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Artists often work with a team of individuals to complete a project. This team could include a client, a creative director, an art director, a photographer, a retoucher, and a graphic designer. In this two-part tutorial, I teamed up with photographer Natalie Fobes to create a magical photo illustration that depicts a child interacting with toys that have come to life. In the process, we will show you how to not only shoot the photos that you need, but also, how to retouch them and combine them with stock photos to create artwork that closely resembles a sketch. Let's get started!
The Photo Shoot
To learn how the photography for this tutorial was shot, go to Natalie's tutorial in the Tuts+ photography section.
Speed Art Video
If you would like to see a slowed down version of the above video, we have included it here to help you along. This video is 45 minutes long and shows the real-time video sped up 350%. Unfortunately, there is no audio for this video.
Note: This tutorial makes heavy use of Adjustment Layers and Clipping Masks. If you are unfamiliar with how Clipping Masks and Adjustment Layers work, take a look at the video below, or see Martin Perhiniak's tutorials on Clipping Masks and Adjustment Layers.
You will need the following stock assets to complete this tutorial. Please download them before you begin or find alternatives if you do not wish to pay for them. We have also included the photos that Natalie shot in the first part of this tutorial as a free download.
- Free Image Pack
- Bear #1
- Bear #2
- Bear #3
- Light Effect
- Fairy's Arm
- Fairy's Wings
Planning the Illustration
Before I began building this tutorial, I worked closely with other Tuts+ instructors to develop a concept for the final image. We came up with the idea of a scene where a child is interacting with toys that have come to life. Below are a couple of the sketches that I put together.
After some discussion, we decided that the mood of the first sketch was a better fit, so I sent that sketch off to Natalie (the photographer) so she could shoot some photos with a similar look and feel. More information about that process can be found in the photography section of this tutorial.
1. Prepare the Room
Open the photo of the empty room. This will be the base for the entire image. As you can see, the room in the photograph is slightly different to the room in the sketch. We weren't able to build a set or scout out a location to the exact specifications of the sketch, so we had to improvise just a bit.
Using the Clone Stamp Tool (S), remove some of the objects that do not belong, like the flash and reflector.
Now, using a Quick Mask (Q), darken the areas of shadow with a Curves adjustment.
To accentuate the light from the window, make a merged copy (Command/Ctrl-Shift-Alt-E) and set the Blend Mode to Screen and 35% Opacity. Then, apply a mask following the direction of the light.
2. Insert the Girl Into the Scene
Open the photograph of the girl, to insert her into the scene. With the Pen Tool (P), create a selection around the girl and feather about 0.5 pixels.
Now to make the hair mask, go to the Channels and duplicate the red one, then with a Levels Adjustment (Command/Ctrl-L), increase the contrast until it is black and white. At this stage the only thing that matters is the edge of the hair.
After that, with Command/Ctrl pressed, click on the channel you just created to make the selection, and on the mask of the girl that you made earlier, paint with white colour to show the edges of the hair.
Using Puppet Warp, adjust the forearm of the girl to make it look like she is pointing where she is looking.
After that, reinforce the light and shadow of the girl with a Curves adjustment layer. For the light, set the Curves to match the image below and mask the areas according to the light.
For the shadows, set a Curves adjustment layer using a Clipping Mask, match the curves to the image below and mask the areas opposite to the light.
3. Insert the Toys
Open the toy images (from the assets provided above) and use the Pen Tool (P) to cut around them. For a soft selection, add a Feather of around 0.5 or 1.0.
Place the cut-out toys into the final image. Start with the panda in the background, on the dresser. Mask and position it as shown. Decrease the light a little bit with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set the Lightness to -20.
For the shadows, use another Hue/Saturation adjustment, masking the parts opposite to the light.
For the light, use a Curves adjustment similar to the example shown below.
Mask the parts that need light.
For the shadow on the wall you can use the same selection of the bear, move it to the side, and darken the color of the wall with a Curves adjustment.
For the bear on the bed, decrease the light with a Hue/Saturation layer, and set the Lightness to -35.
After that use a Curves adjustment to create a shadow as shown below.
To create the light, set a Curves layer as shown below.
Following the direction of the light.
To make the shadow where the bear makes contact with the bed, you will extract the original image and set the Blend Mode to Multiply.
For the folds of the bed, cut a piece of the sheet from the other image of the girl, and position it underneath the bear then mask some parts.
To make the largest shadow, use the selection of the bear upside down with a curve darkening from top to bottom.
For the bear standing on the boxes in the background, decrease the light with a Hue/Saturation layer, with the Lightness set to -20.
Create the light with a Curves layer and follow the direction of the light from the window.
To create the shadow, use another Curves adjustment.
Mask the shadow areas.
Now you will make a very soft shadow projected on the wall. For this, use the same selection of the bear by clicking above the clipping mask with Command/Ctrl pressed. After that, use the Feather Tool (Shift-F6) set to around 50.0 and create a solid colour
#74584f with this selection set to 30% Opacity and Blend Mode Multiply.
Move the shadow down and to the right as shown below, and paint in the mask so that the shadow does not cover the box.
Now open the image of the two bears and position them on the ground.
With Hue/Saturation, decrease the Lightness to -45. Then use Curves to create the shadows
With another Curves layer, again make the light.
To make the shadows, you will use the shadow from the photo. For that, make a copy of the bears.
Then press Command/Ctrl-Shift-U to Desaturate it and set the Blend Mode to Multiply.
Open the drawing toy and flip it (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal), then rotate like the image below.
With the Pen Tool (P), mask the toy to insert it in the dresser and with Hue/Saturation set the Lightness to -30 to adjust the illumination.
Now use a Curves adjustment to create the shadows.
With a new Curves layer set like the next image, create the highlights.
With the dinosaur image opened, rotate and position it to match the image below.
After you mask the dinosaur, decrease the light using a Hue/Saturation adjustment with a Lightness of -10 and a Curves adjustment to create the shadows.
Then use another Curves adjustment to create the highlights.
To create the shadows on the ground, make a black solid colour layer with the Blend Mode set to Multiply. Give that layer an Opacity of 75%. Then, with a soft brush, paint on the mask in a diagonal direction under the dinosaur's foot.
Open the rubber duck image and position it on the ground between the bed and the dinosaur, and using Hue/Saturation decrease the Lightness to -20.
Now use a Curves adjustment to create the highlights.
Then add another Curves adjustment layer to create the shadows.
To make the shadow on the ground, use the same technique you used in the hugging bears image. Make a copy of the original rubber duck image and mask the shadow area.
Then set the Blend Mode to Multiply, and mask the above area to correct the perspective.
To insert the rabbit into the scene, rotate and position it as shown below.
Use a Hue/Saturation layer to adjust the Lightness to -25.
For the shadows, use Curves to create darker areas.
Use a new Curves layer set as shown in the next image to make the highlights.
Open the worm image and position it on the girl's leg.
After you mask and position it, you have to decrease the light a little bit with Hue/Saturation. Set the Lightness to -30.
For the highlights, set the Curves adjustment as per the image below and mask the areas according to where the light would hit.
To make the shadows you will use a Curves adjustment.
To make a contact shadow where the worm is resting on the girl's leg, you will cut the original image and set the Blend Mode to Multiply.
To make the biggest shadows you will create a solid black colour and set Blend Mode to Multiply and Opacity to 30%. With a soft brush, paint in the mask following the leg's curve.
Open the airplane image, flip horizontally and position it close to the window.
Because this toy is near the window, it will be desaturated and brighter, so use Hue/Saturation set to Lightness +15 and Saturation to -35.
To bring back the contrast, create a new Black & White adjustment layer and set the Blend Mode to soft light.
Now increase the light with Curves.
Then, add some highlights with Curves again masking some points.
Now you will start to create the motion blur to give it a sense of movement. Duplicate the entire treatment of the plane and merge using Command/Ctrl-E, after that use Motion Blur and set the Angle to 15 and the Distance to 500. Move this layer a little bit to the right and mask to only show the trail.
In the final step, you will add motion blur to the propeller. First, make a copy of the plane and cut out only the propeller.
Then align horizontally.
After that make a square selection with the propeller centralised and use a Radial Blur set to
30, and mark the options spin and good.
Duplicate the layer and rotate it vertically until they are perpendicular.
Using the Distort Tool (Edit > Transform > Distort), put the propeller in the proper perspective.
To finish the plane, use a soft brush to erase the propeller in the mask of the plane.
Position the rocket close to the window.
Because the toy is close to the window it will be brighter, so use Hue/Saturation and set the Lightness to +30.
To add more light, use a Curves adjustment and mask according to the light.
To make the Motion Blur, duplicate the rocket and set the Motion Blur to -50 and 500 pixels.
Mask the motion blur so that it appears only on the rocket's trail.
Now, to make the rocket's fire, open the fireworks image and position it behind the rocket.
Set the Blend Mode to screen and mask only the fireworks.
After that, you will highlight colours. Create a Hue/Saturation layer, select Colorize to turn it red and set the Saturation to +100 and link the adjustment layer to the fireworks layer using a Clipping Mask.
Now, to enhance the yellow colour, use the same process. Create a new Hue/Saturation Layer set to the Colorize option, and set Hue to 40 and Saturation to 100. After that, paint in the mask to colorise only the beginning of the flame.
To increase the contrast and brightness, duplicate all the fireworks layers and merge them (Command/Ctrl-E), then change the Blend Mode to Overlay and mask some parts.
4. Create the Fairy
For the fairy, open the flying girl image, position it and flip horizontally.
Mask the girl with the same technique used on the girl on the bed, leaving out the background arm.
For the other arm, open the ballerina image and cut out just the raised arm.
Then, decrease the size of the arm and position it like the image below.
Now it's time to get the light looking right. Darken both the arm and the girl a little bit with a Hue/Saturation layer, with the Lightness set to -15.
Use a Hue/Saturation layer to change the colour of the girl's dress. Set the layer to the Colorize option and then set the Saturation to 30 and mask only the dress.
With a Curves adjustment, add more contrast on the girl's leg.
Now, use a Gradient Map on the girl's arm to equalise the skin colour with the rest of the body and use the same Curves adjustment that was used before on the leg.
To create the wings, use the fairy image.
Try to make an organic and fluid form.
Duplicate the wing image, set the Blending Mode to Color Burn and distort the image to make a smoother movement, then mask some parts.
Duplicate the layers that you just created, set the Opacity to 65% and rotate to make the tip of the wing, then once again, mask some parts to better integrate it.
Make a copy of these two layers but change the Blend Mode to lighten, and mask some parts to show only some highlights.
Next, open the light effects image, and Warp it to create the light trail.
To make the light trail blend in to the image, use a Hue/Saturation adjustment to change it from blue to pink, and set the Blend Mode to Screen. Then mask it to make a gradual trail.
Duplicate this new layer and use another part of the image to make another light trail below the one, and change the Blend Mode to Overlay and Opacity to 65%.
For the final touches, add some glitter. Open the flare image and cut all the flares into their own separate layers.
Then, duplicate and scale these to different sizes to create a small constellation. Set the Blend Mode to screen, so the flares look like the image below.
After that, spread them at different points around the fairy.
Now add two big flares between the girl and the fairy.
To finish, use Hue/Saturation to add a pink tone on the big flares. Mark the Colorise option and set the Saturation to 100 and the Lightness to -5. Don't forget to link to the adjustment layer with a Clipping Mask.
5. Environment and Mood
For the final process, you will create the mood for the entire environment, including colours, contrast, brightness, and everything related to the final look and feel.
Begin by desaturating the image with a Hue/Saturation adjustment, with the Saturation set to -40.
To add more contrast to the image, create a new Black & White adjustment layer and set the Blend Mode to Soft Light and an Opacity of 60%, then create a new Brightness/Contrast adjustment, setting the Brightness to 5 and the Contrast to 10.
At this point the image should be looking like this:
Now we'll add some colour to the image. Create a Gradient Map layer as per the next image.
Use the color codes shown below and set the Blend Mode to Soft Light and the Opacity to 60%.
This adjustment will create a warm tone for the entire image.
Now, add some cool tones to the shadows. Create a Color Balance adjustment.
Then mask this layer, selecting only the shadows. You can go in to Channels, hold down Command/Ctrl and click on the blue channel to make a selection. Set the blur to around 10, at the mask should look something like the image below.
Then, use the same mask and create a Photo Filter layer.
After that, to finish the tutorial, add more Vibrance and Saturation.
You can see the difference that the above adjustments make, by comparing the images below.
In this tutorial, I showed you how to create a photo manipulation using a combination of custom and stock photographs. You have now learned how to apply realistic shadows to objects using adjustment layers and masks, as well as how to add motion blur and light effects. I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and can use these techniques to create something magical of your own.