Collaging gives us the opportunity to experience our imagination and create something unusual and magical. And with the help of simple Photoshop tools you can article by part of your own fantastic world!
And in this tutorial, I will show you how to create a magical self-portrait using stock photos and 3D objects.
More stock images for work can be found on the Envato Market website.
How to create a collage with your portrait
This year I decided to launch my own project on the use of my portraits in my works. This not only helped me improve my knowledge in Photoshop, but also increased my self-confidence.
So if you want to create a cool and creative self-portrait, then you should try it! More work you can look at my Instagram.
In this lesson, I want to put myself in a mysterious and atmospheric forest with bright light effects. To do this, I purchased a LED-bulb from Home Depot ($ 20), and then immediately began to experiment.
Below I prepared the result before and after with all the stock pictures that we will use:
Feel free to use your own photo. Even a snapshot from a smartphone will do, just make sure that it is sufficiently light and of high quality.
To save your time, in the supplementary materials you can download a pre-edited version of my portrait with a white background.
1. Create a composition
Create a new document in Photoshop with a size of 1500 x 2217 pixels and a resolution of 72 dpi.
If you plan to print the work, then choose a higher resolution.
Copy and paste the photo with the forest (the size of the picture is 1920 x 1848 pixels) on a new layer above the background. With the help of free transformation (Ctrl + T) significantly increase the size of the photo.
This will be our new background, and we will delete the old one (with white fill) by pressing the Delete key.
Place the forest so that only the left side is visible. This will allow us to create a more interesting combination with the portrait and other details.
Now open self-portrait in Photoshop. Double click on the background layer to unlock it.
- Take Magic Wand Tool (W) (Magic Wand) and select the white background. Then press the Delete key to delete it. If a part of the photo has stood out, adjust the selection with the tool Lasso Tool (L) (Lasso).
- Press Ctrl + A to select the entire document, then copy and paste the selected area on a new layer above the forest. Place the portrait in the center of the composition.
When I took this picture, I did not know how I would use it. Please note that the left side of the photo is cropped because I leaned against the wall.
For this reason, I created a composition with this feature in order to hide all the flaws of the photo and cropped places.
For this we use the leaves. Open the photo with leaves in Photoshop. Repeat the same steps as with the portrait.
- Via Magic Wand Tool (W) (Magic Wand) select the dark area and delete it.
- Then copy and paste the leaves on a new layer above the portrait.
- Using the free transformation (Ctrl + T), we reduce their size, as shown in the screenshot above.
To balance the composition, duplicate (Ctrl + J) leaves.
Double-copy the layer with leaves and reflect both copies. Alternately to each copy of the layer we apply Edit – Transform – Flip Horizontal (Editing – Transforming – Flip Horizontally).
Now fill both sides of the portrait with leaves.
- The first copy of the layer is placed on top of the original layer with leaves. Then we place the leaves themselves just below the original ones in order to fill in the necessary areas.
- The next copy of the layer is placed under the layer with the portrait. Reduce the size of the leaves (Ctrl + T) to add a depth effect.
Having finished with the leaves, proceed to the addition of butterflies.
2. How to use 3D objects with Envato Elements
Butterflies are key elements of this work. And to embed them in a collage, I will use 3D-objects with Envato Elements.
Through the use of 3D-objects, I can accurately choose the angle of inclination of the butterfly, suitable for composition, and get a more realistic result.
We start with the selection of butterflies. Here are three pictures (paid) that I will use:
- Butterfly 1
- Butterfly 2
- Butterfly 3
Click on the link and click on the View 360 Render button to open a special 3D-rendering mode. When it is loaded, move the butterfly with the mouse and place it at the right angle. Turn down, up, sideways to find the most suitable position.
After that, download the result.
In total, I kept five different variants of butterflies.
Each picture will be in PNG format with a transparent background (and shadow), which will allow us to immediately switch to using it without additional editing.
Now let’s add butterflies to the composition!
Copy and paste each insect on a new layer above all previous layers. With the help of free transformation (Ctrl + T), we adjust the size of each butterfly.
Feel free to add as many butterflies as you like. Since insects usually tend to the light, I turned them so that they were directed to the LED-lamp on my arm. To add variety, you can rotate or even mirror some butterflies.
Adjust the size of the insects to add a depth effect. For example, the first butterfly is closest to the viewer, so it will be the largest.
Try to create not just a beautiful picture, but tell a story with the help of butterflies. Several of them are resting on the leaves, and one even sat on my finger.
When finished, we merge (Ctrl + E) layers with butterflies together.
We are almost finished preparing the composition!
Before further correction of color, lighting and blur, we need to refine the hairstyle. I removed all the flaws in advance and even removed my right hand to make the composition look better.
Via Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) (Rectangular Lasso) select the part of the hair on the left. Press Ctrl + J to copy the selected area to the new layer, then adjust the size using the transformation (Ctrl + T).
Repeat the same on the left side of the photo to close the shoulder.
After that we merge (Ctrl + E) layers with hair together with a portrait. You may need to change the arrangement of the layers with leaves that are above the portrait / hair.
3. Create a depth effect.
Having finished with the placement of all the necessary elements of the composition, we begin work with the lighting and the effect of depth. This will add more realism and create an effect, as if the photo was actually taken in the forest.
Let’s start with the background.
Select the layer with the forest and go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur).
Install Radius (Radius) 3 pixels and click OK.
Now leaves. Let’s lightly blur the original leaf layer and the first copy. We apply a filter to each layer. Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) and set the radius to 2 pixels.
The leaves in the background are farther away, so we will smear them stronger.
Select the second copy of the layer with leaves and turn Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur). Set a radius of 4.8 pixels and click OK.
Go to the butterfly in the foreground.
We have already added a few butterflies flying out of the picture. It makes work more lively and dynamic. But in order to add even more realism, we will blur the butterfly in the foreground.
Via Lasso Tool (L) (Lasso) single out the largest butterfly. Then apply Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur). Set the radius to 5 pixels.
At this stage, our composition looks like this:
Now go to the lighting.
4. Edit the lighting
Lighting is a very important aspect of photo manipulation, so it must be made as high as possible. Do not forget that each collage needs to be reworked lighting, if you want to get a realistic result.
Even if you use other stock images, you can still use my method. Just pick the settings that are suitable for your work.
Let’s start with darkening the background.
Select the second copy of the leaves. Then go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New adjustment layer – Curves). Adjust the curve as shown below and add contrast.
We continue to refine the color of the background foliage.
Select the second copy of the leaves and go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New adjustment layer – Curves). Press Ctrl + Alt + G to turn the adjustment layer into a clipping mask for the layer with leaves.
Adjust curves Green (Green) and RGB to add more green shades.
As a result, we not only corrected color and lighting, but also added an interesting color effect.
Now let’s edit the leaf lighting on the middle ground.
As in the previous step, we create a correction layer for the remaining leaves. Curves (Curves) and turn it into a clipping mask.
We start with the original layer. Bright light from the bulb should be reflected on the leaves. Adjust the RGB curves, Green (Green) and Blue (Blue) as shown below.
Go to the lower leaves (first copy).
Add an adjustment layer Curves (Curves) and transform it into a clipping mask (Ctrl + Alt + G).
Adjust RGB curves, Blue (Blue) and Green (Green) as shown below. This time we add less light, since the LED-lamp is above the editable leaves.
Now you need to add shadows! In order not to complicate the process, let’s divide the drawing of shadows into several stages, as we did with the lighting.
We start with butterflies.
Above the layer with butterflies add a new layer (Shift + Ctrl + N) and turn it into a clipping mask. Switch the blending mode of this layer to Multiply (Multiplication). Then we take a soft round brush (B) (stiffness 0%, opacity 30-60%) and use black in the butterflies.
Add shadows on the wings and bodies. After that, reduce the layer opacity to 58%.
Above we add another layer, switch its blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication) and convert to a clipping mask.
Now in red (# 271416) we draw additional shadows on the butterflies, then reduce the layer opacity to 76%.
Do not forget that the shadow should be on the opposite side of the light source. Try to keep the shadow from being too saturated and with abrupt transitions.
In the same way, add shadows on the leaves.
Create new layers for the original and the first copy. Turn them into clipping masks (Ctrl + Alt + G).
Switch their blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication) and draw a shadow with a soft black brush (B). First, paint over the lower leaves with a shadow. After that add a shadow on the top. This will make the lighting more voluminous and convincing.
Try to accurately and realisticly frame the light source with shadows. After that, reduce the layer opacity to 50-75%.
Next we will shade the hair and body.
As in the previous steps, create a new layer in the clipping mask for the portrait. Switch its blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication). Next, we take a soft round brush (B), brown (# 864a3b) and red (# 271416) with flowers in the body, hair and face.
We draw expressive shadows to create a more dramatic effect.
At this stage, the picture looks like this:
5. Mix colors and lighting
Now that we’ve finished applying the base shadows, it’s time to combine all the elements of the composition together.
The next few steps we will use a combination of digital drawing and adjustment layers to get the desired effect.
- Above all previous layers create a new layer and using Paint Bucket Tool (G) (Fill) fill it with orange color (# 9c6b00), then lower the layer opacity to 36%.
- Switch the blending mode of this layer to Vivid Light (Bright light).
- Add an adjustment layer Color Lookup (Search color). On the settings panel install 3DLUT File (3DLUT file) choose Crips_winter.look and decrease Opacity (opacity) layer up to 39%.
We continue to refine the shadows.
- Create a new layer in overlay mode. Multiply (Multiplication). In dark red-brown shades (# 1a070e and # 140b01) we draw shadows around the portrait (soft brush – hardness 0%, opacity 100%). Leave the upper leaves and lightbulb not shaded. Reduce the layer opacity to 21%.
- Next, add a new layer above and fill it with blue. Switch overlay mode to Pin Light (Spot light), reduce the opacity to 65% and use the mask to remove the central region and on the leaves.
Another interesting light effect can be obtained using the noise texture.
I will use picture 38 of the Glitch Effect Overlays set to get a rainbow effect on the portrait. Copy and paste the texture above the blue layer and switch its blending mode to Overlay (Overlap).
Decrease Opacity (opacity) textures up to 40% and using a mask we remove the excess in the face area.
Before we proceed to the final stage of work, let’s correct the colors, brightness and contrast.
Create a new adjustment layer Color Balance (Color balance) and apply the following settings:
Then add an adjustment layer. Levels (Levels). Tuning channels Red (Red), Green (Green) and Blue (Blue).
We get the following result:
6. Final touches
In the last section of the lesson, we will improve the lighting, refine the details and create some more adjustment layers to combine all the elements of the composition together.
It is in this section that we will use digital drawing to refine the portrait.
Start by creating a new layer. Then take Brush Tool (B) (Brush) and hold on face. First, with a soft round brush, draw a brown color under the hairline, as well as around the forehead.
Then we switch to a hard brush (B) and refine the makeup (eyebrows / eyeliner on the eyes), as well as add small details on the hair. In addition, I modified the leaves, which should reflect the light. For convenience and proper selection of colors, use Eyedropper Tool (I) (Pipette).
Let’s add more light!
Create a new layer in overlay mode. Overlay (Overlap). Combining soft and hard brushes (B) (opacity 40-70%), we draw strokes in places where you need to add more lighting.
We draw rays of light emanating from my hand and reflecting on surrounding objects. Select the intensity of the effect at your discretion.
As you add light, do not forget to refine the details. With a round stiff brush, make sharp edges on butterflies, leaves and hair. In addition, I added small curls, knocked out of hair, and brilliant dots throughout the composition.
On separate strands of hair with smooth lines we draw highlights, then use the eraser (E) to carefully refine the edges of each flare. Do not be afraid to create new layers in the mode Overlay (Overlap) to add more highlights.
Let’s brighten up a few elements to make them stand out better. We draw white spots on butterflies, decorations and a light bulb. Later we will add bluish highlights on hair, leaves and butterflies.
Next we will use the adjustment layers again to refine the colors.
Add an adjustment layer Channel mixer (Mixing channels). Tuning channels Red (Red), Green (Green) and Blue (Blue).
Then add an adjustment layer. Gradient Map (Gradient map). Use colors from blue (# 0a00b2) to turquoise (# 01fffc). Choosing a gradient Linear (Linear) and reduce it Opacity (opacity) up to 8%.
Duplicate (Ctrl + J) gradient layer. Switch the copy overlay mode to Saturation (Saturation) and set the opacity to 10%.
Now create a correction layer. Curves (Curves). Adjust RGB curves, Blue (Blue) and Red (Red) as shown below.
Now the last two adjustment layers.
Add Color Balance (Color balance). Set the values as shown below.
Next, add saturation using the adjustment layer. Hue/ Saturation (Hue / Saturation).
Install Saturation (Saturation) by 15.
Stayed last step!
Above all previous layers add a new layer. Choose Gradient Tool (G) (Gradient) and in the settings we find a linear gradient from color to transparency.
Select a rich blue tint (# 181f40) and draw a gradient from the bottom of the document to the top. Then we switch the color to black and fill the left upper corner diagonally downwards with a linear gradient.
Next, switch the blending mode of the gradient layer to Difference (Difference) and decrease Opacity (opacity) up to 18%.
You can leave the composition as it is or cut off the extra edges. To correct the perspective, I activated the tool. Crop Tool (C) (Crop) and before trimming placed a frame so that my eyes were approximately in the center.
Done! Great job!
Congratulations on the end of the lesson on creating a magical photo manipulation. I hope you are inspired enough to make an equally stunning portrait for yourself.
If you like it, leave a comment and share your result below.