1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Scary Window Scene Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Horror Movie Week.
How to Create a Vintage Hitchcock Poster for Halloween
How to Create a Friday the 13th Themed Icon Pack in Adobe Illustrator
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a horror scene based on the movie "The Uninvited". You'll learn how to combine different stock images into a cohesive scene, make a custom window, change the light and shadow, enhance the color, adjust the atmosphere, enhance the depth of field, and more. 

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Add the Background and Particles

Step 1

Create a new 1650 x 1650 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:

new file

Step 2

Open the background image. Drag this image onto the black canvas using the Move Tool (V).

add background

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to 6 px. It helps to increase the depth of the scene.

background gaussian blur

Step 4

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and decrease the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush) to erase the right part of the scene to keep the lightness on there.

background curves

Step 5

Place the particles image over the main canvas and change the mode to Screen 100%.

add particles

Step 6

To make a ghostly and creepy effect, go to Filter > Distort > Shear and apply the following change:

particles shear

Step 7

Continue applying a Motion Blur filter to strengthen the evil look.

particles motion blur

Step 8

Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to reduce the particles' intensity as shown below.

particles masking

2. Add the Window

Step 1

Open the window image and isolate the middle window. Place this window part over the canvas.

add window

Step 2

Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select a part from the original image and add it to the left to fill the missing area there.

window filling

Step 3

The width of the window frames are too big, so they give the impression that the window is too near. To fix it, first use a layer mask to remove all of the window rails (use a hard brush, not soft, to keep the edges' realism).

window masking

Step 4

Select a vertical rail from the original image and add it to the left of existing window after reducing its width. Duplicate this layer and move it to the right. Divide the width of the window into three sections and place the rails in the first and the second places.

add vertical rails

Step 5

Add the horizontal rails using the same method.

add horizontal rails

Step 6

There are a lot of unwanted details along the rails and frames. On each of the window and rail layers, make a new layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Activate the Clone Tool (S) to fix these indicated details, including the rail shadow in the middle.

window cloning
cloning result

Step 7

In this step we'll add shadow for the vertical rails. Make a new layer and select the rail shadow area in the middle (you can turn off the clone layer to see it more clearly).

select rail shadow

Choose the clone layer and press Control-C to copy the shadow area and then select the new layer, hit Control-V to paste the shadow into there. Move the shadow to the proper position for the first rail.

add first rail shadow

Duplicate this layer and move it to the right for the second rail.

add second rail shadow

Step 8

Select all the window and rail layers and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group mode to Normal 100% and create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer within the group. Reduce the Saturation value to -87:

window hue saturation

Step 9

Add a Curves adjustment layer and increase the light very much. We're aiming to add the main light from the right, so on this layer mask, use a black brush to erase the light on the edges and hidden areas.

window curves 1
window curves 1 masking
window curves 1 result

Step 10

Create another Curves adjustment layer to increase the shadow on the edges.

window curves 2

3. Add the Child

Step 1

Isolate the child from the original background and place him in the middle of the canvas. Set the child layer under the window group.

add child

Step 2

Create a new layer above the child layer (set as Clipping Mask) and use the Clone Tool to remove the white text and line on his costume. Also reduce the shadow under the chin and nose.

child cloning

Step 3

The light on the background comes from the right, so the child's head should create a shadow on the body. Make a new layer and use a medium-soft black brush with opacity about 30-40% to paint it on the left shoulder.

add head shadow

Step 4

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Saturation value to -62:

child hue saturation

Step 5

Add a Curves adjustment layer and make the child much darker. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to make the light visible on the contour and reveal the details on his costume.

child curves

Step 6

Create a Levels adjustment layer to darken the child more. Here are the areas you should mask off to keep their lightness and details.

child levels

Step 7

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

D  B new file

Use the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 15-20% to refine the light and shadow on the child and make some wrinkles of his costume more visible. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

DB result

Step 8

Time to decorate the eyes. Create a new layer and use a medium-hard brush with the color #c2c0c0, the opacity about 30-35% to paint on the middle of the eyes:

eyes 1

Step 9

On a new layer, use the same brush but with a bigger opacity (about 50%) to paint the white pupils inside the eyes.

eyes 2

Step 10

Use a hard black brush, size 1 px to paint the tiny black dots inside the pupils. Paint them in the lower parts to make him appear to be looking down.

eyes 3

4. Make the Blood Effect

Step 1

Open the blood splatter 1 image. Isolate it from the white background using the Magic Wand Tool (W). Add it to the model's face and body and change the mode to Multiply 100%.

add blood 1

Use a layer mask to erase the blood on the forehead and costume.

blood 1 masking

Step 2

Add more bloody effects using different parts of the splatter.

add more blood 1

Step 3

Make a group for the blood layers and change the group mode to Multiply 100%. Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the red blood a bit:

blood 1 hue saturation

Step 4

Open the blood 2 image. Use the Lasso Tool (L) to select a bloody area on the side of the forehead and add it to the middle of the child's face.

add blood 2

Change this layer mode to Overlay 100% and use a layer mask to soften the hard edges and make a bloody mouth for the child.

blood 2 masking

Step 5

Add more bloody effects to the face, arms, and body using the same method.

add more blood 2

Step 6

Make a new layer on top of the layers, change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray. Use the Burn Tool to create more details and depth for the bloody effects.

blood details

5. Create the Glass Effect

Create a Color Fill layer and pick a similar color to the background (#787676). Lower the opacity of this layer to 20% to create a subtle glass effect for the window. 

color fill

Paint on the edges of the window and rails to make them still in shadow.

color fill masking

6. Add the Curtain

Step 1

Open the curtain image. First use the Magic Wand Tool to isolate the curtain from the background. After that, select the right part of the curtain (you can choose the left, they're the same) to place in the top right of the window:

add curtain

Step 2

Add a mask to this layer and use a soft brush with a low opacity (about 20-25%) to carefully mask off the curtain part covering the window rails. Follow the wrinkles to make it appear semi-transparent.

curtain masking

Step 3

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to -96.

curtain hue saturation

Step 4

Make a Curves adjustment layer to darken the curtain. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask.

curtain curves

Step 5

Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light and shadow on the curtain.

curtain DB

7. The Final Adjustment

Step 1

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the colors #031f31 and #06bafd. Lower the opacity of this layer to 60%.

gradient map 1

Step 2

Make another Gradient Map adjustment layer and change the colors to #e10019 and #00601b. Lower the opacity of it to 20%.

gradient map 2

Step 3

Add a Curves adjustment layer to increase the contrast of the image.

whole scene curves 1

Step 4

Use another Curves adjustment layer to change the light and color of the scene.

whole scene curves 2

Step 5

Make a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect:


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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