Circus in the head

In this tutorial, you will learn how to balance the lighting of various images compiled into one composition.
To collect several images and objects with different lighting into a single composition is not a difficult task if you know how to do it correctly. The author of the lesson promises to teach you to succeed in this business, using color correction, color temperature and contrast adjustment. You will learn how to create different lighting effects in Photoshop using brushes, a tool Lasso (Lasso tool) and adjustment layers.

The goal of the lesson is to create an image with a dark blue and purple hues, in accordance with the cold background of space. You will also learn how to create simple shadows, use adjustment layers and filters in order to get the desired look of the image.

For the lesson, you will need an image with a clown, which you can download here.

The final image.

Step 1. Create an A4 document and use the tool Fill(Paint Bucket) fill the background layer with black. Mark the center of the image using the guides. Activate the tool Gradient(Gradient Tool), set the radial mode, adjust the colors from light blue (the author chose color 3399ff) to black. Draw a gradient from the center to the edges of the document and reduce Opacity (Opacity) this layer up to 35%.

Step 2. Approximately imagine the composition you want to create. Pick up the images you need for your poster (stock sites, your own personal image gallery). Select objects if necessary or use a layer mask. Place each character and element on a separate layer and scale to the size relative to your draft composition.

Step 3. In this step, we will add shadows to the placed objects. To do this, you need to load the object selection (Ctrl + click on layer miniature), create a layer below the original element and using the tool Fill(Paint Bucket) fill it with black. Now go to the menu Editing – Transform (Edit> Free Transform) or press the key combination Ctrl +T and, using the transformation options, adjust the position and size of the shadow. After that, reduce Opacity (Opacity) layer with shadow up to 85%.
Repeat these steps for all items except the clown head.

Step 4. Create a new adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map), in the gradient editor, select a gradient from black to white and position the layer at the very top of the layers palette. To increase the contrast level, the author duplicated this adjustment layer and adjusted the opacity to your taste.

Step 5. Add adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) above the previous gradient map layer. Check the box next to the option Toning (Colorize) and in the settings enter for Color tone ((Hue) value 225, and for option Saturation (Saturation) value of 50, it will give the image a purple-blue tint.

Step 6. In this step, the author offers to add some details. It will be placed on the “floor” spotlights and make up for the clown.
And so, add a few lighting fixtures, as they will play an important role in steps from 8 to 10.

Translator’s Note: At the author’s work it is clear that he used these ground-based searchlights.

Step 7. To get an even more accurate match between objects, you need to adjust their lighting. To do this, make the active layer with the object, click on the thumbnail of the layer with the key pressed Ctrl, the selection will load. After that add a correction layer. Curves (Curves) and adjust the curve so that the lighting matches the other objects in the composition. Do this with each separate layer, on which you have characters and elements, in order to tune everyone under the general lighting.

Step 8. In this step we will add the rays of light coming from the spotlights. Create a new layer below the spotlight layer, create a selection using the tool Polygonal Lasso(Polygonal Lasso tool) at the place where you want the light to shine (from the center of the searchlight into the air) and fill the selection with white color using the tool Fill(Paint Bucket tool)

Step 9. To smooth hard edges on the light rays go to the menu. Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur). In the settings, set the radius to 25 pixels, click OK and reduce Opacity (Opacity) of this layer to 10%.

Step 10. In order for the beam of light to gradually disappear, moving away from the base, let’s work a little with it. Activate the tool Eraser(Eraser Tool), put in its settings a soft brush (Rigidity-Hardness at 0), the size is about 1100 pixels and reduce Opacity (Opacity) brushes up to 50%. Now process the rays of light in areas where they are far from the spotlights. Repeat steps 8 through 10 for all the lights you added to the job.

Step 11. Now we will create a background lighting effect. Create a new layer at the bottom of the layers palette, but above the background layer. Choose a tool Brush(“Brush”), soft (Rigidity-Hardness to 0) is white and about 1300 pixels in size. Print with a brush so that the lighting effect is in the center, the author has an area where the clown’s forehead ends.

Step12 In this step, we will add a magenta effect to the background lighting. Add a new adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) at the very top in the layers palette. In the settings, set the value Color tone (Hue) 110, and for option Saturation (Saturation) value 75. If desired, you can choose a different color for this effect.

Step 13. Activate the mask of the created adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), clicking the mouse on its thumbnail, and fill it with black color using the tool Fill (Paint Bucket tool). Then use a soft white brush to work on the mask to open the area of ​​impact of the correction layer. Do not forget to also process objects and heroes of the composition, on which the magenta effect of lighting also falls. To do this, you need to load the object selection (Ctrl + click on the layer miniature) and process it on the mask of the corrective layer.

Step 14. In this step, the author decided to add a hazy look to the background lighting and repeated step 11 several times, adding white light effects just above the background light.

Step 15. Increase image contrast using new adjustment layer Exposition (Exposure). See the settings in the screenshot below. Activate the mask of the created adjustment layer and use a soft white brush to work in the center of the background lighting effect. This should add even more energy to our composition.

Step 16. To finish the work, the author added stars in the upper part of the background layer, giving them a color cast, meteorites, which he carved out of images of rocks, and planets, which he found on stock sites. The author also added the effect of movement to acrobats and a man who was “shot” from a cannon using a filter in the menu. Filter – Blur – Motion Blur (Filter> Motion Blur). Stars have also been added to this effect.

The final result.

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