In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a dark, emotional scene featuring a sleeping girl. You'll learn how to combine several images to make a misty forest scene, and adjust lighting and contrast to enhance the dark and dreamy atmosphere.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. Add the Ground
Create a new 1500 x 1080 px document in Photoshop with the settings below:
Open the ground 1 image. Drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to rotate it a bit as shown below:
To remove the unwanted trunk on the left side, use the Lasso Tool (L) to select an area on the right corner. Set the feather radius of this selection to 50:
Right click this selection, and choose Layer via Copy. We now have this selected part on a new layer. Flip it horizontally by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal, and then move it to the left to cover the indicated trunk area:
Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush) to remove the hard edges and blend it with the ground:
Use an adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask to make it blend better with the ground. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and increase the lightness:
Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to reduce this area saturation:
There is an unwanted small tree near the middle section of the scene. To remove it, make a new layer and active the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to carefully clone over this tree and the area around it. Remember to take care of the light/contrast of the cloned area to fit the background and ground.
Open the ground 2 image. Select the foreground using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M):
Place this selected area in the foreground of the existing landscape using Control-T:
Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to soften the edges and make them fade into the existing ground. Now the ground looks rich and more interesting.
To match the color of this ground part with the rest, create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) and increase the Saturation value to +39:
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Red value of the Midtones to +19:
Use a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness to brighten this part.
2. Add the Forest
Open the forest image and place it in the background using the Move Tool.
Add a mask to this layer and erase the foreground and the middle section of the background to blend it with the existing scene:
Make a Curves adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to brighten the forest.
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the sides of the forest to make the light focused on the middle:
3. Create the Basic Atmosphere
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer on top of the layers and reduce the Saturation value to -43:
Create a Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness:
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the dark effect on the middle section to maintain the lightness there:
4. Add the Model
Isolate the model from the original image and place her onto the middle of the ground:
Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush with the Opacity about 50–55% to soften the edge of the model and blend her with the ground:
To make a shadow for the model, make a new layer under the model one. Use a soft black brush with the Opacity about 30–35% to paint on the lower left of her body, especially making the part along the bottom darker.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) above the model one and decrease the Saturation value to -43:
The model looks too bright compared to the background, so make a Curves adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) and reduce the lightness:
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to maintain the lightness on the upper parts which are illuminated by the background:
Make a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:
Active the Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 10–15% to darken the lower edges of the model. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:
5. Create the Background Light
Make a new layer on top of the layers, and use a soft brush with the
#d4d4d4 to paint on the middle of the background. Change
this layer mode to Soft Light 100%:
To create a soft highlight, make a new layer and use the same brush to
paint on the same area. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 40%.
6. Add the Leaves
Open the leaves image. Select different leaves to arrange over our forest scene, and remember to make some fall onto the model. You should duplicate and transform them if needed using Control-T:
With the leaves on the model, double click these layers and choose Drop Shadow. Set the color of the shadow to black:
Add more falling leaves to the scene, and remember to make the leaves at the
edges bigger. Apply a Motion Blur to each of these layers to add
movement to the image. There are two settings for the leaves on the left
and right side.
Select all the leaves layers and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change the mode of this group from Pass Through (default group mode) to Normal 100%. Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer within this group to reduce the leaves saturation:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the leaves, as most of them look too bright compared to the background at the moment.
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to maintain some lightness on the leaves, especially the parts towards the background light:
Use another Curves adjustment layer to darken the leaves more.
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the dark effect on the leaves nearer the background light:
To make the farther leaves blend better with the background and add more depth to the scene, add a
mask to the leaves group. Use a soft black brush with the Opacity about
20–25% to decrease the opacity of the selected leaves and make them fade into the light.
7. The Final Adjustment
Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick a
light blue color (I chose
#83ccff). This step is to add a cold
feeling to the scene:
Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the whole scene.
On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reveal the light at the middle of the image:
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. Enjoy photoshopping!