In this lesson, I will show you how to create an emotional autumn scene with a dreaming girl. We will consider the technique of combining various images using adjustment layers, masks and brushes. You will also learn how to retouch models using standard Adobe Photoshop tools, how to enhance colors and contrast, how to create lighting and depth of field.
1. Add Forest
Create a new 1172 x 1106 px document in Photoshop with the following settings:
Open the original image with the forest. Using tool Move (Move Tool (V)), move this image to our working paper, and then convert to smart object (Smart Object). Using tool Free transformation (Free Transform Tool (Ctrl + T)), zoom in as shown in the screenshot below:
Let’s go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur). Install Blur radius (Radius) 4 px:
This step will add some depth of field to our scene.
We need to create a soft foggy background with the main light source on the left. Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to enhance the brightness, for this we go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Curves):
Next, go to the adjustment layer mask. Curves (Curves) and using a soft round brush in black with Opacity (Opacity) brush about 30%, loosen the effect of correction in the right side of the scene, which is further away from the light source.
Add a fill color to reduce the visibility of the forest. Let’s go Layer – New Fill Layer – Color (Layer> New Fill Layer> Solid Color). Set the fill color to # 8898af:
Reduce degree Opacity (Opacity) of this layer with fill up to 30%:
To create the main light source, create a new layer and using a large soft white brush paint over the top left of the scene.
To the created layer, add a layer mask and using a soft black brush, loosen the saturation of the light so that the light is not too saturated and pronounced.
Next, add an adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance). In the settings window, change the values for Medium tones (Midtones):
2. Add Image Models and Draw Hair
Open the original image with the model. Separate the image of the girl, including the image of the column from the background. Copy the selected image to a new layer. Next, create a new layer between the original layer and the layer with the selected image of the girl, fill this layer with a dark color of medium tones so that you can better see the result of hair dyeing in the following steps.
We will paint the hair, improving the image of the model. Create a new layer, change the foreground color to # 3e281a (take a color tint sample from the model’s head). Select a hard brush and then press the key (F5) to set the settings for this brush:
Using a customized brush, paint the hair using a chocolate shade:
Change the brush color to # 735539. Add light hair strands, and paint over dark hair strands.
Create a new layer and use a bright yellow brush (I used the color shade # a87e56), add small hairs on the head and curly locks.
3. We carry out retouching models
Next, turn off the visibility of the original layer with the girl, as well as the fill layer. Press the keys (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E) to merge all visible layers (selected model image, including drawn hair). Move the merged layer with the model to our working paper with the forest, placing the model on the right side of our scene:
Next, we will carry out a small retouch of the model using the filter Plastics (Liquify filter). Let’s go Filter – Plastic (Filter> Liquify). Choose a tool Deformation (Forward Warp Tool (W)):
With this tool, make the neck a little thinner, and your face is slimmer, then, make your mouth a little thinner, and your chin is elongated. Do not overdo it, otherwise the result will be unnatural.
Also on the image there are extra details: on the column and on the folds of the dress
To hide them, create a new layer as a clipping mask for the model layer. Choose a tool Stamp (Clone Tool (S)). Use this tool to hide specified parts.
Create a new layer and using a soft brush, brush color # b497a0, Opacity (Opacity) and Pressure (Flow) brush approximately 22-30%, soften and lighten some areas of the skin, in particular on the hands and face:
Create a new layer and using a soft brush, brush color # cec7c9, add brightness and softness to your hands, fingers and face. You may have noticed that separate facial features disappeared, and the face began to look somehow unnatural. Don’t worry, with other tools we will fix this later.
Create a new layer and using a soft brush, brush color # 826b72, create a shading on the girl’s face, as well as on areas of the body that are hidden from direct light. Change the blending mode for this layer to Multiplication (Multiply), opacity Layer (Opacity) 100%:
Create a new layer as a clipping mask for the layer with the girl, change the blending mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay), Opacity (Opacity) layer 100%, Fill (fill) 50% gray.
Choose a tool Clarifier (Dodge Tool) and Dimmer (Burn Tool (O)), set Range (Range) on Mid tones (Midtones), Exposition (Exposure) approximately 20–30%, to create light and shade on the model image, as well as on the column. You can see the result of my brush processing under the blending mode. Normal (Normal), as well as the final result in the blend mode Overlap (Overlay):
4. Add Shadow Models
In this step, we will add a shadow to the model. In the original image with the model, the light is very soft, and the contrast is low, so the shadow is almost invisible. However, in our scene, we will enhance the light and contrast, so the shadow should be more visible.
Create a new layer and use the tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool (L)), select the model image (there is no need to create an exact selection). Fill the selected area with black (Shift + F5):
Transform the shadow layer into a smart object, and then flip horizontally, go Editing – Transformation – Flip Horizontal (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal). Move the shadow to the right:
Decrease Opacity (Opacity) layer with shadow up to 50%, and then add a layer mask. Using a soft black brush hide the shadow areas that are superimposed on the image of the model. Also lower the opacity of the shadow as the shadow is removed from the model image:
Next, go Filter – Blur – Blur by Gauss(Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur). Set the blur radius to 4 px:
Switch to the filter mask and use the soft black brush to hide the blur effect in the area next to the model, since there should be a more saturated and clear shadow:
Create a new layer and use the half-soft black brush to draw the missing shadows under the model’s fingers, which are located at an angle to the column:
5. Perform Color Correction Models
Select a layer with a model and all layers related to the model (including layers with a shadow) to group them into one group (Ctrl + G). Change the blending mode for the layer with the group from the mode Skip (Pass Through (default group mode)) to Normal (Normal), opacity is 100%. Add adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Change the values for All (Master), Khmer (Reds), Yellow (Yellows), Blue (Blues) and Purple (Magentas):
Add adjustment layer Photo Filter (Photo Filter). Set the color to # e8b279 to add some warm tones to the model:
6. Add Leaves
Open the original image with the leaves. Select different leaves to add to our working paper. Place the leaves around the model. Use free transform (Ctrl + T) to scale and distort the leaves so that they do not look the same:
Add more leaves to our scene. Apply filter Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur), blur radius 4px. Blurry leaves will add depth to the scene.
Group layers with leaves in one group (Ctrl + G). The leaves look dark compared to the background, so add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to increase the brightness:
Next, go to the adjustment layer mask. Curves (Curves) and with the help of a soft black brush hide the effect of curves on a piece of paper that is located behind the book, and also in a small section of the leaflet in the foreground, because on these leaves the least light falls:
Add adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Reduce value Saturation (Saturation) to -54:
Some leaves still look unnatural in a foggy background. To fix this, add a mask to the layer with a group of leaves and using a soft brush of black color and opacity of 20–25% paint over the leaves to reduce their visibility and best combine with the background:
7. Add Bokeh Texture and Lighting Effects
Open the Bor texture. Move this texture to our working paper, over the top of the scene. Change the blending mode for the Bokeh texture layer to Lightening (Screen), opacity (Opacity) layer 100%:
Add a layer mask to the Bokeh texture layer and use a soft black brush to hide the texture over the model image, leaving the texture visible mainly in the background of the forest.
To combine the softness of the bokeh effect with the forest, let’s go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur). Set a blur radius of 8 px:
Add adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) (as a clipping mask). Apply settings for All (Master), as shown in the screenshot below:
To add light to the left side of the scene, create a new layer, and then select a large soft brush, brush color # ff9976. Use the brush to paint the top left of the image. Change the blending mode for this layer to Hard light (Hard Light), layer opacity 100%:
Using a layer mask, reduce the saturation of the light in the right side of the scene, where the least amount of light enters.
8. Final Correction
Create a new adjustment layer. Photo Filter (Photo Filter) on top of all layers. Set the color to # f1e795:
Next, add a new adjustment layer. Gradient Map (Gradient Map). Set the gradient colors to # 66a1c3 and # 7790f9. Change the blending mode for this adjustment layer to Soft light (Soft Light), opacity (Opacity) layer 100%:
Add another adjustment layer. Gradient Map (Gradient Map). Set the gradient colors to # 3a3469 and # ffcd75. Change the blending mode for this adjustment layer to Soft light (Soft Light), opacity (Opacity) 50%:
Add adjustment layer Color Balance (Color Balance). Change the settings for Medium tones (Midtones), also for tonal balance Sveta (Highlights):
Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to increase the brightness:
Next, go to the adjustment layer mask. Curves (Curves) and using a soft black brush, process the area around the central part of the image to reduce the brightness, so as not to lose detail.
Add another adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to reduce brightness:
Next, go to the adjustment layer mask. Curves (Curves) and with the help of a soft black brush, hide the curves effect in the left part of the image, as well as in the center of the image, in order to preserve the brightness in the specified parts of the scene:
Add adjustment layer Selective color correction (Selective color). Change the values for color Red (Reds):
Add adjustment layer Vibration (Vibrance) to enhance color:
Create a new layer and using the brush of medium hardness, the color of the brush is # ffe5c1, paint individual bright strands of curly hair where you see light on your head.
Change the brush color to a lighter shade (#fffdcc). Draw lighter strands of hair:
Create a new layer and using a soft brush, brush color #ffdfbf, paint over some parts of the dress to highlight the individual details, making them brighter. Change the blending mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay), opacity (Opacity) layer 50%:
In the final step, we will add the shadow of the hair that we have drawn in the previous steps. Create a new layer inside the group with the model (on top of the shadow layer and below the adjustment layers), and using a soft black brush, about 20–30% opacity, draw the shadows on the column where the shadow should fall.
Congratulations! We have completed the lesson!
I hope you enjoyed this lesson as much as I did. Thank you and good luck in future projects!