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In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a dark and conceptual photo manipulation. You will learn not only different techniques of manipulation, retouching, using brushes and filters, but also understand why they are used. I hope you will take some benefit from this lesson and you will be able to create your own creation.

Final image
As usual, I show the image that we will create:



Step 1. Open the room image. I want to reduce the space on the image in order to create a focus on the model, so I frame the room:

Step 2. Open the file with the window (window). I simply separated the frame from the background and transferred it to the working paper, transformed it to fit the room, and placed it on the left:

I used an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) with a clipping mask so that the window matches the color of the room:

Decreased saturation and lightness:

Create a new layer under the window frame layer. Use soft black brush with an opacity of about 30% to outline the frame, creating a shadow from it:

As you can see, there is a difference:

Name this layer “window frame”.

Step 3. Open the window frame image again, but now cut the top of the frame and place it at the bottom of our window:

Add another adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to change the color of the bottom of the window. Don’t forget the clipping mask:

Create a new layer below it, draw a shadow, as we did in the previous step:

Step 4. We will do the view from the window. Open the image of the forest (forest). I cut out a part of the image with trees and placed it under the layers with the window. Transformed our forest so that it fits well into the window frame, called this layer “forest”:

With the help of a correction layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) with clipping mask changed forest color and brightness:

Step 5. Let’s start break glass To do this, create a new layer above all the others, set the foreground color to white. I used brushes (shattered glass brushes) numbered 300 and 352 to paint broken glass:

Name this layer “broken glass.”
Create a new layer between the layers with wood and broken glass, name it “window glass”:

Pressing Ctrl / Cmd, left-click on the thumbnail of the forest layer to load the selection:

Set the foreground and background color to # 939596 and # 454449, then go to Filter> Rendering> Clouds (Filter> Render> Clouds):

Next Filter> Distortion> Glass (Filter> Distort> Glass) with the settings shown below:

This result we get:

Ctrl / Cmd + D to deselect. Add this layer mask. Again load the selection layer with the forest, and using soft black brush with opacity and flow (100%), erase part of the glass in the embossed hole in the left center of the window.
Lower the opacity and brush pressure to 40% and continue to hide the rest of the window, revealing a forest:

Add adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) with clipping mask for the glass layer:

Here is the result you get:

The secret is simple: looking at the window from the inside of the room into a knocked hole in the glass, we get a 100% visible forest, and in whole parts of the window it is less visible.

Step 6. After uploading photos of the model, I selected one of them (Model Photo), separated the girl from the background and transferred it to the working paper, placing on the right:

The model looks too saturated compared to the background, so I use adjustment layers (of course, with clipping mask) to change its color.
Selective color correction (Selective Color) 1:

Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation):

Selective color correction (Selective Color) 2:

Step 7. Create a new layer under the layer with the model and using black soft brush, draw a shadow under the dress and chair:

As we can see, the model is lit from the front, so the shadow should be behind. So create a new layer and soft black brush draw a shadow of the appropriate shape under the dress and chair (it is long and narrow), lower the opacity to 70%:

Step 8. Now I use hair brushes to hide scanty cropped hair on the model’s back.

Create a new layer, select a hair color (I took # 030005) and use hair brushes. I took the number 975 and clicked it three times:

Transform a layer and add mask, to hide the areas on the shoulder and arm, so that only part of the hair falling on the back of the girl was visible:

Duplicate the hair layer and transform it so that the hair looks like natural:

Step 9. Create a new layer above the rest, take a soft black brush and paint the model’s eyes, then lower the opacity to the layer:

Another new layer, now with a hard white brush with a radius of 5 pixels, paint the center of the eye, lower the opacity to 50%:

Another new layer. Soft black brush Walk around the eye and lower the opacity to 50%:

Step 10. Create a new layer again, draw a soft brown brush near the mouth:

On the new layer, using the same brush, darken the cheeks:

Step 11. Again, create two new layers, set the foreground color to # a3a0a0 and, using cobweb brushes with the web brushes numbered 968, 696, draw a web on both sides of the chair. Use free transformation (free transform) to adjust the web to the pose of the model and chair.

Create a new layer and with brush number 432 draw a spider web on the dress, transform, duplicate and transform again so that it looks interconnected:

Step 12. On the new layer, using brush number 1064, draw a web between the girl’s body and the chair, erase the excess parts on the shoulders, duplicate this layer and lower the duplicate opacity to 50%:

Step 13. Open the rat 1 image (rat 1), separate the rat from the background and place it behind the chair. Place the layer with the rat under the cobweb layers:

Create a new layer under the rat layer and draw the rodent shadow:

Create a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) with clipping mask to lower the brightness:

Black brush walk on the rat head:

Create a new layer with a clipping mask and, using a soft black brush, darken the body and tail of the rat. Set the layer blending mode Soft light (Soft light) with opacity 70%:

This step will balance the colors of the rat (the body should be darker to fit the head).

Step 14. We need to add another rat (rat 2). Separate the second rat from the background and place it as if it touches the web on the model’s dress. Place this layer above the cobweb layer. With help free transformation (free transform) and warp change the position of her head and right paw (straighten them) to get the desired pose.

Create two new layers and add two shadows for this rat: one under it and one on the right, as we did with the model in step seven.
I used a black brush of small diameter with one hundred percent opacity and a soft black brush of larger diameter and 40% opacity for the shadow on the right:

Step 15. Add a few adjustment layers with a clipping mask to change the color of the second rat.
Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) 1:

Selective color correction (Selective color):

Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) 2:

Here is the result:

Step 16. I create a new layer with a clipping mask for the second rat. I take a soft white brush and sketching the left side of the body of the rat to make it lighter, because it should be lighter than the right side. Set the blending mode to this layer. Overlap (Overlay) and opacity 30%:

Step 17. Now we will add cracks to the walls. Create a new layer above the background layer (with room), name it “crack effect”. And using cracked brushes (numbered 1076, 1116, 1092) in black, paint cracks on the wall:

As we can see, on the original picture, the cracked parts open a brick wall:

Therefore, we must give the same look to the cracked piece that we have just painted.

So go to the background layer and select the brick part on the wall in any way convenient for you. Right click on the selection, select Create a layer by copying (Layer via Copy), and we get this brick part on a new layer. Transfer it above the cracked layer. We go to Editing> Transformation> Flip Vertical (Edit> Transform> Flip Vertical). Drag the bricks to a cracked spot in the right corner of the room. Staying on this layer, hold down the Ctrl / Cmd key and left-click on the thumbnail of the cracked layer to load the selection. Invert it (Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + I), then press Delete, to remove excess parts.

Step 18. Open the frame image. Add to the frame a portrait of the model (Portrait inside frame), transform:

Temporarily hide the visibility of the portrait layer. With the Magic Wand (Delete) click inside the black part of the frame:

Invert this selection, return the visibility to the portrait layer and, while on that layer, press Delete:

Now the portrait fits well into the frame. We will change the color of the frame and portrait to combine them together.
Create a new adjustment layer. Selective color correction (Selective color) with clipping mask for layer with frame:

Also for portrait:

Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + Alt + E to merge all layers together.

Step 19. Transfer the framed portrait to the working paper, place it above the cracked layer and the brick texture. Resize and transform as if it is lying on the floor:

Press Ctrl / Cmd + U to bring up the window. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) for portrait in frame:

Add a shadow to the frame with Layer styles (Layer Style):

Step 20. In this step, we will break the frame. Duplicate the layer with the frame and hide one of them (this way you can return to the original frame view and edit the errors if you need it). On the visible layer using the tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool), select the corner of the frame. Right click on the selection, select Create a layer by cutting (Layer via Cut), move this piece a little to the right:

So that this piece does not look flat, apply it Layer styles (Layer Style) Shadow (Drop Shadow) and Stamping (Bevel and Emboss):


Using the same technique, “break the frame”, while remembering that you need to transform and place the parts in different positions in order to make a realistic result:

Rename the layers with parts of the frame “broken part 1”, “broken part 2” …

Step 21 Open the candle image. I chose a nearly burnt candle, as it is more suitable for the collage atmosphere than the whole one. Separate it from the background:

I added a new layer and using the tool Stamp(Clone Stamp tool), removed the fire and light areas of the candle (we do not need them):

There is no need to make it all perfect, because we will reduce the size and change the color. Press Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + Alt + E to merge all the layers of the candle (except the background that we have separated). Drag the candle into our working paper, change its size and place between the layers with the pieces of the frame:

Create a new layer under the candle, black brush go through the bottom, change the layer
50% opacity:

Step 22 Create an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) for the candle, do not forget the clipping mask:

Here is the result:

Step 23 Create a new layer and, using the cobweb brush number 679, paint the color # a3a0a0 (the same color as in step 11) using the spider web:

Step 24 The window looks boring, so I decided to add drama to it. Create a new layer between the layers with the forest and the window glass, call it “bats”:

Set the foreground color to black and draw bat bathes (press F5 to uncheck all settings). Remember that the further away the bat is, the smaller and more blurred it is. Therefore, for bats that are far away, lower the opacity (I used opacity 50% – 70%):

Step 25.We have finished adding all the elements of the collage. It’s time to work with color and make sure that all elements are combined with each other. I use several adjustment layers that I place above all others.
Selective color correction (Selective color) 1:

Selective color correction (Selective color) 2:

On the mask of the Selective color correction layer (Selective color) 2 with a soft black brush, remove too contrasting areas – they are marked with a selection in the figure:

Create a layer Gradient map (Gradient Map). I chose colors from black to white (Normal mode) and fill 50%. The black brush on the layer mask hid the contrast on the dress too strong.

Color balance (Color Balance):

Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation):

Here is what we get after this step:

Step 26. Create a new layer, soft black brush (with 100% and 50% opacity) walk around the background around the model. In the screenshot you can see that the darker areas are created with a brush with 100% opacity, and the lighter ones are 50%:

Set the blending mode for this layer to Multiply (Multiply), opacity 50%.

Step 27. In the final step, we will add a bit of noise to the picture to make it older (especially the broken frame, wall …). Create a new layer, name it “Noise”, set the blending mode Overlap (Overlay) and fill with 50% gray:

We go to Filter> Noise> Add noise (Filter> Noise> Add Noise):

Apply Gaussian blur (Gasian Blur) with a radius of 0.3 pixels, then create a layer mask and erase the noise on the window, model face, hand, candle. I used brush 50% opacity for a window, but 100% for a hole in a window:

We did it!
You can see the result of the work done below. Hope you enjoyed the lesson. I am pleased to hear your feedback on the technique of work and the final result.

Author: Jenny le

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