In this tutorial you’ll learn how to add interesting light to your photo manipulations. Different ways of blending challenges objects such as semi transparent fabric will be explained. Let’s get started!
Preview of Final Results
- Library by Cats-go-moo-always
- Woman, hair and dress
- Mist Brushes by pelleron
- Sun Rays Brushes by pelleron
- Dust Texture by boxx2genetica
- Light Texture by stock-basicality
Step 1 – Preparing Background
Let’s start with creating new document in Photoshop. Go to File > New… Set its Width on 600px, Height on 900px and Resolution on 72Pixels/Inch. Press OK.
Grab the Paint Bucket Tool (G) and fill the background layer with dark blue color. I used #2b2b32.
Step 2 – Placing the Library
Download the stock photo of the library listed in the beginning of the tutorial and drag it into your photo manipulation. Place it on the top of all layers and name it LIBRARY.Press Ctrl + T to activate the Free Transform tool and change the photo on size of the document. Hold Shift while doing it to remain constant proportions. Press Enter on your keyboard after you’re done to apply the changes.
Step 3 – Lowering Saturation
Add new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation on the top of all layers and set the value Saturation on -40. To affect only LIBRARY and not the rest of the image create clipping mask from this adjustment layer by clicking on the square icon on the bottom part of the Hue/Saturation palette (see below).
Let’s take a look at the layer order so far.
Step 4 – Adding Floor
In following steps you’ll add photo of the woman to the bottom left corner. Because of that you don’t need to have floor placed there. But there would be some empty space in the bottom right corner. You’ll get rid of it in this step.Click on the layer LIBRARY. Grab the Lasso Tool (L) and select the floor (see picture below).
Press Ctrl+J to copy and paste the selection. Place this new layer on the top of all layers and name it FLOOR. Activate the Move Tool (V) and move it at the same place as on the following picture.
Step 5 – Saturation of the Floor
You need to lower the saturation of the floor same as you did it with the LIBRARY. Add new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation on the top of all layers and set the value Saturation on -40. Create clipping mask from this layer to affect only one layer below (= FLOOR).After you’re done your photo manipulation should look like the one shown below.
Step 6 – Darkening the Room
To make the whole room bit more mystical you’ll make it darker in this step. Add new adjustment layer Curves on the top of all layers and set it as shown below.
Step 7 – Adding Woman
Download stock photo of a woman listed in the beginning of this tutorial and drag it into your photo manipulation. Place it on the top of all layers and name it WOMAN.Press Ctrl+T to activate the Free Transform tool and resize the photo on proper size. Hold Shift again while doing it to remain constant proportions of the image.
Step 8 – Blending the Woman
You need to blend the woman better with the rest of the image. You’ll take care of some blending in this step.Add new layer mask to the layer WOMAN. Grab the Brush Tool (B). Set the Hardness of the brush on 50% and the Opacity on 100%. Pick black color and start painting over the grey background to make it disappear. (Be sure the layer mask is active by clicking on it.)You should get something similar to the picture below. You don’t need to be very precise around woman’s hair. It will be covered with another hair in following steps.
Step 9 – Adding Skirt
Download photo of the skirt listed in the beginning of the tutorial and drag it into your photo manipulation. Place it on the top of all layers and name it SKIRT. Luckily this photo has already the background cut out so you don’t need to worry about it.Press Ctrl+T on you keyboard to activate the Free Transform Tool and rotate the skirt the same direction as shown on the following image.
Step 10 – Creating the Bun
In this step you’ll build the bun. Download set of hair photos listed in the beginning of this tutorial. Follow the diagram below to place each of the numbered photos to create big surreal bun. You’ll blend each part of hair in next step.Place all layers on the top of current layers.
Step 11 – Blending the Bun
Now it’s time to blend each part of hair properly with the rest of the bun. Go layer by layer, add layer mask to each and then with black brush paint over the edges of the hair you want to hide. Use the same setting of the brush as before – set its Hardness on 50% and Opacity on 100%.Take a look at the following image to get the idea of what you should blend.
Step 12 – Blending the Dress
Blending the edges of woman’s dress could be really tricky- It’s semi transparent fabric on quite dark background so you can’t use Levels separation like in most of similar cases. To create really realistic result I have to come up with new, bit unusual technique of blending. Hope it helps you in similar cases of blending as it did me.First you need to hide all layers where woman, dress and her hair are to see only the picture of library.
Press Ctrl+A on your keyboard to select the whole image. Press Ctrl+Shift+C to copy it merged and then Ctrl+V to paste it. Place this new layer on the top of all layers and name it DRESS RETOUCH.Add layer mask to this new layer and fill it with black color to make it invisible.Grab the Brush Tool (B). Set its Hardness on 0% and Opacity on 10%. Pick white color and carefully paint over the semi transparent parts of the dress. See picture below to get the idea where you should paint. These parts are highlighted with red color.
Take your time with blending. Try different size of the brush to get the most realistic result.After this step your photo manipulation should be similar to the one shown below.
Step 13 – Adding Mist
In this step you’ll add some mist behind the woman to create more magical atmosphere.Download the mist brushes listed in the beginning of the tutorial and install them into Photoshop. Add new empty layer under layer WOMAN. Grab the Brush Tool (B), select one of the brushes you’ve just installed, set its Opacity on 30% and pick some light yellow color (for example #e4e1c9). Now paint some very gentle mist.Take a look at the image below to get the idea.
Step 14 – Light Behind the Bun
To separate the bun from the background you make the area bit lighter in this step.Add new adjustment layer Curves under the layer WOMAN and set it as shown below.
Grab the Brush Tool (B), select some soft round brush and set its Opacity on 80%. Pick white color and paint two big white dots on the layer mask of this adjustment layer under the bun. On the following image you can see the result of this step.
Step 15 – Coloring
Add new adjustment layer Gradient Map on the top of all layers and set the gradient as shown below.
To blend this layer properly with the rest of the image change its Blending Mode on Color and lower its Opacity on 20%.
Step 16 – Adding Plasticity
It’s time to add more plasticity to your image. It basically means that you want to make highlights lighter and shadows darker. Add new empty layer on the top of all layers and name it PLASTICITY. Change its Blending Mode from Normal to Soft Light.
Grab the Brush Tool (B), select some soft round brush, pick black color and set the Opacity of the brush on 10%. Paint over the shadows on the picture to make them darker. After you’re done switch to white color and paint over the highlights. To get better idea of where you should paint let’s take a look at the following picture. You should paint with black over the parts highlighted with red color and with white over the blue parts.
On the following image you can compare how the photo manipulation looks before and after this step.
Step 17 – Creating Interesting Light
To make your photo manipulation more interesting you’ll add some light behind the woman in this step.Start by adding new empty layer on the top of all layers and name it LIGHT. Take a look at the following image to see your layer order so far.
Change the Blending mode of the layer LIGHT from Normal to Color Dodge. Grab the Brush Tool (B), select some soft round brush and set its Opacity on about 10%. Pick some orange color ( I used #b68854) and paint around the edges of woman’s hair, face and dress. Paint also around the light source behind the woman. Take your time with painting and build the light effect slowly to get the most realistic result.Take a look at the photo below to see where you should paint. Those parts are highlighted with red color.
Step 18 – Retouching
There are still some parts of the image which should be lighter or darker to create more balanced feel. You’ll fix it in this step.Add new empty layer on the top of all layers and name it RETOUCH. Change its Blending Mode from Normal to Soft Light. Grab the Brush Tool (B). Use the same setting as in the previous step, only switch to black color. Paint over the areas highlighted on the following image. As you can see you should make the bottom part of the image and the bottom right corner bit darker to draw the attention to woman. Also there are some too bright parts in her hair which should be bit darker.
After you’re done pick white color and paint over the highlights in woman’s hair. You’ll make them healthier looking. See the image below for an example.