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How to Create a Wolverine Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

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What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create a Wolverine photo manipulation. We'll go through a variety of photo manipulation techniques including blending, retouching, lots of painting, adjusting color, creating lighting effects, and more. 

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Add the Background

Step 1

Create a new 1500 x 1000 px document in Adobe Photoshop with the given settings:

new filenew filenew file

Step 2

Open the factory image. Drag this image into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V). Activate the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to adjust its perspective as shown below:

add backgroundadd backgroundadd background

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to 7 px:

blur backgroundblur backgroundblur background

This step is to add some depth to the scene.

Step 4

Use an Adjustment Layer and set it as Clipping Mask to desaturate the background. Select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and bring the Saturation value down to -84:

background hue saturationbackground hue saturationbackground hue saturation

Step 5

Make two Curves Adjustment layers (set as Clipping Mask) to darken the background.

background curves 1background curves 1background curves 1
background curves 2background curves 2background curves 2

2. Prepare the Model

Step 1

Isolate the model image from the background using your familiar method.  I've found an image of a man with a perfect pose for this tutorial, but feel free to use your own muscular ones! Make a New Layer with fill color between the background and the extracted model and fill with any medium dark colors.

isolate modelisolate modelisolate model

Step 2

I've noticed that the man's hairstyle doesn't really fit the character we're creating, so I'll be using an image with another hairstyle to fix it. Open the hair image and isolate the head only using your favorite method.

cut out the haircut out the haircut out the hair

Drag this image into the first document and use the Transform Tool (Control-T) to rotate the head to fit the existing one.

add hairadd hairadd hair

Step 3

Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft round Brush with black color (soft black brush) to erase the hard edges and blend the forehead and hair with the existing head. Lower the brush Opacity when brushing around the forehead to make the blended area smooth and natural.

hair maskinghair maskinghair masking

Step 4

Use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to make the forehead color and hair match the existing one. Change the Hue value of Yellows to -23:

hair hue saturationhair hue saturationhair hue saturation

Step 5

You can see that the light and shadow on the second head part doesn't fit the first. In the first image, the light on the head comes straight from above while in the second it comes from the left and makes a shadow on the right. Make a new layer and use the Clone Tool (S) to correct this skin area.

forehead cloningforehead cloningforehead cloning

3. Add the Model

Step 1

Hide the background layer and the fill layer and then hit Control-Shift-Alt-E to Merge All the transparent layers into a new one. Move the merged model into our working document and place him in the middle:

add modeladd modeladd model

Step 2

Use the Liquify Tool to retouch the model a bit. Go to Filter > Liquify Tool and choose the Forward Warp Tool. Use this tool to increase the muscles near the neck, make the face a bit bigger and the chin shorter.

model liquifymodel liquifymodel liquify
liquify resultliquify resultliquify result

Step 3

Create a New Layer (set as Clipping Mask) and use a soft Brush with the color #9a6349 and opacity about 30% to reduce the highlight on the armpits, body and arms. We're aiming to make another light affect these areas, but it's not very strong so we don't need many highlights.

reduce model highlightreduce model highlightreduce model highlight

Step 4

Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and reduce the Saturation value to -73:

model hue saturationmodel hue saturationmodel hue saturation

Step 5

The model looks too bright compared with the background, so use a Curves Adjustment Layer and decrease the lightness:

model curves model curves model curves

On this layer mask, use a soft black Brush to define the light and shadow on the model. Remember the light on him comes straight from above. You can see how I did it on the layer mask and the result in the picture:

model curves maskingmodel curves maskingmodel curves masking
model curves resultmodel curves resultmodel curves result

Step 6

The man looks less rough and wild. Make a new layer, change the Blend Mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:

DB new layerDB new layerDB new layer

Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range and Exposure about 15-25% to correct the light and shadow on the man and draw more details on his body. Also paint the tendons on his arms, neck and shoulders, and the veins on his face, especially on the forehead to strengthen the look, making him more tense and terrific when screaming. Here are the results with Blend Mode in Normal mode and Overlay mode:

DB normal modeDB normal modeDB normal mode
DB overlay modeDB overlay modeDB overlay mode

Step 7

Create a new layer and select a hard black Brush. Lower its size to 2-3 px to paint the hairs on his chest and the middle area of the body, and also paint on the arms and hands. The Wolverine must be a hairy one!

body hairsbody hairsbody hairs

Step 8

Make a New Layer and use a medium-soft Brush with the color #443f3b to paint the bright hairs on top of the head, especially on the right to fit the light there.

hair paintinghair paintinghair painting

4. Add the Smoke

Step 1

Create a New Layer on top of the layers and press D to turn the foreground and background to Default (black and white). Go to Filter > Render > Clouds:

cloud filtercloud filtercloud filter

Reduce the Opacity to 80% and use a Layer Mask to erase the effect on the upper half and leave it visible only on the lower. Don't make it cover the man's body—just leave a subtle effect there.

smoke maskingsmoke maskingsmoke masking

Step 2

Use a Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer to change the smoke color:

smoke channel mixersmoke channel mixersmoke channel mixer

Step 3

Make a New Layer and use a soft Brush with the color #7fc1d7 to make the smoke effect a bit brighter and more vibrant. Change this layer's Blend Mode to Soft Light 100%:

smoke lightsmoke lightsmoke light
smoke light resultsmoke light resultsmoke light result

5. Make the Metal Claws

Step 1

We're in the most interesting stage of the tutorial: making the metal claws. Create a New Layer on top of the layers and use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a shape like the claws we often see in the movie. Fill it with any colors you like, but bright ones so that they can be seen clearly on the dark background.

claw shape 1claw shape 1claw shape 1

Duplicate this layer five times. Place the claws between the fingers and use the Transform Tool (Control-T) to change their perspective. You can see that the poses of the hands are not the same—they're a bit different in angle and position—so the claws should follow them.

other shapesother shapesother shapes

Step 2

Add a Mask to each of these layers and use a hard black Brush to make the claws come from the split of the fingers. Don't use a soft Brush for that because it will leave soft and unnatural edges. Group them in a new folder by selecting all of them and pressing Control-G. We'll be using these shapes as a guide.

shapes maskingshapes maskingshapes masking

Step 3

Open the metal image. Select a metal bar on the left side using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) and add it to a claw on the left. Use the Transform Tool (Control-T) to warp it following the shape of the claw. Make the bright contour of the bar shown on the left side.

select a barselect a barselect a bar
add metal baradd metal baradd metal bar

Load the selection of the correlative shape by holding the Control key and clicking its thumbnail. Click the Add Layer Mask icon to get the result below:

load shape thumbnailload shape thumbnailload shape thumbnail
claw resultclaw resultclaw result

Step 4

Load the layer mask thumbnail of the shape.

shape layer mask thumbnailshape layer mask thumbnailshape layer mask thumbnail

Press Control-I to Invert the selection:

invert selectioninvert selectioninvert selection

Still on the layer mask, switch the foreground to white and hit Delete. We have the result:

after maskingafter maskingafter masking

Step 5

Use the same technique to add the other claws. After finishing, switch off the shape group as we don't need it anymore.

add other clawsadd other clawsadd other claws

Step 6

Make a group for the claw layers and change the group mode to Normal 100%. Use a Curves Adjustment Layer to darken the claws, and also increase the contrast to make the 3D effect more visible. The selected areas show where to paint on the layer mask:

claws curves 1claws curves 1claws curves 1

Step 7

Add another Curves adjustment layer to decrease the highlight on the claws more. Their bottoms still look so bright at the moment.

claws curves 2claws curves 2claws curves 2

After masking off the light, here is the result:

claws curves 2 maskingclaws curves 2 maskingclaws curves 2 masking

Step 8

Create a new layer, change the Blend Mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge Tool to increase the hair highlight and the Burn Tool to darken the bottom of the claws to make them blend well with the hands.

DB 2 normal modeDB 2 normal modeDB 2 normal mode
DB 2 overlay modeDB 2 overlay modeDB 2 overlay mode

6. Add the Light Effect

Create a New Layer and use a soft Brush with the color #659eb2 to paint the blue light effect on the model's body. Take care of the curvy areas; the light on them should be brighter and stronger.

 blue light normal mode blue light normal mode blue light normal mode

Change this layer Blend Mode to Overlay 100%:

blue light overlay modeblue light overlay modeblue light overlay mode

7. Add the Particles

Step 1

Add the particles image to the current document using the Move Tool. Change this layer Blend Mode to Screen 100%:

particles screen modeparticles screen modeparticles screen mode

Step 2

Use the Liquify Tool to distort the particles, making them look as if they're flying from the bottom. Also try to make the effect look ghostly and unreal— we're in a fantasy world!

liquify particlesliquify particlesliquify particles
particles liquify result particles liquify result particles liquify result

Step 3

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 2 px to soften the particles:

particles gaussian blur particles gaussian blur particles gaussian blur

Step 4

Use a Layer Mask to reduce the particle intensity. Also make some particles fade and appear less visible than the others—it helps to increase the depth.

particles maskingparticles maskingparticles masking

Step 5

Add a Channel Mixer adjustment layer to change the particle color to fit the smoke light:

particles channel mixerparticles channel mixerparticles channel mixer

8. The Final Adjustment

Step 1

Make a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer on top of the layers and pick the colors #e10019 and #00601b. Lower the opacity of this layer to 20%.

gradient mapgradient mapgradient map

Step 2

Add a Color Fill layer and pick the color #280002. Set this layer Blend Mode to Exclusion 100%:

color fill layercolor fill layercolor fill layer

Step 3

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

whole scene color balancewhole scene color balancewhole scene color balance

Step 4

Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #66afd8:

photo filterphoto filterphoto filter

Step 5

Create a Curves Adjustment Layer to increase the contrast of the whole scene:

whole scene curveswhole scene curveswhole scene curves

Step 6

The last step: use a Levels Adjustment Layer and decrease the lightness.

whole scene levelswhole scene levelswhole scene levels

The following areas show where to paint on the layer mask:

levels maskinglevels maskinglevels masking

Congratulations, You're Done!

I hope that you've enjoyed my tutorial and learned something new. Feel free to share your ideas or comments in the box below—I'd love to see them. Enjoy Photoshopping!

final resultfinal resultfinal result
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