How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a fantasy, sci-fi portrait. You’ll learn how to blend a model portrait with a space background, make some special effects using light and nebula textures, manage blending modes, enhance color, paint light, and more.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

1. How to Build the Background

Step 1

Create a new 1500 x 900 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

The background color should be #010e27.

Step 2

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and reduce the lightness. Select the layer mask and activate the Brush Tool (B). Use a soft round brush with black color (soft black brush) to paint on both sides of the canvas. It’s to avoid both sides becoming black and to show the details there later.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Drag the space background onto the dark canvas and change the layer mode to Screen 100%:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a soft black brush to clear some areas around the middle and both sides.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Create a Curves adjustment layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Decrease the lightness to make the effect appear more subtle.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

2. How to Add the Model

Step 1

Isolate the model using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) and add her to the middle of the canvas using the Move Tool (V).

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Use a layer mask and a soft black brush to erase the neck, shoulders, hair, and forehead.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Make a new layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Select the Clone Tool (S) to remove the earring:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Create a Curves adjustment layer to lower the lightness of the lower edge of the chin and the cheek. Use a soft black brush to paint on the other areas so they won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and bring the Saturation value down to -16:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Use a Color Balance adjustment layer to match the color of the model’s face with the background. Change the Midtones settings:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Use the Lasso Tool to select the mouth only, and then go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves. Increase the lightness to make this area brighter.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

3. How to Do the Eye Makeup

Step 1

Open the ring light image and add it to the main document using the Move Tool. Change this layer mode to Screen 100%.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

SelectFilter > Liquify and activate the Twirl Clockwise Tool (C). Tweak the ring until it gets a similar result to the one shown below, or at least until it has the eye-like part shown in the small screenshot. Use it to cover the left eye.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Use a layer mask to erase the areas around this eye-like part.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Duplicate this layer and flip it horizontally (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal). Move it to the other eye.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Select the two eye layers and press Control-G to make a group for them. Change this group’s mode to Screen 100% and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to alter the eyes’ color:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Create a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones values:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

4. How to Add the Nebula Effect

Step 1

Drag the nebula 1 image on top of the head and change its mode to Screen 100%. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) with the Warp mode to tweak the form of the nebula to fit the perspective of the head and eyes.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Use a layer mask to remove the hard edges.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Duplicate this layer several times and move them around the head and face, especially trying to leave some visible effect on the cheeks. Use a layer mask if needed to clear any unneccessary details and get your desired look.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Make a group for these nebula layers and alter its mode to Screen 100%. Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights values:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Use a Levels adjustment layer to hide all the remaining edges and make the effect more subtle.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Place the nebula 2 image in the lower part of the canvas and use Control-T to rotate it as shown below. Change the layer mode to Screen 100%.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Create a Levels adjustment layer to remove the edges and make a subtle effect.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones settings:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

5. How to Add the Fantasy Light

Step 1

Drag the fantasy light image onto the top of the head and alter the mode to Screen 100%.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Use the Liquify Tool (the Forward Warp Tool) to tweak the light to get a similar result to the one shown below:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Duplicate this layer twice and move them onto the face and to the right. Use a layer mask to erase any details you don’t want to see.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Use the Lasso Tool to select a left area from the fantasy light image and add it to the lower left of the model. Turn it into a curve using the Forward Warp Tool.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Erase the hard edge of this result using a layer mask.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Select another part from the light image and do the same technique. Add it to the other side of the model.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Add more small details using a similar method.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Make a group for these light layers and create a Color Balance adjustment layer within this group. Change the Midtones values:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and reduce the Blue saturation value to -81:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Create a Levels adjustment layer to make the remaining edges completely disappear:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

6. How to Do the Face Makeup

Step 1

Create a new layer and use the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) to grab a circle and then activate the Gradient Tool (G). Use Radial Gradient with the colors #f8b2f2 and #834115 to fill this circle.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Tweak this circle using the Forward Warp Tool and place it along the contour of the model’s face.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Change this layer mode to Color Dodge 100% and use a layer mask to make the effect appear subtle along the lower part of the cheek.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Duplicate this layer twice. Move one to a higher position on the cheek, and flip the other horizontally and then place it on the other cheek.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

7. How to Paint the Light

Step 1

Make a new layer on top of the layers and use a soft brush with the color #746482 to paint around the model’s face. Change this layer mode to Color Dodge 100%:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Use a soft brush with the color #81a3ef to paint on the top of the head, cheek, and chin. Alter this layer mode to Overlay 100%.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

On a new layer, use a soft brush with the color #8c8dcb to paint on the lower section of the canvas. Set this layer mode to Hard Light 30%.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Change the brush color to #a797c1 and paint on the top left of the model. Keep this layer mode atHard Light 30%.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

8. How to Do the Final Adjustment

Step 1

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the colors #912d1d and #004460. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 20%.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights values:

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Use a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color #ecde00.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Make a Curves adjustment layer to add a warm tone and increase the contrast of the image.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Create another Photo Filter adjustment layer and change the color to #dab9f4.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect.

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

Congratulations, You’re Done!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my tutorial and learned something new. Feel free to share your ideas or comments in the box below—I’d love to see them. Enjoy Photoshopping!

How to Create a Fantasy, Sci-Fi Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop