Produce stunning works of vibrant fantasy art by using a compilation of photos and a few handy Photoshop tricks
Begin by opening a background photo of a forest. Size and position it and crop as you like. Duplicate the layer and choose Filter>Artistic>Palette Knife.
Duplicate this new filter layer and use Filter>Noise>Median. Merge down with Cmd/Ctrl+E and duplicate this layer. On the new duplicate, apply Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and then redice the layer’s Opacity by half. Merge down again.
Duplicate the filtered layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl+U for Hue/Saturation. Adjust the sliders to your taste. You can use a soft, round brush (B), set to the Colour mode, to control colours manually. Merge down again.
Create a new layer by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N. Use a soft brush in a light colour with low opacity to paint over the image, creating an ethereal glow. For a bokeh-like effect, make various sized dots with a hard round brush, set to a low opacity.
Bring in the model image. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T for Free Transform, then hold Shift and drag a corner handle to resize proportionately. Duplicate this layer and then hide the original, just in case you need to start over again at a later stage.
Select the Magic Eraser tool (E) and click on the white area of the image to instantly erase it. Areas around the edges will need some cleaning up, so use the Background Eraser (E), sampling the hotspot in the centre of the brush.
Now go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation (Cmd/Ctrl+U) Adjust each of the sliders as needed to lessen or boost the Hue, Saturation and Lightness, in order to blend with and better match the environment of the background.
We’re going to remove the hands of our subject with the Eraser (E) and then crop to the edges of the canvas. Now, we’re going to apply Filter>Liquify and hit W to grab the Forward Warp Tool. Use it to accentuate a change of posture.
Now for a more painted look. Use Median (under Filter>Noise) lightly; enough to remove the crisp detail but so that the natural features are still retained. For an added effect, follow it up with Paint Daubs (Filter>Artistic) on a low setting.
On a new layer, make a selection along the desired neckline of the sweater. After colour picking from the face using the Eyedropper (I), use a soft brush to fill in areas of skin, avoiding the hair. Deselect with Cmd/Ctrl+D when you’re all done.
Make a new layer. Sampling from the hand’s sweater cuff – as we are with this particular model – use the Clone Stamp (S) to make the neckline hem with -35 degree rotation. Erase to remove excess and create ridges for fabric. Use Burn (O) along the hem’s bottom edge for shadow.