How to Create a Samurai Photo Manipulation with Photoshop

How to Create a Samurai Photo Manipulation with Photoshop
In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a fiery scene featuring a samurai woman using a variety of photo manipulation techniques.  You'll learn how to combine different stock images together using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. You'll also learn how to work with light, add fire, enhance mood and color and more.

Preview of the Final Result

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new 1500x2100 px document in Photoshop and fill it with white. Open the sky image and drag it into the white canvas using the Move Tool (V).  Place it in the upper half.

Step 2

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and decrease the lightness to darken the sky to fit the nighttime. 

Step 3

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer  and change the Midtones settings to give it some blue. 

Step 4

Cut out the temple and place it in the top right corner of the canvas. 

Step 5

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the radius to 8 px. This step is to separate the temple on the background from the main subjects in the foreground and help to increase the depth of the scene.

Step 6

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer above the temple one and set as Clipping Mask. Alter the Midtones values to make the temple's color fit the background.

Step 7

Isolate the model using your own method and place her in the middle of the foreground (feel free to use your own image). 

Step 8

Create a Curves adjustment layer above the model one (set as Clipping Mask) and bring the lightness down. On this layer mask, activate the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round one with black color. Use this brush to erase the left of the model (from the viewer) to reveal the lightness there as we aim to add the main light source to the left.

Step 9

Make another Curves adjustment layer  and increase the lightness. On the layer mask, paint on the hidden/shadow areas so they won't be affected by this adjustment layer. 

Step 10

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the model. Bring the Saturation values down to -61:

Step 11

Create a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #0185ec

Step 12

Create 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 15-25% 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 13

Make a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the colors #011532 and #009ef9.  On the layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the model so most of her won't be affected by blue. 
Create another Gradient Map adjustment layer and pick the colors #e10019 and #00601b. Lower the opacity of this layer to 20%.

Step 14

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings. 

Step 15

Make a Gradient Fill layer and pick the colors #0a00b2, #ff0000 and #fffc00. Lower the opacity of this layer to 10%. On this layer mask, paint on left edge part around the model's sleeves to reveal the blue there.

Step 16

Create a Levels adjustment layer to change the contrast of the top left and bottom right. On the layer mask, paint on the rest to keep the dreamy atmosphere there. 

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