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Members Area Tutorial: Create A Music Inspired Street Scene In Photoshop

In this tutorial I will be showing you how to create a music inspired street scene by bringing together various elements in Photoshop. We will be using dynamic lighting techniques and photo manipulation combined with layer masks, brushwork, and adjustment layers to create a cohesive scene. If you are ready to get started than fire up Photoshop and let’s get to it!

Final Image

Here is a preview of the image that we are going to be creating in this tutorial:

Step 1

To start things off we want to open up our first image of the man sitting in the chair. This is the particular image I have chosen for the tutorial, but you can use any image of a person sitting down if you don’t wish to use the same shot.

Select your “Background” layer and press Command/Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer above the original. Once you have done that, turn the visibility of the original layer off.

Select your newly duplicated layer and click on the Layer Mask Icon highlighted below by the red bounding box.

You will notice that once you add the Layer Mask that there is a small frame around the icon on your layer indicating that the mask is selected rather than the small thumbnail icon.

Switch to your Brush Tool (B) and select a hard round black brush as shown below:

Paint into your Layer Mask using your black brush to mask out the background of the image. The goal is to silhouette the man in the chair so we want to take our time to ensure a nice clean selection. You can vary the size of your brush by using the left and right bracket keys to get into the smaller (left bracket) or larger (right bracket) areas as needed.

After about 15-20 minutes I now have my subject isolated from the original background. I have then created a new layer just below the silhouetted image, and using a low opacity black brush I have put in a bit of a shadow below the chair. You can use the original image as a reference just to see the shape of the shadow for realism. We want the shadow to gradually taper off as seen in the image above.

Step 2

Save your silhouetted image and then open up the stock photo of the street scene as shown below:

From here, we will need to open up another image of the purple light streaks from the resources folder and bring that into our street scene.

We will need to resize the image a bit to make it fit into our street scene, and once you have done that initiate a Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T). Hold down the Control Key and click on the image to reveal a dropdown menu where you will want to choose “Flip Vertical” as shown in the image below:

Press the Enter Key to apply the changes and flip the light streak image. After that, move the image to the top of your street scene and change the Blending Mode of the layer to Screen.

Next, initiate another Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) and simply drag the middle handle of the image downwards so that the vanishing point of the lights is set on the horizon of the street scene – Doing this will match the perspective of the scene.

Step 3

With your “Light Streak” layer selected, click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette as indicated below:

Switch to your Gradient Tool (G) and with your default colors selected, choose a Linear Gradient that fades from black to white as shown here:

Click and drag upwards from the bottom of the light streak image to gradually fade the bottom in order to remove the hard edge.

We will want to leave the Layer Mask in tact so that we can modify it later if we choose.

Step 4

Return to the silhouetted image of the man sitting in the chair and while holding down the Command/Ctrl Key, select both your silhouetted image and the shadow layer below it as shown here:

Hold down the Control Key and click on either of your highlighted layers to reveal a dropdown menu. From this menu, choose “Link Layers” to link both the silhouette and the shadow together.

You will notice that after you have done this, small chain-like icons will appear on both of these layers to indicate that they are linked together.

With both of your linked layers still selected, press Command/Ctrl + G to place them into a Group Folder and give it a name – in this case I am simply going to call it “Man In Chair” for the sake of simplicity.

Select the Group Folder and drag it into your street scene, placing it at the top of your Layers Palette. You may have to use another Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) to resize the man depending on the resolution of your image.

Use the screenshot below to match the size and placement of your model within the composition. The goal here is to try and keep him large enough while making the placement appear natural in the scene.

Step 5

Next, click on your Background Layer in your Layers Palette to ensure that the layer is highlighted. From here, click on the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the palette and then choose “Hue/Saturation” before applying the settings shown below on the right:

Switch over to your Gradient Tool (G) and make sure that you have a Linear Gradient that fades from black to white as shown below:

With your Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer selected, click on the mask icon that is linked to the Adjustment Layer. Click and drag your mouse downwards from the top of your image to fade out the Hue/Saturation Adjustment so that it only affects the color of the street and sidewalks.

You can also use a soft round brush at a low opacity and paint into the layer with a solid black to refine the mask further. The idea is to preserve the original coloring of the background for the top part of the image, but allow the adjustment to show through on the lower half. Once you are happy with your masking, lower the opacity of the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to about 60% and you should now have something like this:

We want to work towards creating one cohesive environment with consistent lighting and shadows. We can push this further by using a few more Adjustment Layers to blend our images together.

Step 6

Select your “Main In Chair” Group Folder and drag it down to the New Layer icon at the bottom of your palette to duplicate the entire folder above the original.

Hold down the Control Key and click on the newly duplicated Group Folder to reveal a dropdown menu. From this menu, choose “Merge Group” as shown below:

Once you have merged the copy of your Group Folder, turn off the visibility of the original folder.

Step 7

Click on your merged layer and then while the layer is highlighted click once again on the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette. When the menu appears, choose “Levels” and it will be added just above your merged layer.

Click on the newly created Adjustment Layer while holding down the Control Key to reveal another dropdown menu. From this menu, select “Create Clipping Mask” so that our Levels Adjustment only affects the man in the chair.

Move the middle slider of the Levels Adjustment slightly to the right, somewhere around “0.86” as shown in the image below on the right.

After applying the settings to the Levels Adjustment Layer, lower the opacity to 60%. This will help to blend the man in the chair in better with his surroundings in the scene.

Step 8

Select the “Man In Chair” layer and then return to your Adjustment Layers Menu and select “Hue/Saturation” from the menu. Begin to experiment with the Hue/Saturation sliders to change the color of the man. Remember, we are only affecting the man because of the Clipping Mask that is applied when creating a new layer between the image and a pre-existing Clipping Mask if you know what I’m trying to say.

Switch to your Brush Tool (B) and select a large soft round brush with a solid black fill.

You may notice that whenever we apply an Adjustment Layer that they have built-in masking capabilities. What that means is that we can simply brush out any of the areas that we don’t want to change with an Adjustment Layer.

In the image below, you will see that I am still experimenting with the Hue/Saturation Adjustment and also masking out some of the colors on the man by painting with my brush. Take your time with this part and know that you can bring back some of the color by using a white fill instead of black with your brush.

Step 9

Select your Gradient Tool (G) and pick a bright magenta color such as #FE0AEA as shown here:

For your settings, just make sure that you have a Radial Gradient selected that fades from solid color to transparent.

Create a new layer below your model layer, and then proceed to click and drag your mouse outwards from the center of the canvas to create a gradient.

After you create your gradient, change the Blending Mode of the layer to “Color” and reduce the opacity to somewhere around 20-25%. Duplicate the layer by pressing Command/Ctrl + J and play around with the size and placement of some of these gradients. By stacking them and playing with the opacity you will begin to see some nice color transitions happening.

In the image above you can see that I have about ten of these layers that I am using to create a glow coming from behind the man and reflecting onto the street around him.

Step 10

Select your top Magenta Gradient Layer and then while holding the Shift Key, select the last of all of the Magenta Layers. Once they are all highlighted, press Command/Ctrl + G to put them all into a single Group Folder. This will give us even more control of the color and how we would like it to appear.

Lastly, once you’ve made your Group Folder, select it and then click on the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette to add a mask to your folder.

Switch back to your Brush Tool (B) and then with your low opacity soft brush, begin painting with black to smooth out areas of color where you want to reduce the amount of magenta.

Step 11

After experimenting a bit more with the colors I have ended up changing the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer that affects the “Main in Chair” layer a bit more. In addition, feel free to continue to add or remove the effect by painting into the layer with your mask selected.

The image below shows the before and after of applying the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer so you can see the color changes that we have made.

Step 12

Open up the image of the music box from the resources folder and quickly clip out the white background using the Magic Wand (W) or any method of your choice.

With the new layer selected, click on the Adjustment Layers Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette and choose “Levels” from the menu that appears.

Hold down the Control Key and click on the newly created Levels Adjustment Layer to reveal a dropdown menu. From this menu we want to choose “Create Clipping Mask.”

From here, move the middle slider to “0.76” as shown in the image below:

Select the Music Box Layer once again and this time, add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer by selecting the icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette.

For the settings, move the middle, Saturation slider all the way to the left to desaturate the music box below.

Step 13

Hold down the Command Key (Control Key on Windows) and click on the thumbnail layer icon of the Music Box Layer as indicated here:

Once you see the marching ants indicating your selection around the object, create a new layer above both of your Adjustment Layers so that your Layers Palette looks like this:

Select the color #BD519F as shown below:

Switch to your Brush Tool (B) to make sure that you have a low opacity, soft round brush selected.

On your new layer, paint into the object using the magenta color. Follow the direction of the arrows when painting so that the color is mostly coming from above the music box.

Step 14

Paint into the object to bring in a little more of the surrounding colors. Once you have done that, select your Music Box Layer, and then while holding the Shift Key select the top color layer that is on the music box. You should now have all of these related layers highlighted like this:

Click on the Group Folder Icon indicated here at the bottom of the Layers Palette:

Step 15

Create a new layer below your music box in the “Music Box” folder that we created in the previous step. Use your lasso to create an elongated rectangle shape that will represent the shadow of the music box. After creating your shape, switch to your Paint Bucket Tool (G) and fill the area with a solid black color.

Next, click on the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette:

Using a soft round brush set to black, brush out some of the left side of your shadow shape. Try to create a gradual fade for the shadow so that it tapers off in a natural way.

Step 16

Select a vibrant cyan color such as #B4FEFF as shown below:

With your Gradient Tool (G), make sure that you have a Radial Gradient that fades from solid to transparent – this is probably already set up since it has the same options we used before.

Create a new layer above the Music Box Folder and then click and drag your mouse outwards on the canvas to create a small sized Radial Gradient.

Change the Blending Mode of the Gradient to Overlay and place it over the right side of the actual box as shown in the image below:

Hold down the Command Key (Control on Windows) and once again click on the thumbnail layer icon of the music box to create a selection around the object.

As long as your gradient layer is highlighted in the Layers Palette while the selection around the music box is active, you should be able to click on the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom to mask the gradient.

From here, lower the opacity of the Cyan Gradient Layer to somewhere around 30%, which should still give enough of a highlight on the music box without being too much.

Step 17

Select another vibrant blue such as #00B4FF as shown here:

Create a new layer below the “Man In Chair” layer and use the Gradient Tool (G) to create a large Radial Gradient behind the man. Change the Blending Mode of the layer to Overlay and reduce it to about 50%.

Doing this will create some cooler tones on the ground and behind the man, which provides a nice contrast to the magenta/purple colors.

Step 18

Select your “Light Streaks” layer and paint into the Layer Mask to remove some of the streaks along the top of the image. Use a large soft round brush with solid black to make the masking more gradual as the lights on top taper off.

Step 19

Create a new layer just below the music box and switch to your Gradient Tool (G). Make sure that you have a solid white Radial Gradient that fades from solid to transparent as shown below:

Click and drag the mouse outwards from the center of your image to create a large gradient behind the man and the music box.

Once you have placed the gradient in the center of your image, change the Blending Mode of the gradient layer to Overlay and you should now have something like this:

Step 20

Next, create a new layer below the music box and press the F5 Key to bring up your Brushes Palette. Click on the small arrow in the upper right hand corner of the palette and it will reveal a dropdown menu where you will want to select “Load Brushes.”

From here, simply navigate to your abr file or the brush that you would like to load. For this part, we will be using the Tron Grid Brushes from the resources.

Once your brushes load, you will notice small thumbnail previous of all of the brushes in the set. First we will select the brush that I have highlighted below with the red bounding box:


With a solid white fill selected, click your mouse to use the grid brush. We want the brush to be pretty large so that the bottom goes off of our canvas.

Step 21

With your grid brush layer selected, press Command/Ctrl + T to initiate a Free Transform. Hold down the Command Key (Control Key on Windows), and click on the grid. From the menu that pops up, choose “Perspective” as shown below:

Hover your mouse over the bottom left corner of the bounding box, and while holding down the Shift Key, drag the corner straight out to the left.

Hold down the Control Key once again before clicking on the grid and this time selecting “Free Transform.” Drag the top, middle handle downwards to match up the horizon with the top of the grid while also matching the perspective.

Once you have tweaked the positioning and perspective of the grid, you should have something like this:

Step 22

Select your grid layer and then click on the Layer Mask Icon highlighted below:

Switch to a soft round brush tool with a solid black fill color. Begin to brush along the bottom and the bottom corners with your black brush in order to fade the grid out and blend it with the street.

For more precision, zoom in and switch to your Pen Tool (P). Click a point along the street where you want to have the grid stop and follow it along towards the bottom to create a shape.

Close the shape and then hold down your Control Key and click anywhere along the path to reveal the dropdown menu. From this menu, choose “Make Selection” as shown in the image below:

Once the selection is active, brush inside of the area with your black brush to mask out the grid inside of the shape. This will create a hard line that follows along the edge of our grid.

Step 23

Repeat the process by creating a shape on the opposite side that encompasses the area of the grid that you would like to remove.

Hold the Control Key and click along the path as we did in the previous step, and once again choose “Make Selection” from the dropdown menu.

After masking out everything inside of this shape, you should have a clean looking grid that follows the perspective of the image.

Continue brushing out some areas of the grid to gradually fade it out at different parts of the image.

Step 24

Next, open the space image from the resources folder and drag it into your Photoshop document. Use a Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) to resize the space image so that it resembles what I have here:

It doesn’t cover the entire width of the image, but the height is just right. Press Command/Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer and then press Command/Ctrl + T once again. While holding down the Control Key, click on the space image to reveal the menu. From here, choose “Flip Horizontal” as shown in the image below:

Slide the duplicated layer over to the left – Holding down the Shift Key will keep the image aligned with the original as you slide it over.



Step 25

Add a Layer Mask to the duplicated space image by clicking on the icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette. Once you have done that, use a large soft round brush and with a black fill selected, brush over the hard edge of the space image to fade it into the original copy beneath.

Once you have smoothed out the edge of the image to create a seamless space background, hold down the Control Key and click on the Layer Mask Thumbnail Icon. From the menu, choose “Apply Mask” to confirm the changes.

Next, with your top space image highlighted, press Command/Ctrl + E to merge the top layer with the layer below. You should now have one layer of the merged space background.

Step 26

With your newly merged layer selected, add a Layer Mask by clicking on the icon at the bottom of your palette.

Using the same soft round black brush we have been using in some of the previous steps, brush along the hard edges of the space background to fade it out. Feel free to experiment here and see what feels balanced. Here I have masked out some of the space texture on the top of the image along with a few other areas to break up the texture a bit.

Step 27

Bring in another copy of the space image from the resources folder and place it at the top of the Layers Palette before changing the Blending Mode to Screen.

Next, click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette to add a mask to the image.

Use a soft black brush to brush out most of the space image leaving only certain areas in front of the model as well as the sides of the image. We only really need a hint of it to come into the foreground to create some atmospheric perspective.

At this point in the tutorial, you should have something similar to the image below:

Step 28

Next, open up the image of the microphone from the resources folder. After opening your image, double click on the “Background” layer to unlock it.

Click on the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette and with a hard black brush selected begin to paint around the mic and mic cable to remove the background.

You can use the Magic Wand (W) here to get most of the background, but in order to avoid having jagged edges and to get cleaner results, I prefer to use a small brush and mask these areas out.

Once you have finished, drag your microphone over into the composition and place it on the left side of the canvas. What we want to do next is flip the mic so we will press Command/Ctrl + T to initiate a Free Transform, and then click on the object while holding down the Control Key to reveal a dropdown menu. From the menu, select “Flip Horizontal” as shown below:

After flipping the microphone, you may wish to further reduce the size a bit and try to match it closely with the image shown here:


Since we still have our Layer Mask attached to the microphone layer, we might as well put it to good use. We are going to use a small, soft black brush to mask out the part of the microphone cord that comes in front of the light post. Using our mask like this will give the appearance of the cord wrapping around the pole.

When you are happy with the way your microphone is looking, hold down the Control Key and click on the small Layer Mask Thumbnail attached to your Microphone Layer. Once the dropdown menu appears, choose “Apply Mask” as shown here:

Step 29

Create a new layer above your Microphone Layer and switch to your Brush Tool (B). With a solid black fill color selected make sure that you have a small hard brush, maybe around 3 pixels in size.

Switch to the Pen Tool (P) and starting where the microphone cable ends in the image, continue the shape by creating a flowing curve that goes off of the canvas with the pen.

After creating your curve, hold the Control Key and click anywhere along your path to reveal the dropdown menu. This time, when the menu appears choose “Stroke Path” and press the Enter Key to apply the stroke. You should now have a 3 pixel black line that is the continuation of the microphone cord.

It’s okay that the color doesn’t match up just yet because we are going to be fixing that in the next step. At this point, you should have something like this:

Step 30

Hold down the Command Key (Control on Windows) and click on the layer thumbnail icon of the Microphone Layer indicated below by the red box:

You should see the marching ants around the microphone to indicate your selection. While the selection is still active, create a new layer above the previous layer, which should be the piece of the microphone cord that we added in the previous step.

Now, you can paint over the cord using a soft black brush to gradually fade in some of the colors to make the wire look continuous.

When you are happy with the blending of the microphone cable, select all three of your layers while holding the Command Key (Control on Windows) as shown above. While all three of your related layers are selected, hold down the Control Key and click on any one of the layers.

You should now see a dropdown menu where you will want to select “Merge Layers” to combine these three layers into one.

The result should look something like this:

Step 31

Hold down the Command Key (Control on Windows) and click on the layer thumbnail icon of the Microphone Layer once again, which should now select the entire shape of the microphone as well as the microphone cord.

While the selection remains active, add a new layer above the Microphone Layer and select a soft white brush set to a low opacity (somewhere around 20%).

On your new layer, brush along the bottom and bottom right side of the microphone to add in some highlights as shown below:

Once you are happy with your highlights you can press Command/Ctrl + E with this layer selected to merge it with your Microphone Layer Below. This part is just good house keeping to help keep track of our layers and isn’t absolutely necessary.

Create another new layer above the white highlights and switch to a vibrant blue color such as #2E42EC.

Change the Blending Mode of your new layer to Screen and begin to paint with your blue color over the white highlights. This will create a tinted blue glow that helps to blend the microphone better into the image by adding a consistent light source coming from the middle of the canvas – the focal point of our design.

Step 32

Create a new layer just below the top space texture layer and select a rich blue color (I am using #4068F1) as shown here:

Next, switch to your Gradient Tool (G) and check your settings to make sure that you have a Radial Gradient that fades from solid to transparent.

On your new layer, click and drag the mouse outwards to create your gradient. Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Linear Dodge and place it over the right side of the man in the chair and the music box.

With your gradient layer selected, press Command/Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer. Move the copy over to the left side of the man in the chair to help create some balance between the lights.

Make two more copies of your gradients (one more on each side) and place them a little bit higher than the previous two. The image below shows the rough placement of each of these gradients:

Select all four of your gradient layers by clicking the top one, holding down the Shift Key, and then clicking on the bottom gradient layer. After doing that, click on the Group Folder Icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette to put these four layers into a folder.

Next, with your Group Folder selected, click on the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette to put a mask on the folder containing all of our Linear Dodge Gradients.

Step 33

Open up your Group Folder and create one more duplicate of one of the gradient layers. Take this layer and move it down below the layer with the man in the chair. Place the gradient up above his head, in the middle of the canvas.

Now that we have our blue lighting in place, we can use the mask on the Group Folder to mask out certain areas that we don’t want the light showing in. Using a soft round black brush, begin to paint over the body and face of the man, only leaving out the sides and edges of the chair. This will give the illusion that the light is coming from behind the chair, peaking through on the edges and sides rather than coming straight on.

Step 34

Select a pale magenta color such as #D08CEF as shown below:

You should still have your gradient settings in place from the previous step, but just in case, we still want a Radial Gradient fading from solid to transparent.

Proceed to create two gradients, placing one on each side of the canvas as shown here:

Lastly, change the Blending Mode of both of these layers to Overlay.

Step 35

Next, we want to make a quick adjustment to the lower body of the man since we have significantly brightened up the upper half of the body.

Select the “Man In Chair” layer and then click on the Adjustment Layers Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette.

From the menu that pops up, choose “Curves” to add the layer above the model. This layer should also be added automatically with a Clipping Mask since it’s between the model layer and the other two Clipping Mask Layers that we created earlier.

Create a single point in the middle of the Curves Adjustment Dialog Box and match the settings to the image on the right. This should bring out some of the brightness in the man overall.

Your Curves Adjustment Layer will have a built in mask that we can utilize as well. Use a large soft round black brush to mask out all of the man except for the legs and the bottom sides of the chair. In the image below you will see how the image looks without the Curves Adjustment:

I have also turned off the Linear Dodge Lights for the moment so you can really see the change. The next image shows how the image looks after we have applied our Curves Adjustment to the model:

And now, you can see how the image is looking overall, with all of the layers activated:

You will notice in the image above that I have placed one more copy of the Space Texture on the top of the layer stack and with the Blending Mode set to Screen, the image adds a very subtle texture giving just the right amount of depth to the image.

As an optional step, you could also darken up the bottom of the shirt using a very light black brush, just to make it recede back a bit further. This isn’t absolutely necessary since we will be bringing in a new object in the next step.

Step 36

Open up the image of the boom box from the resources folder and quickly mask it out to remove the background. You can use the Magic Wand Tool (W), the Pen Tool (P), or add a Layer Mask and then use the Brush Tool (B) to isolate the object.

Once you are happy with your selection, bring the object into your working document and place it just below the top “Space 2” layer.

Click the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette to add a mask to the “Boom Box” layer. Lower the opacity of the layer to somewhere between 20-30% so that you can see the jeans and shirt of the model through the object.

Using a small hard round brush with a black solid fill, zoom in and erase the areas of the jeans indicated below:

Step 37

With the boom box layer highlighted in your Layers Palette, click on the Adjustment Layers Icon to bring up the menu and choose “Levels.”

Once the layer is added, hold down the Control Key and click on the Levels Adjustment Layer before selecting “Create Clipping Mask” to contain the adjustment to the inside of the layer below it.

For the adjustment settings, move the middle gray slider to the right until you get to about “0.62” as shown in the image below:

Step 38

Click on the “Boom Box” layer and then the New Layer icon to add a layer between the boom box and the Levels Adjustment Layer. This layer will automatically be a Clipping Mask.

Switch to your Brush Tool (B) and choose a large round soft brush with an opacity setting of about 20%.

Use your brush to paint along the bottom of the boom box on your new layer to create some darker shadows on the object. Because of the Clipping Mask, you don’t have to be too neat about staying in the lines because the black will only be visible inside of the boom box.

Next, select the “Boom Box Shadows” layer that we just created. Return down to the bottom of the Layers Palette to select the Adjustment Layers and this time, we are going to select “Hue/Saturation” from the menu that appears.

Move the top “Hue” slider to 275 and the “Saturation” slider below it to 25 as shown in the image.

With your low opacity black brush, brush out some of the Hue/Saturation Adjustment over the top of the boom box. This will give it a more realistic look going from the natural highlights to the colors in the shadows.

Step 39

Create a new layer and place it below the “Boom Box” layer. Use the same dark brush to bring in some shadows beneath the boom box. In the image below you will see that I have darkened the lap considerably to create more realism.

Step 40

Next, hold down the Command Key (Control on Windows) and click on the layer thumbnail icon of the “Boom Box” layer. Once you have done that, you should have your marching ants going around the object to show the selection area.

Add a new layer above the Levels Adjustment, and while your selection is still active, paint in some blue highlights over the top and sides of the boom box. The color I am using is the same vibrant blue from earlier – #4068F1. Use a soft brush here and also change the Blending Mode of the layer to Linear Dodge (Add).

Adding some subtle blue highlights helps to further blend the boom box in with its surroundings by matching the amount of blue light that is cast upon our model as well as the chair.

Step 41

Open up the image of the cassette tape from the resources folder and quickly trace around it to remove the background. Fortunately, the tape is a pretty easy object to silhouette so feel free to use whatever method you prefer to get the job done.

After removing the background from the tape, bring it over into your Photoshop document and place it below the original space texture as shown here:

Hold down the Command Key (Control on Windows) and click on the layer thumbnail of the tape layer to activate a selection around it.

While the selection is active, create a new layer above the cassette and then switch to your Brush Tool (B) and choose a hot pink color (I am using #FF004E).

For your brush settings, keep a low opacity soft round brush as shown in the image below:

On your new layer, begin to brush in some of the magenta color onto the left side of the cassette tape, in the direction of the arrow as seen here:

Step 42

Highlight your cassette layer in the Layers Palette and then click on the Adjustment Layers Icon at the bottom. From the menu, select “Levels” to add the Adjustment Layer above your cassette tape.

Next, hold down the Control Key and click on the Levels Adjustment Layer to reveal another dropdown menu where we want to select “Create Clipping Mask.”

After creating the Clipping Mask, move the middle slider of the Levels Adjustment to the right until it gets to “0.63” to add just a bit of contrast to the object. The image below shows each part of the process described in this step.

Step 43

Create a new layer at the top of your Layers Palette and switch to your Gradient Tool (G). Make sure that you have a solid white color selected, and that you settings match the image below:

Click and drag outwards to create your gradient and place it on the bottom right of the image. Press Command/Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer and place it on the opposite side of the image. You should now have two white gradients as shown below:

Change the Blending Mode of both of the white gradient layers to Overlay and lower the opacity to about 40%.

This should bring a bit of brightness and contrast into the sides of the street towards the bottom of the image. This will help to distribute the lights and darks throughout the piece. Lastly, move the space texture back to the top of your layer stack.

Step 44

Next, open the image of the tree from the resources folder. Once the image is open, double click on the “Background” layer to unlock it. Go to the Select Menu and choose “Color Range” as shown below:

When the dialog box appears, select some of the white area of the image with the eyedropper. After that, move the slider to somewhere around “113” to target all of the white while leaving the tree in tact.

Once you see the marching ants around the tree, press Command/Ctrl + Shift Key + I to inverse the selection. After that, click on the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette to mask out the background. This is better than simply hitting the Delete Key in case you want to modify the selection at all.

Step 45

Bring the silhouetted tree into your Photoshop document and place the layer just below the “Microphone” layer towards the bottom of the layer stack.

Enlarge the image behind the man so that some of the leaves and branches extend out to the right, behind the music box. After that, double click on the layer to bring up the Layer Styles.

Check off “Color Overlay” and select a solid black color before pressing the Enter Key to apply the changes.

Press Command/Ctrl + J to duplicate the tree and move the copy over to the left so that some of the leaves and branches extend out behind the flying cassette tape.

This will make it appear as though there is one large tree in the background.

Hold down the Command Key (Control on Windows) and the Shift Key before clicking on the layer thumbnail for both copies of the tree layers. This should activate a selection around both of the trees as shown in the image below:

While your selection is still active, create a new layer and move it just below the “Man In Chair” layer before switching to your Brush Tool (B). Pick a solid white color and use a low opacity, soft round brush before brushing along the top line of the trees as indicated here:

Lower the opacity of the layer down to about 10-20% or until the top edge of the trees blends into the background. You should now have a result similar to this:

Step 46

Now to focus on some finishing touches, select a small hard round brush, about 4 pixels in size. Also, make sure that you have a solid black fill selected.

Create a new layer below the tree layers and then switch to your Pen Tool (P). Begin to trace a path to add some extra wire to the microphone cord, similar to the image below:

Once you have made your path, hold down the Control Key and click anywhere along the line to reveal the dropdown menu where we want to choose “Stroke Path” as seen here:

Press the Enter Key to apply the changes and then once more to get rid of the original path. Hold down the Command Key (Control on Windows) and click the layer thumbnail icon of the new path to activate a selection around it.

Switch back to your Brush Tool (B) and select a large soft round brush at a low opacity.


Hold down the Alt/Option Key to toggle between the brush and the eyedropper in order to sample some of the magenta from the image. With your selection still active, create a new layer, just below the model layer.

Begin to brush in some of the colors as highlights along the path that makes up your extra cable for the microphone.

This will help to lead the viewer’s eye towards the center of the piece and also we don’t want it to look like the cable just disappears so I think that it seems to help solve both of these matters at the same time.

Step 47

Select your top layer and then while holding down the Shift Key, scroll all the way down and select the very bottom layer in your Layers Palette. You should now have all of your layers highlighted.

Press Command/Ctrl + G to place all of these layers into a Group Folder.

Drag the Group Folder down to the New Layer Icon at the bottom of the palette to duplicate the entire folder. Once you have done that, turn the visibility of the original folder off.

Next, hold down the Control Key and click on the newly duplicated Group Folder to reveal the dropdown menu where you will want to choose “Merge Group” as shown in the image below:

Step 48

With your merged layer selected, go to the Filter Menu and choose Sharpen>Unsharp Mask.

Once the dialog box appears, apply the settings shown below:

This will help sharpen up the image overall and bring out just a bit more of the detail across the board. Once you have applied that change, save your work and take a look at the masterpiece that we have created today!

I hope that you like the finished product and have also learned some useful techniques throughout the process. Until next time, thanks for watching!

And We’re Done!

Here is how your final result should look.

VIP Download

Download the original .psd file for this tutorial here:

DOWNLOAD .PSD FILE

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