In this tutorial (Part 1 of 2) we will create an Adam and Eve scene with warm colors and rays of light

. We learn some advanced masking techniques so get your selections tools ready. Let’s get started then.

Step 1
Open file “Field”> make a selection of the sky using the Quick Selection Tool (Q)> Press Ctrl + Shift + I to invert the selection>Ctrl + J to make anew layer from the selection>turn off the background layer.

Step 2
Open file “Sky> Ctrl + A to select all then Ctrl + C to copy>Paste into our document (Ctrl + V)> Free Transform (Ctrl + T) like shown below>Place this layer behind the ground layer>The horizon line looks very unrealistic because it is so well defined. We will have to blur it a little to make more genuine On ground layer>with magicwand, select the sky>invert the selection>With layer mask selected, forground as white/Black>Alt + Backspace to fill the selection with white>To blur the horizon press Ctrl + D to deselect all>Apply a 8px Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur)>Make the sky layer bigger if you have to

Step 3
a. Add a Color Balance adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance)> use the following settings to make the colors more vibrant. To make the composition more interesting let’s add a bit of hue variation>Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation)>drag the hue slider a little to the left>Select the Linear Gradient tool and in the layer mask drag from the right upper corner towards the left lower corner. Release when you are in the middle.

Step 4
Select all the layers (Ctrl-click on each of them) and press Ctrl + G to group them. Name this group “Background”.

Step 5

Open file “Man” >Use Quick Selection and Selection the white background.>Ctrl + Shift + I to invert> copy selection (Ctrl + C)>Paste it into our document >Free Transform Ctrl-click and select pixels (or go to Select>loading the selection)> Click Refine Selection Edge> Use the settings shown below and after you press OK delete the unselected layer and name the new layer “Man”.

Step 6
We know in advance that the light will be coming from above his right shoulder so let’s add a couple of curves layer to set up the proper lighting. Add Curves Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves) >drag the curve downards to darken the scene>Control+Click>Clipping Mask>Fill the mask with black (and fill the layer mask with black (with black as foreground color press Alt + Backspace)>Select soft brush and set it’s opacity to 50%. Carefully paint the right side of the man (imagine how the shadows would be if the light is coming from the upper right). Add Curves Adjustment Layer >Clip it> drag the curve upwards to lighten>Fill the layer mask with black and paint with the same round soft brush at 80% paint the right side of the man carefully.

Step 7
Time to add the light. In this step I will teach you a little trick to make a lens flare and move it freely on the screen. Make a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and fill it with black (press Shift + F5 and select black from the drop down menu)>Choose Filter > Render > Lens Flare and use the settings shown below. Change the screen mode to Screen>voila, the black disappears, leaving you with a movable lens flare> Place the render flare just above the man’s right shoulder (from the viewer perspective).

Step 8
Notice how our man doesn’t seem to integrate into the scene, he seems like he’s floating above the ground. Let’s add some shadow to correct that. Make a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) > Move it below the “Man” layer>Ctrl-click the man layer to load it as a selection> Go to Newly created layer below>with selection active> Alt + Backspace to fill the selection with black (make sure you have black as foreground color)>Press Ctrl + T and transform the selection, flip vertically>Right click on the shadow> select Warp> Adjust it like shown below to place the shadow properly on the ground and press Enter.

Step 9
With the shadow layer selected choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur (radius 2)>When working with shadow layers always choose the Multiply blending mode to make the shadow integrate better into the environment> Lower the opacity to 60%> Now add a layer mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveall All) and with a round black soft brush erase the shadow behind the legs and reduce the amount of shadow below the shoes. Make a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and set it’s blend mode to Multiply with a 60% opacity (the same as the shadow layer)>Move the layer under shadow layer> name it “Shadow2”>With a black round soft brush at 100% and flow 6-9%>Paint carefuly below the shoes.

Step 10
We are almost done with the shadow but still have to add a little detail. Shadows usually fade away as they are further from the subject. To accomplish this effect here first group the two shadow layers (Ctrl-click on each then Ctrl + G) and name this group “Shadow”. Add a layer mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveall All) and select the Linear Gradient tool.>With white as foreground color and black as background color drag from below the image until the middle of the shadow and release. With opacity lowered to 20%

Step 11
Take a close look at the shoes and notice how the shouse stand just above and not in the grass. We have to put some blades of grass in front of his shoes to achieve this effect. The trick I am going to show you works pretty well for all kinds of objects so you can use it in your further compositions. First add a layer mask to the “Man” layer> With a round soft black brush paint closely around his shoes but do not overlap them. Select the Smudge tool and set it’s strength to 90%. In the layer mask drag from the black outline you just made towards his shoes. This is simpler to do than say so give it a shot, you’ll know what I mean.

Step 12
To integrate the man with the surrounding environment choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter and select a cooling filter LLB, color blue, density 12> Select all the layers and groups above the “Background” group and group them (Ctrl + G). Name this group “Man”.

Step 13
Open file “Woman” >Select the background with the Quick Selection tool>Ctrl + Shift + I to invert the selection and Copy (Ctrl + C). Paste into our document (Ctrl + V) then position and resize the woman> Ctrl-click on it to select the visible pixels. Press Ctrl + Alt + R to open the Refine Edge window and tweak the sliders until the visible edges dissappear.>name this layer “Woman”.

Step 14
Add a layer mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All) and with a 10% round soft black brush paint over the semi-transparent part of her dress and make it more transparent> On the layer mask, bottom of the dress (to bring the grass)use black brush to outline>Smudge

Step 15
Add clipping Curve adjustment layer on “Woman” layer> Create a curve adjustment layer, Alt+click in between layer will clip it In the Blue Channel >Drag the curve upwards to increase the blues in the light areas. Add Curves Adjustment Layer and clip it> but this time drag the RGB curve downwards> Fill the layer mask with black (option+delete)>Because the light is coming from the left of the woman (we are using the viewer perspective) >White Brush it at 80% the right side.

Step 16
Make a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N)>Clip it (Alt+between the layer)> Soft White Brush at 10 opacity gently brush the left side of the hair (remember, the light is coming from the left)>Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer>Clip it>and drag the hue slider (+16) to the right to increase the redness. In the layer mask use a soft round Black brush to mask away the effect in her face Make a New Layer> new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N)>Change the blend mode to Soft Light and with a round soft black brush at 20% Opacity paint the right side of the girl.

Step 17
Let’s add some shadow. Make a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) >Move it below the “Woman” layer. Lower the opacity of the layer to 60% and change the blend mode to Multiply. With a round soft black brush paint some shadow at the bottom(look at the image below for inspiration). Add a layer mask on shadow layer> Drag Linear Gradient tool to partially mask the further edge of the shadow>Group all the woman related layers and name the group “Woman”.

Step  18

 

Now for the tedious part. To build the tree we will make selections of roots and place them into our document. If necessary apply a Free Transform and Warp to tweak the form and size. Some roots will be lighter so we will have to add clipped adjustment layers. Also, each root (or branch how I named my layers) will have a layer mask in which you should paint with a round soft black brush at 40-50% opacity in the places where the branches join each other to make the transition smoother. Open Tree>Use Pen Tool to make selections of branches> Click on Make:Selection to transform path into selection> (Ctrl + C to to copy an Ctrl + V to paste it into our scene

 

 

 

 

Step 19
Now let’s add some branches with leaves on them. Open image “Bonsai 1”> This one is pretty easy to select but still tedious with the usual selection tools (Quick Selection or Magic Wand)>add Curves Layer>Make the leaves as dark as possible>Magic Wand the selection after Boost the overall contrast >Copy and Paste

 

Step 20
Place the bonsai trees as shown below. If necessary Free Transform and Warp. In the next steps we will adjust the saturation and the color of the bonsai trees to make them as similar to the branches as possible.

 

 

Step 21
Apply a clipped Curves adjustment layer and a clipped Hue/Saturation layer to the first bonsai as shown below.

 

 

 

   

Step 22
Apply a clipped Curves Adjustment layer to the second bonsai.

 

 

   

Step 23
Apply a Curves Adjustment layer and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer to the third bonsai. I grouped all the bonsai related layers into a group called “Leaves”.

 

 

 

   

Step 24
While we are at it let’s add the final element of our tree: the red apple. Open file “Perfect Plum” and using you favourite selection tool make a selection of the apple>Copy (Ctrl + C) and paste (Ctrl + V)>Place the apple> Add clipped Curves Adjustment layer with the settings shown below.

 

 

 

Step 25
Time to ADD tree Shadow> Make a new layer> Place it below the “Branches” group>Lower the opacity of this layer to 57%>Change the blend mode to Multiply>With a round soft brush paint on below the brushes on the man’s clothes, in the places you think shadow from the branches should be.

 
ADD shadow on the ground> The fastest way to do this is to Goupr all the tree layers and related layers into one group and name this group Tree>Turn off the visibility of all other groups and layers>But leave the “Tree” visibility turned on. Press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to Make a new layer from all visible>Ctrl-click this newly created layer to load it as selection.>Name the layer “Shadow Branches”. Fill the selection with Black> Change the visibility of all the other layers on so you can see were you’re putting your shadow>After you’ve turned on the visibility>Select the “Shadow Branches” layer and press Ctrl + T to free transform>Flip the layer upside down>You can also Warp the layer to finely tune it>Apply a 3-4px Gaussian blur>Change the blend mode to Multiply with an opacity of 53%. Add a layer mask> Linear Gradient tool mask away the bottom part of the shadow>You should add a couple of additional layers to paint some more shadow where it is needed. Take a look at the image below to see how I’ve done.

 

 

   

Step 27 (skip it)
The final step regarding the tree it is to make some blades of grass showing at the base of our roots. Add a layer mask to the “Tree” group and apply the method from step 11 (black outline + smudge). And we’re done with the tree. We covered a lot of advanced techniques in the previous steps so you should be proud of yourself that you had the patience to work until now with me.

 

   

Step 28
Add Black Raven>Open file “Raven” and select the raven with your favourite selection tool> Copy the selection (Ctrl + C) and paste it into our document (Ctrl + V). Free Transform the raven and resize him

 

 

Step 29
Make a New layer>Clip it to the “Raven” layer>With a round soft White brush tool at 30-40% opacity paint the left side of the raven (that’s where the light is coming from)>Lower the opacity to around 50-60% procent.

 

 

 

Step 30
Make another new layer and place it below the “Raven” layer. Change the blend mode to Multiply an lower the opacity to 70%. With a round soft black brush paint some shadow below the raven.

 

 

 

Step 31
Make a new layer>Next open the file “Dove” and select the dove>Copy the dove and paste it into our document>Add a layer mask and with a round soft Black brush at 10% opacity> Draw on the tail and Wing feathers to make them a little transparent. > This way some of the background will be visible through them thus making the dove fit better into the environment. Add a clipped Curves Adjustment layer and drag the curve upwards to lighten. With a round soft white brush at 50% opacity paint the tail and the chest of the dove.

 

 

 

 

Step 32
Make a new layer>Select beam-2-particles brush. With white as foreground color and 100% opacity clickonce in the upper left part of the image.

 

 

Step 33 (do it on your own, adding Rabit and
Open file “Rabbit” and make a selection of the rabbit. Copy and paste into our scene. Free Transform like shown below than paint some shadow on a layer beneath this layer. Change the shadow layer blend mode to Multiply.

 

 

Step 34
Open file “Lion” and make a selection of the lion. Copy and paste into our scene. Free Transform like shown below than paint some shadow on a layer beneath this layer. Change the shadow layer blendmode to Multiply.

 

 

Step 35
Open file “Squirell” and make a selection of the squirell. Copy and paste into our scene. Free Transform like shown below than paint some shadow on a layer beneath this layer. Change the shadow layer blen mode to Multiply.

   

Step 36
Select all the animals (lion, squirell and rabbit) and press Ctrl + G to make a group. Change the blend mode to Normal and at the top of the layers, inside the group add a Curves Adjustment layer. Drag the curves upwards to lighten than with a round soft white brush at 50% Opacity paint the right side of the rabbit and the lion. Then paint the left side of the squirell. Remember that left and right from our persepective. Add another Curves Adjustment Layer and this time drag the curve downwards to darken. In the layer mask paint with the same brush you painted on the previous Curves Adjustment layer only this time on the opposite sides. This step will add some volume to the animals in conformity with the direction of light.

 

 

 

 

Step 37
Now that I look at the scene I find that the shadows are way too strong. Of course I could’ve modified the tutorial from the beginning to make the shadow just right but I didn’t for two reasons. One reason is that I am writing this tutorial as I am creating my scene (you assist at the creative process in all it’s splendor ) the amount of work required to redo all the steps and to create another set of screenshots would be too much for my patience (I am lazy, so?:D). Secondly this is a valuable lesson in itself. If something doesn’t look right you shouldn’t leave like this, maybe thinking “It will work nevertheless”. Because if it looks wrong than it is probably wrong and it won’t work. So what you have to do it is to correct your mistake (ok, ok, my mistake) despite the reasons that made you make that mistake in the first place. In this particular case it seemed to me that the shadows were competing for attention with the main subjects making the whole composition unbalanced. Go ahead and select a soft round black brush at 50-80% opacity and mask away most of the shadows until you will have something like the image below.

 

Step 38 (start again)
Time for some post-processing techniques to finish this scene. I decided to go light on this one, whitout too many “contrasty” effects. I want to achieve lots of warm colors an a sort of heavenly, godly feeling to it. Let’s see if I (we) succeed. Add a Color Balance Adjustment layer and increase the Red and Yellow amount. In the layer mask use the Linear Gradient tool to limit the adjustments to the left side of the image> Next add a Gradient Map Adjustment layer and use the settings shown below. Change the blend mode to Soft Light and decrease the Opacity to 38%.

   

   

Step 39
Now it’s time for a Selective Color Adjustment layer>Use the settings shown below (or try out the sliders yourselves)>In the layer mask drag with the Linear Gradient Tool to achieve something like in the image below.

 

 

 

 

       

Step 40
Press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to make a new layer from all visible and add a 20px Gaussian Blur. Desaturate (Ctrl + Shift + U) and add a layer mask> Now for the magic, change the blend mode to Soft Light. We have a nice, dreamy effect.

 

 Final  Image    

Step 41
And now for the final step let’s lower the saturation of the grass in the front of the scene because we want our viewer’s attention on the main subjects and not on the boring grass. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and drag the Saturation slider to the left to lower the saturation. In the layer mask use the Linear Gradient tool to apply this effect only to the bottom of our scene.

 

 
And that’s all.

 

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