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Members Area Tutorial: Photo Manipulate a Magical Desert Scene

In this tutorial we’ll create a surreal and magical desert scene featuring a pretty girl, a hybrid camel and butterflies. The emphasis is on model manipulation, or how to adjust your models in such a way that they fit the image you want to create, whether they’re human or animal.

This is a super advanced tutorial that covers a range of professional techniques including:

  • Image Extraction
  • Hair Replacement
  • Color Blending
  • Working with complex layer arrangements and smart objects
  • Working with fabric in your manipulations

Let’s get started!

Final Image

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

Resources Used In This Tutorial

Step 1

Start up Photoshop if you haven’t done so already and press Ctrl+N/Cmd+N to create a new file. When the New dialog appears, type a name for the new file in the Name field. I called mine “Desert”, but you can call yours whatever you think is appropriate.

Set the Width to 2200 pixels, the Height to 2500 pixels and the Resolution to 300 pixels/inch. The Color Mode we’ll use is 8-bit Lab Color and the Background Contents should be set to Transparent.

Step 2

When the new file opens, rename the transparent background layer to “Sky gradient”.

Press G to activate the Gradient tool and click on the Gradient swatch in the Options Bar. The Gradient Editor will open. Set the first color to a sky blue (#008410) and the second color to pure white (#ffffff).

Click Ok to accept those settings.

Position the cursor at the top of the image and click+Shift+drag all the way down to the bottom to create the gradient.

Step 3

Next, open the Sky Fractal image (Fractal.jpg) from the assets pack you downloaded. Press Ctrl+A/Cmd+A to select the whole image, copy it to the clipboard (Ctrl+C/Cmd+C) and close it (Ctrl+W/Cmd+W). Back in the Desert image, press Ctrl+V/Cmd+V to paste the fractal above the Sky Gradient layer. Rename the new layer to “Sky fractal” and use Free Transform (Ctrl+T/Cmd+T) to scale and position it as shown below.

Set the Sky fractal layer’s Blend mode to Overlay.

Step 4

The sky looks quite nice but it hasn’t quite got the drama we’re looking for. To get the look we want, let’s bump up the contrast a little. With the Sky fractal layer still selected, click on the Add New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Curves from the list. Rename the new curves adjustment layer to “Contrast” and, in the Adjustments palette, set the curve for the Lightness channel as follows:

The sky is now done. Click on the Sky gradient layer and Shift+click on the Contrast layer to select all sky layers. Press Ctrl+G/Cmd+G to group them and rename the new group to “Sky”.

Step 5

To complete the background we’ll put in the desert floor. Open the Beach image (). Select the whole image by pressing Ctrl+A/Cmd+A, copy it to the clipboard (Ctrl+C/Cmd+C) and close it (Ctrl+W/Cmd+W).

Paste the sand above the Sky group by pressing Ctrl+V/Cmd+V. Rename the new layer to “Sand” and use Free Transform (Ctrl+T/Cmd+T) to scale and position the layer like so:

Step 6

To make the sand recede into the distance (also called atmospheric perspective), we’ll add a gradient layer mask. Click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to add a layer mask to the Sand layer, followed by pressing G to activate the Gradient tool.

Click on the arrow next to the gradient swatch and choose Black, White from the presets menu. Create the gradient by positioning the cursor just above the top of the sand and click+Shift+drag to just below it.

When you’re done, the Sand layer and its layer mask should look similar to the image below.

Step 7

Right now, the sand looks exactly like what it is: a Dutch beach in the winter. Not very exotic if you ask me. To make it look more like a desert floor, we’ll change the color.

Click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Levels from the list. Rename the new Levels layer to “Color”. In the Adjustments palette, first click on the Clip icon at the bottom. This ensures that the Color layer only affects the sand and nothing else.

Next, set the Lightness channel’s black point to 73 and its black point to 240. Switch to the a channel and set its black point to 243. Lastly, set the b channel’s black point to 229.

The background is now done. Click on the Sand layer and Shift+click on the Color layer. Group the layers (Ctrl+G/Cmd+G) and rename the new group to “Ground”.

your image and Layers palette should now look like this:

Step 8

We’re now ready to start working on the characters. We’ll start with the camel. Open the Camel image (132037_5463.jpg) and separate the animal from its background as shown below. I used the Pen tool (P) for this but you can use any selection tool you feel comfortable with. Just make sure the selection is as smooth as possible.

Press Ctrl+J/Cmd+J to copy the camel selection to a new layer. As you can see, some of the rope the camel is tethered with is still visible on its body and we need to get rid of it because it looks strange.

Select all pieces of rope with the Lasso tool (L), like so:

Next, press Shift+F5 to bring up the Fill dialog. Set the Use field to Content-Aware and click Ok. The rope disappears.

NOTE: if you’re working with a version of Photoshop older than CS5, Content-Aware fill is not available. If that’s the case, just use the Clone Stamp tool (S) to remove the rope.

Step 9

Ctrl+click/Cmd+click on the improved camel layer’s thumbnail (the layer is probably called Layer 1) to create a selection from it and copy it (Ctrl+C/Cmd+C). Close the image by pressing Ctrl+W/Cmd+W. Photoshop will ask you if you want to save the image. This is entirely up to you. If you feel confident about what you did, click No.

However, if you want to play it safe, click Yes and save the image as a PSD.

Back in the Desert image, press Ctrl+V/Cmd+V to paste the camel. Rename the new layer to “Body”. With the Free Transform tool (Ctrl+T/Cmd+T) scale and position the animal as shown below.

Open the Goat image (freeimage-86933.jpg) and make a selection of its head, as indicated below:

Copy the selection (Ctrl+C/Cmd+C) and close the image (Ctrl+W/Cmd+W). Back in the Desert image paste the head above the Body layer (Ctrl+V/Cmd+V) and rename the new layer to “Head”.

Press Ctrl+T/Cmd+T and scale and position the head on the body as shown below.

Open the Tail image (Tail.png) from the Assets pack. Press Ctrl+A/Cmd+A to select the whole image and copy it to the clipboard. Close the image. In the Desert image, click on the Ground group but don’t open it. Press Ctrl+V/Cmd+V to copy the tail into the image, it now sits below the body. Rename the layer to “Tail” and use Free Transform to scale, rotate and position it as indicated below.

Step 10

All the different body parts are now in place. However, we need to do some work to blend them together so that it looks as if it’s one animal instead of three. We’ll start with removing the camel’s head.

Click on the Body layer to select it and then click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to add a layer mask to the body layer. Press B to activate the Brush tool and choose a hard, round brush with a size of 100 pixels. Make sure the foreground color is set to black and click on all the pieces of the camel’s head which are visible behind the goat’s head.

Now we need to blend the goat’s neck with the camel’s neck. Click on the Head layer to select it and add a layer mask to it by clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layer’s palette. Change the brush to a soft, round one and a size of 30 pixels. Carefully brush on the sharp edges of the goat’s neck, taking care not to remove any parts of the head itself.

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Step 11

Ok, now our animal no longer has two heads, we’ll start adjusting all the body parts so they are lit correctly and all have the same color. We’ll start with the tail because it needs the least amount of work.

Double+click in an empty space next to the Tail layer’s name. When the Layer Style dialog opens, click on Inner shadow and adjust the settings as shown below.

Next, click on Color Overlay and change the settings like so:

Step 12

Let’s turn our attention to the body. It’s mostly alright but one of the animal’s hooves looks a little strange and the contrast of the whole body needs adjusting. The contrast is first.

Click on the Body layer to select it and then click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Pick Levels from the list and rename the new layer to “Contrast”.

In the Adjustments palette set the Lightness channel’s black point to 26 and its white point to 247. Click the Clip icon at the bottom of the palette to restrict the adjustment to the Body layer.

As you can see below, one of the animal’s hooves has a white spot on it. This is probably a natural coloration, a little like a black cat with white feet, but in this context it looks out of place, so let’s get rid of it.

Click on the Body layer to re-select it and create a new layer above it by clicking on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Rename this layer to “Hoof”.

Activate the Clone Stamp tool (S). Make sure the brush is soft and round and set its size to 35 pixels. Change the Sample method to Current & Below. Next, Alt+click/Opt+click somewhere on the animal’s leg and paint over the white spot until it’s gone.

Step 13

Lastly, we’ll adjust the head. As it is, it doesn’t look very good. For starters, the lighting is wrong: we need to reverse the shadows and highlights. Let’s do that.

Click on the Head layer to select it and create a new curves adjustment layer by clicking on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and choosing Curves from the list. Rename this layer to “Lighten”. In the Adjustments palette set the curve for the Lightness channel as below and click the Clip icon at the bottom of the palette.

Make sure the Lighten layer’s layer mask is selected and press Ctrl+I/Cmd+I to reverse it. The mask turns black and the curves adjustment effect disappears. Activate the Brush tool (B) and choose a soft, round brush. Set its size to 40 pixels. Set the foreground color to white and carefully paint over the left hand side of the animal’s head, including its ear to lighten the left side of the head.

Step 14

That takes care of the highlight, next we’ll put some shadow in. Create another curves adjustment layer and rename this new layer to “Darken”. Click the Clip icon again and adjust the Lightness channel’s curve as shown below.

We’ll use the same mask as for the Lighten layer but reversed. To make it so, grab the Lighten layer’s layer mask, hold down Alt/Opt and drag it onto the Darken layer. This creates a copy of the layer mask and attaches it to the Darken layer. When Photoshop asks if you want to replace the layer mask, click Yes.

Press Ctrl+I/Cmd+I to reverse the layer mask and apply the darken effect to the right side of the head.

The shadow is a little too strong. To fix that, set the Darken layer’s Opacity to 82%.

Step 15

Now we have fixed the lighting of the head, we need to adjust the color. Click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and choosing Levels from the list. Rename this layer to “Color”.

In the Adjustments palette, click the Clip icon once again and set the values for all three channels as follows:

We need to exclude the horns from the Color layer. Click on the Color layer’s layer mask and create a selection around the horns using the Lasso tool (L). Fill this selection with black.

Step 16

Because of all the adjustments we applied to the head, the eyes have become very dull. To put some sparkle and life back in, create a new layer above the Color layer and rename it to “Eyes”. Activate the Brush tool (B), choose a hard, round brush and set its size to 5 pixels. Set the foreground color to white and click twice in the animal’s left eye, like so:

To tidy up a little, click on the Tail layer and Shift+click on the Eyes layer to select all layers belonging to the animal. Group these layers (Ctrl+G/Cmd+G) and rename the group to “Animal”.

Your image and Layer’s palette should now look like this:

Step 17

It’s time to put the main character in the scene: the girl. Open the image we’ll use from the Godiva pack which is Godiva10.jpg and create a selection around the girl, like so:

You’ll notice that her left arm and shoulder are not included in the selection. This is because her left arm will be replaced with another arm. Also the hair hanging down her back has been cut off, simply because it’ll be covered up later, so there’s no point in selecting it in the first place.

When you’re done selecting, copy the selection to a new layer (Ctrl+J/Cmd+J). At this stage you might want to save the file as a PSD. We have to do quite a bit of work on the girl and it would be a shame if something goes wrong and you have to start all over again. Rename the new layer to “Girl”.

Step 18

First of all, we’ll change the expression on the girl’s face, right now she looks as if she’s not in a very good mood. To make her smile we’ll use the Liquify filter. Choose Filter>Liquify from the menu.

When the Liquify dialog opens, zoom in on the girl’s head (Z). Next, press W to activate the Forward Warp brush. Change the Brush Size to 60, the Brush Density to 68 and the Brush Pressure to 100.

Place the cursor on the corner of the Girl’s mouth and pull up and to the left a little to make it look as if she’s smiling slightly. Don’t go too far, we don’t want her to look manic.

The result should look similar to the one below.

Step 19

We have to change the girl’s color a little because the bounced light from the background gives her a sickly, greenish tint. First of all we remove some of the color. Click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and pick Hue/Saturation from the list. Rename the layer to “Desat”. In the Adjustments palette, click on the Clip icon and set the Saturation to -36.

Now we’re ready to give her a healthier color. Click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and pick Levels from the list. Rename this layer to “Color”. In the Adjustments palette, click on the Clip icon and set the values in all three channels as shown below.

Step 20

The girl is still missing an arm. To fix that, we’ll use an arm from another image. Open the Arms image (freeimage-5312075.jpg) and create a selection from the extended arm, like so:

Press Ctrl+J/Cmd+J to copy the arm selection to a new layer. Rename this layer to “Arm”. As you can see it looks quite strange at the moment.

Use the Lasso tool (L) to select the dark band left by the other arm. Click Shift+F5 and, in the Fill dialog, set the Use field to Content-Aware. Press Ok.

NOTE: Again, if you have a version of Photoshop older than CS5, use the Clone Stamp tool (S) to create a similar effect.

As you can see from the result below, the dark stripe isn’t completely removed, but the effect has been toned down a lot. When the hair and clothes are in place, the dark area will no longer be noticeable.

Step 21

Select the arm by Ctrl+clicking/Cmd+clicking on the Arm layer’s thumbnail and pressing Ctrl+C/Cmd+C. Close the image (Ctrl+W/Cmd+W) and paste the arm in the image of the girl below the Girl layer. Rename the layer to “Arm”.
Choose Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal from the menu and use Free Transform (Ctrl+T/Cmd+T) to scale and position it as indicated below.

As you can see the arm is not quite long enough, so we’ll have to extend it. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) to select a portion of the upper arm, like so:

Rename the layer to Arm extension and use the Move tool (V) to move the layer to the left and up a little so that it bridges the gap between the arm and the hair.

Again, it looks quite strange, but the dark stripes will eventually be covered up.

Next, Ctrl+click/Cmd+click on the Arm layer’s thumbnail, followed by Shift+Ctrl+clicking/Shift+Cmd+clicking on the Arm extension layer to create a selection from both layers.

Click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and pick Brightness/Contrast from the list. Make sure that the Use Legacy checkbox is turned off, set the Brightness to -73 and the Contrast to -48.

Step 22

Click on the Arm layer and Shift+click on the Color layer to select all layers belonging to the girl. Right+click on one of the layers, it doesn’t matter which one, and choose Convert to Smart Object from the popup menu.

Rename the new smart object to “Girl” and right+click on it. This time pick Duplicate Layer from the popup menu. When the dialog appears, choose the Desert image from the dialog box.

Note that only images that are open will appear in the document list, so if you closed the Desert image, open it again and repeat the duplicate layer operation.

Step 23

Close the Godiva10 image and return to the Desert image. If all went to plan, the Girl smart object now sits above the Animal group.

Press Ctrl+T/Cmd+T and scale the girl down to about 9% and position her on top of the animal.

Step 24

To make it appear as if the girl is indeed sitting on the animal instead of floating around, we’ll add a shadow.
Click on the FX icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and pick Drop Shadow from the list. Adjust the settings as shown below.

Right now it looks as if she’s stuck against the sky, which is not a good effect in this case, so we’ll remove the shadow where it intersects with the sky. Right+click on the FX icon which has appeared on the right side of the Girl smart object and choose Create Layer from the popup menu.

When Photoshop issues a warning saying that not all effects can be converted to layers, just click Ok. A new layer called Girl’s Drop Shadow is created below the Girl smart object.

Click on it to make it the active layer and use the Lasso tool (L) to select the portion of the shadow that’s visible against the sky.

Press Ctrl+Shift+I/Cmd+Shift+I to inverse the selection and click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to remove the shadow from the sky.

Step 25

Before we go any further, we’ll have to do something which should have been done earlier. Entirely my fault, of course, but luckily no harm has been done.

Open the Animal group, Ctrl+click/Cmd+click on the Tail layer and Shift+Ctrl+click/Shift+Cmd+click on the Body layer and the Head layer in turn. This creates a selection of the whole animal. Make sure the Animal group is active and click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to attach the selection to the Animal group as a layer mask.

This makes it much easier to create a selection of the whole animal when we need it without having to open the Animal group every time.

Step 26

Now it’s time to get our girl dressed up. Open the Fabric 1 image (WrinklesHanging0001_2_L.jpg) and select the fabric, like so:

Step 27

Copy the fabric into the Desert image, rename the new layer to “Cloak” and press Ctrl+T/Cmd+T. Scale and position it as shown below.

Without leaving Free Transform mode, right+click inside the transformation rectangle and choose Warp from the popup menu.

Pull the grid points in such a way that it looks as if the cloak is flowing from the girl’s shoulder, down to the base of the animal’s tail and then straight down towards the ground.

Step 28

To create a shadow cast by the cloak, click on the FX icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and pick Drop Shadow from the list. When the Layer Style dialog appears, set Distance to 30, Spread to 0 and Size to 29.
Next, without dismissing the dialog, move your cursor over the cloak. Your cursor will change to an arrow with a cross. This means that you can now interactively move the shadow. Drag the shadow a little to the right and down, as shown below.

Click Ok to create the shadow. Next, create a separate layer from the layer style like you did with the girl’s shadow in Step 24.

A new layer called Cloak’s Drop Shadow ia created below the Cloak layer. Click on it to make it the active layer. Use the Lasso tool to select all parts of the shadow that are visible on the sky.

Press Ctrl+Shift+I/Cmd+Shift+I to inverse the selection and click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to attach the selection to the Cloak’s Drop Shadow layer as a layer mask and thus remove the parts of the shadow we don’t want.

Step 29

To spice things up a little we’ll add some decoration to the cloak. First click on the Cloak layer to make it active and then open Design.psd from the Assets pack. There is only one layer called Design.

Right+click on the Design layer and choose Duplicate Layer from the popup menu. When the dialog appears, choose your Desert image from the Document list and hit Enter/Return.

Close Design.psd.

Back in the Desert image, right+click on the Design layer and choose Convert to Smart Object from the list. Next, use Free Transform to scale the design to 25% in both directions and place it just above the bottom edge of the cloak.

In the Layers palette, hold down Alt/Opt and position the mouse on the line between the Design layer and the Cloak layer. When your cursor changes to two overlapping circles, click to clip the Design layer to the Cloak layer.

Step 30

Now we’ll have to distort the design in such a way that it follows the flow of the cloak. For this we’ll use a nifty little feature called Puppet Warp.

NOTE: If you’re using a Photoshop version older than CS5, Puppet Warp is not available. In that case, your best bet is the Liquify filter. Use the Forward Warp tool (W) to distort the cloak as shown in the last image in this step.

Choose Edit>Puppet Warp from the menu and you will be confronted with this:

By clicking on certain places inside the spider web you create pins which you can move to distort your object. Let’s do that. Make sure that the settings in the Option Bar are set as below and place pins on every high and low in the design.

To better see what you’re doing it’s a good idea to turn off the Show Mesh option once you’re finished placing the pins.

Move each pin so that the design follows the shape of the cloak’s edge as indicated below.

Don’t worry if you didn’t get it right the first time. Because we converted the Design layer to a Smart Object, Puppet Warp stays live and can be edited at any time. All you have to do is click on the arrow to the right of the Design layer to open the list of modifications and double+click on the Puppet Warp item.

Step 31

To finish off the cloak decoration, we’ll blend it so that it reflects the dark and light tones of the cloak.
In the Layers palette, double click in an empty space on the Design layer. When the dialog pops up, drag the black point of the Underlying Layer slider to 33.

As you can see, the little arrow is made up of two halves, separated by a tiny white line. This means we can split the arrow to get a more gradual blend. Alt+click/Opt+click on the left half of the black arrow you just moved and drag it all the way to 0.

Step 32

To finalize the girl’s garments, we’ll add some sleeves. Click on the Girl layer to make it the active layer. Next, open the fabric 2 image (WrinklesHanging0025_L.jpg) and select the fabric.

Copy the fabric selection and paste it into the Desert image. The new layer should sit between the Girl layer and the Cloak’s Drop Shadow layer. Rename the layer to “Sleeve 1″.

Use Free Transform to scale the sleeve to 32% in both directions and place it on the girl’s arm, like so:

Right-click inside the transformation rectangle and choose Warp from the popup menu. Drag the top left point of the grid up a little and the top right point down a little, so the fabric follows the curve of the arm better.

Step 33

Set the Sleeve 1 layer’s Opacity to 78% to make the fabric look a little like gauze. Use either the Pen tool (P) or the Lasso tool (L) to select the top portion of the fabric as shown below.

Press Ctrl+Shift+I/Cmd+Shift+I to invert the selection and click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to remove the selected part from the fabric.

Next, we’ll create a shadow for the sleeve. Although the fabric is see-through, it’ll still cast a shadow on the animal.

Ctrl+click/Cmd+click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. This creates a new, empty layer below the Sleeve 1 layer. Rename this new layer to “Sleeve 1′s shadow”.

Activate the Brush tool (B). Choose a soft, round brush and set its Size to 45 pixels. Next, click and Shift+click along the bottom edge of the sleeve as shown below to create the shadow.

Set the Sleeve 1 schadow layer’s Blend Mode to Multiply and its Opacity to 50%.

Step 34

For the second sleeve we’ll need to perform a trick with the Girl smart object. For this to work, the fabric you cut out for the sleeve should still be on the clipboard. If it’s not, open the Fabric 2 image again, re-select the fabric and copy it (Ctrl+C/Cmd+C).

In the Desert image, double+click on the Girl smart object’s thumbnail. This will open the smart object in a new window.

In the open Girl smart object (it’s a file with the extension .PSB. What it’s called was up to Photoshop) click on the Arm extension layer and press Ctrl+V/Cmd+V to paste the fabric in a new layer. Rename this layer to “Sleeve 2″.

Next, use Free Transform (Ctrl+T/Cmd+T) to scale and position the sleeve as shown below.

Right+click inside the transformation rectangle and choose Warp from the popup menu. Distort the fabric in such a way that it follows the curve of the arm.

Next, use the Pen tool (P) or Lasso tool (L) to select the top of the fabric as shown below.

Press Ctrl+Shift+I/Cmd+Shift+I to invert the selection and click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to remove the portion of fabric from the sleeve.

With the Lasso tool (L) select the bottom part of the sleeve as indicated below.

Make sure that the Sleeve 2 layer’s layer mask is active and fill the selection with black to remove this part of the fabric from the sleeve.

Lastly, set the Sleeve 2 layer’s Opacity to 84%.

Save the smart object (Ctrl+S/Cmd+S) and close it (Ctrl+W/Cmd+W.

A word of warning: Never, ever save an open smart object to another name. If you do, Photoshop loses the connection between the smart object and the main file and all your hard work will be irretrievably lost.

Click on the Sleeve 1′s shadow layer and Shift+click on the Design layer to select all fabric layers. Group the layers (Ctrl+G/Cmd+G) and rename the new group to “Clothing”. Right+click on the Clothing group and choose Convert to Smart Object from the popup menu. The Desert image and its layer palette should now look like this:

Step 35

Let’s do something about the girl’s hair. Open the Hair file (hair stocks.psd) and find the first brown hair strand in the Layer’s palette. Below you see what it looks like.

Ctrl+click/Cmd+click on the BROWN layer’s thumbnail to create a selection from it and copy it (Ctrl+C/Cmd+C). Close the hair file. Back in the Desert image, paste the hair above the Clothing group. Rename the layer to “Hair 1″.
The hair doesn’t need scaling but use the Move tool (V) to move it to the top of the girl’s head, like so:

Press Ctrl+J/Cmd+J to create a copy of the Hair 1 layer. Rename the new layer to “Hair 2″. Press Ctrl+T/Cmd+T, reduce the width of the Hair 2 layer to about 88% and then rotate it by about 25 degrees. Move it into place as shown below.

Click on the Hair 1 layer and Shift+click on the Hair 2 layer to select both hair layers. Group them (Ctrl+G/Cmd+G) and rename the new group to “Hair”.

Click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to add a layer mask to the Hair group.

Use the Pen tool (P) or the Lasso tool (L) to select the hair that’s sticking out above the girl’s head.

Make sure that the Hair group’s layer mask is active and fill the selection with black to remove the superfluous hair. Proceed to remove all other bits of hair that don’t look right to you.

In order to add a shadow to the whole hair at once, we need to convert the hair to a smart object.

Right+click on an empty space next to the Hair group’s name and pick Convert to Smart Object from the popup menu.
Next, click on the FX icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Drop Shadow from the list. When the Layer Style dialog opens, adjust the settings as shown below.

The hair is a little too light. Create a new curves adjustment layer by clicking on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer from the bottom of the Layers palette and picking Curves from the menu. Rename this layer to “Contrast”.

In the Adjustments palette, click on the Clip icon and set the curve for the Lightness channel as follows.

Step 36

All that’s left to do about the girl’s outfit is to add a helmet. Open Helmet. png from the Assets pack, press Ctrl+A/Cmd+A to select the whole image, copy it (Ctrl+C/Cmd+C) and close it (Ctrl+W/Cmd+W). Paste the helmet above the Hair layer and rename the new layer to “Helmet”.

Press Ctrl+T/Cmd+T and scale the helmet down to 18% in both directions. Place it on the girl’s head as shown below.

Double+click in an empty space on the Helmet layer and when the Layer Style dialog opens, click on Color Overlay, set its Blend Mode to Overlay, the color to a golden yellow (#ffae00) and the Opacity to 49%.

Step 37

The work on the girl is now done. Click on the Girl’s Drop Shadow layer and Shift+click on the Helmet layer to select all layers belonging to the girl. Press Ctrl+G/Cmd+G to group the layers and rename the group to “Girl”.
Open the Girl group by clicking on the arrow in front of it.

Create a selection of the girl and her garments by first Ctrl+clicking/Cmd+clicking on the Girl’s Drop Shadow layer’s thumbnail, then Ctrl+Shift+Alt+clicking/Cmd+Shift+Opt+clicking on the Girl’s Drop Shadow layer’s layer mask. Complete the selection by Ctrl+Shift+clicking/Cmd+Shift+clicking on the remainder of the layers.

Close the Girl group and make sure it’s active. Click on the Add Layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to attach the selection to the group as a layer mask.

the image and the Layers palette should now look like this:

Step 38

To place the girl and her animal firmly on the ground, we’ll create a cast shadow on the ground. Click on the Ground group to make it active but don’t open it. Create a new layer above the group by clicking on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Rename the layer to “Shadow”.

Set the foreground color to black, press B to activate the Brush tool and with a soft, round brush, draw a shape similar to the one shown below. It doesn’t have to be accurate, as long as the shadow starts underneath the animal’s feet and points in the right direction.

Soften the shadow a little by applying a gaussian blur with a radius of 7.6 pixels (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur).

Set the Shadow layer’s Blend Mode to Darker Color and its Opacity to 46%.

Step 39

Let’s create a leash for the animal, so the girl has something to control it with. Create a new layer above the Girl group and rename it to “Collar”. Activate the Brush tool (B), choose a hard, round brush and set the size to 20 pixels.

Check if the background color is still black.

Next, use the Pen tool (P) to draw a path on the animal’s neck as shown below.

Switch to the Paths palette and click the Stroke Path with Brush icon at the bottom of the palette to draw the collar.

Click in an empty space on the Paths palette to deactivate the path and switch back to the Layers palette.

Step 40

Click on the FX icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and pick Drop Shadow from the list. Set the Drop Shadow’s values like so:

Now we’ll detach the Drop Shadow layer style from the layer by turning it into a separate layer. Right+click on the FX icon to the right of the Collar layer’s name and choose Create Layer from the popup menu. A new layer called Collar’s Drop Shadow is created.

Click on this layer to activate it and click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the palette. With the same hard brush you used to draw to collar, click a few times on both sides of the Collar to remove the parts of the drop shadow that are overlapping the sky.

Step 41

We’ll give the collar some shape and color by creating another layer style. Double+click in an empty space on the Collar layer and when the Layer Style dialog appears, click on Bevel and Emboss and change the settings as shown below.

Next, click on Color Overlay, set the Blend Mode to Color and change the color to the same red as the girl’s clothes (#d50d0d)

Lastly, to give the collar a shadow, click on Gradient Overlay and set the options as below.

Step 42

To create a lead attached to the collar, create another new layer, this time below the Collar’s Drop Shadow layer and above the Girl group. Rename this layer to “Lead”. Activate the brush tool. It should still be set to hard, round. Change the brush’s size to 6 pixels.

With the Pen tool, draw a path from the collar to the girl’s hand as shown below.

Switch to the Paths palette and click on the Stroke Path with Brush icon the create the lead.

Click in an empty space on the Path’s palette to get rid of the path and switch back to the Layers palette. We’ll give the lead a quick layer style to make it fit in with the rest of the image. Double+click in an empty space on the Lead layer. When the Layer Style dialog appears, click on Bevel and Emboss and change the settings, like so:

Next, click on Color Overlay and set the options as shown below.

Click on the Lead layer and Shift+click on the Collar layer. Press Ctrl+G/Cmd+G to group the layers and rename the new group to “Leash”.

Step 43

We’re almost there. What’s still missing are the butterflies, so let’s put them in.

Open Butterflies.png from the Assets pack and use the Lasso tool (L) to select the butterfly second from the left in the second row.

Copy the butterfly (Ctrl+C/Cmd+C), press Ctrl+Tab/Cmd+Tab to switch to the Desert image, followed by Ctrl+V/Cmd+V to paste the butterfly as a new layer above the Leash group. Rename the new layer to “Butterfly 1″.

Use Free Transform (Ctrl+T/Cmd+T) to position, scale and rotate the butterfly as shown below. Note that the butterfly has also been flipped horizontally.

To make the butterfly look more magical, we’ll add an outer glow to it. Click on the FX icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Outer Glow from the list. When the dialog opens, change the settings as shown below.

Step 44

Switch back to the butterfly.png image (Ctrl+Tab/Cmd+Tab) and select the second butterfly in the bottom row.

Copy the butterfly and paste it into the Desert image. Rename the layer to “Butterfly 2″.

Use Free Transform (Ctrl+T/Cmd+T) to position, scale and rotate the butterfly as shown below.

To apply the same layer style to this butterfly, Alt+click/Opt+click on the FX icon next to the Butterfly 1 layer’s name and drag and drop it on the Butterfly 2 layer.

Step 45

Switch back to the butterfly.png image (Ctrl+Tab/Cmd+Tab) and select the first butterfly in the top row.

Copy the butterfly and paste it into the Desert image. Rename the layer to “Butterfly 3″.

Use Free Transform (Ctrl+T/Cmd+T) to position, scale and position the butterfly as shown below.

Apply the Butterfly 1′s layer style to Butterfly 3 in the same way as you did in the previous step.

Select all three butterfly layers, group them (Ctrl+G/Cmd+G) and rename the new group to “Butterflies”.

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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