In this tutorial I’ll show you how to use Adobe Photoshop to create a dark photo manipulation called “Temptation”.
First we’ll build the base scene using several stock images. After that, we’ll retouch the model, paint the hair, and blend her with the background using adjustment layers, masking, and brushes. Later, we’ll import the branches, apple, snakes, and particles. Finally we’ll use several adjustment layers to enhance the final effect.
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. How to Build the Base Scene
Create a new 2400 x 2208 px document in Photoshop with the given settings.
Open the landscape image. Drag this image into the white canvas using
the Move Tool (V) and change the layer mode to Multiply 100%. Convert
the layer to a Smart Object.
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 4 px.
Activate the Brush Tool (B) and select a soft round one. On the filter
mask, use this brush with black color to paint on the midground and
foreground, leaving the blur effect visible only on the background.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation and set it as
Clipping Mask. Change the Reds and Yellows values to desaturate the
gold light on the ground. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to erase the upper half (the sky and the tops of the dead trees).
Open the sky image. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) to select the
lower part of the sky and drag it into the main document. Set this layer
below the landscape one.
Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to
this layer. Use a soft black brush to remove the part covering the
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer (set as Clipping Mask) and alter the Midtones settings:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the sky as it looks a bit bright compared to the ground.
Add another Curves adjustment layer to darken the edges of the sky more.
We’re aiming to have the light coming from the top middle, so on the layer mask, use a soft black brush to paint on the middle so it
will be less affected by this adjustment layer.
Curves adjustment layer on top of the layers and reduce the lightness of
the whole scene more. On this layer mask, use a soft black brush to
reduce the dark effect in the middle, and use a small brush to
reveal the lightness of the grass.
2. How to Retouch the Model
Open the model image. First, use your favourite method to isolate the model from the background. I’ve added a new fill layer between the extracted
model and the original layers to show the result more clearly in the next steps (we’ll work on her hair).
We’ll be painting more hair for the model. Create a new layer and use a medium-soft brush with the color
paint the base of the hair following the form and perspective of the
On a new layer, use a soft brush with the color
#3a1a0d to paint shadow for the hair. Remember to follow the flow and direction of the base, otherwise the result would look very messy.
On three new layers, use the colors
#e88b62 to paint small bright strands for the hair.
Create a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray.
Activate the Dodge and Burn Tool (O) with Midtones Range, Exposure about
15-20% to enhance the light and shadow for the hair, making it smoother
and more natural. You can see how I did it with Normal mode and the
result with Overlay mode.
Hide the fill layer and the original one and hit Control-Shift-Alt-E to
merge the extracted model and the hair. Move the model into the
main document and place her in the middle of the ground.
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change the Cyans and Blues values to remove the blue cast of the model’s clothes.
Add a Curves adjustment layer to darken the model a little. On the layer
mask, paint on some details of the hair to reveal the highlight there.
3. How to Add the Branches
Cut out the branch from the original background and add it to the top of
the canvas. Use the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) with the Warp mode
to tweak the branch a little.
Duplicate this layer several times and arrange them over the top of the
canvas. Use Control-T with Warp mode to resize and tweak them so they
appear different. Add a small branch pointing towards the model face as we’re aiming to add the apple there.
Select all the branches layers and hit Control-G to make a group for
them. Change this group’s mode to Normal 100% and add a Curves
adjustment layer to darken the branches.
Use a medium-hard black brush to reveal the light on the top and bottom of the branches.
Use another Curves adjustment layer to increase the light of the branches. The result on the upper part of the second screenshot shows where to work on the layer mask.
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and alter the Saturation values to match the branches’ color with the background.
4. How to Add the Apple
Open the apple image. Take the apple on the top (or the ones you like)
and place it below the small branch above the model’s face to fit the direction of her gaze.
Make a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to change the apple’s color. Alter the Hue value of the Master to +19:
Create a Curves adjustment layer to make the apple darker. Paint on the top of the apple to keep its lightness to fit the light source from above.
Make a new layer, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50%
gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to refine the light and shadow of the
5. How to Import the Snakes
Isolate the snake and add it to the top left of the canvas. Go to Edit
> Puppet Warp and move the points up/down until you get the form you
Take this snake again from the original and use the Puppet Warp to change its form. Add it to the right side.
Make a group for the snake layers and add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Alter the Reds settings to desaturate the red details of the snakes a bit.
Create a Curves adjustment layer to darken the snakes. Paint on the upper part of the snakes to reveal the lightness there.
On each of the snake layers, create a new layer, change the mode to
Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge and Burn Tool to
enhance the light on the upper part of the snakes and increase the shadow on
their lower side.
6. How to Add the Particles
Make a new layer on top of the layers, change the mode to Overlay 100%, and fill with 50% gray. Use the Dodge Tool to paint more highlight on
the grassy ground.
Open the particles pack. Take one image (I’ve chosen the one numbered
20) to add to the middle of the scene. Alter this layer mode to Linear
Add another particles image to the scene and apply a Gaussian Blur of 4 px to this layer to soften the effect, making it blend better with the background.
Create a group for the particles layers and change this layer mode to
Linear Dodge 100%. Use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to desaturate the particles’ color a
7. How to Make the Final Adjustments
Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the
#fb9c2c. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 30%.
Make a Color Balance adjustment layer and change the Midtones and Highlights values:
Add a Color Fill layer and pick the color
#150700. Alter this layer mode to Exclusion 100%.
Create another Color Fill layer and pick the color
#a95b3c. Change this layer mode to Overlay 20%.
Use a Photo Filter adjustment layer and pick the color
Make another Color Fill layer and pick the color
#2c2b19. Lower the Opacity of this layer to 20%.
Create a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the middle a bit. Paint on
the rest so it won’t be affected by this adjustment layer and give the whole scene a deeper contrast.
Use a Vibrance adjustment layer to enhance the final effect.
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!