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How to Create Viking Portrait Art in Photoshop

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What You'll Be Creating

Today we will be learning how to create Viking portrait art in Photoshop using snow overlays and quick lighting techniques! Vikings have always captured artists' imaginations, but thanks to popular Norse lore and culture being incorporated into things like comics and superhero movies, they are more popular than ever. 

If you want to create a snowy Viking portrait effect in half the time, try out one of the several snow-creating actions over on Envato Elements! Create dynamic snow in seconds—just press play!

Real Snow Photoshop ActionReal Snow Photoshop ActionReal Snow Photoshop Action

What You'll Learn in This Adobe Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to create a Viking warrior painting in Photoshop
  • How to create a sunset background in Photoshop 
  • How to create a snowstorm in Photoshop 
  • How to create a color grade in Photoshop 

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

What You'll Need

To complete this project, you will need the following resources:

Find more resources on Envato Elements!

1. How to Create a Viking Poster Background

Step 1

Let's start by assembling a quick fiery sunset background. We'll be adding a strong blur to the whole environment, so don't worry about stretching images or doing any precise extractions.

Let's drop our first sunset sky image onto our canvas, making sure it fills the entire width of the canvas. If there's space at the bottom of the canvas, that's perfectly fine.

place sunsetplace sunsetplace sunset

Step 2

Next, add a second deep red sunset image, placed over the first and set to Screen. We're adding a red foggy mist effect. If there are any harsh edges, you can remove them using a layer mask, but it's likely unnecessary.

place second sunset place second sunset place second sunset

Step 3

Now, we can quickly extract some large snowy mountains from their backgrounds.

I used the Object Select tool and a layer mask to extract mine and then did a touch of refining using Select and Mask.

Do just enough refinement so that the edges aren't too jagged, and there are no visible edges of the sky. Again, there's no need to be precise here.

extract mountains extract mountains extract mountains

Step 4

With the mountains cut out, let's Right-click > Convert to Smart Object.

Then we can place our mountain's peak towards the bottom of the canvas, add a Layer Mask, and use a soft round Brush to blend the bottom of the mountains into the red mist. We can also change the mountain's layer to 50% Opacity.

blend mountains  blend mountains  blend mountains

Step 5

Once you're happy with the mountain range, duplicate the layer, flip it horizontally, and add a smaller mountain to the left side of the image.

Let's place it slightly further back, making it smaller, and bringing down its Opacity to 30%. Also, use a soft round Brush to blend the image into the mist, just like the larger mountains.

Make sure to make any final adjustments to both of the mountain's placements, as they will be harder to adjust from here on out.

duplicate mountains duplicate mountains duplicate mountains

Step 6

With the mountain range done, we can add some final lighting. Go to Select > Color Range and color pick the brightest portion of the right-side mountain.

Adjust the Fuzziness value so that only the brightest areas of the mountain face are shown in white. Everything that appears in white will be selected. Below is what my selection looked like with a Fuzziness of 47:

select highlights select highlights select highlights

Step 7

Create a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. The layer mask will automatically take the shape of the selection.

Let's set the Brightness/Contrast settings to 10 Brightness and 50 Contrast, brightening the inner-facing mountain.

adjust mountains lighting  adjust mountains lighting  adjust mountains lighting

Step 8

Now, let's create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer with the settings Hue: +29 and Saturation: + 67.

Hold Alt and drag and drop a copy of the Brightness/Contrast layer mask onto the Hue/Saturation layer mask. That'll give our mountain a subtle hint of color, reflecting off the lit snow.

Repeat those same steps to give a bit of color and brightness to the smaller mountain face.

light second mountains light second mountains light second mountains

Step 9

Let's tie all the background elements together with a Color Lookup adjustment layer set to Tension Green at 26% Opacity.

create color lookup layer create color lookup layer create color lookup layer

Step 10

Finally, let's group all of the background layers, and then Right-click > Convert to Smart Object.

We can finish off the background by adding a Filter > Blur Gallery > Field Blur. We're setting the Blur to 20 pixels. And then set the Bokeh to 26% Light with a Light Range of 34 to 255.

add bokehadd bokehadd bokeh

2. How to Create a Viking Portrait

Step 1

Now that the background's done, let's create our Viking portrait!

Extract your Viking using your preferred method. I like to use a mixture of the Pen tool and Select and Mask, but any way will work.

Let's create and clip a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer into the Viking portrait, setting the adjustment layer to +20 Brightness.

adjust viking adjust viking adjust viking

Step 2

Now, let's duplicate the Viking portrait layer, bring it below the original, and set the Layer Mode to Screen. If it has a layer mask, go ahead and first Right-click > Convert to Smart Object, and then set the layer to Screen.

Now, create and clip a soft golden yellow #f2d799 Color Fill layer into the duplicated Viking layer. We're going to use the Transform Warp Mode to pull on the duplicated layer, making it so that parts of the yellow peek through from behind the fur.

warp lightwarp lightwarp light

Step 3

Then we can create a Layer Mask on the yellow layer, fill it with black using Control-I, and then mask back in areas of yellow behind the Viking.

Focus on bringing in the bright yellow on areas with either cloth or fur. Doing this creates a super quick backlighting effect. If needed, you can repeat those steps to create even more backlit hair or fur.

enhance light enhance light enhance light

Step 4

Create a New Layer below the backlit hair layers, and set it to Screen. Using a soft round brush and the same pale yellow color, let's finish up the fur by adding some extra glow.

add glow add glow add glow

Step 5

Next, we can paint in some simple blood drips and splatter onto the Viking's ax and body. 

I have a whole tutorial on how I like to paint quick and easy blood that you can check out on Envato Tuts+!

add blood add blood add blood

3. How to Create Vibrant Viking Portrait Art

Step 1

To make our Viking portrait art stand out, we're going to introduce some vibrant reds (#8b352d), oranges (#e8c04f), and blues (#71919c) into the sky.

First, create a New Layer set to Multiply.

Now, using a soft round Brush set to a Flow of just 5%, paint blue on the blue parts of the sky, orange on the orange parts, and red on the red parts.

Focus on the outer parts of the image, keeping the middle of the image bright. This will darken and deepen the sky, so we want to avoid going too dark. However, If you feel it is a little too dark, you can always lower the layer's Opacity.

deepen sky deepen sky deepen sky

Step 2

Next, we're going to repeat that step one more time, only this time on a layer set to Overlay.

Use the same red, orange, and blue colors and the same soft round Brush. That'll also give the image a Viking warrior painting effect.

add color to sky add color to sky add color to sky

Step 3

Now, let's bring some of those reds, blues, and oranges into the subject himself.

First, create and clip a New Layer into the subject and set it to Multiply at 70% Opacity. Then we can paint in some shadows using a dark red (#310d09) color, focusing the color on the inner part of the subject.

add shadow to viking add shadow to viking add shadow to viking

Step 4

To bring back some of the highlights, we want to double-click the layer and adjust its Blend If settings. Hold Alt to split the white toggles, and pull them to the left.

adjust blend if settings adjust blend if settings adjust blend if settings

Step 5

Now, create and clip a New Layer set to Screen. Paint some light orange (#ecba67) onto the armor, body, and ax.

add lighting to viking add lighting to viking add lighting to viking

Step 6

As before, we'll adjust the Blend If settings. This time, though, we remove the orange color from the shadowy areas using the gray toggles.

adjust lighting blend if adjust lighting blend if adjust lighting blend if

Step 7

Create and clip three New Layers into the subject. Set one to Soft Light, the second to Lighten, and the third to Screen.

Use all three layers to paint various shades of orange on the subject. We want to focus the lighting on the subject's edges but bring light washes of color towards the center. Use Blend If to bring back shadows if needed, and keep your brush's Flow rate below 10%.

add final lighting add final lighting add final lighting

4. How to Create Atmosphere in Photoshop

Step 1

Let's tie our Viking fantasy warrior into their new environment by adding in some atmosphere.

Drag and drop the deep red sunset stock image we used to create the red mist, setting the layer to Lighten. Flip and adjust the mist so that it ends right at the subject's waist.

Add a Layer Mask and mask out the top portion of the clouds, making sure there are no harsh edges and everything blends nicely.

mask red mist mask red mist mask red mist

Step 2

Next, create a New Layer and set it to Lighten.

Now, using the same red (#8b352d), orange (#e8c04f), and blue (#71919c) colors and the same soft round Brush we used earlier, paint blooms of light over the subject and into the sky.

We want to keep this very subtle, building the light up slowly and using a low Flow rate. If the effect is too strong, use Blend If to lessen or remove it from the image's shadows.

add final sky lighting add final sky lighting add final sky lighting

5. How to Create a Snowstorm in Photoshop

Step 1

Let's create a super quick snowstorm effect to finish off the Viking fantasy warrior vibe.

The best way to create quick snow is to use PNG overlays like these snowy overlays from Envato Elements. Directly above the background and below the lighting layers, let's place overlay 17 from the Snow pack, setting the layer to Overlay.

drop snow overlay drop snow overlay drop snow overlay

Step 2

Next, above all other layers, let's drop overlay 8, keeping it set to Normal and enlarging it slightly.

normal snow overlay normal snow overlay normal snow overlay

Step 3

Now, let's drop overlay 1, enlarging it as well, and then setting its layer mode to Overlay.

snow set to overlay snow set to overlay snow set to overlay

Step 4

We can then duplicate Overlay 1, change its layer mode to Soft Light, and adjust its placement to add even more snow. The trick is to avoid any patterns in the snow. You can also try flipping the overlay horizontally.

duplicate snow duplicate snow duplicate snow

Step 5

Now, if the snow overlays aren't already, convert them all into Smart Objects.

Let's go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and set the Angle to 35 with a 113 Distance.

Copy this same filter onto all of the topmost snowy overlays.

add motion blur add motion blur add motion blur

Step 6

Finish up the snow by adding a Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to the snow layer set to Overlay. Let's give it a Radius of 16–17.

add gaussian blur add gaussian blur add gaussian blur

Step 7

We can then group the topmost snow layers and use a layer mask to remove most of the snow from the subject's face.

And suppose you'd like the snow to be even heavier. In that case, you can always duplicate the group or add more individual snow overlays.

remove snow from ace remove snow from ace remove snow from ace

6. How to Create a Vibrant Color Grade in Photoshop

Step 1

Finally, we can finish up with a color grade!

Start with a Color Lookup layer set to Edgey Amber, with a layer mode of Multiply and a 23% Opacity.

Then, add a second Color Lookup layer set to Film Stock and a 32% Opacity.

Finally, add a third Color Lookup layer set to Teal Orange and a 24% Opacity.

team orange team orange team orange

Step 2

And lastly, a Selective Color adjustment layer affecting the Reds, Yellows, Whites, Grays, and Blacks.

selective color settings selective color settings selective color settings

We Did It!

That's all there is to creating a Viking warrior painting effect in Photoshop! Pair your Viking portrait with a cool Viking font to create an instant action movie poster, or change up the colors from reds and oranges to blues and grays for a more frozen Viking effect!

How to Create Viking Portrait Art in PhotoshopHow to Create Viking Portrait Art in PhotoshopHow to Create Viking Portrait Art in Photoshop

Want More Viking-Themed Resources? 

Mjölnir: Nordic Tribal Font

This Viking font is inspired by Nordic runes. The Viking rune font contains both uppercase and lower case characters and is ideal for Viking posters, logos, and flyers, thanks to its bold yet detailed design! 

Mjölnir - Nordic Tribal FontMjölnir - Nordic Tribal FontMjölnir - Nordic Tribal Font

Real Snow Photoshop Action

The Real Snow Photoshop action creates instant snowstorms or gently falling snow depending on what you need! It creates a unique effect every time, so you won't have to worry about repeating the same effect over and over. 

Real Snow Photoshop ActionReal Snow Photoshop ActionReal Snow Photoshop Action

Jotunheim Typeface

Another Nordic font inspired by ancient runes, this Viking rune font remains legible thanks to its clean, bold lines and variety of different character options. 

Jotunheim TypefaceJotunheim TypefaceJotunheim Typeface

Ancient Scandinavian Rune

The Ancient Scandinavian Rune bundle is perfect for when you want to add authentic rune designs to your Viking posters or any other Nordic projects. They are also printable as cards!  

Ancient Scandinavian RuneAncient Scandinavian RuneAncient Scandinavian Rune

Lexaviers

Lexaviers is a Nordic font that was crafted by hand, so it has a rough, jagged feel. It remains readable, and it contains both upper and lower case characters as well as numbers, symbols, and more!

LexaviersLexaviersLexaviers
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