In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a dark photo manipulation in Adobe Photoshop, featuring a creepy lady with a foggy forest, a dark gate, flying bats and an eerie atmosphere.
First we'll add the forest and gate and darken them to define a night background. We'll add the model later after doing some retouch and match her with the rest using adjustment layers, masking and then with the Dodge and Burn Tool. We'll decorate the dark night with some bats, smoke and random particles. After that we'll change the color, contrast and light of the whole scene and do some makeup on the model to complete the tutorial.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. Add the Forest and Gate
Create a new 1500 x 1500 px document in Photoshop with the settings below:
Open the forest image. Drag this image into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V):
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 6 px:
This step is to add some depth to the scene.
Use an adjustment layer to darken the forest. Select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and decrease the lightness:
Open the gate image. Place it in the front of the forest using the Free Transform Tool (Control-T):
Create a Curves adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Reduce the lightness of the gate to match it with the forest background:
2. Prepare the Model
Open the model image and isolate her from the background using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L). Make a new layer between the background and the extracted model one and fill it with a dark brown color. There are some unwanted details of the hair I want to remove:
Create a new layer (set as Clipping Mask) and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to clean up the indicated hair detail:
Create a new layer and use a hard round brush with the color
#363135 and size about 3-5 px to fix the model's hair:
The cloak's form does not look very good, so we'll retouch it a bit. Hide the background and the fill layer and press Control-Shift-Alt-E to merge all the visible layers into a new one.
Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to select a part of the lower right of the cloak (the right from the viewer). Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this new layer and then press Control-I to invert the mask. We have this result:
Merge all the transparent layers again using Control-Shift-Alt-E. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to select the upper part near the hair:
Right-click this selection and choose Layer via Copy. Use Control-T to fill in the lower missing part of the cloak:
Add a mask to this layer to blend it with the existing cloak.
Use the same method on the other side of the cloak, to make the cloak larger.
3. Add the Model
Merge all the transparent layers into a new one using Control-Shift-Alt-E. Place the merged model on the left side of the gate:
Create a new layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Use the Clone Tool to remove the nail and some wrinkles on the cloak:
new layer (set as Clipping Mask) and use a soft brush with the color
#a67b72 and the Opacity and Flow about 20-22% to brighten and soften the
model's face. Paint on the chin, cheeks, nose and forehead:
The model looks too hazy compared to the background. To correct it, create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the contrast of the model. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush with the Opacity varying from 10% to 30% to reveal the light on the model and define some details for her. Here are the results on the mask and on the picture:
The model's head, especially the face, looks too obvious, so use another Curves adjustment layer to fix it. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask:
Create a new layer (set as Clipping Mask), change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:
Use the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 10-30% to paint and define more details for the model, especially the clothes. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:
To desaturate the blue on the cloak, create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation of Blues down to -83:
4. Add the Bats
Open the bats image. Isolate the bats from the background using the Magic Wand Tool (W) or any tools you prefer. Add some of them to the current document using the Move Tool and Control-T and set these layers under the gate one. Make the bat on the right side of the scene bigger:
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 4 px to the bats in the middle and on the left and 3 px to the big bat on the right (it's meant to be closer to the foreground so should be less blurred and more visible than the others):
Select the bat layers and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group mode from Pass Through to Normal 100%. Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the bats:
Create a Curves adjustment layer and decrease the lightness. We're aiming to add a light source on the top left behind the model's head. So on this layer mask, paint on the sides of the bats where the light should be reflected.
5. Create the Dark Atmosphere
Make a new layer on top of the layers and press D to turn the foreground/background to default (black and white). Go to Filter > Render > Clouds:
Lower the opacity of this layer to 30% and use a layer mask to clean up the smoke effect on the upper half of the image and leave it visible somewhere on the bottom:
Drag the particles image into our working file and change the mode to Multiply 100%.
Add an Invert adjustment layer to reveal the black particles:
Add a mask to the particles layer and reduce the particles' intensity, especially on the face and body of the model. We don't need too much.
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 3 px to make the effect subtle.
6. Add the Branches
Cut out the tree from the original image and select the branches you'd like to add to the bottom sides of the working document. Here are the ones I've chosen:
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 6 px to these branches to increase the depth of field.
Make a group for the branches layers. Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to -89:
Add a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness. You can see how I masked off the branches with the screenshots below.
7. The Basic Adjustment
Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the
#00601b. Lower the opacity of this layer to 20%.
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings:
Add a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color
Create a Levels
adjustment layer and bring the Midtones value up to 1.34. Paint on the areas around the middle of the scene to make the middle (shown in the screenshot below) brighter.
8. Add the Color and Light
It's time for the most interesting stage of the tutorial. Use the Lasso Tool to select an area of the bottom right and set the Feather to 80:
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Channel Mixer and change the Red channel settings:
Repeat the previous step with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to bring more red to the bottom right area:
Do the same with the top left, but make it blue instead of red:
Increase the light on the top left, behind the model, using a Curves adjustment layer in the same way.
Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the color effect:
On a new layer, use a medium-soft brush with the color
#0c9ec7 to paint
the light reflection on the big bat and the contour of the model, especially
the parts illuminated by the blue light.
Paint the light on the left side of the gate using the same brush. It might not be so
easy and requires some patience, so I recommend that you use a tablet pen to
achieve a better result.
Time for the red light. Make a new layer and paint on the bottom of the
cloak with the color
#1e0203. Set this layer mode to Color Dodge 100%:
Paint on the bars of the right side of the gate and the branches, the
bottom of the big bat, and the lower part of the cloak, especially the wrinkles with the color
#df151a. Make the effect on the
parts nearer to the light stronger and more visible.
Use the same brush to paint inside the model's eyes to create an evil look.
Change the brush color to
#fb9e5a to paint the highlights of the eyes. They
should follow the original direction of the look, so paint them on
the bottom of the red areas.
Use a brush with the color
#332841 to paint some dark makeup for the eyes and increase the terrible effect.
To make the model's skin paler, use a soft brush with the color
#08b4d3 and Opacity and Flow about 10-15% to paint on the face and the uncovered
skin area on the breast:
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!