In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a fantasy piece featuring a sea woman portrait. First, we’ll add the model and do some retouch on her. Later, we’ll add the fins, create a headpiece and add some fantasy make-up. After that, we’ll import the jellyfish, adjust the color, light and contrast. We’ll refine the model’s face, paint the dots and bubbles to complete the final effect.

Preview of the Final Result

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new 2700×1664 px document in Photoshop and fill it with white. Open the model image (feel free to use your own) and drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V)

Step 2

Make a new layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Hit S to activate the Clone Tool (S) and use this tool to remove the earrings. 

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and set it as Clipping Mask. Bring the Saturation values down to -57:

Step 4

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) and change the Midtones settings:
Make another Color Balance adjustment layer and alter the Midtones values. On this layer mask, activate the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round one with black color. Use this brush to erase around the model’s face, a part on the nose and the corners of the canvas.

Step 5

Create a new layer, change mode to Overlay 100% and fill with 50% gray. Select the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 15-20% to refine the light and shadow on the model. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.

Step 6

Make a Curves adjustment layer and reduce the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to reduce the dark effect on the middle of the model’s face and around the cheeks and ears.

Step 7

Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #36424b, the opacity about 50% to paint shadow of the face on the neck.

Step 8

Open the fish 1 image and use the Lasso Tool (L)  to select the body of the fish to add to the model’s face. Use the Free Transform Tool  (Ctrl+T) with the Warp mode to rotate and tweak it to fit the right cheek of the model (from the viewer).
Change this layer mode to Overlay 100% and add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black with varied opacities to remove the hard edges and reduce the visibility on the cheek.

Step 9

Use the Lasso Tool to select different parts from the original fish image to fill in the face and neck and change these layers’ mode to Overlay 100%. Use Ctrl+T with the Warp mode to resize and tweak them into different forms. Add a mask to each of these layers to erase the hard edges and blend these parts with the existing skin.

Step 10

Select all the fish 1 layers and press Ctrl+G to make a group for them. Change the group’s mode to Overlay 100% and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the fish parts.

Step 11

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer to give the fish’s fin some cyan/blue. 
Make a Levels adjustment layer to increase the visibility of the fins on the face. On this layer mask, paint on the shadow of the cheeks to keep its contrast. 
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