Hi there, welcome to yet another Photoshop tut. This is going to be a pretty easy one but if you do it right you can end up with a spectacular result. In this tutorial I’ll show you how to simulate a big man standing in the middle of a city. You only need 2 stock images and imagination. Everything is possible in Photoshop.
This is what I’ll be doing in this tutorial:
As I said you only need two images for this tutorial. I used premium stock images but if you can’t buy them I’ll give you some alternatives you can work with.
These images should do, just try to figure out how you can combine them. If needed, make a rough cut and make quick combinations to see if they fit.
Also keep in mind that depending on the images you are using, you might have to make different color and contrast adjustments than the ones you see on this tutorial.
The first thing I did was to see if my images fit so I first made a rough cut of the man using the Pen Tool and then I put it over the city. I reduced a bit the opacity and I resized the man just to see how it looks. Getting the size right is crucial because if you make your model too big or too small the effect is not that cool.
Once I new what size I will use I noted it down, I went back to the man photo and made an accurate cut. As the man is laying down on the grass, there are grass straws over his hands so I couldn’t cut along the edges of his hands. To solve this problem, I cutted a wider area around the edges so that I have more room when I get to the blending and cloning stage.
Once the man was in place, I selected the buildings in the foreground and copied them on a new layer. Then, I placed the man layer below the copied buildings. I could have created a layer mask instead of placing the buildings on a separate layer but I decided that I will use the layer mask to help me with the blending only and not have to worry about the buildings anymore.
At this point I was ready to start blending the man with the new background. Basically what it needs to be done is to remove the grass from the hands and blend the area around the hands and the head. If you have clean edges and you don’t need to clean up, go to Step 4.
In order to remove the grass from the hands and the head I used the Clone Tool and the Patch Tool. Removing the grass from the head is very easy because of the chaotic hair pattern. Just use a bigger clone brush.
Cleaning up the arms is a bit tricky because they also have gradient shadows as they are closer to the ground. Use the Patch Tool on areas that are lighter and also Clone bit by bit every grass straw. If you don’t get a seamless blend after using the Clone Tool, use the Patch Tool to cover that area using a clean and similar skin area. This operation can get a bit frustrating if you don’t have practice with the Clone and Patch tools so take your time and save a duplicate of your man in case you screw up.
Now it’s time to start making some adjustments to the model. In my case I had to increase the yellows to match the surrounding buildings and the color of the light. On the stock photo that I used as background, the light source is on the top left so I added some shadows on the man’s right side of the body and on the lower part of his arms.
I also increased a bit the mid tones and highlights to match the luminosity of the background layer. All these adjustments are very important because they will give more realism to the scene. If you don’t match your model to the background, you will not get that effect that he’s really sitting in the middle of the city.
Probably the most important thing here are shadows. Without shadows this scene is completely unrealistic.
Since the light source is coming from the top left side, I casted the shadows on the right side of the man. I created some shadows on his body as well using a soft brush and Soft Light Blend Mode but the most important are the ground shadows.
When you’re dealing with shadows you have to think in 3D and keep in mind where your main light source is. Also look for other shadows that are already in the scene because they can help you establish the direction and opacity of the shadows that you create.
In this case a good clue comes from the trees because you can see that the left sides of the crowns of all of them are highlighted and the right sides are in shadow. That tells me that I should cast my shadows on the man’s right side.
I used multiple layers to create the shadows and then I put them all in a group. The first thing I did was some Overlay shadows using a soft medium brush and low opacity, about 20-30%.
The ground shadows are maybe the most difficult to recreate. I used a soft brush with low opacity and I painted some shadows where I thought they should be. I also tried to mimic the shape of the body in order to get a more realistic look.
Lastly, I casted some shadows over the buildings as well. I used a low opacity soft brush and I painted only the side of the buildings that are facing the man. After painting them I duplicated the layer and changed the Blend Mode to Overlay.
That’s basically it. All that’s left to do now is some general adjustments.
I always like to do that on a separate document which I call post-editing. That way, I preserve the original. So select the entire canvas with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+A and go to Edit>Copy Merged. Create a new document, paste your copied image and duplicate it just in case.
On the post editing stage I added some filters to make the scene more epic, if you will. So make sure you have a copy of your manipulated image and convert it into a Smart Object. To do that right-click the layer on the palette and choose Convert to Smart Object. The reason why I converted this into a smart object is because I applied a Lighting Filter which cannot be undone unless you apply if on smart objects.
Now go to Filters>Render>Lighting Effects and use the settings shown in the image below. Once you apply the filter notice that a smart filter has been created on the layer. That allows you to change the settings of the Lighting filter any time you want as long as you keep the layer as a smart object.
The overall color of the scene is given by a gradient map. So create a new gradient map layer from Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map or from the layer’s palette icon. Use the gradient shown in the screenshot below, Set Blend Mode to Hard Light and reduce the Opacity to 18%. I also adjusted the colors a bit using a Color Balance adjustment layer and I increased the Saturation to 10.
If you want to reduce the size apply some sharpening after you scale the image down.