How to Create Dramatic Sci-Fi Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

How to Create Dramatic Sci-Fi Photo Manipulation in Photoshop
Here you can see the progress after last two steps.
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Step 17 - Adjusting Highlights

All main elements are already placed in the manipulation. Now it's time to focus on creating more dramatic lighting because right now the image is flat and not so much interesting. Let's focus on creating highlights first. Add new adjustment layer Levels on the top of all layers and set the Input Levels on 0; 2,83; 255.
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You want to make only some parts of the image that light. Grab the Paint Bucket Tool (G), pick black color and fill the layer mask with it. The whole adjustment disappears. Now you can let it appear only on parts you want. To do that grab the Brush Tool (B), select some soft round brush and set the Opacity on about 10%. Pick white color and paint over the areas which should be lighter. On the picture below you can get the inspiration where to paint. These areas are highlighted with red.
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As you may notice the highlighted areas are around the flames, in the clouds where light from the fire may shine and on the tops of the trees - basically everywhere where light from fire could hit.

Step 18 - Adjusting Shadows

Let's move on shadows. By adjusting them you'll be able to add more volume to clouds and create vignette to create more depth. Add new adjustment layer Levels on the top of all layers and set the Input Levels on 0; 0,19; 255.
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You want to adjust only some parts of the image again. Because of that you need to fill the layer mask of this adjustment layer with black. Grab the Paint Bucket Tool (G), pick black color and fill it. Grab the Brush Tool (B), use the same setting as in the previous step and start painting shadows. Below you can see where you should paint.
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On the following picture you can compare how the picture looks before and after last two steps.
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Step 19 - Light of Fire

There should be some orange light in the picture around flames. You'll add it in this step. On the following photo you can see how the buildings look before this step.
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Not much realistic isn't it? To make it more real you'll add two types of light - one very soft and diffused and one sharper. Add new layer on the top of all layers and name it FIRE LIGHT. Grab the Brush Tool (B), select some soft round brush and set the Opacity on about 20%. Hold Alt on your keyboard to activate the Eyedropper Tool (I) and pick some nice orange color from flames. Paint gentle diffused light around the flames (see the photo below for example). After you're done make Master Diameter of the brush smaller (2 - 4 pixels) and higher its Opacity on about 50%. Paint thin orange lines on the edges of buildings. Below you can see exactly what I mean.
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Paint the same way around all flames you put in the image. Below you can see few more examples to give you the idea of what to do.
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Step 20 - Increasing Contrast of Background

According to me background would deserve bit more contrast. To increase it add new adjustment layer Levels and set the Input Levels on 23; 0,93; 235.
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You don't want to adjust the woman. To avoid that make selection of woman - press Ctrl and click on the Layer thumbnail of WOMAN.

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5 comments on “How to Create Dramatic Sci-Fi Photo Manipulation in Photoshop”

  1. Amazing photo manipulation tutorial in Photoshop. Local adjustment, global adjustment, fire and light effects are raeally art work.

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