Learn how to composite this nighttime artwork and retouch skin with a smooth painting-like effect! This tutorial will show you how to composite this image with various stock photos, soften skin, and apply special lighting and color effects.

Preview of Final Results

Emotional Photo Manipulation Tutorial

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Step 1 – Background

Open the Background image.
step-001
Open the Sky image and put it in a new layer above the Background layer. Transform it (CTRL+T) to fit the background and flip vertical. Set this layer to Soft Light. Add a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer and set the Brightness to -45.
step-002

Step 2 – Lady

Open the Lady image and make a selection of the subject. (I did it with Quick selection tool).
step-003
CTRL+J to extract her on a new layer. Delete the original image. As you can see the edges are not perfect. But don’t worry, in the next step we’ll fix it!
step-004a
Let’s take the Smudge Tool to fix the borders. In this case, I used these settings: Strength 40% and Brush 55px (Soft round). Just pass the smudge over the borders to stretch them and remove the imperfections. Then delete the unwanted parts you don’t want. Here’s what we have so far. (It doesn’t have to be perfect for the moment, especially hair).
step-004b
Now put the lady in a new layer above everything. (CTRL+T) Scale her and flip her horizontally (because it fits better the light source). Move her to the left part of the background. This is what we have.
step-004c
We need now to cut the right part of the background. So.. let’s crop!
step-004d

Step 3 – Skin

I will show you how I smudge the skin. If you are not familiar with the smudge tool it could be difficult, but still, you can try to achieve a good result and to practice this technique. Anyway if you don’t like smudged skin you can leave it alone and proceed with the next steps. As you can see below the difficulty is to smudge the hair on her face.
step-004e
The first thing to do is making a copy of the layer containing the lady so that if something goes wrong you can return to the original one. From now you will work on this layer. Select the Smudge tool. Settings vary all the time. They depend on how much the image is big and on how much you want a smudged soft skin. In this case, I used a soft round brush 28px with strength between 15% and 20%. With this brush start to smudge the skin as if you are doing little circles (see image below). TIPS: The bigger is the area to smudge (example the cheeks or the forehead) the bigger will be the brush you’ll have to use. If you have to smudge difficult areas (for example the hair on the face) just use more strength. Anyway test it every time, because it’s not always the same.
step-005
This is so far what I have after the smudging action. We have to fix the mouth and the eyes because there is some hair. (Indeed I am used to use the smudge tool also on the mouth and the eyes anyway because it gives more a painted effect).
step-006
To smudge the mouth just do it following the direction of details otherwise it would be messed up. Below I show you how. (it’s probable you have to give more strength to the brush).

11 thoughts on “Create a Emotional Midnight Photo Manipulation with Painting-Like Effects”

  1. I agree with alicia, in the last part of the tutorial, many
    passages was not specified in which layer we have to apply the layers/effects. Another thing I notice is that, even if
    I downloads the lady photo from the same link,
    my image have a bad resolution compared to the photo of the lady of the tutorial.. is very strange, I wish I could work with the same picture’s quality of this tutorial…
    someone have notice this too?
    But thanks for this tutorial, I really enjoy it !

  2. agree with alicia

    I agree with alicia, in the last part of the tutorial, many
    passages was not specified in which layer we have to apply the layers/effects. Another thing I notice is that, even if
    I downloads the lady photo from the same link,
    my image have a bad resolution compared to the photo of the lady of the tutorial.. is very strange, I wish I could work with the same picture’s quality of this tutorial…
    someone have notice this too?
    But thanks for this tutorial, I really enjoy it !

  3. The only problem I have with this is when you went to step 12 Dodge and Burn , You didnt state if that layer is behind the lady or on the lady or what

  4. way, way cool. I do gratus work for friends who cant afford the high cost of student photography. I always look for something that sets the bar higher for the underprivledged families I help. I want them to get a unique photo set others would pay highly for. This tut will go far for some of the folks Im helping. Thank you, and Lord bless you.

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