Unlimited PS Actions, graphics, videos & courses! Unlimited asset downloads! From $16.50/m
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Dreamy, Emotional Photo Manipulation Scene With Photoshop

by
Read Time:9 minsLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Communication Week.
How to Create a Post Box Illustration in Adobe Illustrator
How to Draw a Bird Step by Step
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial I'll show you how to use photo manipulation techniques in Adobe Photoshop to create a dreamy scene featuring a medieval woman with a dove carrying a letter. 

First we'll add the sky and landscape, import the bridge, model and castle and blend all of these elements together using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. After that, we'll work with the flowers, dove, rose, and scroll using a similar method. Later, we'll create some flying petals and paint some dreamy light using brushes and blending modes. We'll use several adjustment layers to enhance the final result.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. How to Add the Sky and Landscape

Step 1

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

new filenew filenew file

Step 2

Open the sky image. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the sky only and drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Place it in the upper half.

add skyadd skyadd sky

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance and change the Midtones settings:

sky color balancesky color balancesky color balance

Step 4

Create a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #00ecd3. On this layer mask, activate the Brush Tool (B) and choose a soft round brush with black color and opacity about 40-45% to reduce the effect on the top.

sky photo filtersky photo filtersky photo filter

Step 5

Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the sky a bit. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush with a lowered opacity (30-35%) to paint on both sides of the canvas.

sky curvessky curvessky curves

Step 6

Open the landscape image and place it over the canvas using the Move Tool.

add landscapeadd landscapeadd landscape

Use a layer mask to erase its sky and reveal the existing one.

landscape maskinglandscape maskinglandscape masking

Step 7

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 14 px:

landscape gaussian blurlandscape gaussian blurlandscape gaussian blur

Step 8

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Change the Midtones settings to match the landscape's color with the sky.

landscape color balancelandscape color balancelandscape color balance

Step 9

Use a Curves adjustment layer to make the landscape a bit brighter:

landscape curveslandscape curveslandscape curves

2. How to Import the Bridge

Step 1

Cut out the bridge from the background and place it in the lower half of the canvas.

add bridgeadd bridgeadd bridge

Step 2

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

bridge color balancebridge color balancebridge color balance

Step 3

Use a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #fb5757. This is to give some pink light reflected on the surface of the bridge.

bridge photo filterbridge photo filterbridge photo filter

Step 4

Make a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. Paint on the lower area of the bridge to remove the light effect there as it's hidden from the sky.

bridge curves 1bridge curves 1bridge curves 1

Step 5

Use another Curves adjustment layer to decrease the contrast and sharpness of the bridge to fit the dreamy light of the sky.

bridge curves 2bridge curves 2bridge curves 2

Step 6

To make a shadow for the lower part of the right parapet, use the Lasso Tool (L) to make a long shape below this area following its shape and then fill this selection with black.

bridge shadow fillbridge shadow fillbridge shadow fill

Lower the Opacity of this layer to 60% and apply a Gaussian Blur of 6 px to it.

bridge shadow gaussian blurbridge shadow gaussian blurbridge shadow gaussian blur

Step 7

Add a mask to this layer to reduce the shadow on the lower area.

bridge shadow maskingbridge shadow maskingbridge shadow masking

3. How to Add the Model

Step 1

Isolate the model and place her above the bridge.

add modeladd modeladd model

Step 2

Use a layer mask to remove the bottom of her dress, making her look as if she's standing on the bridge.

model maskingmodel maskingmodel masking

Step 3

Create a new layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Activate the Clone Tool (S) to remove the tattoo on her back and arm.

remove tattooremove tattooremove tattoo

Step 4

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

model color balancemodel color balancemodel color balance

Step 5

Add a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the model as she looks too dark at the moment.

model curvesmodel curvesmodel curves

Step 6

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

model DB new layermodel DB new layermodel DB new layer

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

model DB resultmodel DB resultmodel DB result

4. How to Add the Castle

Step 1

Cut out the castle from the background and add it to the left side of the canvas. Set this layer below the bridge layer.

add castle add castle add castle

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 12 px as it's in the blurred area.

castle gaussian blurcastle gaussian blurcastle gaussian blur

Step 3

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Master settings:

castle hue saturation 1castle hue saturation 1castle hue saturation 1

Step 4

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer and alter the Midtones values:

castle color balancecastle color balancecastle color balance

Step 5

Create another Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the castle's color.

castle hue saturation 2castle hue saturation 2castle hue saturation 2

Step 6

Make a Curves adjustment layer to increase the light on the castle. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the effect on the shadow areas (to lighten them).

castle curvescastle curvescastle curves
castle curves maskingcastle curves maskingcastle curves masking

Step 7

Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light and shadow on the castle, especially to lighten the shadow and reduce the contrast.

castle DBcastle DBcastle DB

5. How to Add the Flower Branches

Step 1

Cut out the flowers 1 image and add it to the top right of the canvas.

add flowers 1add flowers 1add flowers 1

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 4 px to these flowers.

flowers 1 gaussian blurflowers 1 gaussian blurflowers 1 gaussian blur

Step 3

Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the flowers' color:

flowers 1 hue saturationflowers 1 hue saturationflowers 1 hue saturation

Step 4

Add a Curves adjustment layer to make the flowers brighter.

flowers 1 curvesflowers 1 curvesflowers 1 curves

Step 5

Place the flowers 2 image in the bottom left of the scene after isolating, and apply a Gaussian Blur of 14 px to it. Set this layer above the model's one.

add flowers 2add flowers 2add flowers 2

Step 6

Use a Hue/Saturation to desaturate the flowers.

flowers 2 hue saturationflowers 2 hue saturationflowers 2 hue saturation

Step 7

The flowers look too dark, so use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten them.

flowers 2 curves 1flowers 2 curves 1flowers 2 curves 1

Step 8

Create a Levels adjustment layer to increase the light more for these flowers. Paint on the details which are too bright (the front).

flowers 2 levelsflowers 2 levelsflowers 2 levels
flowers 2 levels maskingflowers 2 levels maskingflowers 2 levels masking

Step 9

Add the flowers 3 image to the bottom right of the bridge and apply a Gaussian Blur of 14 px to this layer.

add flowers 3add flowers 3add flowers 3

Step 10

Match the flowers' color with the rest using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

flowers 3 hue saturationflowers 3 hue saturationflowers 3 hue saturation

Step 11

Make a Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness. The aim is to create some shadow on these flowers. On the layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the front of the petals which are illuminated by the light. 

flowers 3 curves 1flowers 3 curves 1flowers 3 curves 1
flowers 3 curves maskingflowers 3 curves maskingflowers 3 curves masking

6. How to Add the Dove, Rose, and Scroll

Step 1

Cut out the dove and place her in line with the direction of the model's look.

add doveadd doveadd dove

Step 2

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to nearly the minimum.

dove hue saturationdove hue saturationdove hue saturation

Step 3

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to add some pink to the dove.

dove color balancedove color balancedove color balance

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer to decrease the light on the dove. Paint on the top of the wings so it won't be affected by this adjustment layer.

dove curvesdove curvesdove curves

Step 5

Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool on a new layer and refine the light and shadow of the dove.

dove DBdove DBdove DB

Step 6

Extract the rose from the dark background and place it in the area of the dove's beak. Use a layer mask to remove some of the leaves and detail to make the rose branch clean and put it in the dove's beak.

add roseadd roseadd rose

Step 7

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to alter the rose's color. Adjust the Reds and Yellows settings:

rose hue saturation redsrose hue saturation redsrose hue saturation reds
hue saturation yellowshue saturation yellowshue saturation yellows

Step 8

Add a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the rose's branch.

rose curvesrose curvesrose curves

Step 9

Place the scroll below the claws of the dove after cutting it out from the white background.

add scroll add scroll add scroll

Step 10

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to change the scroll's color:

scroll color balancescroll color balancescroll color balance

Step 11

Make a Curves adjustment layer to give some light for the scroll. Paint on the lower part of the scroll as it's hidden from the main light source.

scroll curves 1scroll curves 1scroll curves 1

Step 12

Create another Curves adjustment layer to increase the shadow for the lower part of the scroll. Paint on the upper part so it won't be affected by this adjustment layer.

scroll curves 2scroll curves 2scroll curves 2

7. How to Make the Flying Petals

Step 1

Open the petal image. Use the Quick Selection Tool (W) to select one petal in the middle and add it to the lower corner on the right. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) with the Warp mode to bend it a little as shown below:

select petalselect petalselect petal
add petaladd petaladd petal

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 8 px to this petal:

petal gaussian blurpetal gaussian blurpetal gaussian blur

Step 3

Duplicate this layer many times and arrange them over the canvas. Make some bigger petals on the foreground and vary the size of the petal as well as the Radius of the Gaussian Blur filter to increase the depth of field.

add more petalsadd more petalsadd more petals

Step 4

Select all the petals layers and hit Control-G to make a group for them. Change the group mode to Normal 100% and use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer within this group to change the petals' color.

petals hue saturationpetals hue saturationpetals hue saturation

Step 5

Make a Curves adjustment layer to give the petals some shaded details. Paint on some of their front and left so they won't be affected by this adjustment layer.

petal curves 1petal curves 1petal curves 1
petals curves 1 maskingpetals curves 1 maskingpetals curves 1 masking
petals curves 1 masking resultpetals curves 1 masking resultpetals curves 1 masking result

Step 6

Create another Curves adjustment layer to brighten the petals. The dark areas show where to paint on the layer mask.

petals curves 2petals curves 2petals curves 2
petals curves 2 maskingpetals curves 2 maskingpetals curves 2 masking
petals curves 2 masking resultpetals curves 2 masking resultpetals curves 2 masking result

8. How to Paint the Light

Step 1

Make a new layer on top of the layers and use a dark brush with the color #2a011d to paint on the top right of the sky where the light is located, and also paint on the front of the model and the surfaces of the castle and bridge. Change this layer mode to Linear Dodge 100%, and use a layer mask to reduce the light on the castle.

paint light 1paint light 1paint light 1
light 1 lineard dodge modelight 1 lineard dodge modelight 1 lineard dodge mode

Step 2

Use another color for the brush (#eba498) to paint more warm light for the model, castle, and some other details. Change this layer mode to Screen 100%. You can use a layer mask to refine the light effect on the unwanted details.

paint light 2paint light 2paint light 2
light 2 screen modelight 2 screen modelight 2 screen mode

9. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

Create a Photo Filter adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the color #fff373:

whole scene photo filterwhole scene photo filterwhole scene photo filter

Step 2

Make a Color Fill layer and pick the color #280404. Alter this layer mode to Exclusion 100%.

whole scene color fillwhole scene color fillwhole scene color fill

Step 3

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

whole scene color balance midtoneswhole scene color balance midtoneswhole scene color balance midtones
whole scene color balance highlightswhole scene color balance highlightswhole scene color balance highlights

Step 4

Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect. On the layer mask, use a soft black brush to paint on the skin of the model's back so it won't be too saturated.

whole scene vibrancewhole scene vibrancewhole scene vibrance

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 resultfinal resultfinal result
One subscription.
Unlimited Downloads.
Get unlimited downloads