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  1. Design & Illustration
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Design

How to Create a Fantasy Jellyfish 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 use Adobe Photoshop to create a fantasy scene featuring a woman watching flying jellyfish. 

First, we'll build the base scene using several stock images. After that, we'll import the rocky arch, retouch the model, and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. Later we'll add different jellyfish, painting the light and sparkling dots. We'll use a Vibrance adjustment layer to complete the final effect.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. How to Build the Base Scene

Step 1

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

new file

Step 2

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color and pick the color #b2bfc2.

color fill 1

Step 3

Select this layer mask and activate the Brush Tool (B). Choose a soft round brush with black color to erase the upper half of the canvas as we don't need this part.

color fill 1 masking

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the lower half of the canvas. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the dark effect on the left edge of this area.

color fill 1 curves
color fill 1 curves masking

Step 5

Open the mountains image and drag this image into the main canvas using the Move Tool (V), placing it in the upper half.

add mountains

Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to erase the hard edges on the top and bottom to blend the mountains with the existing background.

mountains masking

Step 6

Drag the mountains image into the main document again and flip it horizontally (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal). On the layer mask, use a soft black brush to remove the top hard edge and the right side, leaving the left side visible subtly to cover the hill.

duplicate mountains
duplicated mountains masking

Step 7

Drag the sky image onto the upper half of the main canvas and use a layer mask to erase the hard edge of the bottom and leave only the top part of the sky visible.

add sky
sky masking

Step 8

Create a Curves adjustment layer on top of the layers and reduce the lightness. On this layer mask, paint on the left and middle to reveal the lightness there. We're aiming to have the main soft light in the middle section.

whole scene curves 1
whole scene curves 1 masking

Step 9

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer to give some blue to the whole scene. Alter the Midtones settings:

whole scene color balance 1

2. How to Import the Arch

Step 1

Cut out the rock arch and place it in the lower half of the canvas. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to rotate it a bit.

add arch

Step 2

Go to Edit > Puppet Warp and use some points to drag the lower part of the arch upward, and stretch the middle of the arch to both sides of the canvas.

arch puppet warping

Step 3

Add a mask to this layer and use a hard black brush to remove the small part on the bottom of the arch.

arch masking

Step 4

After warping, the details on the arch look a bit stretched and unnatural. To fix it, use the Lasso Tool (L) to select a part of the rock arch in the original image and drag it to the arch in the working document. Set this layer as a Clipping Mask.

add arch texture 1

Add a mask to this layer, and use a soft black brush to blend this rock part with the existing surface.

arch texture 1 masking

Step 5

Add more rock parts from the original image to cover the stretched details on the arch using the same method. Remember to set all these layers as Clipping Masks.

add more arch texture

Step 6

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to desaturate the arch. Bring the Saturation value down to -67:

arch hue saturation

Step 7

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

arch color balance

Step 8

Make a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the rock arch.

arch curves 1

Step 9

Create another Curves adjustment layer with the same purpose. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the lightness on the shadow/hidden areas of the arch. You can see the results on the mask and on the picture.

arch curves 2
arch curves 2 masking
arch curves 2 masking result

Step 10

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

arch DB

Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range and Exposure about 10-20% to refine the light and shadow and paint more details for the arch. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

arch DB result

3. How to Retouch the Model

Step 1

Open the model image and isolate her from the original background. Create a new fill color between the extracted model and the original one and pick a light color (I've chosen #d1ac92).

isolate model

Step 2

The bottom of the model's left foot is missing. To correct it, open the image mentioned in the last link of the resources section. Take the right foot of the woman and drag it onto the main model image, and flip it horizontally.

add foot

Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to blend this foot with the existing leg.

foot masking

Step 3

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer above the foot one (set as Clipping Mask) to desaturate the foot a bit.

foot hue saturation

Step 4

Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #d1ac92 and opacity and flow about 25-30% to reduce the highlight on the foot.

foot light reducing

Step 5

Create a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the hidden area of the foot a little. On the layer mask, paint on the front of the foot to keep its lightness.

foot curves 1

Step 6

Use another Curves adjustment layer to reduce the light on the front of the foot. Paint on the hidden area so it won't be affected by this adjustment layer.

foot curves 2

Step 7

Create a new layer and use a small brush with the colors #30272c and #151013 to paint more hair for the model.

paint model hair
paint model hair result

Step 8

Hide the original model layer and the color fill one. Hit Control-Shift-Alt-E to merge the extracted model, foot, and hair ones into a new one. Drag this merged layer into the main canvas and place the model above the middle of the arch.

add model

Step 9

Create a new layer below the model one and use a soft brush with the color #0b0c0d and Opacity about 30-40% to paint shadow below the model's body.

model shadow

Step 10

On the model layer, use the Puppet Warp to drag the bottom of the dress a bit to fit the ground.

model puppet warping

Step 11

Add a mask to this layer to erase the small detail on the back of the model's dress.

model masking

Step 12

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer to give the model a blue tone.

model color balance

Step 13

Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #1cc1bf. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to keep a hint of red/yellow on the model's skin.

model photo filter

Step 14

Add a Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to the model, especially the contour of her body as it gets light from the background.

model curves 1

On the layer mask, use a soft black brush to recover the lightness on the hidden areas.

model curves 1 masking

Step 15

Make 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 model and paint more details for the dress.

model DB

4. How to Do the Base Adjustments

Step 1

Create a Channel Mixer adjustment layer on top of the layers and alter the Red values. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 50%:

whole scene channel mixer

Step 2

Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #08a9b3.

whole scene photo filter 1

Step 3

Add another Photo Filter adjustment layer and change the color to #6f95b0.

whole scene photo filter 2

Step 4

Create a Color Fill layer and pick the color #2b1503. Alter this layer mode to Exclusion 100%.

whole scene color fill 2

Step 5

Make a Color Lookup adjustment layer and select FoggyNight.3DL. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 50% and use a soft black brush to reduce the layer's effect on the left and middle of the scene.

whole scene color lookuo

Step 6

Make a Curves adjustment layer to reduce the lightness and contrast. Paint on the lower part of the middle section to reveal some lightness there.

whole scene curves 2

Step 7

Add another Curves adjustment layer with the same purpose. Use a soft black brush with a very low opacity (about 10%) to paint around the model area to reveal the lightness there.

whole scene curves 3

Step 8

Create a Color Fill layer and pick the color #062635. Use a soft black brush to paint around the model's area and reduce the layer's effect on both sides. This step is to decrease the visibility of the background to give the whole scene a softly dark, dreamy effect.

whole scene color fill 3

Step 9

Make a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the color's effect. Paint on the model's skin, especially the lips, arms, and legs, so that they won't become too blue after this step.

whole scene vibrance 1

5. How to Add the Jellyfish

Step 1

Open the jellyfish file. Rotate the jellyfish to find the angles/poses you want and after downloading them, place them around the whole scene. Here are the poses I've chosen and how I've arranged them.

choose jellyfish
add jellyfish

Step 2

On the smallest jellyfish layer, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 2 px.

small jellyfish gaussian blur

Step 3

Select all the jellyfish layers and hit Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group's mode to Normal 100% and create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer within this group. Bring the Hue value up to +25:

jellyfish hue saturation 1

Step 4

Add a Curves adjustment layer to darken the jellyfish. On this layer mask, paint on the tail of the jellyfish on the upper section to keep some lightness there.

jellyfish curves 1

Step 5

Make another Curves adjustment layer to darken the tail of the jellyfish on the lower section. Paint on the rest of the jellyfish so that they won't be darkened by this adjustment layer.

jellyfish curves 2

Step 6

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to turn the tails of the jellyfish into dark cyan to fit the color of the background. Paint on the upper bodies of the jellyfish to keep their dark yellow color.

jellyfish hue saturation 2

6. How to Paint the Light Effect and Sparks

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of the other layers and use a soft brush with the color #f89869 to paint on the big jellyfish. Change this layer mode to Linear Dodge 10%.

jellyfish light 1
jellyfish light 1 result

Step 2

Duplicate this layer and alter this layer mode to Overlay 100%.

jellyfish glow 1

Step 3

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer above this layer (set as Clipping Mask) and change the Hue value to turn the color's effect from yellow to orange-red.

jellyfish light 2 hue saturation

Step 4

Make a new layer, and use the same brush to paint a glow inside the jellyfish. Alter this layer mode to Overlay 100%, and then duplicate this layer to strengthen the light.

jellyfish glow 2
jellyfish glow 3

Step 5

To create a red light reflection on the arch, create a new layer below the jellyfish group. Use a small soft brush with the color #ffcb88 to paint on the details where the jellyfish are flying along, as well as the lower part of the model. Change this layer mode to Color 100%.

arch model light effect 1

Step 6

Make a new layer above the jellyfish group and use a small brush with the color #f1805e to paint tiny red hair strands for the model's head.

model hair light

Step 7

Use a soft brush with the color #f8b369 to paint more highlights around the model's contour, legs, arms, and dress. Change this layer mode to Hard Light 100%.

model hightlights

Step 8

Make a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge Tool to give the red reflection on the arch and model a bit more glow.

refine light details

Step 9

Create a new layer, and change the foreground to #f8b369. Press F5 to change the settings of this brush.

dot brush settings 1
dot brush settings 2
dot brush settings 3

Use this brush to paint tiny dots below the head of the jellyfish and model. Hit Control-G to make a group for this layer, and change the mode to Color Dodge 100%.

dots painting
dots color dodge mode

You can use a layer mask to reduce the visibility of the dots if you find them too obvious.

7. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

Make a new layer, use a soft brush with the color #054c5f and Opacity about 25-30% to decrease the visibility of the jellyfish in the sky to fit the soft, dreamy atmosphere of this place.

reduce jellyfish visibitily

Step 2

Create a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect. On the layer mask, paint on the model's skin and the middle section of the jellyfish in the sky to remove the saturation on there.

whole scene vibrance 2

Congratulations, You're Done!

I hope that you've enjoyed the tutorial and learned something new for your own projects. Feel free to share your results or leave comments in the box below. Enjoy Photoshopping!

Want some more magic? Check out the tutorials below:

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