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Members Area Tutorial: Create a Fiery, Dynamic Basketball Photo Manipulation

In this advanced tutorial we will be creating a high-energy sports themed design that is full of color, motion and depth. Using an image of a basketball player as the focal point, we will use various light effects, custom brushes and vector artwork to build up a detailed composition.

Let’s get started!

Final Image

Let’s take a look at a preview of the image that we are going to create:

Step 1

Alright guys first we are going to open the image of the basketball player that we downloaded in Photoshop.

Once our image is open we are going to duplicate the layer by pressing Command/Ctrl + J. After you have done that, add a Layer Mask to the newly duplicated layer by clicking on the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette.

Step 2

Grab your Brush Tool (B) and with a solid black color selected, choose a hard round brush from your brushes.

Create a new layer and place it in between your original basketball player layer and your duplicate of this layer like the image below:

Fill the layer with a color using your Paint Bucket Tool (G) which, in this case I have used a solid black.

Next, make sure you are painting into the mask of your duplicated basketball player and begin to paint out the background. I zoom in pretty close when masking out my images and pay careful attention to the hands and all of the contours of the body to keep things clean.

Continue to paint with your black brush until you have removed all of the background. You should now be able to turn off the solid color layer and just see a clean transparent background around the basketball player.

Step 3

Create a new layer above your black layer and choose #101F2A as your color.

With your Paint Bucket Tool (G) fill the new layer with this color. Conversely, you could also press Alt/Option + Delete to automatically fill that layer with your foreground color.

Once you have done that, reduce the opacity of the layer to about 50%.

Step 4

Switch to your Gradient Tool (G) and make sure that you have a linear gradient selected that fades from white to black as shown here:

As a quick side note, if you have your Paint Bucket Tool selected and you hold down the Shift Key and press G on your keyboard you will toggle between the options or alternatives for that particular tool. This works for any of the icons that have more than one option.

Add a Layer Mask to your new layer and then use your Gradient Tool to fade out the color by clicking and dragging your mouse from one corner to the other.

Step 5

I am going to quickly expand my canvas by going to the Image Menu and selecting ‘Canvas Size’ before entering the values below:

Once you do this you will need to do a Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) to stretch your background colors a bit just to fill out the space that was caused by the expansion of the documents dimensions.

Step 6

Select your Basketball Player Layer and press Command/Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer.

Hold down the Control Key and click on the mask that is attached to your layer to reveal the dropdown menu. From this menu we just want to select ‘Apply Mask’ to merge the two together.

I will now bring the original Basketball Player Layer and move it down to the bottom, turning the visibility of the layer off.

Step 7

Go to the Image Menu and choose Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights.

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

After you’ve applied the settings, make a copy of THIS layer by pressing Command/Ctrl + J on your keyboard.

Step 8

With your newly duplicated layer still selected, go to the Filter Menu and choose Blur > Motion Blur.

Apply your settings so you have an Angle of 0 and a Distance of about 355 pixels.

Press the Enter Key or click OK to apply the Motion Blur. Once you have done that ,change the Blending Mode of your layer to Soft Light as shown below:

Step 9

Open the image of the first volcanic eruption image as shown below:

Change the blending Mode of the layer to Screen and make sure that it’s placed at the top of your Layers Palette. Click on the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom of your palette to add a mask to the layer.

Use a soft round brush at a low opacity and begin to paint out the edges and other areas that you don’t want to keep. Play around with this until you create some shapes that naturally flow in the direction of the basketball player.

Click on the layer icon of the basketball player while holding down the Command Key to create a selection around him. Once the marching ants are visible. Make sure you are painting in the Layer Mask of the eruption image to remove it from the area that is currently active.

Step 10

Next, open your other eruption image and bring this one into your working file. Place this layer beneath the basketball player and once again experiment with the size and rotation of the image remembering to also change the Blending Mode of the layer to Screen.

Add a Layer Mask to this layer and then proceed to use your soft black brush to erase parts of the image that you want to get rid of.

Continue this process using these images to build up a fiery shape that feels connected to the basketball player.

In a few moments you should be able to build up an interesting looking composition.

Step 11

Select your topmost explosion and then while holding down the Shift Key select the bottom explosion image so that you have all of them selected simultaneously.

Press Command/Ctrl + G to place all of these layers into a single Group Folder and then give it any name you like.

Here I am also selecting the explosions that are on top.

And continue to place the layers into folders that make the most sense for you while working.

Step 12

Press F5 on your keyboard or go to the Window Menu and choose ‘Brushes’ to bring up your Brush Palette. Once the dialog box appears, click on the small arrow in the upper right hand corner to reveal a menu where you choose ‘Load Brushes’ as shown here:

Navigate to where your brushes are saved and load up the Dried Blood Splatters.

Create a Layer Mask on the folder now containing the images of the basketball player and begin to paint with some of the splatter brushes to remove different parts of the image.

You can experiment with this for as little or long as you would like, but I find it fun to try out some different settings for the brushes and the rotation and things like that.

You will notice that I also added a few Smoke Brushes from the resources and placed a few behind my basketball player layer. I focus mainly on trying to keep things balanced.

Step 13

With your Basketball Player Layer selected, click on the Adjustment Layer Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette and choose ‘Hue/Saturation’ from the menu that appears.

Once the Adjustment Layer has been added, hold down the Control Key and click on the layer to reveal a menu where you can add a Clipping Mask.

For the Hue/Saturation Adjustment, check off the box that says ‘Colorize’ and use the following settings:

Hue: 38
Saturation: 25
Lightness: 0

Use a soft round brush to paint some of the color and saturation back into the image, especially on the side of the head and going over the edges of the hands and legs.

Step 14

Next we are going to open the gray-scale image of the city skyline as shown below:

Once you open the image in Photoshop, silhouette the buildings from the background quickly using your Magic Wand Tool (W). The extraction doesn’t have to be perfect as long as you get rid of the most noticeable areas.

Bring the silhouetted skyline image into your working file and place it just above the ‘Background’ folder. Initiate a Free Transform by pressing Command/Ctrl + T and drag one of the four corners of the bounding box outwards while holding down the Shift Key to constrain the proportions. Make the image large enough to span the width of your document.

Double click your skyline layer to bring up the Layer Style Dialog Box. Once that appears, check off ‘Color Overlay’ as shown here:

For the fill color we are going to use a darker shade of orange such as #A44F14.

Press the Enter Key to apply your changes and then using a large soft round black brush, mask out the edges of the skyline to create a vignette effect. We want the skyline to just be more of a subtle background element and not distract too much from the image.

Step 15

Go into your Group Folder containing the basketball player and select the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer that we created earlier.

Press Command/Ctrl + E to merge this layer down with the layer below.

Next, press Command/Ctrl + J to make a copy of THIS layer so you now have two copies.

Step 16

With your newly duplicated layer selected, go to the Filter Menu and choose Liquify.

Once the window opens we are going to experiment with the main brush to create streaks that come off of the shorts and jersey as shown below.

There is no exact way to get this right, you just have to play around with it for a few minutes and drag your mouse in the direction that you want the streaks to go. Once you are happy with the results press the Enter Key to apply the changes.

At this point we are looking pretty good so far, I am going to use some more of my scattered paint brushes to knock out a few more areas of the basketball player by using a solid black and painting into the mask of the Group Folder.

Here I have just taken a little more out of the arms and legs to break up the image. Feel free to spend as little or as much time on this part as you need in order to get a good result.

Step 17

Open the Vector Elements file and select and copy the abstract shape indicated here:

Paste the vector file into your Photoshop document as a Smart Object. Place the Smart Object beneath your basketball player and position it similarly to how I’ve positioned it in the image below:

Double click on the layer to bring up the Layer Style Dialog Box and check off ‘Color Overlay’ once again.

For the fill color, choose a brighter orange such as #F79A26.

After selecting your color, press OK to apply your changes.

Step 18

With your vector layer selected, go to the Filter Menu and choose Blur > Motion Blur from the menu.

Set the Angle of the blur to -45 degrees and the Distance to about 646 pixels.

Once you have done that, press OK or hit the Enter Key to apply the changes.

Step 19

After applying this effect, if you try to move your layer around you will get a message saying something about Smart Filters, and then you won’t really be able to see exactly where or how your vector is positioned.

To rectify this, we are going to hold down the Control Key and click on the vector layer to reveal a dropdown menu. From this menu, choose ‘Convert to Smart Object’ as shown in the image below:

You should now be able to move this layer around freely. You can see from the image below that I have repositioned the blurred vector file behind the back arm of the basketball player.

Step 20

Continue this process using additional vector shapes from the EPS file. Bring them into your document, change the color using the Layer Style Dialog Box, and then apply your Motion Blur and convert the shape to a Smart Object.

You can then rotate and play around with the placement of the shapes. They actually create these really nice light streaks that you can also add a Layer Mask to before brushing out any hard edges or parts that you want to hide.

After adding a few more of these shapes this is what I have as a result:

You can see how this starts to add motion to the piece and it follows the natural path of the basketball player making for a more dynamic composition.

Step 21

Next we are going to open the image of the cinder block and bring it into our file, just above the background color layers as shown here:

Change the Blending Mode of the layer to Color Dodge and reduce the opacity to about 20%.

Create a new layer above the cinder block texture and fill it with a vibrant orange color – here I am using #FDA831.

Once you have done that you should notice that your texture now has an orange tint to it that helps unify it with our image.

I have now added a Layer Mask to the texture and brushed out the corners with a soft round black brush. The goal here is to keep most of the texture around the basketball player and not cover the whole image with it.

After masking out more of the texture it starts to look more like debris or shattered particles coming off of the player, which is exactly what we want. In just a few steps you can completely modify a flat texture to be something entirely different.

Step 22

At this point I think we need to add some variation to the color scheme. At the moment everything is very orange-yellow. First we will select a vibrant red color such as #F90000.

Switch over to your Gradient Tool (G) and select a Radial Gradient that fades from red to transparent.

Click and drag your mouse outwards to create your Radial Gradient on a new layer. After creating the gradient, position it somewhere on the upper left-hand side of the image.

Change the Blending Mode of the layer to Color and reduce the opacity slightly. I have duplicated this layer two more times and reduced my opacity to about 50% and placed the other gradients around the torso and feet on the left side of the basketball player.

We can now use this same technique to add some more variation, but even by introducing these reds we have created a much richer looking color palette.

Step 23

With your basketball player folder selected, brush out some of the jersey by painting over it while the layer mask is active. This will help the jersey look a little further away and helps blend him into the scene that much more.

Step 24

Create a new layer and load up your Darius Brushes by axeraider70 from the Ultimate Brush Pack 3 folder.

Select 258 once the brushes have loaded into your palette as shown below:

Under your Brush Tip Shape Tab you want to increase the spacing to somewhere around 40% so that the brush isn’t quite as dense.

This image shows the additional settings I have tweaked under Shape Dynamics and Scattering Tabs.

Change the Blending Mode of the layer to Overlay and start experimenting with the brush to see the results. It’s a pretty cool brush once you modify the settings and I ended up using it mostly in these areas:

With the current settings the amount of pressure that you apply when painting with this brush will dictate the size of some of these sparkle effects.

Step 25

Next we are going to open the 07 Preview from the free Media Militia Lens Flares folder. These are a great find courtesy of the Militia.

Bring the image into your document and place it at the top of your Layers Palette if it isn’t there already. Also we are going to change the Blending Mode of this layer to Screen as shown below:

With this layer still selected, click on the Adjustment Layer Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette. When the pop-up menu appears choose Hue/Saturation.

Once the adjustment has been added to the top of the stack, hold down the Control Key and click on the layer. From here, select ‘Create Clipping Mask’ from the menu. This will ensure that our Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer only affects the layer directly beneath it.

For the settings on the Hue/Adjustment Layer I have checked off the ‘Colorize’ box and then a Hue of 213 and a Saturation of 25.

Step 26

Select both your Lens Flare Layer with the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and drag them down to the New Layer Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette. You should now have a copy of both of these layers.

Flip these layer horizontally using a Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) so that you basically have a mirror image of the lights on the opposite side of the image.

Now on the duplicate copy of your lights make sure that you select the Layer Mask – you can see from the image below that there is a small black box around it.

With a large soft black brush, paint out all of the lights except for the bottom left where we have a sort of stage light.

Once you do that you will have more balanced lighting. From here I am going to continue to keep my layers organized by putting them into appropriately named Group Folders.

Step 27

Next we are going to open up the stock image of the court floor as shown below:

Place the image just above your Background Group Folder.

Press Command/Ctrl + T and then hold down the Control Key and click on the image of the court. When the dropdown menu appears, choose ‘Perspective’ from the list.

Hold down the Shift and Alt/Option Keys at the same time and then click and drag your mouse outwards from either of the two bottom corners.

Now do a regular Free Transform (Command/Ctrl + T) and drag the middle of the top of the bounding box and drag it downwards. You want to align the image so that the top of the court matches up roughly with the horizon taking you in to the skyline in the distance.

Step 28

Press Command/Ctrl + J to duplicate the court layer as shown below:

Click on the Adjustment Layer Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette and choose Hue/Saturation from the menu. Then, hold down the Control Key and click on the layer before choosing ‘Create Clipping Mask’ as shown in the middle image. Lastly, move the Saturation slider all the way to the left so that it’s set to -100.

Step 29

Switch to your Gradient Tool (G) and select a Linear Gradient that fades from white to black.

Add a Layer Mask to your duplicated court layer and then click and drag downwards from your horizon line. Doing so should fade out the top of the court.

Step 30

With your duplicated court layer selected, click once again on the Adjustment Layers Icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette. This time, we are going to choose ‘Levels’ from the list.

Step 31

Create a new layer at the top of your Layers Palette and choose the color #F7B419.

Switch to your Gradient Tool (G) and make sure that you have a Radial Gradient selected that fades from solid to transparent as shown here:

Click and drag your mouse outwards on the new layer to create your gradient. Change the Blending Mode of the layer to Soft Light and reduce the opacity slightly to around 80%.

Next, drag this layer just below the Skyline Group Folder.

Step 32

Create another new layer at the top of the Layers Palette and choose the color #E85E13.

Create a few Radial Gradients using the same settings as in the previous step and change the Blending Mode of these layers to Overlay. Feel free to experiment with the transparency of the layers – most of mine are set to around 50%.

Step 33

Make another new layer and choose #BFFF00 as your foreground color.

Create another Radial Gradient and place it on the lower left side of the basketball player. Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light and make the opacity around 70%.

This layer will be placed just above the Back Explosions Group Folder.

Press Command/Ctrl + J to duplicate this layer and move it to the opposite side of the basketball player. Keep the Blending Mode set to Soft Light but reduce the opacity of the layer to around 40%.

Step 34

Create a new layer above both of the gradients we made in the previous step. Select a large soft round brush and make sure your foreground color is solid black. Begin to paint around the sides and bottom of the layer as shown below:

Change the Blending Mode of the layer to Overlay and reduce the opacity to somewhere around 40%.

Step 35

Select the Skyline Group Folder and then click on the Adjustment Layer Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette. When the menu appears we are going to choose ‘Hue/Saturation’ from the list.

Move the Saturation slider all the way to the left to desaturate the images below.

Step 36

Next, create a new layer below the Basketball Player Group Folder. Switch to your Brush Tool (B) and select a small soft round black brush.

Zoom in and begin to brush in some diffused shadows underneath the foot of the basketball player.

Step 37

Create a new layer at the top of your Layers Palette and select the color #0065FC as shown below:

Change over to your Gradient Tool (G) and make sure that you once again have a Radial Gradient that fades from solid to transparent.

Create a few gradients and change the Blending Mode to Overlay. Reduce the opacity of each of your gradients individually to get a more evenly distributed look and feel to the lighting.

The image below shows the places where I decided to create these gradients.

Adding all of these different colored gradients and playing with the transparency and positioning like this can often lead to some pretty interesting results.

Step 38

Create a new layer and pick the color #333C52 as shown below:

Switch back over to your Gradient Tool (G) and make sure that you have a Radial Gradient selected that fades from solid to transparent.

Click and drag your mouse outwards to create a gradient and place it around the bottom left of the basketball player.

Next, change the Blending Mode of the layer to Color.

Duplicate this layer about four more times and place them roughly in the areas indicated in the image shown here:

Adding these subtle hints of cooler colors provides a nice contrast to the predominantly warm colors we have established and it also helps unify the middle ground with the background and lights.

Step 39

Add another new layer to the top of your Layers Palette and select your Marquee Tool (M). Create a narrow rectangular selection that spans across the width of your canvas. Then, using your Gradient Tool (G) with a white color selected, create a Linear Gradient that fades from transparent to white.

After creating your gradient, change the Blending Mode of the layer to Overlay.

Press Command/Ctrl + T and then drag the top of the bounding box downwards or bring the bottom of the box upwards to narrow the shape.

Duplicate the layer a few more times and stack them so that each of the bars follows the length of the floorboards.

Select all of your gradient bars and then press Command/Ctrl + G to put them into a Group Folder.

Step 40

With your new Group Folder selected, add a Layer Mask by clicking on the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette. After that, go to the Image Menu and select Adjustments > Invert.

You have now inverted your layer mask, which will hide all of the overlay bars that we created in the previous step. Rather than painting out the areas that we want to hide, we will instead use a soft white brush to bring the bars back in.

Use your brush to bring some of the overlay bars back in – mostly the areas that are closest to the basketball player where the light would be stronger.

Once you have done that, drag the entire folder down below the basketball player shadows layer.

Step 41

Click on your very top layer and then hold down the Shift Key and click on the bottom layer so that you have all of your layers and folders highlighted.

Press Command/Ctrl + G to put them into a new Group Folder and name it ‘All Layers’ or something similar.

Next, press Command/Ctrl + Shift + E to merge all of your visible layers into a new layer that will be placed at the top of your palette.

With your newly merged layer created, go to the Filter Menu and choose Sharpen > Unsharp Mask from the menu as shown here:

Once the dialog box appears, set the Amount to 50 and give it a Radius of 2 before pressing the Enter Key to apply the filter.

Step 42

Select your merged layer and then click on the Adjustment Layer Icon at the bottom of your Layers Palette. When the menu appears, choose Levels from the list.

For your Levels settings, move the middle slider over to the right slightly so that it’s at about .9. This will give us some additional contrast and darkens the overall image slightly but it’s a small tweak that I feel makes the image pop a bit more.

That is the end of the tutorial! Hopefully you have enjoyed this one and learned some new techniques along the way. Thanks for following along!

Member File Download

Download the original .psd file for this tutorial here:

DOWNLOAD .PSD FILE

Leave a comment

5 Comments:

  1. Gary Brook says:

    This is a great tutorial. Unfortunately, the links starting with Fire 2 don’t work.

  2. Gary Brook says:

    This is a great tutorial, unfortunately, the links to the resources after fire 1 do not work.

    • fanextra says:

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. It was an error that I believed had been fixed. I’ve fixed all links and double checked them, so they should all be working fine now.

      Thanks for letting me know though, that was a real ‘doh’ moment on my part!

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