Learning to create photo manipulation in Photoshop

The very first work in the Photoshop program is especially favorite for any Photoshop fan, but it is difficult to achieve a good result, especially if you don’t know where to start. In this lesson, I will try to give you some tips and directions when creating photo-manipulation in Photoshop. I will show you my workflow, and what steps I am doing to create the manipulation.

Final result

Source materials:

Video lesson

This lesson is specially prepared for the beginner level, so you will use only two stock images. We also use several adjustment layers to combine the images (so that they create a single whole image). I will try to give a detailed description of how it will be possible, therefore, I am sure that you will cope with the lesson.

Some basic principles:

Come up with the idea

It may sound silly, but before you start work, it would be nice to know, at least in what style you want to create a manipulation. This is important because it will be much easier for you when it comes to searching for the stock images you need to create your picture.

If you want, you can look for inspiration on stock resources such as deviantart, behance, shadowness …

So it will be good if you plan what you want to create, come up with a general idea of ​​what your final image should look like.

The working process

This is what I do when I create the manipulations and almost everything else in Photoshop.

1. First, I work on the “physical structure” of the composition: the placement of the background, objects, people and other elements that make up my artistic work.

2. After that, I work on shadows, if necessary.

3. Thirdly, I apply color correction and contrast correction to each element in order to combine them together and make them a single composition taking into account color and contrast (I usually do this with each element after I place them on the image ).

4. As a final step, I add light effects and luminosity, as well as a general color correction and other standard corrections.

These are just the basic rules that I usually follow, and this is my own style. We will apply this concept in this lesson, however, after you come up with the idea of ​​composition, you can do whatever you want.

Remember that there is no right or wrong way to work in Photoshop. Whatever the method, only that method is considered good when you get the results you want and when you are satisfied with them. So let’s get started.


Open Photoshop, create a new document with dimensions of 1100 px in width and 700 px in height. We will start the work by creating a “physical part”, therefore, open the image with the background, where the railway rails are depicted. Copy / paste into our document.

You can reduce the image with the tool Free Transformation (Free Transform Tool (Ctrl + T) or via menu Editing – free Transformation(Edit> Free Transform). I scaled down to about 25% of the original size.

For this particular lesson, I use the “mood” of this image with the background as a guide when performing color correction and contrast correction to the rest of the composition elements that we will add next.

I wanted to create something more romantic, and this golden sunset is perfect for this, so I decided to take the image with the background as a base. So, I will try to combine the glow and the surrounding color shades of other elements with the background.


So, you have the base ready, you can continue working, add more elements to your image. Open the image of the couple in love and remove the background. There are many ways to select objects, but for now we’ll use the tool Pen (Pen Tool), my favorite tool.

So select the tool Pen (Pen Tool (P) and the top settings panel) set the option Contours(Paths). Next, start drawing the outline around the body contour (See screenshot below).

When you finish creating the outline, the tool Pen (Pen Tool) should still be active, right-click on the contour you created and select the option Create selection (Make selection), when the selection becomes active, copy the selection by pressing the Ctrl + C keys or you can go through the menu Editing – Copy (Edit> Copy). Next, paste the copied image onto a new layer on top of the layer with the background.


Now, the third step of the basic principles is the consistency of color and contrast. Remember, I said that I would use an image with a background as a guide? So, what do I need to do to combine these people with what surrounds them?

There are several ways and they all involve using Corrective Layers (Adjustment Layers) (I suggest you use adjustment layers whenever possible). You can use: Color Balance (Color Balance) Photo Filter (Photo Filter), Gradient Map (Gradient Map), Selective color correction (Selective color) or even Channel Mixing (Channel Mixer). The decision as to which adjustment layer to apply is up to you, however, some options are probably faster to apply than others.

In this case, I used Photo Filter (Photo Filter) with orange because it is the easiest color correction to use and for beginners, I think this is the right choice. You can experiment with other adjustment layers and see what the results might be.

Do not forget that the only thing I want to change is the shades on the hands, so I have to use this adjustment layer as a clipping mask, otherwise, the adjustment layer will affect the entire image, including the background, which I would not want to, because the background looks good enough. In addition, do not forget that you can change the blending modes of adjustment layers. In this case, I used the blend mode Chromaticity (Color).


OK, we can move on, further, we will start adding light effects. It is very important that you determine the source of light in your images, this is easy to do, just look at the shadows and light on the stock images you are using.

Once you have done this, in principle, a good idea if you create the light source yourself, while observing the direction of the existing light. You can view the video that I prepared as a video lesson.

In our example, we have no shadows, but we have light. Our main source of light (the setting sun in the background) tells us how we should create chiaroscuro. Fortunately for us, what should disturb us is only the light, and since the light comes from the foreground, we need to create light highlights at the edges of the arms and body. Light effects like these effects make work more realistic, and work begins to look better.

A quick way to do it is to apply it. Layer styles (Layer Styles): Inner Glow (Inner Glow) or Inner Shadow(Inner Shadow). I used the option Internal glow (Inner Dodge), color shade # A18150, blending mode Lightening basics (Color Dodge) and The size (Size) set 6 px. In the video tutorial I used the option Inner Shadow (Inner Shadow), just to show you that you can apply this way.

STEP five

You can add a touch or “romance” to the image by adding the magic light effect with the tool. Brush(Brush Tool (B). So, create a new layer on top of all layers, name this layer ‘glow’.

Choose a soft round brush of 500 px and apply one stroke using the color # DF9B5D to create a soft orange spot above the hands of lovers. Then, change the blending mode of the ‘glow’ layer to Lightening (Screen).


We are done with the creation of light effects and with the correction of individual elements (only hands in this case), therefore, we can move on and proceed to a general correction.

Here you are already deciding how your final result will look like, choosing which adjustment layers you want to use, and how you will use them. I make simple, I used only one correction, this is a correction layer Gradient Map (Gradient Map), blending mode for this adjustment layer Hard light (Hard Light), layer opacity 15%. See screenshot 6 for more details.

So, as I said, this is to some extent the same workflow that I follow during the creation of my work. A little practice and you will improve this process. Probably the most difficult thing to achieve (I say this, because this is a very common “mistake” that I see) so that the correction looks plausible.

Most novices begin to pump contrast and colors, and eventually, they “burn” the image. Remember that sometimes less is more. So, I hope that you have found something useful for yourself in this lesson, I tried as best I could. This is just a matter of practice. Below you can download the PSD file of this tutorial.

Final result

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