I decided to add a gradient to the sky to darken the upper part of the image. For this I used an adjustment layer “Gradient Fill” with the preset “Foreground to Transparent” but change gradient to #0a131d > #838383, Style: Linear. Change Blending Mode to this layer on “Multiply”, Opacity: 70%, Fill: 30%.
Here we come to the second part of our photomontage. In this part, we will work with the model. First, add the image of a model in a working document and resize it (Ctrl/Cmd+ T or Edit > Free Transform) like shown in image below. Another piece of advice – periodically flip image horizontally so you can properly assess your composition and see it from a new angle (Image > Image Rotation > Flip Horizontal).
Much better! Now increase the sharpness and remove noise. In this image you can clearly observe the color noise, and it must be removed first. Go to tab “Sharpness” in this window and set the following settings “Noise Reduction” – Luminance: 35, Luminance Detail: 35, Luminance Contrast: 0, Color: 22, Color Detail: 50, Color Smoothness: 50. Now add a little sharpness. Set for “Sharpening” – Amount: 5, Radius: 1.0, Detail: 25. Apply changes by clicking OK.
Use Pen Tool (P) to create a path around model and then make selection from it by clicking on “Make Selection” button on tool properties panel. Set Feather Radius to 0 and click OK. I advise you to use Pen Tool (P) because when used carefully, you get a good selection without losing detail. Other tools can spoil the image in the illuminated areas.
Use Refine Edge (Select > Refine Edge…) to remove background from hairs. Just use brush in this window and draw on hairs. Set check box on Smart Radius, set Radius: 1.0px, Shift Edge: -5% and click OK. Now you can add a layer mask to remove the background. Click on “Add a layer mask” icon or go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection.
To align the lighting model and the background I used an adjustment layer “Gradient Map” (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map… or use icon on Layer panel) with the gradient from step 6 that you already familiar. Just in case, I repeat #030303 > #131818 > #2e597b > #4d90b4 > #94cef1 > #f2ffff > #ffffff. This will cause on the model desired shade. And do not forget clip this layer and change Blending Mode to “Overlay”, Opacity to 70%, Fill to 60%.
And now to soften the bright areas on the model and lead saturation to desired condition, add another one clipped adjustment layer “Gradient Map” with the gradient #030303 > # 0c0b0b > #413f3e > #77736a > #bebbb4 > #eae8e4 > #ffffff. We need to affect on highlights so set Blending Mode to “Multiply” and reduce Opacity to 70%, Fill to 65%.
Some areas require manual adjustments. I created a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shit + N) with Blending Mode “Multiply” and medium (150 – 250px) soft round brush (Opacity: 20%, Color: Black from model), brushed light areas and add shadows to the model to make it realistic in this environment. Make from this layer a Clipping Mask (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G or hold Opt/Alt and click between layers).
As I wrote earlier, you need to add small details and weather conditions to the picture. My choice was the rain. This weather event very well accentuate the drama and tension of the situation. But I’ll start with a drop on a model’s clothes. You do not need other resources to create a realistic drop. Just create a brush and add style to the layer. First, set the brush. In Brush Presets panel choose Hard Round brush and go to brush settings (Brush panel – F5). Set Size: 8px, Spacing: 150%. Go to Shape Dynamics and there set Size Jitter: 100%, Angle Jitter: 35%, Roundness Jitter: 45%. In next tab “Scattering” set Scatter: 1000%, Cont 1 and save you’re brush by clicking on “Create new brush” icon.