Copy and paste the model (ash 33 by faestock). I usually erase the background quite loosely so that I can see better where to fit her (optional step).
Cut out the model with the Pen Tool, using the settings shown. Sometimes you need to click and drag, and sometimes you have to do lots of little dots that are very close to each other.
This is an example of the „little dots” technique.
Sometimes I don’t cut out unimportant and blurry parts.
Cut the hair like this. Loose strands are not imporant right now.
Unite the last two dots to finish the path.
This is what it looks like before it’s about to be cut out. Right-click and make a selection, then set the Feather to 0,5px. Hit Ctrl + Shift + I to invert the selection and then Delete to get a clear background.
Hair can be a bit tricky. Use the Smudge tool, strength 80-90% and create loose hair strands by moving outwards and inwards in the hair area. You will probably need a graphics tablet for this, although some people can paint similar results with a mouse (I never had a tablet until September 2011). Smudge, smudge, smudge.
Enchance Reds in Replace colour (Image > Adjustments > Replace Color) by clicking on the hair area once and moving the saturation bar to right. I tend to keep my Fuzziness around 100 or so to get a nice, clean saturation. This is also the final hair result.
Using a hard round eraser on low opacity, softly blend in the edges of the model.
Draw an circle around the model’s upper body with the elliptical marquee tool (the elliptical marquee appears if you click and hold on the usual marquee in the toolbar) and select inverse. Right-click and set Feather to 150. Slightly darken it in Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Do some additional darkening with the Burn Tool if needed.
Basically, you can call the photomanipulation complete, but I’d like to add some more details. Paste the raven near the model to create a nice composition. Then set the layer mode to Darken – it will blend it pretty well.
Use a hard round eraser on maximum opacity to remove the branches. Also desaturate the raven (Shift + Ctrl + U) to get rid of ugly green undertones. As you can see, half of its tail is gone, so use the Smudge tool on high strength to retrieve it. Smudge the wings as well. Sometimes a little Blur can do wonders!
Create a new layer underneath the raven, take the brush tool and set both the opacity and flow between 40-60% and paint some more feathers to add volume to the crow. It’s not easy to explain, but I have included a separate screenshot of the shape I painted. This can be also done with a mouse, as long as you keep erasing and smudging the ends.
Colours… I usually flatten everything together and then I use a slightly modified version of Julia Trotti’s „modern things” curve on a new layer and set the layer’s opacity to 75%. To get a colder version, merge everything down again and duplicate the background layer, set it to Soft Light 45% opacity, then go to Gradient Maps and using something like my gradient „ohne dich” create some new colours. (I cannot share just one gradient, the whole lot comes with it, so save this image to your computer, open it in Photoshop and use the Color Picker tool to “take” the colours from these boxes)