Create a Lone Ranger Photo Manipulation

If you’re new to photo manipulation then you may not be familiar with techniques such as blending, lighting and image adjustments.
In today’s lesson we’re going to create a lone range photo manipulation, featuring a dramatic landscape and an old cowboy.
You’ll learn how to create a vivid photo manipulation with strong lighting, custom brush application and blending.
Final Image

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

Resources Used In This Tutorial




Step 1

Start by creating a new document (Ctrl+N) with size of 2128 pxl wide and 1938 pxl high and just fill (Shift+F5) the document with black. This will be a background layer for in the document.

Step 2

Create a new layer (Shift+Ctrl+N) above the background layer. Take the brush tool. Choose a very soft round brush and set its opacity to 20-30%. On the new layer, paint gradation color of soft white and yellow as the one created in the screenshot:

Step 3

Create another new layer and then activate the pen tool. With the tool, create a heaping ground looking like shape. Fill the shape with black.

Now activate the smudge tool with the setting as shown in the screenshot. Choose spatter brush for the tool and then start smudge the top edges of the ground to create grasses. Adjust the size of the brush accordingly to create the grasses.

Step 4

Then, create a new layer above the ground layer and set this new layer to multiply. On this new layer we will paint more grasses. Take the default grass brush and with color of dark green, paint the grasses on the ground:

Create another new layer below the ground layer and set this layer to normal at 100% opacity. On this layer paint more grasses. Make sure to set the brush opacity to 20-40%.

Step 5

Now we will add a moon to the scene. Install the moon brush in the Photoshop and then take one of the brushes. On a new layer paint an orange moon in the position shown in the screenshot.

Step 6

Next, we will give the scene a new adjustment layer. Go to layer > new adjustment layer > color balance. Set this adjustment layer to multiply blending at 100% opacity.

Step 7

What we do next is duplicate the moon layer (Ctrl+J) and place the duplicate above the color balance layer. With the duplicate layer selected, go to layer > layer styles > outer glow. Then, set this duplicated layer to linier light at 100% opacity.

Finally, duplicate the duplicated moon layer with the layer style and set the duplicate to linear dodge blending at 85% opacity:

Step 8

Create another new layer above all the other layer. Take the very soft round brush and paint gradation color of blue, red and yellow on this new layer. Set this layer to overlay at 49% opacity. The screenshot below shows the effect of the normal and overlay blending of this layer.

Step 9

Again, create a new layer. Set the foreground to black and the background to white. Go to filter > render > cloud. This will fill the new layer with cloud. Next, mask a little bit on some areas of the cloud (marked in red). Finally, set this cloud layer to overlay at 100% opacity.

Step 10

In this step we will add a model to the scene. Open the model image and extract it from the background. Use the pen tool for this purpose.

After extracting the model, we need to repair the tail of the horse by giving it more hairs. Take the smudge tool and smudge the tail to give it some hairs.

Step 11

Next, add the model to the main scene. Make sure to place this model layer under the cloud layer in the layer panel. Scale the size of the model and position it in the middle of the scene. Mask the feets of the horse.

Step 12

Create a new layer above the model and give this layer a clipping mask. Fill this layer with 50% grey color and set its blending to overlay 100% opacity. Take a very soft brush with opacity of 10-20%. With white color, stroke the brush on some areas on the model to give it more highlight. Vary the size of the brush according to the areas to be stroked (marked in blue arrows).

Step 13

Then, we will give the model hue/saturation adjustment layer. Go to layer > new adjustment layers > hue/saturation. Make sure to give this layer a clipping mask. Set this layer to multiply and give some masking on some areas the ones marked in red:

Finally, duplicate the hue/saturation layer, set it to multiply blending and mask on the red marked parts as shown in the screenshot.



Step 14

Now create again a new layer with a clipping mask and set this layer to overlay blending. Take a very soft round brush set to 10-20% opacity and with bright yellow, paint the edges of the model to give it some highlight:

Create another new layer with a clipping mask set to overlay blending. On this layer, paint more yellow to give the model stronger highlight. Try to use harder round brush to paint the highlight on the edges of the model and horse:

More highlight on some parts of the model and horse. I painted the highlight on a new layer.

Finally, create one more new layer with clipping mask set to normal. On this layer, I painted more highlight on the horse’s feet and area on the face.

Step 15

In this step we will create a smoke custom brush and then apply the brush on the scene to give it smoky effect. Start by create a new single document with size of 1000 x 1000 pxl. Fill the document with cloud created in the combination of light grey and white color:

Step 16

Then, take the lasso tool to select the cloud. Set its feather to 60 and start select some part of the cloud. After selecting the cloud, hit Ctrl+J to duplicate the selection into a new single layer. Finally hide the cloud layer by clicking the eye icon.

Go to edit > define brush preset to save the custom brush and I named the brush smoke brush.

Step 17

Create a new layer and take the brush tool. Choose the smoke brush. On the new layer, stroke the brush with white color on areas around the ground and the horse.

Here is the result with the brush:

Step 18

Next we will add a new fill layer to the scene. Go to layer > new fill layers > gradient.

Then, set this gradient layer to multiply 100% opacity. Mask the middle part of this layer. Here is the result I created:

Step 19

Now go to layer > new adjustment layer > photo filter:

Set this adjustment layer to normal at 100% opacity:

Step 20

Give the scene more adjustment layer: vibrance. Mask part of this layer as indicated in red:

Here is the result should look:

Step 21

Stamp (Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E) all layers to create a new single layer above all the other layers. Go to filter > others > high pass:

Mask this stamp layer.

Set this layer to multiply at 60 % opacity:

Step 22

Finally, stamp again all the layers. Go again to filter > other > high pass. Set the radius to 4 and set this layer to overlay blending at 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.