Beginner’s Photo Manipulation Lesson: Creating the Piece ‘Remnants of Glory’

Just because you’re a beginner to Photoshop doesn’t mean you need to be stuck using the basic tools. With a bit of creativity you can produce some exciting photo manipulations too!
In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a beautiful photo manipulation in a series of very simple steps.
You’ll be creating a dramatic scene using basic lighting, adjustment layers and brush application.
Final Image

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

Resources Used In This Tutorial

Step 1

Now, let’s start by creating a new file, go to Menu bar and click File > New and then input the following values on their respective fields:
Width – 2500px
Height – 2500px

Step 2

Open the Manipulated BG Stock by intano-stock in Photoshop. Copy it to our main canvas and change the layer name to Main Background. To rename a layer, double click on the words ‘Layer 1′ (you can find that on the layer palette) to prompt a text to appear.
Activate the transform tool (Ctrl+T) and resize the image. The result should be similar to this:

Step 3

Now, we will adjust the Hue and Saturation of the image. Go to Layer > New Adjustment layer > Hue and Saturation. Check ‘Create clipping mask’. Use the following settings:
Hue and Saturation Settings:
Hue : -10
Saturation: -35
Lightness: 0

You should have a similar result:

Step 4

Next, open the Misty Sea Background by little-spacey. Change the name of the layer to ‘Background 2′. We won’t be needing the sky so we have to crop it. Activate the Crop tool ( C ) and crop the following area:

Transfer it to the main canvas. Hit Ctrl + T to activate the free transform tool. Drag the corners and sides to resize the image. Place it onto the left side of the main background layer.

The result should be similar to this:

Next, go to Menu bar and click Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. The result:

Step 5

Activate your eraser tool (E) with these settings:
Brush Size: 350px
Hardness: 0%
Opacity: 52%
Flow: 55%
Use layer mask and erase over the highlighted area:

The result:

Step 6

Next, we will adjust the ‘Hue and Saturation’ by going to Menu Tab, click Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue and Saturation. Click create clipping mask and then, input the following settings:
Hue and Saturation Settings:
Hue : +32
Saturation : -49
Lightness: 0

Then again, we will have to adjust the Brightness/Contrast with a clipping mask. Once the Brightness/Contrast box open, input the subsequent settings:
Brightness and Contrast Settings:
Brightness : +5
Contrast : -26

After adjusting the Hue and Saturation and Brightness/Contrast, you should achieve a similar result:

Step 7

Finally, let’s brighten the center part of the image and to do that, create a new layer (Ctrl + N). Activate your Brush tool (B) and input the settings shown below:
Brush size: 1500px
Hardness: 0%
Opacity: 35%
Flow: 100%
Color: #ffffff
Once you’re finished, paint on the center part:

the outcome should be similar to this:

Step 8

Now, let’s group the layers that we’ve created by selecting all the layers and pressing Ctrl + G. Once grouped, rename it to ‘Background’.

Step 9

Import the character on the main canvas and change the layer name to ‘Arrowman’. Extract the male figure from the background using the pen tool. Position the Arrowman as shown below:

Step 10

Create another adjustment layer of Hue and Saturation with a clipping mask and set as shown:
Hue and Saturation settings
Hue : -180
Saturation: -63
Lightness: -7

The result after:

Step 11

In this step, we will have to make use of Layer mask. For me, it’s the most important thing to work on layers in Photoshop. It is located in layer palette (F7).

Now, it’s time to use a layer mask. Click ‘arrowman’ layer and add a layer mask. Be sure that your layer mask is selected then activate your eraser tool (E) and follow these settings:
Brush size: 125px
Hardness: 0%
Opacity: 26%
Flow: 100%
Now, erase the tip of the toe with a soft brush.

After erasing:

Step 12

Step 12 is optional but I use this technique when I add a model into a scene. Create a new empty layer and name it ‘Light’. Drag the layer and place it under the ‘Arrowman’.

Activate your Brush tool (B) and follow these settings:

Brush size: 80px
Hardness: 0%
Opacity: 34%
Flow: 100%
Color: #ffffff
Once you are done activating the settings, gently paint all around the body of arrowman. Make sure that it’s not over done so it would look more natural. The reason I use this technique is to make the model stand out, highlight certain areas or make it fit into a background.
The result should be similar to this:

Step 13

Subsequently, make another new empty layer (Ctrl + N) and change the layer name to ‘darken’. Set the Brush tool (B) and put in the following:
Brush size: 1000px
Hardness: 0%
Hardness: 0%
Opacity: 30%
Flow: 100%
Color: #000000
Use the brush tool (B) to the direction of the red arrow:

The result will be:

Now, let’s group the layers that we’ve created by selecting all the layers and pressing Ctrl + G. Once grouped, rename it to ‘Arrowman’.
Step 14

So let’s add some snow! Let us start by opening the snow brush ‘snow white’ by tahliadenae. Create a new empty layer and name it ‘snow 1′. Press B to set your brush tool and input these:
Brush size: 1600px
Hardness: 0%
Opacity: 90%
Flow: 100%
Color: #ffffff

Choose snow brush #197 and start applying random specks of snow. Make sure the specks aren’t aligned and are suitably spaced out.

Notice that there are big ugly specks of snow. We don’t want that because it would distract the whole image so we have to get rid of them using soft brush:

Step 15

Add another empty layer and name it ‘snow 2′ and apply the snow randomly like we did in the ‘snow 1′ layer. Erase also the unwanted snow specks. Once you are done, select ‘snow 2′ layer then go to Menu bar, click Filter > Blur > Motion blur. Follow these settings:
Motion Blur Settings:
Angle : 30
Distance : 45

And the result will be:

Step 16

To add little more depth, we will add another snowflake; this time we will apply larger ones. Add new empty layer and rename it ‘snow 3′, activate your brush tool (B) and input the following settings:
Brush size: 900px
Hardness: 0%
Opacity: 90%
Flow: 100%
Color: #ffffff
After that, choose the brush #151 and apply randomly to the ‘snow 3′ layer.

This is the result of applying random snowflakes:

Step 17

Like we did in Step 15, we will apply motion blur into this layer. Now, go to Menu bar > Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Input the following:
Motion Blur Settings:
Angle : 25
Distance : 112

The result of applying Motion Blur:

Now, go to layer palette (F7). Click the ‘snow 3′ layer then reduce the opacity to 50%.

Opacity result:

Select all the snow layers and group them (Ctrl + G). Name the group to ‘snow’.
Step 18

Next is enhancing the color of our image. Start off by creating a color balance adjustment layer. When it opens, adjust the following settings:
Color levels : +5, -5, -5
Tone Balance : Midtones
Preserve luminosity: check

Result will be:

Step 19

Now, let’s also adjust the Curves. Click create new fill or new adjustment layer in the layer palette. Do the following settings:
Output: 232
Input: 224

and the result:

Step 20

Finally, create a Solid Color adjustment layer. Follow the settings below:
Blending: Soft Light
Opacity: 100%
Fill: 100%

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.