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In this tutorial i will show you how to create a dark photo manipulation called “The Vampire’s Hunter”. We will go through steps with different techniques of manipulating, retouching, masking, coloring, adjustment layers, understanding light and shadow and more.
As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:
Open background stock. I crop it and take the center for this tutorial purpose (we need close view ):
Duplicate this part and apply Flip Horrizontal ( Edit-Transform-Flip Horizontal):
On background copy, create a selection for cloud above and set feather = 50:
Right click this selection, choose Layer via Copy and we have it on a new layer. Move it down as shown below:
Add layer mask and use soft black brush to hide rough edges:
Name this layer as “cloud” or whatever you like.
Open forest stock. Use any tools you want to make a selection as the pic below shows:
Scale it to fit the size of our document, place it at the right of picture, transform it a bit and lower opacity to 20%:
Use layer mask and take black brush to get the soft and natural look for forest part:
Copy forest part from original again and move it to the left of picture, change opacity to 20% . You can see this part is set more askew to the side (compare the distance ). I disable layer mask temporarily to make you see it clearly:
Then i use brush to clear some parts of it to get different look from the right one ( i don’t want two sides of picture look the same).
I copy the right side of forest stock and place it at the top center, change opacity to 15%. Resize it to be smaller as it’s positioned further than two forest sides ( the further the smaller and blurrier):
Duplicate this layer twice and move them to the right. You can use distort tool and flip them to get different movements. Here is my result:
Add layer mask for each of these layers to hide unnecessary parts:
Don’t worry if it does not look perfect. We will do some steps to make it look better.
Extract grave 1 from background and situate it at the right side. Use layer mask to soften the edge of grave’s bottom then lower opacity to 60%:
Duplicate this grave layer four times, resize , change opacity and position them as the screenshot below shows. I use Flip Horizontal for the graves on the right side of picture. Name these layers as “grave 1″ to “grave 5″. Always remember the rule ” the further the smaller and blurrier”:
To make shadow for these graves we have to determine light source. I want the light comes from the top center of picture so the graves must have shadow behind ( we will create this light later) .
To do it, duplicate grave 1. Change the name of upper layer “grave 1″ and under layer “grave 1 shadow”. On under layer, press Cmd/Ctrl+U to open Hue/Saturation dialog. Down the lightness to -100 and apply Flip Vertical for this layer. Move this shadow layer under the bottom of grave 1 and transform it to the right. Change opacity of it to 20% with Gassian blur 1 px:
Duplicate this shadow four times, resize and place them under other graves. I change opacity of them as shown below:
You can blur the top of shadows to get more realistic look ( use layer mask).
In this step we will brighten the grave parts which catch light from background. Create a new layer on the top with Soft light mode 100%, press Cmd/Ctrl +click grave 1 layer thumbnail to load its selection. Use another finger to hold down Shift key while clicking another graves thumbnails to load their selection at the same time.
Use soft white brush painting the outside of graves as shown below:
Vary opacity of brush because the light falls differently onto graves.
We will add more light for graves by using Inner Shadow with very light cyan color (# f5f9f4) and change the mode to Color Dodge. With each grave, i change the opacity and angle of light to fit the brightness and direction from light source to it. You can see in sreenshots below:
Create a new layer and make a selection for graves with feather = 50:
Set foreground and background color to #47626e and #8f999a. Choose Filter-Render-Clouds:
Lower opacity to 70% and add layer mask to hide some parts of this cloud:
Open big grave stock. Isolate it from original and place it in the center of picture, also use layer mask to soften it’s bottom:
Use same technique in step 6 to add shadow for this big grave ( i set shadow to 20% opacity):
In this step we will remove something from this grave. First to remove the letters from tombstone. Create a new layer above this grave layer with Clipping Mask option:
Come back to big grave layer, use Polygonal Lasso Tool to make a selection for the part which does not have letters. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+C to copy this part, then choose new layer above ( which has Clipping Mask), press Cmd/Ctrl+V to paste this part into it. Move this part up to hide the letters above. Add layer mask to erase some parts to get natural look:
Make a new layer with Clipping Mask. Use Clone tool to remove any plants on the grave and light on unwanted parts:
Make some adjustment layers with Clipping Mask to change the brightness and color of this grave:
Create two new layers ( with Clipping Mask). In original picture, light comes from left to right so the left is brighter than the right one. We need to darken some parts of left side and brighten some parts of right side to balance the brightness between them. On the first layer, use soft brush with color #9fa1a2 painting on the left side and change the mode to Multipy 50%:
On second layer, use soft brush with color #b9baba painting on the right side and set the mode to Soft light 100%:
In this step we will add more light for big grave. Right click this layer, choose Inner Shadow with same color in step 8 ( # f5f9f4 ):
Make a new layer and set on the top. Take cracked brushes and black color with number 1076, 1116 painting on the center and bottom of tombstone as the pic below shows:
Now its time for an interesting part. Make a new layer, hit T to choose Type Tool. Set foreground to black and use Garamond font ( a default Window font – but you can use any font you feel approriate) to type DRACULA since 1800 in the way shown below ( you can type any date you want):
Right click this text layer, choose Blending options:
We get old look for this text:
Extract crow from background and place him on the left top of big grave:
With same technique, make shadow for crow with opaciy 50%. Add layer mask to make only the feet of crow visible:
Make a Curves layer with Clipping Mask for crow:
As we see, the light on crow from left to right. We will use similar technique for grave to change this light source to fit our background. Make a new layer ( Clipping Mask) and use brush with color #282b28 painting on the light parts of crow. Put this layer as Multipy 50%:
I will do a step to make crow get more evil look. Create two new layers with Clipping Mask , take white brush , with hardness about 50%. Use brush with 7 px spotting on the eye of crow ( if you feel it’s hard to see, you can zoom it with bigger opacity), lower opacity to 40 %, then use brush 3 px painting on the top of this:
To add glowing light for crow, we use Inner Shadow again:
Cut the model and move her in front of big grave. Make a new layer under model layer, use black brush with hardness about 40% and paint under her feet:
Create shadow in front of model ( because light source comes from behind her) with technique we did in previous steps ( opacity 20%) :
Model has dark lips and i don’t like it. So i make a selection for the lips ( on model layer) with feather = 1:
Choose Layer-New adjustment layer-Color Balance with Clipping Mask. You will see the layer mask of Color Balance layer turns into black and the effect will only apply for lips.
Hit Cmd/Ctrl andclick the thumbnail of this layer mask to load lips selection again. Make a Selective Color layer ( Clipping Mask) with following settings:
We have result:
Light on model comes from the left so we will work with many layers ( with Clipping Mask) to make the light and shadow suitable with background.
First make two layers with Clipping Mask and Multipy mode 100%. Take soft brush with color #dfd1c8 painting on the skin of left side of model:
A new layer which is set to Multipy 80%. I use brush with color #000205 painting on left glove and sword carried on model body:
Two layers which are set to Multipy 100% and 50%. I use brush with color #b5adac painting on shoulder parts:
Now we will darken the left side of her corset. Make a new layer, set t foregorund to #8f817e and take brush painting on this part. Put it as Multipy 100%.
New layer with purpose to brighten the right side of the corset. I choose brush with color #c0bab9 and paint on this part then change the mode to Soft light 100%:
In this step i use some adjustment layers ( with Clipping Mask) to change color of model:
We will do a step to add glowing light for model like we did with another elements in previous steps but with a different technique. A part of model body is hidden from light by the big grave so only a part of torso catch the light. Make a new layer with Clipping Mask, and active selection of model, set feather = 1:
Choose Edit-Stroke with color #f6fbfd:
Apply Gassian blur with 0.5 px:
Use layer mask to hide or blur light on unwanted parts. Because model position is a bit awry from the light center to the right so her left side must have more glowing effect than the right one. The reason i clear effect on left hair is i will add more hair and glowing effect to it later.
Create a new layer on the top, set foreground color to #d2cab5 ( similar color to model hair – you can use Eyedropper Tool to click on this part). Use hair brush, number 818 painting on left side of model hair. Use layer mask to clear the part shown in image below:
Duplicate this hair twice to make it look thicker and move them up or down until you get desired look. Here is my result:
Choose these hair layers and hit Cmd/Ctrl+G to make group for them. Right click this group, choose Duplicate Group. Hide one of them and choose Merge Group for another. Rename it as “hair”. To add more light for this hair ( which catch light from background) i use Inner Shadow effect again.
Now we will create main color for picture. Create some adjustment layers on the top:
Levels: Choose Options then click to set target color for highlights. Choose a blue tone ( i choose #1aa4ec):
Click No if you’re asked to set this color as default.
Use black brush to keep the lips red:
Create a new layer on the top, choose Radiant Gradient with black and white ( default color):
Set this layer to Soft light 100%. Add layer mask to remove contrast on some parts of model :
In this step we will make the light on the top more visible. Create a new layer, use brush with color #c2effd to paint on the top center ( choose large size, about 470 – 500 px), then lower opacity to 60%:
Continue with a new layer, use white brush to spot on center of this light. Change opacity to 30%:
I want to add more misty effect for picture so i create a new layer, set foreground and background to #75a7cb and #357a99. Choose Filter-Render-Clouds:
Change the mode to Soft light 100%. Use layer mask to erase effect on unwanted parts:
New layer with same purpose but for the part in front of big grave and model. Set foreground and background to #041328 and #053990. Apply Clouds Filter and change opacity to 10%:
Make a new layer, i use soft brush and color #035873. Paint along two sides of picture. Because we want to darken these parts, so i set mode to Multipy 100%:
New layer again, i use brush and color #486c9c paint on big grave and background around it . Set the mode to Color 80% because i want to add more cyan tone for these parts to fit color of model.
After blending and coloring, i see the sword in model hand is too dark. To make it brighter, i use a new layer, choose soft white brush painting on it ( you can active model selection again and just paint within it). Set the mode to Soft light 100%:
To darken legs and left arm more, i use a new layer, take brush and color #09588a to painting on these areas. Mode is set to Multipy 50%:
I want to add more dramatic effect for picture, so i use bat brushes ( black color) and paint some on the top of picture and lower opaccity of brush ( 30-40%) to get the look that they are flying from afar:
Make a new Photo Filter layer to add more cyan tone for whole picture:
Final step : Create a new layer on the top, set to Overlay and fill with 50% gray:
Use Dodge tool with Midtone range and Exposure about 50-60% to brighten some parts of model face, shoulder, neck, arm, sword and Burn tool to darken the right side of lips.
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.
I'm a self-taught designer from Vietnam who enjoys writing and doing most kinds of graphic design, especially photo manipulation. I've always tried to improve my skill and felt happy to share it through my website where you can find lots of my writings as well as photoshop tutorials.
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