Creating a magical photo manipulation in Photoshop – Part I

Artists often work with a team of people to complete their project. This team may include a client, a creative director, an art director, a photographer, a retoucher, and a graphic designer. In this lesson, I teamed up with photographer Natalie Fobes to create a magical composition with a child playing with toys that came to life. In the process, we will show you, not only how to take the photos that you need correctly, but also how to retouch them and combine them with other stock images to create a work of art that would match the original sketch. Let’s start!

Final image

Starting materials

To complete the lesson, you will need the following source materials. Please download them or select the appropriate replacement before proceeding. There is also a link to free stock images.

Archive

PHOTOSESSION

To learn how the photos were taken for this lesson, go to Natalie’s lesson.

Accelerated video

Creating a magical photo manipulation in Photoshop - Part I

Slow Motion Video

Below you can view a slow-motion version of the video. This video lasts 45 minutes and is a video of the original process accelerated by 350%. Unfortunately, this video has no sound.

Note: In this lesson, adjustment layers and clipping masks are widely used. If you are not familiar with their principles of operation, then take a look at the video below or see the relevant lessons.

Creating a magical photo manipulation in Photoshop - Part I

Illustration planning

Before I started writing this lesson, I worked closely with other lesson authors to develop a concept for the final image. We came up with the idea of ​​a scene where a child is playing with animated toys. Below are a few sketches on this topic.

After discussion, we decided that the atmosphere of the first sketch suited us better, so I sent this sketch to photographer Natalie so that she could take photos with a similar look and feeling. More information about the process of creating images you can find here.

1. Preparing the room

Step 1

Open a photo of an empty room. This will be the basis of our entire composition. As you can see, in the photo the room is different from the sketch. We couldn’t recreate the atmosphere exactly as in the sketch, so we had to improvise a bit.

Using Clone stamp tool (S) (Stamp), delete unnecessary objects such as flash and reflector.

Now, using Quick mask (Q) (Quick mask) darken shadow areas with correction Curves (Curves)

To accent the light from the window, merge all visible layers (Ctrl-Shift-Alt-E) into a new layer and set the blending mode to Screen (Screen) with Opacity (Opacity) 35%. Then apply the mask in the next direction of the light.

2. Put the girl on the stage

Step 1

Open a photo of the girl to place her on the scene. Via Pen tool (P) (Pen) select the girl, set the radius Feather (Feather) 0,5px.

Now, to create a hair mask, go to the palette Channel (Channels) and duplicate Red (Red) channel, then using correction Levels (Levels) increase the contrast until the image becomes black and white. At this stage, the only thing that matters is the edge of the hair.

After that, hold Ctrl, Click on the previously created channel to make a selection, and then paint over the edges of the hair on the mask with white, showing them.

Using Puppet warp (Puppet deformation), adjust the girl’s forearm as if she is pointing at something in front of you.

After that, strengthen the shadows and light on the girl with the help of a correction layer. Curves (Curves). Adjusting the light, set the settings Curves (Curves) as shown in the image below and mask the indicated areas depending on the lighting.

For the shadow, create an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) in Clipping Mask mode, align your curve with the image below and mask out areas that are not exposed to light.

3. Add toys

Step 1

Open the images of toys and with the help of Pen tool (Pen) highlight them around the contour. For a soft selection, apply Feather (Feather) about 0.5 – 1.0 px.
Place the carved toys on your work canvas. Start with a panda in the background on the dresser. Disguise and position as shown below. Lower the brightness of the light with a correction layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) by setting the value Lightness (Brightness) -20.

For shadows, create another adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), masking details that need to be shaded.

Apply a correction layer to the light. Curves (Curves) with the settings below.

Mask those areas that need to be lit.

To create a drop shadow on the wall, you can use the same bear selection, move it slightly to the side and darken the color of the wall using the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves).

Step 2

For a bear on a bed, lower the illumination brightness with an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) by setting the value Lightness (Brightness) -35.

After that, use the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to create the shadow, as shown below.

To create light, apply an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) with the settings shown below.

Pay attention to the direction of propagation of light.

To create a shadow where the bear touches the bed, select the bear from the original image and set the blending mode Multiply (Multiplication).

To create a fold on the bed, cut a small section from another photo with the girl and place it under the bear, masking the unwanted parts.

To create a large shadow, use the selection of the bear, shading it with a correction layer. Curves (Curves) from top to bottom.

Step 3

For a bear in the background, standing on the boxes, reduce the brightness of the lighting with Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) by setting the value Lightness (Brightness) -20.

Apply light with a correction layer. Curves (Curves), considering its direction from the window.

To create shadows, create another adjustment layer. Curves (Curves)

Mask areas of shadow

Now create a very soft shadow cast on the wall. To do this, hold down the Ctrl key, click on the icon of the clipping mask, thus creating a selection. After that, open the Shading + F6 feathering settings window, set the value to about 50px, fill the selected area with color74584f, reduce Opacity (Opacity) up to 30% and set the blending mode Multiply (Multiplication).

Move the shadow down and to the right, as shown below, and paint over the mask so that the shadow does not fall on the box.

Step 4

Open the image of two bears and place them on the floor.

Using the adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), reduce Lightness (Brightness) -45. Then using the adjustment layer Curves (Curves) create shadows.

Using another adjustment layer Curves (Curves) create light.

For the shadow on the floor, we will use the shadow from the original photo. To do this, create a copy of the layer with bears.

Now press Ctrl + Shift + U to discolor the copy and set the blending mode for it to Multiply (Multiplication).

Step 5

Open the image of the drawing toy, rotate it through the menu Edit -> Transform -> Flip Horizontal (Edit -> Transform -> Flip Horizontally), then rotate as in the image below.

Via Pen tool (Feather) hide part of the toy as if it is in the closet. Then adjust the lighting with a correction layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), reduce Lightness (Brightness) to – 30.

To create a shadow, use the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves)

Create another correction layer Curves (Curves) and adjust it as follows to create the lighting.

Step 6

Open the dinosaur image and place it on the working canvas as shown below.

After that with the help of a correction layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) Adjust the lighting by setting the value Lightness (Brightness) -10, and create shadows using a correction layer. Curves (Curves).

Then using another adjustment layer Curves (Curves) create highlights on the toy

To create a shadow on the floor, create a new layer, fill it with black and set the blending mode Multiply (Multiplication) c Opacity (Opacity) 75%. Then using a soft brush, draw two diagonal lines under the dinosaur’s legs on the layer mask.

Step 7

Open the image with the rubber duck and place it on the floor between the bed and the dinosaur. Create an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), reduce Lightness (Brightness) to -20.

Now create an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to create highlights

Then add another correction layer. Curves (Curves) to create shadow

To create a shadow on the floor, use the same technique as with the bear. Create a copy of the original image with a duck, and mask the shadow area.

Then set the blending mode Multiply (Multiply) and mask the top to correct the perspective.

Step 8

Add a rabbit to the scene and place it as shown below.

Create an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), reduce Lightness (Brightness) to -25.

For the shadow, create a correction layer. Curves (Curves)

Create another correction layer Curves (Curves) as shown below for blending light

Step 9

Open the caterpillar image and place it on the girl’s leg.

After you mask the extra areas and position as you like, reduce the lighting with Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) by setting Lightness (Brightness) -30.

To apply light create an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves), with the settings shown below, and mask the indicated areas according to the incident light.

Now add another correction layer. Curves (Curves) for shadows.

To create a shadow between the thigh and the caterpillar, select the desired area on the original image and transfer it to the canvas, change the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication).

To create a large shadow, create a new layer, fill it with black and set the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication) with Opacity (Opacity) 30%. Using a soft brush, paint the mask according to the curvature of the thigh.

Step 10

Open the image of the aircraft, flip horizontally and place next to the window.

Since this toy is located near the window, it needs to be slightly discolored and increase the brightness. To do this, create a correction layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) by setting Lightness (Brightness) 15 and Saturation (Saturation) -35.

To restore contrast, create a new adjustment layer. Black White (Black and White) and set the blending mode Soft light (Soft light).

Now turn up the light with the correction layer. Curves (Curves)

Then add some highlights using the correction layer. Curves (Curves) by disguising selected areas

Now let’s create a dynamic blur to give a sense of movement. Duplicate all layers related to the aircraft, and merge them into one layer by pressing Ctrl + E, then use the filter Motion blur (Blur in motion) set Angle (Angle) 15, Distance (Distance) 500. Move this layer slightly to the right and mask it, leaving only a blurred trace.

In the final stage, we will give the effect of rotation to the propeller. First, create another copy of the aircraft and cut only the propeller

Give it a horizontal position.

Then create a rectangular selection with a propeller in the center and apply the filter Radial blur (Radial blur) with Amount (Quantity) 30 and other parameters listed below.

Duplicate the layer and position it vertically, perpendicular to the horizontally positioned layer.

Go to menu Edit -> Transform -> Distort (Edit -> Transform -> Distort), give the propeller the right perspective.

As a finishing touch, take a soft brush and erase part of the propeller in the plane’s mask.

Step 11

Place the rocket near the window.

Since the toy is very close to the window, it will be brightly lit, so add a correction layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) by setting the value Lightness (Brightness) 30.

To add more light add a correction layer. Curves (Curves) by disguising the area depending on the lighting.

To create a motion effect, duplicate the rocket and apply a filter. Motion blur (Motion blur) Angle (Angle) 50 and Distance (Distance) 500px

Disguise the blurred image, leaving only a trace of the rocket.

Now, to create a fiery tail from a rocket, open the firework image and place it behind the rocket.

Set the blending mode Screen (Screen) and mask the unwanted parts of the fireworks.

After all we will brighten more colors. Create a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) as a clipping mask for a layer with fireworks, tick the Colorize (Toning) and install Saturation (Saturation) 100.

Now, in order to enhance the yellow color, let’s use the same method. Create a new correction layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), tick the Colorize (Toning) and set the value Hue (Color tone) 40, Saturation (Saturation) 100. After that, paint the mask surface only in the area of ​​the beginning of the flame to highlight the yellow color.

To increase contrast and brightness, duplicate all layers related to fireworks and merge them (Ctrl + E), and then change the blending mode to Overlay (Overlap) and hide unnecessary details.

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