It’s been a while since my last post but finally I’m back with a new photo manipulation tutorial.
In this tutorial I will show you how to create this emotional scene in Photoshop using several stock images, layer masks, adjustment layers and custom brushes.
Preview of Final Result
Mist Brushes – my own
I use my personal photo for background but you could quite easily find some similar stock image to work with.
So lets get started.
Create a new Photoshop document with these dimensions: Width 1500px, Height 2000px and transparent background.
Now paste the background image into your newly created document. Resize and position it to look like the one below:
Duplicate the background layer and set the blending mode to Multiply.
Now lets add our very first adjustment layer. The image is too saturated so we need to add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer in order to reduce the saturation.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer above the other layers and use these settings:
Your settings may vary slightly depending on your image but the general idea would be the same – to reduce the overall saturation and to fade any strong color if there is one.
Here’s how my image looks at this point:
Now add a Curves adjustment layer and choose ‘strong contrast’ from the presets.
Again you may need to adjust these settings to fit your image.
Now lets add some mist. Create a new blank layer on top of all other layers and name it ‘mist’. Choose some light grey color (I use #e4e4e4) and try to make something similar to the image below using my mist brushes listed in the beginning of the tutorial:
Add a layer mask and paint randomly with soft round brush and black color. Reduce the brush opacity to around 30-35% while painting because we want the mist to look more natural and not to create any strange gaps.
That’s how my image looks after applying the layer mask:
Right now that’s all that we have to do on the background (it’s not finished yet but we will return to it later).
Open the model stock and extract her from the background using the extraction tool you feel most comfortable to work with. I always use the Pen tool because it gives me a full control while extracting an object from its background but it’s really up to you to choose.
After you’ve extracted the model from background paste her into our manipulation. Resize and position her like on the image below:
Right now she doesn’t look realistic so we need to add a couple of adjustment layers in order to blend her better with the background.
But before that we need to remove the straps from her dress because we will replace it with a new one in the next steps so we don’t need them.
Duplicate the layer just in case and remove them using the Healing Brush Tool or the Clone Stamp Tool.
Once we have the straps completely removed we are ready to start blending the model with the background.
First we will add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to reduce the overall saturation and red tones in her skin.
Add Hue/Saturation layer above the ‘model’ layer and create a clipping mask (right-click on the layer and from the drop-down menu choose ‘create clipping mask’).
Add another adjustment layer, this time Levels with these settings:
Here’s how my image looks after applying the adjustment layers:
Now open the dress stock copy and paste it into the main document. Name the layer ‘dress’. Resize and position it to fit the model like shown below:
Now when we’ve replaced the dress we need to hide some parts of the model. Click on the ‘model’ layer to make it active and add a layer mask to it. Grab some soft round brush and paint over the unwanted parts with black color to hide them. You should have something similar to the one below.
We’ve successfully replaced the old dress with a new one but it doesn’t look realistic yet. We need to paint some shadows under the model’s arm and that’s exactly what we’re going to do in the next step.
Add a new blank layer above the ‘dress’ layer as a clipping mask and name it ‘shadow under arm’. Grab the Brush Tool and carefully paint some shadows using round soft brush and some dark grey color (I use #555555).
Use the Smudge Tool to shape the shadows and reduce the layer’s opacity slightly (something around 85-86%). You can see my result on the image below:
In the next step we’re going to paint a new hair over the existing one. Create a new layer on top of all other layers and name it ‘Hair-base’. Grab some round brush from the default Ps brushes and set the hardness to something around 75-80% and size to around 30px. Pick some brown color from the model’s hair and paint roughly the base of the new hair. It’s just the hair base so you don’t have to worry too much about any imperfections. Here’s how mine looks:
Now pick some lighter color from model’s hair and reduce the brush size to around 15px. Paint some strokes as on the image below:
Now switch to some darker color (again picked from the model’s hair) and add some darker strokes here and there. Here’s my result:
Next grab the Smudge Tool, set the brush size to 25px and strength to 25% and smudge the colors of the strokes. Try to follow the direction in which hair flows while smudging otherwise you’ll end up with some strange color waves. You should have something like this:
In the next step we’re going to create some hair details. Add a new layer above the ‘base’ and name it ‘details’. Grab the Brush tool and reduce brush size to 4-5px. Sample some darker color from the ‘base’ layer and paint some hair strokes. Then add more hair strokes this time using lighter color. You can use the image below for reference
Use the Smudge Tool as in the previous step with slightly reduced brush size (around 10px).
Now create a new blank layer and name it ‘hightlights’. Pick some light color (I use #b39c8e) and draw some lighter strokes using hard round brush with size 1-2px. You might see no difference at first but this step is important because this is the way the real hair looks – different shades of one main color and not one flat color or two. When you’ve done with the lighter strokes create a new layer and repeat the same steps but this time using a darker color.
You can see how the hair looks with and without these strokes on the image below:
In the next step we’re going to create some shadows and highlights. Merge all the hair layers and name the new layer ‘hair’. Add a new blank layer above this one and create clipping mask (right-click and choose ‘create clipping mask’). Fill the layer with 50% grey and change its blending mode to soft light. Now choose the Burn Tool from tools palette and make these settings: Brush size – 3-6px (just play around with the brush size and hardness while burning), Range – Midtones and Exposure – 20-25%. Then start burning different parts of the hair in order to identify some shadow areas. Repeat the same steps for the higlights using the Dodge Tool with these settings: Brush size – 5-8px, Range – Midtones, Exposure – 6-8%.
Use the image below for reference where to burn and where to dodge:
Now we’re going to add more hair.
First select the ‘hair’ layer and the ‘dodge/burn’ layer and group them together. Duplicate the group and merge the duplicated group. Then turn off visibility of the unmerged group. It’s not a necessary step but I strongly recommend it because if you change your mind in the future you could easily go back and make some adjustments.
When you’ve done with this step duplicate the merged layer and name the copy ‘hair-below’. Move the copy below the ‘model’ layer. Add a layer mask to that layer and paint with black over the unwanted parts of the hair to hide them (to make sure you’re painting on the layer mask and not on the layer itself simply click on the mask to make it active). Then use the Wrap Tool to transform the layer a bit since you don’t want it to be obvious that it’s been copied. Here’s how mine looks:
Apply some dodging/burning to that layer too using the same technique you’ve already used in previous step.
Finally we need to clean up the edges of the painted hair where they meet the model’s skin. Add the layer mask to the ‘hair’ layer and paint with black color over any imperfections to hide them.
Now we need to paint some shadows on model’s shoulders and dress where the hair flows over them.
Create a new blank layer and move it below the ‘hair’ layer. Then grab the Brush tool and choose some soft round brush from the default brushes. The brush size should be around 30px. Set the foreground color to some dark brown (I use #705a4e) and paint some shadows under her hair.
You can see how mine looks on the image below:
Now we’re going to add the rest of the objects of our manipulation. Open the dove stock, extract it from the background and paste it into the main document. Resize and position it to look like on the image below:
Add a Curves adjustment layer as a clipping mask and use these settings:
You can see how my manipulation looks so far on the image below:
Open the heart stock and paste it into the main document. Then resize and position it as on the image below:
I’ve also smudged the colors a bit using the Smudge Tool with strength set to 20%.
Now lets reduce the saturation of the heart and lighten it up a bit.
Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer as a clipping mask and apply these settings:
Then add a Levels adjustment layer again as a clipping mask and apply these settings:
You will have the following effect after applying the adjustment layers:
In the next step we’re going to create the string, which hangs the heart.
Select the Pen Tool from the tools panel and draw a path as shown below:
Select the Brush Tool and set the brush size to 2px and hardness to 100%. Switch back to pen tool and stroke the path with color #eaeaea. Add a layer mask to that layer. Zoom in really close and using a hard round brush and black color carefully paint over the part of the string that is inside the dove’s beak and should not be visible.
Apply the following layer style to the ‘string’ layer:
After applying the layer style your photomanipulation will look like the one below:
Now it’s time to add the light source. I’m doing it now and not at the beginning of the tutorial because I wanted to have all the objects of the photomanipulation on their place and then to decide where I want the light source to be.
I think that the best place for the light source is slightly above the center of the image, between the model’s hand and the heart because it will draw the viewer’s attention to this particular part and that is exactly what I want.
But first we need to lighten up the center part slightly. Add a new blank layer below the ‘model’ and ‘hair below’ layers. Now grab the Brush Tool and paint something similar to the shown below using round soft brush and color #f6f6f6.
I highlighted with red the parts where you should paint:
Add a layer mask and mask off some parts of the lighter spots that you’ve just painted. Reduce the layers opacity to around 20% and you will have something like the one below:
Load the light beam brushes into Photoshop and choose ‘burst5’. Then click once to stamp the light beams. Look at the image below for reference where the light beams should be:
Select some round soft brush from the default Ps brushes and paint the sun using some light color (I use #fefefe). Reduce the layer’s opacity to 80%. Here is my result:
Change the foreground color to #606060 and paint with a big, soft brush some dark spots along the edges of the image. Reduce the opacity to 23%.
Now it’s time for some dodging and burning. Create a new blank layer on top of all other layers and name it ‘dodge/burn’. Fill that layer with 50% grey and change its blend mode from normal to soft light. Set the range to ‘midtones’ for both tools and exposure to around 20-25%. You can see how the layer looks in normal and in soft light modes:
Then create a new layer above this one and again fill it with 50% grey and change the blend mode to soft light. Use this layer to dodge even more the areas where the light hits directly the model..
Create a new layer on top of all other layers. Grab the Brush Tool and set the foreground color to #fdfdfd. Now paint some rough lines along the model’s body using small, soft brush. Use the Smudge Tool to shape them to fit the model’s body.
Add a new layer called ‘clouds filter’. Press ‘D’ on your keyboard to reset foreground and background colors to black and white. Run the Clouds filter by going to Filter > Render > Clouds. Change the blend mode to Screen and reduce the opacity to 25%. Then add a layer mask and paint with black over the model to mask her off.
Press Cmd + Opt + Shift + E (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E on PC) on your keyboard to copy all visible layers. Now convert the newly created layer into smart object (right-click and choose ‘convert to smart object’ from the drop-down menu). Go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the radius to 3.3px.
We sharpened the image but the model’s hair doesn’t look good so we need to reduce the effect. Click on the filters mask to make it active and paint over the hair with black color using a soft brush with hardness set to 50%.
Stamp all the visible layers once again and convert the newly created layer into smart object. Go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects and use the following settings:
Open the blending options dialog box, change the blend mode to linear light and reduce the opacity to 24%:
Now go to Filter > Lens Correction and use these settings:
Here’s how the image looks so far:
Add a Vibrance adjustment layer (not as a clipping mask) with these settings:
Then add a Curves Adjustment layer with the following settings:
Click on the layer mask to make it active and paint with black over the model to mask her off.
Finally add a Photo Filter adjustment layer with these settings:
And we’re done! Hope you enjoyed the tutorial. Here’s the final result: