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Creating the Elegant Photo Manipulation ‘Out of Reach’

Creating the Elegant Photo Manipulation ‘Out of Reach’

Today you’ll learn some handy photo manipulation techniques if you’re just starting out.

This tutorial will teach you how to create a really beautiful outcome called ‘Out of Reach’ in a few simple, clear, straight forward steps.

You’ll master blending various images together, applying adjustment layers, working with masks, brushes, light effects and much more.

Let’s dive right in!

Final Image

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

Resources Used In This Tutorial

Step 1

Create a new document (Ctrl + N) and input the following on their respective fields:

Width : 2500
Height : 2200

Step 2

Import the ‘ Salsolastock Mad Sky 4 ‘ in Photoshop. Copy it to the main canvas and change the layer name ‘Main Background’. To rename the existing layer, double-click the layer and enter the new name. Activate the transfer tool (V) and resize the cloud image. The result should be similar to this:

Step 3

Go to Menu Tab, click Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance. Create a clipping mask by checking ‘Use previous layer’. Input the following values:

Color Balance Settings:

Midtones: +24, 0, -2
Highlights: +13, 0, +6
Shadows: 0, 0, 0

* Adjustment layers lets you go back and make successive tone adjustments without discarding or permanently modifying data from image layer.

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer> Photo Filter. Create a clipping mask and input the following settings:

Filter: Cyan
Density: 25
Preserve Luminosity

To achieve a cooling effect, we will apply another Photo Filter layer. Layer > New Adjustment layer > Photo Filter.

Filter: Cooling Filter (LBB)
Density: 13%
Preserve Luminosity

The result:

Step 4

Import another image, ‘Package Cosmos’ and rename it ‘ Background 2 ‘ , Resize the image until you achieve the same result:

Change the Blending mode into ‘ Soft Light ‘. To make it blend with the cloud image, go to Layer > New Adjustment layer > Hue and Saturation and put the following settings:

Hue: -90
Saturation: -86
Lightness: +15

The result:

Step 5

Open the model’s file and adjust the ‘Brightness and Contrast’. Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness and Contrast.

Brightness : 5
Contrast : -50

Use the pen tool to cut out the model.

Import it to our working canvas. Activate the transform tool (V) and resize the model same as the image below:

Step 6

After applying brightness and contrast, go to layer> New Adjustment Layers > Hue and Saturation. Make clipping mask and follow the settings:

Hue : +3
Saturation : -29
Lightness : -1

Now as you notice, the cloth’s color became dull and to restore the bright color, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color. Click the clipping mask and input the numbers below:

Cyan : +10
Magenta : -2
yellow : -51
Black: -2


Step 7

We’re done with blending the model into the background, now we’ll move on to creating glow effect. Create an empty layer (Shift + Ctrl +N). Rename the layer to ‘Glow’. Drag the layer down after the model’s layer. Select a soft white brush (B) with an opacity of 20% and 100% flow. Gently brush over the body until you achieve the same result as mine:

Step 8

Create another empty layer, Drag the layer after glow layer. Rename it ‘Glow 2′ Now, activate your brush (B), Select a soft white brush with an opacity of 5-10% and a flow of 100%. Brush around the model’s body for a much better glow effect. The result:

Now group layers we have created by selecting all the layers and pressing Ctrl + g. Once grouped, rename it ‘Model’.

Step 9

We’ll create hair strands for the model’s hair. If you have a drawing tablet, it’s much easier to do but for those who don’t then this technique might be helpful. Open file brush ‘Frozen StarRo’, copy hair #8 layer into our main canvass.

Press Ctrl + T or activate transform tool to change or rotate the strands.


To change the shape, right click and choose warp. Duplicate the hair layer a couple of times, rotate, erase to create a hair volume.

Step 10

Next, we will adjust the hair color, Merge all the hair layer and go to Layer > new fill layer > Solid Color. Create a clipping mask and click ok. Now, a color picker prompt window will appear. Input the following in their respective fields:

Result will be:

Step 11

Create another layer, change the blending mode to ‘Soft Light’. Activate your brush (B) and change the foreground color to #bb1a5a. Brush gently to the model’s lips.

After you are done, create another empty layer. Paint gently over the model’s eyelid with a blue tone and pink tones on the cheek. The result:

Step 12

Create an empty layer. Select a soft brush and change the foreground color to black and paint the area indicated below:

As you soon as you finished, the result will be similar to this:

Step 13

Go back to the Model’s layer and add a vector mask which can be found in the layers palette. Open ‘Ink and Paint’ file. Activate your eraser tool (E) and randomly erase the edge of the cloth. I started using brush #66 with 100% Opacity and 100% fill.

TIP: don’t use the same brush over and over. Choose some other brush too and brush on random parts.

The result:

Step 14

Create another layer. Rename the layer ‘paint’ tool with 100% Opacity and 100% fill and select #4468a1 using the color picker. Again, apply brush randomly with different sizes. I started to use brush #1821.

The result:

Step 15

Double Click on the ‘Paint’ layer. A Layer Style window will appear. Input the following settings:

The result:

Step 16

Open the optical lens flare. Copy lens flare # 2 and transfer it to the main canvas. Position it to the model’s shoulder.

Blend the layer to screen.

Go to Image > Adjustment > Hue and Saturation.

Hue: 0
Saturation: -65
Lightness: 0

Delete the left part of the lens flare:

Group the layers and rename it ‘Effect’.

Step 17

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.

Mode: Overlay
Opacity: 30%

The result:

Step 18

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color.

  • CYAN
  • Cyan: -46
    Magenta: +17
    Yellow: -15
    Black: 0

  • BLUE
  • Cyan: 29
    Magenta: -17
    Yellow: -20
    Black: 0

    The result:

    Step 19

    Layer > New Fill Layer> Solid Color. Change the blending mode to soft light and opacity of 100%.

    The result should be like this:

    Step 20

    Again, go to layer > New adjustment layer > Photo Filter. input the following on their respective fields:

  • Filter: Warming Filter (85)
  • Density: 25%
  • Filter: Underwater
  • Density: 10%
  • After Photo Filter, the result we have:

    Step 21

    Create another layer. Select ‘Gradient Tool’ and make sure you follow the input:

    and apply the gradient same as the arrow’s direction. Blend into soft light with 40% Opacity. You should have a similar result:

    Step 22

    The last step will be creating curves. To do this, go to layer > New Adjustment Layer> Curves.

  • Output : 21
  • Input : 23
  • Final Result:

    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.

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    About the Author:

    I'm a freelance Graphic Artist from a small town in Northern Philippines. I have been involved in digital arts mainly photo-manipulation for over three years. My artworks are based on my emotions and frame of mind. If you want to see my works you can visit my deviantART page:

    Leave a comment


    1. ayhna zumi says:

      wow very nice! its realy elegant work! i will try it soon.
      thank you PSD fan :)

    2. Michelle Carmine Floresca says:

      i love how you made the effects. new Technics learned. its very cool!!!

      • Tom says:

        Thanks Michelle. That’s great that you learned some new techniques from this tut. It’s hopefully a helpful tutorial for those newer to photo manipulation.

    3. Stark says:

      Step 6
      After applying brightness and contrast, go to layer> New Adjustment Layers > Hue and Saturation. Make clipping mask and follow the settings:

      There is no brightness/contrast settings!

      • Johnny says:

        Yes I saw it too! But I realized the author might applied ‘Brightness and Contrast’ on image of the model before pasting it on the main file.

    4. Tom says:

      Thanks for pointing this out guys. This step has been fixed now, I appreciate the heads up!

    5. Kian says:

      Glad I have found this tutorial for beginners. I have to say this is very well explained for a newbie on Photoshop like me. Easy to understand yet great final result. I will link my final result when I am done. Thanks PSD!

    6. Jessica says:

      First – thanks for passing along the technique. I’ve seen a variant of this elsewhere, but it was much more complicated to set up. I tried this out and it worked great! I just finished creating an image with this and this has been my best result. Really well done tutorial. Easy to follow. Can’t wait for the next one!

    7. Juliya Ria says:

      I liked your lessons in design.
      If you have no objections, will I post translation from English into Russian of your lessons with the link and the indication of the author on my blog (This russian-language resource)?
      Thank you.

    8. Jakob says:


      Brilliant Tut!

      Only one problem… The link for the Optical Flares “Can’t be displayed”, any suggestions or possibly different link??


    9. Paree says:

      Thank you very much, beautiful tutorial
      I used a different model & different brushes
      Here is my result

      I have some flares stock available here if anyone would like to use them, please credit to my Flickr photostream

      • Tom Ross says:

        Really awesome outcome Paree, thanks for sharing! :)

        If I had to make one critique I’d say the hair looks a little rigid, which is limiting the realism of the piece. It doesn’t seem to fall naturally or have a natural weight to it by the way it’s currently jutting outwards.

        I’d also love to see a shatter/particle style effect on the dress.

        Thanks a lot for sharing the lens flare too, very cool!

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