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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation
Design

Create a Dreamy Autumn Photo Manipulation Scene 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 an emotional autumn scene featuring a dreaming girl. You'll learn how to blend different images properly using adjustment layers, masking and brushes. You'll also learn how retouch a model using basic Adobe Photoshop tools, enhance color and contrast, and create lighting and depth of field.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Add the Forest

Step 1

Create a new 1172 x 1106 px document in Photoshop with the settings below:

new file

Step 2

Open the forest image. Use the Move Tool (V) to drag this image into the white canvas and convert this layer to a Smart Object. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to resize it as shown below:

adding forest

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 4 px:

forest gaussian blur

This step is to add some depth to the scene.

Step 4

We're aiming to create a soft foggy background with the main light coming from the left. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and increase the lightness:

forest curves

On this layer mask, use a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush) with the Opacity about 30% to reduce the lightness on the right side which is further from the background light.

forest curves masking
forest curves masking result

Step 5

Use a new fill color layer to reduce the forest visibility. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color and pick the color #8898af:

forest fill color

Lower the Opacity of this layer to 30%:

forest fill color result

Step 6

To create the main light source, make a new layer and use a large, soft, white brush to paint on the top left of the scene.

forest light painting

Add a mask to this layer, and use a soft black brush to reduce the light intensity and avoid making the light too strong and obvious.

forest light masking

Step 7

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:

forest color balance

2. Isolate the Model and Paint the Hair

Step 1

Open the model image and extract her and the column from the background. Place this extracted one onto a new layer. Make a new layer between the background and the extracted one, and fill with any medium dark colors so you can see the hair painting result in the next steps more clearly.

isolate model

Step 2

We'll be adding more hairs to the model's head. Create a new layer and change the foreground to #3e281a (picked from the model's head). Select a hard brush and press F5 to change the settings for this brush:

hair brush settings 1
hair brush settings 2

Use this brush to paint some dark brown hairs:

dark hair painting

Step 3

Change the brush color to #735539 and paint the lighter hairs and cover some of the dark ones.

light hair painting

Step 4

Create a new layer and use a brush with a bright yellow color (I chose #a87e56) to paint the tiny fuzzy hair out of the head and the curls.

lighter hair painting

3. Retouch the Model

Step 1

Hide the background and the fill color layers. Press Control-Shift-Alt-E to merge all transparent layers (the extracted model and the hair ones). Drag the merged model into the forest document and place her on the right side:

adding model

Step 2

We'll start doing some basic retouching for the model by using the Liquify filter. Go to Filter > Liquify and select the Forward Warp Tool (W):

model liquify settings

Use this tool to make the face and neck a bit slimmer, also the mouth narrower and the chin longer. Don't overdo it as it would look unatural.

model liquify
liquify result

Step 3

There are some unwated details on the column and the wrinkles of the dress:

unwanted details

To refine them, make a new layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Select the Clone Tool (S) to clone over these indicated details.

clone result

Step 4

Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #b497a0, the Opacity and Flow about 22–30% to brighten and soften some parts of the skin, especially on the arms and the face:

soften skin 1

Step 5

Use a new layer and a soft brush with the color #cec7c9 to bring more lightness and softness to the arms, fingers and face. You may notice that some of the facial features are removed and the face looks somehow unatural. Don't worry, we'll use other tools to refine them later.

soften skin 2

Step 6

Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #826b72 to paint some shades on the model face and body where are hidden from the light. Set this layer mode to Multiply 100%:

skin shading

Step 7

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

dodge and burn new file

Select the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 20–30% to refine the light and shade of the model and column. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

dodge and burn normal mode
doge and burn overlay

4. Add the Model's Shadow

Step 1

In this step we'll be adding shadow to the model. In the original stock image, the light is very soft and the contrast is low, so the shadow is almost unseen. But in the existing image, the light and contrast are increased so the shadow should be more visible.

Make a new layer and use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select the model (no need to be so precise). Fill this layer (Shift-F5) with black:

model shadow fill

Convert this layer to a Smart Object and flip it horizontally (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal). Move this shadow to the right:

shadow flipping

Step 2

Lower the Opacity of this layer to 50% and add a mask to it. Use a soft black brush to remove the shadow part overlapping the model. Also reduce the opacity of the further shadow part (from the model position):

shadow masking

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to 4 px:

shadow gaussian blur

On the filter mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the blur effect on the part nearer the model as it must be harder and more solid:

shadow filter mask

Step 4

Create a new layer and use a semi-soft black brush to paint the missing shadow under the model fingers which lean on the column:

adding more shadow

5. Adjust the Color of the Model

Step 1

Select the model layer and all the relevant ones (including the shadow ones) 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 and change the Master, Reds, Yellows, Blues and Magentas values:

model huesaturation
huesaturation result

Step 2

Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #e8b279 to add some warm tone to the model:

model photo filter

6. Add the Leaves

Step 1

Open the leaves image. Select different leaves and arrange them around the model. You should use Control-T to resize and distort them to make them appear different:

adding leaves

Step 2

Add more leaves to the space and apply a Gaussian Blur of 4 px to each of them. The blurred ones willl bring more depth to the scene.

adding more leaves gaussian blur

Step 3

Make a group for the leaves using Control-G. The leaves look dark compared to the background, so add a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness:

leaves curves

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the effect on the leaf beside the book and a part of the one near the foreground, since these are less illuminated by the light:

leaves curves masking

Step 4

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to -54:

leaves hue saturation

Step 5

Some of the leaves still look obvious on a foggy background. To correct it, add a mask to the leaves group and use a soft black brush with the Opacity lowered to 20–25% to paint on them to reduce their visibility and blend them better with the background:

leaves group masking

7. Add the Bokeh and Light

Step 1

Move the bokeh image onto the upper half of the scene and change the mode to Screen 100%:

adding bokeh
bokeh screen

Step 2

Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to remove the bokeh effect on the model and make it appear mostly on the forest background.

bokeh masking

Step 3

To match the softness of the bokeh effect with the forest, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 8 px:

bokeh gaussian blur

Step 4

Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) and change the Master settings:

bokeh hue saturation

Step 5

To add light to the left side, create a new layer and take a large, soft brush with the color #ff9976 to paint on the top left. Change this layer mode to Hard Light 100%:

adding light
light hard light mode

Use a layer mask to reduce the light opacity on the right side where the light is less reflected.

light masking

8. Apply the Final Adjustments

Step 1

Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the color #f1e795:

whole scene photo filter

Step 2

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer and pick the colors #66a1c3 and #7790f9. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%:

whole scene gradient map 1

Step 3

Make another Gradient Map adjustment layer and change the colors to #3a3469 and #ffcd75. Set this layer mode to Soft Light 50%:

whole scene gradient map 2

Step 4

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings:

whole scene color balance
color balance result

Step 5

Create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness:

whole scene curves 1

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the area around the middle section to reduce its brightness and avoid losing the details.

curves 1 masking

Step 6

Use another Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness.

whole scene curves 2

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the left side and the middle to maintain the brightness there:

curves 2 masking

Step 7

Create a Selective Color adjustment layer and change the Reds settings:

whole scene selective color

Step 8

Make a Vibrance adjustment layer to boost the color:

whole scene vibrance

Step 9

Make a new layer and use a semi-hard brush with the color #ffe5c1 to paint lighter fuzzy hairs in where you think the head is illuminated.

more hair painting

Step 10

Change the brush color to a brighter one (#fffdcc) and start painting more highlights for the hair:

hair highlights

Step 11

Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #ffdfbf to paint on the dress to make some details brighter. Change this layer mode to Overlay 50%:

dress light

Step 12

In the final step we'll make shadow for the hairs which we've painted in the previous steps. Make a new layer within the model group (above the shadow layer and under the adjustment layers), and use a soft black brush with the Opacity about 20–30% to paint on the column where the shadow should be cast.

hair shadow

Congratulations, You're Done!

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial as much as I did. Feel free to share your comments and feedbacks in the box below—I'd love to see them. Enjoy photoshoping!

final result
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