Man and nature in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a fantasy abstraction on the theme of man and nature in Photoshop. You will learn about various techniques for creating manipulations, including combining images, working with masks, using brushes, color correction, as well as working with groups and much more.

Final result

Source materials:

Step 1

Create a new document, document size 1000 x 1052px, fill the new document with any color at your discretion. Open the stock image ‘Earth’. Using tool Rectangular area ( Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), select the part of the image, and then move the selected part of the image of the earth to our working paper. Apply the transformation (Ctrl + T), as shown in the screenshot below:

Step 2

To the layer with the ground, add a layer mask through the bottom toolbar. Using a soft black brush with opacity of about 100% and 30%, hide the hard edges of the image with the ground. In the screenshot below you can see the result of processing with a brush on the layer mask and the final result in the image.

Step 3

Add a correction layer to the ground layer to darken the ground. Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask. Let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Curves), then right-click on the adjustment layer in the layers palette and in the window that appears, select the option Create clipping mask (Create Clipping Mask):

I decided that the main light source would be located on the right side of the composition, so go to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and with the help of a soft black brush, hide the correction of the curves in the right side of the mask, so that this area is a little lighter than the whole composition:

Step 4

Add adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to the ground layer as a clipping mask for color correction:

Step 5

Open the stock image ‘Heaven’. Select a part of the image, and then move the selected image of the sky to our working paper. Place the sky layer below the ground layer. Using transformation (Ctrl + T), rotate the sky as shown in the screenshot below:

Step 6

Add an adjustment layer to the sky layer Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask:

Switch to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and using a soft black brush, hide the correction curves on the left side of the scene so that this area is darker than the right side of the scene:

Step 7

Add an adjustment layer to the sky layer Color Balance (Color Balance) to slightly add yellow shades:

Step 8

Add adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to slightly lower the saturation of the sky:

Step 9

Using the adjustment layer Curves (Curves), enhance the contrast of the sky.

Hide the correction curves on the layer mask of the adjustment layer Curves (Curves). So, we have added a great contrast to the sky:

Step 10

Open the stock image ‘Tree Roots’. Using tool Polygonal Lasso (Polygonal Lasso Tool), select the roots of the tree, and then move the selected image of the roots to our working document. Apply the transformation (Ctrl + T), as shown in the screenshot below:

Using a layer mask, hide the hard edges of the image to create a smooth transition of the image of the roots to the ground:

Step 11

Add an adjustment layer to the root layer. Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask to darken them:

On the layer mask of the adjustment layer Curves (Curves), using a brush with very low opacity (about 10-15%), hide the curve correction on the right side of the image a little:

Step 12

Add an adjustment layer to the root layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to match the color of the roots with the color of the earth:

Step 13

Open the stock image ‘Tree’. Select the tree trunk, and then move the selected image to our working paper. Place the layer with the trunk above the layer with the roots. Using tool Deformation (Warp Tool) go Editing – Transformation – Deformation (Edit-Transform-Warp), distort the trunk of the tree so that it resembles a woman’s dress:

Using a layer mask, draw a combination of the image of the tree trunk with the image of the roots:

Step 14

Create a new layer as a clipping mask to the layer with the trunk. Choose a tool Stamp (Clone Tool (S) and using this tool, correct the individual parts in the image of the trunk:

Step 15

Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves) to darken the trunk:

On the layer mask of the adjustment layer Curves (Curves), with a brush, hide the correction curves in the right side of the trunk (because more light falls on this side from the background than on the left side):

Step 16

Next, add an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to reduce barrel saturation:

Step 17

Separate the model from the background. Place the image of the model over the image of the trunk:

Step 18

Add a layer mask to the model layer. Using a black brush, hold the combination of the model’s dress with the barrel, and also hide your hands, as shown in the screenshot below:

Step 19

Add a correction layer to the model layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) as a clipping mask:

Step 20

Next, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to lighten the right side of the model:

On the layer mask of the adjustment layer Curves (Curves), hide the correction on the left side of the model, as well as on the hands, so that these areas are darker than the rest of the image:

Step 21

Add the adjustment layer again Curves (Curves) to darken the left side of the model:

Hide the correction on the layer mask of the adjustment layer Curves (Curves):

Step 22

To add lighting effects to the model image, create a new layer and, using a soft white brush, about 25% opacity, paint over the right side of the face and model’s body, as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 23

Create a new layer, fill it 50% gray (50% gray), and also change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay), 100%:

Choose a tool Clarifier / Dimmer (Dodge and Burn Tools), install Range (Range) on Mid tones (Midtones) value Exposure (Exposure) approximately 20-25%, with the help of this tool, add details on the model’s dress, and also darken the model’s eyebrows slightly. In the screenshot below you can see the areas where I used this tool in the mode Normal (Normal), as well as the result when Overlap (Overlay):

Step 24

Create a new layer on top of all the other layers with the same settings as for the layer that you created in the previous step, but this time do not convert this layer to a clipping mask. Using tool Clarifier / Dimmer (Dodge and Burn Tools), highlight the folds of the model’s dress, as shown in the screenshot below, observing the shape of the dress:

Since the light falls behind the right side, the shadow of the model should fall to the left side to the foreground. To do this, create a new layer below the model layer. Hold down (Ctrl) + click on the thumbnail of the model layer to load the selection:

Fill the active selection with black (Shift + F5), and then reflect the shadow vertically, go Editing – Transformation – Flip Vertical (Edit-Transform-Flip Vertical). Using the transformation (Ctrl + T), transform the shadow, as shown in the screenshot below:

Reduce the opacity of the shadow layer to 50%, and then to the shadow layer, add a layer mask to hide part of the hand and soften hard edges.

Next we go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter-Blur-Gaussian Blur) to soften the shadow:

Step 26

Position the image of Branch 1 on the model’s hand and use the tool Deformation (Warp Tool), slightly distort the hand:

Duplicate the branch layer, flip the duplicate layer horizontally. Place a duplicate branch on the other hand:

Step 27

To layers with branches, add a layer mask and use a black brush to hide separate sections of the branches to create a smooth transition with your hands. I tried to make the branches not look monotonous:

Step 28

Using tool Clarifier / Dimmer(Dodge and Burn), using the same technique that you used in the previous steps, increase the contrast of the branch on the right:

Step 29

Move the branch image from the original image to our working document, positioning the model on the right hand, zoom out and then using a layer mask, hide separate sections of the branch (use a hard brush to avoid soft unnatural edges):

Do the same with the branch on the left:

Step 30

Select all the layers with branches, and then press the keys (Ctrl + G) to group them into one group. Change the blending mode for the layer with the group from the mode Skip (Pass Through (group default mode) to mode Normal, 100%. Name the layers with branches from ‘1’ to ‘4’. Being on the layer ‘4’ inside the created group, let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Curves):

Hide the correction curves on the layer mask of the adjustment layer Curves (Curves):

Step 31

Open the stock image ‘Branches 2’. First, using your selection technique that you prefer to use, separate the image of the tree from the background:

Using tool Lasso (Lasso Tool), select the sections of the branches, as shown in the screenshot below, and then move the selected sections of the branches to our working paper, placing the models on their hands, as well as behind the model’s head:

Step 32

Using a layer mask, draw a combination of branches with the model’s hands, and also hide the branches on the model’s face:

Step 33

To the layer with the branches that are located on the left, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask to darken them:

Step 34

Group the layers with branches 2 into one group. Inside the created group, add an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) on top of all layers:

Step 35

Next, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to lighten branches:

Switch to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and with the help of a black brush, hide the correction of the curves on the branches on the left side, as well as on the head, because these areas should not be too light:

Step 36

Select the image ‘Crow 1’. Move the image of the crow to our working paper, placing it on the branch to the left:

Step 37

Create a new layer below the Raven 1 layer. With a soft black brush about 50% opacity, paint under the crows to create a shadow:

Step 38

To the Raven 1 layer, add an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) as a clipping mask:

Step 39

Next, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to darken the crow:

Step 40

Select the image of Crow 2, and then move the image of the crow to our working paper, placing on the right side of the composition:

Step 41

This image of Crow is too different in contrast to the foggy background, so I used a correction layer Curves (Curves) to fix this:

Step 42

Create a new layer on top of all layers. Change the foreground color to # 1c0101, and also select the brush Leaves, brush size 10 px. Press the key (F5) to change the settings for this brush:

Draw the leaves, scattered across the sky, as well as around the model:

Step 43

Filter the leaves Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur), blur radius 4 px to add depth of field to the scene:

Step 44

Add more leaves, this time, increasing the size of the brush (15 px), the color of the brush is the same:

Step 45

Using the adjustment layer Curves (Curves), lighten some leaves, because our scene is covered with a light fog:

Hide the correction curves on the layer layer mask. In the screenshots below you can see the processing with a brush and the result on the image:

Step 46

Create a new layer on top of all layers and using a soft white opacity brush of about 20-25%, add lighting effects to the branches on the right:

Step 47

Add a new adjustment layer Curves (Curves) on top of all layers.

Hide the correction on the right side of the composition on the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) to add contrast to the whole scene and make the contrast more visible:

Step 48

Add a new adjustment layer Gradient map (Gradient Map).

Reduce the opacity of the adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map) up to 20%:

Step 49

Create a new layer, set the foreground color to # 282127, and the background color to # f4e7c4. Let’s go Filter – Rendering – Clouds(Filter-Render-Clouds):

Reduce the opacity of the cloud layer to 30%, and then add a layer mask to hide the effect of clouds on the sky, as well as reduce the saturation of the effect on the ground:

Step 50

Create a new layer, select brush, brush color # f4e7c4. Using this brush, paint over the picture, adding a fog effect to the scene. Change the blending mode for this layer to Hard light (Hard Light), layer opacity 30%:

Step 51

Create a new layer. Using the same brush, paint over the right edge of the ground, which is located near the horizon. Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light), 100%:

Step 52

Add a new adjustment layer Photo Filter (Photo Filter):

Hide the effect on the ground on the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Photo Filter (Photo Filter):

Step 53

Color-correct the entire scene using an adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance):

Step 54

Final adjustment layer Vibration (Vibrance):

Step 55

Final step: Press the keys (Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E) to create a merged layer from all visible layers. Next we go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter-Blur-Gaussian Blur), blur radius 3 px:

Using a soft black brush, hide the blur effect on the model, and also reduce the saturation effect on the ground on the filter mask layer to add depth to the scene.

We have completed the lesson! Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

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