In this Photoshop tutorial we will compose a fantasy scene depicting a fire horse chasing an ice horse on a volcanic field. We will learn to use a small number of elements in various circumstances to achieve different effects.
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Open file “Horses at play 2″. Using the pen tool select the 2 horses. Don’t worry too much about the hair as we will resolve this issue later.
With the path still active pres ctrl+Enter to transform path into a selection. Press ctrl+J to copy selection into a new layer and turn off the visibility of the Background layer. Name the new layer horses.
Go to File > Place and select “Stars Background”. Resize it like in the image bellow and press Enter. Move this layer below our horses layer.
Now we will refine our horses selection by creating some hair. First press ctrl on the horses layer to select it’s opaque pixels. Press ctrl+alt+R to open refine selection window. Use settings like shown below.
If the horses are still selected press ctrl+D to deselect them. Turn on the visibility of the Horses layer and add a layer mask. Choose a brush with the following settings:
Size: 100 px
Select black as foreground color and brush gently in the areas shown below. Make sure you are brushing in the layer mask and not in the layer itself.
Select layer Horses and layer Horses copy by holding ctrl and clicking on them. Pres ctrl+E to merge them together. Name the new layer Horses.
Now comes the tedious part. We will recreate the horses hair by using the smudge tool. Select the smudge tool and use a fairly small 3 px size to drag hairs following the natural way the hair falls. Use smaller and larger brush sizes, but don’t go beyond 8 px. Try to imagine the way hair is blown by the wind. This task took me about 40 minutes to accomplish so take your time. Now it is also a good time to tone down the highlights from the horses skin and to reduce the harsh transitions between highlights and shadows. For this task I used the Clone Stamp tool set at 10% opacity and sampled from the darker skin.
Congratulations for coming up this far. The most difficult part of this tutorial is done. Press ctrl on your horse layer to select opaque pixels. Press M to select marquee tool. Hold alt + shift and draw a selection big enough to encompass our left horse without selecting the right one. Now we have just our left horse selected so press ctrl+J to move him on a new layer. Repeat this step with the right horse. You shold have 2 distinct layers, each layer containing a horse. Name the layers Left Horse and Right Horse.
Now we will make our fire horse. We will add some adjustment layers to give the impression of hot fire burning inside our horse. Add a clipped color balance adjustment layers and use the settings below. Set it’s mode to overlay. Press ctrl+J to make a duplicate of the color balance layer and make sure it’s clipping Left Horse layer. Change it’s blend mode to Multiply and lower opacity to 35 %. Add a clipped gradient map layer and choose black to white preset. Change the blending mode to luminosity and lower the opacity to 50%.