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Creating the Alluring Photo-Manipulation ‘Lust’

Creating the Alluring Photo-Manipulation ‘Lust’

7 Deadly Sins Series

This tutorial is Part 3 of 7 of our 7 Deadly Sins Series! Look out for the other tutorials – coming soon!

Final Image

Here is a preview of the image that we are going to be creating:

Step 1

Start by creating a new document (800X1000px).

Paste in your waterfall photo, resizing and cropping it to look like the image below:

Step 2

Now duplicate your waterfall background layer and hide the duplicate layer.

Select your original waterfall layer and apply a levels and color balance adjustment layer (be sure to apply a clipping mask to each adjustment layer, so that your adjustments only effect your underlying layer):

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

17 / 1.04 / 230

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: +33 / -9 / -19
Midtones: +57 / -16 / -38
Shadows: -23 / -2 / -25

Step 3

Now select your duplicate waterfall layer which should be above your adjustment layers.

This waterfall will still have all the colors of the original photo. Apply a layer mask, and use a soft, black paintbrush to mask off the edges of the waterfall image, exposing the rock bed at the bottom, and trees at the top/sides.

You’ll notice how the waterfall itself is still nice and blue, but the underlying rocks which are now a more deep red color are showing through:

Now apply a levels and color balance adjustment layer. Be sure to apply a clipping mask to each adjustment layer:

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

14 / 0.96 / 243

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: +28 / +8 / -12
Midtones: +42 / +9 / -9
Shadows: +4 / +15 / -16

Step 4

Now paste in your water splash 1 image, positioning it like the image below:

As the image background is plain black, you can then simply change this layer’s blend mode to ‘screen’ to hide the black background and only display the water.

Then apply a layer mask and mask off any stray bits of water, just to tidy up things a little. If needed, duplicate this layer in order to make the water splash more visible:

Step 5

Now download the heart brush set from the resources for this tutorial.

Select the third brush in the set, and apply the following brush settings in your brushes panel:

Brush Tip Shape Settings:

Size: 20px
Spacing: 163%

Shape Dynamics Settings:

Size Jitter: 0%
Angle Jitter: 100%
Roundness Jitter: 0%

Scattering Settings:

Scatter: 663%
Count: 3
Count Jitter: 100%

Now apply the brush on a new layer, making sure to follow the contours of your waterfall structure. For more intricate areas simply reduce the size of your brush. For now simply use a black brush at 100% opacity:

Now apply an outer glow and gradient overlay blending option. This should give your hearts a cool rainbow lighting effect:

Outer Glow Settings:

Blend Mode: Overlay
Opacity: 100%
Color: ffffff
Spread: 0%
Size: 7%

Gradient Overlay:

Blend Mode: Normal
Opaciy: 100%
Gradient: (rainbow default)
Style: Radial
Angle: 90
Scale: 100%

Finally, to make the effect more subtle change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ and reduce it’s opacity to 40%:

Step 6

Now paste in the image of your woman, positioning her so it looks like she’s sitting on the rock:

Now go to edit>puppet warp, and apply a puppet warp to your woman. I didn’t like how hunched over she was, so I warped her into a more upright position using my pointers:

The image is looking better, but if you notice the woman’s arm has become slightly distorted from the puppet warp:

To fix this, go to filter>liquify. In the liquify window select the ‘pucker’ tool. Click and hold roughly in the middle of your woman’s arm, and it should bring in the distorted side, making it look more in line:

You can see the result below:

Step 7

Now apply a levels and color balance adjustment layer, just to help blend the woman better with her surroundings. Remember to apply a clipping mask to each adjustment layer:

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

25 / 1.11 / 244

Color Balance Adjustment Layer Settings:

Highlights: -8 / +6 / +9
Midtones: +11 / -21 / -13
Shadows: -19 / -8 / -5

Step 8

Repeat the technique that you used earlier to apply a large water splash, and apply several smaller water splashes over your woman. You want to give the impression that the water is hitting into the rock bed, and splashing up over her. This means that you’ll need to apply layer masks where appropriate to make it look like the water is hitting into her:

Step 9

Now download the bubbles brush set from the resources for this tutorial and apply them over your woman, giving the impression that she has been covered in water:

Step 10

If you notice, there is no shadow being cast by your woman, which looks unnatural.

To fix this, create a new layer called ‘shadows’. Use a medium sized, soft, black paintbrush (around 20% opacity) to paint in shadows underneath her legs, foot and behind. This helps integrate her into her surroundings much better:

Step 11

Now paste in your bush photo from the resources for this tutorial. Paste/position in so that it overlaps your woman’s knee slightly.

Now apply a layer mask and mask off the background for your bush photo. For the edges of your bush use a more rough/jagged black paintbrush to help achieve a more random/natural edge:

Now apply a levels/hue and saturation adjustment layer to your bush layer, applying a clipping mask to each adjustment layer:

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

28 / 0.82 / 252

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer Settings:

Hue: +6
Saturation: -25
Lightness: 0

Step 12

Now create a new layer called ‘circle’.

Use your elliptical marquee tool to create a circle over the face of your woman. Then fill this selection with a radial gradient ranging from fd1100 to c00a00.

Now type out ‘LUST’ in an ornate, white font over the center of your circle. This represents the sin conveyed by our composition, as well as demonstrating how lust in the media often objectifies women, and conceals their true personalities:

Step 13

Now apply several more ferns/branches around the edges of your canvas, just to build up the overall composition. Remember to tweak the colors/levels of each image to match the surrounding composition:

Step 14

Paste in the flower image from the resources section for this tutorial into the bottom of your canvas.

Use your warp tool to warp the flower so that it’s less rigid looking:

Now apply a levels and hue/saturation adjustment layer:

Levels Adjustment Layer Settings:

29 / 1.00 / 241

Hue/Saturation Layer Settings:

Hue: +6
Saturation: -5
Lightness: -2

Step 15

Now create a layer called ‘large bubbles’. Select your bubbles brush from earlier, and apply a range of different sized bubbles over your canvas, including some very large ones. This should give the impression of perspective, as some bubbles appear to be floating nearer to us:

Step 16

Now create a couple of new layers called ‘yellow highlights’ and ‘cyan highlights’. On each layer drag out a few radial gradients ranging from yellow to transparent, and then cyan to transparent.

Now change each of these layer’s blend modes to ‘overlay’ and reduce their opacity to around 20-25%. This should give a nice subtle lighting effect to your composition:

Step 17

Now create a new layer called ‘lens flare’.

We’re going to apply our lens flare non destructively. Start by selecting your entire canvas, and then filling it with black. Then change your layer’s blend mode to ‘screen’. This should hide your black fill, but let you apply effects to your layer that will show through.

Go to filter>render>lens flare and apply a 100% brightness lens flare in the top-right of your canvas:

Now change this layer’s blend mode to ‘screen’ and reduce it’s opacity to 65%.

Step 18

Now create a new layer called ‘vignette’.

Use a low opacity, large, soft, black paintbrush to paint around the edges and corners of your canvas. This should help draw the viewers eye towards the brighter center of the canvas:

Step 19

Now create a new layer called ‘dodge/burn’.

Go to edit>fill and fill your layer with 50% gray. Then change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’. This will hide your 50% gray fill but let you paint over your canvas in a non-destructive way.

Use a soft black paintbrush for your shadows/burn areas, and a soft white brush for your highlights/dodge areas.

The images below show your dodge/burn layer at ‘normal’ and then ‘overlay’ blend modes:

Step 20

Finally, apply a couple of gradient overlay adjustment layers.

Gradient Overlay Adjustment Layer 1

Gradient: Default gradient (red to dark green)
Blend Mode: Overlay
Opacity: 15%

Gradient Overlay Adjustment Layer 2

Gradient: Default gradient (orange, yellow, orange)
Blend Mode: Normal
Opacity: 3%

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.

You can view the full-sized piece by clicking on the image below:

Download Source File for this Tutorial

About the Author:

Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.

Leave a comment


  1. Trisha Cupra says:

    Great tut, Tom. I just want to mention that covering up her face is rather offensive to me, as a woman. You now don’t have a woman, you have a sex object. I get that it’s about ‘Lust’ but it could have been more tasteful and less degrading. I may be your only female reader who feels this way, but it could be rather controversial and put off other female readers.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Trisha, I’m glad you enjoyed the tutorial. As for the objectifying nature of the piece, I mentioned in the tutorial that this is deliberate. To be honest I see much more degrading work in the media each and end day. If you found this piece extreme (which I don’t believe it is) then it’s only to accentuate the concept of the 7 deadly sins (which shouldn’t be reserved by nature). Anyway, as always it’s great to hear from you, and I hope you weren’t offended by this piece. I genuinely think that the 7 deadly sins theme should be provoking, so that’s what I tried to achieve here. I mentioned in this post that I was highlighting a trend of objectifying women, but not supporting it.

  2. Trisha Cupra says:

    No offense taken. It is a very fine line to try to walk between highlighting a trend without looking like you’re supporting it. As a social critique, it’s definitely a good piece, and it certainly could have been much more extreme (glad you avoided that).

    Very thought-provoking. I’m wondering how I could have done it differently myself.

    • Tom says:

      Yeah I agree with you about it being a fine line, but often the best work does have to be outside of a ‘comfort zone’. I’d love to see your take on the 7 deadly sins theme, it’s been a really inspiring topic to design around so far.

  3. Chris says:

    Great tutorial with some effective steps. It could certainly be used in a message piece about the objectification of women. I just saw a story about women’s tennis ads selling the whole “sex appeal”. We definitely have some social issues to work out with our advertising, as it is trending more that direction by the day.

    • Tom says:

      Totally agree Chris, it’s unfortunate, but does definitely tie in with design trends (social/moral issues often do). I’m glad you enjoyed the tutorial though! :)

  4. Wim Voets says:

    Very cool & detailed tutorial. It’s got a night depth of field.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks a lot Wim, I’m glad you liked the outcome. I did work hard to achieve a natural but effective depth of field.

  5. Ashish says:

    Wow, It’s really really cool.
    Nice tricks used and the result is awesome.

    Thanks for sharing….!

  6. kalabilla says:

    nice sharing thanks awesome keep the good work

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