This Photoshop tutorial will show you how to blend different images together to create an emotional winter scene.
Resources used in this tutorial:
Mist Brushes – my own
Preview of Final Result:
Now lets get started. Download the background image and open it in Photoshop. Double click on the layer to unlock and rename it “background”. We will work with the central part of the image so you need to crop it. On the image below I painted with red over the unwanted part so you could see which part to crop.
Now right click on the layer and from the drop-down menu choose “convert to smart object”. Go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the radius to 1.5px.
Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 1px.
Open the Gaussian Blur blending options dialog box and change the blend mode to overly.
Now duplicate the background layer and rasterize it (right-click on the layer and choose “rasterize layer”). Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 1.3px.
We want only the trees in the distance to be blurred so add a layer mask and paint with soft brush and black color to hide the effect. Set the brush opacity to 100% when painting in front. Then reduce the opacity to around 25% and paint slightly in the distance in order to avoid any harsh edges. On the image below you can see how my layer mask looks when I’ve finished with painting:
And here is how my image looks so far:
Now lets make some color adjustments.
Add a levels adjustment layer and make these settings:
Your image should now look like the one below:
To create more mysterious atmosphere we will add some mist in the distance. Download the mist brushes and load them in Photoshop. Now grab the brush tool and paint with some light-grey color (I use #d0d0d1) over the distant part of the background. On the image below I highlighted with red the part where you should paint.
Now add a layer mask to this layer, select some soft brush and lower its opacity to around 25%. Pick black color and paint over the edges of the mist to blend it better with the rest of the image. On the image below you can see the parts where I painted highlighted with red.
And here is how the image looks so far:
Select all the layers and group them. Name the group “background”. Now our background is ready so we can move on to the woman.
Open the woman stock image and extract her from the background using any extraction method that you like. I use the pen tool almost always since it gives the most accurate results in my opinion. Don’t worry about her hair, we will fix it later, but be as accurate as possible selecting the rest of the body or your manipulation won’t look realistic.
Once you have the girl extracted from the background, copy and paste her on a new layer. Convert the layer into a smart object and name it “woman”. Resize the girl to fit in with the background. Use the image below for reference:
Right now the woman looks very unrealistic against the background, so we need to make some adjustments.
First go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 0.5px.
Then add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer above the “woman” layer. Right click on the layer and from the drop-down menu choose “create clipping mask”. Reduce the saturation of the red tones as shown on the picture below:
Add a Levels adjustment layer and again create a clipping mask. We will make the girl lighter in order to blend her with the background. Use the settings shown below:
The woman looks much better now but still needs some fine tunes. The lower part of the dress and her foot are still too dark, so we need to add another Levels adjustment layers with these settings:
Now click on the layer mask of the adjustment layer to activate it. Grab the Brush Tool, and paint with black over the parts that don’t need to be lightened. Adjust the brush opacity while painting in order to avoid any hard edges. Use the image below for reference:
Your image should look like the one below:
Now it’s time for some dodging and burning. Create a new layer above the “woman” layer and name it “dodge/burn”. Right click on the layer and choose “create clipping mask”. Fill the layer with 50% grey and change its blend mode from normal to soft light. Now start dodging and burning using a soft, rounded brush. Set the range to midtones and exposure to around 15%.
You can get the idea where to dodge and where to burn from the image below:
Here is how the image looks so far:
In the next step we will add some shadows. Add a new blank layer below the “woman” layer and name it “shadow”. Choose some soft brush and lower its opacity to around 50%. Now paint with black along the edges of her dress and her foot. Adjust the layer’s opacity if the shadow is too harsh. Then add another blank layer and name it “shadow2”. Lower the brush opacity even more (something around 20%) and paint a subtle shadow behind the woman. You can use the images below for reference:
Here is how my image looks with shadows applied:
So far, so good, now lets move on to the next step.
The woman is running through the snow, so her dress and her foot should be stuck with snow. We will add it in this step.
Create a new layer above the “woman” and name it “dress – snow” (I know it’s a stupid name but will work for now). Now grab the Brush Tool and choose some splatter brush form the default brushes. Make brush size something around 40px and start creating the snow. Pick the colors from the snow around her. You should end up with something similar to this:
Now it’s time for some fun – we will be creating her hair.
Add a new blank layer above the “woman” layer and name it “hair base”. Now choose a soft, round brush and make these settings:
If you don’t have a graphic tablet try to set the Control to “fade” instead of “pen pressure” and the Minimum Diameter to something like 25 – 30%.
Start painting the base of the hair choosing different colors from woman’s hair. Adjust the brush size between 3px – 5px while painting.
Here is how it looks on transparent background and above the original hair:
Now add a new layer and create the details. This time use smaller brush size – 1px – 2px and again use different colors picking them from the original hair.
On a new layer paint the highlights with some light-red color
And finally add some shadows on a new layer
Alternatively you can use some hair brushes to recreate the hair. Add the new hair on at least two layers using different colors. Then blend them with the original hair using adjustment layers and layer masks.
Here is how my image looks so far:
Finally group all the layers together and name the group “woman”.
In the next step we will add the man.
Open the man stock and extract him from the background. Then paste him into your photo manipulation. Resize the man to fit in with the background.
Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 1.4px
As you can see, right now he is too dark which is highly unrealistic. To blend him better with the rest of the image add a new Levels adjustment layer above the “man” layer. Create a clipping mask (right click and choose “create clipping mask”). Now make these settings:
Now paint some shadow on a new layer below the “man” layer. Use some soft round brush and black color. Then adjust the opacity until you get something similar to the image below:
And that’s all – the man is now in place.
Lets add the rose on the ground.
To create the rose we will be using two images blended together.
Open the images “rose_3” and “rose_5” from the rose pack listed in the beginning of the tutorial. Extract them from the background and paste them into the photo manipulation on separate layers. Resize the roses until you get something similar to this:
Move the “rose_3” above the “rose_5” and position them like in the image below:
Now add a layer mask to the “rose_3” layer and paint with black to hide its stem.
Merge these two layers and name the layer “rose”. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and create clipping mask. Make these settings to this layer:
Add a Levels adjustment layer (again as a clipping mask) with these settings:
Now use the Warp Tool to change the stem’s shape slightly. You can find the Warp Tool under Edit > Transform > Warp. Use the image below for reference:
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 0.5px.
Now apply this layer style:
Group all the layers and name the newly created group “rose”.
At this point your image should look like the one below:
Now we will add crows. Open the first crow stock and extract the crow from the background. Now paste it into our photo manipulation and resize it like in the image below:
As you can see, right now the crow is too dark. We will fix this in the next step. Add a new Levels adjustment layer and create clipping mask. Now make these settings:
Add a second adjustment layer – this time Hue/Saturation and again create clipping mask. Apply these settings to this layer:
Finally apply a Gaussian blur with radius of 1.1px.
Now open the second crow stock and extract it from the background. Place it into the photo manipulation, resize it and flip it horizontally. The crow should look like the one below:
Now repeat the same steps as for the first crow image. Use these settings for the Levels and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers:
Apply a Gaussian blur to this layer with radius of 1.3px:
Now select all the layers and group them into a new group called “crows”.
In the next step we will add some snow.
Add a new blank layer on top of all other layers and name it “snow”. Go to Edit > Fill and in the dialog box choose “black”.
Right click on the layer and from the drop down menu choose “convert to smart object”. This step is optional but I prefer to use smart objects since I always can make adjustments later if I change my mind. Change the blend mode of this layer from “normal” to “screen”.
Now go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and move the amount slider to something around 160%
Now go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 1px
After applying the Gaussian Blur your image should look like the one below:
As you can see there is too much noise on the image so we need to fix this problem.
Add a new Levels adjustment layer above the “snow” layer. Now adjust the sliders until you get the desired effect. Here are my settings:
Now click on the smart filter’s mask to make it active and paint with black to hide some snowflakes from the woman’s face.
Now it’s time for some final touches.
Group all the layers you used to create snow and name the group “snow”. Add a new Photo Filter adjustment layer on top of all other layers with the settings shown below:
Next add a new blank layer, fill it with 50% grey and change the blend mode to soft light. Grab the Burn tool and lower the exposure to 17%. Use a soft round brush to burn the upper parts of the photo manipulation. You can use the image below for reference where to burn:
The very last step is to boost the contrast just a little bit. To do that, add a Levels adjustment layer with these settings:
And that’s all. Hope you like the final result: