Photo Manipulation

How to Create a Flaming Manipulation in Photoshop

Learn how to create this photo manipulation of a flying man similar to Iron Man. This Photoshop tutorial will show you how to apply cinematic lighting effects and manipulate fire to create this composite.


Preview of Final Results


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How to Create a Flaming Manipulation Photoshop Tutorial


Step 1 – Select your image

Load the image you want to manipulate (File > Open).

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Step 2 – Accentuate the shadows

Select the Burn Tool and use the following settings.

  • Range: Midtones
  • Exposure: 15%

Burn the areas in the image that have shadows – such as the areas under the eyebrows, the chin, the nose, and the back of the neck. Adjust the brush size to fit the size of the shadow you are burning.

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Step 3 – Accentuate the highlights

Select the Dodge tool and dodge the areas exposed to light – such as the forehead and the cheeks. The more detailed your burning and dodging, the better the image will look.

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Step 4 – Create a path

Select the pen tool and select “Paths.”

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Zoom in to your subject so that you may create an outline with more detail.

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Once you have completed the path around your subject, select it (Right click + Select ‘Make Selection). Copy the image (Ctrl+C).

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Step 5 – Create a new layer

Create a new layer and paste the image onto the new layer (Ctrl+V). Duplicate the image, just in case. Discard your original image.

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Step 6 – Open your background image

Load the image for your background. Select the image and drag it into the same window as your subject.

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Step 7 – Open your effects image

Load the image for the effects. In this tutorial, we will use flames. Drag the flames into the same window as your subject.

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Step 8 – Match the colours

To match the colour of the background to your subject, adjust the Hue and Saturation (Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation) to the following settings.

  • Hue: 0
  • Saturation: -20
  • Lightness: 0

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Step 9 – Warping the image

Warp (Edit > Free Transform > Warp) the shape so that the flames look like they are coming from the subject’s hands.

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Step 10 – Touch up the flames

Select the layer with the flames and make sure it is placed above the layer with the subject.

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Use the Eraser Tool to erase the areas surrounding the flames. This way, only the flames will show and it also reveals the subject’s arms as you erase.

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Step 11 – Add a Mask Layer

Click “Add Layer Mask” at the bottom of the Layers Palette. Select the brush tool and set the foreground colour to black.

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Make sure you select the mask layer to work on.

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Step 12 – Revealing the arms

Again, making sure the flame layers are above the subject layer, select the flame masks.

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Use the Eraser tool to erase some of the flames away to expose the arms. See the image below for an idea.

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Step 13 – Adding light glow from the flames

Create a new layer on top of your subject layer. Set the foreground colour to lemon yellow or any colour that matches the flames.

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Make sure the new layer is selected and select the Brush Tool. Use the Brush Tool to paint around the fire and parts of the body where the glow from the fire will rest.

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Erase where necessary and change your layer settings to the following.

  • Mode: Color
  • Opacity: 55%

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Step 14 – Adding warm glow from the flames

Create another new layer between the subject and the background and name it “Warm Filter.” Fill it with an orange colour.

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Change your layer settings to the following.

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