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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation
Design

How to Create a Gothic Crow Lady Photo Manipulation With 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 dark photo manipulation featuring a lady with the crows. You'll learn how to combine different stock images using standard blending techniques, do retouching, adjust color, create a dark atmosphere, and more. 

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Build the Background

Step 1

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

new file

Step 2

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

add landscape

Create a new layer above the landscape image and set it as Clipping Mask. Activate the Clone Tool (S) to remove the unwanted detail shown in the screenshot below:

landscape cloning

Step 3

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

ground hue saturation

Step 4

Add a Curves adjustment layer to darken the landscape. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush with a very low Opacity (about 15-20%) to reveal the lightness in the middle.

ground curves
ground curves layer mask
ground curves result

Step 5

Place the sky image into the main file using the Move Tool.

add sky

Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to remove the hard edges of the bottom and blend the sky with the grassy ground.

sky masking

Step 6

Create a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to show some light in the middle area.

sky curves

Step 7

Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation to -94:

sky hue saturation

2. Add the Model

Step 1

Isolate the model from the background and place her onto the ground.

add model

Step 2

Use a layer mask to blend the bottom of her dress with the ground. You need to use a tablet pen and set a small brush to achieve a better result:

model masking

Step 3

Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #e8cbbd and Opacity and Flow about 20-25% to brighten and soften the skin on the model's face and make the skin smoother.

retouch skin

Step 4

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

DB new layer

Select the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 15-20% to refine the light and some details on her face, arms, and body. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

DB result

Step 5

To make a flying dress for the model, return to the original image. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select the lower part of the dress and add it to the existing dress in our main document. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) with Warp mode to bend the dress part and stretch it.

add more dress

Use a layer mask to blend this part with the existing one, make the transition smooth, and trim the bottom edge of the dress part to fit the grassy ground.

dress masking

Step 6

Duplicate this dress part and enlarge it. Make it fly higher.

add more dress 2

Step 7

You may notice that the bottom of the flying dress has some unwanted grass blades. To fix this, make a new layer and choose a medium-hard black brush to paint over these details.

unwanted details
black paint

Step 8

Create a new layer and use a medium-hard brush with the color #2d1e1a to paint flying hair strands for the model:

paint hair

Step 9

Select the model layer and the related ones and hit Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group mode to Normal 100%. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to -21:

model hue saturation

Step 10

Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #949e9c:

model photo filter

Step 11

Create a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to decrease the effect on the dress and details of the body and face.

model curves

3. Add the Wings

Step 1

Open the wings image and isolate the bird from the background. Select the left wing of the bird and add it to the left side of the model head. Use Control-T with Warp mode to bend the wing as shown below:

add left wing

Step 2

Use a layer mask to blend the wing with the head and remove any unwanted white hint that remains from cutting.

left wing masking

Step 3

Take the right wing and add it to the other side of the head. Remember to make it a bit shorter and askew to fit the head perspective:

add right wing

Step 4

Make a group for the wings. Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Saturation to -82:

wings hue saturation

Step 5

Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the top of the wings. Paint on the bottom of the wings to make it darker than the top:

wings curves 1

Step 6

Make another Curves adjustment layer to darken the bottom. Brush over the top to keep it brighter than the bottom.

wings curves 2

4. Add the Crows

Step 1

Open the crow 1 image. Isolate it from the background and place it on the right side, making it face towards the model.

add crow 1

Step 2

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the crow. Use a soft black brush to reduce the light on its head and the brighter wing:

crow 1 curves

Step 3

Add the crow 2 image after isolating it from the background. Place it in the area of the flying dress. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to 6 px:

add crow 2

Step 4

Use a Curves adjustment layer to make it darker. Paint on the dark wing to keep its contrast and details.

crow 2 curves

Step 5

Add the crow 3 image to the top left of the scene and apply a Gaussian Blur with the same settings:

add crow 3

5. Add the Feathers

Step 1

Make a new layer on top of the layers and turn the foreground to black. Change the brush to the feather ones and select the one numbered 464. Hit F5 to select the settings for this brush:

feather brush settings

Step 2

Paint some feathers around the model and the crows and apply a Gaussian Blur of 3 px to this layer:

paint feathers

Step 3

Paint more feathers on another layer and apply a Gaussian Blur of 6 px to it. Changing the blur radius will help to increase the depth of field.

paint more feathers

6. The Final Adjustment

Step 1

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the colors #e10019 and #00601b. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 20%.

gradient map

Step 2

Make a Color Fill layer and pick the color #250806. Change this layer mode to Exclusion 100%.

color fill

Step 3

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and alter the Midtones and Highlights values:

color balance
color balance result

Step 4

Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #5cb49e:

photo filter

Step 5

Create a Curves adjustment layer to enhance the color, contrast and mood of the whole scene:

whole scene curves

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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