From the life of beetles in Photoshop

In this lesson you will learn how to create an unusual composition “an exciting moment from the life of the inhabitants of a forest of small and invisible worlds”. You will learn how to work with adjustment layers, learn how to work with lighting, apply light and shadows and much more!

What will you create?

We will begin the lesson with the location of beetles and the creation of lighting. Then we will create a darkness from which the other inhabitants of the forest will come out. Pay attention to the proper formulation of lighting and work with textures. At the end, add adjustment layers and special effects. You will need Photoshop of any version, inspiration and good mood. You can turn on your favorite music and have a cup of tea.

Final image

Source material

Step 1

Before you begin the lesson, download all the materials in one place. So it will be easier to work with them. Open Photoshop and start creating! Create a new document 3000px in width and 2000px in height. To do this, go to the menu File> New (File> New) or press Ctrl + N. Name the document “Moment”.

Step 2

Now add an image with a clock. To do this, go to the menu File> Place (File> Place) and specify an image with a clock. This will be our main background. I like this image for its uniqueness and contrast.

Step 3

After adding a landscape with a clock, adjust the image size to fit the document. The added image will thus automatically be in transformation mode. If for any reason this does not happen, press the key combination (Ctrl + T) or go to the menu Edit> Transform> Scale (Edit> Transform> Scale) and drag the black squares in the corners to the sides.

Step 4

Now let’s get down to creating our main environment. Create a new group “Beetles” by clicking on the group icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

Step 5

Open the image with beetles. To do this, go to the menu File> Open (File> Open) or use the command (Ctrl + O) and specify an image with bugs.

Step 6

Choose a tool Quick Selection (W) (Quick Allocation).

Now highlight the praying mantis. Select the praying mantis legs and try not to hurt other insects.

Step 7

Choose a tool Move Tool (V) (Move) and use it to drag the selected insect into your document.

Step 8

Repeat the same (Steps 6-7) with the remaining insects. All layers with insects should be in the “Beetles” group. Do not pay attention to the layer mask in the image below – this is a ready-made version of insects. You can use other insects or change their location, because creating a composition is a creative process.

Step 9

Now we will hide part of the caterpillar for more realism, as it is behind the stone. Add a mask to the caterpillar layer. To do this, go to the layers palette, select the caterpillar layer and click on the mask creation icon.

Step 10

Choose a tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) on the toolbar. Set the following parameters for it: Size (Size): 50px, Hardness (Stiffness): 100% Opacity (Opacity): 100% Flow (Push) 100%. Be sure to set the background color to black by pressing the D key on the keyboard.

Now remove the bottom of the track, as shown in the image below.

Step 11

Now create insect shadows. To do this, create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) or click on the icon of the new layer at the bottom of the layers palette.

Step 12

Now we need to add a shadow for all insects except the praying mantis and the caterpillar. To do this, hold down Ctrl, click on each layer with insects.

Step 13

Click on the newly created layer. Select Paint Bucket Tool (G) (Fill) on the toolbar. Be sure to set the background color to black by pressing D on the keyboard.

Step 14

Color the highlighted bugs. Do not worry to spoil the whole picture, because the brush will only work in the selected area. To remove the selection, press Ctrl + D. Place the layer with the shadow below the group of insects. Now, using Move Tool (V) (Move), drop the shadow down a bit.

Step 15

Choose a tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) on the toolbar. Set the following parameters: Size (Size): 80px Hardness (Hardness): 0%Opacity (Opacity): 40%, Flow (Push) 100%. Be sure to set the background color to black by pressing the D key on the keyboard.

Draw a shadow around the clock. Thus, we emphasize the importance of the element in the picture.

Draw a small shadow under the mantis. Near its wings should be more and less outside the body and legs. Draw a shadow near the caterpillar, just a little.

Step 16

Select Eraser tool (E) (Eraser) and erase part of the shadow from the wings of the dragonfly, as shown in the figure below.

Step 17

Now blur the shadows so that they look realistic. Go to menu Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur) and set Radius (Radius): 6.0px.

Step 18

That’s all. Having dealt with the shadows, we begin to work on insects, or rather on their appearance. First, add a correction layer to the “Beetles” group and reduce their brightness so that they look better. Go to menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels) or click on the icon New Adjust Layer (New Adjustment Layer) at the bottom of the layers palette and select Levels (Levels).

We need to make the light tones darker, so move the white marker to the left or set the values Output levels (Output Levels) as follows: left (dark) 0, right (white) 198.

Step 19

This is what should happen. Note that the adjustment layer affects only the Beetles group. If this is not the case, select the adjustment layer, then hold down the Alt key and click on the “Beetles” group. An arrow pointing down should appear on the adjustment layer.

Step 20

Now we need to impose the right amount of light on the insects. To do this, create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N) and set the settings as shown below.

Note that this layer should be on top of the rest.

Step 21

Now use Dodge tool (O) (Brightener) to create light as well Burn tool (O) (Dimmer) for the shadow.

Set the following settings for the tools:

Paint according to natural light, light and dark areas of insects. Light falls from the side of the caterpillar. Thus, all insects on the left side are more illuminated, on the right side is darker.

Install Opacity (Opacity) 50%:

Step 22

Here is the result after the imposition of light and shadow:

Step 23

Now create an atmosphere of mystery and curiosity. What will we do for this? Insects will appear in a circle of darkness. First create a new layer by clicking on the icon for creating a new layer at the bottom of the layers panel.

Choose a tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) on the toolbar. Set the following parameters: Size (Size): 700px. Hardness (Hardness): 0% Opacity (Opacity): 100% Flow (Push): 100%. Use black color (D).

Darken the image as shown below. Be sure to draw the edges of the image, but do not touch the top of the image.

Step 24

Now add a mask to this layer.

Set the following parameters for Brush tool (Brush):

Set the base color to black, select a layer mask, and remove the dark areas as shown.

Step 25

Now we have to create shadows of looking insects. Go to the “Bugs” group, then hold down the Ctrl key, click on the cicada, spider and blue beetle and duplicate them (Ctrl + J). Then merge them into a group (Ctrl + G) and drag the group under the darkness.

Duplicate the cicada layer 1 time.

Step 26

Now place the insects as shown.

Next, flip across the horizontal blue bug (left). To do this, go to Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontally).

Step 27

Now add a beetle with jaws. Open a photo with a bug (Ctrl + O) or go to menu File> Open (File> Open).

Step 28

Choose a tool Quick Selection (W) (Quick Allocation). Highlight the white background and the inscription below the photo.

In this case, the contour of the beetle is more important to us, and not its appearance. We’ll repaint it later.

Step 29

Invert the selection (Ctrl + Shift + I), or go to the menu Select> Inverse (Selection> Invert).

Using Move Tool (V) (Move), move the bug to our document.

Step 30

Reduce the size of the beetle (Ctrl + T) or go to the menu in Edit> Transform> Scale (Editing> Transform> Scale).

Duplicate the beetle layer (Ctrl + J) and place both beetles as shown.

Step 31

Add wings to our work. Open the photo with wings (Ctrl + O) or go to menu File> Open (File> Open).

Step 32

Choose a tool Quick Selection (W) (Quick selection). Select the wing and using Move Tool (V) (Move) move it to our document.

Step 33

Apply the previous step to the right wing. Now place them as shown. Flip horizontally wings, go to Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontally).

Step 34

Now we need to paint all the elements of this group as if they were in the shadow. Add an adjustment layer to the group. Go to menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Gradient Map (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Gradient Map) or click on the icon New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) and in the list select Gradient map (Gradient map).

Step 35

In the window that appears, click on the gradient, then in the settings window of the gradient, set the color of the left marker # 121012 and right marker # 030303. Remember to set the application of the adjustment layer to the group only.

Step 36

Install Opacity (Opacity) adjustment layer 90%.

Step 37

That’s what happened. Shadows turned out barely noticeable and I like it. Just a hint that there are insects.

Step 38

The next part of our work is to add texture. It will refresh, give magic and ease. Place an image of a snowy texture. To do this, go to the menu File> Place (File> Place) and select the file with the snow texture.

Step 39

Transform the texture so that it covers the whole picture. Do not stretch it too much. When converting, I went very little outside the working area.

Step 40

Duplicate the texture (Ctrl + J) 2 times. Select all three texture layers (while holding Ctrl, click on each layer) and merge them into one group.

Step 41

Now I deliberately hid the layers with the texture in order to control the changes and see which layer we are working with. We will modify each texture layer, starting from the bottom. Lower the bottom texture layer as shown in the picture using Move Tool (V) (Move).

Step 42

Then change the blending mode for it to Screen (Screen).

Decrease Opacity (Opacity) layer up to 30%

Step 43

Now, so that the texture is not monotonous, flip it vertically. To do this, go to the menu Edit> Transform> Flip Vertical (Edit> Transform> Flip Vertically).

Step 44

Add a mask to this texture layer. To do this, click on the mask icon in the layers palette.

Choose a tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) on the toolbar. Set the following parameters: Size (Size): 150px, Hardness (Hardness): 0%Opacity (Opacity): 60% Flow (Push) 100%. Be sure to set the background color to black by pressing the D key on the keyboard.

Erase the edges of the texture. Make the transition smooth.

Step 45

We now turn to the second layer. Install Opacity (Opacity) layer 35%. Then change the blending mode for it to Soft light (Soft light).

Step 46

And the last layer! Install Opacity (Opacity) layer 20%. Then change the blending mode for it to Soft light (Soft light).

Step 47

To make the texture look more realistic, you need to remove some of its parts. You don’t need too much texture on the black vignette. Add a mask to the texture group.

Step 48

Choose a tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) on the toolbar. Set the following parameters Size (Size): 200px, Hardness (Hardness): 0%Opacity (Opacity): 40%, Flow (Push) 100%. Be sure to set the background color to black by pressing the D key on the keyboard.

Remove from the dark vignette areas of texture that stand out.

Step 49

Now change the contrast of the texture to make the background invisible and the circles brighter. Add an adjustment layer to the group. Go to menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Brightness / Contrast (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Brightness / Contrast) or click on the icon New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) and in the list select Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast). In the window that appears, set the following parameters: Brightness (Brightness): 63, Contrast (Contrast) 100.

Step 50

Now I want to give the texture a blue tint. I think the picture lacks blue tones. Next adjustment layer Color balance (Color balance). To do this, go to the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Color Balance (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Color Balance) or click on the icon New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) and in the list select Color balance (Color balance).

Step 51

In the window that appears, select the settings, as shown in the figure.

Step 52

This is the result you get after applying corrective layers.

Step 53

Now we need to add more light on insects. To do this, create a new layer by pressing (Ctrl + Shift + N) and set the settings as shown in the image below.

Now use Dodge tool (O) (Brightener) for light and Burn tool (O) (Dimmer) for the shadow. Here is a more subtle study of light and shadow. I will focus on the caterpillar and the blue beetle in the foreground.

Step 54

Later, I want to make the image bluer to create a hue transition. So add another adjustment layer. To do this, go to the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Curves (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Curves) or click on the icon New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) and in the list select Curves (Curves).

Step 55

To make the colors more blue, you need to put a dot on the blue channel in the middle of the curve and move it slightly up. To make the shade softer, go to the red channel. Put a dot in the middle of the curve and move it quite a bit to the right and down.

Please note that this layer affects the whole document!

Step 56

Now we change the background color. At that moment it seemed to me that the work lacked the brighter and more mysterious colors that exist in the forest. So, I corrected the background using curves. Add an adjustment layer to the background layer. To do this, go to the menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Curves (Layer> New Adjustment Layer (Curves) or click on the icon New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) and in the list select Curves (Curves).

Step 57

In the window that appears, click on the blue channel and lower the top anchor point down so that it almost touches the center line.

Step 58

Choose a tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) on the toolbar. Set the following parameters Size (Size): 200px, Hardness (Hardness): 0%Opacity (Opacity): 70% Flow (Push) 100%. Be sure to set the background color to black by pressing the D key on the keyboard.

Erase part of the adjustment layer from the stones, hours (the middle of the image), draw black on the mask of the adjustment layer.

Step 59

Next adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Go to menu Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Hue / Saturation) or click on the icon New Adjustment Layer (New adjustment layer) and in the list select Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation).

Step 60

It is necessary to make the colors more vivid and contrasting. Set the following parameters: Hue (Color tone): +20, Saturation (Saturation): 12, Lightness (Brightness): +2.

Step 61

Place this layer under the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves). Hold Alt and click on the background layer to apply an adjustment layer to the background.

Step 62

Choose a tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) on the toolbar. Set the following parameters Size (Size): 200px, Hardness (Hardness): 0% Opacity (Opacity): 70% Flow (Push) 100%. Be sure to set the background color to black by pressing the D key on the keyboard.

Now erase part of the adjustment layer in the mask, as shown below.

Step 63

I decided that the blurred edges of the image will not distract the viewer and focus on the main idea. How to get the final effect! So, first select all the layers except the white background that we created at the beginning (I deleted it), and duplicate them (Ctrl + J).

Step 64

Now merge the selected layers into one, to do this, press (Ctrl + E) or go to the layers palette. In the upper right corner is the icon. Click on it and select from the dropdown list. Merge layers (Merge Layers).

This layer should be on top of the rest.

Step 65

Now blur this layer. Go to menu Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur):

Step 66

In the window that appears, set the following parameters: Radius (Radius): 6.0px

Step 67

Now add a layer mask to this layer by clicking on the mask icon in the layers palette.

Choose a tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) on the toolbar. Set the following parameters Size (Size): 200px, Hardness (Hardness): 0%Opacity (Opacity): 70% Flow (Push) 100%. Be sure to set the background color to black by pressing the D key on the keyboard.

Step 68

Erase the blur in the center of the image, the bugs and the beginning of the dark shadow. Leave a blur around the edges of the image, on the praying mantis, dragonfly wings, in dark corners against the background.

Step 69

If you want, you can use a small addition to the lesson. The clock on the original image is black and white. This is not immediately noticeable, but still I decided to add this step. Create a new layer and place it as shown.

Step 70

Choose a tool Brush tool (B) (Brush) on the toolbar. Set the following parameters Size (Size): 200px, Hardness (Hardness): 0%Opacity (Opacity): 100% Flow (Push) 100%. Set white color Ffffff.

Step 71

Draw a white spot on the clock.

Then change the blending mode to Color (Chromaticity).

Step 72

Now the picture is completely ready with all the layers. Look at the location of the layers and check whether everything is in place. I hope you enjoyed my lesson and you had a good time! Remember that you are an artist and you can make your choice! Go ahead and good luck!

Author: Maria Semelevich

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