How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create a dark conceptual work featuring a scared man who’s trying to hide from evil forces.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

You’ll learn how to make a simple environment by combining two stock images, and create devils using some cosplay images and liquify filters. You’ll also learn how to make some unusual effects using particles and Photoshop basic filters, adjust colors, enhance the depth of field, and more.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Short on time? Try out these great Shadow Photoshop Actions on GraphicRiver.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. How to Add the Ground

Step 1

Create a 2000 x 1333 px New Document in Photoshop with the given settings:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Open the ground image. Use the Lasso Tool (L) to select the ground only and drag it into the black canvas using the Move Tool (V). Convert this layer to a Smart Object.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) to Rotate it a bit to the left.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a Mask to this layer. Use a Soft Round Brush with a black color and a lowered Opacity (20-30%) to soften the edges of the ground, making it fade into the background.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and set it as Clipping Mask. Bring the Saturation value down to -85:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Make a Curves Adjustment Layer to bring more light to the ground.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

On the ground layer, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to 5 px.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

On the filter Mask, use a Soft Black Brush to erase from the mid-ground to the background, leaving the blue effect visible only on the foreground. It’ll help to focus on the main subject (model) and enhance the depth.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

2. How to Add the Sky

Step 1

Drag the sky image into our document and place it under the ground layer.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 9 px to the sky layer to soften it.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and set the Saturation value to the minimum.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

We’ll follow the light of the ground (from left to right). Make a Curves Adjustment Layer and decrease the light. On this Layer Mask, use a Soft Black Brush to paint on the left to reveal the light here.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Use another Curves Adjustment Layer to bring more light to the left.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

3. How to Make the Devils

Step 1

Open the devil 1 image. Use the Lasso Tool (L) to select the devil’s head and place it in the top-left corner. Flip it horizontally by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Place this layer above the sky layer but below the ground one.

Step 2

Go to Filter > Liquify and select the Forward Warp Tool. Use this tool to tweak the head, making the face details such as the eyes, chin, forehead and mouth thinner and longer, in order to make the devil scarier.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Add a Mask to this layer and Use a Soft Black Brush with a lowered Opacity (about 50-55%) to soften the edges and make the devil fade into the background.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Make a Hue/Saturation to desaturate the devil. Change the Saturation value to -80:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Create a Curves Adjustment Layer to darken the devil a bit:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Add the devil 2 image to the top right of the canvas and tweak his head using the Liquify Tool. Use a Layer Mask to blend him with the background.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Make a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and reduce the Saturation value to -89:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Use a Curves Adjustment Layer to decrease the lightness on the devil.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 9

Create a New Layer, change the Mode to Overlay 100%, and Fill with 50% gray:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Use the Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about 10% to darken the sockets of the devils’ eyes. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay Mode:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 10

Make a New Layer and take a Hard Round Brush with about 2 pxand the color #f5f5f5 to paint a small line along the form of the devils’ eyes. After that, use a Layer Mask to refine these lines, making them fade into the eye sockets.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 11

Use a Hard White Brush with a very small Size (1-2 px) to paint highlights in the middle of the eye sockets. It will increase the evil look for the devils.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

4. How to Create the Devils’ Effect

Step 1

It’s time to decorate our devils! Duplicate the sky layer and set it above the devil’s layers but still below the ground one.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Select the Liquify Tool and use the Twirl Clockwise Tool to tweak the clouds on the top left and the middle to create some twirls on this sky part.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Move the sky part until the brighter twirl on the top left fits the head of the first devil.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Use a Layer Mask to erase the effect on the middle and right, making it visible only around the first devil.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Tweak the sky image more to get something similar to the image below, and then mask off the hard edges and the unwanted parts.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Continue adding the details to the devil 2 image using the Twirl Clockwise Tool and Layer Masks.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Select all the sky effect layers and press Control-G to make a Group for them. Change this group Mode to Normal 100% and make a Hue/Saturationadjustment within this group to desaturate the effect.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Create a Curves Adjustment Layer to reduce the effect’s visibility. Paint on the top left as it’s in the illuminated area.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

5. How to Import the Model

Step 1

Cut out the model from the background and place him in the middle of the ground. Use Control-T to Rotate him to the left a bit to fit the ground’s perspective.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Make a New Layer and activate the Clone Tool (S). Use this tool to remove the text on his clothes.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to desaturate and change the model’s color:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Make a Curves Adjustment Layer to brighten the model. On this Layer Mask, use a Soft Black Brush to erase the lower and right side parts of the model to fit the light source.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Create a New Layer, change the Blend Mode to Overlay 100% and Fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge Tool to give more light and bring more details to the lower part of the model.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

To make a shadow for the model, create a New Layer under the model one. Hold down Control while clicking the model thumbnail layer to load his selection. Fill this selection with black and lower the Opacity of this layer to 70%. Use Control-T to Rotate it to the right of the model, on the ground.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Use a Layer Mask to clean the shadow parts covering the gap on the ground and below the model.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Apply a Gaussian Blur of 3 px to the shadow layer.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Create a New Layer and use a Soft Black Brush with the Opacity of about 60% to paint the missing shadow between the legs of the model. Lower this layer’s Opacity to 80% to match the existing shadow.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

6. How to Create the Dark Abstract Circle

Step 1

Create a New Layer on top of the layers and change the Foreground to black. Activate the circular strokes brushes and select the one numbered 700 to spot on the canvas. Use Control-T to make it much smaller and narrower, and then place it above the model’s head.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Duplicate this layer several times and Flip them horizontally, Rotate them, and use Layer Masks to Fill them in and make the circle bigger and more proportional.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

7. How to Make the Evil Particles

Step 1

Drag the particles image into our working document and use Control-T to make it a bit narrower. Use a Layer Mask to reduce the intensity of the particles on the edges, making them visible mostly in the middle as shown below:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Go to Filter > Distort > Twirl and apply the following value:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

After that, apply a Gaussian Blur of 8 px to this layer:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Add the particles image again to the main file and Flip it horizontally and Mask it off. Apply the Twirl filter with the same settings. I turned off the first particles layer so you can see the second more clearly.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Make a Group for these particles layers and alter this group’s Mode to Multiply 100%.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Create an Invert Adjustment Layer within this group to make the dark edges disappear and reveal the particles.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Use a Curves Adjustment Layer to increase the particles’ visibility:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Grab a part of the particles image and place it in the foreground. Use Control-T with the Warp Mode to bend it as shown below:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Apply a Motion Blur to this part with the following settings:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Change this layer’s Blend Mode to Multiply 100% and create an Invert Adjustment Layer to reveal the particles’ effect:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Add more particles around the dark circle and the model’s head using the same method but without applying the filters.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

8. How to Add the Crows

Step 1

Isolate the crow 1 and place him on the left side of the turning particles. Set this layer below the particles ones.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Apply a Motion Blurwith the given settings to this crow:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

On the filter Mask, use a Soft Black Brush to erase the crow’s body and leave only the wings moving to match the motion of the particles.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Make a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and bring the Saturation value down to -82:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Brighten the crow using a Curves Adjustment Layer:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Add the crow 2 to the right side, in a higher position than crow 1. This is in order to match the scene’s perspective.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Apply a Motion Blur filter to the crow and then erase his body on the filter Mask.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to desaturate this crow:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 8

Use a Curves Adjustment Layer to darken the wings of the crow as they’re in the shadow area. The selection in the screenshot shows where to paint on the layer mask.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

9. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

Create a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer on top of the layers and pick the colors #e10019 and #00601b. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 20%.

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Add a Color Balance Adjustment Layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe PhotoshopHow to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Make a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer and pick the color #ecc800:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Use a Vibrance Adjustment Layer to enhance the final effect:

How to Create a Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With 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 Shadow Conceptual Photo Manipulation With Adobe Photoshop