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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Fantasy Flaming Deer With Adobe Photoshop

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

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a fantasy deer with a fire effect. You'll work with blending and adjustment layers to combine different stock images into a cohesive scene. You'll also learn how to work with fire, create a lighting effect and enhance the depth of field.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Creating the Background

Step 1

Create a new 2000 x 1734 px document in Photoshop with the settings below:

new filenew filenew file

Step 2

Open the landscape 1 image. Drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V) and convert it to a Smart Object.

adding landscpe 1adding landscpe 1adding landscpe 1

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 8 px:

landscape 1 gaussian blurlandscape 1 gaussian blurlandscape 1 gaussian blur

Step 4

Open the landscape 2 image. Add it to our working document using the Move Tool:

adding landscape 2adding landscape 2adding landscape 2

Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a basic, soft brush with black color (soft black brush) to erase the sides of the landscape and reveal landscape 1 as shown below:

landscape 2 maskinglandscape 2 maskinglandscape 2 masking

Step 5

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the radius to 8 px. This step is to match the softness of landscape 2 with that of landscape 1.

landscape 2 gaussian blurlandscape 2 gaussian blurlandscape 2 gaussian blur

Step 6

Use an adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask to darken landscape 2. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and decrease the lightness:

landscape 2 curveslandscape 2 curveslandscape 2 curves

Step 7

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) to change the color of landscape 2. Set the Cyan value of Midtones to -17:

landscape 2 color balancelandscape 2 color balancelandscape 2 color balance

2. Adding the Rock

Step 1

Open the rock image. Select the rock only using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L):

select rockselect rockselect rock

Place the rock in the foreground and flip it horizontally by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. Remember to convert this layer to a Smart Object.

adding rockadding rockadding rock

Step 2

To make a better look for the rock, add a mask to this layer and use a hard black brush to remove some upper rock areas. Remember to follow the rock structure:

rock maskingrock maskingrock masking
rock masking resultrock masking resultrock masking result

Step 3

On the rock layer, select an upper rock area. Right click it, and choose Layer via Copy:

copy rockcopy rockcopy rock

We now get this selected rock part on a new layer. Set this layer under the big rock one and use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to make it smaller:

adding small rockadding small rockadding small rock

Step 4

On the big rock layer, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the radius to 8 px:

rock gaussian blurrock gaussian blurrock gaussian blur

On this filter mask, use a soft black brush to erase the middle of the rock to make it look separated from the rest, and it will help to create a depth of field. You can see the results on the filter mask and on the picture:

rock filter maskrock filter maskrock filter mask
rock gaussian blur resultrock gaussian blur resultrock gaussian blur result

Step 5

Create a new layer and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to remove some unwanted white details on the rock:

rock clonerock clonerock clone
rock clone resultrock clone resultrock clone result

Step 6

Select all the rock layers and the clone one, and then press Control-G to make a group for them. Change the mode of this group from Pass Through (default group mode) to Normal 100%. Create a Curves adjustment layer within this group to darken the rocks.

rock curvesrock curvesrock curves

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the upper part of the rock and some other details as we've aimed to add light there.

rock curves maskingrock curves maskingrock curves masking

3. Darken the Scene

Make a Curves adjustment layer on the top of the layers to darken the whole scene.

darken scene with curvesdarken scene with curvesdarken scene with curves

4. Adding the Deer

Step 1

Open the deer image. Isolate him from the background and place him onto the rock:

adding deeradding deeradding deer

Add a mask to this layer and remove the two small horns on the middle top of the deer's head:

remove small hornsremove small hornsremove small horns

Step 2

To make some changes for the horns, go to Edit > Puppet Warp. Add the points to hold the body and head areas, and then move the points on the horns to make them higher and nearer to each other. 

deer puppet warpdeer puppet warpdeer puppet warp

Step 3

Create a new layer (set as Clipping Mask), change the mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:

dodge and burn new layerdodge and burn new layerdodge and burn new layer

Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure varied from 10–50% to correct the light and shade on the deer. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode:

Dodge and burn resultDodge and burn resultDodge and burn result

Step 4

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) and change the Midtones settings:

deer color balancedeer color balancedeer color balance
deer color balance resultdeer color balance resultdeer color balance result

Step 5

Add a Curves adjustment layer to darken the deer.

deer curves 1deer curves 1deer curves 1

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the following parts, as they're dark already or will be illuminated by the firelight.

deer curves 1 maskingdeer curves 1 maskingdeer curves 1 masking

Step 6

Create another Curves adjustment layer to reduce the deer contrast, especially on the lower body part.

deer curves 2deer curves 2deer curves 2

On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the rest of the deer, especially the horns:

deer curves 2 maskingdeer curves 2 maskingdeer curves 2 masking

5. Changing the Color and the Look of the Eyes

Step 1

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer to change the color and lightness of the whole scene, pick the colors #061947 and #5fb1f7. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%:

gradient mapgradient mapgradient map

Step 2

Make a new layer and change the foreground to #fd802d. Use a small, soft brush with this color to paint inside the deer eyes to create a fiery look.

deer eyesdeer eyesdeer eyes

Double click this layer, choose Outer Glow and pick the color #fd802d to add a glowing effect to the eyes.

deer eyes outer glowdeer eyes outer glowdeer eyes outer glow
outer glow resultouter glow resultouter glow result

6. Adding the Fire Effect

Step 1

Open the fire images pack. We'll use image 8 and image 30 to add to the deer horns. Select a fire part in image 30 using the Lasso Tool.

select a fire partselect a fire partselect a fire part

Place this fire part onto one of the horns and change the mode to Screen 100%:

adding the fireadding the fireadding the fire

Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to erase the white hard edges:

fire masking fire masking fire masking

Step 2

Take other parts from the fire image and add them to the horns using the same method. You can duplicate, transform, and rotate these layers using Control-T if needed.

adding more fireadding more fireadding more fire

Don't worry about the white hard edges, because we'll fix them later.

Step 3

Open image 8. Use the same techniques to take different fire parts to add to the horns to make the fire there thicker and more intense. 

adding another fireadding another fireadding another fire

Step 4

Make a group for all the fire layers and change this group mode to Screen 100%. Create a Levels adjustment layer above all the fire layers and increase the Shadow value of Input to 48 to remove the white hard edges completely.

fire levelsfire levelsfire levels

7. Adding the Lighting Effect

Step 1

We'll add some fire light absorbed on the deer and the rock. Make a new layer under the fire group and use a soft brush with the color #ea6842 to paint along the deer horns, body and head, and on the rock. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%:

lighting effect 1lighting effect 1lighting effect 1
lighting effect 1 resultlighting effect 1 resultlighting effect 1 result

Step 2

Create a new layer and change the brush color to #f6d778. Use this brush to paint on the deer horns, body and the rocks to add some highlights there. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%:

lighting effect 2lighting effect 2lighting effect 2
lighting effect 2 resultlighting effect 2 resultlighting effect 2 result

Step 3

On a new layer, use a soft brush with the color #fc994b to make the light on the deer and rock stronger. Set this layer mode to Overlay 100%:

lighting effect 3lighting effect 3lighting effect 3
lighting effect 3 resultlighting effect 3 resultlighting effect 3 result

Step 4

Make a new layer and use a hard brush with the color #fc994b to paint some small glowing furs along the deer's body, legs and head. Also lower the brush Opacity to 10–15% to paint a subtle light effect on the blurred rocks in the foreground:

lighting effect 4lighting effect 4lighting effect 4

Step 5

Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #fc994b to paint a more glowing effect for the fire on the head. Change this layer mode to Hard Light 100%:

fire glowing lightfire glowing lightfire glowing light

Step 6

Make a new layer and change the brush color to #ea6842. Press F5 to change the settings for this brush:

brush settings 1brush settings 1brush settings 1
brush settings 2brush settings 2brush settings 2
brush settings 3brush settings 3brush settings 3
brush settings 4brush settings 4brush settings 4

Paint some glowing, scattering dots around the fire area:

scattering dotsscattering dotsscattering dots

8. The Final Adjustment

Step 1

Make a Vibrance adjustment layer on the top of the layers. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the fire area to keep its glow.

vibrancevibrancevibrance

Step 2

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and increase the Saturation value to 52. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the upper half and the blurred rocks to make sure they're not affected by this adjustment layer.

huesaturationhuesaturationhuesaturation

Congratulations, You're Done!

Here is the result you should get with this tutorial. Feel free to share your opinions and feedback in the comment box below—I'd love to see them. Enjoy photoshopping!

final resultfinal resultfinal result

Want This Effect in Action Form?

If you're wanting to skip this tutorial and try this effect in action form, you can purchase it over on Envato Market. Below is an example of it in action!

Before and AfterBefore and AfterBefore and After
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