photoshop creative

Create a fantasy portrait

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
January 18, 2017

Learn how to create a lush photomanipulation using a variety of techniques, transformations and blend modes


1. Open a new document


Go to File>New (Cmd/Ctrl+N), set the Width to 230mm, Height to 310mm, Resolution to 300 pixels/inch and click OK. Fill the background with a yellow-green gradient. Insert a trees stock image and set the layer Opacity to 88%.

2. Create the background


Create a new layer with a clipping mask and fill with a black and white gradient, blending mode set to Overlay, and Opacity of 60%. Reduce saturation and contrast using Hue/Saturation and Curves. Darken the bottom part. Adjust colour using Color Balance. Add the light area in the top corner using a soft brush.

3. Add the waterfall


Insert a waterfall and reduce saturation using Hue/Saturation. Duplicate a piece of waterfall, and place it above. Add ‘Rock.jpg’ at the top of the waterfall. Use a black soft brush (B) on the layer mask to erase the hard edges. Adjust the brightness and contrast using Curves.

4. Plant a tree in the foreground


Place a tree and move it into the scene. Use a black brush on the layer mask to hide unnecessary areas. Create a Curves adjustment layer with a clipping mask, reduce the brightness, and add yellow and green. Use Color Balance to add more yellow and red.

5. Work with the tree


Place some roots to add the moss and the roots on the tree. Use Edit>Transform>Warp to get the desired shape. Adjust brightness, contrast and colour using Curves, Color Balance and Hue/ Saturation. Darken the bottom part of the tree, and lighten areas at the top.

6. Create the river


Insert various stock photos of waterfalls, rivers and rocks to create the river. Use a soft brush to mask the edges. Adjust brightness, contrast and colour for each element. Increase saturation of the water. Create a new layer, and set blending mode to Soft Light. Use a soft brush with a colour of #445a45 to paint the area of water.

7. Place some plants


Add some plants from stock photos along the riverbank. Adjust colour and brightness for all the elements. Create a new layer, with a blending mode of Multiply. Select a dark colour and paint the area under the plants.

8. Add background elements


Place more trees and add a monkey. Reduce the brightness and contrast using Curves. Use the Color Balance to add yellow and red. Reduce the saturation. Darken the lower part, lighten the top and left side of the tree and monkey, then add a shadow under the monkey.

9. Insert the model


Place the model on the tree in the foreground. Cut out the left hand using the Lasso tool, and move it a little lower. Go to Filter>Liquify to correct the shape of the right hand and the left side. Retouch skin with the Clone Stamp and Healing Brush tool.

10. Create the clothes


Remove any pattern on the existing clothes using the Clone Stamp tool. Insert fragments of clothing from other stock images to create the dress, or simply repeat the clothes your subject is already wearing. Go to Edit>Transform>Warp. Transform the fabric form to fit the pose of the model. Use Filter>Liquify to more accurately control the shape. Hide any unnecessary pieces of cloth using the layer mask.

11. Colour tone the cloth


Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer with a clipping mask on the cloth layer. Set values to: Hue: 17, Saturation: +70, Lighten: -9, enable Colorize. Use similar toning on other pieces of cloth and top. Create a new layer below the model. Draw back part of the dress using a brush (colour #100702).

12. Add a belt


Add a belt. Duplicate and place a piece of belt below. Darken the right side using Curves with the layer mask. Create a new layer, with a blending mode of Multiply. Use a hard brush with a colour of #180904 to paint the shadow from the belt.

13. Create some details


Draw the snake bracelet. Add a shadow as in the previous step. Duplicate the head of the snake and place it on the belt buckle. Use the Warp tool to correct the shape. Erase unwanted areas. Adjust colour using Hue/Saturation.

14. Work on the hairstyle


Add a feather. Reduce the brightness using Curves. Duplicate the feather and reduce the size (Cmd/Ctrl+T). Alter the shape with the Warp tool. Darken the bottom part. Draw small hairs on the edge of the hair on a new layer. Use a soft brush (B), Size 1-2 px, Opacity 50-70%. Sample colour from the hair.

15. Darken the model


Create a Curves adjustment layer and reduce brightness. Darken the legs and the right side of the model on the mask. Create a new layer (Multiply, Opacity: 50%). Use a soft brush (colour #24220f) to paint over the legs. Darken the clothes – the bottom part, the area under the right arm and the right side.

16. Add more details


Draw the tip of the sword on a new layer. Use the Dodge tool (Exposure: 8-15%) to lighten the edge of the sword. Create a new layer below the model (Multiply, Opacity: 60-70%) and paint a drop shadow from the model. Cut the grass from the tree and place in front of the model’s feet.

17. Enhance the lighting


Group layers with the model. Create a new layer (Overlay, Opacity: 70%) with a clipping mask to the layer group. Fill it with 50% grey. Use the Dodge and Burn tools (set to 8-13%) to add more light and shadow to the face, hair, body and clothes. Create a Color Balance adjustment layer. Add more red, green and yellow.

18. Insert fog and splashes


Create a new layer (Normal). Select a white soft brush with low opacity. Paint the area behind the model. Add more fog in the area of the waterfall. Use splash brushes (mode: Color Dodge, Opacity: 15-30%) to add a splash.

19. Place the snake


Use a branch stock image to create a branch. Insert a snake. Go to Edit>Puppet Warp to alter the shape of the snake. Adjust brightness and colour using Curves and Color Balance. Darken the lower part of the branch and the snake. Add highlights at the top using Curves with a layer mask.

20. Add some plants


Insert another waterfall and more plants to the right of the model and another branch at the top. Adjust brightness, contrast and colour. Add highlights and shadows. Duplicate branch. Go to Filter>Gaussian Blur, set Radius: 16 px. Insert leaves to the right and also blur.

21. Create glare and rays


Create a new layer, set blending mode to Screen, Opacity: 23%. Use a soft brush with colour #928f7a to paint rays. Create a layer (Color Dodge, Opacity: 58%). Select colour #6e632e and paint glare on the water, model and plants, and strengthen rays. Use a lens flare texture (Color Dodge), to add more glare on the branches, tree and model.

22. Produce more uniformity


Add more uniformity to all of the elements. Create a new layer (Normal, Opacity: 5-10%) and using a soft brush with low opacity, paint on top of all the elements, sampling colour taken from the surrounding background. Darken the lower part of the image using Curves. Add light areas to the background and tree.

23. Make final corrections


Increase the brightness of the picture using Curves. Add a Solid Color adjustment layer (colour #594534). Use a Soft Light blending mode, Opacity: 10-20%. Add more yellow and red using Color Balance. Add a new layer (Soft Light, Opacity: 20%). Select a light orange colour and paint over the area on the left side using a soft brush.