In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a colorful woman portrait using abstract elements and variety of photo manipulation techniques. First we’ll create a dark background and import the model. After that, we’ll add the flowers, paint some light effect and make a colorful hair with light streaks. We’ll use several adjustment layers to complete the final effect.

Preview of Final Result

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new 2000×2000 px document in Photoshop and fill it with white (feel free to make your own dimension and name the file whatever you want). Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Color Fill and  pick the color #00050f or any similar dark colors you like. 

Step 2

Make another color fill layer and change the color to a purple one (I’ve chosen #561d82).  On this layer mask, activate the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round one with black color. Use this brush with a lowered opacity (about 20-30%) to paint on the middle section to reveal some lightness there, leave the dark shadow visible on the both sides.

Step 3

Create a Curves adjustment layer and increase the lightness. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to paint on the middle area so it won’t be affected by this adjustment layer. 

Step 4

Open the model image. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) or any method you’re familiar with to isolate the model from the background . Drag the model into our main canvas using the Move Tool (V) and place her in the middle section. Use the Free Transform Tool (Ctrl+T) to resize the model to be smaller like the screenshot below:
Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add the mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to paint on the neck and top of the head to soften these parts and make them fade into the background. 

Step 5

Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask.  Bring the Saturation values down to -68 to desaturate the model’s color.

Step 6

Add a Curves adjustment layer to reduce the lightness. On the layer mask, paint on the front of the model to reveal the light there.

Step 7

Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #f5e9ee to paint on the lips to make them lighter a bit. Change this layer mode to Soft Light 100%.

Step 8

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

Step 9

Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #f5e9ee, the opacity about 20% to paint on the eyes to reduce their contrast. 

Step 10

Use the same brush on a new layer to paint on the model’s cheek. Alter this layer mode to Multiply 100% to make it a bit darker. 

Step 11

Open the lips image. Use the Lasso Tool to select the lips area and use Ctrl+T to scale it down to fit the existing one. Add a mask to this layer and use a soft black brush to remove the hard edges and blend it with the face.

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