Photoshop tutorials for professionals and beginners
Realistic Photoshop manipulation tutorial

Human Scarecrow – Manipulation Tutorial

Hi welcome to yet another digital art tutorial on PSD Box. In this tutorial I will show you how I made this dark manipulation. The original idea of this artwork is by Taborda from DA. I changed it slightly so that it’s not exactly as the original artwork. For this tutorial you must know: how to use the Pen Tool to extract subjects from the background, how to use adjustment layers and how work with blend modes. It’s a medium difficulty tutorial. Enjoy.

The reason why I decided to make this tutorial is to show you how I used the techniques explained on my Manipulation Secrets series, particularly how to choose stock images and to show you practical examples of lighting and shading.

Resources needed

Download PSD and stock

Final result preview

Step 1

Create a new blank document 1500×1350 pixels.

Now, open the Corn Field stock image. You have to remove the sky and only let the corn and the ground. This might be a bit tricky for some users because the Pen Tool (P) it’s not very useful here. I used the channels technique explained on this tutorial. After cropping the sky, move the image down and hide part of the ground.

The reason why I removed the sky is because I added a barn behind the corn field and I didn’t need the sky. If you can’t get rid of the sky, just go to step 2 without doing anything here.

Step 2

Now, open the sky stock and put in on a new layer below the corn field layer. If masking the sky on step 1 was too difficult for you, blend it with the one I provided you using a smooth brush.

Step 3

Here is where part 2 of my Manipulation Secrets series comes into play. I want the overal color of this artwork to me a dark blue. So, right away I start creating that effect using a Color balance adjustment layer. I increased Cyan and Blue values (see image below).

Step 4

Add the barn picture between the corn field and sky layers. Use a layer mask to hide unwanted parts. I scaled the barn stock down to 60%.

Step 5

Now open the human scarecrow image in Photoshop and crop it using the Pen Tool (P). Once that’s done, scale it down if necessary to fit your canvas and flip it horizontally from Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal or with Ctrl+T, that’s important (and here comes handy the 3rd part of the manipulation series) because we will add a light to the left of the man so the left part of the man is illuminated.

Step 6

I added a piece of wood underneath the man so that it looks like it’s hanging rather than standing on the ground. Use the wooden pole I gave you at the beginning of the tutorial. I used a Gradient Map and Levels adjustment layers to increase it’s contrast and make it darker. I also blended it with the ground using a layer mask and a soft brush.

Notice that the bright side of the pole is facing the left side because there we will place our main light source.

Step 7

Now we will cast the shadow of the man using a technique shown on the 3rd part of the Manipulation Secrets series.

Open the layer styles and apply a drop down shadow using the settings shown in the image below.

After that, right click on the effect layer on the palette and choose Create Layer. That will create a new layer containing the drop shadow.

After creating the shadow, use the Transform tool (Ctrl+T) and right click to select the Distort option and position the shadow on the ground like in the image below.

Step 8

Open the wooden light pole and use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a path around it and extract it from it’s background.

Paste it on your canvas on a new layer like you see on the image below. Scale it if necessary and then create a layer mask. Use the layer mask to blend the light pole with the corn field using a soft brush.

Step 9

Now you have to create the light for the pole. Create a new layer above the pole layer and get a soft brush and paint with the color #575c5e. Change the blend mode to Linear Dodge (Add).

Create a black square and go to Filter>Render>Lens Flare. Select the 50-300 mm type and use 100%.

After that, change the blend mode to Screen. If the flare is too yellow, desaturate it. This technique is also explained on part 3 of the manipulation secrets series: (

Step 10

Now you can make some general color adjustments. Create a new Adjustment Layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map) and use a black to white gradient.

Set the Opacity to 25% and Blend Mode to Normal.

Create a second adjustment layer but this time use a black to blue gradient (0f161d -> 699eed), change the blend mode to Overlay and set Opacity to 20%.

Step 11

I didn’t like the aspect of the man so I made some color adjustments only to that layer. I used adjustment layers once again but this time I used them as Clipping Mask layers because I only wanted the adjustments to affect the man layer and none of the other layers. You convert a normal layer into a clipping mask layer by sinmply right-clicking the layer on the palette and selecting Create Clipping Mask.

The adjustments I made to the man are listed below.

Saturation and Levels

Color balance

Now the color of the man blends a lot better with the background.

I hope you enjoied the tutorial. You can add more details if you like, it’s up to you. I created a slight vignette effect and I also used the Dodge/Burn technique to enhance some details. You can learn how to do that on my other manipulation tutorials.

Final result

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