Design a spectral photo-manipulation

Design a spectral photo-manipulation

Today I gonna show you how to realize from scratch a ghostly scene in few steps. We will use a couple of stock photos and modify them so they will look harmoniously combined. In particular we will deal with the burn tool, layer masks and some Photoshop filters often overlooked.

Preview:

Click to enlarge

spectral scene preview

Step 1

The starting point of this tutorial is the photo of an abandoned castel room. This photo is spectral even without any kind of photo-manipulation. Sometimes inspiration derives from a place, like in this case. Each place has something to say, a story behind. Let’s imagine how many things could have happened into a castle bedroom…

Open the photo in Photoshop.

spectral scene

Step 2

To darken the room, duplicate the layer (ctrl+J) and set the duplicated layer blend mode to Color Burn with opacity 30%.

spectral scene

Step 3

Now I don’t like this “warm” atmosphere. So go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Black & White to play a bit with colors. Move the cursors to modify the room colors.

spectral scene

Step 4

To make the details of the room more evident, press shift+alt+ctrl+E to merge all the layers into a new layer. Then apply the high pass filter (Filter>Other>High pass).

spectral scene

Then set the layer blending mode to Overlay. Below you can see the difference between the room before and after the effect.

spectral scene

Step 5

You can notice there is a light coming from the left, there should be a window in front of the bed. I want this light stronger, as if the entire left wall disappeared. To do so, we will use a filter that allows you to manage and create light effects. As we made in step 4, merge all the layers into a new layer. Then go to Filter>Render>Lighting Effects. Here you need to set up the style to “omni blu” and then move the light to the left, in correspondence with the mirror.

spectral scene

Now press shift+ctrl+U to desaturate the layer and set its blending mode to screen. The light effects looks perfect now.

spectral scene

Step 6

It’s time to introduce the first character of the scene, a melancholy child. After downloaded the image, extract the boy with the pen tool and merge him into the Photoshop document. Then press ctrl+T to re-size the kid, and put him on the bed.

spectral scene

Step 7

Since light comes from the left of the scene, we have to create the shadow effect of the boy on his left. Create a layer and move it below the kid’s layer. Grab a large soft (hardness 0%) black brush and paint to create the shadow. Reduce a bit the layer opacity and create other layers with other shadow effect. If you use several layers with different opacities the final result will look more realistic.

spectral scene

Step 8

To darken more the boy and to make his color contrasts stronger, grab the Burn tool in Shadows mode. Reduce exposure to around 50% and paint over the boy, in particular on his left (shadow area).

spectral scene

Step 9

The kid is too mush saturated. So press ctrl+U and reduce saturation to -35.

spectral scene

Step 10

To create the ghostly presence, I’ve used another beautiful shot of a child, realized by Angi Nelson. Extract the child with the pen tool and paste her into the document.

spectral scene

Go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal. Then re-size and rotate the child (ctrl+T) so she will look oriented in the direction of the boy.

spectral scene

Add a layer mask and use a large soft black brush to gently eliminate the bottom of the child.

spectral scene

Step 11

To transmit the idea of a ghostly presence, duplicate the lady’s layer by pressing ctrl+J. Then go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and enter a distance around 80 pixels.

spectral scene

Then, using the mask, eliminate the head from the duplicate layer. In this way the head of the original layer will appear without the blur effect.

spectral scene

Step 12

As we made with the boy, reduce the saturation (ctrl+U).

spectral scene

Step 13

Create a new layer an set its blending mode to overlay. Then grab a soft white brush and paint over the child to create a light effect. Reduce the opacity of the layer if necessary.

spectral scene

Step 14

Select all the layers of the flying spectral presence and group them (ctrl+G). Then add a layer mask to the group and eliminate another part of the child. Then reduce the opacity of the group to 80%. Here is how my ghostly child looks at this stage:

spectral scene

Step 15

To increase the dark effect on the right, I created a new group of layers where I’ve painted on using black soft brushes.

spectral scene

Step 16

It’s time for the last adjustment layers. Let’s start with the Vibrance layer (Layer>New Adjustment layer>Vibrance) to lower down saturation to -30.

spectral scene

Then use the Color Balance layer (Layers>New Adjustment Layers>Color balance) to modify the colors of the entire scene. I played with the options to turn the atmosphere from “normal” to “spectral”, with a blue cold room as result.

spectral scene

And here is the result:

spectral scene

Step 17

The last touch: merge all the layers into a new layer (shift+alt+ctrl+E), then switch the layer blending mode to Color Burn with opacity 30%.

Finito! For every problem or suggestion, you can use the comments;-)

spectral scene preview

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Sebastiano

Howdy! I'm a self taught graphic designer who loves to create amazing stuff using every kind of media. I'm currently living and working in Italy.

48 Comments

(+add yours)
  1. suresh

    useful to me ……………………………
    thank you so much

  2. hey it’s cool Sebastiano
    I like your works and your easy way to illustrating

  3. very nice work on the background!

  4. Scott

    I like it. The only problem I can see with it is the child on the bed seems to be weightless as he is not creasing the blanket in any way. It looks like he’s floating on top of it when he needs to be sinking down into it. But other than that it’s great and very educational.

    • I see this tutorial from your eyes :)

  5. Neat tutorial you’ve got there, great work !

  6. sam

    I am a begginer and I never did photoshop before but as a spectator Ireally liked ur work and please give me something useful for a begginer

    • Hi Sam,

      There a banner in the sidebar that links to Photoshop exercises for beginners

  7. Very cool. I’m interested to explore photoshop but dont have the time. This tutorial is very good. thanks

  8. Amazing! I am learning cs5 and eeeer! wondering if I should just spend some $$$$$ and take a class. Great image

  9. Nice tutorial a little bit spooky:D

  10. Hajar

    thank u so much for this wonderful tutorial
    this is my worck ^^
    http://www5.0zz0.com/2011/01/17/16/638622822.gif

    • mars

      cool!!!! dude.

  11. nivi

    amazing work :)

  12. mars

    how can i insert a picture?

  13. Lenie

    Hello
    Beautiful manipulation lesson,
    I love it and I make the lesson in photoshop CS4.
    amazing work.
    Thank you

    Lenie

  14. Laksmi

    Esto es muy bello! Haha thanks! It is awesome, I absolutely loved it :)

  15. china

    wow thank u

  16. martie

    you are so cute hehe..
    God bless

  17. hend

    would u please marry me !

  18. Jamie

    Hello, I was doing this tutorial just to try and learn some new things that I can do design wise with photoshop. However I was wondering what version of photoshop you have, because when I got to step 5, I could not go to filter>render>lighting effects. There was no lighting effects option in render or even in any of the other filter options. Also do you know if there’s anything else that I can do to bypass this step. or another way to accomplish this effect with CS5?

  19. Hotdog

    Nice tut, but like some one said thou… the boy seems to stand out a to much, like he needs to be blurred a wee bit or some thing. There again it could just be me thou. Jamie I’m using CS5 and it is in there bud.

  20. Plactos

    Hi dude, nice tutorial, but the room photo was deleted.. ;Z

  21. ToNZ

    likes it so much,, very good tutorial.

  22. Thank you been working really beautiful and instructive sebastian

  23. Very suite Design,

  24. paul

    great work!

  25. ss

    room photo is deleted can u please upload it again

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