In this tutorial you’ll learn how to use different blending modes to professionally blend images, you’ll see different ways of adding lights and shadows and discover the way how you can add realistic fire to your pictures. Let’s get started!
Preview of Final Results
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Dramatic Sci-Fi Photo Manipulation Photoshop Tutorial
- Background, sky, clouds, rock, woman, hand- Pelleron-Art
- Flames – 1, 2, 3
- Mist Brushes
- Smoke Brushes
- Hair Brushes
- Bird Brushes
Step 1 – Preparing Background
Download the picture of background and open it in Photoshop. Double click on the name of the layer and rename it to BACKGROUND. It’s a good habit to name all your layers properly because it’s easier to orient in them later.
Let’s make the very first adjustment. Right now the picture has very low contrast. To fix it add new adjustment layer Levels. You can find the button Add new fill or adjustment layer in the bottom part of the palette Layers. If you don’t see this palette go to Window > Layers or simply press F7 on your keyboard.
Set the Input Levels on 43; 0,80; 216.
Your image should look like the one below so far.
Step 2 – Cleaning Foreground
In this step you’ll remove roofs in the trees in foreground because they’re quite disturbing.
Add new layer on the top of all layers and name it e.g. CLEANING FOREGROUND. Grab the Stamp Tool (S), select some soft round brush and set the Opacity on 100%. Remove the roofs which are circled in the picture below.
If you’re not familiar with how to use the Stamp Tool (S) I recommend you to read some tutorials about this excellent tool. Time spent with learning about this tool is definitely worth it.
Be careful to not to use the same source spot all the time to avoid the repetitive pattern you could get. Below you can see the example of correct and wrong cloning.
Step 3 – Adding Sky
Download the picture of sky and drag it into your photo manipulation. Place it on the top of all layers and name it SKY.
To blend the layer with the rest of the image change its Blending Mode from Normal to Multiply and lower its Opacity on 70%. You can find both these options in the upper part of the palette Layers.
As you can see on the following picture the upper part of the sky is blended properly. But the bottom part needs some adjusting. You’ll fix it in the following step.
Step 4 – Blending the Bottom Part of Sky
As I already said the bottom part of the sky needs to be blended better. Right now it causes that the city on the horizon is too dark which doesn’t look believable. There is also very sharp transition between the added sky and the rest of the image. You’ll fix both in this step.
You could use the Eraser Tool (E) to give away the unwanted parts of the sky but I would recommend you to avoid this solution. If you use the Eraser Tool (E), the erased parts are lost for good and you can’t let them reappear if you need.
I’ve got better solution for you – layer masks. If you use them you don’t erase or delete some parts, you just hide them and you can let them reappear any time you want, which is very practical. Especially for photo manipulators.
Make sure that the SKY layer is active – just click on it. And then add layer mask by clicking on the button Add layer mask in the bottom part of the palette layers.
Grab the Brush Tool (B), select some soft round brush and lower its Opacity on about 30%. Pick black color and paint over the areas of sky you want to make invisible. To get the inspiration where to paint you can take a look at the following image. Areas which should be hidden are red highlighted.
Note to how layer masks work: If you want to hide something paint over it with black. If you want to make it visible again paint with white. E.g. 50% grey color makes the picture 50% invisible etc..
Step 5 – Making Sky More Dramatic
I don’t know how you but I really like drama in my pictures and drama often means high contrast. That’s why you’ll increase contrast of sky in this step.
Add new adjustment layer (same as in step 1) Levels above SKY and set the Input Levels on 37; 0,68; 218.
You want to adjust only the sky and not the rest of the image. To achieve that you’ll create clipping mask from this adjustment layers.
Right click on the Levels adjustment menu and choose the option Create Clipping Mask.
On the following picture you can see the order of the layers so far.
And there is how your image should look like so far.
Step 6 – Details in Sky
Left side of the sky is kind of boring right now. It’s just big grey area without any details. You’ll make it more interesting in this step.