I prepared another lesson on photo manipulation. This time we will use fewer stock images, and more focus on the effects, blend modes and lighting. This lesson is for intermediate and advanced users of Photoshop, but I think you can handle it, because I will try to show everything in detail, as far as possible.

Final result

Source materials:


Although we only need a few images for this manipulation, the real challenge will be to create lighting and a night-time atmosphere. It took me some time until I found the right combination of blend modes and adjustment layers that came in handy.

If you have already seen my lessons on Secrets of Manipulation, then many of the techniques that are used in this lesson will be clear to you, because I use the same techniques here. I will try to show everything in detail, as far as possible, one way or another. If you are not an advanced user, try using the same layer names and it will be easier for you to complete the lesson. Let’s get started.

Video tutorial

STEP 1. I created a new document, 2500 pixels wide and 2800 high, and then pasted the image with the desert onto the created document. I renamed this layer to background. This will be our basis for our manipulation, but we do not need the sky (we will add another sky in Step 2). I could hide the sky at the expense of the layer mask, but in our case, because I want to create a night scene, I will apply the layer style option Gradient Overlay (Gradient Overlay), gradient settings from Black to Transparent (Black to Transparent) to hide the sky and part of the desert. You will see the effect of this gradient in the next step.

STEP 2. So, open the image with the sky, copy and paste it on our document, placing it on top of the layer with the background. Name this layer ‘Sky’, then increase the size of the image by the size of the document, because the stock image is wider than our document. Next, add a layer mask to the sky layer and use the brush tool to hide the lower part of the image.

In the screenshots below, you can see the effect. Gradient Overlays (Gradient Overlay), as this option applies to the background layer. If not, then you can change the scale or position of the gradient.

STEP 3 Open the stock image of the girl, separate her from the background using any technique that you prefer. I often use the tool Pen(Pen Tool) to create a contour, then I apply an option that forms a selection and removes the background. You can use Magic wand (Magic Wand), Quick release (Quick Selection) or any other tool that you prefer, but at the same time make sure that after the selection, you had beautiful, clear edges (for this, you can use the option Refine edge (refine edge): See this lesson.

As soon as I separated the girl from the background, I copied it and pasted it onto a new layer of our document, I called this layer “Girl”, then converted the layer with the image of a girl into a smart object and scaled the image. I use smart objects, just in case, if I later want to resize the image, so I will not lose picture quality.

STEP four. So, we have created a basic structure for our manipulation. It’s time to work on the correction of shades. First we start with the correction of the desert layer and as usual we will apply Adjustment layers (Adjustment Layers).

Curves (Curves) – To darken the ground

Photo filter (Photo Filter) – Give the earth a warm tone.

Color balance (Color Balance) – Add more ‘drama’ to the ground.

Gradient Map (Gradient Map) – To darken and add shades of earth

In the screenshot above, we can see the layers palette and how the layers should be arranged at the moment.

STEP five. Now, let’s also apply the correction to the Sky layer. Note that this time, adjustment layers will be applied as clipping masks, because we want to apply the effect only to the sky layer, and not to the background layer that is below.

Color balance (Color Balance)

Levels (Levels) – To darken the sky

STEP 6 So, our background is ready. Let’s go to the girl. We need to create shadows on the ground. Again, I will use the same technique, the description of which resulted in the 3rd part of the Series of Secrets of Manipulation. I created 2 layers for creating shadows, because I used 2 techniques for creating shadows.

1) – Drop shadow – I duplicated the layer with the Girl, (I rasterized the image if you want to use the image as a smart object), and then reduced Brightness (Lightness) to 0 using correction Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation). Next, I applied the option Deformation (Distort) to shape the shadows and place on the ground. I created a shadow on the left side, since I know that my light source will be to the right of the girl.

2) – Soft shadow – just a falling shadow is far from enough. Therefore, I created a second layer on which I apply the second shadow creation technique, which I called the soft shadow.

I used the tool Brush (Brush Tool (B), set Opacity (Opacity) and Pressure (Flow) by about 50% and start squirting around areas where the girl’s body touches the ground. Next, increase the brush size and lower the opacity and pressure to about 25% and paint a larger area around the girl. In this case, you can only do with soft shadows.

STEP 7 This step will be a little more difficult. We need to start lighting and shading the girl. In this step, we need to darken the left side of the body. I created 3 types of shadows using the tool. Gradient (Gradient Tool), Gradient Overlay (Gradient Overlay) and option Internal shadow(Inner Shadow).

Apply layer styles to the girl layer. Gradient Overlay (Gradient Overlay), apply the settings as in the screenshot below. Experiment with the scale value to get the same result as mine.

Next, create a new layer on top of the girl layer (right-click on the layer and select the option Create clipping mask (Create clipping mask)), select the tool Gradient (Gradient Tool (G) and set the gradient from Black to Transparent (Black to Transparent) and apply Linear (Linear) gradient.

Draw a gradient, as in the screenshot below, on the left side of the girl’s body and change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay).

To give the final touch, use the option Inner shadow (Inner Shadow) to the layer with the girl, apply the settings as in the screenshot below.

In the screenshots below, we can see how the images look before and after applying the gradient and layer styles.

STEP 8. We’ve finished with shadows, but we still need to do color correction and work on lighting. Let’s first make a correction. We will once again apply adjustment layers as clipping masks.

Gradient Map (Gradient Map) – For more contrast and adding color shades

Levels (Levels) – To darken the skin

Color Balance(Color balance) – To match the shades of the night atmosphere

So, it looks like we completely messed up our image, but don’t worry, we still have to apply light effects that will “fix” this.

STEP 9. Open the image Candlelight, select the lamp from the background and paste it on our document on a new layer on top of all layers. Name this Lamp layer and create the shadows using the same technique that was described in Step 6.

STEP 10. Let’s start creating the first light effect. Our main source of light is a candle lantern, so let’s start with it. First, let’s create a glow candle. Using the color shade # 5b4212, using a large soft brush (approximately 350px in diameter), on a new layer, draw one stroke over the candle, this will be the glow of the candle. Change the blending mode to Lightening the basics(Color Dodge). See screenshot below.

Create a new layer on top of the layer with the first glow, reduce the size of the brush, set the color tint # fd9b00 and with a soft brush, draw the second glow. This time, change the blending mode to Lightening(Screen). See screenshot below.

STEP eleven. Now, paint the light falling on the ground, also with a brush, brush color # 7a5821. In the screenshot below, I specifically left the blending mode Normal (Normal) to make it easier for you to see the area where I applied the brush, but you must apply the blending mode Lightening basics (Color Dodge).

STEP 12. But one of my most favorite moments, the creation of lighting on the body of a girl. Create a new layer, before you apply the brush, change the blending mode to Lightening basics (Color Dodge), because you will see better what you are doing. Choose a medium size soft brush, set the brush color to # 5b4212.

So, your brush is ready to go. Now, you have to imagine how the light falls on the body, and how the body will look like, then start painting in these areas. Basically, you’ll have to paint on the right side of your body (remember that in step 7 we worked hard to create a shadow on the left side of the body, so don’t paint too much on this part). In the picture below you can see the areas where I applied the brush.

If you want the light effect to be more saturated, then you can duplicate this layer and reduce the opacity of the duplicated layer. If the effect is already too bright, then you can paint over it using darker shades or try to reduce the layer opacity.

STEP 13. Once you have created the light effects, you can proceed to the stage. Lightening / Dimming (dodging burning). My advice to you is to always use these two tools, even if you have very little practice, you will put your hand over time. I spent about 45 minutes on the process of lightening and darkening.

I use the same technique that I described in section Lightening / Fading (dodging burning). In the Series of Secrets of Manipulation. Basically, I create a new layer, fill this layer with 50% gray and change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay) and on the created layer I use tools Clarifier / Dimmer.

In the screenshots below, we can see how the images look before and after applying Lightening / Dimming.

STEP 14. As a final detail, I will add some fireflies. Open the stock image of the Insect using the tool Magic wand(magic wand tool) remove the white background. Copy and paste the insect image onto our document, onto a new layer, then duplicate the insect layer several times, and then use the transformation to reduce the insects to different sizes. Also, rotate and scatter the insects so that they do not look the same.

Next, apply layers to insect layers. External glow (Outer Glow) and Internal glow (Inner Glow) so they glow in the night.

STEP 15. So, we can move on and apply the final correction. First, select the topmost layer or group in the layers palette and press Shift + Ctrl + Alt + E to light the data and create a merged layer. Once we have created a new layer, go Image – Correction – Options (Image> Adjustments> Variations) and choose from the standard set More blue (More Cyan).

Next, change the blending mode to Replacing Dark (Darken) and install Opacity (Opacity) by 20-25%.

STEP sixteen. Create another merged layer, as in Step 15 and convert this layer into a smart object, if your version of Photoshop allows you to do this (right-click on the layer and select the option Transform at smart– an object(Convert to Smart Object). After that, let’s go Filter – Rendering – Effects lighting(Filter> Render> Lighting Effects). Apply the settings as in the screenshot below.

STEP 17 So, as a final touch, add 2 more adjustment layers to make the image look perfect.

Gradient Map (Gradient Map) – To change the overall color tone

Color Balance (Color Balance) – For final color correction

And voila, we finished the lesson. I hope you have a really amazing result. Remember that you can upload your work on our Facebook page so that everyone can see them.

Final result

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