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How to Add Drama to a Rainy Scene With Adobe Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Photoshop Portraits.
How to Create an Abstract Portrait With Rocks and Lava in Adobe Photoshop
How to Create Pop Art Photo Effects With Photoshop Actions
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a colorful rainy scene featuring an emotional woman. You'll learn how to add a colorful background using blending modes, retouch the model and take care of details, make rain using a custom brush, adjust the color, and enhance the depth of field.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Retouch the Model

Step 1

Create a new 2000 x 1333 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:

new file

Step 2

Open the model image. Drag this image into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V).

add model

Step 3

The model has a pretty face, but I've found her expression does not really fit well the feeling we need in this tutorial. The retouching process will be reducing the "dead spaces" and unwanted light areas, changing some of the face details to focus on the look and feeling of the model while still respecting the original light source (from right to left).

On the model layer, use the Lasso Tool (L) to select the face and go to Layer > Liquify, and choose the Forward Warp Tool (W). Her eyebrows are too thin and a bit too far from the eyes and create a "dead space". Use this tool to lower the eyebrows' position, lift up the corners of the lips a bit, and make the chin a little longer.

model liquify

Here's the look after liquifying:

liquify result

Step 4

After liquifying, there is an unwanted part of the right eyebrow. Also, I've noticed there is an unwanted blurred line on the dark background, and it might distract from the final effect. Create a new layer and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to remove the indicated details:

clone details
clone result

Step 5

Create a new layer and use a hard round brush with the color #080508 to paint more eyebrow hair for the model.

paint eyebrows

Step 6

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

DB new layer

Use the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) to refine, enhance and sharpen the face details as mentioned above. Her forehead is a bit too large, and there is an unnecessary light part on the area between the left eye and eyebrow. You should use the Burn Tool to darken the forehead to make it look smaller and to hide this light part behind the hair. Also use the Dodge Tool to increase the light on the contour of the right arm (we'll add the back light later so it should be brighter than present) and a detail on the left shoulder. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.

DB normal mode
DB overlay mode

Step 7

On a new layer, use a small medium-hard black brush to strengthen the stroke of her lashes. It helps to emphasize the eyes.


Step 8

Use a new layer and a soft brush with the color #bc7783 to paint on the lower left of the lips to darken them a bit. Change this layer mode to Multiply 30%:

darken lips

We've finished retouching the model. You can take a look at the Before/After screenshot below. The retouching process requires some patience and attention, but don't hesitate to take time for it—it's worth it!

before after result

2. The Basic Adjustment

Step 1

After retouching the model, we'll change the color, lightness and contrast of the dark background a bit. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and change the Cyans and Blues settings. The aim is to make the final effect more colorful (you'll see in the last steps).

model hue saturation
model hue saturation 2

Step 2

Make a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase most of the background and the model, leaving the light visible only at the contour area of the right arm.

model curves 1

Step 3

Make another Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness. Use this layer mask to make the dark effect visible in the left corner of the scene—it creates a look of the model fading into the dark background.

model curves 2

3. Add the City Background

Step 1

Open the city image. We need to place it behind the model but still keep the visibility of the raindrops. Also, the umbrella is semi-transparent with lots of tiny drops so we'll use blending modes to import it. First, place this image over the model one and change the mode to Color Dodge 100%:

add city
city color dodge mode

Step 2

Hide the city layer and the adjustment layers in section 2. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the model and the falling raindrops.

select model

Turn on the city layer and click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. We have the result:

add layer mask result

Use a soft black brush with a low opacity (about 30-35%) to refine the mask, recover the missing hair, and make the top of the city background appear semi-transparent through the umbrella.

refine the mask

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to 12 px, to make the city background look separate from the model:

city gaussian blur

Step 4

Apply a Motion Blur with the settings below to make the effect more subtle.

city motion blur

Step 5

Duplicate the city layer and change the mode to Screen 100%. Also turn on the adjustment layers in section 2. You'll need to refine the mask again using a soft black brush.

city screen mode layer mask
screen mode result

Step 6

Continue duplicating the city layer and alter the mode to Hard Light 100%. It helps to increase the contrast and make the model and the rain effect really stand out on the dark background. Here are the mask and the result after this step.

city hard light mode layer mask
hard light mode result

Step 7

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer for this layer (set it as Clipping Mask) to make the effect more colorful:

city color balance midtones
city color balance highlights

4. Add the Bokeh

Step 1

Place the bokeh image in the upper half of the scene and change the mode to Screen 100%.

add bokeh
bokeh screen mode

Step 2

Use a layer mask to erase the bokeh on the model's body and face, making the effect appear on both sides of the hair and the background. It helps to make the model integrated better with the background.

bokeh masking

Step 3

Apply the Gaussian Blur and Motion Blur filters as we did with the city background.

bokeh gaussian blur
bokeh motion blur

5. Create the Rain and Rain Effect

Step 1

First we'll be making the rain. There are many ways to make it, or you can look at my Dark and Surreal tutorial. If you want to try another way, here it is. Create a new 100 x 600 px document in Photoshop and choose white for the background. Select a hard black brush and press F5 to change the settings of this brush:

stroke settings

Change the foreground to black. Hold down the Shift key and paint a line from the top on the white background. Convert this layer to a Smart Object and use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to make it narrower, thinner, and longer.

paint line

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 1 px to this line:

line gaussian blur

Apply a Motion Blur with the following settings:

line motion blur

Hide the white background and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and name it whatever you want.

make brush

Step 3

Come back to our main document and make a new layer on top of the layers and change the foreground to white. Select the rain brush we've created in the previous step and change its settings:

rain brush settings

Use this brush to paint the rain over the scene. Hold [ or ] to change the size of the rain brush while painting to give it a more realistic effect.

paint rain

Step 4

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 1.5 px to soften the rain effect.

rain gaussian blur

Step 5

Make two layers and change the rain brush direction as shown below. Paint the falling rain from the left and from the right to fit the perspective of the umbrella.

paint falling rain 1
paint falling rain 2

Step 6

Create a new layer and select a medium-hard white brush with size about 2-4 px to paint the raindrops on the umbrella and falling from it. Lower the brush opacity to 50-70% to achieve a better effect.

paint rain drops

Step 7

The rain, like the other subjects, is affected by the light from the background. Create a new layer and hide all the layers except the model one. Use the Magic Wand Tool to select the dark background including the raindrops (we used this method once in section 3) and press Control-I to invert this selection.

select rain drops

Use a soft brush with the color #f94a24 to paint on the raindrops, especially the falling ones which get light from the background. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%.

colorize rain drops

Step 8

To make color for the rain we've created in this section, make a new layer. Hold Control-Shift while clicking the rain and the raindrops thumbnail layers to load their selection. Use the same brush to paint on the hanging drops and alter the mode to Soft Light 100%.

select painting rain
colorize painting rain

6. Paint the Lighting Effect

Step 1

Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #fec036 and opacity about 30-40% to paint on the stroke of the right arm to reflect the light background on there. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%:

right arm light

Step 2

Create a new layer with Overlay mode and use a soft brush with the color #e68e4d to paint light on the contour of the left arm. Make it thin and subtle.

left arm light

Step 3

Use a hard brush with the color #bad6ff to paint the hair strands on the area affected by the blue light.

blue hair

Step 4

Change the brush's color to #fde3ba and paint on the areas affected by the yellow light.

yellow hair

7. The Final Adjustment

Step 1

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings.

whole scene color balance midtones
whole scene color balance highlights

Step 2

Create a Color Lookup adjustment layer and choose Fallcolors.look. Lower the opacity of this layer to 50%:

color lookup

Step 3

Add a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #1b9c85.

photo filter

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer to change the color and contrast a bit:

whole scene curves

Step 5

Make a Levels adjustment layer to darken the scene. On this layer mask, erase both sides of the hair to reveal the details there.

whole scene levels

Step 6

Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the effect:


Step 7

The last step: use a soft black brush to paint on the top corners of the scene to increase the shadow there. Change the layer mode to Soft Light 100%.

darken edges

Congratulations, You're Done!

I hope that you've enjoyed my tutorial and learned something new. Feel free to share your ideas or comments in the box below—I'd love to see them. Enjoy Photoshopping!

final result
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