I Want You Back – Manipulation Tutorial

I Want You Back – Manipulation Tutorial

Learn how to take control over the light and mood of a manipulation and how to create a night environment in Photoshop using adjustment layers and lighting techniques.

Stock used

Download details

  • Video version (1366 × 728 mp4 format)
  • Step by step text version (HTML version)
  • Original PSD file
  • Stock images

Final Result

Video version

Step by step version

Step 1

Create a blank document 2200×1500 pixels. Paste the city background over it and adjust the size. Do the same with the ground stock image. I used the quick selection tool to extract the ground.

Step 2

Start making adjustments to the city background. I used a Gradient Map on Hard light at 37% Opacity and a Color Balance adjustment layer.

For the Color Balance I used the following settings:

  • Highlights: Red +48, Green +8, Blue +17
  • Midtones: Red +2, Green +12, Blue -22
  • Shadows: Red +17, Green +12, Blue -10

Step 3

Make adjustments to the ground layer as well. Here I used Curves to make it darker and also a Gradient Map on Multiply at 50% Opacity both set as clipping mask.

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Step 4

I used another Gradient Map to affect both layers (so not a clipping mask) and create the final color tone. I used the Softlight blend mode at 100% Opacity with the color shown on image 4. I also added a lens flare from my pack on Screen mode and changed its Hue and blurred it a bit.

Step 5

You can add the woman as shown in the image below. I used Color Balance and Levels to make all the adjustments. The settings used for the Color Balance adjustment are:

  • Highlights: Red -1, Green -2, Blue -5
  • Midtones: Red -12, Green +31, Blue +9
  • Shadows: Red +1, Green +8, Blue +13

Step 6

Open the woman’s layer style window and add a Black to White Gradient Overlay at 168º on Multiply. (see video for more info). Also add Inner Shadow at an angle of 135º Color Dodge, Color #817C48, Distance 2 and Size 10.

Step 7

Use the Dodge/Burn tool to enhance the image. I used this tool non-destructively on a separate layer filled with 50% Gray on Overlay.

Step 8

Add more adjustment layers to create the final color and contrast effects. I used Color Balance and a Gradient Map set on Softlight at 20% Opacity.

Color Balance settings:

  • Highlights: Red +12, Green +12, Blue -17
  • Midtones: Red -10, Green -10, Blue +2
  • Shadows: Red -9, Green +9, Blue -1

I hope I gave you some ideas for your own manipulations. You can get a different color effect just bu changing the colors on the gradient maps. You can also create depth of field using Gaussian Blur on the background but more details watch the video walk through.


  1. Ana Perez says:

    wow you are really great. Thanks a lot for this tutorial I am seriously learning how to use photoshop because of you. I hope to someday be as great as you. Thank You and please keep making more tutorials, don’t stop.

  2. Thanks for the great tutorial. I was just wondering, what light pack did get the lens flare from that you used in the tutorial, and how much did it cost?
    was it knoll light factory by any chance?

  3. Ioan R.D. Muresan says:

    Ceau !

    Romaniii au talent, si tu esti unu din ei. Te felicit pentru munca pe care o depui in acest Website facant aceste minunate lucrari artistice cu PS.

    Admir si imi place foarte mult lucrarile tale, le urmez de putina vreme si imi plac enorm. Invat si eu din ele facandule.

    Prefer tutorialele video, caci in scris apar multe intrebari si e mai greu de inteles procedura. Dar e ok.

    Continua asa.

    • Charbel says:

      You’re surtenly the best Photoshoper i know! I’m so greatful for you’re great tutorials, keep up the amazing job!

      Your friendly
      Charbel Hanna

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