Welcome to a new manipulation tutorial. I will try to make this easy to follow for beginners. I will show you how to combine a few free stock images and create a beautiful warm summer scene. If you followed the Manipulation Secrets series it will be a lot easier for you to follow this tutorial. Enjoy.
Final result preview
Stock & resources used
Start by opening the grass field stock image and reduce its width to 1000px (enable Constrain Proportion when resizing).
Open the sky stock image and use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the sky only, cut it and paste it on a new layer above the grass field. Create a layer mask for the sky layer and use a soft brush to blend the bottom edge with the grass field.
Now that your have the main background structure, it’s time to make some adjustments in order to get that warm summer feeling to it. We will first start with the field and then we will go with the sky.
The best way of achieving the look we want is by using a Gradient Map adjustment layer. So, add a new gradient map adjustment layer between the sky and the field layers. Set the blend mode to Overlay. Use the colors shown in the image below.
I wanted to create more sun light on the far side of the field. I used Gradient Fill adjustment layer this time with a light yellow color and Vivid Light blend mode and 38% Opacity.
Now let’s move on to the sky. Although it looks spectacular as it is, I wanted to warm it up just a bit more. Again I used a Gradient Map but with different color settings this time and I used the layer as Clipping Mask so that the adjustment layer would only affect the sky.
Open the woman stock image and use the Pen Tool (P) to subtract her from the original background and paste it on your scene above all the layers on the palette. Right away, create layer mask, we will use it on the next step.
Now you have to blend to woman with the grass around her and make her look like she’s really standing in the middle of that field.
For that, the best thing to use is a grass brush. I used the one that I indicated in the resources section at the beginning of tutorial. Just paint with the grass brush over the woman’s feet on the layer mask (make sure that Color Dynamics is deactivated on the brush settings (F5) ).
Just like we did with the sky and the field, we must now make some adjustments to the woman so that she fits in the scene. Adjust the contrast with the Levels Adjustment layer and then correct the color using the Photo Filter Adjustment layer, both as clipping mask so that you only affect the woman.
Before adding any other form of life to the scene, let’s work on the light a bit. If you followed the Manipulation Secrets series, when I talked about light, I said that you should have a main light or key light and that all elements should be placed according to the main light. You must also cast all shadows according to that light.
We have no natural sun in this scene but let’s assume it’s on the left of the scene. I created a glow of light to simulate that. I used a big soft brush and light yellow color (#FAD396). The blend mode used is Overlay. Then, I duplicated the layer and I changed the blend mode to Screen for more light. You must do this behind the woman. See image below.
Now that we have a sun in the scene, it casts some lights on the woman and other objects on the scene. Create a rim light on the woman’s body using Inner Shadow and Color Dodge blend mode. I explained this technique on the Manipulation Secrets series Part 3 B) Surface lights. You should add this light on the most important elements on the scene which we will add on Step 13.
Paint a faint shadow of the woman with the brush or if your not good at painting, duplicate her layer and make it pure black and add somg Gaussian Blur and reduce the opacity. This will add more depth to the scene.
You can make this scene look warmer still by adding some sun rays. Just select a hard brush with a diameter of about 30px and draw some lines from where you created the fake sun and then use the Motion Blur filter. I used a light yellow color and the blend mode I found worked best for this particular scene was Overlay.
Open the tree stock image and place it on the right side of the scene as shown in the image below. You can use the same light trick I shown on step 9 to illuminate the tree leaves.
Add the dog, butterflies and birds to the scene. When you add the dog, flip it horizontally so that the highlights on its body face the sunlight that you created on Step 8. In order to blend his feet with the grass use the same technique as with the woman on Step 6.
Regarding the butterflies and birds, download multiple ones so that you have some variation.
As a last step, select the top most layer on your palette and press CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E to create merged stamp of all the layers, set it’s blend mode to Screen and reduce the Opacity to 20% and you’re done.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. As always, feel free to post your comments and share, it helps a lot. You can post your results on my Flickr group page or on our Facebook wall.