How to Create a Galaxy-Themed Wanderlust Composite in Affinity Photo
Today we will be creating a wanderlust-inspired galaxy image using Affinity Photo—perfect for those of you out there who crave adventure!
We will be going over how to use a mixture of adjustment layers and layer modes to help us achieve that ultra-colorful galaxy color scheme and intense lighting that will represent our love for all things travel!
What You’ll Need
You will need the following resources in order to complete this project:
Extracting hair is one of the most meticulous parts of photo compositing, and with there being so many different options, none of which are foolproof and work on every image, it can be a bit overwhelming.
Luckily, I have worked out a solid base technique that has yet to fail me!
Place and adjust the night sky background behind our subject.
Duplicate the night sky layer. Bring it above the original layer.
Set the layer mode to Soft Light.
Create a Color Balance adjustment layer above the soft light night sky layer.
Color Balance Settings
Group all of the background layers together into a group named “Background”.
3. How to Create Glass and Reflections
Next up, we will be adding a windshield to the car, along with some extra hair lighting!
Create a New Layer, bringing it below the subject layer but above the “Background” group.
Paint a light wash of light over the windshield area using white. Bring the Opacity of the layer down to 50% if needed.
Repeat step 1, painting a light wash of light directly behind the subject’s hair.
Create a New Layer.
Paint three soft, white stripes going down the middle of the windshield, angled to the left.
Duplicate this layer to further intensify the stripes if needed.
Create a New Layer.
Finish up the glass by painting a light wash of light around the border of the windows and adding more light behind the subject’s hair.
Group all of these layers together into a group named “Car Lighting”.
4. How to Light and Color a Subject in Space
Now for the fun part, adding some color and lighting to our subject so she fits into her spacey environment!
Create a New Layer and nest it inside the subject layer, below all the other nested layers. Set the layer to Overlay.
Use a large, soft, round Brush to paint white light on the edges of the car windows.
Copy the night sky background and nest it inside the subject layer. Set the copied night sky layer to Soft Light at 50% Opacity.
Create a New Layer and nest it inside of our subject layer, placing it below all other nested layers. Set the new layer to Overlay.
Use a small white Brush to enhance the highlights of the subject’s face, arm, and hair.
Create and clip a Curves adjustment layer into the subject, again placing it below all other nested layers.
5. How to Add a Quick Colored Glow to Any Photo
To finish up the lighting, we want to add some bounce light and glow coming off our subject. We want more than just pure white light so that the image doesn’t end up looking too washed out and flat.
This is a really quick way to add vivid light to any photo!
Create a New Layer above all previous layers. Set the layer to Screen.
Using a large, soft, round Brush, paint purple #FF03AA and blue #4938FF blobs of light around the model.
Focus the color onto her back and around the areas where light is shining through the most, such as her neck, her arms, and around her hair.
Also, add some color around the edges of the windshield.
Further increase the glow by duplicating the original glow layer. Set the duplicate layer to 50% Opacity.
Add a Gaussian Blur (Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur, set to 100 px) to diffuse the duplicate blur.
Drag and drop the stars in deep space stock image onto your canvas, above all other layers, placing it across our subject’s body. Set the layer to Screen and 73% Opacity.
Add a Layer Mask and then, using a medium, semi-hard, round brush, mask out any hard edges.
Duplicate the stars in deep space stock image, bringing it above the original. Fill its layer mask with 100% black. Set the duplicate layer to Color Dodge.
Using a medium, semi-hard, round brush, mask back in the stars on the duplicate layer to brighten them.
Try to only mask back in the stars, without the nebulae.
6. How to Create a Quick but Vibrant Color Grade
Finally, we will be adding an all over color grade effect to bring everything together and add both color and contrast to our image.
This is one of the quicker ones, but it works great when you just want to punch up the colors and contrast of an image!
Create a Split Tone adjustment layer above all previous layers.
Split Tone Settings
Below the Split Tone layer, create a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer.
Group the two adjustment layers together into a group named “Color Grade” or “CC” for color correction.
We’ve Done It!
There you have it: a slew of quick tips and tricks on how to create a vibrant, wanderlust-inspired photo composite, galaxy and all!
You’ve learned that sometimes it’s not about the number of steps or layers, but instead how effectively you use them! Creating simple lighting using a mixture of Screen, Overlay, and Soft Light layer modes is one of my favorite quick tricks to add an intense pop of light to a piece. Especially when layered on top of each other, they are extremely effective!
So, as always, keep experimenting with different techniques and practicing, and don’t forget to post your version below! Do you have any questions, comments, or critiques? Post them down below as well!
Looking to learn more? I recommend the following tutorials: