Create a Fantasy Manipulation With Light Effects in Photoshop
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In this fantasy manipulation tutorial I will show you how to create a nice floating woman in a forest. We will turn the forest from day to night effect in Photoshop and we will mask the sky using Calculations. We will create realistic depth of field using a Depth Map and we’ll paint realistic hair and light effects. Welcome to a new fantasy photoshop effect tutorial.

Topics covered

  • Turn day into night in Photoshop
  • Depth maps (for realistic depth of field)
  • Easy hair painting using custom brush
  • Create a hair brush
  • Create realistic light glows
  • Light effects painting with the brush tool
  • Working with particles and creating your own

Stock used

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  • Original video
  • PSD file
  • Stock photos
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Fantasy and Light Effects – Photoshop Video tutorial

Image Manipulation Tutorial quick steps

Step 1 – Background masking

Open the forest stock image and go to Channels. Duplicate the blue channel and use the Calculations (Image>Calculations) technique to select the sky. Use the Brush Tool (B) to paint bigger areas, the Overlay blend mode on the brush settings will help you paint over areas without worrying about the edges.
Add the new sky and the moon images on their own layers and blend them using a soft brush and layer masks.

Photoshop manipulation tutorial - Fantasy Background change

Step 2 – Setting up the background light effects

Use Dark to Transparent radial Gradient Fill layers to create darkness on the edges and also use a low opacity brush to paint the far end of the background. Gradually build up the effect but don’t paint or darken the middle area between the trees.

Manipulation Tutorial - Light Effects - manipulate the background and change lighting

Step 3 – Background adjustments

When the background is ready use adjustment layers (Gradient Maps, Curves, Color Lookup…) to desaturate the colors a bit and give your image a softer look.

Before and after using adjustment layers and changing light effects

 Step 4 – Depth map

Use the Quick Mask to paint the background and make a selection as shown below. Use a soft brush to make a soft transition on the middle of the image. Save the selection. Merge the background layers keeping a copy as a backup and go to Filter>Blur>Lens Blur on the Depth Map section click the Source and select the saved selection. Check the Invert option if needed and use the amount of blur radius that you like. This will create a realistic blur and depth of field.

Background masking to create depth of field

Step 5 – Lamp and light effects

There is no fantasy photoshop effect without some great light effects. Add the lamp on the right side of the canvas and on a new layer with Screen blend mode made the glow of light using a big soft brush and paint with progressively brighter tones of orange while you make the brush smaller.
Create a new layer and change its blend mode to Color Dodge. Use a low opacity soft brush to paint some lights on the ground and on the tree near the lamp. You should achieve similar light effects to the ones shown on the image bellow.

Create light effects using the brush tool and blend modes

Step 6 – Add the woman

Crop the woman from the background and put her on the canvas above the light. Use clipped Levels and Midtones adjustment layers to darken the woman’s tones and adjust the colors to fit the background.

Add the woman layer and create shadow effects

Step 7 – Paint hair

Create a new document 60×60 (bigger if you use a big canvas size or smaller if you use a small canvas size) and paint 3 o 4 random points with a 1px hard brush. Define the painted dots as a Custom Brush from the Edit menu. Now create a new document below the woman and paint hairs. Make sure that you first open the brush settings window pressing F5 or from Window>Brush and set Spacing to 1% and on the Shape Dynamics section enable Brush Projection.
Now you can paint hair. Use the sample tool to sample real hair from he woman layer.

Using the custom brush to mask hair. Watch video for more details

Add some light effects to the woman and to the general artwork and you’re done. Watch the video for more detailed instructions.
Thanks for supporting this manipulation tutorial. If you like it I will create more of this fairy photoshop tutorials. Share if you liked it.