How to Add Fantasy Style Lighting and Effects to Your Images

In this tutorial I will show you how to add cool fantasy style lighting effects to your images. This tutorial focuses on using brushes, layers and blending modes. You can use these tools and tricks to transform any image into a stylish piece of art that would look especially great as a poster or flyer etc..!!

 Final Image

Step 1

Start by opening your image of your model in Photoshop, (you can get an image of a model from stock or use your own) and then cut the model out and remove the existing background.

Step 1

 

Step 2

Download a grunge background from a stock site, I got mine from www.sxc.hu load your grungy background into Photoshop and drag it onto your image, move the background layer to the bottom of your layers palette so the model is on the top.

Step 2

Step 3

Next make a new layer and use the Gradient Tool diagonally across the picture. I find a gradient of three colours work best, choose colours that you think will work best for your image. Now use the Eraser tool with a soft edge brush to erase some parts of the model, mainly the body and face. Change the opacity to around 90% and set the blending mode to soft light.

Duplicate this gradient layer and set the opacity to about 45% this will give the image more intensity.

Step 3

Step 4

Now you need to create a new layer by clicking the new layer icon at the bottom of the layers palette. Now use the apply image tool by selecting from the menu bar, Image > Apply Image > Ok.

Step 4

 

Step 5

Now make a new layer, on this layer we will paint in some splatter effects and fantasy lighting effects using custom brushes found on deviant art or other free brush sites. Use the brush tool to paint in the different brush styles wherever you want on your image it doesn’t matter what colour you use at the moment.  (On the edges of the model and following the curves of the models body is the best place to add the effects)

Step 5

 

Step 6

Now hide the brush stroke layer by clicking on the eye beside the layer, and make a new layer and then apply image again. Then unhide the brush stroke layer and select Layer > Create clipping mask. Now the current layer will be masked but only where the brush strokes are. Use a soft edge brush with colours of your choice to paint in the brush strokes. I used a white brush to paint the whole layer then some blues, magentas and greens to add little hints of colour.

Step 6

Step 7

Make a new layer and fill it with black using the Paint bucket tool. Set the blending mode to colour dodge and the opacity to about 60%. With a soft edge brush using the colours grey, pink and magenta start painting, this will add brightness and vibrancy to the background.

Step 7

 

Step 8

Create a new layer and apply image again. Now it’s time to add some smoke to the hands, I used a stock image from www.sxc.hu. Add the smoke image onto your canvas, scale it down and rotate it using the free transform tool and place it over one of your models hands. Desaturate the smoke image and change the blending mode to screen.  Increase the levels of the image (CTRL + L) by sliding the triangles around until the smoke stands out more.

Step 8

 

Step 9

Now we are going to repeat step 7 to add some more colours to the image. So make a new layer again, fill it with black and set the blending mode to colour dodge and opacity to about 30%. You can use any colours you like but deep yellows, oranges and grey work really well. Paint around the model and the background, also add some colour to the corners of the image.

Step 9

You can repeat this step and use a magenta colour on some areas of the skin to create some nice highlights if you want.

Step 10

 

Step 10

Add a few groups of lines to the image on a new layer using the Line tool, pick some colours that are already in the image for the lines and vary their size and length. Then add an outer glow effect by double clicking the layer and selecting outer glow. Play around with the different options until you are happy with the effect.

Step 11

Step 11

Now we can add some randomized circles to the image. Download a cool brush set appropriate for this from deviant art (or other free brush sites). When you have the brush selected press F5 and the brush settings menu will appear. Enter the following settings to achieve a cool random result.

Step 12

Step 13

Step 14

Start painting on the image and change the flow, opacity and colour off the brush to achieve a range of effects.

Step 15

 

Step 12

The final steps are to add some colour adjustments. In the adjustments panel you can add a colour balance layer and here you can change the colour values of the shadows/midtones/highlights.

Step 16

You can also add a gradient map in black and white gradient, with the opacity very low around 15% – 20% and blending mode soft light.

Step 17

And there you have it a very unique and stylish image that you can use for a range of projects!

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