This is a before and after of a photo manipulation piece that I did. As you can hopefully tell from the picture above, on the left is the beginning picture directly out of the camera and on the right is what I turned it into with the help of Photoshop. I wanted to to give the picture a darker feel, so I kind of created a demonic possession vibe for the final picture.
The first thing I did was load the beginning image into Photoshop in order to start the manipulation. Next, I duplicated the original image because it is very important that you never work on the original file. When creating this piece, I used a combination of destructive and non-destructive editing. After duplicating the original photograph to a new layer, I went on to the newly created layer and created a layer mask. A layer mask is used to key out specific parts of a photograph and show the underlying layer or layers. Then what I did was, I used the magnetic lasso tool to select my model. The magnetic lasso tool clings on to specific color normalities and selects only them, but it only works well if there is a good contrast between what you are selecting and the colors around it. In my case, the magnetic lasso tool was the perfect option because my model stood out from the green grass surrounding her very nicely. So what I basically did was I created a selection of my model.
Now that I have my selection, I clicked “command”+”shift”+”i”, this is basically a shortcut to invert the selection that I just made. So, now instead of having the model selected, the environment around her is selected. I then went into the refine edge tool at the top and smoothed out my edges a bit and added a slight feather to my edges. It’s extremely important to feather your edges because no matter what, regardless of how in-focus your shot is, there is always going to be a small blur around each field in your photograph. I then grabbed my fill tool and filled my selection on the layer mask black. Filling this black essentially hides my selection. Then, I added a new layer underneath my layer with the mask and made it black. That is how I got rid of the grass around my model. The last thing I did in this part was merge the layer with the mask and my black underlying layer. So now I have the original photograph on one layer and the new photograph with the black background on another. I like to keep the original as a layer of its own so I can often refer back to it an make sure thing are not looking too fake.
Next, I created a duplicate of the layer with the black background and proceeded to edit it using the liquify tool. I did this because I wanted to make my model seem as if she was even more bent back than she actually was and to make her dress quite a bit longer. So, as you can see I pushed the pixels on her back up along with the ones on her chest. Then I flattened her stomach and elongated her neck. I this this because I wanted her boobs a little bit bigger and also it helps with the illusion of her being bent back more than she actually was. I did this on a duplicate layer because using the liquify tool is a good example of destructive editing, because you are actually going in and changing the pixels in the picture itself. I also like to keep the version of what it was before I use the liquify tool, so I can toggle between both and make sure that the proportions remain somewhat believable still. Basically, I kept going in and out of the liquify tool until everything was exactly how I wanted it.
Now, that that was done, I noticed that my model was too well lit to be in the environment that I put her in. To fix this I created a level adjustment layer. The level adjustment layer is used to manipulate the luminosity in a photograph. If you don’t know what that is still, it basically means that it changes the lights and darks in the picture. Before actually manipulating any lighting, I opened up the histogram to view the light levels in the picture to see where things were spiking. This does a live update as you are changing the light values in the level adjustment layer so you can see what you are doing. I like using the histogram because it showed me that the hi-lights were to light for the black background and the shadows were also too light for the black background. So knowing this, I lowered the hi-lights and darkened the shadows until the the histogram evened out.
Following this, I started to pay attention to finer details. The first thing I did was add the smoke to the top. To do this I created a custom brush and loaded it into my presents and named it smoke. I will not be explaining how I did this because the requires a whole new write-up itself, but below is the tutorial that I learned from.
After I created my smoke I used another levels adjustment layer and the histogram to match the smokes luminosity to the luminosity of the rest of the photograph. Then, I literally when in with a 100% soft edge brush with black and painted it on and around my model and smoke where I thought that it needed it. The next thing I did was I blacked out my models teeth and eyes. It is important when blacking out the eyes to preserve the hi-lights. This helps maintain depth and reality and also preserves the wet look that they should have. The last thing I did was I went into the camera raw filter and sharpened the image, messed around with some slight color differences, got rid of noise, and finally added a grain.
Hope you enjoyed! 😀