Anyone with moderate Photoshop skill can make basic improvements to a portrait image. Tasks like color correction, “red eye” removal, and lighting adjustments are often so easy that Photoshop does it for you with just a few commands and clicks of the mouse. But, adding some more significant enhancements to a portrait is a little bit harder. Let’s go beyond the basics with some serious portrait enhancements.
Today, I’ll show you how to create a nature-inspired portrait in Photoshop. Along the way, we’ll employ shadowing and highlighting techniques, as well as the burn and dodge tools to make the portrait nature themed, highly stylized, and embellished with nature ornaments.
Before we start, let’s have a look at our final result.
Open the model’s image in Photoshop. As you see, there is some text over the grass above the right shoulder of model; so we need to cover it up. Select the grass from the left side of image using the rectangular marquee tool and copy and paste this section on a new layer. Position it just above the text; you can erase its borders using soft round eraser tool. Merge the model and grass layers together once you are done by pressing Ctrl + “E”.
Now, to add lighting to the image, duplicate the image by going to “Layer” > “Duplicate layer” and then go to “Filter” > “Render” > “Lighting effects.” Apply the following settings for lighting effects. Change the blending mode of this duplicated layer to “Soft light” and reduce its opacity to 50%.
Create a new layer and set #000000 as your foreground color. Now select the soft round brush tool, reduce its opacity to 30%, and apply it at the borders on this new layer.
Now, reduce the opacity of the brush tool by an additional 20% and apply it over the model’s body, leaving the right side of face and hair above it.
Create a new layer, go to “Edit” > “Fill.” Fill it with 50% gray and change the blending mode of this layer to “Overlay”; this will make the image below it visible. Now select the burn tool with “Shadow” range and 25% exposure, and apply it on this layer over the darker areas of eyes. Once you are done, select the dodge tool with “Highlights” Range and 25% exposure, and apply it to brighten the areas over the eyes as shown below.
Use the burn and dodge tools over the rest of the features and hair of the model for shadowing and highlighting. The image below shows how I used these tools on the image.
Click on the icon to “Create new fill or adjustment layer,” which is present at the bottom of the layers panel. Then, select the “Color Balance” adjustment layer. Use the values given here:
Now we’ll add some floral elements to the canvas. Open the “Leaves and Butterflies” brushes in Photoshop. Set #e3bd00 as your foreground color and apply different brushes on separate new layers so you can edit them easily. You can arrange them using the free transform tool (Ctrl + “T”). Soften the starting ends of branches using the soft round eraser tool with 30% opacity.
Erase the overlapping tree brushes. You can use these brushes in your own creative way.
Now we’ll darken some areas over these branches to give shadowing effect. Merge all the layers on which you’ve applied the leaves brushes and click on the icon to “Add layer mask,” which is present at the bottom of the layers panel. Then select the soft round brush with 30% opacity and apply it at different areas over the branches using color #000000.
Open the pink lotus image in Photoshop. You can select it using any selection tool you like. I’ll be using the quick selection tool here. Copy and paste it into your Photoshop document.
Decrease the pink lotus size using the free transform tool (Ctrl + “T”). Now, to adjust its color, press Ctrl + <click on the lotus layer> to select it, and then create a hue/saturation adjustment layer. Use the values provided here:
Double-click on the lotus layer to open the layer styling window. Use the following settings to apply a drop shadow. After that, duplicate the flower a few times and arrange them at different angles.
Open the “lithops” image from our resources, select it, and copy and paste it into your Photoshop document. Apply the same drop shadow settings as shown in step 11. Arrange these flowers as below.
Select the hard round brush and press F5 to open the brush panel. Use the following settings.
Now, apply the brush on a new layer to achieve a bokeh effect.
Change the blending mode of bokeh layer to “Overlay.”
Next, to enhance the contrast at certain areas, create a new layer, select the soft round brush with 20% opacity and apply it as shown below using a black color.
Change the blending mode of this layer to “Overlay.”
Open the star brushes in Photoshop. Set #ce2497 as your foreground color, select the “Nebula” brush and apply it on a new layer randomly, leaving the face of model untouched.
Change its blending mode to “Color Dodge.” You can duplicate this layer if you want an intense effect.
Press Ctrl + <click on nebula layer> to select it, and create a hue/saturation adjustment layer. Use the given values to give it bluish shade, as shown below.
Open the butterfly image, select the butterfly, and copy and paste it in your Photoshop document. Duplicate it 1-2 times and arrange them as you like over the branches. You can change their color using a hue/saturation adjustment layer.
Create a “Curves” adjustment layer and use the following settings.
Collect all the layers in a group and merge it. Then go to “Filter” > “Sharpen > “Unsharp mask.” Use the following values to sharpen the image.
That’s all guys, hope you learned something useful. Let me know what you think!