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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Fan Art
Design

How to Create a Dark Batman Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a Batman-inspired artwork using a variety of photo-manipulation techniques in Adobe Photoshop. We'll use sky and wall images to create the base scene at the start, and then blend them together using adjustment layers, masking and brushes. 

Then we'll add the moon and the model, and repeat the same techniques to make them part of the scene. We'll continue to add other elements, such as the branches, smoke, bats and particles. We'll finish it up with several adjustment layers. 

During this tutorial you'll also learn how to enhance the light and contrast, apply texture, create a dark atmosphere, make depth of field, and more.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Creating the Base Scene

Step 1

Create a new 1700 x 1500 px document in Photoshop with the settings below:

new file

Step 2

Open the sky image. Use the Retangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the sky part:

select sky

Drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to stretch the height a bit.

adding sky

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 6 px:

blur sky

Step 4

Create an adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask to desaturate the sky color. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and change the Saturation value to -96.

sky huesaturation

Step 5

Make a Curves adjustment layer to darken the sky.

sky curves 1

On this layer mask, use a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush) with the opacity about 20-25% to reduce the effect on the top middle of the sky. Here are the results on the layer mask and on the picture:

sky curves 1 layer mask
sky curves 1 result

Step 6

Use a Levels adjustment layer to darken the sky more.

sky levels

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the sides of the sky as they look too dark at the moment.

sky levels masking

Step 7

Open the wall image. Select the wall part using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L).

select wall

Place it in the lower part of the working document and use Control-T to rotate the wall a bit.

adding wall

Step 8

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) and reduce the Saturation value to -88.

wall huesaturation

Step 9

Use a Curves adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to darken the wall.

wall curves

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the horizontal contour on the top of the wall to keep the lightness there (we aim to make the main light source on the top middle).

wall curves masking

Step 10

Create a new layer (set as Clipping Mask), change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:

wall dodge tool new layer

Active the Dodge Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 30-40% to brighten the horizontal contour of the wall. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

wall dodge tool normal mode
wall dodge tool overlay mode

Step 11

To make the highlight on the wall contour stronger and more visible, create a new layer and active the Line Tool (U). Change the foreground color to #d9d9da and set Weight to 2 px. Drag a line along this horizontal contour of the wall.

wall highlight

2. Adding the Moon

Step 1

Open the moon image and grab the moon using the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M).

select moon

Drag it onto the top middle of the working document and rotate it using Control-T.

adding moon

Step 2

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 6 px.

moon gaussian blur

Step 3

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to desaturate the moon color. Change the Saturation value to -94.

moon huesaturation

Step 4

To add some glowing light to the moon, double click the moon layer, and choose Outer Glow and Inner Glow. Set the color of the glow to #fcfcfc.

moon outer glow
moon inner glow
moon layer styles result

Step 5

The moon, especially its middle section, still looks a bit dark, so make a new layer and use a soft white brush to paint over the moon area. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%.

moon glowing light normal mode
moon glowing light soft light mode

3. Adding the Model 

Step 1

Open the model image. Select the model using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, and then place him onto the wall.

adding model

Step 2

Make a new layer under the model one. Use a soft black brush with the opacity about 40% to paint the shadow of the model on the wall.

model shadow

Step 3

Use a Curves adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to darken the model. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the outside to keep the lightness there.

model curves

Step 4

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to -75.

model huesaturation

Step 5

Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:

model dodge and burn new layer

Active the Dodge and Burn Tool with Midtones Range, Exposure about 20-30% to refine the light and shade on the model. Use the Dodge Tool to bring more light to the outside and the Burn Tool to strengthen the shade. 

model dodge and burn normal mode
model dodge and burn overlay mode

4. Adding the Branches

Step 1

Open the branches image. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the branches part, and then place it over the working document and avoid hiding any details of the model.

adding branch

Add a mask to this layer and erase the branches beside the model.

branch masking

Step 2

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to 8 px.

branch gaussian blur

Step 3

Create a Curves adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to brighten the branches.

branch curves

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the lower part of the branches to match its light and shade with the background light.

branch curves masking
branch curves masking result

Step 4

Make a new layer, change the mode to Overlay and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge Tool to make the light stronger on the branches, especially the lower ones.

branch dodge tool normal mode
branch dodge tool overlay mode

5. Adding the Smoke

Step 1

Open the sky image again and place it in the lower part of our main document. We're going to use it to make the smoke.

adding smoke

Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to erase the hard edges and reduce the smoke intensity. 

smoke masking

Step 2

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and decrease the Saturation value to -100.

smoke huesaturation

Step 3

Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the smoke.

smoke curves

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush with a very low opacity (about 10%) to reduce the effect on the sides of the smoke to make these areas a bit more visible.

smoke curves masking result

6. Adding the Bats

Step 1

Open the bats image and cut them out from the background using the Magic Wand Tool.

cut out bats

Select the different bats and position them around the model, duplicating if needed. Use Control-T to vary their size to create depth of field.

adding bats

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur with the Radius set to 4 px to each of these bat layers.

bats gaussian blur 4 px

Step 3

Add another bat to the right side of the scene, and then apply a Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to 8 px.

right bat gaussian blur 8 px

Step 4

Add another bat to the bottom of the image and enlarge its size using Control-T. Apply a Gaussian Blur with the Radius increased to 12 px. This step is to increase the depth of field.

bottom bat gaussian blur 12 px

Step 5

Select all the bat layers and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change this layer mode from Pass Through (default group mode) to Normal 100%. Create a Hue/Saturation within this group and bring the Saturation value down to -91.

bats huesaturation

Step 6

Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the bats. 

bats curves

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the lightness on the lower and further bats from the moon as they get less light than the others.

bats curves masking result

Step 7

With the bat at the right corner, its body should be a bit darker. To correct it, make a new layer (set as Clipping Mask), change the mode to Overlay and fill with 50% gray. Use the Burn Tool to darken this indicated area.

right bat burn tool

7. Adding the Particles

Step 1

We'll be adding particles to increase the dark atmosphere for the scene. Drag the particles texture into our main document and change the mode to Multiply 100%.

adding particles

Don't worry about the black background—we'll correct it immediately.

Step 2

Make an Invert adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to remove the dark background and reveal the particles and the scene.

particles invert

Step 3

Add a mask to the particles layer and erase the particles covering the moon and the model area. Also reduce the particles' intensity:

particles layer mask
particles masking result

Step 4

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 5 px to soften the look.

particles gaussian blur

8. The Final Adjustment

Step 1

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer on top of all the layers and change the Midtones settings.

color balance

Step 2

Make a Gradient Map adjustment layer and pick the colors #ae7272 and #c0dd97. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%.

gradient map

Step 3

Add a Curves adjustment layer to darken the scene.

curves

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the moonlight area, the model and the top of the wall to keep the brightness there.

curves masking

Step 4

Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect.

vibrance

Congratulations, You're Done!

I hope that you've enjoyed my tutorial and learned some new techniques. I'd love to hear your feedback, so feel free to leave it in the comment box below.

final result
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