Create Magical Fairy Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

In this tutorial, we will create a magical fairy photo manipulation in Photoshop. We will use a girl photo and turn it into a beautiful “Fair in Lamp” scene. Have a try!

In this tutorial, we will create a magical fairy photo manipulation in Photoshop. We will use a girl photo and turn it into a beautiful “Fair in Lamp” scene. Have a try!

This Photoshop tutorial is written exclusively for PSD Vault by Digital Artist Maria Semelevich.

You want to make your child a memorable picture or want to make an amazing gift or an interesting looking child photo manipulation? This quick-tip tutorial will show you from start to finish how to create this photo manipulation with magical atmosphere. Also, we will try in action “Field Blur” filter to create depth of field effect with bokeh, how to work with a “Select and Mask” tool and try much more from Photoshop CC 2018 (19.0 release). Read this tutorial and learn how to create interesting effects and amazing and beautiful artwork!

The PSD file of this tutorial is available to buy on PSD Vault Shop, or via the PSD Vault VIP members area.

Here is a preview of the final effect: (click to enlarge)

What We Will Be Learning:

In the first steps, we will create a background, improve the image quality and create lighting on the leaves. Then create and apply realistic raindrops on the leaves. The next big step is creating a fairy, separating the model from the background, retouching and adding story details. Then we create realistic lighting, apply magical effects and add a color mood.

At the end of the tutorial, we will create an image toning, adding depth-of-field and digital bokeh effects with Photoshop CC features and increasing the sharpness of the image. We pay attention to blending modes and work with a variety of tools and effects. You need Photoshop, beginning with CС version, inspiration, attention and good mood! I use Photoshop CC 2018 (19.0 release) in this tutorial, so don’t be afraid, if some panels or filters have changed radically. You have been warned!


Step 1

Create a new document via Cmd/Ctrl + N or go to File > New… with 1920 pixels width and 1280 pixels height, resolution 200 Pixels/Inch, Background Contents: Black. Use File > Place Embedded… or just drag and drop “street-lamp-574891” image into working document. In Free Transform mode (Cmd/Ctrl + T or Edit > Free Transform) scale image to around 42.90% for horizontal and vertical scale, position it as shown in the image below and apply changes.

Step 2

Apply Camera Raw filter from Filter menu (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + A) to restore a color, adjust the lighting and improve the sharpness of the image. Use the images below to specify the settings. This filter will help reveal colors and details on an image and add contrast to values.

Step 3

Enhance image detail by duplicating a layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and rasterize it (Right-click on the layer > Rasterize Layer). Go to Filter > Other > High Pass… and set Radius: 2.0 pixels. Change layer Blending Mode to “Linear Light” and reduce Fill to 50%.

Step 4

To create more free space on a lamp, I remove some leaves from the glass. This details not damage composition, but clear space for a fairy. Use Clone Stamp Tool (S) on a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl +Opt/Alt + Shift + N) with Size around 20-45px, Opacity: 100%, Hard Round brush preset. Make sure to change “Sample” to “All Layers”. Hold down Opt/Alt key and click on texture, near the retouched area to take a clone source. Gently paint over middle leaves on a lamp, as shown in the image below. Try to create randomness on texture, so it does not have visible traces, different objects, and colors from the work with a stamp.

Step 5

Create a New layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) with Blending Mode “Overlay”, checked “Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray) and Opacity: 75%. Use Brush Tool (B) or Dodge/Burn Tool (O) with a Soft Round brush preset, Size: 20-75 px, Opacity/Exposure: 5-20%, Range: Midtones and set default black and white colors (D). Starting create new lighting on the lamp from large areas and then go to details. To quickly switch between Dodge/Burn Tool hold Opt/Alt on a keyboard, for Brush Tool, use X key to switch between foreground/background colors. I increased the brightness of the details near the lamp and darken some parts on both sides of the image. Most importantly, do not overdo it and use Zoom Tool (Z) to make it easier to work on the details.

Step 6

Create a New layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) with Blending Mode “Multiply” and Opacity: 70%. Use Brush Tool (B) with Size: 300px, Opacity: 10-20%, Soft Round preset and black color (#000000) to darken the edges of the image and part of the leaves to remove excessive brightness and create a basic color spot to focus viewer’s attention.

Step 7

Now I created a glow on the leaves near a lantern. Open Channels panel (Window > Channels), highlight Blue channel and click on “Load channel as selection” button at the bottom. Add “Hue/Saturation” adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation or use “Create new fill or adjustment layer” icon), our selection should appear as a layer mask.

Step 8

Before moving to the settings a little soften the texture, by adding “Gaussian Blur” filter on a layer mask (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) with Radius: 5 pixels. Apply “Levels” adjustment on layer mask (Cmd/Ctrl + L or Image > Adjustments > Levels) to reduce the effect by moving Input Levels black slider slightly to the right. Now go to the settings. Highlight adjustment layer and open Properties Panel (Window > Properties). Set Hue: 19, Saturation: 65, Lightness: +11 and check “Colorize”. Set Blending Mode to “Screen” and reduce Opacity to 40%.

Step 9

Go to Select > Reselect (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + D) and add another one “Hue/Saturation” adjustment layer with Hue: +5, Saturation: +18, Lightness: +7. On adjustment layer mask remove the effect on a lantern with a black soft round brush and apply “Levels” adjustment with the settings, depending on your concept, as in previous step.

Step 10

Now you need to create a reflection on the glass of the lantern to give this element an effect of transparency. Create a merged copy of an artwork on a new layer, at the top of layer stack via shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E. Use Magic Wand Tool (W) with Tolerance: 10 to create a selection of lantern’s glass. Add a layer mask (use “Add Layer Mask” button in a Layers panel or go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection). Change Blending Mode to “Overlay” and reduce Opacity to around 60%. Unlink layer mask by clicking on chain icon between thumbnails and highlight layer thumbnail. With Move Tool (V) move the image a little lower, so that appeared the reflection of the leaves on the glass. Restore linking between layer and mask. Now you can grab all the layers with the background into a single group (Cmd/Ctrl + G).

Step 11

To create a more fantastic atmosphere, I decided to slightly add raindrops on the leaves and lantern. For this, open image rain-455124 (File > Open or Cmd/Ctrl + O) and duplicate background layer (Cmd/Ctrl +J). Apply “Black & White” adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White or use “Create new fill or adjustment layer” icon) with Preset “High Contrast Blue Filter”. This will help make the texture more uniform and stand out drops. Add “Invert” adjustment layer to make the drops white. To remove noise from a black background, use “Levels” adjustment layer with Blacks: 25.

Step 12

Flatten image (Layer > Flatten Image) and duplicate result. Apply “Gaussian Blur” filter (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) with Radius 10 pixels, change Blending Mode to “Screen” and flatten image again. Now you can save the resulting image to your hard drive in high quality and use “Place Embedded” or convert the layer to Smart Object (right click on the layer > Convert to Smart object) and move it to a working document with a lamp.

Step 13

Use a few copies of the texture from the previous step and arrange them on the leaves near the lamp. Also, try to achieve the maximum of randomness in the texture. To do this, move and rotate the layers with Free Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T). Merge all layers with raindrops (Cmd/Ctrl + E) and set Blending Mode to “Screen”, reduce Opacity to around 65%. Add a layer mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All) to a resulting layer and with hard round Brush Tool (B) and black color, remove some of the drops so that a texture is not so congested.

Step 14

It is important to notice the features of the leaves and to find good places for the arrangement of drops. Also, strive to achieve better realism as possible. You can refine the scene in more detail by adding more texture of a smaller size and locating it at a farther distance from a lantern. Just duplicate resulting layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and use the same actions, as in previous step. It also shows an example of using “Linear Dodge (Add)” Blending Mode with a similar texture rather than “Screen” Blending Mode. Do not hesitate to experiment and use imagination and patience!

Step 15

Now let’s create the light inside the lantern and on the surrounding objects. First, create a more detailed selection of the glass of a lantern with Magic Wand Tool (W) or use a selection from Step 10 by holding Cmd/Ctrl and click on layer mask thumbnail to load selection. Create a New layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + N) with Blending Mode “Multiply”, fill selection with color #f5e9b6 (Shift + F5 or use Paint Bucket Tool (G)).

Duplicate this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and set Blending Mode to “Soft Light”. Apply “Gaussian Blur” filter with Radius: 15 pixels. Restore layer Opacity to 100%.

Again, duplicate original layer and apply “Gaussian Blur” filter with Radius: 50 pixels. Set Blending Mode to “Soft Light”. This will help create a pleasant glow around a lantern and will be the basis for the future color overlay.

Step 16

Go to adding a fairy inside the lantern. You can use your child’s photo or find another image, according to your taste. I place an image girl-1733356 into working document and don’t resize it.

Image looks too bright and contrast, so I apply Camera Raw filter (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + A) and apply following settings – Exposure: -1.00, Highlights: -7, Shadows: +17, Whites: -30, Blacks: +36, Clarity: +25 and click Ok.

Add a white layer mask (use “Add Layer Mask” button in a Layers panel or go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All). Go to Select > Select and Mask (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + R). This is a feature of Photoshop CC version, so for later versions, as an alternative, you can use Pen Tool (P) to create an accurate selection from the path and then hide background with a layer mask.

Step 17

The first and most important thing in this step that you do not have to hurry. Next – always use the Zoom Tool (Z) to better see the details, but first remove large areas of background with the original scale.

First, use the Lasso Tool (L) in “Subtract from selection” mode to remove as much background as possible. It’s pretty quick if you clean up the background in small portions until there is a thin edge of the background around the model. Do not try to select all at once as accurately as possible. If you suddenly remove unnecessary, simple hold Opt / Alt key to use Lasso Tool (L) in “Add to selection” mode and restore the missing area.

Change View Mode to “On Black” (A) to better see edges and garbage. On “Edge Detection” tab, checkmark “Smart Radius” and set Radius to around 45px. This will restore a lot of garbage, but don’t be afraid and use Brush Tool (B) and Refine Edge Brush Tool (R) to clear edges and remove flaws. For larger areas use Lasso Tool (L). Use “Black and White” (K) View Mode to check if on skin appears transparent areas or missing highlights and restore it. You can apply Radius again, but be careful and don’t overdo it.

And one last thing, in tab “Global Refinements” set Smooth around 2-5 (more will lead to loss of details), Feather: 0.5-1px, Contrast: 40-60%, Shift Edge: -10%. In “Output Settings” set “Output To: Layer Mask” to apply our selection on the created layer mask and enjoy the great and clear selection!

Step 18

Create a new layer and set it as Clipping Mask (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G) to a model layer. Take a Clone Stamp Tool (S) with Size around 5-15px, Opacity: 100%, Hard Round brush preset and very carefully remove shadow strips from the skin and dress of a model. As clone source, use light samples, near retouched areas.

Highlight both model layers at a Layer panel and use Free Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T) to reduce scale and move fairy to a lamp. Try to be attentive to the position and location. It is very important to “sit down” a model into a lamp so that it realistically looks and does not get the levitation effect in the air.

Step 19

Place image dragonfly-2836561 into working document, below layers with model and repeat Step 17 to clear wings from a background. When you deal with it, use Free Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T) to scale an image to around 28.24% and Rotate it on 121.25 degrees, place wings as shown in the image below. Change layer Blending Mode to “Screen” to make it more transparent and shiny. Duplicate this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and set “Linear Dodge (Add)” Blending Mode to enhance glow effect.

Step 20

Now group all layers with a fairy (Cmd/Ctrl + G) and apply several layer styles to create glow on a fairy. Go to Layer > Layer Style > Outer Glow… and set following settings – Color: #ffffff, Opacity: 29%, Blend Mode: “Screen”, Spread: 0%, Size: 40px. Next, in this window checkmark “Color Overlay” style, set color to #8e651a, Blend Mode to “Lighten” and reduce Opacity to 35%. Apply last style “Inner Glow” with Color: #ffffff, Opacity: 13%, Blend Mode: “Screen”, Size: 16px, Choke: 0%, Source: Edge and click Ok to apply changes.

Step 21

Now let’s create a small fairy on the right side of the image, to reveal the story and give an explanation to the viewer to what our fairy is lending a hand to something. Duplicate group with a fairy (Cmd/Ctrl + J), and merge model layers without wings. (Cmd/Ctrl + E). Use Free Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T) to place a girl, as shown in the image below. Now, you need to change the pose slightly to create a move in flight. For this, I use Puppet Warp Tool (Edit > Puppet Warp) and 4 pins along the entire length. Slightly move two middle points towards the original model. Repeat the same thing for wings, but scale it a little more, but in proportion to a small fairy, find a different/ interesting angle to catch the dynamics of movement and the direction of the wings in order to achieve maximum realism of a flying.

Step 22

Now, merge both layers (Cmd/Ctrl + E) and apply layer style to create a soft light around, a bright glow and hide the details of the original image. Go to Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow… and set following settings – Blend Mode: “Linear Dodge (Add)”, Color: #ffffff, Opacity: 100%, Size: 40px, all other settings set to zero. Apply “Outer Glow” style with – Color: #ffffff, Opacity: 35%, Noise: 10%, Blend Mode: “Linear Dodge (Add)”, Spread: 0%, Size: 49px.

Next, in this window checkmark “Color Overlay” style, set a color to #ffeece, Blend Mode to “Screen” and Opacity: 100%. Apply last style “Inner Glow” with Color: #ffffff, Opacity: 15%, Blend Mode: “Linear Dodge (Add)”, Size: 4px, Choke: 0%. In the image below you can see a result, after applying styles and overall composition at this stage.

Step 23

Let’s back to the lighting. Create a new layer with “Overlay” Blending Mode and use big soft round brush with Opacity: 92%, Size: 1100px and color: #f68e56 and draw a spot on a lantern. If needed use layer Opacity to reduce the effect.

Create a new layer with “Color Dodge” Blending Mode and with a brush from the previous step draw a smaller spot on the lantern with color: #fff568 and Size: 900px. Reduce Opacity to around 33% and Fill to 90%.

Create a new layer with “Overlay” Blending Mode. Set the brush size to 750px and with white color draw a spot on a model. Reduce layer Opacity to around 55% and Fill to 65%. We received pleasant lighting. If you want, you can experiment with other blending modes, but I do not recommend you to create a bright glow, otherwise, you will not able to see the fairy on the lantern.

Step 24

Now create the rays of light. There are many different ways to create a similar effect and you can use whatever is convenient for you. I will show an example of creating rays via the cloud filter. Create a new layer with “Screen” Blending Mode. Set default colors (D), but change background color to #ffefa0 (Black and yellow). Go to Filter > Render > Clouds and then apply “Difference Clouds” filter from the same location. Repeat this filter several times (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + F), until you get a fine texture. Go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and set following settings: Amount: 100, Blur Method: Zoom, Quality: Best.

Step 25

With Move Tool (V) move the center of the layer to the position of the fairy. Reduce Opacity to around 53% and use “Levels” adjustment (Cmd/Ctrl + L) to add contrast to the rays (the settings for your taste). Experiment with the duplicate of this layer and the different blend modes and adjustment layers to get interesting results, but then unite the experimental layers into one. Add a layer mask and apply “Clouds” filter on it. Use a Black brush to remove the texture from the edges of the image and a lantern.

Step 26

To make colors more interesting and add chromatic aberrations to the texture, add “Gradient Map” adjustment layer with “Spectrum” preset, “Reverse” checked option and “Soft Light” Blending Mode, as Clipping Mask (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + G) to light ray’s layer.

Step 27

This is an optional step, but if you want to add glow to the edges of the leaves and emphasize fairy-tale atmosphere, then create merged copy of all the visible layers at the top of layer stack via Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E. Go to Filter > Filter Gallery and apply “Glowing Edges” filter with Edge Width: 4, Edge Brightness: 2, Smoothness: 10. Set layer Blending Mode to “Color Dodge” and Reduce Fill to 50%.

Step 28

Let’s proceed to toning of the image. I want to create night and magic atmosphere, so we will darken the colors. But first, we slightly change the color palette of the leaves. To do this, add “Black & White” adjustment layer with “Default”. On adjustment layer mask remove an effect from the center of the image with the large black brush.

Now I will create the bright area in the center and darker edges of the image by adding “Gradient Fill” fill layer with “Black, White” preset, Style: Radial, Angle: 90 degrees, Scale: 120%, checkmark “Reverse”. Use Blending Mode “Soft Light”, Opacity: 25%.

Step 29

Add a “Color Fill” fill layer (Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color) with color #426013 and change Blending Mode to “Soft Light”. Inverse layer mask (Cmd/Ctrl + I) and with big soft brush restore some green color on the leaves around the edges of the image. Also, you can leave some black-and-white effect at the very edge of the working field.

Now add tinting gradient. Set up following gradient #000000 > #251360 > #4c288d > #8141ca > #d777ff > #ffffff, Mode: Radial, Angle: 90 degrees, Scale: 180%. Set Blending Mode to “Overlay”, Opacity to around 30%, Fill to 60%.

Step 30

The last adjustment layer is “Curves” (Layer > New Adjustment layer > Curves…). Use settings like shown in the image below to add contrast and basic tones to the image. This completes the tinting. Do not worry that the image looks a bit strange at this stage. A little later, everything will fall into place.

Step 31

  • Now we will use a new feature of Photoshop CC to create realistic and beautiful depth of field effect with bokeh texture. Note that this option available only for Photoshop, starting from Photoshop CC 2014. If you have an older version, you can use “Lens Blur”, “Gaussian Blur” filters or additional images. At the end of my tutorial “Turn Ordinary Photo into Futuristic Rainy Illustration with Photoshop” I show how to create digital bokeh texture from default Photoshop filters, without additional images, if you are interested – check this out!

Create merged a copy of all the visible layers at the top of layer stack via Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E and convert it to Smart Object (right click on a layer > Convert to Smart Object).  Go to Filter > Blur Gallery > Field Blur. In workspace that appears you can see one pin at the center and settings on top and right side. Make sure that check marked only “Field Blur”.

Bokeh settings are global for all pins, so create pins, as shown in image below, by making mouse click in the desired place and adjust blur effect. To move pin, just click on it and drag; to delete, highlight pin and use Del key.

You can try to reduce the number of pins and increase the blur effect, but then you need to fix the bokeh, because of the blur the dependence of the size, brightness, and intensity of the bokeh. So do not hesitate to experiment and take your time.

Step 32

Also if you want to get the effect of shiny dew, but without blurred background, then after applying “Field Blur” filter, make double click near layer name to show “Blending Options” window. Use “Blend If” option with setting – This Layer: 0/20- 255. To set such settings, divide black slider by holding Opt/Alt and clicking on it, then move right half of black slider, until you get desired intensity of the effect.

Step 33

Add “Exposure” adjustment layer at the top of the layer stack, with settings: Offset: +0.0250, Gamma Correction: 0.70. Reduce Opacity to 60%. This will create a nice little haze and removes black in the shadows. This helps create a night atmosphere and emphasize color.

Step 34

Now I want to finish the work with the color and add more shades to the whole image and blue tones to the shadows in particular. To do this, I use “Color Balance” adjustment layer. Use the settings for the layer as shown in the figure below. To color more harmoniously combined with the whole artwork, I reduce Opacity to 50%.

Step 35

To increase the sharpness of the image details, I create a merged copy of an image (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + E), and apply “High Pass” filter (Filter > Other > High Pass). Set Radius to 1 pixels and click OK. To get rid of the gray background change Blending Mode to “Linear Light”. Using this mode will overlay greatly increase the brightness, so reduce Fill to 50% (do not use Opacity).


This completes our artwork and you can enjoy the final result. Feel free to experiment with photos, colors, and tools! It is always interesting and useful in the learning process. Thank you for taking the time to read this tutorial! I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful. I will be happy to see your final result! Have a question? Use the form below!