How to Create a Dark, Eerie Forest Scene in Photoshop

Learn how to create a dark, eerie forest scene in Photoshop. In this tutorial you’ll learn how you can create a dark, eerie and ominous forest. You’ll learn how subtle changes can make big differences in photo manipulation. You’ll also learn how to use adjustments layer, practice dodge & burn, using layer mask, creating light effects and much more.

Note : that this tutorial assume you’ve completed our all Basic level Photoshop tutorial. Otherwise we assume you are an intermediate level of Photoshop user. Also you’ll need Photoshop CS3 or higher to follow this tutorial.

Tutorial Resources

Preparing the Background

Step 1

Start by creating a new document by selecting File > New and then set the setting as shown in the image below.


Step 2

Place the forest image to the main document by selecting File > Place and then place the forest image.


Step 3

Since we’re working on a dark photo manipulation, so obviously we should decrease the lightness of forest. To achieve this, add a Curves (select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves) and then reduce the lightness of forest. Here are the values.


Here are the results with decreased lightness.


Step 4

Now we’ll add dark blue tones to the forest using adjustment layers.
Make a Photo Filter adjustment layer and choose the Cooling Filter (82) to add cool blue tones. You can also increase the density according your needs but don’t increase it too much.


Here are the results.


Step 5

Continue adding colors to forest by using Color Balance adjustment layer. Only change the midtones and highlights value and here the values for Color Balance.


Results :


Creating Light Effects

Step 6

Now we’ll create light effects for the scene to make more focus at the middle of the forest. Create a new layer by pressing (CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + N ) and name it ‘Light 1’. Change your foreground color to #134850 and activate the Brush tool by pressing (B) on the keyboard. Use a soft round brush to make a stroke as shown in the image below.


Change the blend mode of ‘Light 1’ layer to Linear Dodge and reduce the opacity to 71% (as always reducing the opacity depends on you as how much light you want add).


Create more Focus

Step 7

We’ll create more focus at the center of the scene using a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layers. First add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and set the value as shown in the image below.


Here are the results.


Step 8

Make the center of the forest more brightner by hiding the Brightness/Contrast effect on the center.
So, on the Layer Mask of Brightness/Contrast hide the selected effect using soft round black brush. Here are the results on layer mask.


Here are the instruction where you should hide the effect.




Adding Model

Step 9

Isolate the model from it’s background using selection tool and then place it to the main document. Take your time while making selection and it took me 30 minutes to extract the model. Most difficult parts are chain parts so take your time and make the selection properly.

Here we’ve the model placed on the scene.


Step 10

Now we’ll adjust the color of model with the background. First I reduced the yellow color from the model skin using Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Here are the setting and choose yellow colors on the Master drop down list then reduce the saturation to -100. Here are the results.


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+

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How to Create a Dark, Eerie Forest Scene…