Create a Queen in the Dark Night Photo Manipulation

Halloween is just around the corner, so prepare for the first in a series of spooky Halloween tutorials coming your way this month.
In this tutorial we are going to create an emotional fantasy scene featuring a queen hunted in dark mystic night. Follow through these steps to learn how to create our own dreamy portrait using simple yet essential techniques in photoshop like blending, effective painting, lightning, sharpening and some special effects to create fire in photoshop.
Final Image

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

Resources Used In This Tutorial




Step 1

Firstly, we are going to prepare the background for the scene. Start by creating a new document in photoshop with size of 1200 pixels wide and 1500 pixels high.

Activate the gradient tool. Choose linier gradient. Make sure to set the foreground color to #067dfc and background to #030431. Fill the white document by clicking on the top of the document and dragging down to the bottom.

Step 2

Next, open the stock image of falling leaf on the document.

With free transform tool, scale the image up to cover the document. Then set the blending of this image to multiply at 100% opacity.

Step 3

Well, we almost get the background of the scene. Now we will determine the light source. I assumed that the light source comes through the farest part between the row of trees.

Create a new layer (Shift+Ctrl+N) above the gradient layer. Activate brush tool. Choose a very soft round brush. Set the brush to 10-20% opacity. Next, with the new layer still selected and the foreground set to white, stroke gently the center between the tree rows and the nearest areas to define light. After finding the desired result, merge the gradient and new layer into a single layer.

Step 4

Open another stock picture under the falling leaves layer.

Scale the picture up to fit the document. We will take the cloud part of this image to be added to the sky of our scene. So I name this layer cloud.

Set the blending of this picture to multiply at 100% opacity. Mask the lower part because we anly need the cloud texture of it.

Next, duplicate the image one time.

Now above the two cloud layers, we will give an adjustment layer. Go to layer > new adjustment layers > color balance.

Finally, mask some parts of the color balance layer. Make sure to use a very soft round brush which is set to low opacity between 20-40 %. Please see the screenshot to figure out the parts to be masked..

Step 5

Create a new layer above all the other layer. Fill (Shift+F5) this layer with black. Then, set its blending to color dodge. On this layer, paint some gentle light yellow in the center between the tree rows. Here is the layer I created should look like in normal blending:

And here is the scene will look like when the layer is set to color dodge blending at 100% opcity:.

Create another a black filled layer. Set this layer to color dodge. Now with a very soft round brush set to 5-10% opacity, paint some gentle white color to the center and nearest areas:

Step 6

In this step, we will add moon to the scene. Make sure that we have the moon brush installed in the photoshop. Activate the brush tool. Choose the moon brush. Scale the size of the brush to 150px. Create a new layer below the falling leaves layer. On this layer, paint the moon.

Step 7

In this step, we will add birds to the scene. As we can see, we will extract the birds from this picture:

Take pen tool in the tool panel. Zoom in the bird picture. Start tracing each bird by clicking the pen tool on the edge of each until the path is closed. When the path is closed, right click on the path to show the path option ccommand box. Choose make path selection. Hit Ctrl+J to duplicate the selection into a single layer.

Add the birds to the scene. Place and scale them as needed.

Step 8

Now we will add a figure to the scene. Open the figure image. Extract the figure with pen tool. Please refer to the previous step 7 for this purpose.

Add the figure to the scene. Scale it to fit the size and place right in the center between between the tree row where the light blasted.

Set the blending of this layer to normal at 45% opacity. Create a new layer above figure layer and give the new layer a clipping mask. Paint some soft white color around the figure.

Step 9

Above all the other layer, create a new adjustment layer by going to layer > new adjustment layers > hue/saturation. Set this adjustment layer to normal blending at 66% opacity.

Step 10

Now we will add the main model to the scene. First of all, extract the model with pen tool the same way as in the previous step. Don’t worry about overlapping the hair part:

This is what we should do to fix the hair: while the model is selected, go to select and check Edit In Quick Mask Mode. This will make the background which is not selected being covered by red color. However, as we can see, some unneeded part of the background is included in the selection.

Now we will clear the unneeded part. Make sure to set the foreground color to black. Take brush tool. Choose soft round brush with small size of between 3-5px. Stroke the brush on the unneeded part. The stroked part will be covered with red. Keep on cleaning the part until only hair is left. If it happens that we stroke the hair, recover it by stroking white color on it.

After cleaning the unneeded part, go to select again and uncheck Edit In Quick Mask Mode to make normal selection. Hit ctrl+J to duplicate the selection into a new single layer.

Step 11

In this step, we will retouch the model a bit. Take sample color on the model’s skin which is the brightest one among the other colors on the skin. Activate a very soft round brush. Set the opacity between 10-15%. Create a new layer and give it a clipping mask. On this new layer, paint some area on the cheek, chin , nose and around shoulder. Vary the size and opacity of the brush accordingly. I named this layer color. Then, select the model and color layer. Hit Ctrl+G to group them. I named this group model.

This is the result I created:

Step 12

Add the group layer to the main document. Scale the size of the model and place it where needed.

Next, we will create highlight on the robe. Select the model layer:

While the model is selected, go to Paths and click Make Path icon. This will change the selection into path.

Go back to Layers. Create a new layer under the model layer, fill this layer with black and set its opacity to color dodge at 100% opacity. Make sure to choose round point stiff brush with size of 1-2px. Now activate the pen tool and set the foreground color to #eaeff0. With the new layer still selected, right click on the path to show path command option. Choose stroke path. Use brush as the tool of stroking. Do another stroke with color #6f8afb.

We just need the highlight on the robe and some area on the horse’s neck. Mask the unneeded highlight on the other parts. Here is the result I created:

Step 13

From this step on we will procceed to enchant the model. Create a new adjustment layer above the color layer within the model group layer. Go to layer > new adjustment layer > hue/saturation. Give this layer a clipping mask.

Create another new layer and give this layer a clipping mask. Paint shade on area around the model. I named this layer shade. Set the blanding of this layer to soft light at 60% opacity. Next dulicate this layer and set the duplication layer to normal blending at 37% opacity.

Still within the model group layer, create another layer. Make sure give it a clipping mask. I named this layer more highlight. On this layer, paint soft gentle white color on the robe and the back of the horse.



Step 14

Now we will retouch the model’s hair. Again, create another new layer with clipping mask above all the other layer within the group. Take the pen tool and start creating path as shown in the screenshot. Make sure to set the color of the foreground to light brown color and the round point stiff brush with 1px size is chosen.

Right click on the path and choose Stroke Path when the path command option box shows up. Use brush as the tool and check Simulate Pressure.

Do the same as in previous step to paint more hair swirls. We can vary the opacity of the brush used to define more detail. I named this layer hair. Here is the one I created:

Next, duplicate the hair layer. Place the hair on the other side. With free transform tool (Warp), alter its shape to avoid uniformity.

Step 15

After painting the hair. We procceed to give more detail to the robe. Still within the model group layer, create a new layer with a clipping mask. I named this layer robe. On this layer, paint with color #0f0c0f a shape like the one shown in the screenshot.

Next, paint some lines with color of dark grey. Activate smudge tool. Set its strength to 75% and choose a very soft brush with 10-12px size. Start smudging the lines.

Try to vary the size of the brush and its strenght accordingly. Keep on smudging to define more details. After finding desire shape, use dodge and burn tool to determine more highlight and shade of the robe.

Step 16

Procceed to paint more details on the lower parts of robe with the same way as in the previous step. I did this on a new layer within the model group layer. I named this layer details.

Finally, we will add some lines on the robe. Use the pen tool for this purpose just like we did in the previous step on how to paint hair swirls. Here is the result I created:

Step 17

In this step, we will prepare a torch the model is supposed to be hold. Open the lamp picture. Extract the stick of the lamp.

Add the stick to the main document. Place the stick in such position that it looks like the model is holding it.

Step 18

Now we will paint fire. Start by creating a new document of 900 x 900 pixels size. Fill this document with black. Then, create a new layer on which we paint a soft white spot. I named this layer fire. Use a very soft round brush with 100px size to paint the spot.

Start smudging the white spot.

Procceed to smudge the spot to create a fire look like shape.

Create an adjustment layer: color balance above the fire layer. This will give color to the fire.

Click the eye icon next to the black background layer to make the background unvisible. This will hide the color of the fire. Now place the cursor on the fire layer thumbnail, click Ctrl on the keyboard and hit the thumbnail to select the fire image:

While the fire is still selected, create a new layer under the fire layer and fill this new layer with black so I just named this layer black.This will make the fire find its color again.

Duplicate the black layer as many as needed to make the color stronger. After finding the desired result, merge all layers into one single layer.

Step 19

Add the fire to the main document. Place it on the top of the stick.

Give the fire layer a layer style : outer glow.

Step 20

Go back to the stick layer and create a new layer filled with black above the stick layer. Set this new layer to color dodge blending and give it a clipping mask. With light orange color paint highlight on the top of the stick. Use a very soft round brush with very low opacity at 2-5 to do this purpose.

Now we will give some highlight to the model. Create another new layer above all the other layer within the model group layer and give this layer clipping mask. Fill it with black and set to color dodge blending. Paint the highlight as we did the same way for the stick. Here is the result:

Step 21

Now create another new layer under the fire layer. Paint soft black color to the leaf side of the scene to give it more shading.

Step 22

In this step we will add some adjustment layers to the scene. These adjustment layers are place under the fire layer in the layer panel so they do not effect the fire. First give curves adjustment layer. Set this curves layer to normal blending at 83% opacity.

Next, give gradient map. Set its blending to soft light at 60% opacity. Mask some part of the model and the horse.

Finally, give one more adjustment: color balance. Set its blending to normal at 100% opacity.

Step 23

Now will will add more cloud to the scene. Create a new layer again above all the adjustment layers. Fill this layer with 50% grey. Take soft round brush with opacity of 10-20%. With white color, paint some cloud texture to the sky near the moon. Set this layer to overlay blending at 100% opacity.

Procceed to give more cloud to the sky. In the psd file, we will see that I did this on separated for each cloud.

Finally, paint stars on the sky.

Step 24

I decided to give another adjustment layer: curves above the cloud layers and set this curves layer to normal at 75% opacity. Remember, the fire later is still the top most layer in the layer panel, so the position of this layer is right under the fire layer.

Step 25

Now create again an adjustment layer: vibrance above all the other layers. Mask some parts of this adjustment layer. set its blending to normal at 100% opacity.

Again, give the other two adjustment layers: channel mixers and photo filter.

Finally, select the three top most adjustment layers and hit Ctrl+G to group them. I named this group more adjustment. Give this group a layer mask. Mask the area as marked in red shown in the screenshot:

Step 26

With the top most layer selected (more adjustment group layer), hit Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E to stamp all the visible layers into a new single layer. I named this layer stamp. Go to layer > smart objects > convert to smart object. Give this stamp layer filter: high pass with radius of 1,5 pixels. Now place the cursor to the high pass eye icon in the layer panel and right click on it.

Smart filter command option box will come up, choose Edit Smart Filter Blending Option. Set its mode to overlay at 100% opacity. High pass filter will make the image shaper.

Finally, click filter effect mask thumbnail. Mask some areas on the center of the tree rows, moon, fire, model’s face and the lower areas. The masked areas will not be effected by the high pass filter.

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.