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Members Area Tutorial: Photo Manipulate a Destructive Giant Gorilla Scene

Final Image

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

Step 1

Create a new document approx 1200X1000px.

Paste in your ‘road backdrop’ image from the resources for this tutorial.

Position the image so that the photo takes up around 3/4 of the right part of your canvas, leaving the furthest left 1/4 of canvas free.

Step 2

We want to extend the edge of our canvas out to fill the left part of our canvas.

To do this, duplicate your backdrop image layer and move the duplicate layer beneath the original.

Then drag this duplicate bottom image out to fill the left part of your canvas. Try to line up the edge of the road, as we’re going to work to make these two images seamlessly join:

Select your top ‘backdrop’ layer and apply a layer mask.

Use a large, soft black paintbrush to mask off the edge of this original backdrop photo. The idea is to begin blending it into your underlying landscape.

At this stage it doesn’t have to be perfect, but just get rid of that hard edge between your two photos:

Step 3

To start blending our image we’re going to continue to duplicate our main ‘backdrop’ image.

However, we’re going to use layer masks to hide the parts of these duplicate images that we don’t want to use.

For example, in the last image you can see that there is a slight gap in the top right of your canvas.

We’re going to add a duplicate ‘backdrop’ layer to fill this area, and then mask off all other parts of this layer apart from the top-left sky fill.

To better demonstrate what I mean I’ve shown this layer’s layer mask in red. You can see that all of this layer has been masked off apart from the top left area of sky, to fill the previous gap:

You can see the result of this below, with our mask displayed normally:

Step 4

Use this same technique to create more of a seamless road texture.

Continue to duplicate your backdrop layer and then mask off all parts of your duplicate apart from an area of road surface.

If needed, go to edit>transform>distort and distort your road texture to fit better with the angle of the road.

Below you can see an example of where I have positioned a duplicate ‘backdrop’ layer, and then masked off all parts of this layer apart from a small area of road surface which I have used to help build up a seamless road surface:

Below you can see the final result of merging many masked versions of my original backdrop photo.

You can see that I used a lot of layers, using masking to combine areas of each into a seamless whole. You’ll most likely need to play around with your layer masks to get everything to fit nicely.

Also don’t worry that our city in the background is looking quite odd right now, we’ll fix this is a later step:

Step 5

We want to start fixing the city scape in the left of our canvas.

To do this, start by selecting then copying some of your buildings from the right half of your canvas and positioning them on the left.

Simply use your lasso tool or preferred selection method to select around a specific building, then hit copy/paste to paste it into a new layer.

Below you can see how I did this with a couple of the buildings:

You can see another example of a building copied below:

Step 6

We want to now cover the other left side buildings that aren’t correctly aligned, as well as fix the grassy area between the road and the cityscape.

To do this download the ‘grassy hills’ photo from the resources section for this tutorial.

Resize and position it as shown in the image below:

Apply a layer mask to this layer and use a soft black paintbrush to carefully mask off the edges of this photo, blending it smoothly into your surrounding composition:

Step 7

Apply a hue/saturation, color balance and levels (in that order) adjustment layer to your ‘grassy mound’ layer.

IMPORTANT: With each adjustment layer in this tutorial, unless otherwise specified always apply a clipping mask. This means that your adjustments will only effect the underlying layer, not your entire canvas:

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: 0
Saturation: -100
Lightness: 0

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: +9 / 0 / -42
Midtones: +53 / -4 / -36
Shadows: +9 / 0 / -32

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

36 / 0.89 / 227

You can see the result of these adjustments below:

Step 8

If we look carefully at our sky area, we can see a bit of a strange seam resulting from our earlier backdrop duplications.

There is a subtle dark area that makes it appear as if there are two separate light source areas in the sky.

I have highlighted these two light source areas and the dark area below:

To fix this, we want to paint over this subtle dark divider area, creating one single large highlight area.

To do this, create a new layer called ‘sky highlight’.

Sample a color from the lightest area of your sky and then use a medium sized, soft paintbrush to paint over your dark divide area. This joins your two highlight areas into one large highlight area:

Step 9

I can also see a bit of a strange seam between the original grassy area and the grassy hills that I blended in:

Just like with your sky, create a new layer called ‘grass highlight’.

Use your eye dropper tool to sample the lightest color from your original grassy area, and then use a soft paintbrush to brush this color over the edges of your grassy hills area:

Step 10

It’s time to start destroying this beautiful cityscape that we’ve created!

Start by downloading one of the flame images from the resources section for this tutorial.

Paste it into your document, resizing and positioning the flames to overlap some of your buildings:

As this image is on a plain black background it’s fairly easy to work with.

Simply change this flame layer’s blend mode to ‘screen’. This will hide the black background but less the flames show through:

Also mask off the edges of your flames image slightly if you need to.

Duplicate your flames layer to make the effect more visible. This is sometimes necessary, as using the ‘screen’ layer method for fire often makes it a lot fainter:

Step 11

Repeat step 10, applying some more fire to the left side buildings:

Step 12

We want to add a little more fire to our cityscape backdrop, but sometimes the ‘screen’ technique doesn’t cut it. Particularly against paler backgrounds your flames will simply not be that visible.

There’s where the awesome color range tool comes in!

Open up another one of your flame images as a new document.

Go to select>color range. Use your eye dropper tool to click on your black background and then set fuzziness to 200.

You can see in the image below, our selected area is shown in white:

Hit ok, and you will see that your black background is now selected. However, we want our flames to be selected, not our background.

To fix this, go to select>inverse.

Below you can see that we now have a fairly accurate selection of our flames:

Paste this flame into your original document, resizing and positioning it over your city:

You’ll notice that the edges are a little dark. This wouldn’t be a problem on a slightly darker background, it’s just an issue here because we’re setting very intense flames against quite a light, plain background.

To help fix this, apply a layer mask to this layer and use a soft black paintbrush to mask off the top/left of your flames. This leaves a smaller, more natural flame coming up from behind your buildings:

Step 13

I’m going to show you how to create some realistic flames coming up from some of your skyscrapers.

Start by pasting in one of your flame images, positioning it over your building top:

Change this layer’s blend mode to ‘screen’ and mask off the edges if necessary:

To make the effect a little more intense duplicate this ‘screen’ layer:

Step 14

Now use the color balance technique again to select this flame and isolate it from it’s background:

Paste this into your original document, positioning it over your screened flames:

This fire is looking a bit intense and unrealistic, so reduce this layer’s opacity to 45%:

Step 15

Download the FanExtra clouds brush set from the resources for this tutorial.

Create a new layer called ‘smoke (black)’. Apply several of the cloud brushes using a black paintbrush. If necessary you’ll need to angle the brushes to point upwards, giving the impression of plumes of smoke:

Apply a layer mask to this layer and mask off the bottom of your smoke, blending it smoothly into your fire:

Step 16

Create a new layer called ‘color cast from fire’.

Sample one of the lightest yellows from your fire and use a soft brush to brush around the base of your fire over the building. The idea is to give the impression of a subtle yellow light being cast by the fire over the surrounding buildings and sky.

Set this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ and reduce it’s opacity as necessary:

Step 17

Repeat these techniques to create a similar fire on a building in the left of your canvas:

Step 18

Time to give our backdrop some more lighting.

Download the FanExtra raylight brush set from the resources section for this tutorial.

Create a new layer called ‘raylight white’.

Apply a couple of the brushes using a white paintbrush, creating a strong upwards light effect coming from your city:

Change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ and reduce it’s opacity to 30%:

Create a new layer called ‘raylight orange’. The point of this layer is to cast a nice orange glow upwards, coming from your flaming city.

Use an orange (fbca68) colored raylight brush and apply several brush marks along the length of your city:

Keep this layer’s blend mode at ‘normal’ and reduce it’s opacity to 15% for a subtle coloring effect:

Step 19

Download the gorilla image from the resources section for this tutorial.

Extract it from it’s plain white background easily using the magic wand tool. Paste it into your main document.

You’ll notice that your gorilla has a thin white outline left from the extraction process. Don’t worry about this! We can fix it using Photoshop’s awesome ‘refine edge’ tool.

In your layer’s palette option+’click on your gorilla layer. This will create an active selection around your gorilla.

With this selection in place, select your magic wand tool. In your top toolbar you should notice a button saying ‘refine edge’. (If you’re using an older version of Photoshop this may not be here, in which case I recommend masking your edge to improve it).

Click on the ‘refine edge’ button and apply the settings shown below. As your ‘refine edge’ window is open it will hide all other data on your canvas, only showing your gorilla so you can clearly see the effects your settings have on your object edge.

Refine Edge Settings:

Edge Detection:

Smart Radius: (check this)
Radius: 4.0px

Adjust Edge:

Smooth: 0
Feather: 0.0px
Contrast: 0%
Shift Edge: -30px

Output:

Decontaminate Colors: (check this)
Amount: 100%
Output To: New Layer With Layer Mask

Remember Settings: (check this)

The great thing about this technique is that it’s non-destructive, as your new layer will have a layer mask controlling your edge, and will leave your original layer untouched.

You can see the result of refining our edge below. A lovely, smooth edge that also retains some of the details of the gorilla’s fur:

Step 20

Apply a levels adjustment layer to your gorilla layer:

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

14 / 1.00 / 224

Step 21

Create a new layer called ‘orange raylight over gorilla’.

Use your raylight brush again (using the same orange as for your sky highlights) and paint rays of light overlapping your gorilla coming from your sky background:

Reduce this layer’s opacity to 10%. This should create a subtle lighting/coloring effect over your gorilla, giving the impression of light from the flaming city in the background being cast over your gorilla:

Step 22

Download the fire truck image from the resources section for this tutorial.

Extract it from it’s background and paste it into your original document, positioning and resizing it to fit to the left of your gorilla:

Apply a color balance adjustment layer to this fire truck to blend it better with the surrounding composition:

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: +16 / 0 / -12
Midtones: +2 / 0 / -42
Shadows: +8 / 0 / -21

You can see the result of this below:

Step 23

Create a new layer underneath your fire truck layer called ‘shadows under fire truck’.

Use a soft black paintbrush to paint in a deep shadow under the truck, make it look more natural on top of the road. Try to bear in mind the light source coming from the city backdrop, and focus your shadows on the opposite side of the truck:

Step 24

Use the same raylight lighting technique that you used on your gorilla to light the right hand side of your truck.

I’ve demonstrated below the direction with the rays of light should be facing:

Step 25

Download the ‘flaming van’ image from the resources section for this tutorial.

Paste it into your original document , positioning it next to your fire truck:

Apply a layer mask, and use a soft black paintbrush to mask off the van’s background:

Use the same blending techniques as for your fire truck to blend the van better with the surrounding composition. This means color balance adjustment layer, shadows under the van and raylights where applicable:

Step 26

You’ll notice that the fireman’s hose cuts off at the edge of where we masked the flaming van image.

To fix this, simply select and then copy/paste a section of the hose onto a new layer. Then warp this new area of hose to wind round in an arc:

Step 27

Use the exact same techniques that you used to add fire to your skyscrapers to add additional flames and smoke coming off of the van:

Step 28

Download the ‘jet fighters’ photo from the resources section for this tutorial.

Extract the left jet fighter and paste it into your original document, positioning it like this:

Apply a color balance adjustment layer:

Color Balance Adjustment layer Settings:

Highlights: +15 / 0 / -8
Midtones: +13 / 0 / -39
Shadows: +12 / 0 / -15

This is the result:

Step 29

Download the lit match photo from the resources section for this tutorial.

Paste it into your original document:

Delete the black background, leaving only you match flame and then position the flame to appear like a jet flame coming from the jet fighter. Duplicate this flame for the other engine.

Reduce these layer’s opacities to 50%:

Create a new layer called ‘white light’. Set this layer’s blend mode at ‘overlay’ and use a soft white paintbrush to paint over your flames. This should help make them a little more intense:

Step 30

We’re going to create a jet stream coming from our fighter jet.

Create a new layer called ‘jet stream’.

Use your lasso tool to create a rough arcing shape where you want your jet stream to go. Be sure to set your lasso tool’s feather amount to 20px. This will it a nice soft edge.

With your selection in place go to filter>render>clouds. This will fill your arc with a cloud effect, forming the basis for your jet stream:

You’ll notice that the jetstream currently goes in front of the gorillas head. We want it to appear to be behind the gorilla, so apply a layer mask and then use a black paintbrush to mask off the area of jetstream that overlaps your gorilla.

Finally apply a hue/saturation adjustment layer to make the jetstream a little bit lighter:

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: 0
Saturation: 0
Lightness: +68

Step 31

Download the image of a fallen woman and running man from the resources section for this tutorial. Isolate them from their background and paste them into the area of road to the right of your gorilla.

Apply a color balance adjustment layer to blend them better with your overall composition:

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: +15 / 0 / -13
Midtones: +11 / 0 / -11
Shadows: +13 / 0 / -13

This is the result. I also painted a shadow underneath the woman to make her blend better with the road surface, and enhance the light source coming from behind her:

Step 32

Create a new layer called ‘black smoke’.

We want to apply some black smoke to the bottom corners of the canvas.

This is partly to enhance the lighting of light at the back, shadows at the front, but also to give the impression of the gorilla walking into a new realm of misty unknown.

Simply use some black paintbrush marks, using brushes from the FanExtra cloud brush set and apply clouds over your bottom corners:

Reduce this layer’s opacity to 65% to make the smoke more subtle:

Step 33

Create a new layer called ‘dodge/burn’.

We’re going to dodge and burn our image to enhance it’s lighting and intensity, and do this non-destructively!

Go to edit>fill and fill your canvas with 50% gray.

Then change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’.

This will hide your 50% gray fill, but let you paint over your image.

Use a soft, 10% opacity black paintbrush to burn your image, and a white paintbrush to dodge it. Remember, try to accentuate your light sources and shadows and bring your piece together by unifying the various elements.

The images below show the dodge/burn layer at ‘normal’ blend mode 100% opacity and then ‘overlay’ blend mode at 40% opacity. I reduced the opacity of my dodge/burn layer to 40% as it was originally too intense. Of course use your own judge:

Step 34

Create a new layer called ‘lens flare’.

Fill your canvas with black and then change it’s layer blend mode to ‘screen’. This will allow you to non-destructively apply a lens flare effect.

Go to filters>convert for smart filters. This converts your layer to a smart object, meaning that your filter application again will be non-destructive.

Go to filter>render>lens flare. Apply a 50-300mm Zoom lens flare, and try to position the origin of the flare just by your gorilla’s head/back.

This is how the lens flare layer looks at ‘screen’ blend mode and 40%. It’s very subtle, but more natural looking than at 100% opacity:

Step 35

To finish your image, apply a final couple of adjustment layers.

IMPORTANT: do NOT apply clipping masks to these adjustment layers, as you want your adjustments to effect your entire canvas.

Gradient Map Adjustment Layer Settings:

Gradient: Default black to white gradient
Layer opacity: 10%

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

8 / 1.00 / 244
Layer Opacity: 30%

And We’re Done!

You can view the final outcome below. I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and would love to hear your feedback on the techniques and outcome.

Member File Download

Download the original .psd file for this tutorial here:

DOWNLOAD .PSD FILE

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