the layer's opacity to contrast what you are deleting.


Below you can see the amount of items you have to delete:


At the end it will look like this. You can do this step also with the Pen Tool (P) using between 0.5 - 2 Feather Radius while creating the selection if your pulse is not very good.



Step 29

Let's make some adjustments to the model. Press Ctrl/Command + L to open the Levels window and raise the black tones:


Then go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights and use the following settings to get rid of the false volume of the original photo and get a neutral lighting approach, like the one we have been working over the frog:


Use the Blur Tool (R), with 40% Strength, to blur the edges of the mask and blend the woman with the rest. Also blur a bit the bottom area of the tablecloth because it's nearer to the first plane of the depth of field.



Step 30

We are going to increase the Midtones Range of the "model" and "frog" layers by selecting the Dodge Tool and painting over the left areas of each item (heads, arms, etc) where the light is hitting harder, so we can get both elements with related lighting:


Go to the "floor" layer and use the same technique to raise the lighting already present in the layer over the organic shapes of the moss. As you can see, the original lighting of this layer was in fact very close to the one we have created, so it just needs some touches here and there.


In the same way, Burn (O) the Midtones Range in the opposite direction (to the right). Now our ground has some more volume.


Switch to Highlights Range and paint over the chest area of the frog as well as the nearest parts on the right side over the face.



Step 31

Some more enhacement for the "model" layer. Go to Image > Adjustments > Selective Color and increase the Black values of the Neutrals and Blacks.


Press Ctrl/Command + L to load the Levels window and increase the darks:


Then press Ctrl/Command + B for Color Balance and use these settings:


As you can see, now the model looks more balanced comparing it to the surroundings.



Step 32

Create a New Layer by pressing Ctrl/Command + Shift + N over the "frog" one and name it "frog lights". Ctrl/Command - click the mask of "frog" to load the selection and start using the Brush Tool (B), white color selected, 0% Hardness and low Opacity over the back of the frog , the elbow and the top area of the leg, just where the light is hitting directly.


Lower Opacity to 40%.



Step 33

Ctrl/Command - click the mask of "model", Zoom In and use the Clone Stamp Tool (S) to clone darker areas of the blue tablecothing over the ones with more light. Use always a soft brush and full Opacity. If you need multiple strokes you will end up with a weird pattern.


Use the Burn Tool (O) in Midtones Range to darken a bit that area.


Switch to a small brush to darken the volumes of the white semi transparent fabric in the center of the dress.


Go to the "floor" layer and still with the Burn Tool, darken the near areas of the model, specially on the right, but also a bit at the bottom and the right sides, both being more subtle. This will be enough as the casted shadow of her, since as we saw, the light is very diffuse here.


Do the same with the very right side of the frog's head (Midtones Range) and bring them up. As you can see we are ever returning to old elements. This is the way I use to get an accurate lighting result, so all elements end up with a nice blending. I find it better to work all elements at the same time so you can correct things easily if in the future you are not comfortable with any of the editions.



Step 34

Drag the crown stock image to the canvas, name this layer "crown".


Use the Pen Tool (P) as explained in previous steps to create a selection of the crown to mask it out from the image.


When you are done, press Ctrl/Command + T and make the crown smaller while holding Shift to keep the aspect ratio, then rotate it a bit to the left side to adapt it to the frog's head direction.


Drag the layer so it's under the "rays of light" one. You will notice that something's wrong.


Just Ctrl/Command - click the crown layer mask and go to "rays of light" and delete that area, but only on the right side of the crown peaks.


Use the Pen Tool (P) as usual to select the bottom part of the crown, since there should be some skin in front of it. Right - click, Make Selection and use a Feather of 0.5 pixels.


Use the Blur Tool to blur the cut if needed.


Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use a Radius of about one pixel, since the crown is not completely in the sharpest area of the depth of field.


Now grab the Burn Tool (O) in Midtones Range and darken the right sides of the crown. Then swtich to Dodge, also in Midtones range, and light up the left sides, so we are adapting this item to the overall lighting.


Go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights and use these settings to get a more homogene lighting.


And finally adjust the tonal ranges of this layer by pressing Ctrl/Command + B to display Color Balance options and use these settings:



Step 35

Drag the bow-tie stock image to the canvas, right - click and Flip Horizontal. Press Enter and name this layer "bow-tie".


Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) with around 40 pixels of Tolerance and hold the Shift key to select multiple areas.


Go to Select > Refine Edge and use these settings for a more accurate result.


Press OK and click on the Add New layer Mask icon and then Invert it (Ctrl/Command + I) to have our bow-tie masked. Press Ctrl/Command + T for Free Transform and rotate this to the right.


Go to Edit > Puppet Warp and as we did with the model, put two basic reference points. Then use these screenshots as a guide to morph this layer. Basically what we have to do is to bring down the upper strap to adapt it to the frog's back/neck and then move the right side of the knot like if it were in perspective to add some depth to it.


When you are done, use the Pen Tool (P) to make a selection over the second plane strap of the bow-tie.


Remember to right - click, Make Selection and click the Add New Layer Mask icon on the Layers Palette, and press Ctrl/Command + I to invert the selection and then press Ctrl/Command + D to Deselect.


Repeat the process with the knot underneath the main tie.


Go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights and use these settings as we've done in the rest of items on the scene:


Press Ctrl/Command + T for Free Transform, then right - click and select Warp. Drag upwards to the right the bottom left pointer and do the opposite with the bottom right one.



Step 36

Create a New Layer (Ctrl/Command + Shift + N) above "bow-tie" and call it "bow-tie lighting", Ctrl/Command - click the mask of "bow-tie" to load its selection and use the Brush Tool (B), with white color picked, to paint the lighting of the lace, paying special attention to the horizontal lines that stand out, to give them more opacity, using small sizes, and always 0% Hardness. Remember that the light is coming from the top left area!


Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use a Radius of 1.5 pixels to have the strokes blended at all.


Use the Burn Tool to darken a bit more the right area of the bow-tie:



Step 37

Create a New Layer under bow-tie (Ctrl/Command + Shift + N) and call it "bow-tie shadow", use a small, soft brush to paint the casted shadow of the bow-tie a bit to the right, as the light is hitting from the left.


Paint the shadow until it looks somewhere near this:


Ctrl/Command - click "frog" Layer Mask to load the selection and apply a Gaussian Blur of 3,4 pixels by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur on the "bow-tie shadow" layer.



Step 38

In "bow-tue lighting" layer, use the black color and the Brush Tool (B) to paint the shadows and add volume to the right bottom area of the bow-tie.


Switch to Hard Light Blending Mode, 70% Opacity on the "bow-tie lighting" layer.


Press Ctrl/Command + L for Levels and raise the blacks on the "bow-tie" layer.


Now press Ctrl/Command + U to open the Hue/Saturation window. Lower the Saturation and change the Hue bar until you get a purple tone like the one below, so it makes a nice contrast and pops-out because of the yellow color of the frog.


Use the Burn Tool (O) in Shadows Range mode to darken the right area of the lace of the bow-tie.



Step 39

Drag the kiss stock photo to the canvas and set the Blending Mode to Multiply. Call this layer "kiss".


Make it smaller by pressing Ctrl/Command + T and holding Shift to keep the aspect ratio, and place it somewhere near the frog's mouth. Keep in mind the real size of the model's mouth!


The following is quite simple: Press Ctrl/Command + J to Duplicate Layer, then Ctrl/Command + T for Free Transform, rotate it and place it elsewhere. Repeat this process until you think you have kissed our prince enough!


Use the Blur Tool (R), 50% Strength, on each "kiss" layer to blend it with the frog actual sharpness.


Go to "frog" layer and use the Patch Tool (J), Content Aware activated, to get rid of the marks near the mouth and to avoid confusion between these and the kisses. Just freehand select around them and drag the selection somewhere near.



Step 40

Drag the frog 2 stock image to the canvas and set its Opacity to 40%. Name this layer "frog texture".


Go to Edit > Transform > Warp to adapt this layer to the volume and shape of the original frog, because we are going to blend the skin of this frog, which is uglier, to the frog prince's one. Guide yourself by the arrows shown in the screenshot below, although Warp is very intuitive anyway, just drag any part of the mess to start adapting.


Ctrl/Command - click "frog's" Layer Mask to load its selection, press Ctrl/Command + Shift + I to Invert it and press Delete on the "frog texture" layer.


Add a New Layer Mask.


Use a big, soft brush with black color picked to delete the face area.


Set the Blending Mode to Overlay.


Go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights:


Then in the Layer Mask again, delete with the Brush Tool (B) some conflictive areas, like the junctions of arms and legs, some parts of the back... just to make it more realistic and avoid it being like a pattern.


Switch to white with very low Opacity and restore some parts of the face, to give a very subtle effect:


Return to the main layer and go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and use these settings:


Then Press Ctrl/Command + L for Levels and raise the blacks:


And finally Ctrl/Command + U for Hue/Saturation and lower the Saturation to somewhere near 10 and change a bit the Hue moving the bar to the right.



Step 41

Just a quick break... add a new Black & White Adjustment Layer on top of the document and use the Neutral Density Preset to homogenize the entire lighting of the scene.



Step 42

This step is very loose, since we are going to add some skulls over the ground but this is not very strict. Choose any of the skulls provided in the skull stock photos pack and use the Magic Wand (W) to select the black background and press Delete. You might need to use the Pen Tool (P) instead in some of them. Name these layer as "skull1", "skull2", and so on.


Press Ctrl/Command + T for Free Transform and resize it down, holding Shift key to maintain the aspect ratio.


You can place the skulls wherever you want. I will just give some basic steps to know how to give a proper treatment to all of them. In this case, we will place this one betwen the frog and the model:


Use the Blur Tool to blur the skull until it looks as blurred as the ground.


Twist it by going to Edit > Trasform > Flip Horizontal.


Press Ctrl/Command + U for Hue/Saturation and lower the Saturation, so it doesn't stand out so much.


And finally adjust a bit the colors by pressing Ctrl/Command + B for Color Balance. Use the following settings:



Step 43

I'll provide a couple more of examples with skulls and the rest will be up to your imagination. Drag any other skull to the canvas, and again use the Magic Wand (W) to delete the background, selecting and then pressing Delete.


Resize and rotate if needed with Free Transform (Ctrl/Command + T), use the Blur Tool to adapt the skull to the depth of field of the area you have chosen, erase areas of the bottom in case you need to integrate it with the ground, and do some color adjusments by going to Hue/Saturation (Ctrl/Command + U) and Color Balance (Ctrl/Command + B).


Put a new skull on the canvas.


As you can see in the screenshot below, the procedure is exactly the same as with the other skulls:


Add a couple more if you want, where you want.



Step 44

Drag the daisies stock photo to the canvas and put it under "frog shadow". Name it "flowers".


Use the Eraser Tool (E), 0% Hardness, to start deleting the top area of the image to start blending it with the original ground.


Keep in mind the volume of the rocks and moss on the ground to give an accurate shape to the flower carpet.


Now click the icon of Add a New Layer Mask at the bottom of the Layers Palette in case we need to turn back at any point. Use a soft brush, with black color selected, to start erasing some areas so the flowers can look natural on the ground. Otherwise this will look fake and we are not interested in doing that! Guide yourself by the following screenshots to find places to erase from.


Let's add some minor overall adjustments. Press Ctrl/Command + L for Levels to raise the blacks and decrease the whites.


Press Ctrl/Command + B for Color Balance and adjust the colors of the flowers to the ones of the ground.


Finally, grab the Blur Tool to blur the further areas of the flowers, exactly the one before and after our main focus (model and frog), so they won't stand out.


At the end it shall look like this. It looks like they were there all the time, isn't it?



Step 45

Create a New Layer above everything else (Ctrl/Command + Shift + N) and fill it with black color using the Fill Bucket Tool (G). Then go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare and use a 50-300mm Zoom. Name this layer "lens flare".


Set the Blending Mode to Screen.


Use the Eraser Tool (E), 0% Hardness, to delete the brightest areas of the flare, so they don't disturb, especially on its focus located on the top left area.



Step 46

Take the moss stock pic to the canvas and set the Blending Mode to Overlay, place it behind "model" on the right side. Name this layer "flowers 2".


Use the Eraser Tool (E), 0% Hardness, to erase the borders and the dark, empty areas.


Since we are using Overlay, we have to get rid of some darker parts to blend this layer, so head to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights and use these settings:


Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use an amount of 3,5 pixels of Radius to adapt this layer to the depth of field.



Step 47

Drag the castle stock photo to the canvas and name it "castle", place it behind the "model" layer.


We are going to use another new feature in CS6. Go to Filter > Adaptive Wide Angle to correct the Perspective of the photo and select the Fisheye Correction. We have to put lines on some perspective lines of the castle. Just click on the bottom of each one, then at the top, and press Alt - click in any of the pointers of the circle to straighten the line. This will set the degrees either to 90º in vertical lines and 0º in horizontal ones.


Press Enter when you are done and use the Magic Wand Tool (W), with 40 pixels Tolerance, to select the white background and press Delete.


Press Ctrl/Command + T to Free Transform this layer and remember to hold Shift to keep the aspect ratio. Then right - click and select Perspective and drag the top center pointer of the transform box a bit to the left.


Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to adapt this layer to our depth of field, as usual.


Switch to Burn Tool (O), Midtones Range, and darken the right areas of the castle as we have done with each of the items placed in our composition. Then change to Dodge, also in Midtones Range, and do the same on the left areas. Since our castle is further than everything else, avoid making a big contrast.


Adjust its colors by pressing Ctrl/Command + B for Color Balance:


Double click on this layer to display the Layer Styles window and select Inner Glow, select a light purple tone and use these settings:


Right - click on the layer style sub item and select Create layer. Then use the Brush Tool (B), with black color selected to delete some bottom right parts of the glow that are disturbing a little bit.



Step 48

Return to the "background" layer and use the Clone Stamp Tool (S) to clone the green tones of the leaves over the bottom of the trunk, and then clone the nearest background areas over the trunk as well to make it disappear, because now it disturbs a bit to perceive the castle. Use always 0% Hardness and 100% Opacity and Flow to avoid creating a clone pattern.


 



Step 49

As we did with the skulls, we are going to add several butterflies on our canvas. Again, the procedure is more or less the same to all of them, so feel free to play with the options suggested and give your own creativity a chance during their placement, perspective, color, etc. Drag one of the butterflies to the canvas and use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the white background, then press Delete. Name these layers "butterfly1", "butterfly2" and so on and place them under "rays of light" layer.


Resize the layer by Pressing Ctrl/Command + T and holding Shift to keep the aspect ratio, just as usual. I'll place this one at the right of our model:


Use the Smudge Tool, with 90% Strength, to add a movement blur to this butterfly and give the look like it's moving.


Rotate it if you feel like it with Free Transform (Ctrl/Command + T).


Now just repeat the previous process with the rest of buttrflies: Cut them out with the Magic Wand (W), resize with Free Transform (Ctrl/Command + T) and use the Smudge Tool to add some movement.


As you can see in this third example, it's exactly the same in some cases. In this one we won't use the Smudge Tool since the butterfly isn't moving, but we have to blur it to adapt the layer to the depth of field.


 


Add the rest of the butterflies using this technique. In the las example we have changed the color with Hue/Saturation (Ctrl/Command + U).



Step 50

Add the deer stock image and name it "stag". use the Magic Wand Tool (W), with 45 pixels of Tolerance, to select the background.


This will end up selecting inner areas, so use the Pen Tool (P) to create a selection (check Subtract from Selection in the Make Selection window). Then press Delete.


Use Ctrl/Command + T (Free Transform) to resize this layer.


Place this layer under "model" so we can see the right half of the stag peacefully eating some grass.


Use the Blur Tool to adjust the sharpness of this layer to the depth of field.


Raise the blacks of the layer by going to Levels (Ctrl/Command + L).



Step 51

Drag the rabbit image to the canvas and use again the Magic Wand (W) to delete the white background. Name this layer "rabbit".


As we are doing with most items, resize this layer (Ctrl/Command + T for Free Transform) and place the rabbit above the rock on the left side of the frog.


Apply a blur with the Blur Tool to adapt yet again this element to the depth of field.


Use the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) in Midtones range to add some volume to the rabbit, since the light is hitting on its back.


Double - click on this layer to diaplay the Later Styles panel and check Inner Shadow to avoid the light borders to stand out.


Then make some final light adjustments using Levels (Ctrl/Command + L) and moving the Midtones to the right.



Step 52

Add the snail stock pic to the canvas and cut it out with the Magic Wand Tool (W). Name this layer "snail".


Resize it and rotate to the left using Free Transform (Ctrl/Command + T). Place it on the first plane moss rock.


Apply an 8 pixels Radius Gaussian Blur for depth of field's sake.


Press Ctrl/Command + L for Levels and raise the black tones of the layer.


Double - click this layer for Layer Styles and apply and Inner Shadow to avoid light borders:


Then use Dodge and Burn (O) to adjust the volume of the snail according to the lighting of the scene. Remember: Dodge on the right side, Burn on the left.



Step 53

Put the owl photo on the canvas, name it just "owl" and as usual use the Magic Wand (W) to cut it out.


Place it at the very right side of the canvas, at the height of the model's head more or less, and use the Blur Tool to apply the appropriate depth of field (not so much).


Double - click this layer for Layer Styles and add an Inner Shadows with these settings:


Decrease Saturation and Lighting by going to Hue/Saturation (Ctrl/Command + U).



Step 54

Drag the grass stock pic to the canvas and name it "grass 1st plane1". Put it under "rays of light" layer.


Use the Magic Wand (W), 90 pixels of Tolerance, to select the white background, then delete it. Don't worry if the cut out looks weird.


Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use a Radius of around 15 pixels.


Raise the darks of this layer to avoid it to stand out too much by going to Levels (Ctrl/Command + L).


Put on the file the second grass stock photo, rotate it a bit to make it look like in the screenshot below, and name this layer "grass 1st plane2".


Get rid of the background again with the Magic Wand (W).


Press Ctrl/Command + F to apply the last filter we used (Gaussian Blur).


Decrease the lightness, this time using Hue/Saturation (Ctrl/Command + U).


And finally, repeat the process with the third grass image, naming it, presumably, "grass 1st plane3" and placing it on the bottom right corner. Doing this we are adding some added depth of field to our composition.


 


 


 



Step 55

The following step is perhaps the hardest one of this tutorial, because we will have to do things very accurately to avoid messing the entire image up. We will add a sky background behind our forest to give some air to the composition and to get a better color combo. Drag the sky stock photo to the canvas, name it "sky" and place under the "castle" layer.


Add a New Layer Mask and use a big, soft brush with black color picked to start masking this layer. This might take a big while and a pen tablet is highly encouraged to have an accurate result. Make the borders of your masking as diffuse as possible: we really have to blend this layer as best as we can.


Zoom In to start masking with a tiny brush the areas between the leaves of the palm tree. A pressure controlled brush would help a lot here (F5 for Brush Options, check Size Dynamics, and select Pen Pressure Control on Size Jitter).


Do the same with the plam tree leaves on the right side of our canvas, and also on the line where the sky should meet the ground. Take your time to make it perfect.


Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of around 13 pixels to make the sky look as the further element in the composition:


Refine the masking once more, especially on the right side, on the palm trees leaves free spaces. As we are going on the further plane of the depth of field, this will be easier as it we would like to change the entire scene in sharper areas.


Adjust lighting using Levels (Ctrl/Command + L). Increase the contrast by dragging both blacks and whites pointers to the center.


Set layer Opacity to 90%.


Create a New Layer and name it "blue", above the "sky" one. Use the color picker (I) to select a neutral/light blue color from the sky background.


Using the Brush Tool (B), always 0% Hardness, 50% Opacity and Flow, we will paint the light reflections on the nearest items to the sky. Light also reflects color, so we will have the chance to have the sky better blended if we make look the near trees and leaves with a slight blue tone.


Set the Blending Mode to Color and Opacity to 45%. We did it!



Step 56

We are going to add some Adjustment Layers to enhace colors in our image. At the top of all of them, click on the Add New Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette and select Vibrance. Set it to +60 to make secondary colors pop-out.


Add a Gradient Map new Adjustment Layer, select a Solid Gradient Type using brown and light blue, press Enter and Reverse it and put it in Overlay Blending Mode and set Opacity to 18%.


Create a New Layer on top of that and name it "cold". Use the Fill Bucket Tool (G) and select the color #828bca. Then set it to Soft Light, 30% Opacity.


Add a new Selective Color Adjustment Layer and use these settings to make our colors stand out.



Step 57

Now we will add the latest elements to our image: some lipsticks here and there to show that our princess is quite tired of kissing the wrong frog...

Send the lipstick stock photo to the canvas and use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select and delete the white background. Name this layer "lipstick big" and save it for later. Duplicate it by pressing Ctrl/Command + J (and rename as just "liptstick") and hide the original one by now.


Press Ctrl/Command + T to resize and rotate it and place it like if the model were holding it.


Delete the bottom area (Pen Tool (P) or just with a Layer Mask and the Brush Tool (B) carefully as we have explained here many times).


Duplicate it (Ctrl/Command + J) and send the Layer Mask to the Bin in the new layer to have a full lipstick again. Resize it (Ctrl/Command + T) and place it in one of the moss rocks in front of the model. You might need to right - click and select Perspective to orientate this item better.


Use the Blur Tool to adapt this layer to the depth of field.


Create a new layer under this lipstick and name it "lipstick shadows" Use a small soft brush with black color to paint a subtle casted shadow a bit to the right.


As happened with the skulls and butterflies, the way of making this is almost the same in all copies. Resize to your liking and place elsewhere, duplicating the previous layer by pressing Ctrl/Command + J.


And don't forget to blur it up using the Blur Tool (R).


In some cases like this one, you might need to add some perspective (Edit > Transform > Perspective) or adjust the lighting (in this example with Hue/Saturation).


Now we will rescue the "lipstick big" layer. Duplicate it (Ctrl/Command + J) and make visible the new layer. Place it somewhere between the first plane pinecone and the near skull. Delete the bottom areas to make it look like it's in between both items and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur for the depth of field.


Duplicate this layer and place it close to the viewer.


Make visible the original lipstick layer and place it between the first plane grass.



Step 58

Above "frog" layer, create a new layer (Ctrl/Command + Shift + N) and name it "drool". We are going to add some drooling to our main character to give some more personality to it. Select the Brush Tool (B) with a tiny Size, 20% Hardness, 30% Opacity and Flow (in some cases, even less) and start painting the slime. Follow the natural volume of this item to recreate the path of the drool from the mouth in direction to the chin. First, create some reference lines (like in the two first screenshots) and then use a slightly bigger brush, with less Opacity, to add some diffuse volume to them. Remember that the strong, whitest lines, should be always located on the left area.


Display the Laye Styles window by double - clicking on this layer, and select Bevel & Emboss with these settings, to enhace and increase the volume:


Keep on painting using the same method as the one depicted above. You will notice that now it's easier to create the shapes and volumes because every stroke has extra depth thanks to the Bevel & Emboss style.


Now we want the model to be a bit stuck to our prince, by painting some slime that will connect the frog's mouth with the model's left hand and head


You might end up needing to use the Smudge Tool (R), with low Strength, to blend the strokes and make them look smother.



Step 59

Create a new layer and name it "blue light", place it under "lens flare". Use the Gradient Tool (G) and select the preset Foreground to Transparent and pick a light blue tone, then create a gradient from top left to bottom right.


Set it to Soft Light with 30% Opacity.



Step 60

Let's add some more color atmosphere. Create a new layer under lens flare and call it "warm up". Use the Fill Bucket Tool (G) and select the color #d55724. Then start doing gradients with the Gradien Tool (G), always using the Foreground to Transparent preset, using the colors depicted below to create this giant warm blur.


Switch to Soft Light, 18% Opacity.



Step 61

We will add a slightly blurry atmosphere. This will add a subtle and dreamy touch all over the image. Click on the top layer and press Ctrl/Command + Shift + Alt + E to Stamp Visible Layers and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use a Radius amount of around 45-50 pixels.


Set it to Screen Blending Mode and its Opacity to 10%. Name this layer "blur screen".


Duplicate the layer (Ctrl/Command + J), rename it as "blur soft light" and obviously, set it to Soft Light. Then go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and use an Uniform Amount of 122%. This will add some grain to all of the scene so it will look more homogenous, specially printed, so this way we can dissimulate a bit the difference between stock photo qualities.


Then blur it up with Gaussian Blur to make it less aggressive.


Add a New Adjustment Layer of Black & White with the default preset, and set it to Soft Light, 30% Opacity.



Step 62

Last color retouching. Create a new layer, name it "brown" and use the Gradient Tool (G) to create a gradient from the bottom right corner to the opposite side using the preset of Foreground to Transparent. Set it to Soft Light, 70% Opacity.


Another new layer, this time called "blue". Do a blue gradient coming from the top left direction and set it to Soft Light, 54%.



Step 63

And we have arrived to the end of this journey! We are going to add some sharpness to our final artwork. Press Ctrl/Command + Shift + Alt + E to Stamp Visible Layers and set the Blending Mode to Overlay. Name this layer "sharpness".


Then go to Filter > Other > High Pass and use a Radius of 4 pixels to make everything pop out.



Final Image



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