In this lesson you will learn how to create an unusual collage with a mysterious angel soaring in the temple. You will learn to create an amazing atmosphere with realistic effects, explore the limitless possibilities of corrective layers and blend modes, as well as create effects using many interesting tricks and techniques!
In this work I want to convey a calm and magical mood. The most interesting thing about this angel is that I tried to make it transparent and visible at the same time. We will begin the lesson with creating the background, color correction, toning the image, adding sunlight and burning candles. Then from several pictures we will collect an angel. At this stage, we will work with masks and adjustment layers. After that, we apply various blending methods to create a levitation and transparency effect. And we will complete the image of the angel by overlaying smoke and color effects, and then transfer it to the background. In the last step, we will add the final effects and correct the sharpness of the image. All you need to complete the lesson is a good mood, inspiration and Photoshop, starting with the CS version. I am using Photoshop CC 2017.0.1.
Before the beginning of the lesson I recommend that you immediately download all the necessary materials and keep them in a convenient place and the best quality! Move on File – New (File – New) or use the Ctrl + N hotkeys to create a new document with the following parameters: Width (Width): 4000 pixels, Height (Height): 2828 pixels, Resolution (Resolution): 300 dpi, Background Contents (Background content): Black (The black). Our background will consist of one picture of the church, so go File – Place/ Place Embedded (File – Place / Place embedded) or simply drag and drop the “church-498525” file onto the working document. Activate the free transformation mode (Ctrl + T or Edit – Free Transform (Edit – Free Transform)) and with the Shift key held down, scale it by about 20.92%, then rotate it by -0.32 degrees and press Enter to accept the changes.
I do not like the lighting in the church, so we will remove them. Take Clone Stamp Tool (S) (Stamp) and customize the brush: Size (Size) 10-70 pixels, Opacity (Opacity) 100%, Sample All Layers (Sample from all layers). Also on the panel Window – clone Source (Window – Source of clones) can experiment with the parameter Rotate the clone source (Rotate cloning source) for more accurate correction. Be careful and careful! Use suitable places to clone the texture, stick to the architectural style of the elements and do not forget to create a new layer for each cloned part. When finished, select all created layers and merge them into one layer (Ctrl + E or right-click on the layers, then select Merge Layers (Merge layers)).
To improve the magical atmosphere, let’s add the sun rays penetrating the temple through the stained glass windows. To do this, go Select – Color Range (Highlight – Color range). In the window that appears, select the mode Highlights (Backlight) and set Fuzziness (Scatter) by 20%, Range (Range) – at 190. It is very important to choose the right combination of values so that as little extra details fall into the selection. Select the layer with the temple and press Ctrl + J to copy the selected areas to the new layer. Duplicate this layer three times and change the blend mode of all four copies to Linear Dodge (Add) (Linear Dodge). Group the layers using Ctrl + G or menu Layer – Group Layers (Layer – Group the layers) and set the same blending mode for the group as for the layers.
Now we need to add blur to create a glow from the sun and stained glass. We use filters Gaussian Blur (Blur according to Gauss) and Radial Blur (Radial blur) that are in the menu Filter – Blur (Filter – Blur). We apply filters with the following parameters, starting from the bottom layer with a stained glass window.
- Filter Gaussian Blur (Blur according to Gauss) with Radius (Radius): 200 pixels;
- Filter Gaussian Blur (Blur according to Gauss) with Radius (Radius): 20 pixels;
- Filter Radial Blur (Radial blur) with Amount (Quantity): 100, Blur Method (Method): Zoom (Linear), Quality (Quality): Best (Best);
- Filter Radial Blur (Radial blur) with Amount (Quantity): 50, Blur Method (Method): Zoom (Linear), Quality (Quality): Best (The best). Layer Opacity: 50%
It should be about the same result as in the screenshot below. Do not be afraid to experiment with different values and blending modes. It is very important to use the original colors of the image, not light gray or white, because it is stained glass and its texture must be combined with the environment, which helps to achieve greater realism.
Take Eraser Tool (E) (eraser) or add mask Layer – Layer Mask – Reveal All (Layer – Layer Mask – Show All). With a large soft brush (B) with an opacity of about 20-25%, carefully remove the extra texture details. For example, at the bottom, due to the blur on the benches, a strange glow is produced. I also partially removed the effect near the column on the right side of the picture, as well as a little deep in the temple, because these areas turned out too bright and spoil the work. Also, pay attention to the blur at the edges of the stained glass in the foreground. The transition needs to be made smoother and more natural.
Now let’s start creating the atmosphere with the help of color correction. At the moment, the temple looks very bright, and we need a mysterious muffled atmosphere, so we slightly reduce the brightness and make the colors quieter. First we add an adjustment layer. Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Black White (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Black and White) (or at the bottom of the layers panel, press the button Create new fill or adjustment layer (Create a new fill or adjustment layer) and in the list that appears select the desired item). In the settings window install Preset (Set) on Maximum Black (Maximum black), then change layer blend mode to Luminosity (Glow) and decrease Opacity (opacity) up to 50%. This will slightly change the contrast mapping and reduce excessive saturation.
Dim the edges of the picture so that the main color accent is in the center. For this we use a correction layer. Gradient Map (Gradient map). In the settings window, select the black and white gradient. Edit the mask of the adjustment layer to remove the effect in the center of the document and create a smooth transition from color to black and white columns. For this we use the tool Brush Tool (B). Brush hardness set to minimum, choose black color and Opacity (Opacity): 100%.
Move on Layer – New Fill Layer – Gradient (Layer – Fill New Layer – Gradient), in the appeared window set Style (Style): Radial (Radial), Angle (Angle): 90 degrees, Scale (Scale): 180% and choose a black and white gradient with the active parameter Reverse (Inversion). Change the layer blend mode to Overlay (Overlap) with opacity 55%. Now the hall of the temple looks very different. I like the way the sunlight in the center is framed in dark and gloomy tones. Due to this, we will focus the viewer’s attention on the central character of the scene – the angel.
Add an adjustment layer Gradient Map (Gradient map), select the set Photographic Toning (Photographic toning) and find the gradient Sepia2 (Sepia 2). You will find the entire list of available sets if you click on the button in the form of a gear in the gradient editor window. Now the shadows are not so contrast and there was a slight haze. Of course, it is great complements the atmosphere, but the colors are lost, so we reduce Opacity (opacity) layer up to 45%.
With color correction, we finished and now we can add a flame of candles that will complement the plot of the composition. I decided that laziness was bad, so I prepared my own pictures of candles. You can follow my example or use ready-made pictures from additional materials. Place image 003 on the working document and adjust the scale of the candle. Then duplicate (Ctrl + J) it, change the size of copies and distribute on the lamps in the foreground and on the altar. Note that the flame should be proportional to the candles and distance from the viewer, as shown in the image below. Set the blending mode to Screen (Lighten) to hide the black areas and apply a flame to the image.
Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) in blend mode Screen (Lightening) with opacity of 35%. Take a soft round brush (B), set Size (Size) by 300 pixels, Opacity (Opacity) – 50% and color – on # de7f21. We dot the glow around the candles so that the flame is exactly in the center of the brush stroke. Then create a new layer in blend mode. Overlay (Overlap). We take a brush with a size of 45-150 pixels and color # feee69 and repeat the actions with a smaller diameter of the brush. Create the last layer in blend mode. Soft Light (Soft light). Choose the color # fde993 and use the 100% opacity brush to modify the glow.
We have finished working with the background and can now move on to the angel. Move on File – Place/ Place Embedded (File – Place / Place embedded) and open the file “file0001117378127” with the statue. Reduce it to about 45% (Ctrl + T or Edit – Free Transform (Editing – Free Transform)).
To cut a statue, we use the technique of chroma key. Open the panel Window – Channels (Window – Channels), hold down Ctrl + Alt + Shift and double click on the channel thumbnail Red (Red) (or another channel that clearly shows the object we want to cut) to load the selection. In this case, it is on this channel the best contrast of the statue with the background. Then click on the button Save selection as channel (Save the selected area in the new channel) to cut the selected area into a new channel, which we will edit. Press Ctrl + D to deselect. It is better to work with a duplicate of the original channel, but if the result of the selection is good, you can slightly correct it and use the original.
We take a round hard brush (B) with a size of 20-85 pixels, on the top panel we set its blending mode to Overlay (Overlap) (Shift + Alt + O) or Normal (Normal) (Shift + Alt + N) (depending on the editable area) and Opacity (Opacity) – by 50-100%. Set the foreground and background color to the standard by pressing the D key. With white color, gently restore the statue, and black paint the background until we get a clear silhouette of an angel without halftones. I also removed the wings, because later we will add a more realistic option. In addition, a couple of details, such as the hem of the dress, were not highlighted. This will give the carved statue a bit of abstractness, which in our case does not hurt. Additionally you can apply Levels (Levels) (Ctrl + L or Image – Adjustments – Levels (Editing – Correction – Levels)), slightly moving the white and black sliders closer to the center (values depend on the specific picture you are using) to increase the contrast between the statue and the environment, and, if necessary, remove noise and dirt.
Hold down the Ctrl key and click on the thumbnail of the channel that we edited to create a selection, and go back to the layers panel. At the bottom of the layers panel, press the button Add layer mask (Add layer mask) or go Layer – Layer Mask – Reveal Selection (Layer – Layer Mask – Show selected areas). Also directly to the layer mask (for this we click on it on the layers panel to select) apply the filter Filter – Other – Minimum (Filter – Other – Minimum) c Radius (Radius) 0.3 pixel and Preserve (Save): Roundness (Roundness) to make the selection smoother.
Duplicate (Ctrl + J) the layer with the statue and reflect it horizontally Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal (Editing – Transforming – Flip Horizontally). Move the copy under the original and match the hand with the body. Using a mask and a soft black brush, we adjust both layers. At first, we hide the hand with the torch, and the second is refined so that we carefully put a copy of the hand on the body. Pay attention to the folds of clothes so that the result is realistic.
Now we impose a more realistic dress on top. Insert the image of a “woman-1905520” and transform the layer so that the dress clearly fits into the body size of the statue and is its continuation, as shown in the image below. We repeat steps 13-15 to cut the dress, but we leave half tones on the folds so that the dress in these places is translucent.
Using a mask and a soft black tassel, mix the dress with the statue. This process is no different from working with a statue. Except one – add adjustment layer Levels (Levels) (Ctrl + L) and transform it into a smart filter. Set the central gray slider to 0.47. The dress will become darker, but it should be so. You will see the effect later.
Insert the image “wings-474114” on the working paper. Activate the free transformation mode (Ctrl + T) and reduce the object to 22.65%, then rotate by 14.73 degrees. After this, duplicate (Ctrl + J) this layer and reflect it horizontally. Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal (Editing – Transforming – Flip Horizontally). Via Move Tool (V) (Move) place the wings on the statue, as shown below. In order not to move the wing vertically, hold down the Shift key while moving. Place both wings under the layers with the statue. Using the mask, we hide the opposite wings on both duplicates.
Now add the scattering fabric. Insert the image “Flying fabric” from additional materials and transform as shown below. This element of the composition does not need to be finalized, so we simply place it under the layers with the angel. You can use other pictures or individual pieces of fabric to get a more interesting result. It all depends on your imagination. When finished, group all the layers with the angel (Ctrl + G) and set the group blending mode to Screen (Lightening).
Now let’s start adding effects! I advise you to hide the group with the background and work on the black layer so as not to miss the small details and work out the effects and colors more carefully. From time to time, turn on the background to see the current result and evaluate the quality of the effects and the picture as a whole. Add an adjustment layer Black White (Black and white) in clipping mask mode (Ctrl + Alt + G) and in the settings window set Preset (Set) on Lighter (Lighter).
Next, add an adjustment layer. Invert (Invert) and then adjust the contrast using Levels (Levels). Install Blacks (Black) at 55, Midtones (Midtones) – by 0.41, Whites (White) – at 169. All layers are used in clipping mask mode, so watch out for the layers panel so you don’t miss anything. At the moment you have two options. You can change the settings and achieve good contrast using the layer Levels (Levels), which we added above, or darken the picture more than necessary, and then restore the details in the right places. I chose the second option, since with this I can control the lighting and detailing. Create a new layer above the adjustment layer. Black White (Black and white). Using a brush (B) with a size of 10-150 pixels and with an opacity of 5-20%, restore (black color) or hide (white color) the necessary elements and details of the angel.
Group all adjustment layers together with the angel and set the group blending mode to Screen (Lightening). Add a correction layer between the group with the angel and the background. Gradient Fill (Gradient). Use the following settings: Gradient (Gradient) – # 000000> # 1a1a1a (Location (Position): 29%)> # 727272 (Location (Position): 58%)> #ececec (Location (Position): 90%), Style (Style) – Radial (Radial), Angle (Angle) – 90 degrees, Scale (Scale) – 90% Preset (Set) – black and white with active parameter Reverse (Inversion). When the gradient editor window opens, with the left mouse button we move the gradient closer to the body of the statue. Change its blend mode to Linear Dodge (Add) (Linear clarifier) with an opacity of 55%.
Select the Angel and Haze group and press Ctrl + Alt + E to copy its contents to a new layer. Duplicate (Ctrl + J) the resulting layer and change the blending mode for both copies to Color Dodge (Lightening the basics). For the first layer apply the filter Gaussian Blur (Blur according to Gauss) with a radius of 5 pixels, then add an inverted mask (hold down the Alt key and press the button Add layer mask (Add a layer mask)) and using a soft white brush (B), we restore the details on the face and the angel’s dress. Apply the same filter to the second layer, but with a radius of 30 pixels. Add a mask and hide the extra glow on the wings. Reduce the layer opacity to 50%. Move both layers to the group with the angel.
Now add a smoke effect. Load a set of Real Smoke brushes in Photoshop. Above the group with the angel and adjustment layers we create a new layer and change its blending mode to Color Dodge (Lightening the basics). Using different brushes from the set (size 700-1500 pixels, opacity 70-100%, color #cbcbcb), we apply the effect of smoke on the angel, especially carefully work the dress and flowing fabric. Try to create a smooth transition between the angel and the smoke, as if the character is dissolved in the smoke. If the effect is too saturated, add an inverted mask and edit it with a soft round brush (E) or use for this Eraser Tool (E) (Eraser).
Hold down the Ctrl key and click on the layer thumbnail to load its selection. For the group “Angel” add an inverted mask (hold down Alt and press the button Add layer mask (Add layer mask)). Soft round brush partially remove the effect of smoke on the face and folds of fabric. We work with the layer and mask group to create a smooth transition between the smoke and the dark background. You can see my result in the picture below.
Under the group “Angel” add two new layers in the blend mode Screen (Lightening). Take the brush (B) with the settings as in step 25, but smaller. Add additional effects to create a transition from the smoke to the angel. To work, we use the transformation tools and a large number of layers, which we later merge into one layer (Ctrl + E). Do not be afraid to experiment! Any creativity is welcome! Do not forget that you can correct the effect at any time using opacity, masks or eraser (E).
Again we duplicate the Angel and Haze group on a new layer (Ctrl + Alt + E). Add a white mask to this layer and with a soft black brush remove the glow on the wings (brush opacity is about 30%). After that set the blending mode to Color Dodge (Lightening basics) with an opacity of 27%.
Now add some color. I created a bluish tint to make the angel stand out from the temple. Add an adjustment layer Color Balance (Color balance) with parameters as shown below. Set the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication), then edit the mask of the adjustment layer and use a soft black brush with an opacity of 20% to remove the effect on the body of the angel. Duplicate this layer and change the blend mode to Darken (Blackout) with opacity of 75%. Again, edit the layer mask, but with a larger brush and with greater opacity to create a smooth transition from bright blue to green.
In principle, we finished the work with the angel, but due to the use of a large number of blending modes, it will not be possible to simply turn on the background with the temple and enjoy the result. If you applied adjustment layers to a group with an angel, the result will not be very good. Therefore, we merge all the visible layers (angel and black background) into one (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E), and then change its blending mode to Screen (Lightening), due to which the black color will disappear and only the angel will remain. Next, hide all layers and groups with an angel, except for the layer with a gradient fill over the group with the background. For this layer, we reduce the opacity to 35%. Now we can enjoy the work done. You can duplicate this layer and try other blend modes or adjustment layers and get a completely different result. Do not be afraid to correct the parameters of the effects that we applied to the angel, starting with step 22, if they seem to you not bright enough or, on the contrary, are too noticeable.
Add a light bluish glow from the angel to harmonize the colors. Move on Layer – New Fill Layer – Gradient (Layer – Fill New Layer – Gradient). In the opened gradient editor, set the colors to # 3376f3> # 1a3b7a (Location (Position): 45%)> # 000000, Style (Style): Radial (Radial), Angle (Angle): 90 degrees, Scale (Scale): 110%, set the blending mode to Screen (Lightening) with an opacity of 20%.
We take a brush (B) of 400 pixels in size with an opacity of 40% and color # 3767bf. On a new layer in blend mode Color Dodge (Blackout base) draw the reflection of the angel on the walls of the temple. Just schematically put color to add a little realism. Decrease Opacity (opacity) layer up to 50%.
Now using the adjustment layer Gradient (Gradient) create an imitation of vignettes. Choose a black and white gradient and set the following parameters: Location (Position): 45%, Style (Style): Radial (Radial), Angle (Angle): 90 degrees, Scale (Scale): 180%, tick the box Reverse (Inversion). Set the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication) with an opacity of 80%.
This is an extra step, so you can skip it. Add some abstract elements in the foreground, such as a bokeh effect or a large translucent smoke (as shown below). You can also add a few highlights and various lighting effects.
Merge all visible layers into one layer (Ctrl + Shift + E). Move on Filter – Other – High Pass (Filter – Other – Color Contrast) and set Radius (Radius) by 1 pixel. Change the blending mode of this layer to Linear Light (Linear light) and decrease Fill (Fill) up to 50%. With this layer we will increase the clarity of the details.
It’s all! Work is completely ready. Below you can see my final result. Thank you for paying attention to my lesson. Do not be afraid to experiment and success in your work!