Create a baby dragon in photoshop

Have you ever wanted dragons to be a reality? Unfortunately, these are fairy tales, but with the help of Photoshop we can turn any fairy tale into reality! And in this tutorial, I will show you how to create a baby dragon using stock photos. You will also learn how to place it on your hand and adjust the colors so that the picture looks complete.

1. Preparation of additional materials

Before you begin, you need to pick the right shots. Note that they must have the same perspective and perspective. Also choose large and high-quality photos, since we will adjust all the pictures to the lowest quality photos.

Step 1

At the moment we have a lot of pictures, but we only need certain parts of them. For example, in the photo below I just need a head and nothing more. First we need to highlight the necessary area. Unfortunately, in my arsenal there are no magic tricks that will allow you to do work faster and better, so we work manually using the tool Pen Tool (P) (Pen), with which we draw a contour around the head. If you have difficulty working with this tool, take a minute to watch a video on working with it.

Note. Pen lessons on our website:

  • How to work with pen
  • Insidious Feather
  • Insidious feather – 2

Step 2

Having finished with the contour, click on it with the right mouse button and select Make Selection (Create selection).

Step 3

Move on Select – Inverse (Select – Invert) (Ctrl + Shift + I) and press the Delete key to remove the background. Then we cut the tool Crop Tool (C) (Crop) is superfluous and save in png or psd format with a transparent background.

Step 4

Repeat the process to cut out other parts of the body for the future of the dragon. We need:

  • Left wing
  • Right wing
  • Body
  • Head
  • Horns
  • Eye
  • Tail

For now, leave everything separately.

2. Create the base

Of course, you can have a certain picture in your head, but you can hardly imagine everything in the smallest detail until you put all the parts of the collage together. We will deal with this in this part of the lesson.

Step 1

Open the photo with the girl and save it as a new file, which will be the main working document. Take the size large enough (I have 3840 x 7560 pixels).

Step 2

Move all parts of the dragon to this document.

Step 3

We place the body of a lizard so that it looks like sitting on a hand. Decrease Opacity (opacity) layer with the body to make it easier to work. Activate the free transformation (Ctrl + T) to adjust the size and rotation of the image.

Step 4

Further, not paying attention to the position of the neck, we place the head exactly in the place where you want to see it. Use the free transform again to adjust the size and rotation.

Step 5

Let’s fix the position of the neck. Select the layer with the body and go Edit – puppet Warp (Editing – Puppet Warp). On the body we put labels, as shown below.

Step 6

Now drag the label to move the area that is tied to this label. Thus, you can easily change the shape of the body. When finished, click Enter to apply the changes.

Step 7

Next, place the tail and adjust it to the proportions of the body.

Step 8

Use again Puppet Warp (Puppet warp) to wrap the tail around the fingers.

Step 9

On the back we place both wings.

Step 10

Let’s increase the lizard’s eye to make the dragon look prettier. Select the layer with the head and turn Filter – Liquify (Filter – Plastic). We use Forward Warp Tool (Deformation) and Bloat Tool (Bloating) to change the shape of the eye. But you can leave the eye small, if you want it to be not a baby dragon, but just somehow a miniature look of this creature.

Step 11

Place the cut eye on the head.

Step 12

Using the methods described above, we add horns.

3. Customize the elements of the collage

At this stage we can already see the rough outlines of the future dragon, but they do not look holistic. Let’s fix it!

Step 1

Reduce the opacity of all the details of the dragon (to do this, it is convenient to add them to a separate group and already adjust the opacity of the group itself) in order to clearly see the hand.

Step 2

Take Pen Tool (P) (Feather) and select the part of the arm that covers the dragon.

The main thing – to select the tips of the fingers, with the shape of the bottom of the selection can not suffer.

Step 3

Create a selection (Ctrl + Enter) and go Select – Modify – Feather (Allocation – Modification – Feather). Set a very small radius, for example, by 3 pixels. Due to this, the selection will be smoothed and clearly fit into the blur level of the photo itself.

Step 4

Move on Select – Inverse (Ctrl + Shift + I) (Selection – Invert). Create a new layer and using Paint Bucket Tool (G) (Fill) Fill the selection with any color. Call this layer “Mask” and hide it by clicking on the eye icon in the layers panel.

Step 5

This mask is very easy and convenient to use. Press the Ctrl key and click on the thumbnail of the mask layer to create a selection. Then select the layer with the body and press the button Add layer mask (Add layer mask) at the bottom of the layers panel.

And the magic happens!

Step 6

To quickly apply this mask to other layers with parts of the dragon’s body, go to the layers panel, hold down the Alt key, grab the mask thumbnail with the left mouse button and drag it to the desired layer.

Step 7

Now most parts look much better, but we still have to edit the tail, the tip of which is wrapped around the fingers.

Click on the thumbnail of the mask to select it. Then we take a rigid round brush (B) and paint in white the part of the tail that should be in front of the hand. During operation, adjust the size of the brush using the [and] keys to make it easier to work. If you are interested in learning more about working with a mask, see this lesson.

Lessons at work with Blend If (Overlay, if …) on our website:

  • What is Overlay If?
  • The parameter Blend If (Overlay, if …)
  • Use Blend IF for texture

Step 8

Using the mask, you can qualitatively combine all the elements of the composition. Now we take a soft brush and refine the edges of the tail, where necessary. To make strokes more accurate, reduce the parameter Flow (Press), which can be found on the top panel when the brush is activated.

Step 9

The collage begins to take on clearer forms, and now it is easier for us to see what is missing. In my case, I want to add a front paw to make the body look complete. You can use the same stock photos to cut a paw.

Step 10

We carefully look at the current result and try to analyze it. Perhaps something needs to be added or removed, somewhere to correct the form of the element. This is the last opportunity to do it without consequences and unnecessary actions!

4. Customize colors

When choosing stock photos, we did not pay attention to the color, since it can be easily corrected. And in this section we will do it!

Step 1

Select the layer with the head and open Window – Adjustments (Window – Correction). In the menu that appears we find Hue/ Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and transform the created adjustment layer into a clipping mask (Ctrl + Alt + G) for the layer with the head. Move the sliders to choose the right color for the body.

Step 2

Repeat these actions with other elements of the dragon. You may want to leave some places unchanged. In this case, paint the mask with black to hide the effect of the adjustment layer in the right place.

Also with the help of corrective layers we can make the eye brighter.

Step 3

Because of the detailed texture, the head gets a little out of the overall picture. To fix this, select the part of the scales on the body with Lasso Tool (L) (Lasso), copy (Ctrl + Shift + C) and transfer it to the horns.

Step 4

Using a mask, we create a smooth transition between the scales and the head.

5. Combining the dragon with the environment

With the position and form everything is fine, the colors are suitable, but the dragon still does not look like a full-fledged element of the collage. All because every detail has its own light source. We have to adjust light and shadow under one light source – on the background photo.

Step 1

We have a lot of regular and corrective layers, masks that make it difficult to work. Save your work as a new file so that you always have a backup copy of the current result at hand. Then we merge the individual groups of layers and merge them together (Ctrl + E) to get about the structure of the layers that was at the beginning of the lesson.

Step 2

For the wing, which is closer to the viewer, apply the adjustment layer Hue/ Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Transform it into a clipping mask and reduce the brightness so as to create shading.

Step 3

Adjust the mask of the adjustment layer to remove the effect in the lighted areas. Do not forget to check with the main light source in the background!

Step 4

Repeat the action with other details of the dragon.

Step 5

Some elements still have an irregular shadow, which we must get rid of. Add another adjustment layer Hue/ Saturation (Hue / Saturation), activate the parameter Colorize (Toning) and increase the brightness of the wing, toned it in the color of ambient light.

Step 6

Adjust the effect with a mask.

Step 7

In some situations, this effect may reduce the contrast in the illuminated areas, like this:

In this case, double click on the adjustment layer and experiment with the settings. Blend If (Overlay if). Hold down the Alt key and click on the slider to split it into two parts and create a smoother transition. More about parameter Blend If (Overlay if) you can learn from this and this lesson.

Step 8

Thus, we adjust the lighting in all areas.

Step 9

Now we have to combine the dragon with the hand. To do this, add to the background layer adjustment layer Hue/ Saturation (Hue / Saturation). We darken the hand, while maintaining a high level of saturation, then fill the mask with black and white brush (B) to restore the effect of the adjustment layer in those places where the dragon touches the hand, creating a soft shadow.

Step 10

Apply another adjustment layer Hue/ Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and create a thin strip of a more saturated shadow between the hand and the dragon.

Step 11

Again we analyze the composition and try to see the places that need improvement. What in the picture kills the whole illusion? Find it and fix it!

Step 12

We use the techniques studied above to add reflected light to the lighted areas of the dragon. This will better combine the dragon with the background.

6. Add the final touches

The dragon already looks realistic! But to make it even more attractive, we can use a few tricks.

Step 1

Select the layer with the tail and activate the quick mask mode (Q). Take a soft brush (B) and draw along the edges of the tail.

Step 2

Exit the quick mask mode (Q) and invert the selection (Ctrl + Shift + I). Temporarily hide selection using the Ctrl + H key combination.

Step 3

Move on Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Blur according to Gauss) and apply the filter to adjust the tail under the general blur in the image.

Step 4

Repeat the process with other elements to soften the edges.

Step 5

One wing is farther from the viewer, so we need to defocus it. To do this, use the filter Filter – Blur – tilt Shift (Filter – Blur – Tilt-offset). We experiment with the value to get the most suitable result.

Step 6

Let’s make the second wing a little more transparent. Hide it and select the part of the background behind this wing. Copy the selection to a new layer (Ctrl + J) and place it above the wing.

Step 7

Lightly blur the copied area.

Step 8

Apply the mask to create a smooth transition.

Step 9

Let’s make our eyes alive. Via Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) (Oval selection) create a selection on the eye.

With a soft brush inside the selection draw a blue highlight.

Hard brush add a little white flare.

Step 10

The dragon is finished. Now you can add some little things if necessary. To make the dragon match the quality of the background, we merge all the layers into one and apply a filter to it Filter – Noise – Add Noise (Filter – Noise – Add noise).

Reflect the picture horizontally, so that you can evaluate the work and identify deficiencies, if any, with a “non-welded” look.

Now you have your own mini dragon! In addition, you have learned many useful little things about working in Photoshop, which you can use in your future projects.

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