In this Photoshop tutorial, you will learn how to integrate a model in dark environment and apply abstract lights effects over the scene. Basically we’re going to create some nice sparkly effects and connect them with a certain model, mixing up everything with a nice suitable background.
Preview of Final Results
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Open image of the model. Double-click with left mouse button on it to unlock the Background layer. Duplicate it using Ctrl+J, then hit Ctrl+L (Levels) over the duplicated layer. Set it as shown in the second image below. You can go even little bit further with the darkening.
Now select Brush Tool (B), hit D on keyboard to bring colors to default and set your foreground brush color to black. Make sure all your brush options are set to 100% and then paint in the same layer, over the light spots to fill them up with black.
Now go to Select > Color Range and use the same settings as shown below. Press OK and then go to Layers Palette and turn off the visibility of the duplicated layer. Your screen should now look exactly like the second image below.
Select “model” layer and click on the Layer Mask button. Now you can just delete the “model copy” layer, as we won’t be using it anymore. We needed it only for extraction.
So this was an alternative way for some cutting out, usually people use Channels to do this. But isn’t this fun to learn something different?
Let’s don’t get so excited, as this is only the first stage of the extraction, now we’re going to need to blend this model with a desired background. So create a new layer below the “model”, grab Paint Bucket (G) and fill it with black color. As you see there are still some white edges. The cut out never works perfectly, so you either have to blend it properly or just do some more accurate extraction.
Now let’s go to Layers Palette, right-click on the “model” layer mask and select Apply Layer Mask. Next hold Ctrl and left-click on the “model” layer thumbnail, this should bring up the selection.
Select the “model” layer and hit Ctrl+Alt+R (Refine Edge). Use the same or similar settings as mine. You should see on the live preview on image how it’s working. When your done apply it by hitting OK.
Output will create another layer with the settings below applied, so you can just basically delete or just turn off the previous layer. It’s up to you.
We still have some white edges left, especially over hair and clothes that she holds. Basically, at that point I decided to cut some hair totally and don’t play around with further extraction. We want to create some cool light effects over the model, not to do a full and elegant retouch after all. I’ve indicated spots that you might find useful to get rid of. But before you start some erasing, move onto the next step.
Grab Brush Tool (B), set it all the way to 100%, but decrease the Spacing to 1% and check the Smoothing option. Again use black color for painting and go to Layer Mask of the “model” layer. Now paint over the Layer Mask, in indicated spots, referring to step 8.
You should handle this easily by mouse, 1% spacing let’s you to give a very accurate erasing. When something goes wrong you can always undo the masking by painting with white on mask.
You should achieve similar results to mine if you painted accurately. Now pay attention to the red line surrounding the model. It’s indicating how we’re going to shade her to make her body and clothes blend with the background better. So go to Layers Palette, create new layer above “model” and hit Ctrl+Alt+G, this will create a Clipping Mask (and it should look like you see in the preview below).
Set your brush options as shown below and reduce the Flow option of brush to 5%. Next, pick #572e16 color and paint on the “shading” layer as indicated in previous step. Do it along the suggested red line and trust your own taste of where to add more and where less.
Great! Look at the comparison, the light edges completely disappeared now.
Now go to Layers Palette, make sure you’re on the “shading” layer (the last one created as Clipping Mask). Add Curves adjustment layer on the top, select it and hit Ctrl+Alt+G (Clipping Mask). Then grab Paint Bucket (G), pick black color and fill Curves layer mask with black (1st image below).
Next, as indicated in the second image below, grab soft brush (with the same settings as in step 11). Then use white color and paint over the layer mask as indicated with green color. The basic idea is to enhance the shadows and blend the character more to the background.
The next images show you how your layer mask should look after painting and the result of painting over Curves adjustment layer mask.
Now create another new layer above Curves, use Clipping Mask as previously. Change its Blending Mode to Multiply. Next grab Brush Tool (B) with the same settings as in step 11, and paint using #dac5b5 color in spots indicated below. Do not pay attention on the selection, I just used it to show you where to enhance the shadows, you don’t need to create that.
OK, now same here. Create another new layer above and use Clipping Mask again (Ctrl+Alt+G). Change its Blending Mode to Soft Light this time and pick #f7e1cf for color. Use the same brush settings as previously and paint in spots indicated with green below. The second image below is result of a proper painting.
Next, go to the very bottom of Layers Palette and create new layer above the black background layer. Grab Brush Tool(B) with the same soft settings as previously (step 11). Use #301a10 color and paint a little bit in the center of the image.
Repeat the same process on new layer and this time paint with #774322. Make sure you’re spreading this background light wider.
Repeat the same process again, now with #d8a883 color. You should get something similar to what you can see below. In the second image below is a fast preview of the Layers Palette.
OK, now let’s create some more environment and blend the model more. To do that you’re going to need to adjust your brush settings as you see below. It was the most efficient one for me, play with those settings if you won’t be satisfied with your results.
Moving further, go to the top of Layers Palette and create a new layer above all. I assume you already have your Brush Tool (B) selected, so now just pick #180d07 color and simply use mouse to paint as indicated with red arrows.
Create new layer above, change it’s Blending Mode to Multiply and repeat step 20. Paint over the same spots and make the blending/shading even stronger.
Again go above all the layers in Layer Palette and create new adjustment layer – Gradient Map, on the very top. Choose one of the original presets – Violet, Orange and lower its Opacity to around 35%.
Next, create another Gradient Map above, change the gradient as shown below and this time set its Blending Mode to Soft Light and lower its Opacity to around 40-50%.
Now, switch back to the previous brush settings from step 11. Grab Brush Tool(B). Pick white color. Then create new layer above all layers, change it’s Blending Mode to Soft Light and softly enhance her body and clothing as shown below (green light indicates where to paint). This should help her stand out more from the dark environment.
Open the image of red chiffon and place it above all layers. By the way you can rotate it (Ctrl+T) to create a good flow position.
Next, change its Blending Mode to Hard Light.