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Members Area Tutorial: Create the Emotive Photo Manipulation ‘Magical Rose’

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a fantasy and emotional photo manipulation with a magical rose. You’ll learn different manipulating techniques, retouching, blending, painting hair, creating a complex lighting setup and more.

Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Resources Used In This Tutorial

Step 1

Open ground image. Press C to active Crop Tool and we’re going to make this image narrower:

We have result:

Step 2

As we want to focus on model and another subjects that will be located at foreground part so the background should be blurred. Duplicate background layer then go to Filter-Blur-Gassian Blur and set radius as 6 px:

Now click the small second button at the bottom of Layer Pallete to add layer mask for this duplicated background. Use soft black brush with big size (300-400 px, but it depends on the size of your picture) to clear blur effect on foreground part:

Step 3

I want to make a part of background more faded as it’s not a part we want to get focus on. There are several ways to do it and I use Clone Tool in this case. Press Cmd/Ctrl+Shif+N to make a new layer above duplicated background. Hit S to active Clone Tool with settings below:

Clone over this part (I choose a white part on the left as the source):

Step 4

I want to brighten background a bit to make it easier to blend with forest (in next step). Make a new layer on the top. Use soft white brush with big size to paint over sky and the right edge of foreground. Change the mode to Soft Light 100%:

Step 5

Open forest stock. Make selection for this part of this photo and use Move Tool (M) to drag it into our canvas, use Free Transform Tool (Cmd/CTrl+T) to resize and locate it at background:

Lower opacity to 50%:

Add layer mask to remove hard edge of the bottom:

Apply Gassian Blur with 6 px to make forest part fit well with blurred background:

Step 6

To change color of forest to be fit the rest, I use an adjustment layer for it with Clipping Mask. On forest layer, go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Color Balance:

We have result:

Step 7

Open girl stock. First I extract her from white background and copy it into a new layer. I make a new layer between background and extracted model and fill it with color #7b8685 (you can fill with any colors that makes good contrast to see small details of model better). Don’t worry about hair part as we’ll repaint it later.

Create a new layer and I use Smudge Tool to make the hair smoother. Set the Strength of this tool about 50-60% and use soft brush to drag over the hair following the hair shape. Remember to vary brush size for different parts of the hair and avoid other details of model (you can use Eraser Tool or layer mask to restore any unwanted smudged parts):

Step 8

Make a new layer and I use brush with color #d6bca5 painting over the hair to make basic highlights. It does not need to be so bright and obvious as well as have perfect-edged shape:

I want to make model hair look thicker so I create a new layer and pick two colors from the hair (#bc885a and #9d6939) to paint on missing hair part on model chest and the right. Like we did before, don’t need to make it so precise or neat.

Step 9

Make a new layer and I use brush with color #f9f5e1 and size about 50 px (it depends on the size you’re working on – I’m using original size of model stock). Paint over the hair to make basic strands and remember to vary brush opacity to create some depth for the hair and follow the hair shape. I can’t say exactly where and which opacities and flows applied on the hair as it’s the step you must practice yourself and you can get true exepriences from it. It can be a bit hard if you’re not familiar with painting techniques but when you know the basic rules, you can practice to be more exeprienced. Every practice takes time and patience but trust me, it’s really worth.

My result:

Continue with a new layer and I use soft white brush with size about 6-12 px. Paint tiny hair strands and fill necessary sections (as I said in my previous tutorials, you don’t need to create lots of small strands over the hair as it will make the hair look very dry). Create some strands flying out of model head and body, also vary brush opacity and flow to get more natural result:

Step 10

After painting the hair, I notice that the eyelash on right eye of model is hidden from some hair strands. To fix it, I use a new layer and choose brush with color #654a41 (color of model eyelashes) and size about 3-4 px. Draw some short eyelash strands until it looks good enough:

Merge all transparent layers ( model, hairs and eyelash ones).

Step 11

Move the model after being merged into our main picture, scale her to get a suitable size (Cmd/Ctrl+T) and position her at foreground:

Create a new layer under model one. Use black brush with very small size (6-8 px) to paint under model to get her cast shadow. I lower opacity to 80% and name this layer “model shadow 1″:

I aim to make the main light source come from behind the model (in the top of middle section of the picture) so the model should have a shadow infront of her. Now make a new layer above shadow 1 one. Hold the Cmd/Ctrl while clicking model thumbnail layer to load its selection:

Go to Edit-Fill and choose black color. After deselecting (Cmd/Ctrl+D), click on Edit-Transform-Flip Vertical then use Cmd/Ctrl+T to transform this shadow as shown below:

Lower opacity to 20% and apply Gassian Blur with 6 px ( as the light is soft and there is a distance from it to model). Call this layer “model shadow 2″:

Add layer mask and use soft black brush with opacity 100% to remove unecessary part on the right and brush with opacity about 40% to blur the top:

Step 12

The model looks so saturated against the background so I use some adjustment layers with Clipping Mask to change her color ( look at step 6 if you forgot how to make a layer with this option). On model layer, go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Selective Color:


Color Balance:

Step 13

Make a new layer (Clipping Mask) and use soft brush with color to paint on the lips as I want the pink tone on it more visible. Change the mode to Multipy 100%:

Step 14

You may notice that model dress looks a bit crumpled. To smooth it, I use Mixer Brush Tool (it’s available from CS5 and you can use Smudge Tool if you’re using older versions). Set foreground color to #c96392 (picked from dress) and make a new layer (Clipping Mask). Active this tool with settings below:

Paint carefully and gently on the selected parts below:

Make another layer and continue with Mixer Brush but with color #8f3a6d. Paint on any darker crumpled parts:

Here is result before and after using Mixer Brush :

Step 15

I use two new layers (Clipping Mask) with Mixer Brush but for model skin. On the first one, I choose brush with color #e6d5cd painting on the front of the arm and face:

On the second I use color #b498a0 for the left side of the arm and hand:

Step 16

After using Mixer Brush I find some parts of dress and model arm look a bit flatter than before. To correct it, make a new layer (Clipping Mask), set to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray:

Use Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range and Exposure about 20-25% to brighten and darken indicated parts to create more details for dress and the arm. You can see how I apply this tool with Normal mode:

Overlay mode:

As the light source comes from behind model so she should get more light on the contour. Double click model layer, choose Inner Shadow:

Step 17

Open vine stock pack. I use this image and take branches to paste into our main document (make selection for these branch and use Move Tool to drag). Place these layers under model ones, transform them into different movements as shown below:

I add layer mask to remove unecessary parts of these vines. Rename them from “vine 1″ to “vine 4″:

For the vine lying on the ground, I use Layer Style to add shadow. Double click this layer, choose Blending Options:

Step 18

I use a layer with settings like in step 16 but non-Clipping Mask. Use Dodge and Burn Too to change a bit light and shadow of this vine and get rid of flat effect.

Normal mode:

Overlay mode:

Step 19

Copy these branches again from vine stock and place them around model body. Use transform tool to make them into different positions and movements but towards the right of model. Also add layer mask to remove any unwanted parts. I use 13 layer for these vines and name them from vine 5 to vine 17. Position these layers above model ones.

For some vines on the ground, I apply Drop Shadow with same settings in step 17. This shadow effect makes them look like creeping close on the ground:

For another vines, as they make a “bumpy” effect, I make a new layer under them. Take black brush with small size and paint carefully under these vines. Use smaller size and bigger opacity of brush for the parts creeping close on the ground, bigger size but smaller opacity for the part further from the ground. It follows a basic rule of shadow that the further, the fader and bigger.

Step 20

Open bud stock. Extract it and resize to be much smaller, place it on the top of a vine branch:

Duplicate it twice and situate them on another branches. Call them from “bud 1″ to “bud 3″:

Make shadow for the bud near the ground as done with model:

Step 21

To edit all the bud layers (buds, bud shadow) together, I make group for them. Make all these layers selected then press Cmd/Ctrl+G to create a group. Click on the small triangle symbol beside group to reveal all layers inside (bud ones). Now change the mode of this group from Pass Through to Normal 100%:

On bud 3 layer (layer on the top of this group), go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Hue/Saturation:

Because the mode changed to Normal 100% so this Hue/Saturation layer only affects the layers inside this group (bud ones).

Step 22

Open rose stock. Cut it out (don’t take its stem and leaves), downsize and position it above the branch top on the right of picture:

Use a Hue/Saturation with Clipping Mask to make rose color fit the environment around:

Step 23

Since this step we’ll make magical lighting effect for this rose. Create a new layer on the top. Use soft brush with color #6f4503 to spot over the rose. Change the mode to Linear Dodge 100%:

Name this layer “lighting part 1″.

New layer and I use smoke brush, number 715 and with same color (#6f4503) to paint above the rose. Set the mode as Linear Dodge 100% and use transform tool to make it stand straight:

I use layer mask to blur the middle part a bit:

Duplicate this smoke twice and move them to the top and the left:

Continue with another smoke brush (choose the one you like) and position them at the top, the left and right. Use layer mask to blur any parts which are too visible:

Call these layers from “smoke 1″ to “smoke 6″.

Step 24

I use two new layers and same soft brush (color #6f4503), with smaller size than previous step to make the light at the bottom more visible (Linear Dodge mode 100%). Rename them as “lighting part 2″, “lighting part 3″:

Two new layers and I call them “lighting part 4″, “lighting part 5″, same brush and same mode but increase brush size. Paint over the smoke to get the effect below:

Step 25

New layer and I change brush size to be very small (3 px). Spot around the light:

Change the mode to Linear Dodge 100%:

Name it “sparks”. Right click this layer, choose Blending Options – Outer Glow:

Remember I change the mode of this Outer Glow to Overlay, not Screen as usual:

Step 26

Make a new layer and use Pen Tool to draw some paths as shown below:

Remember to keep brush color as #6f4503 and size as 3 px. Press F5 to change Control of Shape Dynamic to Pen Pressure ( it only works if you’re using graphic tablet, and you can change it to Fade if you’re not). Right click these paths, choose Stroke Path:

Change the mode to Linear Dodge 100% (again!) and apply Outer Glow effect:

I rename this layer “magic lines”.

Step 27

Create a new layer and position it on the top. I use soft white brush with opacity about 100 and 50% to brighten some parts on model. Put the mode as Soft Light 100%:

Step 28

Now we’ll make reflected light for environment around from this lighting effect. Create a new layer above the all. Use brush with color #e4a568 painting along the arm, face and hand of model. Set the mode to Color 100% :

New layer and we will continue with brush and color #6f4503 (our favorite one :D ). Paint on the ground around the rose, dress, model arm and shoulder. Vary brush opacity following the rule “The further, the less color”. I set the mode to Color 50%:

I name two these layers as “coloring 1″, “coloring 2″:

New layer again with Linear Dodge mode 100% and I use same brush to paint on the rose petals where catches the most light. Also I lower brush opacity and continue painting around this rose, on the vine, ground, model, a bud but avoiding the top of the rose “peduncle” (top vine branch) as it’s hidden by petals. Name it “reflected light 1″.

Step 29

I use three layers with same brush and Color Dodge mode ( I change the mode as I want light effect more visible). I set the mode of the first one to Color Dodge 100%, lower mode opacity of the second and third to 70% and 50%. As always remember to vary brush opacity like mentioned in previous steps:

Call them from “reflected light 2″ to “reflected light 4″.

I find reflected light effect on model a bit too yellow. So I make a new layer and use another color for brush (#f4a6b0 – a light pink) to paint on this part and change the mode to Color 50%. Call this layer “coloring 3″:

Step 30

In this step we make a new layer with settings like in step 16 (but non-Clipping Mask) and use Dodge and Burn Tool to correct light, shadow and other details of model.

Normal mode:

Overlay mode:

Step 31

I use a new layer and paint some light strokes on model dress, arm, face and body. I choose brush with color #c58725 and mode is Color Dodge 70%. This step is totally optional if you want to get more painting-like effect:

Step 32

Now we’ll do blending steps. On the top of layers, go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Gradient Map:

Set this Gradient Map layer to Soft Light 100%.

Selective Color:

Color Balance:

Photo Filter:


Step 33

To change light focus and create more depth for picture, I make a new layer and active Gradient Tool by hitting G key. Choose Radiant Gradient with default color (black and white):

Change the mode to Soft Light 100% then use layer mask to remove light at the right edge of picture and dark contrast of the buds on the left side:

On a new layer, I use soft black brush to paint on two sides of picture and set the mode to Soft Light 100%:

Use soft white brush to make the light source (behind model) more visible. I put the mode of this new layer to Overlay 70%:

I use a new layer with Soft Light mode 100% and white brush again. I use it to brighten some parts of model :

Step 34

Now with a new layer and Soft Light mode 50%, I change brush color to #bb818b. Use it to brighten a dress part on the left side as I find it pretty dark:

Step 35

Final step: Create a new layer and I use small brush ( 3-4 px) and color #f4c394. Paint some tiny hair strands on the left of model. Now it looks really nice!

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:


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