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This photo manipulation tutorial will show you how to create this realistic fantasy image by combining several photos together and finishing it with water lilies and fairy dust. You will learn how to compose an image using multiple photos, simulate depth of field, and warp a persons ear to an elf ear.

Preview of Final Results


Magical Forest Photo Photoshop Tutorial

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Photoshop CS2
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Estimated Completion Time: 1 to 1.5 hours


Step 1 – Create the Photoshop document

To start, we will need to create a new image file, go to the Menu bar and click File > New, and then input the following values on their respective fields:

  • Width: 3000 pixels
  • Height: 3000 pixels
  • Resolution: 300 dpi
  • Color Mode: RGB Color; 8bit
  • Background Contents: Transparent


Step 2 – Create the forest background

On this step, we will be creating our background. We will start by opening the stock image: Enchanted_forest 15 and transferring it to our 3000×3000 canvas by dragging it using the Move tool (V). To use the Move tool, simply press V on the keyboard and left-click on the image and then drag that image to the canvas. The image below shows the stock image after it has been dragged to the canvas.


Now that it is in place, we will transform it. To transform we will need the Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd + T). To use the Transform tool, simply put your cursor on the squares and then drag it to the direction of your choice. In this tutorial, we will follow the direction stated on the images below.


Next, we will be applying a Blur filter to the background to give it a small DOF (Depth of field) to emphasize our subject later on. To activate the Blur filter, go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. Once the box opens, let us apply the following settings:

  1. Check More Accurate
  2. Iris
  3. Shape: Octagon (8)
  4. Radius: 41
  5. Blade Curvature: 0
  6. Rotation: 0

Once you’re done, the result should be similar to the image below:


Now we will be increasing the contrast of the white areas and dark areas of our image and for us to achieve a good output, we will need a Gradient Map filter. To activate that, just click on the Create New Fill Layer/Adjustment Layer button located on the Layer window which is just on the lower left side of the screen. See image below:


Click on that button and when the contextual menu appears, select Gradient Map.


After clicking on Gradient Map, a box would appear, and then just click on the drop-down button to show the available Gradients. Pick the Black and White gradient as shown below: