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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Fun Fox and Coffee Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

What I love most about photo manipulations is that they allow you to create unreal scenes in a realistic way. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create such a fun photo manipulation with miniature foxes invading a coffee table. You'll learn how to prepare photos for photo manipulation, how to place them all in one file, and how to blend them with the new environment by adding shadows, light, blur, and adjusting colors.

What You Will Need

In order to complete this project, you'll need the following resources:

1. How to Prepare Assets for Photo Manipulation

Step 1

Open one of the fox photos in Photoshop. Use the Lasso Tool (L) to select the outline of the fox's body.

use the lasso tool

Step 2

Go to Select > Refine Edge. Check Smart Radius and drag the Radius a little. Then use the Refine Radius Tool to "draw" the fur that hasn't been selected. When you're done, click OK.

refine edge photoshop
how to select fur photoshop

Step 3

Go to Select > Inverse and delete the selection.

invert the selection

Step 4

My fox doesn't have complete paws, but one of them looks correct. Copy the good paw and drag it to the other places, changing its shape with the Free Transform Tool (Control-T).

add missing paws

Step 5

Do the same with the other foxes. Place them all in one file, on separate layers.

place assets in one file

Step 6

Because the foxes come from different photos, they all have different lighting. Let's fix it to make the foxes more similar. Select the layer with our first fox and add a Levels adjustment layer.

levels adjustment layer

Step 7

Clip the layer (Control-Alt-G) and drag the markers to brighten the fox.

adjust levels
adjust brightness with levels

Step 8

The head looks a little too bright and desaturated. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer...

hue saturation adjustment layer

... and drag the Saturation marker. Don't forget to clip the layer!

adjust saturation with hue saturation
saturate color

Step 9

Add a Layer Mask and fill it with black using the Paint Bucket Tool (G). Then use a soft brush and paint with white to reveal the adjustment on the head only.

If what I just said sounds confusing, learn more about Layer Masks here:

use layer mask to erase

Step 10

Use this method to make all the foxes similarly bright and similarly colored.

unify colors of the assets

2. How to Put a Miniature Fox on the Table

Step 1

Open the photo with the table. Copy one of the foxes and paste it into the file. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to resize the fox.

place one fox on table

Step 2

The photo of the table has a different depth of field in different places. Because of this, the elements on the table have various degrees of blur. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and add some blur to the fox, adjusting it to its environment.

add gaussian blur
blur the fox

Step 3

But the depth of field changes in a gradual way, so one part of the fox's body could be blurrier than the other. To fix it, go into the Quick Mask Mode (Q) and paint over the planned blurry part with a soft, black brush. Then exit the mode (Q), go to Select > Inverse, and Control-H to hide the selection.

use quick mask to select

Step 4

Use the Gaussian Blur again, this time only in the selected area.

blur selectively
selective blur in photoshop

Step 5

A new place requires new shadows. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to the fox. Make it darker and slightly more saturated (because the shadows can be warmed by the reflection of the brown table).

add shadows with hue saturation
shadows on the fox

Step 6

Use the Layer Mask to paint the shadows.

use layer mask to paint shadows

Step 7

There need to be some shadows under the fox, too. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to the background. Make it darker.

add shadows to the background

Step 8

Fill its Layer Mask with black and paint a subtle shadow under the fox.

paint shadows on the background

Step 9

There's a bright shadow on the table visible in the lack of reflection. We can use it to make our fox more realistic. Go to Filter > Liquify and use the Forward Warp Tool (W) to drag a little of this shadow under the fox's paw.

add fake shadows

Step 10

You can also add an extra Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to add deeper, darker shadows right in the crevices.

add ambient occlusion shadows

3. How to Add Other Foxes to the Scene

Step 1

Let's add the other foxes the same way. Copy and paste the curled fox, and resize it to place it on the newspaper, with its head resting on the phone.

add second fox

Step 2

Add the Gaussian Blur to blur the fox. It's quite deep in the background, so you can add a strong blur here. It will greatly improve the realism of the whole scene.

change blur to add depth of field

Step 3

Add the shadows under the fox by painting on the masks of the adjustment layers that you've created earlier for the background.

add shadows udner the fox

Step 4

There's a red caption on the newspaper that gets reflected on the phone. We can reflect it on the fox's body, too. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, clip it, and check Colorize. Then make the fox reddish.

add reddish tint
add reflected color

Step 5

Paint over the Layer Mask of this adjustment and keep the reflection only at the bottom.

add selective reflected color

Step 6

Let's add a fox inside the cup now. Paste and resize it.

add third fox

Step 7

Its paws are not placed correctly, so go to Filter > Liquify and use the Forward Warp Tool (W) to drag the left paw to the edge of the cup. Press OK when you're done.

reshape the fox with liquify

Step 8

Use a Layer Mask to erase the part of the fox that's supposed to be covered by the cup.

erase the fox with layer mask

Step 9

Use the Gaussian Blur to adjust the blur to the environment.

add gaussian blur

Step 10

The farther edge of the cup looks blurrier, so we can make the back of the body blurrier as well. Select it with the Quick Mask Mode (Q) as previously.

use quick mask to select edges
use gaussian blur selectively

Step 11

The cup is very reflective, and the fox is bright orange. Add a Hue/Saturation layer over the background and make it orange. Then paint on the mask to limit the adjustment to the area around the fox.

add reflected light on the cup

Step 12

Paint a thin shadow under the fox's paws.

add shadows under the paws

Step 13

Finally, the last fox. Place it next to the cup.

add fourth fox

Step 14

Add some Gaussian Blur to the fox.

blur the foxx

Step 15

The depth of field changes quickly in this area, so a part of the fox must be blurred separately. Go to Filter > Blur > Iris Blur and keep the fox's head in the center of the circle. Then adjust the shape of the circle to make the rest gradually blurrier.

add iris blur

Step 16

Paint the shadows on the fox's body by adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

add shadows to fox body

Step 17

Because the table is warmly colored, it should reflect some of its warm light into the shadows. Add a Color Balance adjustment layer to color the shadows.

color balance adjustment layer
color balance reddish orange
warm shadows with adjustment layer

Step 18

Paint the shadows under the fox.

paint shadows on the ground

Step 19

There's a reflective cup right next to the fox, and the lack of reflection might give our manipulation away. Copy and paste the yawning fox's head, placing it behind the sitting fox. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) in Warp Mode to adjust its size and shape to the sitting fox's head.

add reflection on the cup

Step 20

Lower the Opacity of the head.

lower opacity of the reflection

Step 21

Blur the reflection slightly.

blur the reflection

Step 22

Use a Layer Mask to make the reflection weaker as the head turns away from the cup.

use layer mask to blend

Step 23

Additionally, you can add some bright light when necessary with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. For example, here I used it to add some subtle rim light.

add bright light
add rim light photoshop

4. How to Finish the Photo Manipulation

Step 1

Once all the foxes are in place, you can take a look at the scene as a whole and check if everything looks good. Now it's a good time to add some tiny corrections.

finish photo manipulation

Step 2

If you're happy with everything, let's finish the artwork. Add a Photo Filter adjustment layer and play with the settings. The photo filter helps unify the whole scene by giving every element the same tint.

photo filter adjustment layer
colling photo filter
how to use photo filters

Step 3

Right-click the layers and select Flatten Image. Then go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. This helps unify the image as well.

add noise

Step 4

Use the Crop Tool (C) to get a better frame of the scene.

crop the scene

Step 5

Finally, go to Image > Image Size and change the size to something more presentable online.

change the image size

Good Job!

What a beautiful scene! Do you want to learn more about photo manipulation? Check out our other tutorials. And don't forget to visit Envato Elements if you need any photo resources for your work!

how to create a fun photo manipulation
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