Photoshop Tutorial – Integrating elements in a scene

posted in: Tutorials | 3

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In this tutorial I will show you how I integrated a squirrel into a scene from one of my Photoshop battles. Each element requires a different amount of light and effects in order to integrate it, but this will give you an introduction to the process. This is an intermediate to advanced Photoshop tutorial. You will need an understanding of isolation, layers and photo composite techniques.  Here is a link to the images I used to create this scene. The alien in the foreground was a carry-over element from my opponent in the battle.

Step 1) Isolate and position
Most of the objects that I isolate are done with the pen tool. I use the pen tool because it is precise and there is less cleanup after wards. After isolating the squirrel, I flipped it and painted in extra hair on the tail so it would look more natural. A layer mask was used so I can always add or remove areas after the isolation is made.
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Step 2) Adjustment Layers
In order to make the squirrel look like it fits in this scene, the first thing I need to do is darken it. The tail and body are on separate layers because I wanted to adjust them separately.  The light is coming from the glowing acorn, but I will adjust for that later, for now I will concentrate on an overall levels adjustment. I selected the tail layer and then *Alt-clicked on the adjustment layer icon and selected “levels.” Make sure “Use previous layer to create clipping mask is checked.” See Below:
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Here is what the squirrel looks like with levels applied to the tail. I also added an adjustment layer for hue/saturation of -50 to desaturate the intense color in the tail.

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Here is the squirrel with a levels adjustment layer applied to darken the midtones and a hue/saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the color in the body.
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Step 3) Clipped layers
Now I will create a series of new layers that will be clipped by the parent layer. These are very similar to the level adjustment layers that were created. Here is a screen capture of the difference.
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Now that I have created this new layer, I can paint various colors and add blending modes that will only effect the parent layer. The remaining effects to the squirrel will be a series of these
clipped layers.
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After the clipped layers are created and I paint colors into them, I experiment with different blending modes and opacities.
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Using a brown color set to a Multiply blend mode at 37% I painted over select areas of the feet to darken them. You can color outside the lines because the layer is clipped to the parent layer and will not bleed outside.
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Black set to Darken mode, 100% – back edge of the squirrel.
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Black set to Multiply mode, 70% – Feet.
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Brown set to Multiply mode, 40% – body.
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Black set to Multiply mode, 75% – front hair edges.
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Purple set to Color mode, 57% – front of squirrel.
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Black set to Multiply mode, 83% – front edges around face.
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Black set to Multiply mode 85%, chin and stomach.
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White set to overlay mode, 65% – highlight face
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White set to Overlay mode, 100% – face.
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White set to Overlay mode, 100% – eyes.
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Step 4) Final effects
Now I will add a few finishing touches that will help tie everything together.

New layer with blue painted in the foreground set to Color mode at 25%.
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Finally a subtle blue/green gradient map set to color mode, 9%.
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Here is the full screen capture of what the adjustments look like for the squirrel.
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Here is the final scene.
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If you would like to see a timelapse video from start to finish of this scene,
you can visit my YouTube channel.

*There are places that I mention alt-clicking, if you are using a MAC, you can option-click.

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