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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Queen of Hearts Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

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Read Time: 8 mins
This post is part of a series called Fairy Tale Week.
How to Create Cinderella’s Pumpkin Carriage in Affinity Designer
How to Create a House Icon in Adobe Illustrator
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a Queen of Hearts photo manipulation. 

First we'll build the background with an ornament image and a rock one. After that we'll import the frame and create the effect inside it with the Clouds filter and a nebula image. Later we'll add the model and the crown and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. 

We'll create the cards with different hearts and arrange them to create a dynamic scene. Then we'll use several adjustment layers and paint the red light to complete the final effect.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Build the Environment

Step 1

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

new filenew filenew file

Step 2

Open the background image. Drag this image into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V):

add backgroundadd backgroundadd background

Step 3

There are some unwanted details on the background, and they might mess up the final effect. To fix it, make a new layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Use the Clone Tool (S) to remove the indicated details.

background clonebackground clonebackground clone
cloning resultcloning resultcloning result

Step 4

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer to make the background color red. Change the Shadows settings:

background color balancebackground color balancebackground color balance

Step 5

Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the background. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the effect around the middle where the main model will be added.

background curvesbackground curvesbackground curves
background curves resultbackground curves resultbackground curves result

Step 6

Use another Curves adjustment layer to make the background darker. Paint around the middle to reveal the light there:

background curves 2background curves 2background curves 2
background curves 2 resultbackground curves 2 resultbackground curves 2 result

Step 7

Open the rock image. Use the Move Tool to place it in the bottom of the document and use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to narrow it as shown below.

add flooradd flooradd floor

Step 8

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the rock floor. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reveal some light in the middle:

floor curvesfloor curvesfloor curves

Step 9

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer to add red to the floor:

floor color balancefloor color balancefloor color balance

Step 10

The floor doesn't look well blended with the background. Create a new layer and use a soft black brush to paint the shadow on both sides of the floor to fit the shadow on the lower background.

floor shadefloor shadefloor shade

2. Add the Frame

Step 1

Isolate the heart frame and add it to the top center of the background. Use Control-T with Warp mode to bend the heart a little.

add frameadd frameadd frame

Step 2

Double click the frame layer, and choose Drop Shadow:

frame shadowframe shadowframe shadow

Step 3

Make a Curves adjustment layer to match the lightness of the frame with the background:

frame curvesframe curvesframe curves

Step 4

Make a new layer and set the foreground and background to #5c0301 and #fd0000. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to grab a square and go to Filter > Render > Clouds:

clouds filter clouds filter clouds filter

Move it onto the frame area and use a layer mask to make it fit inside the frame:

clouds masking clouds masking clouds masking

Step 5

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the effect, making it appear more subtle:

clouds curvesclouds curvesclouds curves

Step 6

Open the nebula image. Drag it onto the cloud effect and change its mode to Overlay 100%. Use a layer mask to erase the part outside the frame:

add nebulaadd nebulaadd nebula
nebula overlay modenebula overlay modenebula overlay mode

Step 7

Use a Curves adjustment layer to make the effect more visible. Paint on the left side so that it's not affected by this adjustment layer.

nebula curves nebula curves nebula curves

3. Add the Model

Step 1

Open the model images pack. Choose the first image and Control-click the mask to load the selection. Hit Control-Shift-I to invert the selection. Still keep the selection, choose the main image (not mask), and use the Move Tool to place the isolated model in the middle of the scene. Reduce her size using Control-T.

add modeladd modeladd model

Step 2

Add a mask to the model layer and use a hard black brush to remove some remaining white edges:

model maskingmodel maskingmodel masking

Step 3

Go to Edit > Puppet Warp and change the pose of the pointing arm following the eyes' direction:

model puppet warp model puppet warp model puppet warp

Step 4

Go back to the model original image. Select the head only and add this head to the existing model, making it much bigger than the body.

add big headadd big headadd big head

Use a layer mask to blend the head with the body:

big head maskingbig head maskingbig head masking

Step 5

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

Burn Tool new layerBurn Tool new layerBurn Tool new layer

Select the Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 15-20% to darken the model's cheeks a bit. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

burn tool resultburn tool resultburn tool result

Step 6

Hit U to activate the Custom Shape Tool. Choose the Heart shape and set the foreground to #dc1c17. Draw a shape onto the lips area and change the mode to Multiply 100%:

add lips heartadd lips heartadd lips heart

Step 7

Duplicate this layer twice and move them to the eyes area. Use a layer mask on each of these layers to remove the part covering the eyes.

lips heart multiply modelips heart multiply modelips heart multiply mode

Step 8

Make a new layer and use a medium-hard black brush with the color #d03733 to paint more hair for the model.

add eyes heartsadd eyes heartsadd eyes hearts

Step 9

Select the model layer and the related ones and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group mode to Normal 100%. Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the model, and then on its layer mask, use a soft black brush to show some light on the body and dress.

model curvesmodel curvesmodel curves

Step 10

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones values. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to remove the red effect on the model head and lower body, leave it visible on the middle dress part.

model color balancemodel color balancemodel color balance
model color balance resultmodel color balance resultmodel color balance result

Step 11

Create a new layer under the model one and paint her shadow on the floor with a soft black brush.

model shadowmodel shadowmodel shadow

4. Add the Crown

Step 1

Isolate the crown and add it to the top middle of the model head, making it a lot smaller than the head.

add crownadd crownadd crown

Step 2

Use a Curves adjustment layer to darken the crown:

crown curvescrown curvescrown curves

Step 3

Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the crown color:

crown color balancecrown color balancecrown color balance

Step 4

To make the red light from the frame reflected on the crown, make a new layer and use a medium-soft brush with red color and a small size (about 3-4 px) to paint along the crown contour. Set this layer as Clipping Mask to make this step easier.

crown red lightcrown red lightcrown red light

5. Add the Cards

Step 1

Open the cards image and isolate the 8 of hearts card from the background.

isolate hearts card isolate hearts card isolate hearts card

Step 2

We're aiming to create cards with different numbers of hearts. To do it, first create a new layer above the isolated card one. Use a medium-soft brush with the color #d5d1c6 (picked from the card) to paint on the card and hide the unwanted hearts. Name it "painting".

hearts card paintinghearts card paintinghearts card painting

Use the Heart shape with red color to draw different shapes of heart on the separate layers. I've made the card with one, two, three, four or six hearts. With the card with one big heart in the center, select the isolated card, the painting layer and the heart one and use the Move Tool to drag these three layers into our main canvas. Merge them into a new one and use Control-T to tweak it, making it curvy and bendy.

add big heart add big heart add big heart
import big heart cardimport big heart cardimport big heart card

Step 3

Use the same method to create the cards with different hearts. You can mix the handmade hearts with the original card to add to the scene. Make them fly around the model, and arrange some on the floor. The Warp mode is very useful in this case, so don't be afraid to go wild with it! Apply a Gaussian Blur of 6 px (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) to some of the cards on the edges to create depth of field.

add more cards add more cards add more cards

Step 4

Make a group for the cards and add a Curves adjustment layer to darken these layers.

cards curvescards curvescards curves

Use a soft black brush to reveal the light on the cards, especially on the middle ones.

cards curves resultcards curves resultcards curves result

Step 5

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer to match the cards' color with the background.

cards color balancecards color balancecards color balance

6. The Final Adjustment

Step 1

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer and pick the colors #e10019 and #00601b. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 20%.

gradient mapgradient mapgradient map

Step 2

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

whole scene color balance whole scene color balance whole scene color balance
whole scene color balance resultwhole scene color balance resultwhole scene color balance result

Step 3

Use a Curves adjustment layer to change the color and contrast of the whole scene.

whole scene curves whole scene curves whole scene curves

Step 4

Create a new layer and use a hard brush with a red color (I've chosen #fd0000) to paint red light on the model's body and on the cards near the frame. The nearer the card, the stronger the light. Also paint red hair strands on top of the model's head.

red light effectred light effectred light effect

Step 5

Make a new layer and change the mode to Overlay 100%. Use the same brush to paint glowing red light on the cards around the frame.

glowing red lightglowing red lightglowing red light

Congratulations, You're Done!

I hope that you've learned something useful for your future projects. Feel free to leave your comments in the box below—I'd love to see them. Enjoy Photoshopping!

final resultfinal resultfinal result
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