Create a Fantasy Photo Manipulation of Magical Forest

In this tutorial I will show how to create a fantasy photo manipulation of magical forest. You’ll learn how to work with forest stock and then blend them to make a perfect composition. We’ll also learn how to create special light effects using basic to advanced lighting techniques. Moreover, I got two color variants for this tutorial and you’ll get to know about it at the end of the tutorial.


Tutorial Resources

Preparing the Background

Step 1

Start by creating a new document in Photoshop. Select File > New then use the setting below or feel free to choose your own.


Adding Forest

Step 2

Open up the forest image in Photoshop and drag it onto main document using Move Tool (V). If needed you can also use Transform Tool (CTRL + T) to make it fit on entire document.


Step 3

You may notice that forest has not enough contrast and its look dull and flat now. To fix this, I will use Shadow/Highlights filter. First convert the forest layer into Smart Objects and then select Image> Adjustment Layer > Shadow/Highlights and use the following settings to add contrast on Highlights.


Now you can see that Shadow/Highlights Filter has three section Shadows , Highlights and Adjustment. Each of sections has three slider named Amount, Radius and Tonal except Adjustment section.

In Shadows section, the Amount used to add brightness to shadows tones of the image and Tonal slider determines the range of brightness value and Radius control the overall effects. All of the sliders have same purpose in Highlights section except it works only on Highlights of an image.

In the above setting I reduced the each value of three slider in Shadow section to O because I don’t want any brightness on Shadows. But in Highlights section I dragged the Radius slider to 8%, Tonal Width to 12 and Radius value to 12px to add brightness only on Highlights.

Adjustment section is very simple and it has two sliders. Color slider used to reduce and increase color saturation and Midtones used to add brightness on Midtones parts of image. Now let’s see the effect on our forest image.


As you can see we’ve increase contrast on forest image and you can use this filter to create HDR effects but just make sure that you are not overdoing it. Overall, it is very useful Filter to bring out the hidden details of Shadow and Highlights of an image.

Step 4

Now move forward and starting making adjustments on forest image using Adjustment Layers . Make a Hue/Saturation(Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation) adjustment layer to reduce the brightness of forest image.




Step 5

Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer to add warm yellow color with density 29%.




Adding Forest 2

Step 6

You may notice that forest is incomplete and its don’t have any base on that we can place the model. To add a platform for our model, I am using forest 2 image. So place it to our main document by selecting File > Place and then place it as shown below.


Step 7

Add a Layer Mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All) to forest 2 image. Activate the Brush Tool (B) . Set its opacity and flow about 30%. Now using a soft round black brush hide the selected part of forest 2 layer.


Here are the results and now we have got the base to place the model.


Bunty Pundir

Bunty Pundir is the founder of PSD Stack. He loves writing Photoshop tutorials and sharing knowledge with others. Follow him on Behance, Twitter and Google+

2 thoughts on “Create a Fantasy Photo Manipulation of Magical Forest

  • January 4, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Another great tutorial, Bunty! Step by step you take us through the process. Thank you, and the best in 2016.

    • January 5, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      Thanks for your kind word Anndraya!


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