How to Use Light and Shadow to Create a Dramatic Photo Effect with Photoshop

How to Use Light and Shadow to Create a Dramatic Photo Effect with Photoshop
With the Forward Warp Tool (W) activated move the tale up. Then press OK.
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On the following picture you can compare how the tale looks before and after using Liquidfy filter.
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Step 11 - Adjusting Raven

To fit to the picture properly raven should be less saturated and darker. You'll fix it in this step. Add new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation on the top of all layers and set the value Saturation on -40.
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To adjust only raven and not the rest of the image don't forget to create clipping mask from it. To make it darker add new adjustment layer Levels and set the Input Levels on 0; 0,66; 255.
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Create clipping mask from this adjustment layer too.

Step 12 - Raven's Shadow

When you're doing photo manipulations it's important to keep in mind that you need to add shadow between subject and place where it stands (in this case between raven and path). Otherwise it will look like object is flying above the surface and not actually stands on it. So in this step you'll surprisingly add this thin shadow. It's very quick and easy but it has big impact on how realistic your work will look. Add new layer under the layer RAVEN and name it e.g. RAVEN'S SHADOW. Grab the Brush Tool (B). Hold Alt on your keyboard to activate Eyedropper Tool (I) and select some dark brown color from your picture. Another useful thing to keep in mind is that in nature you can see very few examples of pure white or pure black, most likely they're e.g. dark brown or dark green instead of black and light yellow or light blue instead of white. Pure white and pure black are too harsh and tend to not to look much realistic in your pictures so I recommend to try to avoid them and use colors I named above instead. After you've picked some dark shade look at how shadow between woman and path looks like and try to paint similar under the raven.
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With raven your picture should be similar to the following one.
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Step 13 - Darkening the Background

In previous 12 steps you've added all main elements to the scene. Now it's time on second part of this tutorial - light adjustment. Right now the picture is flat and kind of boring. In this and following steps you're going to add more contrasted light, darken some part of the image and lighten others. In this particular step you're going to make the path darker to increase contrast between it and the woman in foreground. Let's do it! Add new adjustment layer Levels and set the Input Levels on 0; 0,47, 255.
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You want to adjust only path and not the whole picture. Because of that grab the Paint Bucket Tool (G) and pick black color. Click on the thumbnail of layer mask of this adjustment layer and fill it with black. Adjustments disappears and you can let it appear only in that areas you actually want.
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Grab the Brush Tool (B), select some soft round brush and set Master Diameter on about 300 pixels. Lower the Opacity of the brush on 20% and pick white color. Paint over the areas you want to make darker. On the following picture you can get inspiration where to paint. I highlighted the areas with red so you can see it better.
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As you can see I painted not only on the path but also around the woman and edges. I recommend you to do the same because a) painting around the edges creates nice vignette which adds more depth to the picture, and b) darkening area around woman makes her more pops up.

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9 comments on “How to Use Light and Shadow to Create a Dramatic Photo Effect with Photoshop”

  1. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I've read many tutorials about all of the tools you mentioned in this article, but I was never able to really grasp or truly understand the concept behind the tool. You have explained them in a way that really make sense to me!! And that is very much appreciated!

  2. Woow! I am very very impressed about your tutorial. With all your stuffs, i have no doubt am gonna be a pro in photoshop!

  3. What a fantastic tutorial, covering so many aspects of photoshop. I'm now even more excited to learn the program. . Thank you! thank you! thank you!

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