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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Fantasy Fairy Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

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Read Time: 7 mins
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a fantasy fairy photo manipulation. You will learn how to build a colorful flowery background, retouch a model, adjust colors, create lighting effects, enhance the depth of field, and more.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Build the Background

Step 1

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

new filenew filenew file

Step 2

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

add flower backgroundadd flower backgroundadd flower background

Step 3

We need a blurred background to focus on the model. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 60 px (or your desired values).

background gaussian blurbackground gaussian blurbackground gaussian blur

Step 4

Cut out the flowers branches 1 using the Magic Wand Tool (W) and place it on the left side of the background.

add branches 1add branches 1add branches 1

Step 5

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 12 px to this layer. The second blurred element will enhance the depth of the scene.

branches 1 gaussian blurbranches 1 gaussian blurbranches 1 gaussian blur

Step 6

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and change the Hue value to 49:

branches 1 hue saturationbranches 1 hue saturationbranches 1 hue saturation

Step 7

Create a Curves adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask to darken the branches a little. On this layer mask, use a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush) to clean the effect on the front of the branches where they are lit. We're aiming to add the main light source to the right side.

branches 1 curvesbranches 1 curvesbranches 1 curves

Step 8

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer on top of the layers. Change the Midtones settings:

background color balancebackground color balancebackground color balance

Step 9

Create a Curves adjustment layer to make the light on the right stronger. Paint on the left so that it's not affected by this adjustment layer.

background curvesbackground curvesbackground curves

2. Add the Model

Step 1

Isolate the model from the background using a layer mask (but feel free to use your own method). Move the extracted model on a new layer. Create a new layer and pick a dark gold color from the model's head (I've chosen #6a3017) and paint the missing hair.

model painting hair 1model painting hair 1model painting hair 1

Step 2

Use a lighter color (#b06030) to paint the hair on the edges of the head.

model painting hair 2model painting hair 2model painting hair 2

Step 3

Hide the background and the fill layer, and then press Control-Shift-Alt-E to merge the isolated model and the hair layers into a new one. Place the merged model in the middle of the blurred background.

add modeladd modeladd model

Step 4

Make a Curves adjustment layer to increase the light and contrast of the model. The light on the model comes from the right and is more visible on the upper body. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to refine the light and shadow on the model, making the light stronger on the shoulder, cheeks, and hair. You can see the results on the mask and on the picture:

model curves 1model curves 1model curves 1
model curves  maskingmodel curves  maskingmodel curves  masking

Step 5

Use another Curves adjustment layer to increase the light for the model. Paint on the lower body and the left of the model in order not to make them brighter after using this adjustment layer.

model curves 2model curves 2model curves 2

Step 6

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

DB new dileDB new dileDB new dile

Select the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) to paint more highlight and shadow for the model, especially the hair. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

DB resultDB resultDB result

Step 7

You can see the following areas of the model's skin look a bit less saturated than the others. To fix it, make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #aa784b to paint on these areas and change the layer mode to Color 100%:

skin color fixingskin color fixingskin color fixing
skin fixing resultskin fixing resultskin fixing result

3. Add the Wings

Step 1

Open the butterfly 1 image. Select the wings only and place them onto the model's back.

add wingsadd wingsadd wings

Step 2

Add a mask to this layer. Hold down Control and click the model's thumbnail layer to load her selection.

load model selectionload model selectionload model selection

Use a soft black brush to reveal the hair and make it cover the wings. Also blend the lower part of the wings with the model's back.

wings maskingwings maskingwings masking

Step 3

Create a Curves adjustment layer to make the wings brighter. Paint on the lower area to make it a bit darker than the rest.

wings curveswings curveswings curves

4. Add the Branches

Step 1

Open the flowers branches 2 image. Use the Lasso Tool (L) to select the branches and add them to the right corner of the canvas.

add branches 2add branches 2add branches 2

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 8 px to the branches:

branches 2 gaussian blurbranches 2 gaussian blurbranches 2 gaussian blur

Step 3

Change the color of the branches using a Color Balance adjustment layer:

branches 2 color balancebranches 2 color balancebranches 2 color balance

Step 4

Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the branches:

branches 2 curvesbranches 2 curvesbranches 2 curves

5. Add the Butterfly

Step 1

Open the butterfly 2 image. Take the blue butterfly on the top left and place it onto the model's shoulder to match the direction of her gaze.

add butterflyadd butterflyadd butterfly

Step 2

To make a shadow for the butterfly, create a new layer under the butterfly one. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to select the left wing of the butterfly and fill the selection with black. Flip it vertically by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to stretch this shadow, making it longer than the original.

butterfly shadow 1butterfly shadow 1butterfly shadow 1

Lower the opacity of this layer to 40% and use a layer mask to reduce the shadow's intensity. Apply a Gaussian Bur of 4 px to this layer:

butterfly shadow 2butterfly shadow 2butterfly shadow 2

Step 3

Use the same method to make a shadow for the second wing of the butterfly. Also use a medium-soft black brush with a small size to paint the shadow below the butterfly's body.

butterfly shadow 3butterfly shadow 3butterfly shadow 3

Step 4

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the butterfly's color:

butterfly hue saturationbutterfly hue saturationbutterfly hue saturation

Step 5

Continue changing the butterfly's color with a Color Balance adjustment layer:

butterfly color balancebutterfly color balancebutterfly color balance

Step 6

Use a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the butterfly. Brush on the lower part of the butterfly to make it a bit darker than the higher part:

butterfly curvesbutterfly curvesbutterfly curves

6. The Basic Adjustment

Step 1

Create a Color Fill layer on top of the layers and pick the color #1b0126. Change this layer mode to Exclusion 100%.

color fill layer color fill layer color fill layer

Step 2

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

whole scene color balancewhole scene color balancewhole scene color balance
color balance resultcolor balance resultcolor balance result

Step 3

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

whole scene curveswhole scene curveswhole scene curves

7. Paint the Hair Highlight

Make a new layer and pick a bright yellow color for the brush (I've chosen #fff08d) and paint the hair highlight strands.

hair highlighthair highlighthair highlight

8. Add the Bokeh and Light

Step 1

Import the bokeh image into our working document and change the mode to Screen 100%:

add bokehadd bokehadd bokeh

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 25 px and use a layer mask to erase the effect on the model's body, making the effect appear very subtle:

bokeh gaussian blurbokeh gaussian blurbokeh gaussian blur
bokeh maskingbokeh maskingbokeh masking

Step 3

Open the light texture images pack. Choose the starry 4 image and place it onto the main canvas. Change this layer mode to Screen 100%:

add light textureadd light textureadd light texture

Step 4

Use a layer mask to erase the light spots on the left and on the model's face.

light maskinglight maskinglight masking

Step 5

Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the effect, making it more subtle.

light curveslight curveslight curves

Step 6

Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the light color to yellow:

light hue saturationlight hue saturationlight hue saturation

Step 7

Create a new layer and press Control-G to make a group for this layer. Change this group mode to Color Dodge 100%.  Change the foreground to #f3cf85 and hit F5 to change the settings for the brush:

light dots brush settingslight dots brush settingslight dots brush settings

Paint the small dots around the model, avoiding the face.

light dots paintinglight dots paintinglight dots painting

Step 8

To add glow to these dots, double click this layer and choose Outer Glow. Pick #fcfcfc as the color of the glow:

dots outer glowdots outer glowdots outer glow
outer glow resultouter glow resultouter glow result

Step 9

Make a new layer within this group. Use a large brush to paint some bigger dots on the bottom and top right of the picture. Apply a Gaussian Blur of 25 px to these dots.

paint bigger dotspaint bigger dotspaint bigger dots
bigger dots gaussian blurbigger dots gaussian blurbigger dots gaussian blur

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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