Forest Fairy in Photoshop

In this lesson, I will show you how to create a dark, mystical photo manipulation.

You will learn about interesting techniques, as well as about the technique of creating compositions from branches and climbing plants, as well as about the technique of color correction and combination of images. So let’s get started!

Final result

Starting materials

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop with the following sizes: Width (Width) 1920, Height (Height) 1200. Background content (Background Contents): Transparent (Transparent).

Step 2

Open the stock image ‘Forest’. Since we create a dark and mystical picture, the bright sky on the image of the forest will not suit us, therefore, we need to get rid of the bright sky, replacing it with a dark sky. Select the entire image (Ctrl + A), and then go Selection – Color Range (Select -> Color Range).

Hold the (Shift) key + left-click on the image of the sky until the whole forest is black. You can pick the value Scatter (Fuzziness) for a more precise selection, but I recommend you pick a value below 80, because high value Scatter (Fuzziness) will allow the program Photoshop to allocate extra areas.

Using tool Color Range (Color Range), we easily highlighted the forest. This tool is useful in the selection of complex compositions, such as woods, trees, hair.

Step 3

Move the highlighted forest image to our working paper. Apply scaling as shown in the screenshot below.

Add a few adjustment layers to the forest layer as a clipping mask, so the adjustment layers will only affect the forest layer.

Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast)> Levels (Levels)> Black and white (BlackWhite)> Photo Filter (Photo Filter).

Result.

Step 4

We need to add shadows to completely turn the forest into a dark forest. Create a new layer, select a soft black brush. Paint over the brush as shown in the screenshot below.

Change the blending mode for the layer with the shadow on Soft light (Soft Light), and also reduce the opacity of this layer to 75%.

Step 5

Dark blue color is the main color of our picture, so we will fill the forest with the appropriate basic shade. Let’s go Layer – New Fill Layer – Color (Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color), then, set the color tint # 4273b0, change the blending mode for this layer to Chromaticity (Color) value Opacity (Opacity) 77%, Fillings (Fill) 78%. With this simple step, the forest will perfectly blend in with a deep blue tint.

Add a layer mask to the layer Color fill (Solid Color). Using a soft black brush, hide the fill, because its too much what we need.

Step 6

Download Mist brushes from the link at the beginning of this tutorial. Open the brushes, and then select any brush you like. Start drawing fog.

Add layer masks to fog layers. With the help of a soft black brush process the effect of fog, because we need to create a gentle fog effect to saturate the atmosphere of the whole picture

Decrease Opacity (Opacity) and Fill (Fill) layers with fog up to 45%. You can change the percentage of opacity and fill at your discretion, everything will depend on how rich you want to create a fog.

Step 7

Open the stock image of the Model. Using tool Fast selection (Quick Selection Tool), create a selection around the model image, this high-quality image, and also with high contrast, so that it will be enough to use the tool Fast selection (Quick Selection Tool). Otherwise, you can use the tool Pen (Pen Tool) to get a more accurate selection, but it will take more time, decide which tool to use!

Move the selected model image to our working paper, placing it as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 8 Parameters of Layer Overlay with Model

Apply Overlay options (Blending Option) to the layer with the model, apply the option Inner shadow (Inner Shadow). Apply the settings shown in the screenshot below:

Next, add the following adjustment layers:

Curves (Curves)> Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast)> Photo Filter (Photo Filter)> Color Balance (Color Balance)> Exposition (Exposure).

Result.

Step 9 Add a shadow to the Model.

We will apply the same technique that we just applied to the image of the forest. Reduce the opacity of the shadow layer to 31%.

Step 10

As you can see, the original lighting of the model does not quite fit our scene. Usually, many corrective layers are spent on the correction, and the result will not be good enough. In this step, I will show you one good technique that will help you adjust the lighting as you need with the tool. Clarifier and dimmer (Dodge and Burn Tool).

First you need to create a new layer, fill it 50% gray (50% Gray). To do this, press the keys (Ctrl + A) to select the entire image, then right-click on the document and in the appeared window select the option Fill – 50% gray (Fill> 50% Gray). Convert this layer to a clipping mask for the model layer.

Choose a tool Brightener and Dimmer (Dodge and Burn Tool), install Range (Range) on Mid tones (Midtone) with Exposure (Exposure) 12%. Start painting the model. Notice that we will create the light source later, which will be located on top. So, using the tool Clarifier (Dodge Tool), draw light highlights on the image of the model, where the lighting may fall, and with the help of the tool Dimmer (Burn Tool) to other sites.

In the screenshot below, you can see that the red arrows point to the application areas of the tool. Dimmer (Burn Tool), and the blue arrows on the areas where to use Clarifier (Dodge Tool).

Change the blending mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay). The result is in the screenshot below!

Step 11 Add Sky

Move the sky image to our working paper, position it below the forest layer.

Add an adjustment layer to the sky layer Curves (Curves).

Step 12

Open the stock image ‘Dead Tree 1’. Highlight part of the image. Using tool Color range (Color Range) separate the branches in the same way as we did with the forest in Step 2. A good opportunity to try this tool again.

Step 13

Place a layer with fragments of dead wood behind the model.

We do not need white pixels that are present on the tree, so we will resort to using the tool Refine edge (Refine Edge) to get rid of these extra details. Create an active selection around the tree image, hold down the (Ctrl) key + left-click on the layer thumbnail and then press the keys (Ctrl + Alt + R) to activate the tool Refine edge (Refine Edge).

Just a couple of clicks and we got rid of white pixels!

Step 14

Add the following adjustment layers to the dead tree layer.

Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast)> Exposition (Exposure)> Photo Filter (Photo Filter).

Result.

Step 15

Open stock image ‘Dead Tree 2’. Highlight part of the image.

Place this piece of wood behind the model.

Add a correction layer to this tree layer. Exposition (Exposure).

And we got another tree for the girl.

Step 16

This step is very interesting and I recommend you to experiment, i.e. give free rein to your imagination. We will create a picture, as if the girl is entangled in the branches of a dead tree. Once again, open the stock image ‘Dead Tree 1’. Select any fragment of the branch to your taste. For example, this part of the branch.

Copy / paste the selected part of the branch to our working paper, right-click on the layer with the branch and in the window that appears, select the option Convert to Smart Object (Convert To Smart Object), so we can transform the branch without losing quality.

Then you can bend, twist the branch as you like. Press the keys (Ctrl + T) to activate the tool. Transformation (Transform tool), then click the right mouse button to display the dialog box, select the option Deformation (Warp) to bend a branch.

Continue to duplicate and bend the branches. Twist the branch around the model.

Step 17

Continue to create twisted branches, create as many as you want, just do not overdo it.

Create a new layer. Draw shadows in areas where the branches are wrapped around the model. Change the blending mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay).

Step 18

Group all the layers with branches into one group (hold down (Shift) + left-click on the topmost layer with a branch, and then click on the lowest layer with a branch, and then press the keys (Ctrl + G) to create a group) . Apply the following adjustment layers to the layer with the group.

Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast)> Curves (Curves)

We also need to add shadows to the branches, so create a new layer, convert this layer to a clipping mask for the layer with the group, and then draw the shadows on the branches.

Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), layer opacity is 47%.

Step 19

Add shadows to the ground below the model and branches with a soft black brush.

The opacity of the layer is 45%.

Step 20

We have fun with the branches, now it’s time to have fun with ivy. Open the stock image “Climbing Plant”. Move this image to our working paper, placing the model behind the image.

Add more plants, apply the transformation to your taste. The more, the more fun! Position the climbing plant so that it repeats the twists of the branches.

Step 21

Add a correction layer to the climbing plant layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Group the ivy layers into one group before color correction!

Result.

Step 22

Add ivy to the front of the model, so that the ivy follows the curves of the branches on its body.

Step 23

Same as in step 21, add an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to all layers with ivy in the foreground.

Step 24

Considering the branches and the climbing plant, we need to add shadows to the ground, since the existing shadow is barely visible.

The technique of creating the shadow is the same as in the previous step. Change the blending mode for the layer with the shadow on Soft light (Soft Light).

Step 25

Next we will create a simple but special effect to the model image, so our picture will look more … magical. Create a new layer, select the tool. Pen (Pen Tool), draw a curve around the model’s body, as shown in the screenshot below:

Before we continue, go to the settings of the brush. Install a 5px round brush with a hardness of 100%.

Return to the tool Pen (Pen Tool), right-click on the drawn curve and in the window that appears, select the option Perform a stroke (Stroke Path). Select a brush as a stroke tool, tick the box Simulate pressure (Simulate Pressure).

Option Perform a stroke (Stroke Path) uses the foreground color as the base color of the stroke, so set the foreground color to # 6391b7, and then click OK. The result should be as in the screenshot below:

Step 26

To the layer with the created curve add Overlay options (Blending Option):

Change the blending mode to Linear Dodge (Linear Dodge) and we get a beautiful glowing line!

Draw another line.

Step 27

Create a new layer, select a round brush, brush size 7px, brush hardness 100%.

Go to bookmark Brushes (Brush) (hotkey: F5). Apply the following settings for the brush:

Now paint over the model with a brush, taking into account the brush settings, the dispersion of particles will be distributed as the brush is painted over, creating a semblance of a bokeh effect. Apply the same settings. Overlay options (Blending Option), including the color that we applied to the curved lines.

Step 28

We need to add extra lighting. To enhance the effect that we just created. Create a new layer. Choose a soft brush, brush color # 6bb6fd, and paint over the model. Change the blending mode for this layer to Linear Dodge (Linear Dodge), layer opacity 40%.

Step 29

Once again, open the stock image ‘Climbing plant’. Move this image to our working paper, placing it in the upper left side of our composition. Apply Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur), blur radius 1.6px.

Duplicate the creeper layer, apply a small scale, and then place a duplicate behind the original ivy image.

Group all climbers with one group, and then apply an adjustment layer Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast):

The left side of our scene is ready!

Step 30

Now we need to create the same on the right side of our scene, duplicate the layer with the group that we created by shifting the duplicate group to the right side of our scene. Press the keys (Ctrl + T) to activate the tool. Transformation (Transform Tool) select the option Flip horizontally (Flip Horizontal), so the climbing plant will not look like the same plant on the left side of the scene.

Step 31

We have almost completed the lesson! add more fog to enhance the mystical atmosphere of our entire scene.

Use a layer mask to apply a fog effect.

Result.

Step 32

Load the ‘Rays of Light’ brushes. Select any brush you like and then paint next to the image of the moon. Reduce the opacity of the layer if you think the rays are too saturated.

Step 33

Next we will conduct the final color correction. Apply the following adjustment layers to create a magical atmosphere!

Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation)> Exposition (Exposure)> Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast)> Curves (Curves)> Selective color correction (Selective color).

Result.

Step 34

Add lighting to the model with a soft white brush.

Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light). Also select a soft black brush, then paint over the edges of the image.

Reduce the opacity of the vignette layer to 60%.

Step 35

Finishing touch! A great way to highlight the main character is to make the background less attractive. Add to the forest layer Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur), blur radius 1.2px (don’t forget to convert the forest layer into a Smart Object).

Thank you for being with me until the end of the lesson. Hope you learned something new today.

Final result

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