Learn how to composite this nighttime artwork and retouch skin with a smooth painting-like effect! This tutorial will show you how to composite this image with various stock photos, soften skin, and apply special lighting and color effects.
Preview of Final Results
Download the PSD
Moonlight Serenade.zip | 51.08 MB
Download from Website
Emotional Photo manipulation Tutorial
- Background – Darkdevil16
- Sky – Joannastar-stock
- Lady – Mariaamanda
- Stars (Image 5) – Cgtextures
- Moon – Ischarm-stock
- Hair Brush – Adonihs
Step 1 – Background
Open the Background image.
Open the Sky image and put it in a new layer above the Background layer. Transform it (CTRL+T) to fit the background and flip vertical. Set this layer to Soft light.
Add a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer and set the Brightness to -45.
Step 2 – Lady
Open the Lady image and make a selection of the subject. (I did it with Quick selection tool).
CTRL+J to extract her on a new layer. Delete the original image. As you can see the edges are not perfect. But don’t worry, in next step we’ll fix it!
Let’s take the Smudge Tool to fix the borders. In this case I used these settings: Strength 40% and Brush 55px (Soft round). Just pass the smudge over the borders to stretch them and remove the imperfections. Then delete the unwanted parts you don’t want. Here’s what we have so far. (It doesn’t have to be perfect for the moment, especially hair).
Now put the lady in a new layer above everything. (CTRL+T) Scale her and flip her horizontally (because it fits better the light source). Move her to the left part of the background. This is what we have.
We need now to cut the right part of the background. So.. let’s crop!
Step 3 – Skin
I will show you how I smudge the skin. If you are not familiar with the smudge tool it could be difficult, but still you can try to achieve a good result and to practice this technique. Anyway if you don’t like smudged skin you can leave it alone and proceed with next steps. As you can see below the difficulty is to smudge the hair on her face.
First thing to do is making a copy of the layer containing the lady so that if something goes wrong you can return to the original one. From now you will work on this layer. Select the Smudge tool. Settings vary all the time. They depend on how much the image is big and on how much you want a smudged soft skin. In this case I used a soft round brush 28px with strength between 15% and 20%. With this brush start to smudge the skin as if you are doing little circles (see image below).
TIPS: The bigger is the area to smudge (example the cheeks or the forehead) the bigger will be the brush you’ll have to use. If you have to smudge difficult areas (for example the hair on the face) just use more strength. Anyway test it every time, because it’s not always the same.
This is so far what I have after the smudging action. We have to fix the mouth and the eyes because there is some hair. (Indeed I am used to use the smudge tool also on the mouth and the eyes anyway because it gives more a painted effect).
To smudge the mouth just do it following the direction of details otherwise it would be messed up. Below I show you how. (it’s probable you have to give more strength to the brush).
This is the result.. And hair has gone away!
You have to do the same thing with eyes. Follow the direction of details. For the eyes I used a strength set to 28%
As you can see below there are some parts that are difficult to smudge because of different colors. I suggest you to airbrush over them picking the same color of closer areas (the dark makeup in this case). After that you can normally smudge.
Once that her right eye is done you’ll do the same for her left eye. Airbrush the hard parts with same color and then smudge them!
Now both eyes are done. Give more strength to the smudge tool (I used 60%) and do the make up stretching it.
This is so far what we have right now.
Keep smudging the rest of the skin. I used Strength 10%-15% for the arms and the fingers.
Step 4 – Hair
If you are happy with the smudged skin delete the layer containing the lady with the original skin and duplicate the on you were working on. Now work on the duplicated one. Load the Hair brush. Select once again the Smudge tool and choose the 200px brush. I set 40px and Strength 95%. Start from top of the hair and go down smudging out to create some strands (from inside to outside).
Once you have smudged out the borders low the strength of the brush at 86% and paint the hair following its direction, like you are combing it. Brush size varies. It depends on how much is big the part to smudge. When you’re done delete the high part of hair.
This is so far the result after smudging skin and hair.
Step 5 – Adjusting Colors
Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer (only for the lady):
Red (Saturation -45) Yellow (Saturation -28)
Add a Color Balance Adjustment Layer (only for the lady):
Shadows: -20 +4 -8
Midtones: -12 +13 +9
Highlights: -19 +2 0
Add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer (only for the lady) (Set to Overlay – Opacity 80% – Fill 80%)
And you’ll have this:
Add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer (for the whole manipulation, above everything) (Soft Light – Opacity and Fill 50%)
and you’ll have
Step 6 – Light behind the lady
To fit the lady inside our work let’s add some light behind her. Create a layer under the lady. Take a soft white brush and paint close the her edges.
Apply Gaussian Blur (I used 100px). This is the result.
Step 7 – Stars
Create a layer below the one you just made for the light behind the lady. Put here the Stars (Fireworks) stock. Now press CTRL+T to scale the image, rotate it (90 CW) and flip it horizontally.
Set the layer to Screen – Opacity and Fill 80%. If you look you will see that the edge of the image is visible. Select the Eraser Tool and choose a soft brush to delete this line (I chose 150px with Opacity 40%)
Add a Curves Adjustments Layer above the Stars. Put ‘Increase Contrast’ from the presets and set the layer to Luminosity. Then add a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer with Brightness -10 above everything.
This is what we have right now.
Step 8 – Moon
Create a layer below the Lady. Load the Moon brushes and paint with white color the moon (I deleted the left part of the moon because I didn’t like it).
Step 9 – Desaturation
Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and set Saturation at -15.
Step 10 – Lights
We need to add some light now and we are going to do it with two layers. Let’s start with moonlight. Paint some rays of light from the moon to the lady with a hard round brush using a light color (not pure white). Apply Gaussian Blur (65px) and set the layer to Soft Light – Opacity and Fill 80%
Create an other layer and set it Soft Light (Opacity and Fill 70%). Pick the color #96dce0 and paint some lights at the bottom of the manipulation. (Below you can see where exactly). This time you have to use a soft brush since we’re not going to add any blur.
This is the result so far.
Step 11 – Contrast
Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and select the ‘Linear Contrast’ from the presets.
Step 12 – Dodge & Burn
We are going to work on lights and shadows with Dodge Tool and Burn Tool.
Create a new layer and set it to Overlay. Go to Edit > Fill > 50% Gray.
Take the Dodge Tool and give life to lights. Look at the image below. I used Midtones as Range (Exposure 10%/15%) for the areas with soft white. I used Highlights Range where white is more vivid.
Take the Burn Tool (Midtones as Range – Exposure 10%/20%) and paint shadows where you see dark strokes in the image below.
Step 13 – Final Adjustments
If we are happy with the result (I only added some hair) we are going to merge layers to apply some filters. (Press Shift+CTRL+ALT+E)
Go to Filters > Lens Correction. A window will pop up. In the Custom menu set the amount of Vignette at -20.
Duplicate this layer. Go to Filter > Other > High pass I use this filter to sharpen details (Generally between 1px and 3px). When you’re done set the layer to Overlay.
Create a new layer. With a soft white brush paint the two dots in her eyes.
Download the PSD
Moonlight Serenade.zip | 51.08 MB
Download from Website