Learn how to create a dark, emotional misty forest scene in Photoshop. In this tutorial I’ll show you how you can convert an ordinary forest into a misty one using a range of photo manipulation techniques. You’ll learn how you can use adjustment layers to make a realistic and believable misty scene. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to produce your own photo manipulation.
Preparing Dark and Misty Background
Start by creating a new document by selecting File > New and set the setting as shown in the image below.
Place the forest image to the main document by selecting File > Place then place it. Don’t forget to resize it using Transform Tool (CTRL + T) to fit it with our document.
Adding Clouds to Forest
Add a Layer Mask to the forest image by clicking on add layer mask icon on the layer panel. Activate the Gradient Tool by pressing (G) on the keyboard and choose a linear black/white gradient in the gradient editor, then apply the gradient vertically ( hold down the Shift key to apply it vertically) on the layer mask to hide upper parts of forest.
Add the cloud image to the main document. Add the lower parts of clouds image as shown in the image below using Transform Tool (CTRL + T).
I erased the forest layer so you can clearly see how I placed it.
Now drag the cloud layer below the forest layer.
As you can see that by adding clouds to the forest, we’ve very foggy and misty forest. But I want to reduce the effect of cloud little bit. To reduce the clouds effect, double click on the layer mask of forest layer and then reduce the density of layer mask to 76%.
Here are the results and we have the forest parts back visible again. Controlling the density of layer mask is an advanced feature of Photoshop. It gives you more control over the masked parts of an image. But note this feature is only available in Photoshop CS5 or higher version.
Use a soft round basic brush to hide the selected part of forest image as I want to add little bit darkness to the right side of the forest. So I just erased the forest part using Brush Tool (B) with opacity and flow about 30%.
You can also see the layer mask results.
Add a Curves adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves) to clouds image and set the setting as shown in the image below.
Here are the results. As you can see we’ve increased brightness and added yellow tones to the clouds layer.
Add a Curves and Gradient Map adjustment layer to the entire scene. I’ve chosen a Black/White gradient in Gradient Editor and it’s a default 3rd preset.
Change the blend mode of Gradient Map to Soft Light.
As you can see that by changing the blend mode to soft light we’ve more dark forest scene.
Continue coloring the entire scene by using a Color Balance adjustment layer.
Here are the results.
Make a Gradient Map adjustment layer to add cyan tone to the entire scene. Choose color #0e5865 for Shadows and for highlights choose #0f9b89.
Change the blend mode of Gradient Map to Soft Light and reduce the opacity to 50% (I don’t want too much cyan color for the scene).
Adding Model to Make the Scene Emotional
Isolate the model from its background and then place it into the main document. In this particular case the hairs details of model barely visible, so we don’t need to pay more attention to the extraction of hair. But if needed try extracting the hair using Refine Edge Tool or you can leave some space around the model hair while making the selection and after that hide the unwanted background, around the model hair, using soft round brush tool.