In this tutorial I’ll show you how to use Adobe Photoshop to create a dramatic night scene. You’ll learn how to combine several stock images into a cohesive scene, increase the depth, add rain using rain brushes, paint raindrops, make dramatic light and color, and more.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. How to Build the Base Environment
Create a new 2000 x 1231 px document in Photoshop with the given settings:
Open the street 1 image. Drag this image into the main document using
the Move Tool (V). Place it on the left half of the white canvas.
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 7 px. This step is to add some depth to the scene.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and set it as Clipping
Mask. Decrease the lightness, and on this layer mask, activate the
Brush Tool (B) and choose a soft round one with black color (soft black
brush). Use this brush to erase the middle of the street, especially the ground and the
details which are towards the light as well.
We need to reduce the light of the lamps, so create a new layer and use a
soft brush with the color
#625448 and Opacity about 30-35% to paint
around the lamps.
Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray:
Select the Dodge Tool (O) with Midtones Range and Exposure about 10-15% to
paint more light for some details of the building below the lamps. You
can see how I did it with Normal mode and the result with Overlay mode.
Drag the street 2 image into our document and set it below the street 1 image.
Place the part with the light in the top right of the canvas as the
screenshot below shows.
Apply a Gaussian Bur of 4 px to this street layer to give it some softness.
2. How to Retouch the Man in the Foreground
Drag the man 1 image into our working document and click the second
icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer. Use a
medium-soft black brush to remove the dark background and reveal the
Make a Curves adjustment layer (set it as Clipping Mask) to reduce the
highlight on the man, especially the cheeks and shirt. On this layer
mask, use a soft black brush to erase the dark effect on the shadow
areas or any details you feel are too dark.
Create another Curves adjustment layer to bring more light to the shadow
areas of the man. Paint on the highlight areas so they won’t be
affected by this adjustment layer.
Add a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray.
Select the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light and shadow on the
man, especially to increase the expression in his eyes.
Make a new layer and use a small medium-soft white brush to paint light
on the bottom of the man’s eye ( the one in the shadow area). Lower the
Opacity of this layer to 50% and use a layer mask to make it fade into
Create a new layer and use a small hard brush with the color
#9e9e9e to paint more beard for the man.
3. How to Add the Policeman
Cut out the policeman from the man 2 image and add him to the street
background. Set this layer below the man 1 layer and apply a Gaussian
Blur of 7 px to match his blur and softness with the street.
To make a shadow for this man, create a new layer under the man’s layer.
Hold Control and click the man layer to load his selection.
Fill this layer with the color
#0f0f0f and flip it vertically (Edit >
Transform > Flip Vertical). Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T)
to enlarge the top of the shadow and change the direction of the shadow a
bit to fit the direction of the lamps.
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 7 px to this layer and use a layer mask to reduce the visibility of the top of the shadow.
Create a new layer above the policeman layer, change the mode to Overlay
100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge Tool to paint more light for
some details of the man’s contour, and use the Burn Tool to strengthen the
shadow on the gun and one of his trouser legs.
4. How to Paint the Rain and Raindrops
Make a new layer on top of the layers. Change the foreground to white
and the brush to the rain ones. Select a rain brush with a medium
intensity to spot over the canvas. After that, convert this layer to a
Smart Object. Here is my choice:
Apply a Gaussian Blur of 5 px to the rain layer. On the filter mask, use
a soft black brush to recover the rain on the man and some on the
street, leaving some blurred rain on the background to fit the softness of this place.
Create a new layer and use a small medium-soft white brush to paint some
raindrops on the man’s face. The light on the drops should follow the
light of the background.
5. How to Make the Final Adjustments
Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the colors
Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights settings:
Make a Curves adjustment layer to increase the scene’s contrast.
To change the light and color of the street background, use the Lasso
Tool (L) to select this area and set the feather for this selection to
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Channel Mixer and alter all the Red, Green and Blue values:
the Channel Mixer layer mask by holding Control and clicking the mask
thumbnail. Create a Color Balance adjustment layer with this selection
to strengthen the gold light.
Make another Channel Mixer adjustment layer and alter the Blue values to change the blue on the right to green.
Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color
#140908 to darken
the left edge of the scene. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 50% so
the effect appears subtler.
Add another Curves adjustment layer to darken and change the color of
the whole scene a bit. On the layer mask, paint over the man 1 area so
it won’t be affected by this adjustment layer.
Congratulations, You’re Done!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed the tutorial and learned something new for
your own projects. Feel free to share your results or leave comments in
the box below. Enjoy Photoshopping!