This tutorial will teach you how to merge some simple photos and turn it into a fantastic photo manipulation with interesting effects and exciting lighting! In this tutorial, I will show you the basic techniques of retouching and creating a cyborg, work with color, blend modes, and much more. You will find a lot of interesting techniques and creative solutions.
We start by creating a background and work on the model. I’ll show you the basic techniques of retouching. The next steps will be to work on the central sphere and details. I conclude tutorial interesting techniques and color effects. I have used Photoshop version CC 2014 to create this work but you can use any version from CS onwards will be fine as well.
- Model – almudena-stock
- Metal Squiddy Spread – Della-Stock
- Cables texture – ribot02
- Underwater Bubble Brushes – MorganBW
- Z-DESIGN Tech Brush Set v6 – z-design
- Hexagons textures – MariaSemelevich
Open Photoshop and Let’s start by creating a new document. Do to File > New or use hot keys Cmd/Ctrl + N with 3300 pixels wide and 1800 pixels height, resolution 300 Pixels/Inch.
First I made the basic background to see the volume and choose a suitable color. It is important not to work on a pure white or black, when you are dealing with a painting or fine detail. Create a new layer (Layer > New > New or Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) and take a Gradient Tool (G). Set Gradient Style: Radial and go to Gradient Editor and make gradient #ffffff – #3a82a9 – #041d30. Move gradient midpoints (two small dots between bottom sliders) both slightly to the left to make more hard color transitions.
Now draw a gradient like shown in the image below. Start with the middle of the document and move horizontally down. To do that accurately and precisely aligned, hold Shift on keyboard.
Now in a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) draw another one radial gradient with same settings, that the light-blue part be a little beyond the boundaries of the working area. This time, draw a gradient from the center to any corner of the working field. Set Layer Opacity around 25%.
Add another one gradient on a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N). With it we darken the bottom part of the image. Set Background color – black (D to restore the default colors and X to switch them) and Foreground color – #015890, set gradient style: Linear. Draw from the top to the bottom edge of the document with holding Shift. Decrease layer opacity to 15%.
On a new layer, darken the left, right and bottom edges of the image using gradient preset “Foreground to Transparent” with black foreground color, as in image below. Decrease layer opacity to 90%.
Add to the bottom of the image a little green color. Everything remains the same, just use foreground color – #b3ed87. Draw a gradient from the bottom up to a little less than the middle of the image. Change Blending Mode to “Overlay”. I highly recommend you hide layers with a background in one group that in future they do not interfere you (select layer and click on folder icon on Layer panel or Cmd/Ctrl + G).
And now proceed to a very interesting part. I’ll introduce you to the basics of retouching. First, add a model into working document. Do to File > Place and select image “Days_go_by_III_by_almudena_stock”. Use the Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform) to resize and rotate model like shown in the image below.
Use Pen Tool (P) to circle the model and then get a round selection. Using other tools in this case, may damage model. That the curve is not bent after the previous bend, hold Opt/Alt and click on active anchor point. When you create model path, make from it selection by clicking button “Make Selection” on the Properties pane. Set Feather Radius: 0px. When you make selection need to remove the background from hair. For this we use option “Refine Edge” (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + R or go to Select > Refine Edge).
In Refine Edge set View “On White” and Shift Edge: -40%. I not changed the contour, your job is to just take the brush out of the window and carefully paint the model’s hair to remove the remains of the background. Click OK to apply the settings. Add a layer Mask for this layer to remove background (use “Add Layer Mask” button in the layers panel or Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection).
And now proceed to retouch. First, make a copy (Cmd/Ctrl + J or Layer > Duplicate layer…) of the model layer (just in case you do not get the next steps. Delete it if not use) and rasterize it (right click on layer > Rasterize Layer).
Use Clone Stamp Tool (S) (Size: 25px, Opacity: 40%, Hardness: 0%, Sample: Current layer) to clear skin blemishes (some of them are shown in image below). When you finish, duplicate this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J or Layer > Duplicate layer…) and apply a layer mask (right click on mask > Apply Layer Mask). Over the next paragraph, I strongly advise you not to move all of the following layers. Otherwise you will have to start all over again.
For duplicated layer add a layer mask (“Add Layer Mask” button in the layers panel or Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All…). Select layer mask, take a Brush Tool (B) (Size: 20-30px, Opacity: 100%, Hardness: 0%) and paint all the dark areas. In “dark areas” I mean much hard shadows (but I do not advise you to remove them in this case) on body of the model, as well eyes, eyebrows, hair, and etc. So you do not interfere with the lower layers temporarily close them by clicking on the eye icon next to the layer.
Add some filters to smooth the skin and make it beautiful and young. Go to Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches. Set Radius: 15px and Threshold: 0. And one more such action filter “Gaussian Blur” (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur). In window that appear, set Radius: 15px.
Everything seems quite blurred, but decrease a layer Opacity to 70% and clip this to lower layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G or right click on layer > Create Clipping Mask) and again add a layer mask and remove excessive blurring in desired locations, by using Brush Tool (B) (Size: 70px, Opacity: 30%, Soft Round brush). It is important to find the right balance and soften the skin physiological relief, ie, forcing less at edges and detail (bones relief) to keep them a little sharp. Duplicate this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J).
Now I use a filter “Plastic Wrap” to create the effect of an artificial material (plastic) on the skin. Go to Filter > Filter Gallery (Artistic) > Plastic Wrap. Set there settings: Highlight Strength: 10 / (Intensity: 10), Detail: 10, Smoothing: 15 and press OK. Try to change filter settings to get more interesting results. Set layer Opacity 50% and clip it to previous layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G). This filter is not completely converted into the plastic skin, and gives only a small glow, which makes a more realistic model.
Add a layer mask and use Brush Tool (B) with black color to remove effect from unwanted parts.
Duplicate layer with “Plastic Wrap” filter (Cmd/Ctrl + J), clip it and change Opacity to 15%, Blending Mode to “Color Burn”. This layer bit returns the natural color of the skin and remove excess white tone after the filter is applied. Now you can merge all layers with the model into one (Cmd/Ctrl + E) or in a group (Cmd/Ctrl + G). Working with model retouch is finished.
Let’s proceed to the more tedious and important part. The next couple of hours you spend for one occupation – the creation of robot parts. In principle, it is very easy! Create a new group (Layer > New > Group or use icon on Layer panel) above model layer (you will have a lot of layers) and then follow the procedure. Create some support and large ellipses. I use Ellipse Tool (U) with black fill (or use hard brush with large size). This will be our main parts.
Set hard brush with Size: 3px, Opacity: 100% and black color, take a Pen Tool (P) and draw path where you need it, do right click – Stroke Path – Brush and do not forget to remove the path – Del on keyboard or right click – Delete Path. Also is welcome the independent use Brush Tool (B). A little advice, you will be much easier and faster to do this if you start with central lines. So you quickly realize that you want to draw. The most important rule in this activity is to create a new layer for every one stroke.
If you need to fix a point in the path, use Direct Selection Tool (A) to quickly switch to this tool, hold Cmd/Ctrl. Keep up the good work and you will get a good result! The main thing do not doubts. This is my result. When you’re sure to accurately drawn and satisfied, then Merge all detail layers into one (Cmd/Ctrl + E or Layer > Merge Layers).
Now make there lines are real. To the layer with mechanical parts add style “Bevel & Emboss”, double click on Layer or go to Layer > Layer Style > “Bevel & Emboss”. In the window that appears set settings like shown in the image below. As you can see there was the effect of the internal circuit, which makes parts a realistic, but still not enough.
Also, if the effect will be in unwanted places, simply convert layer into Smart Object (Right click on layer > Convert to Smart Object), add a layer mask and remove unwanted effect. Clip this layer on model layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G) to hide the sticking out part of the circles.
Duplicate the model layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and place it above the layer with Curves, hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on curves thumbnail to select them. Go to top model layer and delete (Del on keyboard or Edit > Clear) selection. To Deselect use Cmd/Ctrl + D or Select > Deselect. Add a “Bevel & Emboss” style. Set the settings, as shown in image below. Clip this layer to previous.
Now I added a texture to fill the space inside the model. Do to File > Place and add image “cables_01_by_ribot02-d55feku”. Move this layer between two layers with cyborg effects. Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on curves thumbnail and add a layer mask to remove all texture except on curves. Be sure to clip this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G). Use Soft Round brush with Size: 35px to remove on a layer mask a part of texture from edges of big circles.
Now create a big bubble, where we will place our model. There is nothing to search and download, I’ll show you how to do it yourself. First, we need a new document (Cmd/Ctrl + N or File > New) 600 pixels wide and 600 pixels height, resolution 300 Pixels/Inch, Background color: Other (black). Merge all model layers into one (Cmd/Ctrl + E).
Go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare… Set Lens Type: 105mm Prime, Brightness: 100%. Position highlight in box so that its edges have been cut off, and all parts of flare not be the light source and click OK.
Go to Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates… Set “Polar to Rectangular” and OK. Rotate image on 180 degrees (Image > Image Rotation > 180 degrees).
Again add a filter “Polar Coordinates” but in this time set “Rectangular to Polar” and your bubble done! It remains only to cut it. Use Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) and hold Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt to create proportional circle from the center of the image. Be careful and attentive. Make sure that you have circled the entire bubble and it did not get excess. To make it easier to use – right click > Transform Selection. Take Move Tool (V) and move bubble into document with photo manipulation.
Now continue in the working document. Change Blending Mode to “Screen”. Place layer with bubble above model’s layer and resize it with Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform) slightly larger than model.
Add some texture on bubble. Load in Photoshop “Hexagons textures” brushes and on a new layer with Brush Tool (B) (Size: 300 – 500px, Opacity: 70-100%) draw texture which you like (I use “Sampled Brush …â€ 16 and 17). Use white color and clip layer with texture on bubble (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G).
Now, create a volume for the texture, because the flat it cannot be. Hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on bubble thumbnail and return to the texture layer. Go to Filter > Distort > Spherize… and set Amount: 100%. Here is the volume that makes realistic bubble.
So, part of the central sphere is ready, but now I am focusing on the creation of small spheres with cyborgs to revitalize a little picture and vary background. I will be able to create a more harmonious other elements (wires from the central sphere, bubbles, etc.). First group all the layers of the central sphere (Cmd/Ctrl + G) and duplicate it (Cmd/Ctrl + J). Duplicated group merge in a single layer (Cmd/Ctrl + E).
Use Move Tool (V) + Opt/Alt to make more copies of sphere. You need a depth of field, so first start filling picture with several larger spheres. Use Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform) to change the size and rotate sphere. Rotate the sphere considering that bright flare should be towards the central sphere. Do not worry that the spheres have become dark, just change the Blending Mode to “Screen”. When place spheres in the right places, merge these layers into one by converted layer into Smart Object (right click on layer > Convert to Smart Object).
Duplicate resulting layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and reduce it to get small spheres. Repeat the technique in the previous paragraph, only taking into account that you have a lot of spheres and that they need not much overlapped one upon the other.
You have two layers – with large and small spheres. Make sure that the layer with small spheres was under a layer with big spheres and convert both layers into Smart Object. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur… Make Radius: 10px. On filter mask remove part of blur to create depth of field. Use Brush Tool (B) with settings – Form: Soft Round brush, Size: 200px, Opacity: 30%.
So we added some detail to the background, and it’s time to add a little color. All of the following actions in this step will be on a new layer, so do not forget about it. Return to group “Background” and with large soft round brush (Size: 600px, Opacity: 30%, Color: #00aeef), made some great spots in the middle of the image. Set layer Opacity: 50%. Create two large spots on the sides of the image, using the color #406618, brush Size: 1300px.
Use brush with: Size: 2000, Opacity: 100%, Color: #fff200 and make lights in the middle of the bottom of the image. Layer Blending Mode “Difference” and Opacity: 70%. On the second layer use a same color but with smaller brush size: 1200px. Layer Blending Mode “Overlay” and Opacity: 32%.
Add the main source of light. Brush Size: 1500, Opacity: 100%, Color: white. Draw a light slightly above the central sphere. Layer Opacity: 40%. Select central sphere (hold Cmd/Ctrl and click on sphere thumbnail) and create a spot in in the lower part of the sphere. Use color – #fff468 and decrease layer opacity to 15%.
In this step work with background complete and we do not get back to that. This is my result. Tints may be different. You can add purple or cool blue tint. All on your taste! I made such a structure layers, because later, when I add color effects, colors mix and give a very beautiful shades.
Let’s go back to our model and add some effects on the sphere and create a sinister wire :). First, add a bit of texture to a spheres with cyborgs. Load in Photoshop “Z-DESIGN Tech Brush Set v6”. It is entirely your choice, what brushes to use (I use them all). Select sphere (Cmd/Ctrl + click on layer thumbnail) and create a new layer (as clipping mask). Draw a hologram on sphere, using white color. Try not to place circles clearly at the center of the sphere. Arrange them on the edges and you will get a much better result.
Squeeze circles by using a filter “Spherize” (Filter > Distort > Spherize…). Set Amount: 100% and OK. I’m a little decrease layer opacity to 60%. To deselect use Cmd/Ctrl + D or Select > Deselect. So you got a nice futuristic texture on the sphere. To make a hologram more natural, add style “Outer Glow” (double-click on layer) and set the settings like shown in image below.
Now repeat the same with the rest of the small spheres. To the hologram on small spheres cannot add style. Also reduce the impact on the spheres by decrease layer opacity to 85% and use a layer mask to decrease the effect on the bright areas. Also I grouped layers with the spheres in one group “Other androids”.
I decided to add the final piece to the central sphere. I wanted to create the effect of an update sphere. For this I use a brush “Sampled Brush 27” (Size: 150 – 30px, Opacity: 50%) with a bit specific settings. Go to Brush control tab (F5) and set – Spacing: 70% to turn down the density of the brush. There, in tab “Shape Dynamics” set Size Jitter: 100% and Angle Jitter: 40% (to each new piece had a different size and angle).
Now, on a new layer draw falling particles on both sides of the central sphere. Change the size to brush to get volumetric of the particle. Use a layer mask to remove duplicated fragments and make the particle density is less. Make double-click on layer and add a style “Outer Glow” with the settings, like in image below.
Time for wires! Open image “Metal_Squiddy_Spread_by_Della_Stock” (Cmd/Ctrl + O). Use Magic Wand Tool (W) with Shift key to select background. Inverse selection by using Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I or Select > Inverse. Hold Cmd/Ctrl (Move Tool (V)) and move wires into working document.
Convert wires in Smart Object (right-click > Convert to Smart Object) so you do not lose image quality. Use Warp Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T, right click > Warp) and squeeze wires and stretch by vertical to get it long and proportional to picture (in this mode, you can move over the grid and edges). Now, keep up the good work and use different parts of the wires to connect the model to the system :). If you need again to change the shape of the wire, simply convert layer to Smart Object. Use a layer mask to remove wires beyond the model.
Once all the wires in place, I combined all layers into one by convert it to Smart Object. To give final shape to the wires, I used Puppet Warp (Edit > Puppet Warp) with it I did a curved wire and more natural view. Put point for each wire and drag to the desired position, press Enter when you finish.
We embed the wires under the water, to make it look realistic. To do this, create a new layer and clip to wires layer. Take a Brush Tool (B) with Size 1100px, Opacity: 100% and color: #0e4368. Draw a spot on the upper wires, but make sure that color did not reach to the sphere. Do not do this for the lower wires. I will add other effects to them.
You already having the knowledge and experience to do the same wires for small spheres. The principle remains the same. You can use the existing wires from your work, but you need to remove unnecessary parts. In this time wire’s toning is a little different. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color… In window that appear, set Blending Mode “Color Dodge” and in next window set color # a6c8df. Make this layer as clipping mask to small spheres. Also, add some blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) to create depth of field on wires layer. Blur Radius: 5.0px.
Let us return to the central sphere and create a point of entry wires into the sphere. Go to bubble layer and take Smudge Tool (Yup! Unexpectedly, this turn of events :)). Gently pull on the edges of the bubble to the wires. Do not make the connection too big or long. Pick the size of the brush to the thickness of the wires and use hard brush. To quickly increase or decrease the brush size press “]” or “[” respectively.
Basis is fully ready and now you can add bubbles. In the next step, I will show how to do it, but for now take a look at my result.
First load "Underwater Bubble Brushes” in Photoshop. Be sure to add style in Photoshop as written in the instruction to brushes. Create a new group "Bubbles” above all others and add style on it from brush pack. Then everything is simple – create new layer for every type of bubbles – use Brush Tool (B) with white color and different size. First, create a base with a brush "Thin Light shaft (Angled Spray-on)” and change brush angle to 0 degrees (to obtain the vertical direction). Spread the texture throughout and accent it in some places.
Create a first layer of a medium-sized bubbles over the entire area of the working field. Brush "Underwater Bubble (scatter)” and "Flat Underwater Bubble (scatter)”, Size: 70 – 150px, Opacity: 50%, color: white. Not just scatter them throughout. Try to make a variety of textures – bubbles congestion or lack thereof. Add filter "Gaussian Blur” (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur), set Radius: 2.0px. I have converted each layer with the bubbles in Smart Object but you don’t need do this.
Make small bubbles near the spheres to create depth (Size: 35px, Opacity: 50 %). Apply to this layer filter "Gaussian Blur” with Radius: 5.0px. And add the last bubbles, large size on whole working area (Size: 900px, Opacity: 100%). Be careful and cautious with their location. If you want to undo your last action, use Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Z or Edit > Undo. Add filter "Gaussian Blur” with Radius: 13.0px.
All done with bubbles and we come to a very interesting part – creating color effects and color correction. At first I did lighting and darken the background to make the image clearer and deeper. Create a new nondestructive layer by using Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N or go to Layer > New > Layer. In the dialog box, specify the following settings for the layer: Mode: Overlay, set checkbox on "Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray)”. Use the Burn Tool (O) for create shadow and Dodge Tool (O) to create a light, as shown in image below. The beauty of this layer is that you can create the perfect lighting, without fear of damaging the image.
Set Brush Tool (B) (Size: 1400px, Opacity: 100%, Hardness: 0%, Color: #fff200) and draw three large spots on a new layer: great in the middle, a little less in left side and only hand edge on right. Decrease layer Opacity to 67% Return to Gradient Tool (G). Set form: Linear gradient, preset "Foreground to Transparent” and color #00aeef (on a new layer). Draw a gradient from the bottom border of the document and up to 1/3 of the central sphere. Change layer Blending Mode to "Subtract”.
Now I proceed to Adjustment layers. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves… Set the coordinates for each point and channel, as shown in image below. I do this layer darker the entire image (dark colors), as well as blue and green colors. So I can enhance color effect and create contrast.
Next adjustment layer is "Brightness/Contrast” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast…). Set Brightness: 1, Contrast: 10. With this layer all understanding :) I wanted to make a very saturated colors to emphasize the atmosphere of mystery and a little scare the viewer.
Last adjustment layer is "Selective Color” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color…). Use image below to set the settings for Reds, Yellows, Cyan, Blue and Neutrals tones. Here I have selectively concentrated in the tone I needed a certain range. But most importantly, I would like enhance red color. That’s it! The picture is ready.
Now a little bonus. I have not used it in the original work, but I think it would be interesting to add glass to the image. This step is optional, so all up to you. So create a new layer and using a Rectangular Marque Tool (M), circle middle of the image to be made small frame. Go to Select > Modify > Feather… (Shift + F6). Set Feather Radius: 60px.
Inverse selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I). Create a new layer and press Q on keyboard to go to Quick Mask mode and add filter "Color Halftone” (Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone…). Set settings like shown in image below (You can experiment with the values to achieve interesting results).
Again Inverse selection and fill it with black color (Cmd/Ctrl + Del). That’s it!
That’s all, tutorial is over. I hope you liked it and you will find a lot of interesting and useful for your creativity! Experiment and create! Thank you very much for your attention and good luck!
Tutorial by Maria Semelevich.
Thank you very much for taking the time to study this tutorial! I hope you benefited it! I wish all lucked in your future achievements! I thank the authors of resources for their excellent work and good quality! Thank you very much! If you have questions or need help, please contact me. I look forward to your feedback and creative works! You can contact me by e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook Deviantart Behance. I am open to suggestions and cooperation! With best wishes!
– Maria Semelevich.