Waiting for a miracle

Creating a night scene can be a daunting task. In this lesson, you will learn the methods for performing light and shadow effects to achieve the most realistic result.

Initial materials for the lesson:

STEP 1 – We work with the background

Download the background image and open it in Photoshop. You will have to make adjustments to this layer and turn it into a night scene.
I suggest you use adjustment layers to create a night effect. The adjustment layer does not change the pixels of the lower layer until it is merged with it. So you can work with different settings, without fear of irretrievably losing information, and at any stage of work you can go back and make the necessary adjustments.

So, create a new adjustment layer by clicking on the button. Create a new adjustment layer (Create new fill or adjustment layer) located below Layer Palettes (Layers), select the adjustment command Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Increase Saturation (Hue) to + 27.

Then create the next adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map) and use a black and white gradient. Set the blending mode of the adjustment layer to Soft light (Soft Light) and reduce opacity (Opacity) up to 40%.

Create a new layer using the keyboard shortcut [Ctrl+Shift+N]. Choose a tool Gradient (Gradient Tool) from transparent to black, set the radial type and draw a gradient from the middle of the image to the periphery. The blend mode for this layer must be normal (Normal), but you can experiment with Soft light (Soft Light). Duplicate the layer if you want a darker effect. Your task is to darken the image using a gradient, but leave the stairs visible.

STEP 2 – Girl

Download the archive with the model. To work we need 2 images from this package. Open the Sylph faestock (1) .jpg file in Photoshop. Separate the model, excluding the background and wings (in accordance with the plot, we do not need wings). For this purpose use Pen (Pen tool [P]), because This is the most accurate selection tool. Place the girl on a new layer in the working paper and reduce it with Transformations (Free transform [CTRL + T]) up to 35%.

As you can see, part of the girl’s dress is cut off. It is easy to fix, using another photo from the archive. Download the image Sylph faestock (2) .jpg and extract the part of the dress that is missing from our image using any of the selection tools. Move it into a working paper and, using Eraser (Eraser) or Layer mask (Layer mask) “mix” the edges. If you see differences in contrast or color, use levels (Levels) and / or color balance (Color Balance) so that both parts of the dress match each other.

Then merge these two layers by pressing the key combination [Ctrl] + [E] or using the command Layers> Merge Layers (Layer> Merge Layers).

STEP 3 – Model Shading

The realism of any collage is defined by shadows and light. Let’s start with the shadows.
Above the model layer, create a new layer and apply a radial layer to it. Gradient (Gradient tool) from transparent to black to shade a girl. Use a clipping mask to attach a gradient layer to the model layer.

Now apply a layer style to the girl layer. Inner shadow (Inner Shadow) with these settings: blending mode (Blend Mode) – multiplication (Multiply), angle (Angle) – 50 º, bias (Distance) – 12px, tightening (Choke) – 8px, the size (Size) – 58px. Thus, we get good shadows on the edges of the girl’s body.

From the translator:

STEP 4 – Correction of color and contrast of the model

Our model needs more color and contrast. Again, we use adjustment layers. To do this, create a layer Color balance (Color Balance) by going to the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Color Balance (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Color Balance) or by clicking the corresponding icon at the bottom of the layers palette. When the pop-up window appears, click on the option Use previous layer to create clipping mask. (Clipping Mask).

From the translator:

Set the value of yellow – 6 to the shadows, midtones and bright colors. Then in the same way create a new adjustment layer. Hue / saturation (Hue / Saturation) and increase saturation to +10. In the adjustment layer Levels (Levels) move the left slider to 7, medium to 0.92, and right to 246.
This is what the layers palette will look like at this stage.

STEP 5 – Dimming / Brightening
Create a new layer above the model layer by clicking the corresponding icon on the layers palette. This layer should also become a clipping mask for the layer with the girl. Then go to the menu Editing> Run Fill (Edit>Fill) (approx. translator: or use the Shft + F5 hotkeys). Fill the layer with 50% gray and set the blending mode for this layer. Soft light (Soft Light). Then take the tool Blackout (Burn Tool), set the range Mid tones (Midtones) and Exposure (6-9%).

From the translator:

Now use the tool to darken the body of the girl where dark areas should be.
Next tool Lightening (Dodge Tool) with the same settings brighten the necessary parts of the body model. The preview is in normal blend mode. Thus, you can look at the screen where the brightening and darkening tools should be used.

STEP 6 – Add a lamp

Load the lamp. Open the image in Photoshop and extract it using the tool Pen (Pen Tool). Place the lamp layer in the working paper. Using a soft round brush with color # e6dfb0, place a spot in the lamp area on a new layer above it. Set the blending mode to this layer Hard Light and reduce opacity (Opacity) him up to 50%.

Also add a lens flash on the new layer. To do this, create a new layer and fill it with black. Apply a filter to it. Rendering> Blick (Filter>Render> Lens Flare). Set the layer blending mode Lighten or Screen (Screen). Use Hue / Saturation (approx. translator: put the top slider on about +45) to make the flash yellow.

STEP 7 – Lighting

Now that there is a source of light, it is necessary to cast shadows and create lighting on the ground. Use a large soft brush with a size of 600-700 px and a color of # e9d89b. Create a new layer below the lamp layer and swipe it twice on both sides of the lamp using the color mentioned. Set the layer blending mode to Overlap (Overlay). Then use the same brush with color # 9e975a. But blending mode should now be Lightening basics (Color Dodge). Decrease opacity (Opacity) for this layer up to 75%. This technique will give a very realistic lighting effect.

STEP 8 – Shadows

Now that we have the lighting, we have to make the shadows. Shadows are very important because they give more realism and depth. Now the lamp and the girl seem to float because of the lack of shadows. Correct the situation. To do this, create a new layer below the girl and the lamp layer. With a soft black brush with opacity of about 20%, start painting over this layer along the edges of the girl’s legs, under her dress and legs, and also under the lamp. Make a few passes.

STEP 8 – Final Editing

As a final step, you must print the visible layers: to do this, while on the top layer, press the simultaneous key combination [CTRL + Alt +SHIFT + E]. In this layer, all the previous layers merge into one, while preserving the floor with this layer.

Then go Filter> Rendering> Lighting Effects (Filter> Render> Lighting Effects).

Use the following settings: Intensity (Intensity) 16, Colour (Color) # f6f2dd Focus (Focus) 53, Material (Material) 78, Wednesday (Ambience) 10.


As you can see, the most important part of this lesson is light effects and shadows. Also during the lesson you learned how the use of adjustment layers allows you to edit images without affecting it.

Final image:

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