Merciless Reaper in Photoshop

In this lesson, you will learn how to create a dark scene with the Ripper in Photoshop. You will also learn how to combine images, how to work with layer styles, and how to create a grunge effect.

Final result

Source materials:

STEP one

Open the “Road” image in Photoshop. Using tool Pen (Pen Tool (P) or tool Lasso (Lasso Tool (L), create a selection around the road. When selected using the tool Pen (Pen Tool), first draw the outline, and then press Ctrl + Enter to load the selection indicated by the outline.

Hint (after loading the selection, if you additionally hold down the Shift key, then you will add an additional outline to the existing selection, while holding the Alt key, on the contrary, you will delete the created outline from the existing selection, and, additionally holding the Shift + Alt keys, you load the selection, which is created by intersecting adjacent areas of selection). After you have selected the road, press Ctrl + J to copy the selected area to a new layer. Turn off the visibility of the original “Road” layer.

STEP 2

Open the “Desert” image. Using the selection tool, select the image of the desert. Press Ctrl + J to copy the selection to a new layer. Next, press Ctrl + C to copy the image, and then press Ctrl + V to paste the copied image onto our working document. Or you can simply drag the selected image using the move tool onto our document.

Position the image with the desert, as shown in the screenshot below. Place the “Road” layer over the “Desert” layer. Add a layer mask to the “Road” layer and use the Universal black brush to process the edges of the road to create a smooth transition with the image of the desert. Reduce the brush opacity and increase the size of the brush to process the center of the road. In the screenshot below, you can see where I roughly processed with a brush.

STEP 3

Open the “Clouds” image. Press Ctrl + A to select the entire image, then press Ctrl + C to copy the image, and then press Ctrl + V to paste the copied image onto our working document. Apply scaling to the image with the sky, as shown in the screenshot below. Position the cloud layer below the “Road” and “Desert” layers.

Since the layer with clouds will be located below the other layers, there is no need to add a layer mask to the image with clouds and select the necessary clouds, which we would move down and up until they fit into our composition. To combine the images and create a dark mood of the picture, let’s add a correction layer. Curves (curves), in the settings window, pull the curve down.

Since we want the road horizon to be bright, for this, let’s choose the tool Radial gradient (radial gradient tool) gradient type Black and white (black and white) default. Apply a gradient to the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Curves (curves), pulling the gradient from the middle to the edges.

STEP four

It’s time to add the Ruthless Reaper! Open the “Ripper” image and create a selection around the Ripper (a man with a scythe). Press Ctrl + C to copy the image, and then press Ctrl + V to paste the copied image onto our working document. You may have noticed that this image has a very low resolution and a high noise value, but for the purposes of our lesson, we are suitable for these indicators.

To get rid of the color noise a little, duplicate the “Ripper” layer and then apply the filter, go Filter – Noise – Reduce Noise (Filter> Noise> Reduce Noise). Change the blending mode for duplicate layer to Chromaticity (color), so we reduce the color noise, keeping the details of the braid and the Ripper.

Note (Please note that when you apply a filter to reduce noise, some details disappear in our image and the image becomes blurred; therefore, using the blend mode Chromaticity (Color) helps in removing color noise. If you wanted to reduce light noise a little (black and white), then you could do it with a protective layer mask.

All equipment, in fact, looks like this, you create a duplicate image, apply a filter Edge selection (Find Edges filter), reduce saturation, apply adjustment layer Curves (curves) to reduce mid tones (mid tones) and strengthen contrast (contrast) between dark and light tones, further, apply Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) 0.4 – 1 px, then go to the tab Channels (Channels Palette) and holding Ctrl + click on the thumbnail RGB channel (RGB channel) to select the light pixels, then go to the layer mask of the original layer, set the colors to black and white by default and press the Alt + Backspace keys and then Ctrl + I to invert.

This layer mask will protect the edges of the image from being blurred after applying the filter. Reduce noise (Reduce Noise). In the case of our image, we do not use this technique here, but you can use this noise reduction technique on other images, while preserving the details. By inverting the mask, we can apply a filter. Sharpness (Sharpening filter) and affect only the edges. This is one of the ways to create and apply a protective mask)

So let’s add 2 adjustment layers. Curves (Curves) for the color correction of our Ripper.

Note: When moving a selected image to a working document, there are 2 types of basic corrections for combining with other images: color correction and illumination level correction. For color correction, we add an adjustment layer. Curves (curves) for matching color shades with the environment. You can calculate the points of black and white shades of the environment and apply them for exact correction to the corrected image, but you can also get good results by visual comparison.

Therefore, for color correction, change only the color channels of the correction layer. Curves (curves). To correct the degree of illumination, use a correction layer. Curves (curves), reducing or increasing the luminance of the corrected image depending on the environment. This type of correction is very easy to apply. To further enhance separations between 2 corrections, you can set the blending mode for the first adjustment layer. Curves (curve) on Chromaticity (color) and for 2nd on Glow (luminance).

STEP 5

Let’s make the Ripper’s image more interesting, let’s create a locket. Draw the shape of the medallion in the upper part of the Ripper’s chest using a soft gray brush, then add the following effects.

STEP 6

Let’s create the shadows. Duplicate the Ripper layer, hold down Ctrl + click on the Ripper layer thumbnail to load the selection, and then fill the active selection with black color (press D to set the default colors and then press Alt + Backspace to fill the selection). Deselect, then apply Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) 3 px.

Next, press the Ctrl + T keys to transform the shadow, as shown in the screenshot below. Add a layer mask to the shadow layer, then select the tool Gradient (Gradient Tool), gradient type black and white, default colors, pull the gradient from the bottom towards the center of the layer mask, partially hiding the top of the shadow. Also, using a black brush, hide the extra areas of the shadow, where the shadow should not be. Reduce the opacity of this layer to 30% and change the blending mode to Multiplication (Multiply).

Once again duplicate the image with the Ripper, fill it with black. Apply Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) 2 px. Next, apply a free transform to the shadow, as shown in the screenshot below. Add a layer mask to the shadow layer, then select the tool Gradient (Gradient Tool), gradient type black and white, default colors, pull the gradient from the side point to the center of the layer mask, partially hiding part of the shadow. Reduce the opacity of this layer to 84% and change the blending mode for this layer with a shadow on Multiplication (Multiply).

Duplicate this layer, press Ctrl + T to activate the free transform tool. Right-click on the document and in the window that appears select the option Flip horizontally (Flip Horizontally), then move the duplicate shadow to the opposite side, as shown in the screenshot below. Reduce the opacity of this layer to 45%. Group all the layers with a shadow, then using a layer mask, if necessary, hide all the extra areas with a shadow. Your shadows should look like the screenshot below.

STEP 7

Choose a tool Horizontal Text (type tool), select the font at your discretion. Write a creepy message or text. Rasterize the text, and then press Ctrl + T to apply the transformation, as shown in the screenshot below. Change the blending mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay) and if the font is barely visible, then duplicate the text layer.

STEP 8

Let’s apply the correction to our image to create a general mood and atmosphere of the picture.

First, add an adjustment layer. Black and white (Black White), change the blending mode for this adjustment layer to Lightening Basics (Color Dodge) and further, with the tool Gradient (Gradient Tool), hide the upper part of the correction on the layer mask of the adjustment layer. Thus, you enhance the contrast, which will give you interesting lighting. Next, add an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to reduce saturation, also using the tool Gradient (Gradient Tool), hide the upper part of the correction on the layer mask of the adjustment layer. If you have hidden the visibility of the medallion, then with the help of a white soft brush you can restore the visibility of the medallion by brushing on the layer mask of the correction layers.

Next, add an adjustment layer. Gradient Map (Gradient Map) and use the colors that are shown in the screenshot below. On the layer mask of this adjustment layer, apply a gradient to hide the lower part of the correction, so that the correction affects only the upper part of the image, i.e. the clouds. Change the blending mode for this adjustment layer to Soft light (Soft Light) and reduce the opacity of the layer to 20%. This action will make the clouds more gloomy.

Next, add an adjustment layer. Selective color correction (Selective color) and adjust Yellow (Yellows), as shown in the screenshot below.

Next, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves), dragging the curve to the top to brighten the image, then fill the layer mask of this adjustment layer with black, then set the white color as the foreground color and black, as the background color, and then apply Radial gradient (Radial Gradient) on a layer mask to lighten only the central part of the image. This action will create a focal point and enhance the contrast between the Ripper and the background, making it darker.

Next, add an adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance) and increase the value Blue tint (Cyan). Next, apply Linear gradient (Linear Gradient Tool) to apply the correction only to the right side of the image. This action will add a little visual interest.

Finally, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves), pulling the curve to the top to lighten the image, then fill the layer mask of this adjustment layer with black color and using a soft white brush, selectively paint on the layer mask of the correction layer to further brighten the bright areas surrounding the Ripper.

STEP 9

Let’s add more elements to our scene. First create a new layer, and then use the Birds brush to paint the birds on the horizon.

STEP ten

Open the “House” image. Press Ctrl + C to copy the image, and then press Ctrl + V to paste the copied image onto our working document. Press Ctrl + T to activate free transform, apply the transform to the house image, as shown in the screenshot below. Add adjustment layer Curves(Curves), as a clipping mask for color correction at home. Next, create a new layer, and using a soft black brush with an opacity of 20%, draw the shadows on the left side of the house. Change the blending mode for the layer with the shadow on Multiplication (Multiply).

STEP eleven

Open the “Cross” image, create a selection around the cross image. Press Ctrl + C to copy the image, and then press Ctrl + V to paste the copied image onto our working document. Press Ctrl + T to activate the free transform, apply the transform to the image with a cross, as shown in the screenshot below.

Add adjustment layer Curves (Curves), as a clipping mask, to reduce the brightness of the image of the cross, and also add an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), also as a clipping mask to reduce the saturation of the cross image.

Next, create a new layer below the cross layer. On the new layer, draw the shadows. Change the blending mode for the layer (s) with the shadow to Multiplication (multiply). Use your intuition when creating shadows, do not forget that we have multidirectional lighting in our scene, but the main light comes from the left side (from the cruciform point of view).

Group all the layers associated with the cross, then duplicate this group and, using free transformation, position the duplicate group at a distance from the original cross. Repeat this action a few more times until you have 8 crosses.

STEP 12

Open the Crow image, create a selection around the Crow image. Press Ctrl + C to copy the image, and then press Ctrl + V to paste the copied image onto our working document. Do not worry if you have an imperfect selection, because Reduce the image of the crow. Press Ctrl + T to activate free transform, apply the transform to the raven image, as shown in the screenshot below. Next, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves), as a clipping mask for color correction.

STEP 13

Create a new layer, then using a soft round brush of white color and 5% opacity, paint a little fog (or evaporation) at the base of the house and at the base of the crosses. Just do not overdo it.

STEP 14

Open the “Minibus” image, create a selection around the minivan image. Press Ctrl + C to copy the image, and then press Ctrl + V to paste the copied image onto our working document. Press Ctrl + T to activate free transform, apply the transform to the image with a minibus, as shown in the screenshot below. Next, add adjustment layers. Curves (Curves) and Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation), as a clipping mask for minivan color correction.

Please note that we are not completely removing the colors of the minibus, because I want the color shades to be present somewhere in our picture. Create a new layer below the layer with the minibus, draw the shadow from the minibus, change the blending mode for the layer with the shadow on Multiplication (Multiply).

STEP 15

Let’s create the creepy dark streaks that the Ripper’s dark figure exudes. To do this, create a new layer, fill this layer with white color. Press D to set the default colors, then go Filter – Rendering – Clouds (Filters> Render> Clouds). Go again Filter – Rendering – Cloudswith overlay (Filters> Render> Difference Clouds). Next, go Image – Correction – Curves (Image> Adjustments> Curves) and apply the curve, as shown in the screenshot below, to get rid of mid-tones and leave only black outlines.

Press Ctrl + T to activate free transform, apply the transform to the image with black veins, as shown in the screenshot below. Change the blending mode for this layer to Multiplication (Multiply).

Replacing the blending mode will help get rid of white areas. Add a layer mask to the veined layer and on the layer mask, hide the obvious lines. You can duplicate this layer using the free transform (Ctrl + T), flip horizontally to add more veins.

STEP 16

The time has come for the final correction.

Press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to create a merged layer, then go Filter – Stylization – Edge Glow (Filters> Stylize> Glowing Edges). Next, change the blending mode for this layer to Overlap (Overlay) and reduce the layer opacity to 23%. This action will further enhance the contrast and create a darker atmosphere. Next, add an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to reduce the saturation of the scene. Please note that sometimes less is more, but less, and in our case less saturation will make the image darker and dull. We will also focus the attention of the observer.

Press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E again to create the merged layer again. Apply Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) 4 px. Change the blending mode for this layer to Soft light (Soft Light). Reduce the layer opacity to 25%.

Finally, create a new layer. Using tool Stamp (Clone Stamp tool), make the braid’s wooden handle longer. Next, choose a soft black brush with an opacity of 5%. Darken some areas to enhance the mood of the picture. We finished the lesson.

Final result

Author: Adrian Scheff

Link to the PSD file of the lesson

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