In this tutorial we will learn a number of techniques to help you add drama to a photo manipulation: Creating meteors, mixing three diferent images to create an apocalyptic background, Modify a central character so it adjust to the composition as well as how to add some adjustment layers to add dramatic effects to the final image. All we will use is stock photos, lets start.

Final Image Preview

Let’s take a look at the image we’ll be creating

Before We Get Started

For this tutorial you are going to need:




Man Walking


Step 1 Extracting the main character

a)   Open the main character image as is and double-click on the “Background” layer to make it editable.

b)    To delete the background we will use two different techniques. For the body will use PEN TOOL making a path which then will become a selection.

c)    For the hair we use the channels technique. This can be seen in detail in the following tutorial:

Step 2 Raincoat Enlarge

To give a more dramatic and heroic look we enlarge the raincoat.

a) First we select a section of the bottom of the raincoat

b) Copy the section and move down to the desired height

c) Warp use: edit> transform> warp to adjust the piece to the raincoat

d) To remove the edges use clone stamp tool with a brush of 65 pixels and correct soft edges.

e) We repeat the same steps with the other side of the trench.

f) Merge the layers

Step 3 Add dirt

He is very clean to be a road warrior so we will add spots to the raincoat.

a) Open the texture file

b) Drag and drop the file and scale it to adjust it

c) Set the blending mode to Soft Light

d) Ctrl-click the Layer Thumbnail of the warrior> select pixels.

e) Go to Select> Modify> Feather and enter a value of 0.5 px. Then go to Select> Inverse to invert the selection.

f) Select and delete the dirt layer

g) Using a soft-edged eraser, begin removing parts of this layer. Like in the hands, neck or face.

Step 4 Sword

a) Open the sword file and remove the background using pen tool.

b) Drag and drop it to the warrior file. As a reference for scaling the sword the handle must be the same size as the length of the face.

c) Move the layer to appear behind the sword in the back of the warrior

d) Although the handle of the sword is the right size I will enlarge the size of the sword guard for esthetic purpose, double the layer of the sword, eliminate the handle part of the copy, move the bottom to be larger than apparent.

Step 5 Adding a String (sageo)

a) With the line tool draw a line cord

b) With warp we distort to fit the body shape

c) Add bevel and emboss style Layer and a drop shadow

d) Delete the parts of the line that run under the lapel of the coat

Step 6 Increase the contrast

This is a very simple and great technique to increase the contrast and get a cinematic look.

a) Merge the layers

b) Duplicate the layers

c) Desaturate the new layer Image > Adjustments > Desaturate

d) Duplicate the desaturated layer

e) Change the Blend Mode Of The New Layer To ‘Screen’ And Lower The Opacity to 50%

f) Duplicate the Original Background Layer And Move It To The Top Of The Layers Palette

g) Change the Layer’s Blend Mode to “Overlay” at 75%

h) Merge All Layers Onto A New Layer

Step 7 Create the background

a) Open the two images: the road and the city. The road image will be our main document; you don’t need to modify the image size.

b) Drag and drop the image of the city to the road image and adjust its size and position

c) Adjust the layer to 70% transparency and delete the parts that do not require

d) With the polygonal lasso make a selection of the sky and delete it. Why polygonal lasso? Mostly we are selecting straight lines of buildings and it is easier to make the selection.

Step 8 Meteors

a) Create a new layer

b) Grab a white round brush with 10% hardness, do a single click on the new layer

c) Bring up the liquify fitler: filter> liquify, Left-click and hold, Then drag the liquify brush to Obtain the desire effect

d) Create a new layer below the head of the meteor and paints a new circle

e) To create the trail we use warp: edit> transform> warp.

f) Deform to get a good trail

g) Repeat to create three or four meteors

Step 9 Building explosions

Now we will create an explosion in one of the buildings

a) Create a new layer and paint it white

b) Filter > render > difference clouds

c) With the eliptical marquee tool create a marquee selection use a Feather of 20 pixels.

d) Select Edit> Define Brush Preset. Name it ‘Smoke’.

e) Removes the layer where the smoke was created

f) Select the Brush Tool (B) and go to the Brush Engine (Window> Brushes). Select the ‘Smoke’ brushes, and activate the Following settings:

– Brush Tip Shape, select 25% Spacing.

-For Shape Dynamics use 100% for the Size Jitter, 75% for the Minimum Diameter, and select Flip X Jitter and Flip Y Jitter.

– For Scattering, use 135% for the Scatter and select Both Axis, use 10 for the Counter and 60% for the Counter Jitter.

– Select Color Dynamics and use 92% for the Foreground / Background Jitter, Then 50% for the Hue, Saturation, and Brightness Jitter.

– For use 100% Purity.

– Finally, select Other Dynamics and use 20% for the Opacity Jitter

g) Create a new layer

h) Paint with the brush giving two or three clicks to achieve the required blast

i) Click on Layer Style and select Gradient Overlay:

“Blend mode: Color dodge

– Gradient of a dark orange to yellow

– Style lineal

j) As a last detail of the explosion: create a new layer below the explosion, draw a circular marquee with 40% feather. Select> Modify> Feather. Go to the gradient editor and adjust as follows:

k) Paint an angle gradient inside the marquee. Desaturate it, Image> Adjustment> desaturate. Set the blending to screen 50%

Step 10 Abandoned Car

a) Open the car file

b) Remove the background using pen tool

c) This car has many green leaves we must eliminate them as the car is in a desert landscape. We used clone stamp tool to remove most of the leaves in the front.

d) Drag and drop the car to the main file.

e) Scale and rotate it so it adapts to the landscape

f) It is very important to check the lighting direction of all our items. In this case create some light on the left side of the car with Dodge tool and darken some parts of the car with the burn tool.

g) Create a layer below the car. Create a selection that simulates the shadow of the car. Recalling the direction of the lights must be more pronounced to the right. Soften the edges of the shadow: Select> Transform> Feather and choose 20 pixels.

h) Now paint with a gradient from black to dark gray.

i) Apply blending mode to multiply. If you want a darker shadow can duplicate it and apply a 50% multiply.

Step 11 High Contrast

a)Select all layers and create a group

b) We create a new Adjustment layer and select Hue / Saturation. We desaturate completely.

c) Duplicate this layer and Apply a screen blending mode at 50%

d) Now duplicate the group and move it above all layers.

e) Apply overlay blending mode. Now that is contrast.

Step 12 Warrior

Open the document and drag and drop it in the main document. Adjusting Scale for it.

a) Create a selection of the Warrior> Select> Load selection

b) Create a New layer. We are going to soften the edges: Select> Modify> Feather and select 10 pixels.Paint

c) Distort the shadow so it coincides with the others shadows: Edit> Transform> Distort.

d) Move the shadow layer below-the warrior and Apply blending mode to Multiply at 80%

For a nice final touch you can increase the contrast in the sky and road

a) Create a new layer and painted it white

b) Apply difference clouds: filters> render> clouds

c) Apply motion blur

d) Apply overlay blending mode at 73%

Final Image

Previous post

Revisiting HDR; 5 of the best Photoshop tutorials

Next post

The client is not the enemy

The Author

Javier Cantero

Javier Cantero

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *