Inspired by the trailer of Ghost Rider I tried to make something similar but not quite the same. In this tutorial you will learn how to work with fire stock images, how to create a dark background and how to make certain light effects. Enjoy
- Background: http://somadjinn.deviantart.com/art/Cabot-Trail-XIX-131414627
- Biker: http://vishstudio.deviantart.com/art/boy-on-the-bike-182100576
- Sky: http://grannysatticstock.deviantart.com/art/More-Dark-Clouds-121045843
- Skull: http://rgstock777.deviantart.com/art/Human-Skull-2-27846023
- Flames: http://dadilights.deviantart.com/art/235-163488020
- Sparks: http://smileumbrella.deviantart.com/art/Let-the-sparks-fly-168481114
- Fire trails: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=916442
- Original video (1280 × 720 mp4)
- Step by step version in PDF
- Original PSD file
- Stock images used
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For this tutorial I used a 2000×1250 pixels canvas. Although the original PSD file is 3200×2000 I think that a smaller resolution is better for the tutorial and you can still create a true HD wallpaper if you want to.
So, create a new document with the mentioned dimensions and use the road image as background. Increase it’s size so that it covers the entire canvas.
We will add all the stock images at once so that we have the structure and then we will make all the adjustments and add all the effects.
So, open the image of the boy with the motorbike, extract it from the background and paste it on a new layer on your canvas as shown on image 2. I scaled it down to about 27% of its original size.
Open the stock image of the skulls and copy the one shown on the image below over the head of the man riding the bike. I reduced the size of the skull to about 18% and I rotated it slightly to the right. Use the chin of the man and the chin bone of the skull to align.
Create a layer mask for the man on the motorbike and hide the parts of the head that are visible behind the skull. I also used a clipping mask layer and the clone tool to hide the chin of the man.
The structure of the artwork is now ready. Let’s make the background a bit darker. I used adjustment layers as always. I desaturated the background and then I used two Gradient Map adjustment layers to increase the contrast and create a creepier look. I put these adjustment layers above the background layer below the motorbike and the skull. I will adjust those layers separately.
This is a biker from hell so we need a better sky. So open the provided sky stock image and paste it over your canvas (resize as needed). Then create a layer mask for it and use a soft brush to mask the bottom edge.
Use a Black to Transparent Radial Gradient on a new layer with Softlight blend mode in order to make the background even darker. The size of the gradient you draw will determine how dark the image will be. I reduced the Opacity to 60% because it was too dark for my liking, so if you need, reduce the opacity of the layer. See image 5b.
Create the shadows of the motorbike. I duplicated the motorbike layer, reduced lightness to zero with Hue/Saturation and used the Distort Tool to cast the shadow. I reduced the Opacity of the casted shadow to 60% and I applied 5px Gaussian Blur to soften it.
The soft shadows are made with a soft brush at low opacity. For more info about these shading techniques see this tutorial or watch the video walkthrough of this tutorial.
I changed the color of the bike to black using Hue/Saturation as clipping mask. I achieved that simply by reducing the Lightness of the Red Channel to zero on the Hue/Saturation adjustment. That also affect the skin of the man slightly which is OK because it was too saturated anyways. I also removed the Honda logo using the clone tool on another layer. You can put your own logo or name on the bike if you want 🙂
Reduce the saturation of the motorbike using a blue Gradient Map as clipping mask. I used the Hue blend mode at 20% Opacity. See image 7b.
Now let’s move on and make some adjustments to the skull. Again I used adjustment layers as clipping masks. I used Color Balance to increase a bit the contrast see image 8 for more details.
I wanted a more uniform an unsaturated color for the skull so the second adjustment I made was with Hue/Saturation. I also wanted to increase the highlights so I used Levels to make it a bit brighter. See image 8b.
Ok, the structure and the adjustments are done, now we can move on and add the light effects. Start by adding a few flames over the skull and the man’s back. Use the fire stock images provided and the Screen blend mode.
Open the 916442_89017641 fire stock image and paste it over your canvas below the motorbike layer but above the shadows. Use the Screen blend mode and scale and adjust the size as needed. The goal is to create a sort of a fire trail that this motorbike from hell leaves behind. If the glow is too strong or the background doesn’t go away completely, use Levels and increase the shadows.
The front wheel of the bike is a very important focus point in the artwork. In order to make it stand out a bit more, create a glow light effect on a new layer using a big soft brush. I used the color #93650C and the Color Dodge blend mode. I painted this light effect on the lower part of the motorbike and the wheels, especially the front one. Don’t make the light too strong though.
You can create a sense of motion and certainly something a lot more interesting by adding a few sparks coming out of the motorbike. You can create that using another fire stock image. I used the image Let_the_sparks_fly__by_SmileUmbrella and I copied the flying sparks on my artwork and adjusted them to the motorbike. Again, use the Screen blend mode and also use layer masks to mask the hard edges with a soft brush.
The last light effect that I created is some rim lights. In photography this kind of lighting is used to separate the subject from the background. In our artwork we will use it to add an artistic effect and make the image look better and also make it more realistic.
We have the motorbike on a separate later which will make things very easy because instead of painting the light by hand with a small brush around the edges, we can use layer styles. A cool little lighting trick I that I love.
So open the layer styles for the motorbike layer. The styles that I used are Inner Shadow and Inner Glow. Both help create that light on the edges. I used these styles on the skull layer as well. See image below for more details.
At this point you can start making general adjustments to this but I always dodge & burn before I do that. The change is pretty significant, it adds that surreal and high contrast look that I just love. You can find more info about my dodging and burning technique along with examples and a video demonstration here: Dodge & Burning – Manipulation Secrets.
Let’s move on with the general adjustments. I use adjustment layers whenever possible. For this one I used a Gradient Map with Lighten Blend mode and Opacity 25% and the Photo Filter adjustment layer with Normal blend mode. Actually, these kind of adjustments are really up to your own taste because it depends on the kind of look you want for the final image. I’m just showing you what I did but you can add more adjustments and create the effects that you like. I went for an apocalyptic look.
Next I created a stamp with the keyboard shortcut Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E (Shift+Command+Option+E for MAC) and I used the Variations adjustment from Image>Adjustments>Variations to add More Cyan. Then I reduced the Opacity of this new layer to 30% and I set the blend mode to Color.
On the last step I used the Lighting Effects filter from Filter>Render>Lighting Effects. This is a filter that I almost always use to create the global illumination or when I want to create a selective vignetting effect. In this case I wanted both. I focused the light on the biker and also darkened the right side of the image, which is less interesting, using a narrower focus setting. So I created another stamp and I applied the filter on that new layer which I named Final Stamp.
So if you want to draw attention over a specific area or if you want to create vignetting this is a cool filter that you can use. See image below for more details.
So that’s all for now folks. I hope you like the outcome and that it was not too difficult. I tried to be as detailed as I could. Feel free to share your results on our Flickr group. If you want to show your gratitude, simply share this article or leave a comment.