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How to Create a Black Panther Movie-Inspired Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

I don't know about you, but I'm super excited for Marvel's new Black Panther movie that's coming out in 2018!

To commemorate what is sure to be a spectacular film, let's learn how to create an epic Black Panther-inspired portrait. Learn how to recreate the famous African warrior portraits from the movie.

Get inspired! Find more resources for your portraits on Envato Market.

Tutorial Assets

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

Finding Inspiration & Stocks

For this manipulation, I was inspired by this series of movie posters I found on Google, particularly the styling of the character, M'Baku, and his dramatic fur piece. Knowing that I wanted to incorporate some fur, I gathered references with this futuristic warrior in mind.

Black Panther Movie Poster References

We'll be building the entire outfit from scratch, so it'll be a good idea to write down some key notes when thinking about the character's style. Here are mine:

  • Pick a portrait with a strong, glaring expression.
  • Build the outfit with a mixture of indigenous pieces and actual armor.
  • Make sure your clothing fits the angle of the original subject.
  • Create an overall cool tone with bluish hues for more drama.

Look back through your notes often in order to maintain consistency. You'll be so grateful you did!

Now let's get started!

1. How to Set Up the Black Panther Portrait

Step 1

Let's begin with a New Document at 1396 x 2016 pixels. This is not an official poster size, but feel free to use one if desired.

Use the Magnetic Lasso Tool (L) to extract our subject from the Man Stock. Copy and Paste the subject onto the new document, adjusting the size for a typical bust portrait using the Free Transform Tool (Control-T).

Male Portrait Stock

Step 2

Now add the sky background.

Add the sky

Copy and Paste the Clouds and Sky stock onto a New Layer behind the subject. Adjust the size again using the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) and position it a little higher on the canvas.

Step 3

Blur the background to show depth of field.

To do this, select the clouds layer and go Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

Add a Radius of 10 Pixels and hit OK.

Blur the background

Here is how it looks so far.

Blurred Background Result

2. How to Style the Portrait

Now for the fun part! Wardrobe! For this warrior's style, we'll use a mix of indigenous-like pieces and authentic metal armor.

However, keep in mind that this is a fictional character, so the result is really up to you!

Step 1

Let's work our way from the bottom up, starting with the neck piece.

Copy and Paste the full Aztec Neck Piece onto the canvas above the man stock. Add a Layer Mask, and then paint black onto the mask to remove the upper neck portion. Do the same for the arms.

Add the aztec neck piece

Continue painting onto the mask to help form the piece around our subject. It works out pretty perfectly since the reference is wearing gray too! Yay!

Step 2

Now let's add the fur!

Add the fur
  1. Make a selection of the fur from this Armor and Fur stock using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L).
  2. Copy and Paste the fur onto the canvas, resizing it with Free Transform (Control-T).
  3. Here is the result!

We can feather the edges to appear like real fur by using Liquify.

With the fur layer selected, go to Filter > Liquify. Then use the Forward Warp Tool (W) to push the sharp edges of the stock outward to appear more like fur. Continue to shape the fur around the subject for a more authentic look.

Liquify the fur

If the edges are still too harsh, just use the Eraser Tool (E) to feather out the edges even more.

Here is the result so far.

Result with fur and neck piece

Step 3

Let's add more accessories! Using the same methods as before, extract the Wooden Necklace and the Metal Headpiece from their stocks.

Copy and Paste them onto two New Layers above the original man layer, adjusting their size with the Free Transform Tool (Control-T). Feel free to add Layer Masks to either layer to help clean up any excess.

Add the necklace and shoulder piece

Step 4

Now for the arm. To build a metal arm, select the metal mesh part from the Armor and Fur stock. Copy and Paste it onto the canvas, and then adjust the size to fit the arm.

Add the metal armor

Duplicate the layer if necessary to make sure you have enough metal to cover the arm completely, Merging any copies together with the original.

Step 5

We're almost done with wardrobe!

The last items we'll add to this outfit are the shiny spikes connected to the necklace. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to select the Metal Spike from its reference.

Copy and Paste the spike onto the canvas, above all the other layers. Position it underneath the center wooden circle, and then adjust the size using the Free Transform Tool (Control-T).

Feather out the edges with a simple Layer Mask.

Add the metal spike

Continue to create more spikes by Duplicating (Control-J) the spike layer several times. Position each new spike under the corresponding wooden circle. Angle them outward for a cool effect!

Add more metal spikes

These last pieces complete the style portion of the manipulation. Time to adjust the colors and lighting!

Here is the result so far.

Style result

3. How to Adjust the Lighting

Keep going!

We now have a bunch of components we need to figure out the lighting for. Let's address this while also tackling the color scheme.

Step 1

Start with the background. Create a New Adjustment Layer of Curves and set it as a Clipping Mask to the background clouds layer.

Lower the curves for the RGB and Blue Channels to make the sky darker.

Add a curves adjustment layer

Step 2

Let's move on to the subject. We'll try to match the lighting to the background clouds, so we'll need a few adjustment layers.

Set a New Adjustment Layer of Hue and Saturation as a Clipping Mask to the man stock layer.

Adjust the values to the following:

  • Hue: 0
  • Saturation: -18
  • Lightness: -22
Add a hue and saturation adjustment

Now add a New Adjustment Layer of Curves. Again, set it as a Clipping Mask to the man layer.

Set the curve for the RGB Channel like the one below to darken the lighting of our subject.

Adjust the lighting of the man

Step 3

Now let's develop the lighting for the outfit.

Start with the neck piece.

Relight the neck piece
  1. Create a New Layer and set it as a Clipping Mask to the neck piece. Use a Soft Round Brush to paint a dark blue color #0d1d22 underneath the necklace for shadow.
  2. Follow up with a New Adjustment Layer of Hue and Saturation. Set the values to 0, -100, and -70. Then set the Layer Blend Mode to Hard Light.

Step 4

Now relight the fur!

Set a New Adjustment Layer of Hue and Saturation as a Clipping Mask to the fur.

Adjust the values to the following:

  • Hue: -18
  • Saturation: -55
  • Lightness: -36
Recolor the fur

Step 5

Continue this process for the metal shoulder piece.

Set a New Adjustment Layer of Hue and Saturation to the layer. Lower the Lightness to -38 to help blend it into the rest of the outfit.

Darken the metal shoulder piece

Step 6

Since the mesh armor on the arm seems to blend well into the lighting scheme, we won't need to adjust it. So all we have left to tackle is the wooden necklace.

Adjust the light for the necklace
  1. Create a New Layer and set it as a Clipping Mask to the necklace. Use a Soft Round Brush to paint black shadow above the necklace. This will represent the shadow caused by his chin.
  2. Then set a New Adjustment Layer of Hue and Saturation as a Clipping Mask as well. Set the values to -40, -68, and -67.

4. How to Adjust the Color Scheme

With the lighting all set, let's fix the colors!

To go along with the original reference, I'll be going for a nice blue tone for optimal impact.

Step 1

First, set a New Layer as a Clipping Mask to the metal shoulder piece. Use a Hard Round Brush to paint a dark teal color #122b2d onto the metal. Then change the Layer Blend Mode to Hue to color it. Feather the edges with the Eraser Tool (E).

Color the metal shoulder piece

Step 2

Let's create a more unified color scheme.

Select all the layers belonging to the man and his outfit. Then place them into a New Group.

Set a New Adjustment Layer of Curves as a Clipping Mask to the group. Adjust the curves for the RGB, Blue, and Red Channels like the following for a bluer color scheme.

Create more blue tones with curves

Step 3

Now create a New Layer above all the others.

Add a blue subtract layer
  1. Fill the layer with light blue #a5c7ff using the Paint Bucket Tool (G) and Erase the areas you don't want affected, like the face and chest.
  2. Lower the Opacity to 25%, and then set the Layer Blend Mode to Subtract.

Step 4

Continue using more Adjustment Layers.

Create a New Adjustment Layer of Color Lookup above all the others. Set the 3D LUT File to filmstock_50.3dl before setting the Layer Blend Mode to Luminosity.

color lookup adjustment layer

Step 5

As we start to use more adjustment layers, we'll need to balance the lighting again.

Set a New Layer to Multiply.

Use a Soft Round Brush to paint brown #2e2523 shadow all over the scene. Try to fill in the spaces that need a little more blending with this step.

Paint brown shadow

Step 6

Let's brighten the subject's face with more light!

Create a New Layer and use a Soft Round Brush to paint a light cream color #ffebdd all over the subject's face and body.

Set the Layer Blend Mode to Overlay and lower the Opacity to 50%.

Add light to the face and body

On another New Layer just above this one, paint light brown #9e7e57 onto the face and arm using a Hard Round Brush. Then set the Layer Blend Mode to Soft Light and adjust the Opacity to 50%.

Color the face

5. How to Finish the Manipulation

You're almost there!

To finish this manipulation, we'll need to add just a few more details and adjustments.

Let's start with the face scarring.

Step 1

Face scarring is typical of West African cultures. It's often used as a means to symbolize an important milestone in any man or woman's life.

To create a realistic scarring effect, paint one brown #704d4b circle on the canvas. Then paint a light brown #c7836c highlight in the center. Duplicate (Control-J) this circle several times, making rows of scars that you can apply directly to the skin.

Create the face scars

Step 2

Merge the layers together and position them onto his cheek. Warp the scars with the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) so that they appear real.

Duplicate this layer, and then Flip the copy by going to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. Soften the effect with the Eraser Tool (E).

Add the face scars

Step 3

Let's adjust the colors some more.

Create a New Adjustment Layer for Color Balance.

Add the following values for Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights. Then set the layer to Lighter Color and the Opacity to 54%.

add a color balance adjustment

Follow up with a New Adjustment Layer for Levels.

Add the following values for the RGB, Red, and Blue Channels. Then set the layer to Overlay and the Opacity to 20%.

add a levels adjustment

Here is the result when you're through. Now we have a more bluish-green color scheme similar to the original movie posters.

adjustment layers result

Step 4

Let's kick up the intensity! Now add a New Adjustment Layer of Color Lookup.

Set the 3DLUT File to Beach Bypass.look, and then change the Layer Blend Mode to Luminosity. Lower the Opacity to 30%.

add the last color lookup adjustment

Step 5

Take this time to clean up any messy areas with the Brush Tool (B). Simply paint over those areas to make the lines much crisper and cleaner. The areas around the necklace will need this step the most.

Clean up with the brush tool

Then set a New Layer to Overlay and paint bright yellow #d2d4d0 highlights all over the sky and subject. Add another layer for crisp white highlights to show that the subject is backlit.

Paint more highlights

Step 6

Let's finish this manipulation!

Extract the bottom clouds from the Clouds and Smoke reference and place them in the bottom right corner. Feather the edges with a Layer Mask or the Eraser Tool (E).

Add the bottom right clouds

Add one last Adjustment Layer for Curves and continue to paint white highlights where they're needed on the face and armor.

I also decided to paint a few white dots in the air for added atmosphere.

Add one last curves layer

Check out the final result below!

All Done, Great Job!

With a little patience, you can create amazing photo manipulations from scratch. Continue creating more beautiful effects inspired by your favorite movies!

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial! Feel free to add your comments and share your results with us below.

For more fun photo manipulations, check out these great tutorials:

Black Panther Poster Photo Manipulation Photoshop Tutorial
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