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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation
Design

How to Create a Dark-Themed Fashion Image in Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:AdvancedLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Today we will be exploring the darker side of fashion by creating a latex-clad spider woman! We will create our own spider-web brush using simple shapes, create our own bead detailing from scratch, and use textures to add both depth and detail. 

Hopefully, you aren't afraid of spiders because here we go!   

Tutorial Assets

Here are the resources we will be using: 

Find more high-quality resources on Envato Elements!

1. How to Create a Dusty Background 

To start, we will be creating a background for our subject. A dark and dusty environment sounds fitting for a spider, don't you think? 

Step 1

Let's create a New 2287 x 3440 px Canvas.

Create a Color Fill Layer and fill it with a very dark blue #000308.

Place texture "07" from the Dust and Hair Particles texture pack so that it is flipped vertically and the exact size of our canvas. 

To increase the contrast, go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. Settings: Contrast: 63

Set the texture to Screen with a 73% Opacity. 

Add texture

Step 2

Create a New Layer and set it to Overlay. 

Using a very large, soft round Brush, paint black on both the bottom and the left side of the canvas.

Create another New Layer and, with the same brush as before, paint white on the middle and top portion of the canvas. 

Add lighting

Step 3

To finish up the background, we are going to add some simplified spider webs. These aren't our main spider webs, just some extra background detail, so don't overthink them!

Create a New Layer.

Using a hard 1-2 px Brush, paint white strings coming from all four corners of the canvas, painting in a large "swooping" motion.  

Group all of the background layers together, naming it "Background."

Current layers

2. How to Add Our Subject to the Background

Next up, we are going to place our subject in its newly created environment! 

Step 1 

First, we are going to extract our subject, which is our Woman in Black Latex.

As the subject has no difficult cloth, clothing or hair to extract, feel free to use whichever method you prefer! I personally favor the Pen Tool. 

Resize and place the subject so that she is roughly in the same position as you see below, directly in the middle of our canvas.

Place model

Step 2

Add an Inner Shadow Layer Style to the subject. Settings:

Inner shadow settings

Step 3

Now, we will be changing our subject's lipstick to a dark black color. 

Create and clip a Black to White Gradient Map Layer into our subject. Click on the Layer Mask and hit Control-I to invert it, turning it black. 

Using a medium, hard round Brush, paint white over the top of the lips to mask back in the black and white gradient map. 

Blacken lips

Step 4 

Create and clip a Brightness/Contrast Layer into the subject. Settings: Brightness -83 and Contrast 23.

Copy the gradient map's layer mask onto the Brightness/Contrast Layer to darken the lips. 

Darken lips

Step 5

Now, let's extract our Round Wood Mirror Frame. Again, use your preferred method! I used the Magic Wand Tool since the image is on a nice, crisp, white background.

Place the frame directly behind the subject.

Place wood frame

Step 6

Create and clip a Gradient Map into the wooden frame. Settings:  

Gradient map settings
  1. #000000
  2. #1b1b1b
  3. #2f2f2f
  4. #a7a7a7
  5. #ffffff

Step 7

Add an Inner Shadow Layer Style to the now black frame. Settings: 

Inner shadow settings

Step 8

Group all of the main subject and frame layers together, naming it "Model". We will be using this group to help make our shadows. 

Duplicate the "Model" group and Right-Click > Merge Group. 

Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Settings: Lightness -100.

Add some blur to the shadow by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Settings: 50 px. 

Move and morph the shadow up and to the left using the Warp Mode in the Free Transform Tool.

Current layers

3. How to Create a Moody, Dark Color Grading

Now on to the mood lighting! Usually, I would save this for the end, but the color change is so drastic in this image that I think it's worth doing it sooner. 

Do note that this group of layers will always be above all other layers. All layers from here on out will be located under these five adjustment layers. 

1. Color Lookup Layer: (3dLUT) FoggyNight at 60% Opacity

2. Color Lookup Layer: (3dLUT) Moonlight at 47% Opacity. Blend If: Hold Alt to separate and move toggles.

Blend if settings
First set of adjustment layers

3. Color Lookup Layer: (3dLUT) Kodak 5205 at 70%

4. Selective Color: (Reds) Cyan -100, Magenta +56 and Yellow +63 

Second set of adjustment layers

5. Curves Layer:

Curves settings

Group all of the adjustment layers together and name the group "CC" or "Color Correction."

Current layers

4. How to Create a Spider-Web Brush in Photoshop 

Now, there are plenty of premade spider-web brushes and textures; however, they are so fun to paint by hand! So we are going to create our very own brush from scratch. 

Step 1

For the base of our brush, we will be creating a water droplet shape. Create a New 300 x 300 px Document. Make sure the background is white. 

Using the Ellipse Tool, create a black 45 x 45 px circle with an 80% Opacity and a 40% Fill.

create a circle

Step 2

Add a black Inner Glow Layer Style. Settings:

Inner glow settings

Next, add a black Inner Shadow. Settings: 

Inner shadow settings
Brush base

Step 3

Create a New Layer above the circle. Using a small, soft round Brush, paint a crescent moon shape on the upper-left part of the circle. 

Merge the layers together and give the merged layer a very slight Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Settings: Amount 1 px.

That was just so our brush isn't too sharp. Very few things in the world have a hard, crisp edge, so don't be afraid to blur things a bit!

Crop the canvas down so that it is the exact size of our droplet. 

Crop brush

Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset, naming the brush "droplet."

Step 4

Now that we have our brush made, we need to set up its settings. Open up the Brush panel and select our new brush. 

Open up the Brush Settings panel. Settings:

  • Brush Tip Shape Spacing: 116%
  • Shape Dynamics Size Jitter: 25% Transfer: Checked
Brush settings

Hit the Create New Brush button in the lower right-hand corner of the Brush Settings panel in order to save a new brush with these settings.

If we didn't do this, we would have to redo the brush settings every time we selected this brush. 

Step 5

Finally, we get to use our brush! Create a New Layer below our "Model" group.

Select our new brush and set the Size to 15 px. However, keep in mind we will be changing the size as we paint our webs. 

Paint strands of white web in a swooping motion. If your lines are shaky, try increasing the brush's Smoothing to 30–50%. This will help keep your lines steady. Just paint slowly if you are using a mouse.

Make some strands slightly thicker than others, and use a large, soft round Brush to erase some of the edges of the strands to create a tapering effect. 

Paint spider webs

Step 6

Create a New Layer and paint smaller webs towards the bottom of the subject and top of the frame. Make these strands less prominent than the ones around the head of the subject. 

Paint lower spider webs

Duplicate the web layers to increase their brightness. Just erase any part of the webs you don't want to be brightened.  

Group all of the web layers together, naming the group "Webs."

Current layers

5. How to Design a Set of Abstract Spider Eyes

Next, we will be designing an abstract version of spider eyes with the use of self-made beads and a nifty face-painting technique that can be used in multiple different ways in any color you may need! 

Step 1

First, we will be adding a layer of face paint to our subject's face. Create a New Group and add a Layer Mask to it. Name the group "Face Paint."

Hit Control-I to Invert the mask.

Create a selection around the subject's face similar to what you see below. I used the Pen Tool, but you can use whichever way you feel most comfortable with!

create selection

Step 2

Fill in the selection with white. Create a Black to White Gradient Map and place it into the group. The group's mask will act as a layer mask for all adjustment layers that are placed within it. 

black and white gradient map

Step 3

Create a Brightness/Contrast Layer, also placing it into the group, above the gradient map. Settings: Brightness -116 and Contrast 65.

Create a Color Balance Layer, placing it above both the B/C and gradient map layers. Settings: Red +46, Green -25, Blue -34.

Using a soft round Brush, mask out the eyes, using the group mask. 

add two adjustment layers

Step 4

Now, we will be creating our "spider eye" beads. Create a black circle using the Ellipse Tool. 

create black circle

Step 5

Create a New Layer and clip it into the black circle. 

Using a small, soft round Brush with a 5% Flow, paint a white crescent moon shape onto the right side of the bead. 

Build up the white slowly and concentrate the white in the middle of the curve of the moon shape. 

Add a small white radial gradient shape, using a slightly bigger brush size, over the moon shape as well. 

create highlight

Step 6

Duplicate the black circle and smush it down horizontally, bringing it to the bottom of our bead. 

Bring the Opacity down to 30% to create the bead's shadow. 

add shadow

Step 7

Group all three bead layers together into a group and name it "Bead."

Duplicate the group and Right Click > Merge Group. 

Place the beads all over the upper face. You can do it similarly to how I have done it, or create your own pattern! 

create multiple beads

Step 8

Place beads behind our subject, onto the spider webs, as well. 

Group all of the copied bead layers, of which there will be quite a few, naming the group "Beads Copies."

Create some highlights using either an Overlay Layer or a Curves Adjustment Layer. 

Final layers

6. Adding the Final Touches

We are in the final stretch! We just have a couple more dust and web details to add, bringing her dark and dusty environment to life. 

Step 1 

Place another copy of the "07" texture from the dust texture pack right below our "CC" group, again flipping it vertically.

Set the texture to Screen.

Step 2

Go to Filter > Blur > Shape Blur and set the settings to what you see below: 

Shape blur settings

Enlarge the texture so that the dust particles look closer and out of focus. 

Step 3

Using the Line Tool, create a few diagonal lines coming from the bottom-right corner of the canvas.

Make them slightly random, not perfectly side by side. 

Create white lines

Step 4

Add a Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Settings: -72 Angle and 85 Distance. 

This will give the lines a nice out-of-focus effect. Experiment with different blur filters! I tend to prefer a shape or motion blur to make objects look out of focus rather than a Gaussian blur, for instance.  

Group these two new layers together, naming the group "Details."

We've Done It! 

Sometimes making our own resources seems daunting, but it can be as easy as combining some simple shapes and stringing them together! Learning how to use basic tools, instead of solely relying on premade resources, gives you the ability to create without restriction. 

It's not about how many resources you have, but instead how well you know your base set of tools with which you can create those resources yourself. 

And as always, share your art down below, along with any comments or questions! 

Finished result
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